[ECP] K-12 Newsletters

  • From: "K.E." <admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: K12NewsLetters@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 11:09:00 -0500

[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround K-12 Newsletter

Located on the Blog Educational CyberPlayGround Blog:

*Subscribe to the ECP Blog Feed:

*Find your School in the ECP K-12 School Directory

*Link to the Educational CyberPlayGround

Brain Power Building new theories about the preschool brain
For much of the past century, educators and scientists believed that children 
could not learn math before the age of five because their brains simply were 
not ready, according to The New York Times. Recent research has overturned this 
assumption, along with other conventional wisdom about the acquisition of 
geometry, reading, language, and self-control skills in class. The findings 
from a branch of research called cognitive neuroscience are helping to clarify 
when young brains are best able to grasp fundamental concepts. Teaching of 
basic academic skills, once based in tradition and guesswork, is now giving way 
to approaches based on cognitive science. In several cities including Boston, 
Washington, D.C., and Nashville, schools are experimenting with curricula to 
cultivate math skills in preschoolers. In others, teachers are using techniques 
developed by brain scientists to help children overcome dyslexia. And schools 
in a dozen states have begun to use a program intended to accelerate the 
development of young students' frontal lobes, improving self-control in class. 
"Teaching is an ancient craft, and yet we really have had no idea how it 
affected the developing brain," said Kurt Fischer, director of the Mind, Brain, 
and Education program at Harvard. "Well, that is beginning to change, and for 
the first time we are seeing the fields of brain science and education work 

An overlooked pathway to employment and career cultivation
The after-school workforce lacks a well-accepted system of formal instruction, 
curriculum for preparation, and system for crediting workers for training, 
perhaps because many positions are part-time and low-wage. A new policy brief 
from The After-School Corporation (TASC) posits that the after-school field 
could be part of a national strategy to boost employment and create new career 
paths. For example, men of color are active in the after-school workforce but 
under-represented among certified teachers. After-school jobs are frequently 
based in communities where meaningful work can be hard to find. Many of these 
jobs carry few specific experience or education requirements, making the field 
an accessible entry point into the workforce. After-school workers often live 
in the neighborhoods where they work and invest their wages back into these 
communities. Given the chance to earn college credits and develop 
professionally, after-school educators can be powerful role models for young 
people in their programs. The corporation proposes that leaders in after-school 
and workforce development collaborate to create a system that clearly 
articulates the path from part-time entry-level work through core occupations 
in after-school. Workers should be able to earn recognized credentials and 
higher wages through systems that link on-the-job training and credit-bearing 
courses. This system will both enhance the quality of programs and help trained 
workers build careers in after-school and important related fields like 
See the brief: http://www.tascorp.org/content/document/detail/2818/

In search of a redesign for teacher college accreditation
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has 
convened a panel on Clinical Preparation, Partnerships, and Improved Student 
Learning to look at scalable ways to improve in-the-classroom training, Inside 
Higher Ed reports. The panel will also examine ways to strengthen relationships 
between districts and the colleges and universities that prepare their 
teachers. The NCATE accredits more than 600 colleges and programs nationally 
that graduate two-thirds of new teachers, and the panel's recommendations will 
form the basis for revisions to the council's accreditation standards. NCATE is 
undertaking what its president James Cibulka called a "redesign and 
transformation" aimed at making teaching a more respected profession, with 
heightened preparation standards. The panel, he said, will "identify what the 
best practices are in strong clinical preparation and in preparing teachers to 
more effectively teach diverse learners." After this week's sessions, the panel 
will meet again in April before issuing a final report, a timeline Cibulka said 
is accelerated because change is badly needed and the national environment is 
"ripe for change." Among the ideas under consideration: career-long 
professional development, and the restructuring and rebranding of teaching as a 
practice-based profession like medicine or nursing, with an induction period 
akin to a doctor's residency.
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/01/05/teachers

TFA service not necessarily a lifelong commitment
A new study has found that the dedication of Teach for America (TFA) 
participants to improving society at large does not necessarily extend beyond 
their service in the program, The New York Times reports. In areas like voting, 
charitable giving, and civic engagement, graduates of the program lag behind 
those who were accepted but declined and those who dropped out before 
completing their two years, according to research from Stanford University. The 
reasons for lower rates of civic involvement include not only exhaustion and 
burnout, but also disillusionment with TFA's approach to educational inequity, 
among other factors. "There's been a very clear and somewhat naïve consensus 
among educators, policy folks, and scholars that youth activism invariably has 
these kinds of [lifelong civic] effects," said Professor Doug McAdam, the 
study's author. "But we've got to be much more attentive to differences across 
these experiences, and not simply assume that if you give a kid some youth 
service experience it will change them." Teach for America is nearing its 20th 
anniversary. Of its 17,000 alumni, 63 percent remain in the field of education, 
31 percent in the classroom. The study was conducted at the behest of TFA 
founder Wendy Kopp, who disagrees with its findings.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/education/04teach.html

LAUSD teachers compete with charter operators
A plan to let outside charter groups bid for control of dozens of struggling 
and new campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has spurred 
a new set of competitors, reports The Los Angeles Times. Groups of teachers 
from inside the system are seeking to participate in a reform strategy that 
would have private charter operators setting a standard for a district widely 
seen as dysfunctional. While the union itself, United Teachers Los Angeles, is 
trying to block outside takeovers through litigation, rank-and-file teachers -- 
with the blessing of the union and in some cases the district -- are planning 
to compete with the charters. But these teachers, many in a bid to take over 
their own schools that have been deemed "failing," worry their home-grown 
proposals might not fare well against operators with track records, in-house 
data analysts, legal support, and public relations professionals. Proposals 
will be reviewed internally and externally, including by parents and, at high 
school level, students. Superintendent Ramon Cortines will make a single 
recommendation for each school to the Board of Education, which has final say. 
Cortines applauds the teachers' initiative but urged groups to "show some sort 
of evidence or I will not recommend them -- evidence of some academic 
improvement, evidence that they have been dealing with English language 
learners, evidence that special education students are being taken care of, 
evidence that parents are involved."
Read more: 

Second study finds gains in NYC charter students
A new study from a group that had earlier issued a critical report on outcomes 
for charters nationally finds that within New York City, students at 49 
charters made bigger learning gains in math and reading than their regular 
public school counterparts, reports the blog Gotham Schools. For the period 
from school years 2003-04 to 2008-09, the Center for Research on Education 
Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University matched data from 20,000 charter 
students in grades 3-8 to an identical number of students with comparable 
scores at district schools. Fifty-one percent of the charter group had higher 
math scores than district schools, 33 percent were no different, and 16 percent 
had lower scores. On reading tests, 29 percent had higher scores, 59 percent 
showed no difference, and 12 percent had lower scores. Charter supporters 
highlighted that this is the second report to reach the same conclusions, but 
with different methodologies. Charter opponents point out that charters admit 
fewer students not fluent in English or with severe learning disabilities. "I 
am surprised that the charters don't do better, given their many advantages," 
said New York University's Diane Ravitch. "We know they have only 111 of the 
city's 51,000 homeless students. We know they have longer hours and their 
teachers work 50 hours a week or so. We know their sponsors add millions so 
they can have smaller classes and better facilities."

AVID for success
Six schools across the country, including one in Baltimore, are participating 
in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Center's 
African-American Male Initiative, a national college-preparatory program for 
black males capable of challenging work but needing additional resources to 
reach their potential, reports The Baltimore Sun. As part of the initiative, 
each school recruited 25 black male students and was required to recruit black 
male tutors and teachers as well. The consistent presence of an adult black 
male is crucial to the success of the program and its students, say observers, 
and James Martin, a program teacher at Woodlawn High in Baltimore, agrees. The 
ability to relate to his students has fostered an environment that enables 
"man-to-young-man talks" during class, he explained. "Our relationship is more 
personal. Just it being all males, we're a more family-oriented class, because 
everything we talk about is as a whole. There's nothing that's really 
secretive." The five other schools participating are in Arlington, Tex.; 
Fresno, Calif.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; and New York City. Woodlawn and Las 
Vegas' Mojave High School are the only ones piloting a gender-based classroom; 
the others have created mentorships to build relationships between students and 
a role-model adult.

Duncan's Chicago legacy under scrutiny
Results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for Chicago 
from 2003-2009 show that the city is "nowhere near the head of the pack in 
urban school improvement," writes The Washington Post. This period was during 
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's tenure as schools chief, and he frequently 
cites its successes to underscore ideas he is pushing in national public 
education. True, the federal test is just one measure of Duncan's record, and 
other metrics show advances on various fronts, but "Chicago is not the story of 
an education miracle," said Chester E. Finn Jr. of the Thomas B. Fordham 
Institute. Finn added, however, that Chicago is "the story of a large urban 
system that has made some gains and has made some promising structural 
changes." From 2001-08, Duncan fired staff, hired turnaround specialists, and 
shut down schools. He spearheaded a back-to-basics curriculum, encouraged 
dozens of charter schools, and experimented with performance pay. State and 
federal test scores and graduation rates rose on his watch, and the school 
system, which is the nation's third largest, became a laboratory for 
innovation. Yet questions have arisen this year about the extent of Duncan's 
accomplishments. "There's been this rhetoric about dramatic gains, dramatic 
success, that we have to replicate this model because of its dramatic success," 
said Julie Woestehoff of the advocacy group Parents United for Responsible 
Education. "And here in Chicago, we're looking at these schools and going, 'Uh 
. . . '"

Rhee victorious, but at what cost?
Chancellor Michelle Rhee has definitely had an impact on the D.C. public 
schools, but are her efforts improving them, asked PBS's NewsHour. One solid 
piece of evidence is the district's results on the National Assessment of 
Educational Progress, in which D.C. was one of only five school systems that 
showed significant gains in both fourth and eighth grade math on results that 
came out this fall. On the other hand, among personnel, strife is up and morale 
is down. Her most salient effects on the city and nation have been that merit 
pay is now a frequent part of discussions about public education, teacher 
tenure is under more rigorous examination, and charter schools are fixed in the 
public consciousness. Still, other superintendents such as Andres Alonso in 
Baltimore and Robert Bennett in Denver (before he became U.S. senator) have 
achieved remarkable things under the radar, without the furor and alienation, 
the NewsHour notes. Rhee has paid a price for what she has accomplished; she 
has won on a number of issues, but debate is ongoing and contentious, and if 
she falls, she will fall hard. 
Related: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/july-dec09/dc_12-22.html

Chance squandered to eliminate low performers
An investigation by The Los Angeles Times has found that the Los Angeles 
Unified School District (LAUSD) routinely grants tenure to all new teachers 
after cursory or nonexistent reviews. Once teachers have been evaluated and 
gained permanent status, they are almost never fired for performance alone. 
This two-year probationary period when teachers can be fired at will is a 
"singular opportunity" to weed out poor teachers, one that LAUSD "all but 
squanders," writes The Times, based on interviews with more than 75 teachers 
and administrators, analyses of district data covering the last several years, 
and internal and independent studies. The paper found that fewer than two 
percent of new teachers are denied tenure, and the reviews "are so lacking 
rigor as to be meaningless," in the view of instructors. School administrators 
are required to conduct only a single, pre-announced classroom visit per year, 
and half of these last 30 minutes or less. Principals are rarely held 
responsible for how they perform reviews. The district's evaluation of teachers 
does not take into account whether students are learning, and principals are 
not required to consider testing data, student work, or grades. Like other 
districts in California, LAUSD essentially ignores a state law that since the 
1970s has required districts to weigh pupil progress in assessing teachers and 

Subtle stereotypes with unsubtle effects
Former astronaut Dr. Sally K. Ride is serving as a visible emissary for 
President Obama's push to improve science and math education by engaging all 
genders and ethnicities.

[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround K12 Newsletters ©

Set Mailing List Preferences: Subscribe - Unsubscribe - Digest

Copyright statements to be included when reproducing
annotations from the Educational CyberPlayGround K-12 Newsletter

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when
reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

> http://www.edu-cyberpg.com
> Educational CyberPlayGround K-12 Newsletter copyright
> http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Community/K12Newsletters.html

Advertise K12 Newsletters

Other related posts: