The Obama administration wants states to come up with plans to more evenly distribute effective teachers. The Education Department plans to spend $4.2 million to launch a new “technical assistance network” to help states and districts develop and implement their plans. States will be required to publicly report their progress.
Bob Farrace, the spokesman for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, led a session Monday for principals. He said school leaders are realizing that educational technology is driving fundamental change in the classroom.
"What we're starting to see is less of a layering on of technology to things we already do and more use of educational technology as a way to transform the practice of education," he said.
Who could have predicted that Gov. Bobby Jindal would be sideways with business and industry after carrying its litigation agenda during the spring legislative session? But he is, thanks to his executive blitz to pull the state out of Common Core just four years after he signed us up.
"The business community has denounced Bobby Jindal," said Lane Grigsby, founder and board chairman of Cajun Contractors. "We're not turning our backs on him. That would suggest that we'll forget about him. Business will not forget. I will not forget. I don't intend to give up on it because young Jindal wanted to have national ambitions and screw over our children."
A new study out today from the conservative-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute suggests that with highly effective principals in short supply, some districts might be missing out on opportunities to recruit and retain promising candidates.
Fordham sent its researchers into five large urban districts – representing a cross-section of the country – that were granted anonymity in exchange for access to their principal hiring practices. Here’s the nut graph from the Fordham report, which is worth a close read:
“Our primary finding is that principal-hiring practices—even in pioneering districts— continue to fall short of what is needed, effectively causing needy schools to lose out on leaders with the potential to be great. Our research suggests, however, that better hiring practices alone are only part of the solution. Districts must also re-imagine the principal’s role so that it is a job that talented leaders want and are equipped to execute successfully.”
Resentful that a massive wave of common-standards adoptions four years ago bypassed their chambers and subjected them to intense political heat, state lawmakers are taking steps to claim some of the authority that state boards of education have traditionally held over academic standards.
Microsoft, the world's third-largest technology company, is embroiled in a three-way war with the first- and second-largest, Apple and Google. In the last two years, elementary, middle and high schools have been among the war's hottest fronts.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's long-awaited announcement about how he plans to try and remove Louisiana from the Common Core academic standards set off a political scramble and procedural tug-of-war Wednesday that left the state's public education system in confusion, with no active testing contract for next year.
Opponents of Common Core are pressuring Republican candidates and warning of a mounting conservative revolt. But in fact, conservatives are evenly split over the standards, with 45% supportive and 46% opposed, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Even among Republicans who describe themselves as tea party supporters, opposition to Common Core rose only as high as 53%.
As controversial as the standards have become in some quarters, nearly half of adults, 47%, have never heard of it. That may leave room for both supporters and opponents a chance to shape public opinion.
Bob Farrace's insight:
Principals are a credible voice in education conversations in local communities. Despiite the polarizing rhetoric, principals still have an opportunity to shape public opinion around Common Core. Visit the Principal's PR Portal for guidance. www.principalspr.org
One of the things America badly needs is a better class of liberal arts education. Democratic self-governance requires an enlightened citizenry and, in particular, one that is somewhat acquainted with the thought and the culture that gave us the civilization we live in.
Bob Farrace's insight:
This article indicates the biggest challenge facing education: our lack of consensus on priorities. We need more liberal arts in schools, this author reasonably argues. Yet in the past several days--in fact, during any span of days--I have read equally plausible arguments for more STEM education, more fine arts, more career/technical education, and more physical education. We want students to think critically and standardize their learning enough to outscore their globe-mates on standardized tests. But we also want them to be empowered, self-directed learners. There is value to all of these, and yes, they do not necessarily exclude one another. But asking any 10 Americans to list them in priority order would likely produce 12 unique lists. Until we reach consensus on the goals of education--on what we want to "fix"--we will continue to pursue every remedy. And every one of them will fail us.
The government of New Jersey recently declined to allow a virtual school day to count in lieu of a snow day, Pascack Valley Regional High School District gave the virtual school day a test-run on Feb. 13, another snow day during what district superintendent Erik Gundersen called "the winter to end all winters." The 2,000-student district had already used up its three allotted snow days, so another snow day meant students would either have to tack on extra days at the end of the year or shorten spring break to make up for it.
Bob Farrace's insight:
In a Twitter exchange, Pascack Valley Principal Tom De Maio remains optimistic:
Disappointed your state won't count Virtual Day as a schoolday, @PVHS_Principal. Cant advance when you're anchored by current structures.
@NASSP. We are disappointed but we will continue to push ahead knowing we are giving our students a quality educational experience
"I look at some of these bulletproof backpacks and wipe boards ... how would this really work in the real world?" safetu specialist Ken Trump said. "If you had a bulletproof backpack, would you need a bulletproof front-back, and bulletproof helmet, and a Captain America shield to go with it?"
Delegates of the National Education Association adopted a business item July 4 at its annual convention in Denver that called for ED Secretary Arne Duncan's resignation. The vote underscores the long-standing tension between the Obama administration and teachers' unions — historically a steadfast Democratic ally.
As schools refocus on team-based, interdisciplinary learning, they're moving away from standardized, teach-to-test programs that assume a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. Instead, there is a growing awareness that students learn in a variety of ways, and the differences should be supported. With that in mind, here's how one architecture firm is redesigning learning spaces.
Fourteen school systems around the country will receive grants totaling $30 million to improve the effectiveness of unsung middle managers in large urban districts — those who supervise principals.
The five-year program, funded by the Wallace Foundation, is designed to help improve management in sprawling school bureaucracies.
The grants will allow school districts to restructure workloads so that supervisors have fewer principals to manage, more time to spend in schools and more ability to focus on mentoring and solving problems with their principals, said Jody Spiro, director of education leadership at Wallace.
Bob Farrace's insight:
With this grant program, Wallace continues its dedication to promoting effective leadership by identifying and filling a gap in principal leadership. Even your most effective leaders need meaningful feedback and opportunities to improve, and NASSP is optimistic that the principal supervisor model
U.S. Education Arne Duncan on Tuesday focuses his quest to improve classroom performance on the 6.5 million students with disabilities, including many who perform poorly on standardized tests.
Duncan, who has spent his years in the Obama administration using accountability measures in existing laws to drive improvements in student performance, on Tuesday joins Michael Yudin, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, to announce a new framework for measuring states' compliance with IDEA.
Ideally, tenure helps low-income schools to attract—and retain—good teachers. I’ve studied urban schools for many years, and it’s clear that disparities in teacher quality contribute to unequal academic outcomes among poor students. Students in districts with large minority populations are much more likely to be taught by new, inexperienced teachers who have only a bachelor’s degree and are often not certified in the subjects they teach. These teachers often earn considerably less than their counterparts in white, affluent districts, and frequently work under adverse conditions. Tenure has no bearing on how school districts chose to staff their schools.
State education officials want to see more community schools implemented in West Virginia. The community school model partners public schools with nonprofit organizations and local businesses to create a sort of hub that fosters student achievement by combating issues such as poverty and health care access. A new state policy that provides the framework for schools that want to implement the comprehensive approach is expected to be approved by the state school board next month, and State Board of Education President Gayle Manchin hopes her project, Reconnecting McDowell, can lead by example.
Today, more and more Americans are gaining access to 21st century tools, from 3D printers and scanners to design software and laser cutters. Thanks to the democratization of technology, it is easier than ever for inventors to create just about anything. Across our Nation, entrepreneurs, students, and families are getting involved in the Maker Movement. My Administration is increasing their access to advanced design and research tools while organizations, businesses, public servants, and academic institutions are doing their part by investing in makerspaces and mentoring aspiring inventors.
Stick a few hundred kids together in a building for six hours and you can bet that a few are going to misbehave. How teachers and administrators should react to rule infractions -- especially more serious ones -- is perennial problem. What’s a better way? The overarching principle emphasized in the report is the creation of more positive environments in schools and classrooms, and more supportive relationships among students, teachers, and administration.
Bob Farrace's insight:
It merits repeating: "The overarching principle emphasized in the report is the creation of more positive environments in schools and classrooms, and more supportive relationships among students, teachers, and administration."
This principle is the hallmark of NASSP's Breaking Ranks framework. Supportive relationships are an essential condition, not just for discipline, but for any school-improvement initiative.
The National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington group that advocates for new teacher evaluations, said its second annual evaluation of teacher preparation programs, released on Tuesday, found that only 7 percent performed well enough to achieve "top status."
Here's hoping the pundits and policymakers will actually dig into the report--rather than accepting it at face value--to critique its methods and findings and discover actionable information. More likely, it's just another bludgeon for detractors of public education.
Pittsburgh officials revealed the first official results of a new teacher evaluation system designed to help weed out ineffective teachers Thursday. The verdict? Nearly all the teachers – 96.9 percent – are good at their jobs.
The results, praised by the local teachers union and school system alike, follow a pattern emerging around the country: new evaluation systems, which replaced supposedly lax systems that allowed failing teachers to skate by and which cost millions to develop, aren’t unearthing large numbers of bad teachers.