PISA assesses the extent to which 15-year-old students have acquired key knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. The results should be used as one measure of a country's overall evaluation of its education system and not serve as a league table. Yet information and greater understanding are there if we care to look and discuss the results honestly.
Whatever differences we may read in the PISA results that were released today, here's a sampling of quotes from the U.S. report (PDF) from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to put things in perspective. Each could be a blog post on their own and each serves up some interesting pieces of information.
With more states adopting the Common Core State Standards, it can be overwhelming for U.S. schools and teachers to consider "adding" anything else. But character education isn't about adding, it's about integrating with all that you already do. In a new position paper from whole child partner Character Education Partnership, authors Kristin Fink and Karen Geller make the case that the Common Core State Standards are good for education, but Common Core integrated with character education is even better.
A friend of mine's daughter took a picture of herself using his phone. She is 18 months old. He should be glad she didn't do something else with it. He captioned it, "Caden's first selfie." We call these pictures "selfies" because it's a picture taken of yourself, by ... yourself. I thought his daughter looked adorable with her big smile. I am not a fan of my own selfies because I think they bring out my worst qualities (too many to list).
'Tis the season for the social media firestorm of thankful messages, and, as cliché as it is, I think there is something to be said for pausing and being grateful. Yet it can get overwhelming. A few years ago, I did a new "thanks" message on my Facebook page for the 10 days leading up to Thanksgiving. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel by the end, mostly because I felt the need to be entertaining while not bragging, which is a fine line to walk. Like many of you, I have so much to be thankful for, and I find it's easy to take it all for granted. And if you're like me, you save certain things to remember the good times. Maybe it's a wedding program, a special note from a student, the ticket stub from your first concert, or any other tangible item that you can post on a bulletin board or pull from a drawer when you need a pick-me-up and take a moment of pause.
Last night on Twitter, ASCD and an inspiring group of educators dedicated an entire hour to sharing the many things we are all thankful for. The chat left me in an incredibly grateful mood. Whether you are thankful for your school community, your professional development opportunities, the new technologies available in your classroom, or a new position this school year, the universal theme that sounded throughout the entire chat was that you are thankful for and inspired by your students.
"The wonder drug has been invented, manufactured, packaged, and shipped. Doctors and nurses are being trained to administer the drug properly. Companies and consultants are offering products and services to help with the proper administering of this wonder drug. A national effort is underway to develop tools to monitor the improvement of the patients. The media are flooded with enthusiastic endorsement and euphoric predictions.
This cure-all wonder drug is the Common Core, short for the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Cooked up by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, this magic potion promises to cure America's education ills..."
Teachers, educators, and the public have every right to be skeptical. We've had two wonderful-sounding—and I believe initially well-intentioned—top-down education initiatives over the past decade that have left many scratching their heads and asking, was it worth it? The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which many have argued has caused more grief and problems than it solved, and the ultra-competitive Race To The Top initiative that pitted states against states and educators against educators. In both cases, implementation could be described as draconian, ill-resourced, and somewhat flawed.
What are you thankful for this school year? Join @wholechildadv and @ASCD Monday, November 25, at 8 p.m. eastern time for a Twitter chat with fellow educators that is entirely devoted to gratitude and giving thanks.
Over the course of a kindergarten through 12th grade education, the average student will spend an entire school year with a substitute teacher throughout their education—which on average is just 13 days per school year. If a student—over the course of her 13-year formal education—happens to have a 1st grade teacher out on maternity leave for twelve weeks, a 6th grade teacher out caring for an elderly parent for six weeks, and a 10th grade teacher who was in an accident and out for 12 weeks, she will spend more than a year and a half of her learning time with a substitute teacher. Because these statistics are very real, there is a critical need to ensure students are still engaged and learning when school and classroom changes occur (Bowers, 2009 [PDF]).
Family and community engagement is vital to creating successful schools and communities. The connections between these entities—when built on relationships, listening, welcoming, and shared decision making——can have multiple benefits for students, including higher grade point averages and test scores, better attendance, better social skills, increased motivation, and improved behavior. In addition, these connections also help to address many important nonschool factors, such as community health, safety, and affordable housing (Ferlazzo, 2011). Every day throughout the country, school and community partnerships are making great progress in helping students succeed—and ultimately achieving their goal of helping young people become vital, contributing members of society.