Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fixing Our National Educational Accountability System

"Accountability: The obligation to bear the consequences for failure to perform." -Webster's Dictionary

In a recent report by The National Center on Education and the Economy (2014), Marc C. Tucker provides us, once again, with a sobering analysis of what is wrong with our American public education system.  The culprit, he argues, is all of us - teachers, the system of public education, politicians, the public, and the business community.

Tucker argues that while existing policies lend limited support to teachers,  they have created a system of accountability that lays blame for the failures in American public education at the foot of the teacher.  The thesis in his report is that, " one cannot divorce the design of the accountability system for education from the gestalt of the entire education system, and, in particular, the way
in which the system treats its teachers overall."

Tucker believes that the result is a lack of teacher morale reflected not only the number of graduates choosing teaching as a career, with teachers coming from the lowest performing levels of their respective institutions, and a targeted curriculum with limited options.  Even worse, the students most affected by this education environment are the historically marginalized students.  Click here to download the report.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Addressing the Needs of Our English Language Learners

In a new report by Stanford University and the University of Oregon Schools, Sean Sean Reardon and Iliana Umansky describe the impact of language program design on English language learner reclassification and academic achievement.  There is increasing pressure to reclassify reclassify English learner (EL) students to “fluent English proficient” as as early as possible. Twelve years of data show that while Latino EL students enrolled in two-language programs are reclassified at a slower pace in elementary school, they attain higher overall reclassification, English proficiency, and higher levels of academic achievement by the end of high school. What does that mean for our district policies and practices? Read the article here...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ten Ways to Keep your Passion for Education

As the school gets started for thousands of students across the country, teachers are preparing for a year of teaching and collaborating, as well as community building and relationship making.  And while it all starts with a great deal of enthusiasm, the challenges that teachers will encounter during a school year can wear them down. 

In a recent blog entry, "Ten Ways to Keep your Passion for Eduation", Melissa Hughes, Ph.D., offers great advice that can help teachers, as well as other educators, fully motivated and engaged in their calling.  She includes thoughts like, "don't sweat the small stuff", or "remember, you chose to become a teacher".   Each is followed by a short descriptor to expand on the ideas.

Having been a teacher and administrator for over 25 years, it has become clear to me that if individuals who choose this profession do not have the desire and passion for this work, their career will be short lived, or it will be a long and painful sentence if they choose to remain.  Dr. Hughes' points are well placed, and timely.  Enjoy!  Read her full blog entry here...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Grantmaking Strategies to Support English Language Learners

A recent publication by The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 10% of public school students in the United States are English language learners.  And in states like Texas, California, New Mexico, and others, that percentage is even higher.  And that number will continue to rise, year-over-year.  The challenge of public school districts to meet the needs of this growing student population requires great attention to the needs of ELLs.

In addition to developing and implementing the curricula and classroom strategies, finding the necessary financial resources to support the effort is becoming more challenging than ever before.  The result has been increasing partnerships, with philanthropic, educational and business and community based organizations.

One approach that school systems have taken on is grantwriting.  And while this approach has proven fruitful for many organizations, seeking"soft money" can prove difficult to navigate.  Grantmakers for Educators recently reported on grantmaking efforts in the shifting educational ecosystem where ELLs are served.  Educating English Language Learners: Grantmaking Strategies for Closing America's Other Achievement Gap provides good information for anyone interested in grantwriting, as well as for those working to address the needs of ELLs.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Motivating Underperforming Employees

One of the more challenging aspects of leadership is inspiring people to give their best, consistently.  And while we all normally try to put forth our best effort, a loss of motivation can sometimes cause us to underperform.  Will Yakowics, of Inc. Magazine, recently took on this topic.  From lending support and guidance to cutting your losses, all organizations need to have the best staffs they can hire. Yet, we frequently fail to address employees who are not doing their best work.    Read story...

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