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The Public School Insights Blog

By Sharon P. Robinson, President and CEO, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)

News Flash: The interest of students and their opportunity to learn is not better or even well served by a strategy of constant and high demand of inexperienced teachers. Retention matters not just to teachers but, most critically, to students.

Recent studies showing that teacher effectiveness continues to develop over time reinforce this imperative to do right by our students. First, in a working paper completed last year for the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, researchers at Duke University found that middle school teachers’ effect on student test scores as well as attendance rates improves over at least several years. A subsequent study out of Brown University found improvement in teacher effectiveness is indeed steepest in the early years in the classroom but continues for many more years, challenging the common perception that teacher quality is a fixed characteristic after just a couple of years of experience ...

Over the past six months, Learning First Alliance (LFA) has hosted a series of Twitter Town Halls on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. These conversations have addressed the time it takes to get Common Core right (#CCSSTime), teaching under Common Core State Standards (#CCSSTeach), the use of technology with Common Core (#CCSSTech) and the role of the business community in Common Core (#CCSSBiz).

Most recently, LFA is partnered with the National PTA to explore the role and experience of parents in the implementation process (#CCSSParents).  The event, “Parents and the Common Core,” aimed to highlight how educators and parents can best collaborate to help students meet the higher standards of the Common Core and provide a forum for parents to share their thoughts on the standards.

A few key themes emerged from the conversation: ...

Maryland PTA President Ray Leone recently spoke with the Learning First Alliance as part of the “Get It Right: Common Sense on Common Core” campaign. Leone shared his experience on building parent understanding and support of the Common Core by engaging Maryland families and communities at the local level through public forums and open lines of communication to answer their questions and address concerns as the standards were being formulated.

Following is an edited transcript of his conversation with Kris Kurtenbach, founding partner of Collaborative Communications Group in Washington. LFA is also offering a podcast of this conversation.

MS. KURTENBACH: Welcome to Get It Right: Commonsense on the Common Core, a podcast series from The Learning First Alliance.  Across the nation we've embraced the possibility of college and career-ready standards and their potential to transform teaching and learning.  In community after community we see the potential these standards offer to help all children gain the knowledge and skills they need for success in the global community. ...

Montel WilliamsRadio and TV personality Montel Williams is promoting the good work of public education through the National School Boards Association’s “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” campaign. And he wants all educators to join him to “stand up, step up, and speak up for public schools.”

Williams recently energized an audience of thousands of school board members and other educators at NSBA’s 75th annual conference in Nashville. He also is featured in new Stand Up 4 Public Schools digital ads as a spokesman for the national campaign.

Sporting a bright red “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” badge, Williams delivered – “shot gunned,” as he put it – his assertion that school board members must spread the word about issues such as how U.S. public schools graduated a record 82 percent of high school seniors last year, including more than 140,000 minorities. ...

By Alex Sczesnak, Algebra 1 Teacher, Math Department Chair, and UFT Chapter Leader at Metropolitan High School in the South Bronx* 

Hello, and greetings from New York! March—infamously “the longest month” for students and teachers—roared right along, blustery and wet as ever. Last year at this time, the big question on every Algebra 1 teacher’s mind was “what will the test look like?” Here we are, a year later, and the course is feeling a little more lamb-like, as we now have the experience to better translate the expectations of the CCSS into the lessons, problem sets, and classroom assessments that make the standards come to life. This has been a boon for teachers everywhere; most would agree that these standards are far more focused and coherent than anything we’ve implemented previously, leading to curricula that make math meaningful for students in ways that were not previously possible.

That doesn’t mean all teachers are singing the praises of the Common Core just yet, however. One of the most common complaints I hear from Algebra 1 teachers is ...

Jayne Ellspermann, principal of Westport High School in Ocala, FL, discusses how her school implements the Common Core and drives improvement through a focus on personalized learning and college readiness initiatives. Ellspermann was recently recognized as the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ 2015 National Principal of the Year.

Download as MP3 ...

Who’s for Kids, and Who’s Just Kidding?

By Rich Bagin, APR, Executive Director, National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA)

We recently completed our NSPRA Executive Board meeting and the environmental scanning exercise forced us to ask, “Who elected these legislators, anyway?”

And we all know the answer: We did.

Even if you did not vote in the recent elections, you did elect them by your absence or by your lack of effort to learn more about their stance on public education.

To protect the future of all children everywhere, we ask that you begin paying more attention to your elections. It is time to ask who’s for kids, and who’s just kidding?

NSPRA believes in authentic public engagement and transparency, but it takes the energy and perseverance to see what these candidates really stand for. Yes, it is work, and these candidates count on voter apathy and complacency to pave their way to victory. And some even have “big money folks” behind them ...

It's a key component to student success. Yet many school leaders struggle to help their parents understand the importance of their involvement in their child’s schooling, particularly those in low-income and immigrant communities.

Veteran education writer and advocate Alan Richard is convinced that most parents care deeply about their children’s educational experiences. But how much time and effort they can put towards helping their children and helping improve their schools varies widely. Richard recently wrote about one project in the Mississippi Delta, one of this country's most rural and impoverished areas, that is producing exceptional results, thanks to the efforts of Parents for Public Schools.

Parents for Public Schools’ newly revamped Parent Engagement Program, or PEP, is bringing together parents and residents of typically underserved communities to not just volunteer at schools but to take an active role in setting the course to improve schools and the greater community. ...

grieving boyDealing with a death is never easy, but for young children and teens, it can bring a range of emotional experiences that will undoubtedly impact learning.

The vast majority of children will lose a close family member or friend by the time they are 16, and one in 20 will lose a parent. But while a 2012 survey by the New York Life Foundation and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) found that 92 percent of teachers believe grief is a serious problem that deserves more attention in schools, 93 percent of teachers had never received any form of bereavement training and only 3 percent of school districts offer any such training. ...

By the Team at ISTE Connects, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, which launched March 12, provides an unprecedented opportunity to bring ISTE Standards-ready, hands-on science activities related to the mission to classrooms. 

The MMS mission will study the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process called magnetic reconnection. Using four identical spacecraft, the mission will provide the first three-dimensional view of this fundamental process that occurs throughout the universe.

If that explanation already has you Googling a simple translation, don’t worry. ISTE, in collaboration with NASA, has created a host of free resources to help teachers engage students in research and engineering-design activities, seamlessly connecting them to authentic scientific study with real-world significance. ...

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