Coalition to Launch Effort to Create Free, Open-Source Materials

The Learning AcceleratorA coalition of 11 states will create comprehensive, high-quality, open educational resources (OER) supporting K-12 mathematics and English language arts aligned with state learning standards. This new partnership, The K-12 OER Collaborative, is being coordinated by a  nonprofit, The Learning Accelerator (TLA). It aims to offer additional choice to local education agencies, significantly reduce the costs of instructional materials, and provide much greater flexibility for states to adapt educational content.

“This is a great project that is going to benefit schools, educators and students, for several reasons,” said Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. “First, it’s going to support local control of educational materials by empowering districts to adapt them to their own community needs. Second, it’s a low-cost and high-quality way to help students meet our state’s learning standards.”

“Every year, school districts across the country spend over $8 billion on instructional materials and textbooks that can fall into disrepair and don’t provide an opportunity for timely updates,” said Jennifer Wolfe, partner at The Learning Accelerator. “By harnessing new improvements in technology and online content, we can offer students dynamic digital content that is organized, searchable, tagged and aligned with learning standards.”

Utah, Washington, and Idaho were the initial steering committee states for the K-12 OER Collaborative. Other states supporting the project include Arizona, California, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin. The Collaborative is supported with expertise from state content specialists, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Creative Commons, Lumen Learning, Achieve, The Learning Accelerator, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the State Instructional Materials Review Association (SIMRA), and the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM).

“Educators can have a hand in shaping and amending the content,” said Wolfe. “And by banding together, states and districts can transition from expensive and rigidly controlled materials to open educational resources that they can freely and legally use, adapt and redistribute.”

Wolfe said that studies of high performing school systems around the world show that the quality of teaching and learning improves when instructors are more deeply engaged in the creation and continuous improvement of the learning materials and assessments used in their classrooms. She said the K-12 OER Collaborative project supports this type of deep instructor engagement and advanced professional development opportunities for teachers as well as promotes collaborative learning among students.

The Collaborative is issuing a competitive RFP, open to all content developers. The RFP specifications have been informed by extensive educator input with the goal of creating OER that offers a full range of instructional supports and state learning standard alignments. These materials will be vetted by teachers, openly licensed, regularly updated, aligned to assessments, and available for free in both digital and print format. Visit the K-12 OER Collaborative website for more details:


Building an Evidence-Based System for Teacher Preparation

Home - A WebsiteBuilder WebsiteTeacher Preparation Analytics has released a new report, Building an Evidence-Based System for Teacher Preparation. The report was commissioned by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This report:

  1. Summarizes the research on our nation’s current ability to evaluate the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs;
  2. Identifies and develops a proposed framework and a set of Key Effectiveness Indicators (KEI) and measures that the authors believe states and educator preparation providers should be using to assess the effectiveness of programs by the year 2020
  3. Uses the KEI extensively as a lens to examine the teacher preparation program evaluation policies and practices in 15 states;
  4. Identifies a number of hopeful policies and practices that hold promise for moving states forward in their efforts to develop stronger preparation program evaluation systems; and
  5. Recommends, based on the entire analysis in the report, a concise set of actions for states, the educator preparation community, and other stakeholders to take in order to improve the nation’s capacity to evaluate – and thereby improve – its teacher preparation programs.

CAEP’s purposes in commissioning this report include:

  • generating a national discussion of the measures that should be part of a system for reporting teacher preparation key effectiveness indicators;
  • aligning CAEP accreditation with these reporting systems as closely as possible to strengthen accreditation, facilitate state data collection and reporting, and reduce reporting burdens; and
  • promoting collaboration and best practices among states, CAEP, and other stakeholders.

See the full report here:


U.S. Chamber of Commerce Support of Common Core

Make Their Minds FlyThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is asking businesses to pledge their support for the Common Core State Standards in a new video.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has announced the release of its latest video in support of the Common Core State Standards, Make Their Minds Fly. This short video and corresponding infographic illustrates how higher standards will help teachers nurture a child’s natural curiosity and imagination to help them become the thinkers, doers, creators, and innovators they were born to be.

The Chamber of Commerce website also offers an interactive map that provides revealing (and disturbing) data for each state on the current achievement levels of students.

To view the video and sign the pledge, see

For the interactive map, see

For more information, please visit:


Study: Teacher Data Remain Untapped

A new study shows that, despite the increased use of value-added data and other forms of teacher evaluation such as student or teacher surveys, first-hand principal observation of teachers remains the most trusted and used means by which decisions are made about teacher improvement. In other words, data are available, but not being used.

The following infographic demonstrates this situation:

use of data

The study goes beyond simply pointing out the problem, however. It suggests that the major obstacles to principals making using of the various forms of data showing teacher proficiency are time, timing, technology, training, and a lack of trust.

Here is an excerpt from the article that discusses this in more detail:

Eighty-three percent of principals, for example, said timing was a minor to strong barrier in using teacher-effectiveness data. Student-achievement data, teacher value-added scores, and survey results, for example, arrived after decisions about renewals and placements had been made. And 75 percent of the principals listed a lack of time as a barrier to using the data.

Researchers also found that principals, in some cases, were already using teacher-effectiveness data to identify their teachers’ strengths and weaknesses and to target support and professional development. In those districts, the central office had acknowledged the importance of data use, communicated to staff the kind of data that should be used for specific decisions, and made it easier for staff members to access the data. Some provided professional support to help principals, Ms. Goldring said.

The study, “Principal Use of Teacher Effectiveness Measures for Talent Management Decisions,” was conducted by a team of Vanderbilt University researchers.

For more information, please visit the following link:


Education First releases series of briefs on PD for Common Core

Education. First. - Education FirstThe Common Core is now front and center in classrooms across the country, and educators and policymakers are focused on getting implementation right. Education First has released a series of briefing papers and a short executive summary that offer guidance for how professional development needs to change to help educators succeed with the standards. The series:

  • Identifies the new essential elements of professional learning (brief #1);
  • Spotlights three different approaches to how districts have organized themselves to support teachers using these elements (brief #2); and
  • Recommends what policymakers can do to advance high quality Common Core-aligned professional development at scale (brief #3).

Common Core promises to help more students gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed after high school. But too few educators have received meaningful support to make the transitions needed in their practice. Professional development must change dramatically to reflect the standards’ clear focus on content and the instructional shifts that support delivery of that content.


Teacher Pay and Career Paths in an Opportunity Culture: A Practical Policy Guide

PublicImpact_CMYK-gray-trans_webA new guide from Public Impact shows how districts can design teacher career paths that will keep excellent teachers in the classroom and extend their reach to more students, for more pay, within budget.

When districts design career paths of this type, they create opportunities for excellent teachers to reach more students directly and by leading teaching teams, for solid teachers to contribute to excellence immediately, and for all teachers to receive the support and development they deserve.

These opportunities may be especially important in recruiting and retaining teachers in hard-to-staff schools and subjects, such as STEM–where excellent teachers have other, higher-paid career and advancement options.

The full guide walks a district through the organizing steps and details of designing Opportunity Culture pay and career paths that fit its needs and values. It includes an overview of key Opportunity Culture concepts, graphics and explanations detailing new school models and roles, and assistance for evaluating the impact of different compensation design choices. The steps guide districts to ensuring financial sustainability and designing a complete career lattice.

Typical “career advancement” possibilities push teachers out of the classroom into administration or into roles that rarely offer real authority, accountability for student outcomes, or permanent and substantial pay supplements. In contrast, this guide shows the possibilities when districts and schools design career paths and compensation structures to support an Opportunity Culture, in which all teachers have opportunities that build their professional competence and maximize their positive impact on student learning.

Teacher Pay and Career Paths in an Opportunity Culture: A Practical Policy Guide was written by Emily Ayscue Hassel, Christen Holly, and Gillian Locke.

For more information, please visit:


Achieve Posts 50th Common Core-Aligned Lesson through EQuIP Initiative

AchieveFor implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to be successful, all educators need access to high quality and aligned instructional materials. Achieve launched the Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) initiative to build the capacity of educators to evaluate and improve the quality of instructional materials for use in their classrooms and schools. EQuIP builds on a collaborative effort of education leaders from Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island that Achieve facilitated, which resulted in a set of criterion-based rubrics designed for educators to use in evaluating the quality and alignment of lessons and units.

In June 2013, Achieve launched the EQuIP Peer Review Panel, a group of expert reviewers who have been trained to apply the EQuIP Rubrics and quality review process to lessons and units that have been submitted by states, districts, partners and educators. To date, this group has included 55 educators who collectively represent 875 years of classroom experience. The EQuIP Peer Review Panel has reviewed and provided constructive, criterion-based feedback on close to 200 lessons or units. Achieve announced recently that 50 lessons and units rated Exemplar or Exemplar if Improved are now publicly available to educators nation-wide. The Exemplar rating indicates that a lesson or unit is well-aligned with the Common Core and ready for immediate use in classrooms; lessons or units rated Exemplar if Improved are aligned and require some improvement in one or more dimensions of the rubric. These materials reflect all grade bands (K-5, 6-8, 9-12) in both mathematics and English language arts/literacy.

Educators are invited to submit lessons and units for review through the EQuIP website.

Susan Whelte, former Director of Literacy and Humanities at the Massachusetts Department of Education, found the EQuIP process to be a helpful and highly useful guide in her state’s efforts to create and refine model instructional units.

“Massachusetts is pleased that Achieve’s EQuIP project has selected six of our Model Curriculum Units as exemplars to be shared with educators throughout the world,” she says. “Massachusetts’ adoption of the Common Core State Standards in 2010 provided the impetus for engaging teachers in using the standards in coherent and intelligent ways. Aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment to standards takes skill and attention to detail: it’s not always easy at first, but it surely helped to have the EQuIP rubric as a guide. It is thrilling now to see the units in action in classrooms throughout the Commonwealth and to see the educators from our original design teams leading similar curriculum writing work in their districts.”

Educators have also found the peer review panel’s suggestions for improvement to be highly valuable. Angela Orr, K-12 Social Studies Coordinator for Washoe County School District in Nevada, incorporated feedback from the EQuIP peer review process as part of continual curricular improvement.

“When we received detailed and specific feedback from the EQuIP panel of reviewers, we were able to continue our learning and revisit some of our earlier work,” she says. “The process reminded me to include important information in core-aligned lessons and has facilitated my work as professional developer.”

Alissa Peltzman, Vice President of State Policy and Implementation Support at Achieve, says, “The EQuIP process is designed to elevate the expertise of educators and to foster a culture of continuous improvement grounded in high-quality feedback. We are honored to work with such a highly-skilled panel of educators to highlight exemplary work. We are thrilled to reach this milestone, but the work is far from over. Achieve is striving to raise awareness of these open source exemplary materials and encourages others to make them available or include them in repositories or other platforms. We hope to double the number of exemplars while also building the capacity of educators to integrate this process and the criteria embedded within the rubrics into their everyday work.”

To learn more about EQuIP or download exemplary lessons and units, please visit (Click the EQuIP Exemplars tab.)


What Do the Elections Mean for Education?

The Insider View of Education Reform - Whiteboard AdvisorsWhiteboard Advisors have gathered the predictions of Education Insiders related to what will happen with education policy in the wake of the  recent midterm elections.

Education Insiders express slight optimism that both K12 and higher education policies will become higher priorities with Republican control of the Senate, though agreement between the President and Congress is unlikely. Insiders see attention to gainful employment regulations as a possible area of focus.

Insiders repeatedly cite Senator Lamar Alexander, the presumptive chair of the HELP committee, as the key driving force behind both K12 and higher education legislation in the Senate. With the political winds in his favor, Alexander may have the support he needs to gain traction on key education policies. But Insiders do not see the newly elected senators as having a great impact on education policy.

Based on the general trend for governors’ races across the country, Insiders see school choice and teacher tenure reform efforts gaining more traction. Insiders believe the Common Core standards, conversely, face a significant setback.

In addition, they see Tom Torlakson’s victory in California as a significant win for teacher’s unions amidst an otherwise challenging election cycle.

Education Insiders include influential leaders who are shaping federal education reform, including individuals who have served or are currently serving in key policy and political positions, such as:

  • Current and former White House and U.S. Department of Education leaders;
  • Current and former Congressional staff;
  • State education leaders, including state school chiefs and former governors; and
  • Leaders of major education organizations and think tanks.

For more, see


Shifting Demographics in American Schools

For the first time in American history, a majority of students in public school this year are students of color. According to projections from the National Center for Education Statistics, 49.7 percent of students entering public schools this year are white, compared to 50.3 percent of students who identify as black, Hispanic, Asian or another nonwhite ethnicity. Just 10 years ago, in 2004, nearly 60 percent of public school students were white. By 2022, that figure is projected to fall to just 45 percent.

Following is a helpful infographic which demonstrates this change, which has been a steady trend since the late 1990s:


For more information, please follow this link:


Managing the law in education

AEIMelissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric of AEI Education have written an important report highlighting the need for education leaders to understand the complexity of education laws, and as a result, the need for lawyers to help bring about effective reform.

Following are some key points from the report:

— Given the myriad rules and regulations in K-12 education, successful implementation of education reform policies requires attention to the law.

— Unfortunately, many education leaders are uninformed about how to select, inform, and properly utilize lawyers, whereas lawyers often lack sufficient context on the problems that education leaders face.

— Education and legal groups should take concrete steps to train school leaders on how to use lawyers to identify reform options, understand their risks, and strategically implement decisions.

Education leaders have often taken the flawed viewpoint that they can handle the legal aspects of education reform themselves. But according to Junge and Krvaric, other fields recognize the need to use lawyers who are informed about goals and needs in the contextual situation, and education should too.

To read the publication: