The Teachers Edition -- August 6, 2015

The Teachers Edition

August 6, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

clip from TeachingCenter

In this episode of TeachingCenter, anchors Perry Schmidt and Boyd Maxwell (Key and  Peele) report on the highly-anticipated announcement of the latest high school teacher draft picks.

Video Worth Watching

If Only This Were Reality...

If you haven't seen this Key and Peele viral video of teachers being treated like athletic super stars, stop what you are doing and watch it now. Be sure to stay with the clip through the BMW "Teacher's Pet" ad. Then bookmark the whole page so you can review the video whenever you need to feel pumped about your contribution to the world and your value to the country. 

Teacher Leadership 

TAFs and PAFs at Teach to Lead Summit

Many of ED's new Teacher Ambassador Fellows (TAFs) and a new Principal Ambassador Fellow (PAF) participated in the Teacher Leadership Summit in the nation's capital. From left: TAF/PAF Program Director Gillian Cohen-Boyer; Joe Manko (2015 PAF and team critical friend), and brand new TAFs Julia Dezen, JoLisa Hoover, Mark Sass, Aman Dhanda, Matt Presser, Meredith Morelle and Patrick Kelly.

Inspired to Lead 

Teach to Lead Summit Packs a Punch

Teach to Lead hosted the fourth Regional Teacher Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. July 23-24 to spotlight and advance teacher leadership in states, districts and schools across the country. At the Summit sponsored by the US Department of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, participating teams led by teachers focused on a current challenge in their practice and their idea to solve it. Using a logic model framework, the teams worked with critical friends from supporting organizations to create plans to implement their teacher leadership idea. 

For example, the team from Maine wanted to address the gaps in access to quality professional development for arts educators. So they created goals, dug deep into their project, identified the inputs, activities, outputs and potential outcomes. Then they shared with others and garnered feedback to improve their strategies. The group participation helped to spark amazing conversations and created connections that led to a collective goal: improve student achievement.  

Highlights of the summit included collaboration with "critical friends" who could give support and offer suggestions; a speech by NNSTOY’s Executive Director Katherine Bassett, who pushed teachers to advocate by selling their ideas; attendance by ED's new class of Teacher Ambassador Fellows; the unveiling of a new Teach to Lead fact sheet; and remarks by  Arne Duncan, who  offered encouragement and support for teacher leadership, a little idea that is growing into a strong national movement. The next Teacher Leadership Summit will be taking place in Tacoma, Washington, September 26-27. Submit a teacher leadership idea by 11:59 pm ET Friday, August 13, 2015.

Teach to Lead logo

Tacoma, Washington (Sept. 26-27)

Heads Up! There is Still Time to Submit a Leadership Idea! 

The deadline for submitting an idea to participate in the Teach to Lead Teacher Leadership Summit in Tacoma, Wash., has been extended to August 13. The Tacoma Summit will be the sixth since the Summits began in October 2014.

Teachers who have an idea to improve education in their school, district or state are welcome to apply as individuals or as a team (teachers, principals, administrators, school board members etc.). Submit an idea to participate. 

Teachers' team action plans for the first three summits have been posted on the Teach to Lead website. In a Stories from School blog, teacher Marc Gardner reflects on his experience at the Denver Teach to Lead Summit and offers guidance about what to expect in Tacoma.

Support is Growing: We decree 83. Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA) and the Council for Professional Recognition (CDA) have joined Teach to Lead as official supporters, bringing the latest count to 83. Check out the complete roster of supporting organizations.  

Untapped cover

 New Leaders Report

An Untapped Resource: 

Teacher Leadership 

Strong teacher leadership is central to improving our schools, particularly as teachers and students strive to achieve rising academic expectations. But what will it take to tap that potential?

A new report from New LeadersUntapped: Transforming Teacher Leadership to Help Students Succeed—describes and shares promising early findings from its Emerging Leaders Program, a job-embedded coaching and training program that develops teachers into forceful instructional leaders. 

Program outcomes indicate that almost three quarters of participants were able to boost student learning in the classrooms they supervised during their training year. A number of companion resources are also available, including recommendations for district and charter leaders, policymakers, principals, and training providers.

Other key findings:

  • Teacher leaders can immediately boost student learning in their schools. Some 70 percent of participants achieved notable gains in student achievement across classrooms they supervised during their training year.
  • Teacher leaders can quickly develop and apply critical leadership skills. Participants made significant, measureable gains on high-impact skills, such as using student data and coaching to improve instruction.
  • Teacher leaders can fill gaps in the leadership pipeline. After one year of Emerging Leaders, 80 percent of participants who were accepted to a principal apprenticeship started that training having mastered key leadership skills.

California Mega Conference

Sharing Instructional Practices

More than 15,000 teachers in California took part in an education summit held simultaneously in 33 venues. Teachers exchanged ideas and stories about how to implement the Common Core State Standards that went into effect in the state during the 2014-15 school year. 

Kitty Dixon of the nonprofit New Teacher Center and one of the organizers said, “We tried to create an agenda where part of the goal was to inspire, and part of it was to learn and network beyond your schools and districts” (Magee, San Diego Union-Tribune). 

TAF and PAF news

Leah Lechleiter-Luke (2011 Classroom Fellow) is serving as one of ten educators on a pilot Educator Engagement Panel facilitated by CCSSO and NNSTOY. The panel is part of both organizations’ commitment to create more opportunities for educators to engage in, inform, and lead conversations about helping to prepare America’s public school students for success.

The Teaching Profession

Our Favorite Things: Natasha Bodden's Story

Natasha Bowden speaking at the Teach to Lead Summit in Washington, D.C.

At last month's Teach to Lead Summit in Washington, D.C., Bronx, N.Y., special education teacher Natasha Bodden spoke eloquently about how tapping into teacher leadership has inspired her to ‘be bold’ as an educator, both inside and outside the classroom. "I'm in it," she tells the audience in this powerful video (2:10).


Celebrating African American Educators

Patrice Dawkins-Jackson

Editor's note: The following is part of a series reporting on excellent African American educators. Educators were selected by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Patrice Dawkins-Jackson

Patrice Dawkins-Jackson is a Teacher Leader at Dunwoody Springs Elementary School in Sandy Springs, Georgia. She was a 2012 Teaching Ambassador Fellow and a U.S. Department of Education 2014 Teacher Ambassador Classroom Fellow.

 Why and how did you decide upon a career in education?

First, I wanted to share my love for learning with children and ignite their passion to become lifelong learners. In addition, I wanted to impact my profession and policy. I have always believed that in order to impact my profession, I had to be an exceptional educator and teacher leader first.

 What is the one thing you most celebrate about your students?

I teach in a high needs elementary school. I celebrate every time our students prove the perception that is perpetuated by others wrong. High expectations yield high results.

 In what ways do you encourage parents, family members and other caring adults to support the learning and development of African American students?

I encourage our stakeholders to be advocates for African American students. I encourage them to embrace pushing back to ensure that our students are getting what they need and deserve. We can no longer be uninformed and complacent. 

Quote to Note

Letting Students Handle the Cognitive Load

"Kids' thinking has to be the center of the classroom. Otherwise, they can get the right answer without having really learned."

(Teacher and 2015 Fishman Prize Winner Erin Dukeshire at a meeting with officials at ED July 28.)

Students with Disabilities

25 Years of Progress

ADA Anniversary

The 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is more than a celebration. It’s an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the values that the ADA represents and to renew our commitment to helping all Americans succeed – in schools, workplaces, and every part of public life, says assistant secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon


Since the ADA passage July 26, 1990, ED has continued to work to make sure all students share the same opportunities available to all Americans, and data show we’re making progress on educational outcomes for students with disabilities in ways that are transformational for students, schools and society. Read more about ADA cases that have been resolved and new policy guidance and results-driven accountability frameworks from the Office for Civil Rights and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. 

Did You Know?

How a Teacher's Actions May Reflect Low Expectations

Recommended Reading

Teacher Actions that Signal Low Expectations

Middle school teacher Barbara Blackburn has penned this informative article about how teachers sometimes inadvertently signal that they have low expectations for some students (Middle Web). While agreeing that most teachers believe they have high expectations, Blackburn shows how we do not always "translate those expectations into actions that support our beliefs."

Cover of the book DIARY OF A REAL BULLY

Diary of a Real Bully (Melody Arabo)

The teachers at ED can't get enough of a children's book by 2015 Michigan Teacher of the Year Melody Arabo, Diary of a Real Bully

The story is told from the point of view of a traditional elementary student named Anna, who doesn't fit the traditional stereotype of an aggressor. 

Though she is a "good person" whose teachers tell her she is smart, Anna nevertheless commits acts of aggression to classmates that hurt others and make them feel unwanted and embarrassed. 

The story makes a good read-aloud because on almost every page, Anna asks students to examine their own behavior and make small changes that "will make the biggest difference."

Here's an excerpt:

TV bullies pick on people they don't like.

Real bullies pick on their own friends and classmates.

TV bullies beat up people on the outside.

Real bullies tear people down on the inside.

Read an article about the book and listen to an interview with the author (Michigan Radio).

Education Policy

Policy Briefs

Rethinking Teacher Prep.  A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that some states do not assess whether teacher preparation programs (TPPs) are low-performing, as required by federal law. The GAO recommends that ED monitor states to ensure their compliance with TPP and to develop mechanisms to share information about TPP quality within the department and with states.

Bellwether Education Partners has issued a report rethinking teacher preparation, calling for districts and charter schools in California to play a greater role in developing their own supply of high-quality teachers (Mead, Aldeman, Chuong and Obbard). The report also recommends that teacher preparation programs redesign their work to better meet the needs of schools and prospective teachers. States should also hold teacher prep programs accountable for how they meet the needs of districts and prospective teachers. 

State Saving Money by Using PARCC. In Maryland, the State Department of Education “was able to save over $2.5 million dollars compared to state assessments in the past,” according to State Superintendent Lois Lowery. The electronic version of the PARCC test costs about $24 per test, compared to nearly $80 per test for the Maryland’s High School Assessment.

Civil Rights Data on School Discipline


Keeping Kids in School

The Justice Department and ED held a White House joint conference on school discipline, Rethink Discipline, that looked at ways to reduce the overuse of unnecessary out-of-school suspensions and expulsions and replace those practices with positive alternatives. The sessions sought to advance the national conversation about keeping students in school and engaged in learning, while ensuring accountability

ED concurrently released maps based on data collected by the Office for Civil Rights during the 2011-2012 school year, detailing where students are most likely to get suspended from school (in the Southeast), with specifics for Native Americans, blacks, Hispanics and those with disabilities. According to the data, over 3 million students are losing critical learning time due to out-of-school suspensions and expulsions every year, a statistic the Washington Post calls ‘staggering.’

Good Stuff for Eduwonks

Why NAEP Math Achievement is Rising for All Groups but Falling Overall

In this excerpt from a Brookings Institute blog, Brad Hershbein reports on a misunderstood paradox in education: why math scores for white, Hispanic and black students are rising, but the average for all students is declining. 

According the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the only nationally-representative exam measuring student learning over the past few decades, math scores for all 17-year-olds barely budged between 1992 and 2012. In fact, the average score dipped by a point (see the navy blue line below):

Longterm trends in NAEP scores by race


But as the graph also shows, average test scores actually rose slightly for white students, black students, and Hispanic students. If each of these groups was performing better, how did the overall average go down? The answer is the composition of students changed. In 1992, 75 percent of students were white, 15 percent were black, and 7 percent were Hispanic. By 2012, 57 percent were white, 13 percent were black, and 22 percent were Hispanic. The modest progress in each ethnic group is not visible in the overall results, since black and Hispanic students have lower average scores.

The New Math: Public Opinion about Annual Testing (and Opting Out)

mathematical symbols

According to survey data released by Education Next, 67% of the public support required annual testing, while just 21% oppose the idea. 

Among teachers, 47% favor testing, while 46% express opposition. 

Only 25% of the public support the idea of parents being able to opt their children out of state assessments, while 59% oppose it. Among teachers, 57% oppose parental opt outs, while only 32% lend support.

Read an interview with Arne Duncan and EdWeek's Alyson Klein about accountability proposed in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act currently being considered by Congress.   

Resources for Educators

Check List for Learning

Supporting Students by Asking the Right Questions

Parent Checklist

ED has collaborated with America Achieves, the National Council of La Raza, the National Parent Teacher Association, and the United Negro College Fund to release a parent checklist with questions that parents and caregivers can use to help ensure their children are getting the education they deserve. 

The checklist includes ways educators suggest parents can support their children’s success in school:

  • set high expectations for your child;
  • make sure your child is in school every day and on time;
  • work collaboratively with your child’s teachers and talk to them about goals and expectations for your child;
  • talk to your child each day about what he or she is doing in school and discuss what he or she learned;
  • encourage your child to complete assignments and see that he or she finishes them; 
  • attend parent-teacher conferences; and
  • participate in family engagement and volunteer opportunities.

Check out the press release, blog post, and web site featuring information and resources for parents, caregivers and educators.

English Learners

Speaking More than One

Outshining the Big Kids.Stanford University study reports that dual-language fourth and fifth graders at a Palo Alto school performed on par with high school students in Mandarin. The reason for this high performance, according to UCLA linguist Nina Hyams, is children are usually more prone to language acquisition at an elementary age rather than middle school, which is the usual age of foreign language at the US schools.

Teaching Dual Language Learners. Learn more about why it’s important for more teachers to be prepared to work with DLLs. Find out about opportunities for teachers to gain the necessary skills to understand and instruct them (Simpson BairdEdCentral).  

Restricted. Bilingualism in an increasingly globalized economy is a great advantage. Yet court decisions like the one in Arizona supporting the all-English approach to educating English-language learners is a set back for ELs as well as other students (Goldenberg, EdWeek).

Teachers Notes

sticky notepad

 Bullying: It's so 2005. USA Today's Karen Valentini reports on a study released by ED that finds the bullying problem is getting smaller. Fewer children aged 12 to 18 reported being targeted by bullies in 2013, only 22 percent, down from 28 percent in 2011. It’s the lowest number since the department began the survey in 2005.

• Small changes. Big rewards. Kevin Hartnett reports in the Boston Globe about several recent studies showing that small changes in the way math is taught to students could improve performance. One study showed that students better understood the concept of patterns when it was explained to them in the abstract instead of only with concrete examples.

 Reach Higher. At a "Beating the Odds" gathering, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted 130 college students who experienced “major hurdles” in gaining access to higher education, including “financial worries at home, a lack of resources, [and] physical challenges" (Greenberg, Washington Post).

• Diversity and Rigor. Differentiation in Middle and High School: Strategies to Engage All Learners, (Kristina Doubet and Jessica Hockett) explores how to use differentiated instruction to help students be more successful learners—regardless of background, native language, learning style, motivation, or school savvy. The introduction and chapter one of the ASCD book are available for free. 

• Native American Community Academy Webinar. Register to join Sarah Caldwell, Josh Krause, Val Siow, and Michelle Sprouse for Using PD Online® for Individual and Group Study: Portfolios as Performance Assessments in Native American Literature Coursework on August 20, 3:00 p.m. ET.

• #readwhereyouare. Pledge to stay informed on education issues, spread the word, and support reading in your community and across the nation. Check out ED's new website to raise awareness and encourage reading. Reading can happen everywhere.

• Good Hair Day. Barbershop owners are doing more to not only cut hair, but cut the achievement gap. A meeting at ED is helping to promote reading at their shops

• Global Connections. Letitia Zwickert, International Relations, World Cultures, and Minorities teacher (Naperville,Ill. Central High School) blogs about her experience as a Bridging Cultures participant with the State Department’s Study of US Institutes for Scholars.

• Second Chance Pell Pilot. In an effort to create a fairer criminal justice system, ED announce a new program that would allow some incarcerated individuals to receive Pell grants and pursue post-secondary education. 

Tools for Students

Make FAFSA Filing Easier

Students' Corner

The Gates Foundation's has proposed a method for simplifying the FAFSA that may be less of a headache for students and families trying to access federal aid for college (Barrett and Love, EdCentral). The article mentions ED's FAFSA4caster that will help students and families understand their options for paying for college.


Emerging Research

Early Intervention Makes a Difference. 

In a report issued by the Institute of Education Sciences, Head Start was found to have potentially positive effects on general reading achievement and no discernible effects on mathematics achievement and social-emotional development for 3- and 4-year-old children. 

Questions or comments about The Teachers Edition? Send them to ED's Teacher Liaison, Laurie Calvert:

Top 5 Quotes

Arne at Teach to Lead

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. “We participated in high quality professional development using the Logic Model which helped us to focus on our project from beginning to end.” (Teacher, Maine)

4. “As an immigrant to this country and an English language learner myself, I always try to tell my students, ‘This is the land of opportunity. You can do anything. But you have to be ready.’” (Principal, Calif.)

3. “I heard the words – 'be bold!' – and it reminded me why I became a teacher in the first place.” (Teacher, Bronx, NY)

2. "I've learned at this summit that I don't have to leave the classroom to lead." (Teacher, N.Y.)

1. "The best teachers just don't have a fixed mindset about what their kids can do." (Teacher, New Orleans, La.)