TEACHING MATTERS Newsletter -- June 25, 2012


June 25, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

Some of ED's Teachers who have been running RESPECT conversations.
Some of the U.S. Department of Education's teachers who have been holding roundtable discussions with teachers about teachers transforming their profession.

ED's "Education Evangelists"

(Published this month in Congressional Quarterly and written by Lauren Smith.) A small band of teachers from around the country has been embedded in the Education Department on a fellowship program for the past year, and they have proposed a new vision for the teaching workforce. They want to raise teacher salaries significantly, make schools of education more selective and overall lift the profession to increase its prestige and attract top college graduates. Read more. 

Register for ED's Summer Seminars for Teachers

#1 Civil Rights in the Classroom

Tuesday, June 26 from 6:00-7:30 pm (Eastern)

This seminar offers an overview of the Civil Rights Data Collection and practical advice from current teachers, a guidance counselor, and a parent about how to protect students' civil rights in the classroom. Presenters will explore strategies to prevent bullying, engage all students, present culturally relevant lessons, and work with parents to ensure the rights of students with disabilities.

#2 What Teachers Need to Know about Personalized Learning

Tuesday, July 10 from 6:00-7:30 pm (Eastern)

This seminar presents perspectives on an emerging topic for educators: creating adaptive instruction for every student in the class. Presenters from the Department of Education will provide insights about the meaning, purpose, and future of personalized learning. Teachers will discuss how they use real-time data to individualize instruction and to engage students with varied abilities.
The seminars are offered both at the U.S. Department of Education (400 Maryland Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20202) and on the web. The seminars are free, but space is limited, so reserve your spot now!
Accommodations for persons with disabilities will be provided once requested at registration as long as the participant registers at least five working days prior to the seminar.
For questions or comments, please email TeachTalk@ed.gov.

Empty Desks Draw Attention to Education Crisis

WTTG-TV reports about the "strange sight" of some 857 school desks set up on the National Mall by the College Board. The desks were placed there to represent "every kid in the United States who drops out of school every hour of every school day." The article notes that passersby expressed shock at the statistic. Secretary Arne Duncan stopped by the demonstration and said, "I think our biggest challenge is complacency in this country. We need to jar people. We need to get them to understand the reality of the crisis that we're dealing with." Read more.
Arne Duncan on National Mall

Transition to Middle School:

A Blessing and a Curse

Read a series of recent articles from the New York Times about the importance of the middle grades and educators' challenges finding solutions for problems students face during the chaotic middle years.

2010 PAEMST Awardees at the White House

Obama Recognizes 97 for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching 

Recently, President Obama named 97 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. 
The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished educators, mathematicians, and scientists, following an initial selection process at the state level. Each year, the award alternates between elementary and secondary school teachers; the 2011 recipients teach seventh- through twelfth-grade. Winners receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and an invitation to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events. Read more about PAEMST. 

Nation's Science Report Card Released

A study just released by the National Center for Education Statistics examines 8th grade student achievement in science on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The study finds that while students can conduct experiments they have difficulty analyzing the data or using the data to support their conclusions. Read the report. Read an article about the report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. 
Nation's Report Card for Science

Teacher Incentive Fund Calls for Systems to Support Teaching

Last week the Department announced the final application period for the 2012 Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) competition. This year’s $285 million competition includes a new focus on supporting district-wide evaluation systems that reward success, offer greater professional opportunities, and drive decision-making on recruitment, development, and retention of effective teachers and principals. Grants will be awarded to school districts that demonstrate readiness to transition to a new evaluation system, involvement of teachers and principals in developing a plan, and effective methods for placing and keeping talent in hard-to-staff schools. Read more about TIF.

Secretary Duncan Unveils Online Tool for Rural Schools

Using any desktop, laptop, or handheld computer, teachers and principals can  work collectively to address the unique challenges rural schools face when providing students with a world-class education. View a short video of Arne Duncan explaining how the new online community of practice works and how to sign up. Register for the Community of Practice and begin working with other educators in rural schools focused on solving unique challenges, sharing best practices, and developing strategies to solve the toughest problems. 
Community of Practice home page

New Math

Title IX was passed 40 years ago. While women earn the majority of degrees at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels, their numbers continue to lag in STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. In 2009-2010 women earned
  • 17% of engineering bachelor's degrees
  • 18% of computer science-related bachelor's  degrees.
Women make up 25% of the STEM workforce. Read a related article in the Christian Science Monitor. Read Arne Duncan's remarks on the anniversary of Title IX.

A Presidential Scholar

Honoring Presidential Scholars (and Their Teachers)

Since 1964, the nation has recognized our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors as Presidential Scholars. In 1979, the program was extended to include students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. This month the Scholars and their teachers visited the nation's capitol to receive accolades.
Secretary Duncan participated in a ceremony at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., where each  was presented with the Presidential Scholar Medallion, on behalf of the White House. Read Arne Duncan's speech.

Later in the week, Duncan attended a Kennedy Center performance by the Scholars recognized for their artistic achievements. The following week, their teachers met at the U.S. Department of Education to discuss the RESPECT Project with the Teaching Ambassador Fellows and education policymakers. There the teachers engaged in robust discussion and offered their insights about how teachers can work together to transform the teaching profession. Learn more about the Presidential Scholars Program, including how to nominate outstanding seniors. Read the blog.

Teachers' Notes

  • Check out Hope Street Group's Video Gallery of teachers and policy makers discussing important issues related to the teaching profession, including teacher evaluation. On page 3, musician Dru Davison describes how his colleagues developed a portfolio-based teacher evaluation of arts teachers, and on page 4, two of the Teaching Ambassador Fellows offer perspectives on teacher evaluation and involving teachers in the development of effective evaluation systems.
  • Help your students be smart shoppers--for college. Direct them to the Department's College Affordability and Transparency Center. The site highlights institutions of higher education with the highest and lowest tuition and net price and those schools where prices are rising the fastest.
  • Dr. Catherine Bradshaw, a developmental psychologist and youth violence prevention researcher at Johns Hopkins University, recently took some time to answer questions about her latest research on bullying and school climate. Read her advice.

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

(Wisdom from teachers heard by ED)
5. “I don’t like when people say, 'You’re a teacher, that’s so cute.' It makes it seems sacrificial.” (Los Angeles, Calif.)
4. "Schools cannot be the solution for all societal woes." (Washington, D.C.) 
3. “We do a miserable job of adequately communicating the fact that teaching is an intellectually worthy career. It is intellectually engaging and worthy of our best minds to be in that space.” (Calif.)
2. “We need to do a better job of educating parents. One parent recently told me, ‘I’m really good at making kids (he had six children), just not raising them.’” (Muscatine, Iowa)
1. "I’m glad we are having a national conversation. This represents a serious cultural shift.” (Los Angeles, Calif.)
middle school teacher

Obama Calls on Congress to Forestall Increase in Student Loan Interest Rates

At the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, President Obama reasserted his call for Congress to stop student loan interest rates from doubling (from 3.4% to 6.8%) on July 1 and issued a Presidential Memorandum to make it easier for students to benefit from the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program, which caps borrowers’ monthly student loan payments based on their ability to pay. Read "Everything You Need to Know about Income-Based Repayment."  Read a blog about the President's message

Teaching Ambassadors Recommend Reading

  • From Geneviève DeBose: Six Ways to Retain Great Teachers, by Katy Farber, on CNN's Schools of Thought blog. I’ve had many colleagues who loved teaching but left the profession after five years or so because the hours, intensity, and lack of growth opportunities were unsustainable. In this article, a sixth grade teacher from Vermont shares six common-sense strategies for keeping our colleagues around and supporting their growth.
  • From Laurie Calvert: Colleagues in the policy shop here have recommended two texts that teacher leaders will have interest in. First, Sherry Lachman recommends Craig Jerald’s book Moving It and Improving It. "It advocates for a stronger focus on professional development, provides a useful overview of research on professional development (PD), and points to a few promising PD strategies," Sherry said. Chad Aldeman recommends a series of articles presented in a special edition of the Washington Monthly for their unique perspective on the next generation of assessments.