The Public School Insights Blog
We know a great deal about the high school dropout problem. From the research of Robert Balfanz and others, we know where dropouts are likely to come from – the majority attends a small subset of high schools where the graduation rate is 60% or lower. We know who is likely to drop out – the warning signs start as early as first grade, and by middle school they can be defined as the ABCs (attendance problems, behavior problems, and course failure). And we know that there are effective interventions that help retain likely dropouts.
Where we have struggled is in putting together what we know and addressing the issue at scale. But that might be changing. At a May briefing at the US Department of Education on the progress of three Investing in Innovation (i3) grantees, I learned of a promising effort to do so: Diplomas Now. The innovation? Arranging what we know are effective education improvement strategies into a coherent whole.
Based on Balfanz’s research (and he is the program founder), Diplomas Now brings together three national networks – Talent Development, City Year and Communities in Schools – to deliver a comprehensive secondary school turnaround model in high schools where relatively few students graduate.
Utilizing the evidence-based approaches taken by each of the partner organizations, Diplomas Now targets interventions at multiple levels – school, classroom and students. The model: Organize teachers into ...
By Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, AASA: The School Superintendents Association
In 2015, we will be celebrating AASA’s 150th anniversary, and as we arrive at this milestone, we are proud to announce the official launch of the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program. Working with our new partner, The SUPES Academy, we have been hard at work planning a robust experience that will focus on sharpening the skills that successful superintendents acknowledge are needed to thrive on the job, and provide a relevant experience for our members. As I have traveled across the country in planning this program, it has been made clear that the political and economic pressures of the job are exacerbated by growing intrusion into local control and a prevailing attitude that educators do not have the solutions and indeed are part of the problem. Our certificate will help our members strive in these difficult conditions.
The school district is often the biggest “business” in the community it serves, managing the largest budget and supervising the greatest number of employees. Yet the superintendent’s position was created to be the community’s educational leader, not the CEO of ...
By Jim Hull, Senior Policy Analyst, National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education (CPE)
Minority students have made significant gains over the past four decades in both math and reading, according to the 2012 long-term NAEP results. While most white students made significant gains as well, achievement gaps narrowed considerably since minority students made much larger gains than their white peers. However, large achievement gaps still remain.
9 Year Olds
- U.S. 9 year old have made significant gains.
- Since the first year of NAEP in 1971, student achievement in reading has increased significantly from 208 to 221 (13 points, or just over a year’s worth of
By Ken Kay, CEO, and Valerie Greenhill, Chief Learning Officer, EdLeader21
Between the two of us, we have spent decades working on education and public policy. Ken started the CEO Forum on Education Technology in 1996, and we helped found the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in 2002.
Something happened around 2008. School and district leaders started approaching us, asking whether we could help them implement 21st century education strategies. In most cases, these were our closest professional colleagues who were facing huge challenges in the NCLB era to make learning relevant for their students. We felt a great sense of urgency to shift from our focus on public policy to the real challenges of district and school implementation.
In the summer of 2010, we went around the country and interviewed district superintendents about how we could help them with their 21st century education challenges. Collaborating with them, we came up with the idea of creating a profession learning community (PLC) for education leaders committed to building the 4Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity) into their K-12 strategies. ...
When District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) gets press coverage, it’s not always glowing news. In recent years, DCPS (a major urban city system with a recent history of controversial reforms) is often associated with topics such as their new teacher evaluation system (IMPACT), charters, or poverty and inequity. But just a few weeks ago, I learned about a truly amazing DCPS program at a Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P-21) event. I listened to two panels – one with embassy representatives and the other with DCPS teachers - talk about a life changing experience that could only happen in a system like DCPS: the Embassy Adoption Program (EAP). ...
By Joellen Killion, Senior Advisor, Learning Forward
Across the nation, new state legislation is weaving together educator evaluation, student assessments, and continuous professional learning for educators. New evaluation systems for educators commonly define levels of effective performance, require preparation for those responsible for conducting the evaluations, and call for support systems for educators' continual professional growth and development. Too often these evaluation systems fail to include the essential policy components to support effective educator professional learning necessary for continuous growth, which reinforces an already deeply embedded practice of inequity in students' opportunity to learn.
Some educators are fortunate enough to work in school systems and states with sound professional learning policies that define effectiveness; hold school systems, third-party providers, and others accountable for effective professional learning practices; and make the necessary resources available for continuous learning. When other educators do not benefit from such policies, students' opportunities to ...
By Nora Howley, Manager of Programs, NEA-Health Information Network
As we head into summer, all of us at NEA Health Information Network want to talk with you about the things that can help make students and schools safer day in and day out.
And talking WITH is the key – by that I mean that educators can use the summer months to collaborate with other educators about the steps they can take to improve school safety.
Begin with the basics: clean air. We know that educators often deal with unhealthy building conditions, such as mold or poor ventilation. Identify the top environmental concerns in your school and check resources to help determine the best course of action to address them.
Some school employees risk exposure to blood borne pathogens – for example, from a student with a cut finger or a student who needs an injection. Cut that risk with tips from the Red Book. ...
By Clement Coulston and Kaitlyn Smith
Clement Coulston and Kaitlyn Smith are members of the Special Olympics Project UNIFY National Youth Activation Committee. They were recently asked to co-author one of the 11 Practice Briefs, focusing on School Climate and Inclusion.
Often times when society thinks of “valuable contributors” to issues, discussions and insights, the first image that appears in their mind is one of a well-educated and experienced adult; very rarely is that intuition one of a young person. Youth are constantly told and often led to believe that they are “the leaders of tomorrow,” but what about today? Youth are the ones in the schools, collaborating with educators, and hold the power to make a change. ...
By Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA)
No human enterprise is perfect, and we all are capable of improving. That’s especially true when an institution faces continuing challenges and new demands. Such is the case with public education, which has undergone many transformations since it was established -- from its early agrarian roots, through the Industrial Revolution, two world wars, the cold war, and the Technology Revolution.
We often forget that during most of our nation’s history, public schools were expected to provide basic instruction to all students while preparing some to move on to higher education and the professions. This system of sorting worked well when family-supporting jobs in factories and mills were plentiful. Today, lower skill jobs are hard to find, let alone capable of sustaining a middle class existence.
Now, public schools are expected to do something never asked of them before: educate all students to a very high level. This, of course, is a good and necessary development if our nation is to remain competitive in ...
By Mel Riddile, Associate Director of High School Services at the National Association of Secondary Principals (NASSP)
Principal leadership matters--perhaps now more than ever before. As much as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are changing instructional practice in the classroom, we must acknowledge that student learning under CCSS requires a schoolwide transformation that transcends individual classrooms and requires the dedicated, continual attention of the principal. Consider how these five essential schoolwide conditions for CCSS will fundamentally shift the way principals go about leading schools.
1. A culture of college and career readiness. Culture reflects the mindsets and expectations of everyone in the school and ultimately drives behavior. A CCSS culture reflects the universal expectation that all students will be prepared for life beyond high school, and it encourages students' capacity to imagine their long-term possibilities. In much the same way that a discipline policy becomes ineffective if only half the teachers enforce it, a culture of high expectations must pervade every meeting, every ...
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- Actress/Mathematician Danica McKellar on girls and math
- Best Selling Author Kenneth C. Davis on engaging with history
- Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Danielson on providing health care at school
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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