Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

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What is needed to create sufficient student agency?

Shoichi Uchiyama is a famous, world expert Japanese chef that is obsessed in entomophagy cuisine. In other words, he is an expert on eating bugs. This can include hornet larvae and silkworm pupae to boiled spiders and cockroach soup.

According to some nutritionists, bugs are a high source of protein and nutrients...supposedly good for you! Insect eating is NOT commonplace in Japan and most Japanese would gag by even the thought of it. Imagine the faces of your kids in school opening boxes of different choices of piping hot pizza and toppings included roasted water bugs, caterpillars and adult hornets! I can almost hear the loud protests with crying and screaming from the students. ...

Common Core Takes Hold in Kansas

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LFA interviewed education leaders to learn about how they are collaborating around Common Core in Kansas.

Joshua Starr, who took the helm of Phi Delta Kappa International this summer, left a high-profile job as Superintendent of the Montgomery County, Md., schools, where he had focused on accountability and high standards for the fast-growing and increasingly diverse 154,000-student district. While some were surprised that Dr. Starr did not seek another job as superintendent, he is now focusing his work on improving teaching and learning through systemic change at PDK International.

Dr. Starr also has worked as director of accountability for the New York City public schools and as superintendent of the Stamford, Conn., school district. Dr. Starr has a doctorate in education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, a master’s degree in special education from Brooklyn College, and a bachelor’s degree in English and history from the University of Wisconsin. His three children attend public schools in Montgomery County, and he began his career as a teacher working with adolescents with several emotional disabilities.

Dr. Starr recently spoke with the Learning First Alliance about his experience as a superintendent, the recent PDK/Gallup Annual poll, and his plans for the organization. ...

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) recently hosted an annual technology summit for the leaders of 10 teacher educator associations that formed a coalition in 2000 around educational technology and educator preparation. This two-day event has witnessed or directly led to some amazing developments over the years, ranging from research to tools to entirely new technologies, as coalition members serve as a unique focus group and visionary working network bridging education and industry. ...

As part of its Get It Right: Common Sense on the Common Core national campaign, the Learning First Alliance recently interviewed administrators and education leaders to highlight perspectives on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Kansas. As one of the first states to adopt the CCSS, Kansas reached full implementation of the standards in the 2013-2014 school year. Kansas educators have praised the standards—known in Kansas as the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards—for setting rigorous performance expectations for all students and thereby improving teaching and learning in the state.

Across Kansas, districts have used a number of effective strategies to ensure that CCSS implementation has been successful. In particular, administrators have focused on building district cultures that place real value on the new standards and which treat the standards as a permanent improvement to teaching and learning, as opposed to a temporary reform. ...

This is the second in a three-part series highlighting perspectives on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Kansas. As one of the first states to adopt the CCSS, Kansas reached full implementation of the standards in the 2013-2014 school year. Kansas educators have praised the standards—known in Kansas as the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards—for setting rigorous performance expectations for all students and thereby improving teaching and learning in the state.

Across Kansas, districts have used a number of effective strategies to ensure that CCSS implementation has been successful. In particular, administrators have focused on building district cultures that place real value on the new standards and which treat the standards as a permanent improvement to teaching and learning, as opposed to a temporary reform. ...

This is the third in a three-part series highlighting educator perspectives on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Kansas. As one of the first states to adopt the CCSS, Kansas reached full implementation of the standards in the 2013-2014 school year. Kansas educators have praised the standards—known in Kansas as the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards—for setting rigorous performance expectations for all students and thereby improving teaching and learning in the state.

Tammy Bartels was the president of Kansas PTA from 2013 until July 2015. She shared her thoughts regarding parent engagement and student learning under the new standards.

How do you think schools and districts can better engage parents and families in the transition to college and career ready standards? What strategies have been most successful so far, in your opinion?

Tammy Bartels: The most important thing schools and districts can do is communicate with their parents. There is a great deal of misinformation out there, so it is important that they share the facts. Parents trust their child’s teachers, so they have to be the first point of contact. ...

Mark Baumgartner, Director of Professional Issues at the Cleveland Teachers Union; Deborah Paden, teacher on assignment for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Resident Educator Program and the AFT/CTU Innovation Fund; and Sara Baldassar, second grade teacher at Memorial Elementary School, Cleveland Metropolitan School District discuss how the Common Core State Standards promote more rigorous learning. The group worked together to develop teacher-created lesson plans that have been vetted by national experts and are now being used by teachers nationwide.

Download as MP3 ...

It's probably best that our nation's founders are not around to hear the current debate about education policy in the United States. Those who fought and worked so hard to create this new country likely would be badly confused, and probably greatly frustrated, by the language being used today.

Although those early leaders had widely different opinions about the workings of government--the battles between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton being a great example of the spirited debate that shaped our nation--a core principle made the formation of the United States possible. It was the notion that power not be concentrated in one place, and that decisions over public policy be made at the levels and by the leaders who are in the best position to make them.

In a word: federalism. ...

The Learning First Alliance brought together educators and representatives from national associations for the #CCSSData Twitter Town Hall on September 24, 2015. The chat followed a webinar, “Let’s Talk Data: What Common Core Test Results Tell Us About Teaching and Learning” held two days earlier.

Key themes that emerged from those conversations included:

  • Context is critical in communicating Common Core-aligned assessment data to teachers, parents and students. Assessment reports must be more than just a score. 

  • There are a host of great resources for teachers, parents and students around Common Core assessment data. Unfortunately these resources don’t always make it into the hands of those who need them most.

  • A host of organizations are creating resources and tools to help teachers, parents, and students interpret and use Common-Core data. The National PTA, Be a Learning Hero, the Data Quality Campaign, and the Teaching Channel all provide free resources. 

    ...
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