For her leadership in the areas of teacher quality and educational equity and reform, the Learning First Alliance has named Stanford professor and accomplished author Linda Darling-Hammond as our 2013 Education Visionary Award winner.
If you are ever curious about the nuances and challenges of local policy-making and governance, look no further than the U.S public education system. When you consider the statistics and actors – nearly 14,000 school districts, 95,000 principals and more than 90,000 school board members – it is no wonder that public schools see higher levels of success when local leaders come together to collaborate and develop solutions.
The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) represents the state boards of education that govern and design education policy at the state level. These bodies set the tone, agenda, and overall vision for their state. One area in which their leadership is urgently needed: education technology. To that end, NASBE recently commissioned a study group, whose core composition consisted of 18-20 state board members, that produced Born in Another Time: Ensuring Educational Technology Meets the Needs of Students Today – and Tomorrow. This report puts forth a vision for education technology in our nation’s public schools, along with key recommendations on how to get there. In essence, it takes a big, bold vision for 21st century learners and ...
Education reform debates increasingly belong to a relatively small number of very loud voices. Hundreds of thousands of other voices get lost in the din. They belong to students and teachers, and their vision for our nation’s high schools varies dramatically from the content in mainstream education reform discussions.
The College Board recently released a supplement to Phi Delta Kappan that highlights key thoughts from students and teachers on both school reform and student engagement. The results are worth summarizing and repeating mostly because the takeaways are remarkably uniform with regard to recommendations and advice for education reformers. The main message is that we need a long-term commitment to a well-rounded, multi-pronged approach to school improvement. ...
There should be no debate when it comes to children’s wellbeing and ensuring they have a healthy learning environment. Still, in an era where budgets are tight and the public school system finds itself under intense scrutiny, it is understandably necessary to justify the “why” behind a change or shift in policy. Green Cleaning Schools, the February issue of The State Education Standard, which is published by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE, a member of the Learning First Alliance), covers the why, the how and more of green cleaning in our nation’s schools. It highlights key benefits ensuring thorough and thoughtful consideration. ...
We’ve been hearing a lot recently about how we, as a nation, need to increase the amount of time our students are in school. How our school calendar is based on an agrarian economy that no longer exists and hindering our competitiveness in the information-age. How students in the nations that outperform us on international assessments have a longer school year and/or spend more time in class each day. How one thing we can learn from high-performing high-poverty charter schools is the importance of increasing the amount of time that students in poverty spend in school. Students in those schools tend to have both days, a longer school year and school on Saturdays.
No real argument here. I personally agree that it's time to revisit an academic calendar designed in an era that no longer exists.
But consider what John Merrow said in a recent blog post:
“With the awful truth that 6,000 kids drop out every school day staring them in the face, wouldn’t someone question the wisdom of extending both the school day and the school year? I mean, what are these dropouts leaving behind? ...
People on the stage moaned about the antiquated (agrarian) calendar and the fact that schools still look and act as they did 50 or 75 years ago—and then suggested that what our kids need are more hours and days of this!”
Yet again, we may be taking a promising idea, and killing it with simplicity. Simply increasing ...
An old idea is making a strong comeback in several states: Let 10th graders graduate from high school and enroll in community college if they're ready to do so. The idea of early graduation has a lot of merit, because it lets students choose a course that best suits their specific talents and aspirations.
But what about the opposite idea? What about late graduation?
No natural law dictates that high school should take four years. Some students can do it more quickly if they're ready to move on. But others, like recent immigrants who are still learning English, may need more than four years.
A high school principal once told me that she did what she could to keep some recent immigrants in her school as long as possible, even though her school's on-time graduation numbers suffered as a result. Some students arrive at her school at age 15 with no English and little or no formal schooling under their belts.
The larger point of any flexible graduation scheme is that the number of hours you spend warming a seat in your school should be less important than what you learn while you're there. As we weigh the benefits of early graduation, we shouldn't forget the needs of those students who need a little more time. ...
Emily and Bryan Hassel have an idea: Don't get too hung up on plans to make teachers better. Instead, figure out how to help the best teachers reach far more students. After all, they argue, the top 20 percent of teachers are three times as effective as the bottom 20 percent.
Try as they might, though, they cannot escape the need to support teachers through good old fashioned staff development, curriculum and assessment. It's time the education economists paid much closer attention to these critical areas, which are just so déclassé these days.
Of course, the Hassels' argument raises all sorts of questions. How do you identify the top 20 percent of teachers? Do we trust test scores? Will teachers stay in the top 20 percent from year to year? Are the "top" teachers good in every kind of school? Are they effective with every kind of student?
But the Hassels face an even bigger challenge. Their plan will require nothing short of a massive investment in all those things their fellow educonomists find oh-so tedious: Teacher training. New curricula. Much, much better tests. If we pursue the Hassels' brave new reforms the way we pursue most reforms--on the cheap--then we're going to be in a whole heap of trouble.
The Hassels, like so many of their ideological brethren, seem to believe that great teachers are born, not made. Hence their relatively dim view of staff development. (I've always found it curious that so many reformers who insist that every child ...
Story posted August, 2008
• Pass rates on Virginia Standards of Learning tests often meet or exceed state averages
• Steady gains on SAT and other standardized test scores over the past several years
J.E.B. Stuart is the most diverse high school in Fairfax County, Virginia - and it may be one of the most diverse in the nation. Thirty-nine percent of students are Hispanic; 19 percent are Asian; 12 percent are African-American; and 27 percent are White (and, of that total, 19 percent are of Middle Eastern origin). More than two-thirds of Stuart's students do not speak English as their primary language; and 41 percent were born in other countries (82 other countries, to be exact).
Add to these statistics the fact that more than half of Stuart's students qualify for free or reduced meals due to poverty, and it's clear that this suburban high school's faculty and staff have their work cut out for them. Their response to the school's remarkable diversity? A determined effort to respond to every child's individual learning needs. ...
Story posted June 10, 2008
• The district tailors educational programs to students' diverse needs and interests
• Every student at the district's "Village School" for non-traditional high school students passed every Regents Exam in every subject
Great Neck Public Schools Superintendent Ronald Friedman doesn't like to play favorites, but one student at the 2007 North High School graduation made him especially proud. "Billy" had nearly dropped out of school near the end of his junior year. He wasn't going to pass a required math course, and the school's staff sensed that when faced with the prospect of attending summer school or repeating the course, Billy would likely give up.
Instead of sticking to the standard protocol, teachers and administrators collaborated to find a solution that would work for Billy. They created a summer tutorial he could complete at home. One teacher volunteered to meet with him periodically and wrote a special exam, which Billy passed. His coursework back on track, he returned to school in the fall and graduated on time. ...
Story posted May 28, 2008
• 94% of students improved their grades after coming to Classic City High School
• 97% of students improved their attendance
• 150 students have graduated, with one-third pursuing post-secondary educational options
Clarke County School District's community has approximately 1,500 students ages 16 to 22 who are not enrolled in school-a number equal to the enrollment of each of its traditional high schools. The majority of these students are black or Hispanic, and many live in poverty. Because a high school education is critical to finding economically viable employment and because Athens-Clarke County has persistent, intergenerational poverty, the district decided to offer a way for dropouts to earn their diplomas. ...
Story posted April, 2008
• 83.3% of students now read at or above grade level, which is well above state average
A sign in the main office of Southside Primary School lists "protected reading times" for each grade level (for example, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for kindergarten). "No interruptions can be made to classes at these times," the sign warns.
Southside's vigilance when it comes to guarding classroom reading time is a reflection of a broader effort at the school to ensure that teachers have not just the time, but also the necessary skills, to help their students succeed. And, at Southside, success is measured according to one major objective: that 100 percent of students will be reading at or above grade level before leaving second grade. ...
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!