Friday, November 19, 2010

Quick Hits

NAEP scores show slight improvement for nation's seniors: High-school seniors taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading and math increased their scores slightly, but officials say greater improvement is needed. Average reading scores were up two points between 2005 and 2009, and average math scores rose three points in that same time period. "Overall, the results are still disappointing, especially in comparison to the big gains at fourth and eighth grade," said Tom Loveless, a Brookings Institution senior fellow. (Education Week) (The Washington Post)

Mass. charter has project-based curriculum, prep-school feel: A public charter school in Massachusetts with "a private-school feel" is achieving high levels of achievement by featuring a project-based curriculum that emphasizes public speaking and includes independent learning plans for all students. The Innovation Academy Charter School has a strong focus on academics -- requiring that students earn a C or better to move on to the next grade -- but also requires students to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities. (The Boston Globe)

Popularity of charters grows in Massachusetts: More parents and students in Massachusetts are choosing charter schools in their quest to find an education that is individualized and academically rigorous. State data shows the popularity of charters continues to grow, with enrollment increasing from about 12,500 to nearly 27,500 over the last 10 years. However, some skeptics feel the charters drain valuable resources and top students from traditional public schools. (The Boston Globe)

Pittsburgh to offer residency program for some new teachers: Pennsylvania school officials approved a one-year residency program to train incoming teachers for Pittsburgh schools. The certification program is being sponsored in part by The New Teacher Project and aims to recruit a more diverse corps of educators, including those who are coming to teaching from other professions. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Denver high school is the target of ambitious turnaround: School officials in Denver approved a plan Thursday to turn around a long-struggling high school and its five feeder campuses. New programs and charter schools will replace some of the existing schools, while new teachers and school leadership will be brought in at two of the campuses. Many teachers and parents attended the meeting, with some arguing to keep the schools open and others rallying behind the changes. (The Denver Post)

Students are taught basic values in character-education program: A character-education program at a North Carolina elementary school is being recognized for its success and could become a statewide model. The program trains students to act as peer mediators and also involves parents and the community in teaching students concepts such as responsibility, respect and honesty. School officials say teaching students to act on such values reduces school conflicts and bullying, in addition to improving student attendance. (The Charlotte Observer)

Duncan: Tough times should lead to school innovations: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, while speaking at an American Enterprise Institute forum Wednesday, called on schools to use difficult financial times as a catalyst for rethinking how schools operate without making cuts that directly affect classroom instruction. Education Week reporter Alyson Klein writes in this blog post that Duncan also floated the idea of raising class sizes in some instances, but also raising teacher salaries. (Politics K-12)

Educator - Students must become critical thinkers, not test-takers: Today's teachers are forced to cover concepts quickly to prepare students for multiple-choice standardized tests, teacher and author Kelly Gallagher writes. This approach has been shown to produce higher test scores in high school, but lower grades in college, where students must demonstrate the ability to think critically. Obtainable standards and better assessments that focus on writing and critical thinking would be a better measure of student learning and teacher effectiveness, Gallagher writes. (Education Week)

Groups push for relief from NCLB requirements: Some education groups are asking the Education Department to provide schools and districts relief from some No Child Left Behind requirements, as a reauthorization of the law has been pending since 2007. Some say there is room to allow a limited number of regulatory fixes, while others say the changes could further delay a revision of the law. (Education Week)

In their post, The New Faces of Ed Reform, ASCD asks, "Now that Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein are (at least temporarily) out of the education reform spotlight, who will be the new faces of education reform?

Personally, I think it is still the same face as before:

In advance of next Monday's National Day of Blogging for Real Education Reform, ASCD pulled 10 articles from their EL archives that discuss reforming education with teachers as leaders and partners in meaningful, lasting change:

  • "Change From Within": How a school turned itself around, thanks to its on-site experts working together.
  • "Short on Power, Long on Responsibility": To upgrade teacher quality, schools need to go beyond just holding teachers more accountable. They need to give teachers more control.
  • "Lessons from Leading Models": What can we learn from the three most widely used high school reform models (Talent Development, First Things First, and career academies)?
  • "Reform: To What End?": Mike Rose says that we need a different orientation to school reform—one that embodies a richer understanding of teaching and learning.
  • "When Teachers Run the School": A Greek high school demonstrates the effectiveness of distributed leadership.
  • "How North Carolina Improved Teacher Evaluation": For the last three years, North Carolina has been developing a statewide system to ensure that teachers can perform at their best.
  • "To Help and Not Hinder": What school qualities contribute most to teacher growth?
    "Research Says… / Drastic School Turnaround Strategies Are Risky": Successful turnarounds build the skills and knowledge of those responsible for student learning and seriously engage teachers and the community in setting goals and putting them into practice.
  • "How to Become a Digital Leader": Bill Ferriter says, "I've never made more enemies than I did while sitting on a panel of teacher leaders at a conference for principals. Our task was to help a room full of administrators understand the role teachers could play in driving change in schools."
  • "Moving Beyond Talk": Six conditions helped these urban districts launch—and sustain—strong learning communities.

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