THE TEACHERS EDITION -- March 20, 2014

The Teachers Edition

March 20, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

NBPTS panel discussion

Following his remarks, Arne Duncan discussed teacher leadership with a panel of five teachers, including Sarah Brown Wessling (Johnston, Iowa) and James Liou (Boston, Mass.).


From Rubber Stamps 

to Voice & Vision

At the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) inaugural Teaching and Learning Conference last week, Arne Duncan announced that over the next year, he and NBPTS President Ron Thorpe will co-convene a new initiative called “Teach to Lead,” or T2L. The initiative will foster commitments to provide teachers with authentic opportunities for leadership without leaving the classroom. 

The goal of T2L is to ensure that when important decisions are being made about the work teachers do, teachers are involved to help set the direction for their classrooms, schools, the profession, and ultimately to ensure students have the best opportunities to learn. 

Learn more about Teach to Lead. Read Arne's speech focusing on teacher leadership and Stephen Sawchuk's report on the announcement (EdWeek). Individuals and organizations can sign up through the NBPTS to get information and participate in the T2L initiative. 

"Challenge and Control."

Harvard University professor Ron Ferguson used this term to describe which of the Tripod's 7Cs Framework of Effective Teaching most contribute to student growth, at an America Achieves conference in Washington, D.C. Ferguson is co-author of the framework that correlates students' perceptions of their learning environment with their growth in academic subject areas. 

Quote to Note

At the conference, Ferguson said that, often, teachers mistakenly believe that the Care and Captivate elements of the 7Cs framework are the most important factors contributing to student learning. However, he acknowledged that educators showing concern and commitment and creating engaged learners correlate highly with students attending college.

The 7Cs of the framework:

  1. Care: Show concern and commitment.
  2. Confer: Invite ideas and promote discussion.
  3. Captivate: Inspire curiosity and interest.
  4. Clarify: Cultivate understanding and overcome confusion.
  5. Consolidate: Integrate ideas and check for understanding.
  6. Challenge: Press for rigor and persistence.
  7. Control: Sustain order, respect and focus.


ED Joins 14 Cities to Narrow Opportunity Gaps

Community and education leaders in a number of cities joined in an announcement of a memorandum of understanding with ED to foster an exchange of ideas on how to improve education outcomes. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto reported that leaders from his city and 13 others will work together to improve “early childhood education, after-school programs and post-secondary attainment.” The project will focus on narrowing the opportunity gap in communities, including Avondale, Ariz.; Berkeley, Calif.; Dayton, Ohio; Gary, Ind.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Madison, Wis.; Memphis, Tenn.; St. Paul, Minn.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Savannah, Ga. Learn more (Bauder, Pittsburgh Tribune Review).

Common Core Connections

LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD. This report describes what A Florida Middle School Has Learned So Far Teaching Common Core Standards by sharing how the standards have helped teachers to increase rigor and expand opportunities for their students. Read more.

STANDARDS PROVIDE THE INFORMATION PARENTS AND TEACHERS NEED. Rachel Stafford, who teaches Advanced Placement English Language Arts at Mesquite High School in Gilbert, Ariz. has written an insightful piece about her state's new standards. "Now that Arizona has new standards," Stafford writes, "the next step is for the state to adopt a new high-quality assessment that is aligned to the standards so we can provide a more accurate measurement of how well children are learning the standards. We also need to be able to tell parents if their child is on track for college and career and give teachers like me the timely information we need to help our students learn." Read her article (Arizona Capitol Times).


A Teacher's Guide to 

Field-Testing New Assessments (Part 3: Alternate Assessments)

Just as there are two consortia of states developing new assessments for the general population of students, there are two consortia developing alternate assessments intended for a small percentage of students (about 1 percent) with the most significant cognitive disabilities. 

In the third of this series, here are some facts and links about the field tests for the new alternate assessments to help teachers understand and prepare for what's coming.

question mark

• Alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards are for children with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Therefore, these assessments are typically different than general assessments in how they ask questions and how students respond. They are not bubble tests. The student is given a variety of ways to demonstrate what he or she knows and can do. For example, a child that has not developed language skills may use a switch, head nod, or blink to provide a response. A sample question after the child has heard a short story might be, "How did Henry feel when he found his dog?" The child could respond with a facial expression, tap a picture of a smiling face, or push the switch by the smiling face. Another example would be, "There are six apples on the tree. Move three apples into the basket."  

• In 2010, the Department funded two consortia of states to develop alternate assessments, Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) and the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC), which, together, include 40 states.

• These two consortia of states began field testing the alternate assessments in February and will continue through the end of the school year.

• Like the field testing of the general assessment, the field tests of the alternate assessments will help states test both the items and their assessment systems in preparation for rolling out the operational assessments in 2014-2015.

• The field tests are designed to test the items on the assessments, accessibility and the testing platforms (especially the technology). They will not be used to evaluate students or teachers.

• More than 2,000 educators have helped write and review items to make sure the content is correct and ensure that items are accessible to students with highly specialized needs.

• The field tests, as well as the operational assessments in the 2014-2015 school year, will be administered primarily on computers, though there will be paper versions available.

• In most states, the field tests will be given to a class or a specific grade, but not the whole school. 

• DLM projects that its field test will be taken by more than 50,000 students. This is an unprecedented scale for alternate assessments where individual states have as few as 700 students across all grade levels.

• NCSC plans to administer the field test to about 12,000 students.

• Both consortia are focused on how to maximize the use of technology for this population of students. In DLM, many students will be able to take tests by integrating their existing assistive and augmentative devices with the DLM technology platform, thus allowing them familiar ways to communicate. Both the DLM and NCSC assessment delivery systems will support numerous assistive technologies and communication modalities. Both will learn more from the field test experiences to continue to improve accessibility and compatibility for the 2014-2015 school year.


Learn more about the alternate assessment field tests for DLM and NCSC.

Principal Chat

WEBINAR ON LANGUAGE AND DYSLEXIA. A free webinar focusing on meeting the needs of dyslexic learners will feature leading researcher and educator Dr. Louisa Moats. She will discuss groundbreaking practices in professional development that support teachers in learning how to help students with this condition succeed in the classroom. The webinar takes place Wednesday, March 26, 2014 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET. Get more information and register. 

P Chat


Charter School Attracts Race and Class Mix

This profile of a middle school highlights a population that looks a lot like the rest of the country: a vibrant mix of White, African-American, Latino, and immigrant students, whose parents' income is equally diverse. According to reporter Joey Garrison, the cross section of students is no accident, but part of a concerted effort by the school's founder,Todd Dickson, to attract middle- and upper-income families as well as low-income ones. Read the story (Tennessean).

Schools Worth Watching

the New Math

A Case for High Standards

70% of students who take remedial courses in college do not complete either a 2-year or 4-year program.

(Statistic cited by Bill Gates at the NBPTS Teaching and Learning Conference on March 14. Gates used the statistic to support his argument, "There's a big gap between what it takes to graduate from most high schools and what you need to do well in college.")

TAF News


MADDIE FENNELL (2013 Classroom Fellow): Maddie moderated a discussion at the NBPTS Teaching and Learning Conference. LISA CLARKE (2012 & 2013 Washington Fellow) and LAURIE CALVERT (2010 Washington Fellow) hosted a pre-conference session at ED on how teachers can engage with policymakers so that they are heard. MAURO DIAZ and TAMI FITZGERALD (2013 Classroom Fellows) held a conference session on the STEM Master Teacher Corps. Clarke also hosted a session with JOISELLE CUNNINGHAM (2013 Washington Fellow) about the International Summit on the Teaching Profession. Diaz presented in a session on the Common Core and Teacher Evaluation. GENEVIÈVE DEBOSE (2011 Washington Fellow) presented a session about the National Board’s SEED Project, teacher leadership, and candidate support. JONATHAN MCINTOSH (2013 Classroom Fellow) and EMILY DAVIS (2013 Washington Fellow) presented Professional Development in the Digital Age, and DAN BROWN (2012 Washington Fellow) presented sessions about his book, The Great Expectations School, and Perspectives from the Next Generation of Student Leaders. TAMMIE SHRADER (2008 Classroom Fellow) led a session on teaching students how to code computers.

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

 "COULD TEACHING BE A TEAM SPORT?" In this column, broadcast education reporter John Merrow examines several factors that he believes will be necessary for teaching to be regarded as a true profession. He includes factors such as advancing teacher leadership, increasing professional accreditation, improving teacher preparation, and recognizing that teaching is more of a team sport than an individual endeavor. Read his blog article (Taking Note).

• IMPACT OF UNIVERSAL PRE-K. A study from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill recently studied the impact of Georgia's universal pre-kindergarten program. Researchers found that "participation in Georgia’s pre-K program significantly improved children’s school readiness skills across most domains of learning.” Learn more.

• AUTHORS ARGUE FOR DIVERSE CHILDREN'S BOOKS. Authors Christopher and Walter Dean Myers explain that of the 3,200 children's books written last year, 93 were about African-Americans. “Books transmit values,” Walter wrote. “What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?”  Read more.

 WEBSITE HELPS TO IDENTIFY EFFECTIVE SEX-ED PROGRAMS. The Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sponsors a website containing a research review that surveys 88 studies and 31 different sex-education programs, including abstinence-only programs. Read more. 

• DEAR COLLEAGUE: REMEMBER ATHLETES WITH DISABILITIES. The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to all American schools that receive federal funding iterating their "legal obligation to provide opportunities for disabled athletes." Read more about how OCR is fighting for equity in sports

• ENGAGE YOUNG EXPLORERS IN WOMEN'S HISTORY AND STEM. For centuries, women have studied and made groundbreaking discoveries in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Encourage your girls and boys to appreciate the contributions of women scientists. With our seven fun and free ideas, learn about some outstanding women in STEM innovation and inspire your kids’ scientific explorations – indoors and outdoors. Learn more at FREE (Federal Registry for Educational Excellence).

What Works Clearinghouse

Emerging Research

TEACHING CLASS. This controlled study found that teaching first-generation college students how their social class backgrounds can affect what they experience in college had a positive effect on their grades after the first year. Learn more

IN PRAISE OF EARLY COLLEGE. Early college high schools partner with colleges and universities to provide students with an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree or college credits toward a bachelor’s degree at no or low cost. In a recent study, researchers found that attending early college high schools improved some high school and post-secondary outcomes for students, including higher graduation rates and post-secondary enrollment, and less need for remedial courses in college. Read the study conducted by the American Institutes for Research, also reviewed by the What Works Clearinghouse. 

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. "I dream of a school where genuine shared leadership is the norm, where every decision made is in the best interest of students and where the entire school community benefits from the enormous knowledge, expertise and passion of its teachers." (Teacher, N.J.)

Arne at Stanton Elementary

4. "I wanted to re-emphasize--as a person who has given much professional development--that we're asked to do it, often, totally neglecting the conditions that we know are necessary for all learners. For reference, I go back to Brian Cambourne's Conditions of Learning. When you look at what learners need to be effective, we neglect it. We neglect the needs in our own professional development by becoming talking heads and expecting people to receive without effective instructional techniques like guided practice and approximation and response." (Education Professor, Alaska)

3. "We need to create the space for whole, systemic change instead of cherry-picking from this reform and that reform. The truth is, it's all connected." (Teacher, Omaha, Neb.)

2. Reflecting on his larger goals as an educator: "I'm a moral agitator." (Teacher, Wyo.)

1. "Why do I teach? I have a calling." (Teacher, Tenn.)