Ed Week Special Report on Transforming Teachers’ Roles

Education Week American Education News Site of RecordA new Education Week special report explores the growing interest among many educators and school leaders in altering the conventional understandings around what teachers do. In particular, it looks at the ways districts, schools, and teachers themselves are transforming teachers’ positions—and the types of supports available to them—in order to drive organizational change, build capacity, improve policymaking, and deepen instructional expertise.

The report includes the following features:

Teacher Leadership Makes Inroads, But Strives for Permanency

Those championing the movement see it as a necessary structural change to school systems, and one that is capable of being more than a fleeting trend.

Elite PD Program Seeks to Build Top Teachers’ Expertise

The National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education is built on the idea that the best teachers need opportunities to wrestle with cognitively challenging professional work to improve their craft and spread their expertise.

In Calif. District, Blended-Learning Approach Turns Teachers Into Facilitators

Some teachers say that blended-learning environments, designed to leverage technology and individualize student instruction, can create new roles for teachers as well.

Seeking Greater Influence, Teachers Gain Policy Foothold in Education Department

The Teaching Ambassador Fellows at the U.S. Department Education have sought to bring teacher leadership to federal policy.

Baltimore Program Aims to Give Teachers New Paths, Higher Pay

A new system in Baltimore rewards teachers based on their accomplishments rather than their seniority or credentials, presenting teachers with new options.

Why Schools Need More ‘Hybrid’ Teaching Roles

Too many good teachers are forced to leave the classroom just because they want new challenges and a sense of advancement, English teacher Paul Barnwell says.

What It’s Like to Teach in a Teacher-Led School

Carrie Bakken, a program coordinator and teacher at the Avalon School in St. Paul, Minn., says that working at a teacher-led school gives her a greater sense of autonomy and opportunity.

For more, see http://www.edweek.org/tm/collections/package/transforming-teachers/index.html?intc=thed  


Our Global Failure in the New American Economy

edu_logo_homeLes Francis & Bo Cutter of Real Clear Education have written a new piece about how we need to rethink education based on the way that jobs and the economy are likely to work in coming decades.

Here is an excerpt from it:

The organization of work that was the centerpiece of our industrial economy for 100 years is disappearing. Like it or not, “jobs” in the traditional, 40-hour, 5-day-week sense will no longer be the way we define a “healthy economy.”    

Looking ahead, three phenomena are likely to become more central to our lives: part-time assignments, portfolio careers, and pervasive entrepreneurialism.

- In the “gig economy”– more “work” will consist of short term assignments and careers composed of a bundle of such assignments over a lifetime.

- Many people will carry out more than one of these short-term assignments at any given time, and while not everyone will want to manage a “portfolio” of assignments, many will see it as the way to make the most of their talents.

- Increased entrepreneurialism and personal responsibility will become more important as work becomes less rote, more unpredictable, and fast changing.

Given the growing challenge, just how well is our nation meeting it? The answer is: not very well. There are some bright spots, to be sure: high school graduation rates are up, reaching a record high of 81 percent. In 2013, just under two-thirds of students who graduated from high school went on to enroll in college. But there is more to the story, and it is not nearly as good.

About one-third of the 1.8 million high school students who took the ACT exam in 2013 were not ready for first-year college courses in core English, reading, math or science courses, according to U.S. News and World Report. Just 26 percent reached the college readiness benchmarks across all four subjects. Further, America’s young adults are coming up short on the skills needed to compete in the global, technology-rich economy, a report this week from Educational Testing Service reveals.

How can it be true that we are graduating more young people from high school and college, and yet they don’t come out possessing adequate skills?

Here’s what the ETS research tells us:

- Even America’s best performing and most educated millennials — those who are native born and with the greatest economic advantage in relative terms — do not perform better their international peers

- Young Americans possessing a four-year bachelor’s degree scored higher in numeracy than their counterparts in only two countries: Poland and Spain. And those whose highest level of education was high school or less scored lower than their counterparts in almost every other country. Shockingly, our best-educated millennials — those with a master’s or research degree — only scored higher than their peers in three countries.

It is clear that we are failing to prepare our citizens for the demands of the New American Economy. As a consequence, redefining true educational attainment — the acquisition of knowledge and skills and the nurturing of key dispositions (rather than merely conveying paper credentials) — must be at the top of our national priorities.

For more information, please visit:http://www.realcleareducation.com/articles/2015/02/19/america_global_failure_drastic_millennial_education_change_new_economy_1159.html


Building a Stronger Principal Pipeline

logo-WallaceFdnThe third in a series of reports evaluating a multi-year Wallace initiative explores the ways in which six districts are working to improve school leadership districtwide.

The report, Building a Stronger Principalship, describes several new measures districts are implementing, including:

  • systematic support for assistant principals
  • the use of performance standards to hire and evaluate principals, as well as to inform training and support for them, and
  • the establishment of data systems to promote more effective hiring, identify principals in need of support and provide feedback to the programs that trained them.

For more information on this continuing series on school leadership, please visit: http://www.coreeducationllc.com/blog2/wallace-foundation-aims-to-help-school-leaders-get-better-donates-30-million/

To read the report, see: http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/school-leadership/principal-training/Pages/Building-a-Stronger-Principalship-Vol3-Districts-Taking-Charge.aspx


Federal Education Policy in Rural America

Bellwether(1)The Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, and Bellwether Education Partners have teamed up to write a new report, “Federal Education Policy In Rural America”. The authors of the report believe that, while roughly a quarter of American students are educated in rural areas, federal policy is not suited to the needs of rural education.

Following is an excerpt from the introduction:

It’s critical that federal policy complement and support the efforts of rural educators. Rural districts face unique challenges, such as maintaining a rich set of course offerings, attracting and retaining teachers, and managing administrative overhead due to their small size and remote geographies. Federal policy can catalyze much needed reform and innovation in rural K–12, some of which will yield lessons that could be extended to districts nationwide.

Recommendations included within the report are as follows:

  • Encourage Rural Schools to Fully Embrace Blended Learning
  • Encourage Rural Districts to Fully Embrace Administrative Service Sharing
  • Expand Broadband Access
  • Attract Teachers to Rural America
  • Remember Native and ELL Students

To read the full report, please visit:



PARCC Releases Practice Tests for all Grade Levels

PARCCThe Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments are the product of a testing consortium attempting to provide 21st century testing to measure 21st century skills.

Here is PARCC’s own description of their role:

PARCC is your state’s homegrown assessment. PARCC is not a testing company – it’s a group of states working together to build better assessments. Your state’s educators and state education leaders actively participated in the design, field testing, and implementation of the new assessments. Your state’s education commissioner or superintendent is one of the PARCC Governing Board members making the decisions about the PARCC assessments. Your state is not buying a test from a vendor. Your state is in charge of your state’s tests.

Most recently, the PARCC states have released mathematics performance-based practice tests for all grade levels in both the computer-based format and as PDFs to print out on paper. These practice tests add to the resources available to teachers, schools, students and parents. They help increase familiarity with the types of questions, the format of the questions, and the computer platform and paper forms. Practice tests are now available in English and mathematics for all grade levels, both for the performance-based assessment and the end of year assessment.

To take the practice tests, please visit:




Achieve’s Report Details States’ Progress in Advancing College and Career Readiness

achieveAchieve’s ninth annual “Closing the Expectations Gap” report, released recently, shows the progress that states have made in advancing college and career readiness while also revealing that much work remains to be done to ensure that all students are academically prepared to succeed in college and careers after high school.

“States have made some progress in closing the expectations gap and aligning high school expectations with those of colleges and the working world,” said Mike Cohen, president of Achieve. “However, this year’s survey also tells us that there is much work yet to be done if all students are to graduate from high school prepared for success. While all states have college- and career-ready standards in place, standards alone are not enough. Each state must employ a coherent approach to college and career readiness, which includes having policies that align graduation requirements, assessments, and accountability systems, to graduate all students ready for their next steps.”

Achieve’s annual policy survey asks all states and the District of Columbia about the steps they are taking to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and the workplace: through adoption and implementation of college- and career-ready (CCR) standards, graduation requirements, assessments, and accountability systems. The national survey of state education leaders has measured the same areas of reform each year since the National Governors Association and Achieve co-sponsored the National Education Summit in 2005. This year’s survey reveals the following results:

Standards: All 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted K-12 mathematics and English language arts (ELA) standards aligned to the expectations of colleges and careers. As implementation of these standards continues in classrooms across the country, success hinges upon the provision of time, support, training, and aligned instructional materials to teachers and principals as well as the use of strong performance metrics to monitor progress.

Graduation Requirements: As of 2014, 23 states and the District of Columbia have raised their high school graduation requirements in mathematics and ELA to the CCR level. Ten of these states and the District of Columbia have established a mandatory CCR diploma, while the remaining 13 states enroll all students in the “default” CCR course of study but allow students to opt out of the requirements or to modify a course or courses with parental permission. More than half of states have yet to take steps to align the courses or content students are required to take with their standards. For the implementation of CCR standards to be meaningful, students must be required to actually be exposed to all of the states’ mathematics and ELA standards in order to receive a high school diploma.

States’ failure to align graduation requirements with the expectations of colleges and careers was demonstrated in Achieve’s 2014 survey of recent high school graduates; only one in four reported that their high school set high academic expectations, and those students were more than twice as likely to feel well-prepared for their next steps as those who reported that their school set low expectations.

As states implement CCR expectations, they also need to clearly and publicly report how many of their students are not just graduating, but graduating college and career ready. Few states know how course-taking patterns differentially prepare students for their next steps after high school.

Assessments: This year, 36 states are administering an assessment capable of generating a score that reflects students’ readiness for first-year credit bearing courses in mathematics and ELA. In nearly all cases, these states are members of the PARCC or Smarter Balanced consortia or are administering the ACT or SAT. Additionally, seven states indicated that they are instituting policies that formally link their high school assessments’ CCR determinations to postsecondary placement decisions; 20 additional states have plans underway to ensure high school assessments are valued by postsecondary systems in states.

Accountability: Today, 37 states and the District of Columbia publicly report or include in their school accountability formulas at least one of four accountability indicators that Achieve has identified as critical to promoting college and career readiness. No state meets Achieve’s criteria regarding the use of all indicators in its accountability system, but two states (Hawaii and Texas) now publicly report school-level data on each of the four indicators.

As a supplement to this year’s report, Achieve has created four resources detailing which ELA/literacy, math, and science assessments states will administer to all students in grades 3-8 and high school in 2014-15, as well as how the state plans to use the assessments (i.e., to evaluate schools and districts, as part of a teacher’s evaluation, student stakes) and one table that includes states’ graduation requirements in math, ELA, and science. These resources, all of which are available on Achieve’s website at www.achieve.org/ClosingtheExpectationsGap2014 , will be updated throughout the year as states’ policies evolve.

This current school year and the next several years will be particularly critical to the CCR agenda. It is crucial that state leaders remain firm in their commitment to adopting and implementing CCR policies and resist the political expediency of being less transparent and lowering expectations for students.

“As they work to advance their students’ preparedness for college and the working world, state policymakers and educators must stand together to confront the policy challenges and political obstacles they will face,” said Cohen. “States are midway through a long-term effort to better prepare all young people, and our nation, for a successful future. Staying the course in these efforts is what is most needed.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.achieve.org/ClosingtheExpectationsGap2014


A Global Look at Education Reform

logooecd_enA new report from the OECD offers a detailed look at 450 education reforms adopted across OECD countries between 2008 and 2014. The (OECD) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s mission is to “promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.”

Of those 450 education reforms, 16 percent focused on ensuring quality and equity in education; 29 percent aimed to better prepare students for the future, in some cases via vocational education or work-based training and apprenticeships; 24 percent focused on school improvement through development of positive learning environments and quality staff; and 12 percent focused on assessment.

Given that the governance of education systems has become increasingly complex, 9 percent of reforms elaborated overarching visions. Eleven percent of all reform measures addressed funding at the system level, the institutional level, and the student level.

For all of this — critically — the report finds that once most new policies are adopted, countries conduct little follow-up. Only 10 percent of policies that the OECD identified had been evaluated for impact. Measuring impact more rigorously and consistently, the report notes, is not only cost-effective in the long run, it is essential for developing useful, practicable, and successful policy options.

As long as one in five 15-year-olds in OECD countries does not acquire the minimum skills necessary to participate fully in today’s society, not enough accountability concerning reforms has been instituted.

For more information, please visit: http://www.oecd.org/edu/education-policy-outlook-2015-9789264225442-en.htm


The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape

carnegieThe Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has released the results of its two-year study of the influential, longstanding Carnegie Unit and its impact on education reform in K-12 and higher education. The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape, authored by Carnegie’s Elena Silva, Thomas Toch, and Taylor White, describes how the Carnegie Unit’s time-based standard of student progress came to define the design and delivery of American education and its current usage across the country.

The report draws on historical research, interviews with dozens of experts in K-12 and higher education, and extensive study of emerging alternatives to the Carnegie Unit in the United States and abroad. The study finds that the Carnegie Unit continues to play a valuable role in education as an administrative currency and opportunity-to-learn standard, but it is miscast as a measure of student learning. The U.S. education system needs more informative measures of student performance in order to reach its goal of increasing transparency and flexibility in education.

Read the full report here: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/resources/publications/carnegie-unit/

For more information about the Carnegie Unit, please follow this link: http://www.coreeducationllc.com/blog2/re-thinking-the-credit-hour/



Building Leadership Talent Through Performance Evaluation

AIRPrincipals’ roles have expanded significantly over the past decade. These leaders face new challenges and new levels of accountability. Performance evaluation provides a powerful tool for developing leadership practices, but many districts and administrators are inexperienced with this strategy. AIR engaged educators in three states to design the Five Essential Practices of School Leadership framework, a foundation for facilitating principal growth and accountability. The framework can be used for principal coaching, self-reflection, and performance evaluation.

The Five Essential Practices include the following:

  1. Build shared purpose. The leader develops a compelling, shared organizational vision and assures that the vision is “lived” in the daily work of educators.
  2. Focus on learning. The leader engages in instructional leadership to develop and maintain student access to appropriate, ambitious, and strong instructional programs focused on academic excellence and social-emotional development.
  3. Manage organizational resources. The leader acts strategically and systematically to create safe and supportive conditions for better teaching and learning by aligning financial assets, human resources, data, and other resources.
  4. Collaborate with community. The leader assures that parents and community organizations are engaged with the school.
  5. Lead with integrity. The leader models professionalism by acting with integrity and making his or her learning visible.

For more information, please visit: http://www.air.org/sites/default/files/Building%20Leadership%20Performance%20Through%20Performance%20Evaluation_Jan%202015.pdf



The landscape of competency-based education: Enrollments, demographics, and affordability

AEICompetency-based education (CBE), in which credit is provided on the basis of student learning rather than credit or clock hours, is starting to gain traction with educators and policymakers.

CBE programs are often touted as a far more affordable route to college credit and a degree, but these claims often fail to account for assessment fees, differences in financial aid eligibility, and opportunity costs of time.

Still, despite the model’s visibility, few researchers have actually taken an in-depth look at the wide range of competency-based education providers. Many questions have emerged around the various ways students can earn credit, the number of providers that offer competency-based coursework or degree programs, and the number and types of students enrolled in these programs. Additionally, although the list prices of competency-based models appear very cost effective in relation to traditional higher education models, no one has comprehensively examined the true affordability of CBE programs and whether they actually deliver credentials to their students at a lower price. AEI’s new report, The Landscape of Competency-Based Education, addresses these questions and more.

For the report, please visit:

Also, for more on the Credit Hour issue, please visit: http://www.coreeducationllc.com/blog2/re-thinking-the-credit-hour/