Archive for the ‘
Early Learning ’ Category
Lori Lynass Ed.D. has served in the role as Executive Director for NW PBIS Network for the past three years. Prior to that she was a Research Scientist for the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Dr. Lynass has worked directly with over 300 schools on their implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Married to a teacher and the mother of school age children, she truly believes that all children deserve an excellent education.
Incorporating policy efforts and evidence-based practices from the fields of education and mental health, the PBIS model has emerged as a three-tiered framework of support focused on prevention and early intervention strategies that promote positive school climates and provide needed non-cognitive skills to students. The premise of PBIS is that measures are put in place proactively so that problem behaviors are less likely to occur and academic engaged time increases. PBIS emphasizes the prevention of problem behaviors and promotion of a positive school culture at the first tier and offers group and individualized intervention services for students who continue to struggle with problem behaviors at the second and third tiers. (more…)
It can be very powerful to follow an inspirational and effective leader in carrying out his or her day. Last month as a part of the “Principal for Almost a Day” program, I had the honor of spending (almost) a day shadowing Ericka Guynes, Principal of Earl Boyles Elementary School in the David Douglas School District.
Ericka Guynes looks at student achievement goals set by her team at Earl Boyles Elementary. (more…)
Jen Barth, preschool parent, co-founder of “Books Make it Better,” and blogger, shares what she is doing to make education better in Oregon.
I’m writing this post on the final stretch of a plane ride back to Portland from Washington, DC, returning from a UN Foundation conference, where I was invited to speak on a panel about Books Make It Better, a grassroots early literacy program I started last Fall. As our plane heads home towards Portland, it strikes me what a difference just one year can make in the realm of personal activism.
Let me back up and introduce myself. I’m not an educator. I’m not a policy maker. I haven’t even been to Salem (yet). I’m simply a preschool parent, and relative Oregon newcomer, who decided last year to choose action over apathy as I began learning more about the many challenges facing Oregon’s schools.
T.J. Chandler is the founder of EdZapp, Oregon’s statewide online employment application, and is now the Regional Director of Operations for Netchemia, LLC working with K-12 teacher and administrator evaluations. T.J. was formerly the Director of Business Applications for the New York City Board of Education, and has worked with over one hundred school districts across the country on operational and human capital issues. T.J. holds degrees from Willamette University and Princeton University.
As some celebrate the 10th anniversary of NCLB and others curse it, I ask, “What have we learned from it?” In particular, I am intrigued by certain parallels between evaluating “student achievement” and “teacher performance.”
Like the discussions 10-15 years ago about students “falling behind” and “dropping out,” policy-makers realize that there is a problem with teacher effectiveness and attrition. The tough part for both problems, of course, is specifying–in meaningful and legally-defensible terms–which individuals are having trouble, and even more importantly how to help them improve.
David Mandell has been with the Children’s Institute since 2006. He leads the Institute’s major research projects and is integral in developing the organization’s policy agenda and strategies. Prior to joining the Children’s Institute staff, David was a visiting assistant professor at Reed College and adjunct faculty at Portland State University. He completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. David recently served on the Governor’s Early Learning Design team.
On October 17th, Oregon submitted its application for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant.
I had the opportunity to work on Oregon’s application, and witness the dedication that went into it. We had just eight weeks to put together a 300+ page comprehensive plan for Oregon’s early learning system.
If Oregon wins the grant, the benefit for the state will be significant. The grant, a collaborative project of the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to spur states to build comprehensive early care and education systems that promote the school readiness of all children (with a focus on those with high needs). Thirty seven states applied for the small handful of awards. The winning states will be announced before the end of the year and, if chosen, Oregon will receive $50 million over three years.
The collaboration that went into this effort exemplified what we want to see happen in Oregon’s government. Folks from education, health, human services and employment worked together to plan for:
- Common early learning standards that will support the school readiness of all children.
- An integrated data system that will track children’s progress and support quality improvements for programs.
- Early childhood professional development system that will build the skilled and knowledgeable workforce that is needed to deliver results for children. (more…)
I woke up one morning last week fully expecting for there to be snow on the ground as that’s what the weather report the night before said. Hmmm…it was sunny and 42. Then I got to thinking, after decades and decades of precise data on weather patterns in Oregon, we are still only able to predict the weather some agonizingly small amount of time. Yet, I still believe it every time I see the news report, I yearn for that predictability and clarity in how the world around me is going to be. Sometimes I long for this ability to make things simple and clear and somehow with this simplicity and predictability a little more within my control.
So, why am I talking about the weather? It’s my imperfect analogy to the school reform debate. It sounds agonizingly desirable for the solutions to be simple and clear.
Should we have charter schools? I love the thought of simple and straightforward neighborhood public schools that take all kids and give them all a world-class education. Yet, I believe in a family’s right to choose what is best for their child and I know that there are charter schools doing amazing work for kids and families, using new techniques and ideas to stimulate learning.
As teachers are one of the key factors in our kids’ success, shouldn’t I support their union without question? I believe in the right of workers to gather together, to demand conditions, wages, and benefits that might otherwise be lost as a part of a large and inflexible institution. Teachers deserve this strong voice. Yet, to protect those who should not be teachers, to insist on a system that promotes bureaucracy over effectiveness, to not participate fully in the difficult navigation of today’s schools, and to continually harken to the perceived and real wrongs of the past as we perpetuate wrongs of the present is unacceptable.
Don’t we need to know how and whether our kids are succeeding? Of course! We have to have both formative and summative indicators that help drive our decisions, our hiring, our resource allocations, our teaching methods, and our strategies as parents and caring adults. Yet, we must design a system that is kid-centered, that takes in to account all the good and bad baggage that each of us carries around – our race, our socio-economic status, our history, our faith, our trust.
What I fear in our debate is that we are all too busy seeking simplicity and clarity. We are sticking to our guns and drawing lines in the sand – and as we do, many of our kids are literally disappearing before our eyes. Simple would be nice, clarity would be wonderful, and one right answer would make decisions delightfully easy. I did not live in other times, I live in these times – and in these times, there is very little in my life that seems so simple.
We must stop being surprised each time the weather report is wrong. Life is not simple, educational answers are not clear. We must have strong convictions, and be willing to adapt and change to find the answers that are best for our kids. We must seek idealistic clarity through a lens of pragmatic gray.
The Chalkboard Project is releasing a new report today on the condition of Oregon’s K-12 education system. The report draws on new statistics and makes the case that we need to ensure 1) our high-need students are receiving an equitable education, 2) all of our students are meeting high standards, 3) our school dollars are being spent wisely, 4) our educators are meaningfully evaluated and supported to do their best work in the classroom, and 5) the early years of a child’s education set the foundation for success.
From the press release:
Chalkboard’s K-12 Conditions Report: Oregon Schools Can Improve
PORTLAND-January 14, 2010- Oregon’s K-12 schools are mediocre and risk getting left behind schools across the country.
The state’s schools could especially improve when it comes to educating students of color and those from low-income families. And all Oregon students, and families, deserve better.
Those are among the stark findings in the non-profit Chalkboard Project’s latest report on the condition of K-12 education in Oregon.
“We are quickly approaching a crisis point for our state’s schools and students,” says Chalkboard Project President Sue Hildick. “As Oregon enters another difficult budget year, we must look closely at how we are spending our education dollars and whether or not we are getting the results we need. We know we have hard-working, committed educators, great schools doing amazing things for students, and engaged families who want to see their students do well, but as a state we have to ensure that ALL students have the opportunity to succeed in a global environment.”
A primary goal for the Chalkboard Project is to help push Oregon’s schools into the top 10 among all states. Chalkboard’s K-12 Condition Report for 2010 underlines the areas where the state needs to focus its efforts in order to move towards that goal of excellence.
In the early 2000s, Oregon was in the top tier among all states in its eighth-grade reading and math scores. By 2009, Oregon’s eighth-grade scores had fallen to the middle of the pack. In the early 2000s, Oregon was in the middle of the pack among all states in its fourth-grade reading and math scores. By 2009, the state’s fourth-grade scores had fallen to the bottom tier of states. Oregon’s scores are not getting worse; other states are improving more quickly.
Chalkboard’s Condition Report notes other challenges:
· About 45 percent of Oregon K-12 students were part of low-income families in 2009, almost twice the percentage of 1998. Yet Oregon schools with the highest proportions of low-income students have less experienced teachers, and lose them more quickly, than other schools.
· High school graduation rates among students of color continue to lag behind those of white students. While 88 percent of white students graduated on time in 2009, only 72 percent of African-American students did.
The K-12 Condition Report also points out practices that we all know can improve the education of our children, including providing the tools and resources teachers need to do their best work in the classroom, strong early childhood education programs, and a commitment by the state to direct funds to programs that shows results. Chalkboard has been an advocate for all of these issues, including lowering K-1 class sizes and providing reading tutors to all K-3 students, as well as piloting new career, evaluation and compensation models for teachers.
“We have seen in districts participating in Chalkboard’s CLASS Project that a commitment to supporting teachers and empowering them to do their best work can have a tremendous impact on student achievement in the classroom as well as on teacher satisfaction and collaboration. We hope that the K-12 Condition Report makes the case that we need to build on such successes, encourage educators to lead the way, and put our education system on a clearer path to excellence,” Hildick says. “Pockets of success cannot overcome funding instability and resistance to change; transformation has to happen at the state level.”
Chalkboard’s K-12 Condition Report is available at: http://www.chalkboardproject.org/images/PDF/Chalkboard_cond_final.pdf.
More information about the CLASS Project is at: http://educators4reform.org
Sue Levin is the Executive Director of Stand for Children Oregon.
Last spring, I visited an amazing school in SE Portland – Centennial Learning Center (CLC).
How I got there was ironic. CLC was one of the state’s worst-performing schools, as measured by state test scores. Most of the kids are there because they flunked out or got kicked out of the district’s traditional high school, so the low scores seemed unsurprising.
But CLC’s principal, Jamie Juenemann, asked us to see for ourselves that this is not a failing school. And so, though I was skeptical, we visited. We met with CLC staff and students, where the kids prepare all the meals with vegetables grown in their garden – in between taking core literacy and math classes, and recovering lost credits.
CLC takes kids who’ve hit the end of the road in school and re-orients them toward college. The fact that more than 50% of their students graduate is a small miracle. With so much good happening at CLC, why then was this school on the state’s list? Because based on test scores and 4-year graduation rates alone, this school looks bad.
In fact, 17 of those 18 ‘worst-performing’ schools are high schools – which suggests that calling out low-performing schools is not useful if all we’re doing is blaming the end of the pipeline for what comes out of it.
Instead of asking which schools are failing, we need to ask what are our most effective schools doing right, and how do we promote those practices everywhere?
CLC teaches us a number of lessons.
1. All students can learn when talented and committed educators believe in them. Inside CLC and every successful school is a core of committed professionals who are motivated by a passion for teaching, because they are good at it. In a thriving school, these educators get support, training and tools from principals and district staff who share their mission and values.
Good teachers have no problem taking responsibility for their students’ success. They simply want the rest of us–administrators, parents, community leaders, and elected officials– to be accountable as well. (more…)
A number of you responded to our poll on the influence of class size in high schools. 72% believe that class size makes a great difference, and 21% believe that class size makes some difference, while only 3% said that it does not make a difference (the rest said they didn’t know).
Class size is a popular topic when it comes to conversations about education and education reform. The truth is, opinions are mixed. Research shows that class size can make a difference, with studies finding significant student learning gains attributable to small classes in kindergarten and first grade in particular. There is less conclusive research that smaller classes in later grades has a similarly significant impact on student learning, although some advocacy groups do call for smaller classes across the board.
USA Today recently featured an article discussing class size decisions in school districts and their impact on students.
Feel free to share your thoughts on class size in the comments section of this post. I also hope you will respond to our new poll on the potential effects of the state’s budget shortfall in the sidebar.
Recent figures released by the National Center for Education Statistics list Oregon public schools as having the fourth-largest class size in the country (See Betsy Hammond’s article in the Oregonian). While this is a horrible statistic and certainly a fact that bodes badly for both our teachers and our students, it made me wonder just where we should focus maximum efforts with minimal dollars.
When I was first working for Chalkboard Project at the Oregon legislature, we advocated for reduced class sizes, but only for kindergarten and 1st grade. (more…)