A study in the US gives US public schools a grade of "C" and says that there is not enough access to technology in schools. I think critical mass is building and demanding excellence in innovation in technology - of course, there is a price tag for this demand and with coffers shrinking it will require lots of creativity and hard work. Interesting study to share with policy makers.
Superintentendent of Quitman County Schools, Allen Fort, nails it with this article about being a superintendent of a rural school in Georgia. When budgets get cut by the state, rural schools hurt the most because their falling tax revenue means they get cut on both ends. Many rural schools are struggling and it is a shame what is happening in many of them. He talks about one of the biggest problems in rural schools which is a problem for all of us in an increasing way:
"A rural school in way too many students’ lives does play the role of in loco parentis. In these buildings, the teachers, janitors, secretaries, lunch room workers, paraprofessionals, and bus drivers help them gain knowledge and understanding of the value of an education, acquire social skills and aspire to succeed, and in many, many cases they do."
You should take the time to read this past Sunday's AJC to get an understanding of the state of education in Georgia for indeed many other states have similar issues. I thought the whole piece done by the AJC had many different viewpoints - it was a great read.
PISA Scores help and hurt... of course, the world won't be happy until every country and every child and every system is at the 100th percentile - something that won't happen.
From Valerie Strauss about what Finland should do as the result of their "slipping" scores. In the Washington Post.
"Finland should also continue to let national education and youth policies — and not PISA — drive what is happening in schools. Reading, science, and mathematics are important in Finnish education system but so are social studies, arts, music, physical education, and various practical skills. Play and joy of learning characterize Finland’s pre-schools and elementary classrooms. "
While not everyone community is as forward thinking as Kalamazoo, Michigan (which gives every child in that community a free college education at a public university of their choice in Michigan), helping children from low income families apply for college is imperative. I love this article because it gives practical advice and discusses the issues as well as some creative approaches. I think that the least communities could do is fund college application fees for low income students... helping kids go to college is a start, but a very important one.
From this AP Article from NBC Latino...
"Yet, nationally, about half of high school graduates from families making below $18,300 enrolled in college in 2012 compared to about 80 percent of those whose families earned above $90,500, according to the College Board.
In Washington, where Duarte lives, only 30 percent of high school graduates go to college – a lower percentage than the number who drop out of high school, despite the city having the highest level of college attainment in the nation, according to the College Board.
Nearly all the students at Roosevelt qualify for free or reduced lunches.
To help create a college-going culture, a bulletin board near the school’s front doors features the names of seniors and the colleges they were accepted to. College acceptances are announced over the intercom."
So, if you want to peek inside Finland, there are 3 videos on this BBC Wales site that will give you what you want. This Diary of a math teacher in Finland gives you a peek. There's also two other great videos "Let teachers teach, say Finns" and "Finland Classroom Success Secrets." You can embed these that I can find, so you'll need to share the links and watch them on the site. These short videos are just under 4 minutes and would be great to share in a staff meeting.
These heartbreaking words from a teacher in the UK. As the world tries to improve education by the numbers, the world has forgotten kids aren't numbers. They are precious, individual and unique and deserve education systems that celebrate and encourage that. OK, teachers, it is time to man the media - you are the media now! Are you fed up yet? It might not be you right now, but if you don't speak, it will be, wherever you teach, such stories impact us all and the profession we care for so much.
"As a teacher, I vowed that I would work hard to nurture my students, to make each and every student feel valued and for them to know that they have a voice, and a place in the world.
However the last two years have made me feel like that insecure 14-year-old again: I have lost my confidence because of the overly-rigid current education system. We are constantly being told we are not good enough and that we are not doing enough: enough intervention, enough rigorous marking, enough sustained and rapid progress.
What excited me the most about becoming a teacher was discovering the hidden talents and sparks of genius in my students. However, it breaks my heart to say this, but I feel that I no longer have time, nor am I encouraged to make these discoveries.
We are so caught up with data and so many progress checks that we don't give our students the time to shine. I wonder what would happen if the greats of the world like Einstein, Gaudi, Picasso and Martin Luther King were to attend school in 2013, would they be able to cultivate their talents and thrive?"
Excellent post from Justin Tarte that deserves lots of shares. The only issue I have with the post is the use of the word "rigor" which I think is misused and misapplied all over education without questioning if that is actually the word we should use. I've heard people say "they're having fun -- that isn't rigorous." WHAT? Great post worth sharing.
Pernille Ripp's poignant post shares why more teachers don't refuse to give the tests. Unless it is done en masse, it can't really be done. That said, parents can refuse to have their children take the test without repercussions and in fact, a national opt out movement is brewing.
"If I were to refuse administering these state mandated tests, I would get in trouble. That is an absolute guarantee. And while I have never been one to shy away from too much controversy, the kind of trouble this time would be much bigger than a write up. I could even lose my job for failing to do my duties. To some that may not seem like a big deal, after all, I should be standing up for my students and their rights, my own opinions, I should protect those children that I teach from the tests. But my job is vital to my own children. My job is our health insurance. My job gives us just enough money so that we can pay our bills. I wish my husband had a huge paying job, he doesn’t, and so we are a very dependent two income family. So losing my job refusing tests just isn’t something I can rationally do and in a sense, I am not sure I should be the one refusing the tests anyway."
Joli Barker, author of the Fearless Classroom Blog, talks about how to become a fearless classroom in 3 steps. She's an inspirational practicing classroom teacher and I've blogged about her before. Just amazing what she does with technology, writing, and improving her classroom.
A show I recorded with Dawn Casey-Rowe, an overcomer who is using technology (and kickboxing too). She gives advice on transforming classrooms to demands all teachers face. She shares her thoughts about leading, learning, and embracing education technology.
I'm a huge fan of the American School of Bombay and visionary Shabbi Luthra - this article on Edutopia from PBL expert Suzie Boss captures so much about this amazing school that uses laptops at a very young age in ways that empower students to learn, create, and share. Shabbi is passionate about bringing the best to her school but also shares expects that what is brought and discussed there will be used. Such a great school - it is well worth attending ASB Un-Plugged when they host it just to see what they are doing. It is hard to find a better school anywhere in the world.
If you're dealing with leadership transitions in your district, Miguel Guhlin has penned a pretty epic post. In it, he is blunt about the ups and downs of working with great leaders, and "hatchet men." IN the post, he also includes steps to making staff development actually work and his frustration to be asked to read books that no one else read or implemented. This is a great post and one that leaders should read (so they can be visionary) and staff and teachers should read (so they can find wisdom for making it through tough transitions.) Every transition is tough - I've been through several myself during my 12 years and even when the leader is a very good one, it is hard to do and endure because so many people take their "eye off the ball" and the ball is learning in the classroom. Drama in the front office should be kept at a minimum so classroom learning can be kept at a maximum.
Pakistan is pushing to educate more of its children, amidst financial woes and a struggle for more funding. Their goal: 100% enrollment. Of course, there is a great effort also to build a firewall in Pakistan much like the "great firewall of China." That said, there are many lovely educators from Pakistan who contribute and connect increasingly online and I wish this country well as well as the many countries working to increase enrollment.
"As schools returned to session in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province this fall, the newly elected provincial government – with the help of the non-profit campaign Alif Ailaan - launched an enrollment drive. In its first month, the drive managed to enroll nearly 245,000 out of school children – about 65% male and 35% female - across 25 districts of the province, according to figures provided by Alif Ailaan. But considering Pakistan’s education woes, where more than 25 million children between the ages of 5-16 remain out of school, it is a small step.
“In order to provide schooling to all the kids, we need about Rs. 138 billion (roughly $1.2 billion) just in KP - for school infrastructure, classrooms, teachers so on and so forth,” Joudat Ayaz, the province’s education secretary, told me over dinner. Ayaz estimates the number of out of school children in KP between 2 to 3 million, about 20% to 30% of the school-age children in the province. “You can’t do this [reaching 100% enrollment] in one go – you have to do it progressively, over six or seven years.”"
An important read as we work to reinvent schools and make sure we measure authentic learning with more authentic measures than bubble trouble. ;-)
"In its first television foray, TED has joined forces with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the New York public broadcaster WNET for a one-hour special, “TED Talks Education,” to be broadcast on PBS on Tuesday. If it is successful, the program could become a template for future joint projects, said Juliet Blake, one of the show’s executive producers and the TED official charged with bringing the conferences to television."
I'm not partisan. There are some things that Aaron Maurer says in this post that make a lot of sense.
"What bothers me is this "punish the whole system method" employed in the education world. I agree that teachers need to be held accountable. However, I know that state test scores do not show what I teach. What happens in schools is that we never address the specific issues at hand. If a teacher is not doing their job, then call them out. Tell them, show them how they are messing up, and then give them a plan to improve. Help them with necessary skills. If they choose not to improve or they simply don't improve, then you let them go. No more of this keeping teachers for 30 years and for 30 years they have been bad. That affects too many children that need good quality teachers. Hold us accountable like we should be holding our students accountable."
The top 50 people to watch in education in Australia. I enjoy looking at these lists and also following those who are thought leaders / educators. (I don't really follow politicians in the movements.) We have a lot to learn from each other.
"But even by reasonable standards, the nation’s educational outcomes are not in much better shape than they were in 1983. Whether we’re looking at overall scores or at achievement gaps, the trend lines for NAEP, the so-called Nation’s Report Card, generally show a post-reform picture that looks pretty much like the pre-reform picture – with positive trend lines but apparent slowing after 1990. There is no way to tease those data into showing that test-based accountability reform is accomplishing its key learning goals."
Here's the iTunes podcast for Every Classroom matters, the new show I"m hosing on BAM radio network. I'll have one post a week go live from here on out as I interview the best, most exciting teachers I know. Let me know if you want to nominate someone.
IF you listen and like the show, it would help me out if you would rate it on the store. Thank you.
Diane Ravitch calls it. Read her blog post on this major ethical issue. I think we need an independent testing company. Isn't there a conflict of interest here when a company creates textbooks and the test?
"I am an 8th grade teacher in Xxxx, NY. On Day 1 of the NYS ELA 8 Exam, I discovered what I believe to be a huge ethical flaw in the State test. The state test included a passage on why leaves change color that is included in the Pearson-generated NYS ELA 8 text. I taught it in my class just last week. In a test with 6 passages and questions to complete in 90 minutes, it was a huge advantage to students fortunate enough to use a Pearson text and not that of a rival publisher. It may very well have an impact on student test scores. This has not yet received any attention in the press. Could you help me bring this to the attention of the public?"
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