Thursday, July 28, 2011

Educators Speak about the School Improvement Innovation Summit

The School Improvement Innovation Summit was a great success! July 11, 12, and 13 were filled with dynamic speakers and presentations focused on improving today's world of education and sharing ideas and skills that can be used firsthand in the classroom and the overall school. We want to thank everyone who participated as a presenter and especially for those committed individuals who came to learn how to create real transformation in their local districts. We could go on, but we thought we'd let you hear for yourself from those who attended the Summit.   

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Friday, July 22, 2011

A New Way of Learning for Teachers

Every day, teachers are focused on how they can use technology and innovative strategies to prepare students for their future in a fast advancing world. However, while most of those teachers are being asked to think “outside the box,” many of them are still being in very traditional methods and environments, until now.

Instead of instructing teachers through typical courses, Relay Graduate School of Education will contain 60 modules, each focused on a different teaching technique. There will be no lectures and no building to hold class. Instead, the graduate students will be mentored primarily at the schools they teach.

Do you think this new type of graduate school will make a greatly improve K-12 classroom instruction?

To read the full article and learn more, click here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

States Present Their Own Solutions to No Child Left Behind

It’s no secret that No Child Left Behind has caused frustration and discontent among educators and state officials for years. However, now select state representatives are taking matters into their own hands. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker reported, “We are not trying to get around accountability. But instead of using the blanket approach that defines a lot of schools as failures, we will use a more strategic approach so we can replicate success and address failure."

While some states are still waiting for Congress to make the big changes, other states have lost patience. South Dakota, Montana and Idaho recently told officials they would disregard key aspects of the law. Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education, said states must either follow the law or apply for a waiver. "There is no Plan C," he said, adding that the department can withdraw federal funding from states that don't comply.
  
To read the full article click here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Future of School Assessments

Standardized bubble tests have been the norm for almost all state and national testing. Numerous educators will say the traditional tests are limiting and will agree that these assessments don’t always display the true knowledge of the student. Also, as evaluations in every state are changing and evolving, these assessments are playing a larger role in demonstrating teacher effectiveness.

With so much emphasis being places on the assessments, it is no surprise that teachers, administrators, and parents are anxious to see if the new assessments being developed will actually make a difference and be an improvement from the current method of testing. So who’s in charge of creating the new assessments? Two separate groups — Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium — are using the federal government’s Race to the Top Funds to come up with the new testing systems, which will be used by different states.
 
The new tests will be designed to use technology in both administering and scoring and will measure “performance-based tasks, designed to designed to mirror complex, real-world situations,” according to the New York Times. In addition to greater technology integration, the new assessments will be more performance-based and require more in-depth critical thinking.

To learn more, click here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Budget Cuts Equal Less Class Time

The recent effect of budget cuts is not painting the prettiest picture of the future of our nation’s education. Not only has the lack of funding caused an increase in class sizes, but also the cramming of classes into four-day weeks and cutting summer programs and days off the school year.

While virtually everyone in education agrees that American students need to spend more time in the classroom, states can’t ignore the fact that it’s just not in the budget. “Instead of increasing school time, in a lot of cases we’ve been pushing back against efforts to shorten not just the school day but the week and year,” said Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for the federal Department of Education. “We’re trying to prevent what exists now from shrinking even further.”

Read the full article and learn more here

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Federal Data Reveal Educational Inequities

“Transparency is the path to reform,” said Russlynn Ali, the Department of Education’s assistant secretary for civil rights. New federal statistics shared Thursday revealed the level of equity in schools and districts across the United States.

Ali commented, “These data are incredible and revelatory. They paint a portrait of a sad truth in American schools: Fundamental fairness hasn’t reached whole groups of students.”

“For a long time, we have fallen short on why the achievement gap exists,” she said. But the data collected show “gaps in opportunity, in access to courses and other resources that continue to hobble students across the country.”

Although the data online isn’t aggregated by state, the numbers offer a glimpse into the educational inequities at the national level:

• Some 3,000 schools serving about 500,000 high school students weren’t offering Algebra II classes last school year, and more than 2 million students in 7,300 schools did not offer calculus.

• At schools where the majority of students were African-American, teachers were twice as likely to have only one or two years of experience compared with schools within the same district that had a majority-white student body.

Read the full article and learn more about the national inequities here.