Above: The finalists on the red carpet of the Thor premiere.
Throughout the week, their guides were women who provided a context for what a career in STEM fields could look like. Not only did this experience generate amazing mentor relationships that are fostering the next generation of female scientists, but possibly the most important, unintended outcome is the "sisterhood" that these girls have created to support one another. Bonus: a star-studded red-carpet premiere of the movie that featured the inspiring female scientist, Jane Foster.
HIGH SCHOOL REDESIGN
24 Schools Win Youth CareerConnect Grants
At Bladensburg High School in Prince George's County, Md., President Obama announced winners of grants to encourage innovative curricula that prepare students for jobs likely to be in high demand in coming years.
Youth CareerConnect program is a national program, backed by the Departments of
Education and Labor, dedicated to redesigning America’s high schools for the 21st
century economy. The program is offering $107 million in new grants — ranging
from $2.2 million to $7 million — to local partnerships of local education
agencies, workforce investment boards, institutions of higher education, and
employer partners. The goal is for partners to strengthen America's
talent pipeline through:
Learn more and find out which schools won grants.
CONFUSING MATH HOMEWORK? DON'T BLAME THE COMMON CORE. Correspondent for Atlantic and former English Teacher Jessica Lahey provides a refreshing perspective about the barrage of articles published lately about the seemingly "incoherent" math practice students are bringing home from school. She dispels the "fiction that fuzzy math is a function of the Common Core State Standard" and advises parents to relax because "states, districts, and schools are actually in charge." Read her article. Read a related NY Times article about research that suggests we may be underestimating our youngest students in terms of their ability to think about numbers (Paul).
REPORTER PUTS HIMSELF TO THE TEST. NPR reporter Cory Turner recounts his experience taking an eighth grade ELA PARCC assessment and describes how different the new generation of tests are from the soon-to-be-outdated, fill-in-the-bubble versions. The story is enlightening and provides nifty before/after examples. In a related piece, NPR's Charlotte Albright provides a window into an eighth grade Vermont classroom where students are learning to do close reading with Holocaust texts.
ACCENTUATING THE POSITIVE. This article by Joshua Bleiberg takes a fresh look at the Common Core State Standards and offers four reasons why critics might want to reconsider their opposition. Among other benefits, Bleiberg argues that the new standards will improve innovation and the transfer of ideas, and help systems learn smarter ways to look at big data and use it for the good. Learn more (Hechinger Report).
NO COOKIE CUTTERS NEEDED. Patricia Sorrentino, in her fourth year teaching at New Horizons High School in New Haven, Conn., writes about how her opinion of the Common Core has shifted. Like many teachers, when she first heard about new standards she was mistrustful, thinking, "Great, just what our education system needs — more unnecessary paperwork that takes away from teachers’ main focus: their students.” Through solid professional development, however, Sorrentino was surprised to learn that rather than being a “cookie-cutter” curriculum that’s "fed to teachers by people who do not know what it feels like to teach," the standards allow her to "write the curriculum for my own students, because I know better than anyone what will engage them." Learn more (New Haven Register).
AN ENCOURAGING START. Los Angeles teacher Yana Gracile reports that the Smarter Balanced field tests underway in California and 21 other states are receiving positive feedback from schools. Learn more (LA School Report).
is no profession more essential than that of an educator, and it's time
for all of us to embrace and celebrate their importance and
contribution to America's children."
The Cost of For-Profit Colleges
72% of for-profit career programs produce graduates who earn less than high school dropouts
Cited by Sophie Quinton in her article, "Will a For-Profit Degree Get You a Job?" (National Journal).
Quinton writes, "New data from the Education Department suggest that for-profit schools usually don't deliver on their promises to prepare students for successful careers. Of the more than 5,000 career programs for which the agency has recent earnings data, 72 percent offered by for-profits produce graduates who earn less than high school dropouts. (The comparable figure for programs at public institutions is 32 percent.)" Read the ED data.
FOR ZERO TOLERANCE
Boy Suspended for 21 Days for Throwing up Three Fingers in a Photo
If you are going to view the video of Dontadrian Bruce talking (and crying) about being suspended from Olive Branch High School (Olive Branch, Miss.) for unwittingly using a gang symbol in a group photo, plan to have plenty of tissues handy. Better yet, check out the latest Civil Rights Data Collection evidence in your area and the latest disciplinary guidelines and get organized.
According to writer Sarah Fuss, "It didn't matter that Bruce earns As and Bs. Didn't matter that he said he had no knowledge that the gesture he'd made was a sign used by a gang known as Vice Lords. Didn't matter that he'd never been in trouble at school before. Or that his football coach could have testified that the boy spent too much time practicing to be involved in gang activity. The disciplinary hearing officer sentenced Bruce to “indefinite suspension with a recommendation of expulsion.” Read the article (takepart).
Fifty percent of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade will be eligible to retire within the next ten years. Refilling half of the educator workforce is both an opportunity and a daunting task. Earlier this week, Arne Duncan addressed this issue and shared his hope that highly qualified teachers will be competing for those spots as a panelist at a TEACH event at George Washington University. However, he noted that if we are going to create an environment that serves teachers and ultimately serves students, we need to shift the perception of teachers in our society and we also must "make it a badge of honor - a privilege - to work with kids who need the most help." Read the article (Nadkarni, Washington Post).
Tools for Students
DOES CAFETERIA FOOD REALLY BUG YOU?
Before turning up your nose at the latest mystery meat in the cafeteria, check out the tasty items that could be on the menu if schools ever decide to take a cue from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Recently this organization made the case for all humans to consume insects, because they are great for the environment, our bodies, and our economic livelihood. Learn more and check out the photos (takepart). Instead of grabbing hot fries, you may be eating hot flies!
• JASMINE ULMER (2009 Classroom Fellow ), EDIT KHACHATRYAN (2010 Washington Fellow) , PATRICK LEDESMA (2010 Classroom Fellow) and JONATHAN ECKERT (2008 Washington Fellow) presented a paper about teacher leaders' career pathways at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting conference in Philadelphia last week. Their paper was based their survey and interviews of the 2008-2012 Teaching Ambassador Fellows.
• LISA CLARKE (2012 & 2013 Washington Fellow) served on a panel discussion of "Scaling Up Teaching," sponsored by the Alliance for Education and moderated by Bob Wise this week. Clarke and panelists from the Asia Society and school districts discussed lessons from the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in New Zealand last month.
FOR EDUWONKS AND INSOMNIACS
In the Weeds
A LOOK AT RURAL SCHOOLS RECEIVING SIG GRANTS. The Study of School Turnaround analyzes the school improvement process in a sample of 35 schools receiving federal funds through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program over a three-year period (school years 2010–11 to 2012–13). This evaluation brief focuses on the nine SIG schools that were in rural areas and how respondents in these schools influenced specific turnaround activities through a rural lens.
Among the findings:
• Although rural SIG schools reported some challenges that other SIG schools have also reported, such as low student motivation and staff morale, the rural schools reported additional challenges resulting from their schools' remote locations that affected the recruitment or retention of teachers.
• School and district administrators and teaching staff mentioned multiple factors limiting parent involvement in school-based activities. Specifically, lack of access to transportation limited parent involvement, as did the distance between schools and parents' homes.
CENTER FOR INSPIRED TEACHING DEMONSTRATION SCHOOL (Washington, DC)
Photo of the Week
Seeing this sign on the wall when visiting the Center for Inspired Teaching Demonstration School reminded the teachers at ED about some of the joys (and tears) of teaching. Teachers there confided that in light of the missing hamster, they were rethinking a policy to allow snakes as class pets.
• INTERNATIONAL CONNECTIONS. Educators interested in connecting with teachers in other countries may be interested in checking out the work of the Organization of American States. This organization includes ITEN, a professional network of leaders in education sharing knowledge, experiences, research and good practices in the field of teacher education, and CO-TEP, and Inter-American collaborator on the teaching profession.
• SCOUTING FOR TOP TEACHERS. The LIVE with Kelly and Michael show is conducting its top teachers annual search, which honors teachers from across the country for making their schools better, and for their service and commitment to their students and communities. Teachers can be nominated as individuals or in groups, and all teachers are eligible, from public or private schools, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The deadline for submission is April 21, 2014. Get more info.
• OPTING IN! While parents concerned about over-testing may be choosing to "opt out" of new state exams, teachers at Uncommon Schools are taking a very different approach--making the challenge fun. Learn why Uncommon CEO Brett Peiser sees the "state exams as a perfect opportunity for our teachers and leaders to create the wackiest and most joyful ways to pump up our 5,000 students as they gear up to show what they know." Read his article (NY Daily News).
• CONNECTED EDUCATORS. Through this 3-minute compilation video that includes segments provided by students, learn more about President Obama’s ConnectED initiative. The initiative aims to provide high-speed Internet to every school in America, and make affordable computers, tablets, software, and other digital resources widely available to educators who are trained in how to use them. Learn more. Watch a video of an ISTE webinar about becoming a ConnectED teacher. Learn about a school in Vail, Ariz. using technology as a powerful tool to change the learning environment and culture (Dunlop, Learning First Alliance).
STUDY: TEACHER PERCEPTION IS NOT NECESSARILY REALITY. A study done in the Northwest region of the country found teachers’ perceptions of school improvement goals, processes, and supports measured by the Educational Effectiveness Survey (EES) were not generally related to three student outcomes in Idaho schools: proficiency in reading, proficiency in math, and attendance. The study focused on 75 low-achieving Idaho schools that used the state’s improvement services and took the EES in 2012. The findings suggest that educators should proceed cautiously when using perceptual survey data to make school improvement decisions. Learn more.
WHAT WORKS FOR EL LITERACY. The What Works Clearinghouse has published a practice guide, Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School. The guide includes four concrete recommendations that address what works for English learners during reading and content area instruction (e.g., mathematics, science, history). It provides extensive examples of activities that can be used to support students as they build the language and literacy skills they need to be successful in school: listening, reading, writing, and speaking in English for academic purposes.
• TOO ____ TO BE A TEACHER? As schools near Teacher Appreciation Week, Nashville teacher Shani Jackson Dowell vents her frustration with the country's conflicting discourse about the profession. "When we are honest," she writes, "we recognize that we—collectively as a country—are guilty of not recognizing the hypocrisy here. We say how important teachers are, and then we discourage the really talented people we know, including our own children, from teaching." Read her article (Pass the Chalk).
• INTERNATIONAL STUDY OF PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving: Students’ Skills in Tackling Real-Life Problems. The report is the OECD’s first assessment of problem-solving skills and its first attempt to measure the creative skills that today’s economy demands from its workers. Watch a presentation of the report by Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD’s Secretary-General, on how American fifteen-year-olds perform compared to their peers in top-performing nations. Read the PISA data.
Top 5 Teacher Quotes
Wisdom from educators heard by ED
5. "I want to work at a school that gives me the time and space needed to be amazing." (Teacher, N.H.)
4. “Regardless of anyone’s perspective on the Common Core, they can’t argue that they [the standards] have changed the conversation going on in education.” (Teacher, Reading Mass.)
3. "A distributed leadership model enables me to leverage individual teacher strengths to positively impact the entire school and keep my 'eye on the prize' of student achievement." (Principal, Calif.)
2. Describing the kind of school he would like to teach in: "[A place] where the sterility and anxiety that currently surrounds standardized testing (remnants of NCLB still buried like shrapnel throughout our system 6 years after Spellings' departure) has been replaced with the best practices of high-performing nations like Finland: fewer, better (and, consequently, more expensive) tests. (Teacher, Ark.)
1. “Principals should be still practicing teachers. If you’re going to be a motivational leader, you should still be very connected to teaching.” (Principal, Penn.)
The Teachers Edition contains links to other websites and news articles. These links represent just a few examples of the numerous education reference materials currently available to teachers and the public. The opinions expressed in any articles or web pages do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education. The inclusion of resources should not be construed or interpreted as an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any private organization or business listed herein.