The OECD has released the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results. Visit our collection of resources to help you interpret them in context.
By Jill Cook, Assistant Director, American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
Robin Zorn believes school counselors can make a difference in students’ lives, and she goes out of her way to prove it.
It’s this belief that informs her work every day at Dr. M.H. Mason Jr. Elementary School in Duluth, GA, and her advocacy work at the district and state level. Her efforts were recognized last week when the American School Counselor Association named her the 2014 School Counselor of the Year.
Robin and the six previous winners of the award exemplify the work school counselors across the country do to increase academic achievement while promoting students’ personal/social development and career needs. Since she became a school counselor in 1999, the profession has undergone a transformation from being reactive to proactive and from ancillary to a critical cog in overall school improvement.
This transformation is due largely to the ASCA National Model, which was published in 2003 and provides a framework for school counseling programs so they are comprehensive in scope, preventive in design and developmental in ...
After spending a day at Brattleboro Area Middle School (BAMS) in Vermont, I’m considering how my career path could overlap with living in this district. It isn’t likely, but my point is that I want my future hypothetical children to go to exactly this kind of school – and as a resident, I would want my local tax dollars to support this type of institution and all the amazing professionals that educate and care for the students in it.
BAMS is a public school serving 276 7th and 8th grade students, 46% on free and reduced lunch. A long-time family friend is a science teacher at BAMS, and we’ve had some great conversations about education during my time working with the Learning First Alliance (LFA). I was eager to visit his school, so he helped me connect with Principal Ingrid Christo. Upon my arrival, I was welcomed into the school and encouraged to sit in on meetings and classes and talk to people. The entire day – full from start to finish – exemplified the best qualities that we should all look for in our neighborhood school.
What is it about BAMS that makes it feel so special? It starts with an overarching philosophy which results in a combination of exemplar outcomes: there is a building-wide commitment to ...
By Rich Bagin, APR, Executive Director, National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA)
Thanks to a tip by NSPRA President Nora Carr, APR, we are sharing just a glimpse of a study completed about North Carolina’s registered voters. The study was intended to help leaders get a better grasp of effective marketing messages about public education in North Carolina. My bet is that these findings will also ring true for many other regions of our country as well.
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation commissioned the study, and Neimand Collaborative’s Artemis Strategy Group conducted it in February 2013.
Most of us in education use the “greater good” pitch to prove the social value of public education in our communities. Educators normally agree that the societal outcome of public education is the key card to play when we talk about the value of public education. And, for that matter, it is most likely why many of us decided to become educators. Sure, helping students achieve daily and charting their growth has always been the prime reason for becoming an educator. But a close second was the realization that our collective work strengthened our communities and that our country’s future could be built by all of ...
You cannot just “PBIS” a child who happens to be misbehaving or acting out. That simple reality is probably one of the most important facts about Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), also known as school wide positive behavioral supports (SWPBS). It’s defined as a framework for enhancing adoption and implementation of a continuum of evidence-based interventions to achieve academically and behaviorally important outcomes for all students. Through this framework, PBIS seeks to improve school climate, reduce discipline issues and support academic achievement. In mid-July, George Sugai from the Neag School of Education (also Director, Center for Behavioral Education & Research and Co-Director, Center of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) joined out-going Principal Rodney Moore from Stone Hill Middle School in Ashburn (VA) – a school that implemented PBIS – at a U.S Department of Education briefing in Washington D.C. ...
There is precious little research demonstrating the value of school counselors on student achievement, with good reason – it is difficult to demonstrate the impact of counselors on standardized test scores, which have come to define achievement in recent years. But as a result, when it comes to making tough budget decisions, school counselors are not a priority. And that has real consequences for children. As Mindy Willard, an Arizona school counselor named the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) 2013 School Counselor of the Year, pointed out in a recent interview:
[T]he biggest challenge school counselors are faced with right now, on all levels, are our ratios. Currently, Arizona is 49th in the nation for counselor to student ratios with a ratio of 1 counselor to 861 students; ASCA recommends a ratio of 1:250! With numbers like this it is virtually impossible for school counselors to meet all of the personal/social, academic and career developmental needs of all the students on their caseloads.
But as we turn to new measures of school quality – such as the production of college and career ready students – there is new space for advocates to research and promote the benefits of school counselors. And an ongoing longitudinal study in ...
I recently attended a screening of a documentary titled Is School Enough? that’s scheduled to air on local PBS stations in early September. The film profiled four project based learning activities that took students outside the classroom to identify real life challenges, propose solutions, and work together as a team under the guidance of their teacher to solve the problem and learn while doing. (View a preview)
The projects were exciting and impressive, and the students involved were either economically disadvantaged or in an alternative education program. In one program a group of students became “citizen scientists,” using their smart phones to photograph plants and trees in an area that was to house a couple of elephants who were retiring from a circus. These students gathered data on the plants, shared the information with a scientist at Cornell University, and then convened with the scientist using Skype so he could answer their questions and provide suggestions for removing or replacing those plants that could prove toxic to ...
By Kwok-Sze Wong, Ed.D., Executive Director, American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
My daughter, Tori, attended two high schools. Like most of her friends, she was very active. She was in the National Honor Society, the Chinese Honor Society, the marching band, the orchestra, drama productions. She was the class secretary and took Advanced Placement and honors classes. Tori went to a school of engaged, enthusiastic and energetic students.
There is another school, however, existing under the same roof. In this school, students don’t participate in any extracurricular activities. They don’t take a rigorous course load. Students in this school have attendance and disciplinary problems. This is a school of unmotivated, unchallenged and disenfranchised students.
Many students in the second school come from low-income, ethnically and culturally diverse populations. They don’t see themselves in the same world, much less the same school, as their more involved counterparts. The different socioeconomic populations may be physically desegregated, but they were never integrated into one cohesive student body.
Unfortunately, many schools across the country experience this same “one-roof, two-schools” issue. Every school has students who are engaged and those who are apathetic. Often, student involvement and performance is based on ...
The economy may be slowly improving, but many families and children are still struggling to get by in communities across the country. Economic insecurity increases childhood stress and negatively affects a student's ability to focus and be present in the classroom. School counselors are on the front lines when it comes to supporting students through this and other challenges ranging from incidents of bullying, issues at home, academic struggles, and depression and anxiety, to name just a few.
Recently, Mindy Willard, the American School Counselor Association's (ASCA's) 2013 National Counselor of the Year, was kind enough to share her insights and experience with Public School Insights (PSI). She has created a counseling program at Sunset Ridge Elementary School that serves all its 650 students through a range of activities and interventions. She also provided specific goals, interventions and results from the program, highlighting how such efforts support student health and learning. And, as the National Counselor of the Year, she shared some of her thoughts on the challenges counselors face, important facts to highlight in advocacy efforts and what she's looking forward to doing this year in her national role.
Public School Insights (PSI): First, congratulations on being named the 2013 ASCA School Counselor of the Year. And thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions about your work and the value of school counselors. Could you share with us what drew you to counseling?
Willard: I always knew I wanted to work with people, children in particular; it wasn’t until college when I discovered the idea of becoming a school counselor. I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in Psychology and quickly realized there was not a whole lot I could do with that degree. I began exploring my options, spending summers working with children in juvenile detention facilities and group homes. I discovered I really wanted to ...
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, American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
AASA has released a set of proposals intended to offer an alternative to the current, federally-mandated due process system by which parents and school personnel handle disputes about special education services.
The due process system as it exists today is expensive, unwieldy and inequitable. It was designed to provide access to education services for students with disabilities, but instead it causes deep divisions between schools and parents and often little else. Now we have the opportunity to begin a dialogue among all the people involved so that, as we approach the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), we can craft more effective options to use when parents and school administrators disagree.
Our report, Rethinking Special Education Due Process, recommends four dispute resolution processes, including a consultancy model similar to a voluntary dispute resolution system piloted in Massachusetts since 2009 called SpedEx. This model has shown promise in reducing the use of the due process hearing system. ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
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