National PTA's Sherri Wilson shares resources to engage families in minimizing summer learning loss.
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. ...
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. ...
It seems everyone has an opinion about the teacher strike currently taking place in Chicago. I do too, but it’s not about who’s to blame. There’s plenty of that to go around. What I do know is that regardless of how this strike ends, nobody will have won—
- Students will have missed valuable learning time
- Teachers and their union will be vilified for selfishness
- The mayor and school board’s judgment will be suspect
- Parents will be disappointed and frazzled with child care challenges
- The President’s “reform” agenda will be questioned
- The citizens of Chicago will be embarrassed and dismayed for their city
While I have followed the events as they’ve unfolded in Chicago between the mayor, the school board he appointed, and the teachers’ union, the facts I’m able to glean from public sources only raise questions in my mind as to what’s really going on. I do know that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are under-resourced and that ...
Leadership matters. Principals set the tone of a school and can inspire students and teachers alike to reach new heights. They are second only to teachers among the in-school influences on student success.
Yet we don’t hear much about how to measure a principal’s performance. And the little research that exists on principal evaluation suggests that current systems do not accurately judge performance, do not provide information that is useful for professional growth, and often aren’t even used.
The federal government has begun to take note, making changes to principal evaluations a condition of Race to the Top funds, School Improvement Grants, and waivers to some of the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, they are often requiring that the evaluations be based in significant part on student performance on standardized assessments. As we all know, test scores represent a very narrow definition of ...
Change is hard – something that those in the education community may know better than most. Whether it is changing a school culture, a child’s life prospects, policymakers’ thoughts on accountability, or voters’ minds on a bond referendum, educators are constantly on the lookout for evidence that they are succeeding as change agents. Sometimes that evidence seems scarce, particularly at a national level, as policymakers push education in ways we don’t always like and rhetoric indicates that we are to blame for a great number of society’s problems.
So as I read through the results of the 44th annual Phi Delta Kappa (PDK)/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, I was on the lookout for evidence that we are succeeding in changing the conversation around public schools in this nation. And I was pleased to see that (while not always in the direction I personally would advocate) American’s views on public education are evolving.
The Biggest Problem Facing Schools
The first question asked on the poll each year is an open-ended one: What do you think are the biggest problems that the public schools of your community must ...
As teachers prepare lessons and materials for the fast-approaching 2013 school year, it is an opportune time to highlight the value of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) as a tool for the nation’s educators. Learning Forward explains PLCs as: “Learning communities [consisting of education professionals that] convene regularly and frequently during the workday to engage in collaborative professional learning to strengthen their practice and increase student results.” PLCs are not a new phenomenon, but they are gaining increased attention as the national conversation around education focuses on improving teacher quality through effective professional development. ...
A couple months ago, I wrote about a new assessment designed to address one of the ever-present challenges in teacher preparation: How do you ensure that those entering the classroom can teach effectively starting their first day as the teacher of record?
Now called the edTPA (formerly the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA)), the assessment was developed by Stanford University in collaboration with teachers and teacher educators (higher education involvement was coordinated by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) to set a new standard for determining teacher readiness. It requires teacher candidates demonstrate the skills necessary to meet the daily challenges of classroom teaching, including but not limited to:
- Planning around student learning standards
- Designing instruction for students based on their specific needs
- Teaching a series of lessons and adapting them to
Last week The New Teacher Project (TNTP) released a report entitled The Irreplaceables-Understanding the Real Retention Crisis in America’s Urban Schools which continues the theme espoused in their previous report The Widget Effect, that public school districts treat all teachers the same and hold them to low expectations, particularly in urban districts, with disastrous results for students. To be clear, neither I nor any of my colleagues in the Learning First Alliance (LFA) believe that low expectations for teacher performance should be tolerated nor do we believe that current practices and policies should be perpetuated if they contribute to supporting mediocrity in the classroom. However, we do believe that most teachers who are appropriately supported by strong instructional leadership and collaborative school culture can improve their practice in a way that benefits the students they serve.
Without digging into the data used to identify those teachers labeled “irreplaceable” and those labeled “struggling” in the report or the variables that exist within the districts and schools surveyed, I find the remedies to retaining the “irreplaceables” less than new or eye-opening. The report’s findings essentially said that teachers whose students achieved well (i.e. irreplaceables) in well managed schools stayed in their jobs longer….big surprise. The key supports provided by ...
There’s a saying: When you have a hammer, everything suddenly becomes a nail. It is not surprising that student surveys, as a tool analogous to the hammer, are suddenly viewed through the lens of usefulness when applied to teacher evaluations.
Student surveys provide valuable feedback for teachers that contribute to professional development and can result in improved classroom practices. Over the years, the classroom-level cycle of feedback and adjustment can produce improved student performance results. It already happens in some places; imagine the possible impact if such a process were adopted system-wide. But when it comes to teacher evaluations, implementation is – as always - fraught with unforeseen consequences. The errors of the policy-making community, when in a rush, are plentiful, and in this instance, threaten to undermine the already established usefulness of student feedback when it comes to developing highly effective teachers. ...
At a recent reception in the august Mansfield Room in the the U.S. Capitol celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), Ron Thorpe, the new President and CEO of NBPTS, compared the Board certification that almost every physician earns in order to practice medicine to the status and importance of Board certification for teachers in K-12 classrooms. He specifically asked if we’d be willing to send our child (or grandchild) into surgery if the physician doing the work wasn’t Board certified in his or her field. Of course, none of us is willing to send a loved one into the operating theatre under the care of a surgeon who is not Board certified, so why should we be willing to send our children to schools with teachers who may or may not be skilled in their practice?
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was established twenty-five years ago with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and under the leadership of then North Carolina governor, James Hunt. The Carnegie Forum on Education and the ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
On this website, educators, parents and policymakers from coast to coast are sharing what's already working in public schools--and sparking a national conversation about how to make it work for children in every school. Join the conversation!