Archive for the ‘
Chalkboard Project ’ Category
This post originally appeared on Huff Post’s IMPACT blog and can be read in its entirety here.
The recent passing of Margaret Thatcher signals the true end of an era — Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan all were powerful leaders in the 1980s. While Reagan is now known largely for his international agenda, his domestic policies remain a part of our national fabric.
The end of April will mark the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking “A Nation at Risk” education report issued during the Reagan Administration. No matter how one feels about Reagan’s viewpoints, there is no doubt the report’s stark introductory language is memorable:
“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”
Thirty years on we are still struggling with those words and how we are failing students especially those who live in low-income neighborhoods.
The 1983 report kicked off a national education reform effort that picked up steam in many states. Massachusetts and Maryland in particular made great strides and now are considered to be the states with the highest education standards in the country.
Meanwhile, I must admit my state of Oregon has many great features but a strong K-12 reform agenda has not been one of them. On state report cards, we get an A for being bike friendly and an A+ for hazelnut production. But Education Week gives us a C on its report card and ranks us 43rd in the nation for education based on numerous factors including how we treat teachers. We received a D in the subcategories of accountability for quality and incentives and allocations.
I love statistics. As a former teacher of AP Statistics and a PhD candidate, I have had the privilege of using (and abusing) statistical analysis with the best of them. As a practicing classroom science teacher, I have had the privilege of introducing a great number of students to the fine arts of backing up an argument or an experiment with adequate data and statistical analysis. Used as a mathematical tool, statistics can be enlightening, even empowering; as a weapon, they are deadly and, as the old joke goes, half of the statistics ever collected are incorrect and the other two-thirds out-and-out lie! (My profound apologies to those readers who live and die by statistics; you know who you are!)
Of all the statistics I have processed in my role as professional educator and advocate for the education profession, the ones I have appreciated the most are derived from instruments like the MetLife Survey of the American teacher. I highly recommend this data set and subsequent analysis to anyone truly interested in an impartial examination of the state of education here in our nation. Much can be learned and inferred from the two-decade plus examination of data collected from teachers and principals throughout the United States. Indeed, twenty-nine years of non-partisan and non-political data has been collected from a “scientific” sampling of educators and administrations. I particularly enjoy executive summaries; they have a tendency to “cut to the chase” and distill out the highlights. This past year, 2012, is certainly no exception, with the primary issues associated with education and educational leadership being concerns that are totally beyond the control of any teacher or principal in her or his academic setting. (more…)
Creating a New Paradigm for Oregon Teachers
Education in Oregon is emerging into an era of challenging growth. The push to improve student learning and achievement resulted in the creation of local education compacts, state-level departments such as the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB), and new education grant opportunities. These changes in the traditional educational practices opened doors for new teacher leadership opportunities. These opportunities are reflected in the changing role of teachers in schools. Teachers hold tremendous influence, and through increasing professional opportunities such as the CLASS Project, they possess capabilities and knowledge to transform education. It is a paradigm shift.
Schools operated in the past largely under Frederick Taylor’s 1916 scientific management system which was vertical. A few people were selected to rise to the “top” and become the leaders. In school terms this translated into administrative positions such as superintendents, principals, and directors. Under this hierarchal system, managers (administrators) made decisions without input from workers (teachers). Teachers taught in contained closed classrooms with limited ability to share their knowledge and build the capacity of other teachers. (more…)
The following excerpt is from the Oregon Department of Education’s November newsletter. To read this newsletter in its entirety and to read archived newsletters, visit the ODE Education Update webpage.
It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner, but as Thanksgiving approaches, I want to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude for everyone who works in and with our schools. Specifically, I want to thank all of our amazingly dedicated, passionate, and highly skilled teachers. Our teachers are the backbone of our education system and make a huge difference in the lives of students every single day. They are definitely something to be thankful for—now and throughout the year!
We ask a lot of our teachers. They have been faced with years of budget cuts and increased class sizes at a time when we are asking more of our schools and our students, adopting new and more rigorous standards, and working to redesign our education system around improved supports and outcomes for all kids. (more…)
Dr. Rudy Crew, Oregon’s new Chief Education Officer, spoke at the Grantmakers Conference in Eugene on October 17th. About sixty representatives of Oregon foundations heard him suggest where Oregon should focus its energies and resources to help students grow and achieve—making sure all students can read by third grade, promoting STEAM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), better training and supporting teachers, and supporting stronger parent and community connections with schools.
As I listened it occurred to me that education officials and advocates know how to advance in all four of these areas. There are proven programs for teaching reading and raising literacy. There are effective models for engaging students in meaningful STEAM instruction and activities. There are traditional and non-traditional programs that are better equipping teachers to be successful in the short and long-term. There are exemplars in building relationships between parents and schools. We have a pretty good idea how to do all this; perhaps not with unquestionable certainty, but with enough confidence to move forward. We lack just one resource. (more…)
As we get into the swing of the school year, parents and teachers have a lot on their minds. Parents want to make sure their students are getting the best education possible. Teachers will be concerned with a whole new class of students and how they can meet the array of student needs. What they probably are not spending much time thinking about is Oregon’s No Child Left Behind waiver.
When the waiver does rise to the level of interest, controversy is likely to be the cause. Unfortunately, issues that gain public attention as the result of controversy are often much more complicated than the sound bites and talking points capture. This is true of the use of student achievement data in educator performance evaluations—one change of many that will come as a result of the waiver.
One test score should never be used to rate and rank a teacher—no one seriously engaged in the education policy conversation believes that is a good idea. What most of us agree on is that being a successful educator means helping students succeed. Educators, like other professionals, deserve relevant feedback to help improve their craft. Where the controversy lies is in how student learning is measured and how that information gets used. (more…)
Kim has worked in the Lebanon Community School District since 1995. She is the Spanish – College Now Teacher at Lebanon High School and wears several hats in the administrative realm as well. She lives in Lebanon with her two youngest children. Her oldest daughters and their families (including two grand babies) live nearby as well. Kim was Vice President of the local Association for four years followed by eight years in the presidency. At the end of her tenure in the Association she helped to write the initial CLASS grant with the Chalkboard Project that has shaped the work of the school district ever since.
Education in the 21st Century requires a new set of skills, but not just for students. Teachers, education support professionals and administrators face daily a myriad of hurdles that slow or deter students from achieving at the highest levels. Mobility, socio-economic status, historically ineffective instructional strategies, the disintegration of family and solid home life, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and apathy can destroy the academic chances of children from as early as one year of age. So how do we cope? What can we do to combat these invisible enemies? (more…)
The Distinguished Educators Council (DEC), made up of 13 Oregon teachers recognized for their knowledge and accomplishments, has released its recommendations to ensure Oregon is a great place to teach. “As we work to create a seamless, high-quality system from birth through post-secondary education we know that teachers at all levels will be the real drivers of change in schools across the state. We should all be doing what we can to ensure that teachers’ voices are helping to drive these policy conversations,” reflected Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. “I am glad to see this group of distinguished teachers offering their best thinking and using their expertise to benefit students inside and outside their own classrooms.”
The report outlines five top-line recommendations, each with specific actions policymakers and school leaders should take to improve teaching and learning.
Read the full report, “Making Oregon a Great Place to Teach: Recommendations from the Distinguished Educators Council.”
Read the news release.
Hedy N. Chang directs Attendance Works, a national initiative aimed at advancing student success by addressing chronic absence. She co-authored the seminal report, Present, Engaged and Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades and has written numerous other articles about student attendance.
In February, Oregon became one of the first states to take a thorough look at its school attendance data, and the results surprised many of us. Nearly a quarter of students missed 10 percent or more of school year, a level of absenteeism that put them at risk academically.
This is true across the state, affecting many schools and districts where daily attendance rates look just fine. The reality is that most schools only track average daily attendance (ADA) but this aggregate figure can mask large numbers of individual students missing so much school that they are at risk academically. (more…)
Last week, Dan and I had the pleasure of hosting a break-out session at REAP’s (Reaching and Empowering All People) Academy of Leadership Innovations.
The academy is an opportunity for 8th through 12th graders to practice their leadership skills and engage with community members around important issues facing the greater community.
We spent our session hearing from the students about great teaching. We started by asking the students to describe their best teachers. Over and over again we heard praise for teachers who care about their students, who know their subject matter, and who are willing to individualize their support.
We then had the students get into small groups and discuss questions related to assessing and supporting great teaching and student learning. There were engaged and animated conversations throughout the room, and when we had every group share out at the end of the session, thoughtful ideas were plentiful. Here are some of the highlights: (more…)