TEACHING MATTERS -- February 21, 2013


February 21, 2013  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

ribbon cutting at student art exhibit

The Art of Celebrating Diversity

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Art Exhibit Program partnered with the National PTA Reflections program for the sixth time to host the opening of a new exhibit at the Department’s headquarters titled "Diversity Means." At the event, students performed original music and dance and displayed their works before a live audience. Read about the event, the students' work and the impact the arts have had on their academic, social and emotional development.

Racquel Charles (left) performs her award-winning dance, "True Colors," with her former high school classmate Tija Passley.



Starting Our Babies off Right

Last week President Obama unveiled a series of programs to expand early learning for children of the poor and lower middle class. He followed up his call for making early learning a national priority by visiting the College Heights Early Learning Center in Decatur, Ga. The President told educators there, “I don’t think you will find a working parent in America who wouldn’t appreciate the peace of mind that their child is in a safe, high-quality learning environment every single day.” Learn more about the plan. Review the fact sheet. Read a NYTimes editorial by David Brooks. Watch a clip from the trip to Georgia.


Teaching Tolerance

On Jan. 25, 2013, the five winners of the 2012 Teaching Tolerance Culturally Responsive Teaching Awards were honored at a special gathering in Washington. The educators visited ED and were recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center for excellence in teaching students from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. Read about their conversation at ED. Read about the award. Watch video highlights.

Teaching Tolerance video


Teachers Taking Action

Have we really been talking about the need to improve teacher recruitment and retention for decades? Educators meeting in Indianapolis and video-conferencing in from throughout the nation for the 2013 National Agriculture Education Summit said  “yes,” and that it’s time to do something about it. Read more.


Media Roundup

The Foundation for Excellence in Education recently issued a roundup of recent articles, opinion pieces and posts by policy advisors that debunk myths about the Common Core State Standards. We offer a few here.

Debunking Common Core Myths logo

Opinion: Truth. As in, you can’t handle it. The EdFly Blog (Mary Laura Bragg).

Common-Core Rollout in Big Cities Probed in New Report. EdWeek (Erik Robelen).

Opinion: Extremism in Defense of Mediocrity is Quite a Vice. Jay P. Greene’s Blog (Matthew Ladner).

What English classes should look like in Common Core era. (Washington Post) Carol Jago.

PROMISE Initiative Seeks to Help Students on SSI

Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) is an initiative created to fund model demonstration projects in States to promote positive short-term and long-term outcomes for children who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and their families.

A joint initiative of the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration, the PROMISE coalition focuses on supporting improved coordination of services and programs.

As part of the effort, ED will hold a rigorous competition for states interested in participating. Learn more. Go to the PROMISE webpage to register to attend one of the four webinars offered in late February and early March, to read the Public Input Notice, and to leave comments.


Education Cuts to Hurt All Funding

This week, Secretary Duncan testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee about the impact of sequestration, scheduled to go into effect March 1. “Education is the last place to be reducing our investment as the nation continues to climb out of the recent recession and to prepare all of its citizens to meet those challenges created by global economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” he said. “I can assure you that our economic competitors are increasing, not decreasing, their investments in education…” Duncan testified that core programs would be impacted immediately and that school districts will be making hiring decisions this spring and will have to plan on less funding. Sequestration is a bad policy,” he concluded. “It cuts all programs by the same percentage -- no matter the purpose or the performance. We need to replace sequestration with balanced deficit reduction.” Read more.

Grammy Educator logo

The GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy are partnering to present their first-ever Music Educator Award. The award is open to music teachers from kindergarten through college, in public and private schools. Anyone can nominate a teacher, and teachers may nominate themselves. Nominated teachers will be notified and invited to fill out an application. The deadline for nominations is April 15. Learn more.


Testing Integrity

IES logo

The National Center for Education Statistics has issued a report as part of a broader effort by the Department of Education to improve the validity and reliability of assessment results. The report focuses on four areas related to testing integrity: (1) the prevention of irregularities in academic testing; (2) the detection and analysis of testing irregularities; (3) the response to an investigation of alleged and/or actual misconduct; and (4) testing integrity practices for technology-based assessments.  

College Coaching: Late Interventions Matter

IES reviewed a study about whether providing college application coaching to high school seniors increased postsecondary enrollment. The program was aimed at students who considered applying to college but made little or no progress in the application process, and who had a tenth grade test score high enough to warrant applying to college. The study found that women who participated in the program enrolled in postsecondary education at a rate that was 12 percentage points higher than women in the control group (63% versus 51%). Read the IES report.

DiscoverE Educator Award Applications Available

Nominate an Engineering Teacher

DiscoverE Educator Awards recognize teachers in 6th - 12th grade classrooms who  inspire future generations to become engineers.The award is one way the engineering profession shows appreciation and respect for educators helping students discover engineering. Unique to this program, engineers and engineering students are part of the nomination process. Applications are due on March 8, 2013. Learn more.

Quote to Note

Put the Teachers In Charge of DC!

“That whole playing well with others thing is a trait we could use more in Washington. Maybe we need to bring the teachers up. Every once in a while have some quiet time--time out.”

President Obama talking with teachers about early learning in Decatur, Ga.


Did You Know?

Sequestration would eliminate roughly $60 million from funds for Impact Aid Basic Support payments. Schools count on these funds to meet the essential needs of students and to pay teachers' salaries, potentially forcing districts to make wrenching, mid-year adjustments in ongoing programs this spring.

From Arne Duncan's testimony before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, February 14.

question mark

International Teaching Summit logo

International Summit on the Teaching Profession

A Little Background Reading for Teachers

Before the third annual International Summit on the Teaching Profession kicks off March 13 in Amsterdam, teachers who plan to follow the discussion remotely might want to review the reports from the previous two summits. Written by the Asia Society, the 2011 and 2012 reports summarize each country's presentation and analyze differences and similarities in how the nations view the teaching profession. They are rich with insights and lessons that all countries, including the United States, can learn from and revisit. Here's an example from a section on teacher retention:

"...when it comes to attracting people into the profession, the public image and work environment of teachers can be just as important as salaries. In Norway, for example, the government worked with the media to reduce the prevalence of 'teacher bashing' and to improve the image of teaching. Other countries, such as China and Japan, have public recognition days for teachers, when respect for the profession is emphasized. More fundamentally, a more professional work environment at the school level, with opportunities for career advancement, is needed to attract higher caliber recruits who would otherwise go into other careers. Professional work environments tend to have fewer layers of management; workers are consulted on important decisions; and they have discretion, based on validated expert knowledge, in diagnosing 'client' needs and deciding on services."


Arne Answers Educators' Questions

Last week, Arne Duncan fielded questions during an “Open for Questions” session with educators and the public. In this session he discussed a number of hot topics in education, including the President's State of the Union education proposals, the potential effects of a budget sequester, the best way to evaluate teachers, and how to improve educational opportunities for all children. Duncan also outlined his recommendations on school safety and  testing, which include abandoning "drill and kill" tests. Read more.

Arne Duncan answers questions

the new math


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, career and technical education (CTE) teachers are projected to have more stability in their jobs than other professions. 

Change in Employment Projected for 2010-2020

Total, All Occupations: 14%

CTE – Middle School Teachers: 9%

CTE Teachers: 4%

CTE – High School Teachers: 1%

The site also includes interesting information on how to become a CTE teacher, what they earn, and how the profession stacks up to similar occupations.

Teachers' Notes

CTE RESOURCES. There are a number of Career and Technical Student Organizations that provide teachers and students with educational and leadership development activities. Links to some can be found on ED's site. 

sticky notepad

  BANK ON IT. The US Mint has recently added new content to its teacher page, including a student newsletter and resources for lesson planning.

 HURRICANE RELIEF. ED recently awarded $3 million to Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and New York City to aid in recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Read more.

  PARTNERING WITH SCHOOL COUNSELORS TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE. Earlier this month, a group of distinguished counselors, selected as finalists for the American School Counselor Association's Counselor of the Year, and their principals, visited ED to share their thoughts on the critical role of the counselor in fostering students’ academic success, socio-emotional well-being, and physical safety. Read more.

open book

Recommended Reading

WARNING: GRADES MAY BE CONTAGIOUS! In EdWeek, Sarah Sparks examines a recent study indicating that students may "catch" good grades from their peers. Read her article about the effects of social contagion on academics.

THE ONE WORLD SCHOOLHOUSE: Education Reimagined. Founder of the Khan Academy Sal Kahn chronicles his organization's transformation from a tool he created to help his 12-year-old niece understand mathematical conversions to a worldwide phenomenon used by millions. His text is an easy-read and provides provocative ideas from an innovator on the cutting edge of educational transformation. The entire book can be downloaded in PDF format for free.

• CASE STUDY IN BLENDED LEARNING. How does a Los Angeles school with 48 students per class not only survive, but thrive? Read the report from Education Sector about Alliance Tennenbaum Family Technology High School and find out what makes their special blend of magic work for students previously identified as under-performing.

What are you reading, Deb Delisle?

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. Explaining why she likes to give her preschool students time to play and explore art: "When they go to kindergarten, the academic stuff, like, slams them!" (Early Learning Teacher, Okla.)

4. "Hiring (is one) of the most important decisions we make. First and foremost we are looking for people who are committed learners themselves." (School Leader, Washington, D.C.)

3. "We must look beyond blue and white collar jobs and focus on Gold Collar Careers." (CTE Teacher, Utah)

2. "There are no disposable students." (Teacher who teaches at an alternative school)

1. "I want America to know that education in America is not failing all students." (Teacher, Washington, D.C.)

Arne Duncan talking with a teacher