A Texas high school offers students support and an array of rigorous learning opportunities; student achievement scores show their efforts are paying off.
Blog Posts By Cheryl S. Williams
The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of leading education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, has released the following statement:
Today, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test of reading literacy, mathematics, and science given every three years to fifteen-year-olds in the United States and approximately seventy countries and economies worldwide.
It is vital that parents, educators, policymakers and other education stakeholders view these results in context. While the ranking of the United States is disappointing and reflects little change in how our nation’s students are performing relative to their peers around the world, this ranking is only one indicator of student achievement. Other measures show significant improvement in the performance of U.S. schools in recent years. The U.S. estimated on-time graduation rate has improved dramatically since 2000 – the first year of PISA. In addition, on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), U.S. 4th and 8th graders made significant gains in math scores between 1995 and 2011.
We would also like to remind stakeholders that there is valuable information in the PISA report beyond the rankings that we should not ignore, including the results of OECD research on the policies and practices that high-performing nations use ...
My Learning First Alliance (LFA) colleagues and I have been giving quite a bit of attention to the impending release of the latest results from the Organisaton for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tests literacy, math, and science in 15 year-olds every three years. The United States has been humbled by past results that place us somewhere past number 20 in rankings of proficiency. We’re expecting that this year’s results will not show improvement and, as national leadership groups, have been strategizing how to respond on behalf of the educators and stakeholders we represent.
I’ve been thinking lately that perhaps there are lessons to be learned from international comparisons that we’re missing. A few random thoughts follow:
- In the past we, as Americans, were quite convinced that we were superior to others around the globe. Now we know we’re not.
- Because we, as a country, have been blessed with abundant natural resources, two friendly neighboring countries, and the security of the protective boundary of two large oceans, we’ve believed that
And Why Aren’t We More Ashamed?
The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) recently released a report entitled A New Majority: Low Income Students in the South and the Nation that reveals low income children are a majority of students in 17 states, primarily in the South and West. Across the nation low income students are a near majority at 48 percent. A separate report Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card analyses the education funding systems in these states and reveals that serious funding inequities continue to exist years after court cases across the nation have required states to reform their funding systems to alleviate such discrepancies.
Among the findings uncovered in the two reports include the following: ...
For many years, a big part of my job was to run a large conference showcasing innovative school districts and companies who used technology in appropriate and imaginative ways to meet a variety of learning styles and school district management challenges. The result of all that experience in meeting management is that I’m a harsh critic of conferences, both their management and content. So, after last year’s Education Nation Summit, I was vocal in my observation on its lack of depth in content; fairness in representation of public schools; and awkward timing of panels and interviews with very little acknowledgement of both the complexities of public schooling as well as the promising practices that many public school districts are instituting to reach the needs of an increasingly diverse and challenging student population.
After experiencing this year’s Education Nation Summit, I can say that the quality of the discourse and depth of conversation has improved dramatically. Audience members are still asked to sit way too long and opportunities for real exchange are limited, though a discussion session with report out was added to the lunch program on day two and provided the chance to meet attendees from a variety of organizations and participate in a real exchange. The context for the entire program helped steer ...
Those of us who have spent our professional lives working in public education have come to expect that articles written about schools that contain advice for both parents and the educators who work with students will focus on pointing out what’s wrong with schools and those who work in them and generally be negative in tone and wrong with the advice. So, it was a pleasant surprise to read an article in the August 11, 2013, Parade, the magazine distributed across the country as an insert in Sunday newspapers, entitled “Building a Better School Day.” Since schools across the country started this week (joining the many that kicked off classes in August), I thought it a good time to reiterate the seven great ideas the article proposed:
- Begin the day with breakfast—We don’t usually think that schools should be responsible for feeding students more than one meal a day (lunch); however, studies have shown that an increasing number of kids arrive at school without having had breakfast, for a variety of reasons – some young children from poor homes can’t afford it, and some older students sleep in and just skip the meal. Research has shown that “breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function and school attendance,” and breakfast in the classroom provides an opportunity to ...
I recently attended an information-rich meeting sponsored by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), at which Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at the University of London, addressed the topic of Teacher Expertise: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How We Can Get More of It. The results of Dr. Wiliam’s research are fascinating and important as we work collectively towards improving our public education system. The first thing that came to mind after listening to his talk was the old humorous adage, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice.”
What Dr. Wiliam’s work has uncovered is that only investing in existing teachers produces enough improvement to result in the changes we need in our education system and that this is not happening systematically in most schools and districts…but that it could be. ...
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 ...
When I logged onto my Twitter account last Tuesday, an interesting string of comments/news scrolled across my screen. As fate would have it, the National Education Association (NEA) annual meeting and the National Charter Schools Conference (NCSC) were both taking place, and their keynote speaker addresses filled my Twitter feed.
The NEA speakers, former Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools (MCPS) district superintendent Jerry Weast and Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond offered perspectives on the roles teachers can and should play as successful practitioners in the classroom and beyond. Dr. Weast profiled the MCPS Peer Assistance and Review Program (PAAR), designed in collaboration with the local unit of NEA and the district administration to institute a system of teacher evaluation led by teachers and predicated on ...
I recently attended an event showcasing state initiatives that focus on the goal of ensuring all third grade students read on grade level – a lofty and perfectly reasonable goal. The participants in the program included three governors as well as a panel of state superintendents of education. One of the governors kept mentioning that in her state too much attention has been paid to the adults in the system to the detriment of the students. Her belief in this root cause of the disappointing literacy rate of her state’s third grade students struck a cord and reminded me of another event hosted by Learning Forward and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) last month. That event, Advancing the Common Core: State Strategies for Transforming Professional Learning, showcased a set of resources to improve teacher practice developed under the leadership of Learning Forward with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Sandler Foundation, and the MetLife Foundation. It included a panel of education leaders at the state and local level who have participated and contributed to the project.
One panel member, Cynthia Cash-Greene, superintendent of the Orangeburg (SC) Consolidated School District #3, was especially impressive, and her message resonated with me. She said district leaders need to be bold and know what they stand for. She has focused on ...
The Learning First Alliance has sent an open letter to education stakeholders recommending a transition period in Common Core implementation. Fifteen of our member organizations joined together to suggest that for at least one year after the original deadline, the results from assessments of the Common Core State Standards be used only to guide instruction and attention to curriculum development, technology infrastructure, professional learning and other resources needed to ensure that schools have the supports needed to help all students achieve under the Common Core.
By removing high-stakes consequences from these assessments during the transition to them, educators will have adequate time to adjust their instruction, students can focus on learning, and parents and communities can focus on supporting children.
Download the letter, or read it below.
June 6, 2013
OPEN LETTER TO EDUCATION STAKEHOLDERS:
Fifteen members of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of national education organizations representing more than ten million parents, educators and policymakers, have agreed on the following statement:
The Learning First Alliance believes that the Common Core State Standards have the potential to transform teaching and learning and provide all children with knowledge and skills necessary for success in the global community.
To meet this potential, teachers, administrators, parents and communities are working together to align the standards with curriculum, instruction and assessment. Their work – which includes ...
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