The Public School Insights Blog
Election Day is just around the corner, and as voters go to the polls to cast their ballots, in many states, they vote on more than just candidates. Most voters will have several ballot referendums to vote ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ on, and the consequences of those decisions influence policy. Take as one example the recent vote on gay marriage in the state of North Carolina. It is no different with ballot referendums on public school funding. This fall, five states have some such type of ballot initiative, the largest number in two decades: Arizona, Missouri, South Dakota, Oregon and California. Whether extra revenue is approved or not will have a tremendous effect on each state’s public schools. In this respect, voter turnout and participation is crucial. ...
Who can you trust about educational technology?
So asked Richard Rose in September’s issue of School Administrator. He argues that research on educational technology should be approached with skepticism for a number of reasons. For example, the role that money plays in this research: Interested parties, including technology providers, nonprofits and even unions, often directly or indirectly benefit from research showing results for a particular product. There is also a lack of consensus within the research – you can find research that supports almost any position. In addition, there is bias introduced by the “publication strainer” (publications prefer research that supports their platform of doctrines) and author timidity and pragmatism (not wanting to waste time on research that isn’t published, busy authors submit what they know publications want).
In reading this piece, it struck me that it could have been written about any aspect of education. While the motivation of technology companies may be different than the motivation of those pushing vouchers, charter schools, alternative certification programs, particular reading programs or any other educational products or policies, it is widely acknowledged that much education research – for the reasons Rose cites and others – is substandard. But as Rose acknowledges, not all educational technology research (which I would change to, not all education research) is “tainted by vested interest or too insipid to bother with.” There is good research out there – you (whether you are a practitioner, parent, policymaker or ...
By Nora L. Howley, Manager of Programs, NEA Health Information Network
The fourth-grade class at Shadyside Elementary is having a birthday party. Selena just ate a cookie brought into the class by parent of one of her classmates. All of a sudden she notices a rash and gives on her arms. She begins to feel short of breath, so she lets Pam the Paraeducator know that something is wrong
Next week is Halloween. For many classrooms, it is the first celebration of the year. But for approximately six million children in the United States who have one or more food allergies, this party could be a life-threatening experience. Is your school ready?
Food allergies are abnormal immune responses. In a person with a food allergy, the immune system mistakenly responds to a food as if it were harmful. Sometimes these reactions are life-threatening. While many foods can trigger an allergic reaction, eight foods are responsible for 90% of reactions.
So what should school leaders and staff do to be prepared for food allergy reactions?
First, managing and preventing food allergies requires a team approach. It involves all school staff, parents/guardians, health care providers, and students themselves. It involves ...
The October 10, 2012, edition of Education Week features a commentary titled “Public Schools: Glass Half Full or Half Empty?” with both disturbing and hopeful statistics on public education in the United States. The most disturbing part of the article describes the results of a recent Gallup poll showing that public confidence in public K-12 education has fallen to 29 percent – a drop of 29 percentage points from 1973, when Gallup first began including public schools in its survey and public confidence in schools measured 58 percent. The irony in this dismal lack of confidence in such a crucial public institution is that an analysis of performance data on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP—the “nation’s report card”) and high school dropout rates shows that results have actually improved over the past two decades.
NAEP scores for both 4th and 8th graders have been trending upward since the 1970s. Compared with an average scale score of 219 in 1973 for 4th graders, 2008’s average scale score of 243 represents significant progress in math performance. The illustrative graphs included in the Education Week article provide a dramatic visual to illustrate this trend and ...
While a college education is acknowledged to be the pathway into the middle class, getting into the higher education system requires an understanding of the application process. For many first generation college students, especially those who are from low-income families, the process is daunting with an overwhelming amount of information and countless choices. My own experience, with significant support from my high-school guidance counselor and an involved parent who did the financial aid forms, was stressful and at times confusing, and not everyone has the type of support I had. ...
A new report, Democratic School Turnarounds: Pursuing Equity and Learning from Evidence, suggests that government agencies and policy-makers, including the U.S. Department of Education, should rely more on research to guide their efforts in school reform and turnaround strategies. The report, authored by Tina Trujillo at the University of California, Berkeley and Michelle Renee of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, and produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado, Boulder, asserts that research shows that the top-down, punitive reform efforts that are currently in vogue are ineffective and cause more harm than good in turning around troubled schools.
While the current administration’s efforts to improve troubled schools are well-meaning, the reform strategies mandated destabilize schools and exacerbate the problems troubled schools already exhibit of high staff turnover and frequent change in leadership. The administration’s efforts to turn around 5,000 of the nation’s lowest performing schools through creation of the federal School Improvement Grant program (SIG) channeled increased federal dollars into states and struggling schools under the condition that a narrow choice of ...
With the recent release of the movie Won’t Back Down and the high-profile Chicago teacher union strike, it seems US public education is, once again, getting negative coverage in the mainstream media, with parents pitted against teachers or teachers pitted against administrators. Committed education professionals, in their advocacy on behalf of our nation’s public schools, continually highlight the importance of collaboration among teachers, administrators, parents and community members when it comes to ensuring high-performing public schools. The belief is that we are all in this endeavor together and we each have an important role to play. One inspiring example of effective parent-teacher engagement can be found in the Academic Parent-Teacher Teams (APTT) model. ...
Few would argue with the notion that public education in America needs to improve to ensure that our country remains prosperous in the coming years. And we should look wherever we can for ideas on how we can increase student achievement for each child in the nation.
One possible source for these ideas: charter schools. Last week, the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution released “Learning from the Successes and Failures of Charter Schools,” in which Roland Fryer discusses his efforts to learn what works in the world of charter schooling and implement it in traditional public schools.
By studying 35 charter schools of varying performance levels in New York City, Fryer and his colleagues identified five practices that are consistently found in higher-achieving schools and that together explain roughly half the difference in effectiveness between charter schools:
- More human capital (how often schools give teachers feedback on their instructional practice)
- Data-driven instruction (whether teachers alter instruction to
Toppenish High School, in south central Washington State, is a rural high-poverty school with 99% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch and a 95% minority student body. The community’s economy rests primarily on agriculture and tourism, two sectors suffering from the recent downturn.
Schools with such profiles in such communities are often ones that grapple with inadequate funding, find student groups struggling on standardized tests and have lower graduation and college-going rates. But proving that great school leadership is a key component of beating such odds, Principal Trevor Greene has set high goals and invested in key improvement strategies that are showing amazing results for Toppenish High School. He was recently recognized as MetLife/NASSP’s 2013 National High School Principal of the Year. ...
NBC is to be commended for its support of the third annual Education Nation Summit, a gathering of leaders from government, education and business in New York City this week to consider the challenges and future outlook for America’s public education system. And, to be sure, included in this year’s event were a handful of case studies of real schools and districts that are successfully addressing challenging problems and finding solutions that support student growth and success. For me, the most impressive and knowledgeable presenters about public schooling, student achievement and local realities were the educators themselves, who displayed a thoughtful, articulate approach to their work and provided practical, solution-oriented initiatives that are proving successful in meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse student population.
So, the good news is that the Summit featured impressive public educators and education researchers who provided real world information and experience to the event. On the down side, too many of the program presenters were people famous in other walks of life whose contributions to the education conversation provided little value. This is not to say that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice doesn’t have a compelling personal story about ...
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- 2013 Digital Principal Ryan Imbriale
- Best Selling Author Dan Ariely
- Family Engagement Expert Dr. Maria C. Paredes
The views expressed in this website's interviews do not necessarily represent those of the Learning First Alliance or its members.
Excellence is the Standard
At Pierce County High School in rural southeast Georgia, the graduation rate has gone up 31% in seven years. Teachers describe their collaboration as the unifying factor that drives the school’s improvement. Learn more...
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