The Teachers Edition

April 3, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

photo from Hawaii

At Waipahu High School, students showed off their aquaponics center, part of a natural resources learning community where they have the opportunity to farm and study fish in an open-air environment. Aquaponics is used as a food production system by combining fish and plants in a symbiotic, sustainable environment.


Kū Ha'aheo 'o Hawai'i

When Arne Duncan visited students, teachers and school leaders in Waianae and Waipahu, Hawaii, his trip marked a milestone. As U.S. Secretary of Education, he has now touched every state in the nation. 

Highlights of the trip include a discussion with parents, educators and community members about supporting military-connected students (at Makai Recreation Center, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam) and a lesson in pounding taro root into poi (at the Nanakuli oceanfront school Ka Waihona o ka Na auao Charter School, a Hawaiian-focused public charter school). Duncan also took some time with students and school leaders to learn about opportunities students have to explore different academic and career-focused academies at Waipahu High School.  

Learn more. In next week's newsletter, watch for Arne's blog about what he has learned from visiting every state. View more photos from the trip. Read the AP article (KelleherWashington Times). 


Teacher Leadership

TEACH TO LEAD FINDS A HOME. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) has set up a web page for teachers interested in the Teach to Lead (T2L) initiative to advance teacher leadership. This temporary home for T2L includes a number of resources, including a video of Arne Duncan's announcement of T2L during the Teaching and Learning Conference and his panel discussion with teachers. There are also links to what others are saying about the project and opportunities for teachers to add their voice to the conversation.

Individuals and organizations can also sign up through the NBPTS to get information and participate in the T2L initiative. 

HAWAII MAKES TEACHER LEADERSHIP REAL. Hawaii has added Teacher Leader as a licensing category for the profession and named Jonathan Gillentine the first educator in the state to be recognized as a Teacher Leader. Gillentine is a preschool teacher who has led from his classroom in Kaneohe for more than 20 years. Learn more (Honolulu Civil Beat).

FIVE GOOD OMENS FOR TEACHER LEADERSHIP. This nifty piece by Ellen Sherratt at the American Institutes for Research describes five trends in the U.S. that are elevating the teaching profession and what teachers can do to give them teeth. Read the article (EdWeek).

Schools Worth Watching

HENDERSON-HOPKINS (East Baltimore, Md.)

Reading, Writing, and Renewal (the Urban Kind)

Matt Roth penned this story for the NY Times about a new public school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Baltimore (picture episodes of The Wire) that is participating in a "grand urban experiment." Learn how this school has become the centerpiece of a $1.8 billion redevelopment project that involves the whole community and includes science and technology buildings, a park, retail development and mixed-income housing.

Common Core Connections

THE PATH FORWARD. E4E released 12 recommendations to help policymakers give educators the support and tools they need to effectively implement the Common Core State Standards in New York. Written by classroom teachers, the recommendations cover a wide range of areas that any state or district could use to get it right, including communication with teachers and parents and a review of testing and evaluations systems to eliminate over-testing. 

A SCIENTIST TO THE CORE. Biology teacher and America Achieves fellow Joanna Schimizzi (Charlotte, N.C.) penned this great blog about how the Common Core State Standards are helping students find their inner scientist. "For me, the huge lever was incorporating primary source academic papers into my classes," Schmizzi writes. Learn more (Learning First Alliance).

GO-TO AD LIT RESOURCES. Teachers can find Common Core ELA resources at Adolescent Literacy's Inside the Common Core Classroom. We found links to helpful articles, classroom video modules, and tips from experts discussing their insights into reading, writing, special education, engagement and technology.

VOTERS SUPPORT THE CORE. A national study by the Tarrance Group and David Binder Research indicates, "Voters nationwide are extremely supportive of the Common Core Standards." Their support cuts across all partisan and demographic lines. Three specific aspects of the Common Core Standards were tested, each receiving overwhelming support from the voters across the nation. The strongest of these related to mathematics and English Language Arts, where there is virtual universal support.

FIELD TESTING THE TEST. Field testing in PARCC states kicked off on a Monday morning when the first test takers, from Preble-Shawnee Sr./Jr. School in Ohio, logged on before 8:00 am to take the Algebra I and Geometry tests. Since then, over 199,000 students have participated in the field tests. For the techies among us, this tidbit: of all testing devices on Monday, 81% used Windows, 9.5% Mac, 6.9% Chromebooks and 2.7% iPad. All have worked, though some schools have had to work out a few glitches with the Chromebooks. Learn more, including how specific feedback has allowed PARCC to make real-time adjustments and improvements, and why they want the conversation to continue.

question mark


Did You Know?

THE NEWS. The U.S. average public school teacher salary for 2012–13 was $56,103. State average public school teacher salaries ranged from those in New York ($75,279) and Massachusetts ($72,334) at the high end to South Dakota ($39,018), Mississippi ($41,814), and Oklahoma ($44,373) at the low end.

THE BAD NEWS. Between 2002–03 to 2012–13, average salaries for public school teachers decreased by 3.2 percent. Wyoming (15.2%), New York (11.9%), North Dakota (10.1%), and Massachusetts (10.0%) had the largest real increases in salaries during that 10-year period.

IT GETS WORSE. Adjusting for inflation, 34 states saw real declines in average teacher salaries over those years. Those with average salaries declining 6 percent or more were:

  • North Carolina (-15.0%),
  • Indiana (-12.3%),
  • Illinois (-9.5%),
  • Florida (-8.9%),
  • Michigan (-8.8%),
  • Georgia (-8.5%),
  • Washington (-8.5%),
  • Colorado (-8.0%),
  • West Virginia (-6.9%), and
  • Mississippi (-6.2)

(From the National Education Association's Rankings of the States 2013 and Estimates of School Statistics 2014.)

Read a related story (takepart) and a column by Valerie Strauss about why teachers' salaries should be doubled (Washington Post). 

screen shot from the Teaching Channel

“Deeper Learning captures the nuances, the ideas, and the energy behind an entire effort to fundamentally rethink the most important outcomes in education for the 21st century,” notes Tony Wagner, educator and expert-in-residence at Harvard University’s New Innovation Lab.


How Does Deeper Learning Prepare Students for the Future?

Meet students and teachers who exemplify what can happen when the Common Core is approached with innovative teaching models that emphasize real-world experience, academic mindsets, and collaborative project work. The 50+ videos in this Teaching Channel series showcase ten Deeper Learning networks that are preparing students for success. They collectively serve more than 500 schools and 227,000 students. 

Teachers can browse the series by topic, including Academic Mastery, Academic Mindset, Authentic Audience, Collaboration, Common Core, English Language Learners, Global Competency, Performance Assessments, Professional Learning, Project-Based Learning, Real-World Connections , and Self-Directed Learning.

P Chat

Principal Chat

LEADERS TO LEARN FROM. Education Week has released their latest report highlighting "forward-thinking district leaders who seized on good ideas and executed them well in their school systems." This powerful group of educators dropped by ED this week to share their secrets to success and to advise the Department where they need more help from federal and state leaders. 

When asked what ED has done lately that has helped their work most, the leaders talked about Race to the Top, NCLB waivers, and grants made through the Teacher Incentive Fund and Investing in Innovation program. 

Among their greatest challenges, they spoke about traditions in education (like seat time) that can serve as barriers to learning, restrictions on the use of funds, and teacher preparation. "The universities are siloed," one leader said. "Teachers aren't being trained in trauma-informed pedagogy." Learn moreNominate a 2015 Leader to Learn From (nominations due July 1).

WEBINAR: A GRITTY MINDSET. Join Jim Grant, founder of Staff Development for Educators, as he presents Grit, Mindset, and Determination: The Key to Leading by Influence. Grant will provide a variety of valuable and useful tips, tricks, and strategies for helping students learn to respond to failure as a crucial component of their overall educational achievement. This webinar will take place April 9, 2014 from 4:00-5:00 p.m. ET and 1:00-2:00 p.m. PT. Get more information and register. 

"A moratorium on the Common Core Standards frightens me."

(New York English teacher and parent Andria Finch in the Hechinger Report. Read her editorial.)

Read why Connecticut teacher Catherine Freeman supports the Common Core after 26 years of teaching (CT Mirror).

Quote to Note

the New Math

1 is 2 Many

Despite the progress made in reducing violence against women, the current statistics are alarming:

1 in 9 teen girls will be forced to have sex.

1 in 10 teens will be hurt on purpose by someone they are dating.

1 in 5 young women will be a victim of sexual assault in college.

(Statistics from the 1 is 2 Many campaign, an initiative led by Vice President Biden to stop violence against women by targeting the importance of changing attitudes that lead to violence and educating the public to stop abuse before it begins.)

Students' Corner


Paying for College

Eric Westervelt reports that he continues to hear about misconceptions students and parents have about paying for a degree. One of the most common is that low-income students get most of their college financial aid needs met and rich kids don't have to worry, so it's mainly the middle class that gets squeezed. Learn more (NPR).

NBPTS logo


Now Recruiting

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is seeking Pre K-12 teachers to participate in field tests that will help shape the future of the revised National Board Certification process.

The revisions are aimed at making the certification process more flexible, affordable and efficient so that many more teachers and students can benefit. National Board Certified Teachers as well as teachers or educators who have not yet achieved certification are invited to apply. Learn more and apply. 



In the Weeds

BIRTH TO 5, WATCH ME THRIVE! ED and the Department of Health and Human Services announced the launch of Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive, a collaborative effort to encourage developmental and behavioral screening for children to support the families and providers who care for them. By raising awareness of child development, the initiative will help families look for and celebrate milestones; promote universal screenings; identify delays as early as possible; and improve the support available to help children succeed in school and thrive alongside their peers. Learn more

SPECIAL ED OFFICE SEEKS FEEDBACK ON USE OF DATA. The Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education is requesting feedback on how best to use results data (e.g., performance on assessments, graduation rates, and early childhood outcomes) in its accountability system under IDEA. Get more information. Responses must be received by April 25, 2014.

A WHOLE-CHILD APPROACH. ASCD announced their new Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model that is recommended as a strategy for improving students’ health and learning in our schools. A whole child approach, which ensures that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, sets standards for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provides for long-term student success. Learn more

Seriously? News no one can use.

Bullied Student Told to Leave his Favorite Backpack Home 

Liz Dwyer tells the lamentable tale of an elementary school student in Asheville, N.C., who was bullied because his schoolmates didn't approve of his My Little Pony backpack. Having missed the memo about not punishing the victim, the school district apparently told young Grayson Bruce to leave his favorite backpack at home. Read the story (takepart).

Emerging Research

One in Five Teachers Have Five or Fewer Years of Classroom Experience

A study issued by the Carnegie Foundation, "Beginners in the Classroom: What the Changing Demographics of Teaching Mean for Schools, Students, and Society," explores the causes and consequences of a less experienced teaching profession and looks at promising ways of addressing the problem, including intensive mentoring and residency programs. 

According to the report, novices are prevalent not just because of greater demand for teachers, but also because teachers in existing jobs are leaving before they become accomplished educators. Although the recent recession slowed the exodus, teacher turnover rates are exceptionally high. In many urban districts, more than half of the teachers leave within five years. And teachers abandon charter schools at especially high rates, a significant problem considering the growing presence of charters in many metropolitan areas.

The report, by Carnegie Senior Associate Susan Headden, concludes that money, or lack of it, is not the primary cause of teacher attrition. Teachers leave largely because of a lack of administrative support - poor professional development, insufficient emotional backing, and scant feedback on performance. Read the report.


Excellence, Equity and Inclusiveness

This year's International Summit on the Teaching Profession took place in Wellington, New Zealand, under the theme "Excellence, Equity and Inclusiveness – High quality teaching for all.” In his remarks, Arne Duncan noted that he is "not here to tell everyone else what the solutions are" and that the summit is “a chance for us not to come and say here are all the things we’re doing right, but here are things we want to get a lot better at that we can learn from folks from here and some of the other countries.”

Educators can watch videos of pre-summit sessions, which focused on nations' answers to these three questions: 1) How can high quality teachers and leaders be attracted into and retained in schools of the greatest need? 2) What are the levers for achieving equity in increasingly devolved education systems? 3) How are learning environments created that meet the needs of all children and young people? In the closing session, delegations were asked to report out on their priorities for the year ahead.

At the conclusion of the summit, the United States delegation made the following commitments. 
1. Continue to work to increase access to high quality early learning opportunities.
2. Increase concrete opportunities for teacher leadership by 20%.
3. Support labor management collaboration to implement high standards.

The U.S. delegation included Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten (American Federation of Teachers), Dennis Van Roekel (National Education Association), and Chris Minnich (Council of Chief State School Officers).

Here are some interesting links: • Announcement of the U.S. - New Zealand Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Awards Programme. • Video of a traditional Maori welcome, including Arne's welcome on behalf of the international guests (click on summit videos).

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• TEACHING SCIENCE, MIDDLE-SCHOOL STYLE. A study from the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University shows that a teacher professional development program developed and run by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago significantly improves student performance in science. The professional learning focused on making science truly engaging during the critical middle school years through a classroom atmosphere that includes hands-on, inquiry-based projects. Read about the museum-designed approach to teaching science in the report

• READ UP ON READING ALOUD. Christina Samuels reports on a study of California students taking the 2013 NAEP that indicates having teachers read aloud reading-comprehension tests for disabled and ELL students “offers a boost in scores without altering what the test is trying to measure.” Read the article that describes the study’s methodology and details its results (EdWeek).

BE A GEO-EDUCATOR. Connect with teachers who are passionate about helping students understand our interconnected world on the recently launched National Geographic Geo-Educator Community. This new initiative allows educators and thought-leaders from different disciplines, age groups, and educational settings to share ideas, collaborate on projects, and find inspiration from other geo-educators. Join the community via Twitter, Facebook, or edmodo. Sign up to receive free education newsletters and geo-educator community updates. Watch the video.

• LEVEL THE STEM FIELD. Author Mary Ann Mason offers advice to encourage women to enter STEM careers. Mason, a professor in the Graduate Division and co-director of the Berkeley School of Law’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, suggests four key reforms would ease the "baby penalty" that women scientists often face (Chronicle of Higher Education).

• FAST START. TNTP issued a report on the organization's efforts to rebuild their own pre-service teacher training from the ground up so that new teachers gain the skills they need to be successful from the moment they set foot in their classrooms. Their solution is a new five-week pre-service training program called Fast Start that funnels efforts in three areas: focus, practice, and feedback. After two years in 14 training sites across the country, the organization found that teachers who performed better during Fast Start training earned higher ratings from their principals and did better on their district's performance evaluation system. Learn more.

open book

Recommended Reading

• HOW CHARACTER AFFECTS SOCIAL MOBILITY. This article out of Brookings examines character traits that affect economic inequality, persistent poverty, and intergenerational social mobility. Looking at the work of Carmit Segal, the authors analyze evidence on how students performed on a coding speed test that "when taken with no incentive to do well, predicts adult earnings for male participants over 20 years later, controlling for cognitive skills."  Read the article (Reeves and Howard). 

• THE HOMEWORK CRISIS THAT ISN'T. Tom Loveless analyzes a report by Brookings about the state of homework in America. Among the findings: (1) With one exception, the homework load has remained remarkably stable since 1984; (2) The exception is nine-year-olds, who have experienced an increase in homework, primarily because many students who once did not have any now have some. The percentage of nine-year-olds with no homework fell by 13 percentage points, and the percentage with less than an hour grew by 16 percentage points. (3) NAEP data does not support the idea that a large and growing number of students have an onerous amount of homework. Read the analysis. Download the report

 BLURRING THE LINES BETWEEN COLLEGE AND CAREERS. James Fallows has an interesting piece about preparing students for "jobs that are less likely to be outsourced, de-skilled, or stuck at minimum wage" and why schools should eliminate the distinction between preparing for college or a career. Read his article (Atlantic).

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. "There is so much variance [in teacher skill] within my school. National Board Certification allows teachers to share a common knowledge and improve." (Principal, Ga.)

4. "My students expect productive struggle in my class. They aren't afraid to make mistakes." (Teacher, Nev.)

3. "Testing is a way to reassure parents that their kids are okay, they are making progress, they are getting better." (Teacher, Wash.)

2. "In the business world, I got a lot of feedback [on my performance]. When I started teaching, that didn't happen." (Teacher, Casper, Wyo.)

1. "In order for worthwhile education reform to persist, teachers have got to have the time, resources and support to influence its design, roll-out, assessment and revision. The hybrid teacher role, in which teachers spend half their time in the classroom and half their time in stewardship of the profession, is perfectly aligned with such education reform." (Teacher, Philadelphia, Pa.)