A Maine middle school prioritized collaboration, flexibility for teachers and building student and staff morale; as a result, student performance is improving.
By Anne Foster, Executive Director, Parents for Public Schools (PPS)
There is something almost magical about the beginning of a new school year. It is always full of hope and new possibilities. When my children were in elementary school, the school posted class lists a few days before school started. The lists were on the front window of the school. My husband and I would excitedly shepherd our two sons to see who their teacher and classmates would be that year. It was an anticipated and exciting moment for our family, because so many of our hopes for our children resided in their education. Our excitement transferred to them, and they couldn’t wait for that moment each year.
It’s time again for school bells to ring and backpacks to be stuffed. Schools across America are opening their doors again this month. Teachers are gearing up ...
By Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21)
Self-directed learning often involves teamwork among classmates. Active, cooperative learning activities not only give students the opportunity to learn deeply, they also present opportunities to practice communicating, negotiating, and collaborating. Learning to work with others is an essential life skill, but for many students it doesn’t come easily!
Here are four complaints students commonly voice during group projects and some possible ways to respond:
“I’d rather do it on my own!”
Students who voice this objection don’t understand that working in groups provides important learning opportunities. Nearly every adult job requires collaboration of some sort, so always “going it alone” simply isn’t an option ...
The older I get, the more I realize how much my early experiences have shaped and continue to shape my life.
How different would my life be if my dad had not decided to complete high school after military service in World War II? How different would my life have been if he had not gone on to college after that? If he had not pulled himself up into the middle class, where would I be today?
Those wonders were answered, at least in part, by a groundbreaking study done by Johns Hopkins University sociologist Karl Alexander. In his new book, The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood (Russell Sage Foundation, 2014), Alexander concludes that a child’s fate is largely determined by the family they’re born into.
“A family's resources and the doors they open cast a long shadow over children's life trajectories," he said in an interview published by the university.
In 1982, Alexander and colleagues Doris Entwisle and Linda Olson began tracking 790 Baltimore 1st graders and followed them until they turned 28 or 29 years old ...
By Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association
Throughout the past year, AASA was deeply involved in the confluence of efforts related to the modernization of the E-Rate program. Created in 1996, the program is administered by the Federal Communications Commission and helps schools and libraries afford their teleconnectivity (Internet).
As the role of connectivity and technology within schools and classrooms changed over the last 18 years, it was time to update the E-Rate program, from one about simple connectivity to one that focuses on adequate connectivity, including broadband and WiFi.
Even before modernization efforts began in earnest a year ago, I was nominated to the Universal Services Administrative Company (which oversees administration of the E-Rate program, among others) to represent the voice of schools and libraries. While this position is apolitical and separate from AASA’s advocacy, it is an excellent vantage point for highlighting the functionality of E-Rate, from application and processing to awardees and distribution. ...
By Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA)
When did a politically driven view of school nutrition begin to overtake visible realities? Trays of uneaten cafeteria food thrown in the trash. Hungry kids. Struggling school food-service programs. Peel back the good intentions and the celebrity-fueled support of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, and you'll see the practical realities many school districts and students face. Legislation enacted without a practical understanding of its consequences truly fails America's public schoolchildren.
That's why the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is asking Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address the unintended consequences of the Act.
The real story of school districts trying to put nutrition regulation into practice has been drowned out by the political noise surrounding the issue. ...
By Sharon P. Robinson, President and CEO, and Mark La-Celle Peterson, Vice President for Policy and Programs, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)
On July 22, New York Commissioner of Education John King convened a task force to advise the state on its future use of edTPA, a performance assessment system for aspiring teachers that is now required for licensure in New York.
As the first state to fully implement policy requiring new teachers to pass edTPA for licensure, New York and its PK-12 educators and teacher educators have encountered a variety of operational challenges. Every state that follows New York, as well as our larger professional community, will benefit from New York’s initiative, experience, and solutions.
Consequential use of edTPA is just one of four assessment innovations rolled out in New York’s ambitious new licensing process. (Other required licensure assessments are the Educating All Students exam, Academic Literacy Skills test, and certificate-specific Content Specialty Tests.) While some of us have expressed concern about the rapid roll-out schedule, it is apparent that many candidates were indeed ready to meet the rigorous new requirements: The initial edTPA pass rate was 84%, which we find impressive ...
We either pay by investing in capacity building to reduce out of school suspensions now, or we pay later as a society as students go from schools to prisons. This succinct assessment, offered by San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent Richard A. Carranza on a recent AASA webinar, highlights the importance of supporting school staff so they can meet students’ social emotional and behavioral needs while keeping them in a safe academic environment. Out of school suspensions (OSS) are a risk factor in predicting the likelihood that a student will drop out of school and of later involvement with the justice system, and these suspensions disproportionately affect minority students. To break the school to prison pipeline, district leaders need to develop and implement effective supports for students and staff alike. ...
By Jill Cook, Assistant Director, American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
School counselors matter. Those of us close to the profession know and recognize the work our nation’s preK–12 school counselors do every day to enrich students’ academic and social/emotional development.
But in recent weeks, as federal officials look for ways to expand college access for all students, the role of the professional school counselor has taken center stage in ways not seen in a half century.
First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the American School Counselor Association conference this summer in Orlando, praising the work of school counselors as part of her Reach Higher Initiative promoting college enrollment. At the conference, Mrs. Obama announced plans to recognize that work by honoring ASCA’s School Counselor of the Year at the White House. ...
In April, the Learning First Alliance issued a statement urging states to take the proper time to implement the Common Core State Standards. Believing in the potential that the standards have to transform teaching and learning, we worry about rushing to make high-stakes decisions (such as student graduation, teacher evaluation and school performance designation) based on assessments of the standards before they have been fully and properly implemented. So we – in a call that has been echoed by others – urged a transition period during which such high-stakes are removed. And we are pleased to see that places like New York and Washington, DC, are heeding that call.
But when we get that time, how should we best use it to get CCSS implementation right and help students achieve these higher standards?
Last week, we hosted a Twitter Town Hall – hashtag #CCSStime – to start exploring that issue. We were overwhelmed with the participation – more than 600 Twitter users sent out nearly 2,000 tweets during the hour-long event. To quote Eduflack's coverage:
It was the beginning of a very important discussion, all of which can be found at #CCSStime. Why was it so important? Mainly because it was a productive talk on how to get it right, not on urban legends or dreaming ways to short circuit standards that are not going away.
See below for highlights from the conversation ...
By Hayes Mizell, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Learning Forward
National education reports often have difficulty getting attention, but that was not the case when the Gallup polling organization released State of America's Schools. Rather than prescribing technocratic approaches for improving education, the report focused on the "human elements" that drive student achievement.
According to Gallup, the factors of engagement, relationships, collaboration, hope, and trust are essential for learning and high performance. This is true not only for students, but also for teachers.
In fact, the report's headline grabber was that nearly 70% of teachers "are not emotionally connected to their workplaces and are unlikely to devote much discretionary effort to their work." Among reasons for teachers' lack of engagement, two stand out. In a Gallup survey of employees in 14 different occupational categories, K-12 teachers "were dead last ... in saying their 'supervisor always creates an environment that is trusting and open.' " ...
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!