THE TEACHERS EDITION -- January 9, 2014

The Teachers Edition

January 9, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

Sand Gap Elementary School

Students greet Arne Duncan during his visit to Sand Gap Elementary School (Sand Gap, Ky.) 


5 Memorable School Visits 

In 2013, Arne Duncan visited his 49th state--Utah--as Secretary of Education. Though each classroom left him with meaningful and memorable lessons, in a blog article he reflects on five schools in particular that made a lasting impression. 

Teachers at ED often tell us that one way educators successfully overcome misconceptions about teaching is by purposefully inviting others to visit their classes. When teachers reach out to parents, community and business leaders, and elected officials and ask them to come to their classrooms, the exchange often opens doors, triggers conversations, and forges working relationships. Perhaps during 2014 we could make a couple of promises that we keep (instead of resolving to exercise more). Let's plan to invite others into our classes and venture into our colleagues' rooms to see the magic that they make.


Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder announced new school climate and discipline guidance at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore.


Discipline Guidance 

ED and the Department of Justice released non-regulatory guidance on school discipline to assist states, districts and schools in developing solutions to enhance school climate and to improve school discipline policies and practices. The guidance package provides resources for creating such climates, which are essential for boosting student academic success and closing achievement gaps. View the resources.  

Ed Surge logo


No Better Time

In this week's edSurge Ronen Habib takes a look tools available for teachers to engage students and foster their creativity, asserting, "There is no better time to be an educator."

As evidence, Habib, a teacher at Gunn High School and an Imagine K-12 Teacher-in-Residence, points to grassroots professional development, Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) adoption, blended learning and social and emotional learning. He also credits teachers with "teaching students concrete techniques to be more resilient in the face of adversity, while also emphasizing mindfulness exercises to catch their cognitive distortions. This, goes a long way toward allowing students to be more creative, more successful, and most importantly, happier,” says Habib.

Ford Middle School

Teachers from Ford Middle School review students' progress solving algebraic equations and develop strategies to move them forward.


Alternatives to "PLC Lite"

Leaders from Learning Forward sent us this clip of math teachers from Ford Middle School (Allen, Texas) engaging in the kind of professional learning that teachers are telling us they need most.

We like the video because as we speak with teachers throughout the country, we hear too many bad reviews of current PD and mixed ratings about professional learning communities, or PLCs. In fact, they use a sarcastic term for professional learning communities that look more like book clubs than professionals in action:  "PLC Lite." 

The Ford Middle School video, however, provides a useful model for PLCs that work. Here the teachers treat each other as professionals. They work together it teams to review student work and develop context-specific strategies to solve learning challenges. The team also visits the class of a peer who models teaching the lesson in a new way, and they make a plan to divide responsibilities and move forward. 

View the video. Check out Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning

RESPECT Down South

MISSISSIPPI. Learn why Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said he supports giving teachers a pay raise in the 2014 legislative session. “I want to make sure we put more money into the classroom,” said Gunn, a former longtime school board member in Clinton. “I would like to look at a teacher pay raise.” Read the story in the Clarion Ledger (Pender). 

NORTH CAROLINA. Read former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt's op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer calling for the state to commit to raising teacher pay to the national average. In his piece, he notes that North Carolina teachers can "make as much as $10,000 a year more” by moving to adjacent states, and he lays out a framework to increase teacher pay substantially and stop the tide from rolling out of the state. Hunt also shows how a similar increase was implemented during his time as governor in the 90's. 


Hunt's piece may be, in part, a response to the "Urgent Wake Up Call from NC Teachers" discussed by researchers Scott Imig and Robert Smith in the Raleigh News & Observer. Imig and Smith, professors at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, review a recent survey of teacher satisfaction in the state and point to declining teacher pay as a major source of educator discontent.

Quote to Note

"We all must be lifelong learners. The day we stop learning is the day we cease to be relevant."

(Arne Duncan in remarks made at the Association for Career and Technical Education Career Tech VISION 2013 Awards Banquet on Dec. 4, 2012. Read the speech.)

state salary rankings


How Much Do Public School Teachers Make?

The Washington Post recently highlighted 2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics that estimates by state the average annual salary of teachers in American public elementary and secondary schools. New York tops the list, where the average teacher salary is $75,279. You may be surprised about where your state ranks. Read more, search for your home state or browse the original data from the NCES.  


"The Revolution Begins"

Three major teacher leadership organizations yesterday launched a bold initiative to advance teacher leadership, called the Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI). The TLI is a comprehensive effort to recruit, prepare, activate and support the next generation of teacher leaders to transform the teaching profession. It is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ), and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

The short term focus of their work is threefold: creating a teacher leader framework of skills and knowledge, developing relevant training, and activating teacher leaders in the field. In the 2014 pilot year, TLI will engage over 140 teachers from six states and will include individual capstone projects. 

At an event in Washington, D.C. yesterday, CTQ CEO Barnett Berry explained that the TLI initiative emerged in part because of the huge demand for education reform. "Whether it's PAR [peer assistance and review systems] or implementation of the Common Core, the complexities of reform are driving a need for leaders from the classroom," he said. "Today the revolution begins. It's been a long time coming." Learn more

Common Core Connections

TEACHERS SUPPORT THE CORE. Several important organizations representing the teaching workforce have publicly showed their support for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). They include Teach for America (EdWeek, Sawchuck) and the NEA (Layton, Washington Post). Read about the experience of Darby Masland, a 14-year teacher in NYC Public Schools. Masland says that the new standards are causing her students to "take responsibility for their own learning." Learn more

Emerging Research

Does Dual Enrollment Benefit Low Income Students?

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) recently reported on a study examining the effects of dual enrollment programs on college degree attainment for high school students. Dual enrollment programs offer college-level learning experiences for high school students. 

The study reported, and the WWC confirmed, that dual enrollment programs significantly increased the likelihood of attaining (a) any college degree and (b) a Bachelor’s degree.

The study also reported on the impact of dual enrollment programs for first generation college students, students whose parents had some college, students whose parents had a Bachelor’s degree, and students with post-Bachelor’s degree parents. Although point estimates differed for the subgroups of students with different parental educational backgrounds, the subgroups were not significantly different from each other. The overall impact of dual enrollment programs is, therefore, the WWC’s best estimate of effectiveness for these subgroups. Learn more


Did You Know?

It takes 23 minutes to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online? 

Find out the 7 pieces of information students need to complete the required form and learn why there are no excuses for not getting started now! Check out the 6 steps to applying for financial aid. 

At 8 PM (EST) January 13, 2014, Secretary Duncan will be moderating a special one-hour #stuvoice Twitter chat to get ideas from students about how we can keep college affordable and how a college rating system can be useful for students and families. Learn more and join the chat.  

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The 2011 PAEMST awardees gathered at the National Science Foundation


Presidential STEM Teaching Awards Announced

Late last month President Obama named 102 teachers as recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The award is conferred annually to outstanding K-12 math and science teachers from across the country. Winners receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, to be used at their discretion. They are also invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events. Nominations for the 2014 awards (elementary teachers) are open through April 1.


Showing You The Money!

RACE TO THE TOP (RTT) DISTRICT. Five district winners, including Houston Independent Schools, will share $120 million in the second Race to the Top district competition from the U.S. Department of Education. Many of the grantees were rural. Applicants were asked to submit education-improvement ideas that focused on personalized learning.

INVESTING IN INNOVATION. All 25 of the highest-rated applicants from the 2013 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition secured their required private matching funds and became official grantees.  Together, they will share more than $134 million in federal funding to expand innovative practices designed to improve student achievement. As in the past, the grantees address a variety of issues, including five projects focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) course content and instructional practices, four projects focusing on family and parent engagement, and four projects serving rural students and communities.  

RTT EARLY LEARNING CHALLENGE. ED and the Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that six additional states—Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont—will receive a total of $280 million in grant awards from the 2013 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) fund to improve access to high-quality early learning and development programs throughout their states. These six states join the 14 existing state grantees who secured funding in the first two rounds, which began in 2011. Learn more.

P Chat

Principal Chat

NAESP COMMON CORE SURVEY. According to surveys conducted by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), more than 80 percent of principals are prioritizing the Common Core for school improvement and their own learning, and more than 60 percent have set the Common Core as a top priority. 

Respondents to the surveys included 1,000 principals from 14 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Other findings:

  • 100 percent are participating in professional development focused on the Common Core.
  • 70 percent have enacted change processes in schools by engaging teachers, modifying assessments, and aligning curriculum.
  • 70 percent were not provided professional development on budgeting or managing the Common Core change process.
  • Less than 50 percent had upgraded curriculum materials or technology to support long-term Common Core implementation.
  • Less than 30 percent had taken action to integrate the Common Core into expanded learning opportunities, special education programs, or English language learner programs.


Globalize Your Classroom

Teachers for Global Classrooms, a professional development program funded by the U.S. Department of State offers middle and high school teachers an online Global Education course, a Global Education Symposium in Washington, DC, and a two to three-week international travel fellowship. Applications are due March 11, 2014. Learn more

The Passport to Innovative Education program is designed to build teachers' strength and provide graduate credit and is available through Indiana Wesleyan University. The program includes a retreat focusing on character education, a global study tour where teachers visit a variety of education organizations and cultural sites, and a classroom projectApplications are due February 15, 2014. Scholarships are available

the New Math


Most Americans Say College Education is Important

Time reports that according to a new Gallup poll, some 70 percent of U.S. respondents “consider a college education to be ‘very important.'" This figure is up from 38 percent in 1978. Moreover, 75 percent of women gave that answer, compared with 65 percent of men. 

A related AP story (Elliott) covers research conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center that shows fewer than half of all students who entered college in 2007 finished school where they started, and almost a third are no longer taking classes toward a degree anywhere, according to review released earlier this week.   

JANUARY 20, 2014

Resources to Honor Dr. King

The Corporation for National and Community Service has a page dedicated to creative activities that may serve as resources for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, including a student art contest that asks students to create an inspiring poster. Scholastic also provides a link to free resources for teachers, including lesson plans for elementary and middle school students. 


TAF News

CHERYL REDFIELD (Classroom Fellow 2012). Cheryl's Stories from School blog describes ways teachers can increase their joy in the new year.

ROBERT BAROZ (Classroom Fellow 2011). Robert has been uber busy flexing his teacher leadership muscles. He was just elected to serve on the new Professional Learning Advisory Board in Boston. He was also chosen to participate in  the Teacher Leader Fellowship to engage in dialogue with local policymakers, and selected as a 2014 Hope Street Fellow.


Progress for Teachers, Leaders & Students

Teachers who need more "edu-wonk" in their lives may be interested in ED's news website called Progress: Teachers, Leaders, and Students Transforming EducationProgress aims to highlight state and local innovative ideas, promising practices, lessons learned, and resources informed by the implementation of K-12 education reforms. These lessons from the field showcase reforms in action spurred by programs such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, School Improvement Grants, Promise Neighborhoods, and ESEA flexibility. The website is intended to provide insight into the transformations taking place in classrooms, schools, and systems across the country through the leadership of teachers, schools, districts, and state leaders and their partners.


Tools for Students

The Real Word Design Challenge is an annual competition that presents high school students with real world engineering challenges and asks for their input. This year’s competition is co-sponsored by the Departments of Transportation and Defense and will focus on precision agriculture.  

Winners of this year’s competition will receive up to seven $50,000 scholarships from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a $1,000 stipend goes to the teacher who best integrates the Real World Design Challenge into their curriculum. Every team that signs up will receive free copies of PTC Creo 2.0 CAD software and the winning team in each state will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC. The deadline has been extended to January 20. Learn more.

Students' Corner


Urban Schools Improving Faster than Rest of U.S.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), urban public school students in the nation’s largest cities are improving their performance in reading and math faster than suburban and rural schools. Twenty-one urban school districts measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) demonstrated improvement in both reading and math in fourth and eighth grades. The District of Columbia recorded the biggest gains including one public school where 100 percent of students met high school math standards or exceeded them. Read more.

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Teachers' Notes

• TOOLKIT TO FIGHT CHILD HUNGER. Youth Changing the World offers teachers a free resource that highlights best-practice strategies of K-12 classroom teachers who are using a Semester of Service™ framework to engage their students in addressing childhood hunger. Featuring success stories and practical tips from K-12 teachers, the guide includes examples of alignment with Common Core and other academic state standards. Learn more.

• ON THE SHELF. To assist the public, ED recently released a messaging “Bookshelf,” a series of ready-made presentations that highlight particular hot topics in education. These decks present facts, charts, data, and other information reflecting progress and challenges in improving education, as well as programs that aim to close achievement gaps and foster equal educational opportunities. Together, the Bookshelf items tell a story about progress in education reform, the work still left to be done, and the agency’s top priorities.

• LEVERAGING LEARNING. A team from the Aspen Institute recently issued a report about the role of federal policy in education research. They write, "Though debates continue over the proper role of the federal government in many aspects of education, there is a broad consensus that federal investment in education research, development, and dissemination is vital for advancing the ability of the field to improve outcomes for all students. This consensus should result in greater federal attention and increased investment, yet compared to other cabinet-level agencies, the Department of Education (ED) has the fewest resources dedicated to R&D. As a result, investments have not kept pace with emerging, urgent student needs." Download their recommendations for how the industry can better align research, policy and practice.

• IS TEACHER ATTITUDE CONTAGIOUS? Read what teacher Eileen Nagle has to say about how teachers create an environment where students thrive and feel positive about school--even testing. She also offers advice about how to relax students and prepare them for state tests, writing, "Students will perform better if teachers will: Creatively teach to a much higher level than the state tests all year; Don't teach to the test; and Reduce any stress going into the tests." Amen, Sister, Amen.

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

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "Teaching is hard work, but I would never want to do anything else." (Teacher, New Concord, Ohio)

4. “If we want our students to be willing to be innovative and willing to take risks and make mistakes as learners, than we have to be willing as adults to model that for them.” (Teacher, Wash.)

3. “My daughter’s grandfather asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she didn’t just say, ‘I want to be a teacher.’ She said, 'Well, I really like school, but math is really hard for me. But, I have this awesome teacher who never gives up on me…she's my favorite teacher and I want to be just like her when I grow up!'" (from an email sent by a Parent in Conn. to teachers at ED)

2. "Working for and caring about students and their learning takes broad, thick shoulders, and I consider myself fortunate to try, fail, and succeed for 10 months..." (Teacher, N.Y.)

1. Commenting about the importance of teacher voice: "We must be here...This room, without us, it's a room of people making huge decisions about what happens in classrooms without the voices of great teachers and principals." (Teacher and Policy Writer, Washington)

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