Josh Garcia, deputy superintendent of Federal Way Public Schools in Tacoma, Washington, strongly believes in creating success for every learner. "Every student can graduate prepared for higher education," Garcia says. "In order to provide each child with a whole child education, school and community leaders must relentlessly dissolve barriers and build cohesive systems that foster excellence. Only then will we fulfill our pledge to provide every child the opportunity to pursue a successful life."
My best friend often says, "People deserve lots of second chances."
"But why?" I ask, trying to grasp the concept. "At some point don't you risk people taking advantage?"
"Walter, people do the best they can. It makes no sense making it harder on them." I dedicate this blog post to my best friend and this wisdom I have come to adopt as my own.
In an age of cynicism and competition, I find the notion of second chances refreshing, intriguing even. But is it practical? Individually and collectively, how can we afford lots of second chances? Then again, are life and learning value equations? Is there some economic benefit to separating the men from the boys, so to speak? Or in reality, do we all rise to our own potential over time, given the chances and support we need to succeed?
As I look back over a lifetime of opportunities and challenges, how many times did I nail anything on a first try? Not many. How many second chances have I used? How many mentors supported me as I tried and failed and tried again? How many practice sessions? How many retests? How many mulligans? How many "I'm sorrys"? How many times redeemed by forgiveness? More times than I can count. And that's just my lifetime. How about yours?
No student, teacher, or school's performance should be determined using a single measure. As Congress attempts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), it has the opportunity to fix the currently exclusive emphasis on state assessments as the sole means of measuring student performance and school quality.
I have often been asked about the differences between teaching in the United States and Canada. That's often a difficult question to answer because I now consider both countries "home" and doing so often elicits a predictable follow-up question of which education system is better. This post is not an attempt to rank one over the other, as education systems between countries will have to be different to meet the needs of their given communities.
However, no matter where we are located in the world, we see in our own classrooms the practice of compare and contrast. Doing this work with our students can elicit powerful reflections about complex ideas. Having had the experience of being a teacher in both settings, and most recently as an administrator in Canada, reflecting on both the similarities and differences between the two countries has provided me with a more comprehensive picture of what can work well in education.
The Effective Teaching and Leading Act (S. 1063) was recently introduced by United States Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and we need your help in getting your Senators to support it! The bill would help ensure that teachers and principals are effectively trained, mentored, developed, and evaluated through proven, team-based professional development strategies.
For the past five years, Fouke (Ark.) Elementary School has witnessed academic improvement in all K–5 grade levels. Attendance has also improved over the same time period. These accomplishments did not happen by accident, instead they are the results of the hard work by staff, students, and families. Not I as principal, not one teacher, nor one program alone is responsible for these successes. These achievements are a result of creating a collaborative and positive learning environment for all our stakeholders.
To achieve our essential goals, our school adopted elements from the Arkansas Leadership Academy and developed five areas to add more breadth, depth, ownership, and sustainability.
Can you quantify the effectiveness of a good teacher? How much of that can be determined from student test scores? And how can teachers of untested subjects like the arts, physical education, and social studies be fairly evaluated? These are some of the questions raised in the newest edition of Policy Priorities, ASCD's quarterly policy newsletter, which examines U.S. efforts to transform its teacher evaluation systems.
This Hunt Institute video discusses the rationale behind the development of the Common Core State Standards.
"These standards now being implemented by more than 44 states across the nation were built upon strengths and lessons learned in states. They were informed by other top performing countries and grounded in research and evidence," says the Hunt Institute. Learn more with ASCD Express.
ASCD recently sent feedback to the U.S. Department of Education on reinvigorating civic learning and engagement across the country. This feedback is a response to the department's call for suggestions on four provisions in its road map for advancing civic learning (PDF).
Research and test scores show that our students lack knowledge of the U.S. government system and their civic responsibilities, but many schools struggle to prioritize civic learning amid competing academic concerns. ASCD believes that civic learning is an essential component of a whole child approach to education that gives students a voice in a safe and supportive environment and ensures that they understand their opportunities in and obligations to their schools, their communities, and the nation.
Cathy Vatterott began her ASCD Conference on Teaching and Learning session, "Not Your Mother's Gradebook: Transitioning to Standards-Based Learning," by asking participants to think about the reasons that conventional tests may not be the best method to assess student learning.