Archive for the ‘
Student Success ’ Category
In my most recent blog entry I pondered whether today’s youth are uninterested in becoming teachers, so last month I invited some of my high school students to say whether they could envision themselves ever in the teaching profession.
Of the 77 students who responded, 50 said no and 27 said yes. I actually was encouraged by this; I feared the ratio of no to yes would be worse than two-to-one. It is good news for our profession that one-third of a small, random sample of talented and thoughtful teenagers sees some appeal in a teaching career.
Still, two-thirds said no, and of the 50 students who said no, their reasons fell into three categories—Salary and benefits, working conditions, and fit. (more…)
Darren Stowell is the CEO of ActivEd, a Portland based education company developing online content for k-3 classrooms that get kids moving, while developing fundamental reading and math skills. He’s spent 15 years in the education space, most notably as a senior leader with both Teach For America and Kaplan. He lives in NE Portland with his wife and two young boys.
As a lifelong advocate for public education, a father of two boys and an avid athlete, I have experienced the many effects physical activity and inactivity can have on people—most importantly kids. Through my work as an educator working with communities around the country, one thing that holds true is that physically active kids enjoy themselves more and perform better in school.
I became acutely aware of that truth over the last few years with my four-year-old son, Isaac. Isaac is an incredible little boy, with a hunger for learning and a commitment to squeezing every second out of every day. At first, we saw this energy as a boy “just being a boy,” but after our second son was born, we started to understand that Isaac’s energy and his need to be active throughout the day was related to his unique learning style. (more…)
Tim Nesbitt writes on public affairs, has served as an adviser to Govs. Ted Kulongoski and John Kitzhaber, and is past president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. He writes an opinion column for The Oregonian on alternate Tuesdays. This column was originally posted to OregonLive.com on April 2, 2013 and can be found in its entirety here.
Sometimes big ideas come with small price tags. It’s the doing, not the dollars, that delivers the most dramatic results. That’s what we’re seeing as more and more high schools make college-credit courses available to their students. It’s a practice that is not just making high schools better. It’s also making college cheaper.
Consider Gov. John Kitzhaber’s remarks at a Portland City Club forum last month. When asked about a high-priced proposal to make college more affordable by creating an endowment for financial aid, Kitzhaber said he supported the concept. But then he pivoted to a different idea to reduce the cost of college: Bring more college courses into our high schools. He reminded the audience that students who graduate with college credits on their transcripts are not only more likely to go to college and earn a degree, they also finish faster, pay less and take on less debt in the process.
But in a state where funding for K-12 continues to lag the national average, can we afford to support such an effort? And, when close to a third of our high school students are failing to graduate within four years, shouldn’t we put our resources into making high schools successful as high schools before we try to turn them into junior colleges? Those may sound like good questions. But the doubts they express are being quickly dispelled by what is happening on the ground in Oregon schools.
You can read these words because someone taught you how to read.
You can do your job because over the years, everyone from your kindergarten teacher to your college professor to your mentor taught you how.
We become the people we are, as Mr. Rogers said, because of the people who loved us into being. In schools—big and small, city and rural—across Oregon, the love and dedication of thousands of teachers help millions of students become the people they will be. Scientists. Mechanics. Engineers. Doctors. Farmers. Inventors. And yes, teachers.
Take a moment and think about one teacher who helped you become who you are.
Not to brag, but our new video predicts the future, and we’re pretty proud of it. Check it out below.
I teach students to set SMART goals—goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely; goals that challenge us yet can be reached; goals for which we can gauge success in relatively short periods of time. Our hope, of course, is that having SMART goals will spur us to take specific actions to achieve the goals.
When the legislature adopted achievement compacts for school districts about a year ago, my hope was that districts would set SMART goals and, more importantly, change practices with eyes toward meeting the goals.
So I was pleased when, at the start of our school year, my principal shared with our staff that our school was taking a number of steps to boost our graduation rate, including providing summer support to incoming freshmen who struggled academically in middle school, appointing an administrator to focus on freshmen attainment of credits, and strengthening relationships between freshmen and upper-class mentors. He suggested at the time that this partly was due to graduation rates being a primary factor in achievement compacts, and the state’s and the district’s focus on all students earning diplomas. (more…)
Melissa Tooley is a teacher quality and data analyst at The Education Trust. Melissa’s work at the Ed Trust focuses on evaluating and influencing policy to ensure that all students receive the effective teachers they need and deserve. This is part one in a series of blog posts discussing educator evaluations.
Thinking back on our own experiences as students, I think most of us would agree that our strongest teachers had a powerful and lasting impact on us. At The Education Trust, we regularly cite research showing that teachers are the biggest in-school factor influencing student achievement. Highly effective teachers are especially important for struggling students: Multiple studies have found that a series of strong teachers can help previously low-achieving students soar academically, while a series of weak ones can lead such students to stagnate. Informed by this research, many states, including Oregon, have begun to create more rigorous systems for measuring teachers’ effectiveness. Such systems can help teachers improve their practice, while helping schools and districts make smarter staffing decisions.
Strong evaluation systems start with a strong design. They also rely on several different pieces of information about each teacher—never just one test score or a single observation—to provide for a more complete picture from which to identify teachers’ strengths and areas for growth. Teacher assessment measures do not need to be exactly the same across districts; however, good systems will share certain vital measures: detailed classroom observations and robust measures of teacher impact on student learning. (more…)
Sometimes seemingly small lessons enter our lives and change us forever. When I was a pre-service teacher, one of my professors showed a short film, “Cipher in the Snow.” The film depicts the story of a student of poverty who is neglected at school. He dies, and his teachers realize they don’t even know if he was in their classes. That film helped shape my goal of leaving no child behind.
A lot of ciphers in the snow go through Oregon schools every year. They may be quietly ignored, or they may be the attention-getting student who is never ignored. Either way, they get lost in the system. Over 6,000 students drop out of school in Oregon every year. One out of three students will not earn their diploma in four years. While many alternative schools are high performing, The Oregonian (June 16, 2012) published an article about Portland’s most struggling students going to alternative schools where there is little accountability for student success and few graduate.
Sometimes it is easy for schools to give up on the most struggling students. They are often children of poverty or minorities, and they may lack family members who are advocates for their education. In addition, struggling students as a subgroup score lower on state tests. They can be more difficult to teach. How many students will we leave behind this year? More importantly, what are successful schools doing to help struggling students succeed? (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…)
Carol S. Witherell began her career in education teaching primary grades in the Fountain Valley Public Schools in California in the 1970s. She earned her M.A. degree in social ecology and human development from the University of California-Irvine and her Ph.D. degree in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota. She retired from the Graduate School Education Faculty of Lewis & Clark College in 2005, where she chaired the teacher education program for 8 years. Today she is an avid supporter of the arts and a volunteer with the City Club of Portland.
A Series of Four Film-Dialogue Evenings sponsored by City Club of Portland’s Agora Programs Education Committee
This series aims to activate a deeper, sustained educator-student-citizen dialogue about what a good education for the 21st century looks like. The series includes portraits of highly successful schools and classrooms, both in our region and around the world, followed by presentations by a panel of educators, students, and community leaders and dialogue between audience participants and our panelists. Portraits like these can inspire ongoing civic dialogues on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as educators and citizens alike rethink and transform our educational system so that all students can enjoy excellence, engagement, and equity in our schools.
Dr. Mike Schmoker’s most recent book, Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning has some key messages worth serious consideration. He argues persuasively for attending first and foremost to the improvement of curriculum and instruction – at the exclusion of everything else. And, he asserts, if we focus on what matters most, we can rapidly improve student achievement across the board.
Here are his key messages:
- The curriculum that is actually taught is the one that matters. The scope of the written, adopted curriculum (often expressed as standards) is far too broad and often littered with low value targets. Grade level teams of teachers should work to reach professional agreements on a limited set of “power” learning outcomes – and then all teach to them with no exception.
- We know how to teach the curriculum. We don’t have to wait for the discovery of effective techniques. Effective instruction is not mysterious or even especially difficult to implement. Every teacher in every classroom in every school needs to focus on the basics of instruction until they become routine and automatic.