(Formerly TEACHING MATTERS)
October 31, 2013 | Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.
Milken Award Winner Kena Allison was recently
surprised to win the Milken Educator Award during an assembly at Thurgood
Marshall Academy (Washington, D.C.). Allison teaches physics and is known
for her own First Law of Motion: “A student in motion stays in motion; a
student at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by a passionate teacher
dedicated to their success.” (Photo courtesy of video provided by the Milken
Speaking) Science Teacher Allison is a Winner
When the announcement was made last week that D.C. science
teacher Kena Allison had won the Milken Educator Award and $25,000, the high school
science teacher seemed a bit stunned. After telling the enthusiastic crowd that she
didn’t know what to say because she was “caught off guard,” Allison spoke eloquently to her students about the value of education and the power of having choices. Learn more
about Allison and why she won the honor. Watch the video.
psychologist Barbara Mercaldo, outside P.S. 36
Margaret Douglas Elementary School in New York City, is one of more than 30,000
district educators recently awarded back pay for working outside of her contractually mandated workdays because of slow
school Internet connections and other technical challenges.
NYC Schools Prompt Big Payout
EdWeek (Herold) looks into a $41
million settlement being paid to educators in NYC Public Schools who
sued the district for
failing to provide adequate technology and Internet bandwidth for their
employees. "This is the first time I am aware of a public school system
being held accountable, in a legal manner and with real dollars attached, for
the quality of its broadband infrastructure, software implementation, and training,"
said Douglas A. Levin, the executive director of the State
Educational Technology Directors Association based in Glen Burnie,
Md. "Schools and districts are now on the hook for following through on
their promises with respect to technology."
Getting Real about Teacher Prep
A "CONTENTED CARTEL"? Despite
some perceptions that schools of education belong to a "contented
cartel," Bill Keller offers optimistic evidence that teacher
preparation programs are emerging to move the profession to a higher level.
Instead of viewing education programs as "cash cows," he provides anecdotal
evidence that universities and colleges are becoming more selective and
rigorous and offering many more clinical experiences for beginning teachers.
Read his NY
Times editorial. In a related
story, Jim Larson, professor emeritus in the psychology department
at the University of
Wisconsin-Whitewater, calls for several steps that could help teaching
become a stronger profession.
SEVEN STATES SIGN ONTO A "BIG DEAL." The Council of Chief State School Officers announced
that seven states (Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Massachusetts and Washington) have been selected to participate in a
two-year pilot program focused on transforming educator preparation and entry
systems. Under the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation, the
states will strengthen educator licensing standards and requirements, raise the
bar on the approval process for all educator preparation providers to ensure
they deliver high-quality, rigorous training to potential educators, and
formalize and refine the process for collecting, analyzing, and reporting
educator pre-service and in-service performance data. "This is a big
deal," said Dennis Van Roekel, president of
the National Education Association, which helped develop the
initiative. Learn more.
PREPARING FOR A GLOBAL MARKET. The
National Center for Education Sciences recently released a report from a
study initiated so that states can compare the performance of their students
with that of students in other countries. The study links the National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scale to the Trends in
International Mathematics and Science Study. Results come from the
data of eighth-grade students in all states/jurisdictions that
participated in the NAEP mathematics and science assessments. It attempts to
answer this question: How do U.S. students in each state compare
internationally in mathematics and science? There is some good
news. Download the executive summary. Read the full report, U.S. States in a Global Context: Results from the 2011
NAEP-TIMSS Linking Study.
THE ROAD TO IMPROVEMENT
"Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try."
(Atul Gawande in his book, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance)
What’s in an
Shortly after sending an announcement
to subscribers of Teaching Matters, the teachers at ED got email from
other teachers asking us, “Err . . .
don’t you need an apostrophe in the new title [The Teachers Edition]?”
Some English teachers apologetically pressed, “Sorry to push
back but I take correct usage very personally!” One advised that we probably
should consult an English teacher for guidance.
Turns out we had. The original version of The Teachers Edition had included
an apostrophe, but a teacher at ED changed our minds. About a week before
publication, our grammar and usage guru in Publications indicated in an email
that the apostrophe is superfluous. “I had a thought as I look at the title,”
she wrote. “You can definitely eliminate the apostrophe, meant to show
possession, as this is a newsletter FOR teachers and not of or owned by
Learning that the apostrophe was optional, we decided to go
with the cleaner look. Of course, not everyone is happy, and we get it. Reading
the email brought to mind the many times when we teachers cringed
when we saw something blatantly wrong in print.
HOPE STREET GROUP
Application Deadline Extended
Do you know a great
teacher who wants to contribute their ideas to shaping education policy? Hope
Street Group is seeking applicants for their 2014 class of National Teacher
Fellows. Click here for more information and
instructions on how to apply. The application deadline has been extended so that complete applications will be accepted until Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. For questions, please contact Wendy Uptain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perea Blackmon, a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) from Washington, D.C., describes how she uses various resources to teach the text Bud, Not Buddy.
IGNITING A PASSION FOR LEARNING. Some
of the nation's leading teachers have joined forces to help educators and
parents understand the theory and practice behind the Common Core State
Standards. NNSTOY has partnered with the Hunt Institute, American
Federation of Teachers, the National
Education Association, and the Parent
Teacher Association to produce four 30-minute episodes of Georgia Public
Television's The Ignite
Show, each focusing on the new standards. Each video features an
exemplar lesson taught by a state Teacher of the Year, interviews with policy
makers and business leaders, and parent or student perspectives. Each program
is accompanied by a teachers’ guide and a teacher-to-teacher video about the
lesson. In the first
program, Annice Brave (2011
Illinois Teacher of the Year) talks with educators about the Common Core. View excerpts
from a demo of Brave teaching The Scarlet Letter to high school
students. The second
program features Perea Blackmon marrying party planning and Detroit history
to unpack a favorite novel. The third episode will launch Nov. 4.
EXPOSING CONSPIRACY THEORIES TO THE LIGHT. Former
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush does not hold back refuting Common Core
opponents. “Criticisms and conspiracy theories are easy attention grabbers,” he
said at Excellence in Education’s 2013 National Summit on Education Reform, “but
they don’t make our graduates ready for college and careers.” On ABC’s
This Week (10/20), Gov. Bush said, "There is a big fear on
the right about this massive government overreach. I totally appreciate that.
But that’s not what this is. This is a national imperative. It’s not a Federal
government program,” he said. Learn more from the Associated
Press and the Tampa
Bay (Fla.) Times.
CORE TEACHER INSTITUTE. At the NBC Nation 2013
Education Summit, partners offered a Common
Core Teacher Institute to help teachers better understand what the Common
Core State Standards will mean for classroom instruction. During the institute,
teachers modeled teaching to specific standards. You can view the lessons and
the debrief sessions for ELA
(elementary) literacy, ELA
(secondary) literacy, (secondary)
science literacy, and (secondary)
DUNCAN DEBATES CORE’S VALUE. Arne Duncan debated
the value of the Common Core State Standards with Tim Knowles (University of California) and Rick
Hess (American Enterprise
Institute) at the University
of Chicago’s Institute of Politics last week. When Hess said that he
would like the Department of Education to promise that it won't require states
to adopt Common Core assessments in order to get waivers from No Child Left
Behind (NCLB), Duncan reminded him that Texas, Virginia and Minnesota all got
NCLB waivers without adopting the Common Core. Watch the video.
ADULT WORKFORCE READINESS
Did You Know?
a doubt changes made during the last part of the 20th century have made it
easier for people, goods, services and capital to move around the world,
leading to the globalization of economies and a very different demand for skills in the workforce. According to
the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Skills Outook
2013: Results from the First Survey of Adult Skills, "With
manufacturing and certain low-skill tasks increasingly becoming automated,
the need for routine cognitive and craft skills is declining, while the demand
for information-processing and other high-level cognitive and
interpersonal skills is growing."
How are adults in the United States faring? According to
the report, U.S. adults are below the international average” when
assessed in “math, reading and problem-solving using technology.”
SUPPORT FOR DEAF-BLIND LEARNERS
National Center on Deaf-Blindness Awarded $10.5 Million Grant
ED awarded a $10.5
million grant over the next five years to the National Center
on Deaf-Blindness, a consortium of the Teaching Research Institute at Western Oregon University, the Helen
Keller National Center, and Perkins School for the Blind for the
continued operation of the National Technical Assistance Center for Children
who are Deaf-Blind. The Department awarded the fund before the recent funding
lapse and subsequent government shutdown.
"This grant will help the National Center on
Deaf-Blindness continue its very important work to ensure that
deaf-blind students get the support and resources they need to succeed in
their education," said Secretary Duncan. "All students deserve
to be equipped with the appropriate tools and services they need to help them
Deadlines for Colleges Extended
Richard Perez-Pena of the NY Times recently
reported that prestigious colleges across the nation, including Northwestern, the University of Chicago, Duke,
and Columbia have delayed their
early application deadlines. The extension was prompted by reports that
students around the country have had technical problems with the Common
Application, an online application used by 517 colleges and universities.
The root of the issue is a new version of the Common
Application that students say is difficult to fill out and send
recommendations. Rob Killion, executive director of the Common
Application, recently said, "We're very close to having them
all fixed. Most of them are." However, according to the comments on
social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, some students
are still hitting obstacles.
Nov. 1 deadlines have been pushed back to Nov. 8 at Northwestern, the University of Chicago, Duke, Columbia,
Barnard, Dartmouth and Tufts. Boston University announced a delay to
Nov. 15, while Syracuse
postponed its Nov. 15 deadline to Dec. 1. Earlier, Georgia Tech and the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill extended their Oct. 15 deadlines to Oct.
21. Other Common Application universities, including Princeton, Stanford, and Harvard, have not announced any
BLUE RIBBON SNAPSHOTS. Visit the Blue Ribbon Schools interactive map to learn more about the accomplishments of this year’s National Blue Ribbon Schools. A series of one-page profiles captures the headline information for each school, and, for specifics, educators can download their applications for Blue Ribbon status.
CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE THAT SCHOOL LEADERS MATTER. ED’s
Principal in Residence Josh Klaris recommends this
article about an important Stanford
study that emphasizes the significance of school leaders and student
performance, but also discusses the difficulty in making a direct connection
between the two. (Published in Education
Next, Winter 2013, by Gregory Branch, Eric Hanushek and Steven Rivkin)
DC'S TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEM
The Impact of IMPACT
DC's IMPACT program...
• "increased the voluntary attrition of low-performing teachers by 11 percentage points (i.e., more than 50 percent)
• improved the performance of teachers who remained by 0.27 of a teacher-level standard deviation.
• improved the performance of high-performing teachers."
From a study a working paper published by Thomas Dee of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education and James Wyckoff of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.
The study provides evidence that the strongly debated
policy could be encouraging effective teachers to stay in the
classroom. “High-powered incentives linked to multiple indicators of
teacher performance can substantially improve the measured performance of the
teaching work force,” concluded Dee
Since its rollout, the performance-based system has led to
of hundreds of teachers. Richard
Ingersoll of the University of
Pennsylvania estimates that, “nationally, on average, about 20 percent of
new public school teachers leave their district to teach in another district or
leave teaching altogether within one year, one-third do so within two years,
and 55 percent do so within five years.” DCPS (District of Colombia Public
Schools) education finance expert Mary
Levy estimates that 55 percent of new teachers leave within their
years in the DCPS system.
Why I'm Optimistic about Education in America
In an editorial published in the Christian Science Monitor, Arne Duncan describes what he learned from talking with teachers, parents and principals during his bus tour of the Southwest, and makes a case that education is a shared national responsibility.
• XIAN BARRETT (2009 -10 Classroom Fellow) has traded in his marker board to enrich the work of Viva Teachers. Taking a position as national program director for New Voice Strategies to strengthen teachers’ contribution to the national education dialog, Xian's goal is for policymakers and administrators to listen to teachers instead of always going to them to get “buy in.” Learn more.
• LEAH LECHLEITER-LUKE (2011 -12 Classroom Fellow). This 2010 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year recently testified before the Wisconsin legislature about how important the Common Core State Standards are for her teaching. "What I saw in the Common Core is what I continue to see now," Luke told the packed crowd. "This is an excellent educational design which began with, to use teacher-talk, 'the end in mind.'" Read her complete testimony.
year NICK GREER (201 0-11 Washington Fellow, right) donates his
personal dignity and invites folks to contribute to teachers' classrooms
through Donors Choose. During his
campaign to raise money for colleagues, Greer refuses to shave his mustache
even though he looks much better without it. Greer's annual "Stache Bash," signaling the end of growing season, is planned for this weekend
and he is well short of his lofty goal of raising $1,500 for science projects
for Baltimore city schools by checking out his page.
Tools for Students
ADVICE FROM “THE
SCIENCE GUY.” Bill
Nye offers students advice to take control of their education and manage
paying for college in this Huffington Post blog.
Students, who need advice for existing student loans, should also check out this
post on ed.gov about how to deal with your student loan officer.
30K FOR BUSINESS SAVVY STUDENTS. The Starbucks Foundation would like to support organizations that aid "business savvy, socially conscience, collaborative" young people. If this interests you, consider applying for the Starbucks Youth Leadership Grant. Deadline: December 15, 2013.
STUDENTS' MESSAGE TO CONGRESS. StudentCam is an annual video competition hosted by C-SPAN that encourages students to think critically about issues that affect our communities and our nation. This year's theme, "What's the most important issue the U.S. Congress should consider in 2014?" Students in grades 6-12 can submit videos individually or in teams. Awards include $5,000, plus $750 to spend on digital video equipment for one's school.
• PIONEERS IN PRIVACY. Fordham University's Center for Law and Information Policy
launched a first-ever curriculum for privacy education geared to middle
school students. The curriculum is available as
a set of free open source documents on the CLIP website to educators who want to use the instructional materials to address the
many privacy issues teens face as their use of technology skyrockets.
• A SNEAK PEEK AT STEM. Registration is now open
for the USA Science & Engineering
Festival’s Sneak Peek Friday, a special event for students to experience
the Festival’s EXPO exhibits before they open to the general public. Attendees will have access to over 2,000
hands-on, interactive activities offered by more than 750 leading science
organizations from around the nation. The no-cost event takes place Friday,
April 25, 2014, 9:00am to 3:00pm, at the Walter E. Washington Convention
Center in Washington D.C. Learn more
• POLITICS ASIDE. The
mayors of Denver, Colo., Sacramento, Calif., Providence, R.I., and San Antonio,
Texas launched the Mayors for
Educational Excellence Tour in Denver earlier this month. Learn more
about how they are laying politics aside and supporting educational innovations
in their cities.
• SEVEN POWERFUL VERBS. In The
Seven Verbs of Teacher Leadership, Wendi Pillars identifies seven characteristics of "teacher leaders" and describes them as teachers who operate with integrative power and act because they have a responsibility to do so. She also argues that it would be greatly appreciated when "those who have power also have our backs."
• BUILDING VOCABULARY. In Language-Gap
Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K, the
NY Times reports on a new study about the effects of poverty on children’s
learning (Rich). Rich describes the findings of a study
about the language gap that was conducted by Stanford psychologist Anne Fernald. Her data show
that at 18 months, children from wealthier homes can identify pictures of simple
words they know much faster than children from low-income families. The bottom
line: it’s not about drilling students about words but about interacting with
them to broaden their experiences.
• STEM NEW HIRES ON THE RISE. U.S. Fortune 1,000 companies are creating more STEM jobs. The
Bayer Corporation Facts of Science
Education survey (10/22) suggests that 89 percent of talent recruiters in
this year’s survey found fierce competition to fill open STEM jobs. Four-year
STEM degree holders and new hires with two-year and four-year STEM degrees are as
or more in demand for non-STEM jobs than others. Learn more.
• THE DEVASTATION
OF SEQUESTRATION. A report written by Jocelyn Bissonnette of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools shows that
federal budget cuts as a result of sequestration have significantly
impacted districts, military dependents and Native American children. The
report illustrates how school leaders and districts that heavily rely on
federal funding have had to make tough choices about how to provide
resources for their communities. Read
TACOMA (Wash.) SIG SCHOOLS SHINE
The News Tribune (Cafazzo) highlights three
struggling Tacoma middle schools that received $11 million in School
Improvement Grants (SIG) that have shown reading and math advances in almost
all grades. Giaudrone, Jason Lee and Stewart received the largest sum given to any Washington school
district under the program in the first wave of grants, which ended earlier
“I’m pleased with the continued growth and progress of our SIG schools,”
state schools Superintendent Randy Dorn
said. “It creates a sense of optimism about what can happen in each of our
schools when we focus on student achievement and teacher professional
development. But adequate funds must exist to make that happen.”
TEACHERS AS SOCIAL ACTORS. In this EdWeek piece,
social studies teacher Kevin Meuwissen asks teachers to find their political
selves and “engage in intentional political activity.” Though political action
is not risk-free, Meuwissen writes, “By refusing to talk about politics in the
classroom or hiding their own positions and practices, teachers forgo
opportunities to help students understand the nature and consequences of
political activity, regardless of their teachers' personal political stances.
• LEVERAGE LEADERSHIP: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools (Paul Bambrick-Santoyo) is a solid resource for leaders who believe the principal's primary responsibility is to hire, develop and retain great teachers. This book not only spells out the theory of
excellent instructional leadership, but the author offers practical advice,
illuminating videos, strategic planning guides, and useful resources to help leaders give the support and information that teachers need to grow continually. For
example, there is a calendar showing how a principal can observe 15 teachers
per week and follow up with 15 post-observation feedback sessions.
Top 5 Teacher Quotes
Wisdom from educators heard by ED
to the work highlighted in a blog about collaboration in Jefferson County,
Colo.: “This would seem to be good advice for members of Congress on how to
build trust among themselves.” (Art,
on the blog)
4. "Access to high-quality preschool is a matter of social justice. Young children
who do not have sufficient exposure to language are falling behind even
before they start school." (Teacher, Hawaii)
3. Response to Michael Yudin’s blog from the bus tour, Building
a High Quality Early Learning System: “There needs to be more opportunity for individuals in government to
take the time as you did to see the importance early intervention has on the
impact of many families and children. It is nice to see what other states are
doing to make great citizens.” (Carrie,
on the blog)
2. “Our teachers are feeling a bit beat-up. Great principals are ‘purveyors of
hope.' There are many wonderful schools and school improvement initiatives
happening. Sometimes we just need to remember to talk about what’s working as
well as where the challenges are.” (High School Principal, Mich.)
1. "Why is it that while we want students to think critically, communicate, and collaborate – to dig deeper and work on skill development, we don’t expect the same of our teachers or support them in their own development of similar skills?" (Social Studies Teacher, Wash.)