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Articles in the Announcements category

Educating Congress on improving accountability

Earlier this week Jim Hull, policy analyst for our very own Center for Public Education, briefed a group of congressional staffers on “Improving Accountability Measures for Local Schools and School Districts.”  Hull focused the briefing on two areas :

  1. What growth models are and how they should be used; and
  2. Whether schools should be given credit for students that take longer than four years to graduate high school.

Staffers were provided insights into what different types of growth models there are, how they should be used, what states or districts would need to have in place to develop a growth model. BoardBuzz was particularly interested to learn that the terms “growth models” and “value-added” were not synonymous, even though many people use them interchangeably. As Hull explained, 

Value-added models are a type of growth model but not all growth models are value-added models. Just as a square is a type of rectangle, but not all rectangles are squares.

As for whether schools should be given credit for those students who take longer than four years to graduate high school (late graduates) BoardBuzz and the staffers found out the answer is a resounding yes!   Hull provided a wealth of interesting data which showed that late graduates were more successful after high school than their classmates who went on to earn a GED or dropped out all together. Late graduates were also as well off in some aspects of life after high school as their classmates from similar backgrounds who graduated on-time, though not in others. So indeed, students are better off graduating late than never and schools should be given credit for these students.

For those who would like to learn more, BoardBuzz strongly recommends checking out Jim Hull’s presentation here. And we’re happy to report that you won’t get lost if you’re not a statistical or research expert —BoardBuzz certainly isn’t — Hull provides the information in non-technical terms that school board members, policymakers, and the general public can easily understand so they can be more informed participants in the accountability debate.

For more information on Growth Models and Late Graduates check out the Center’s Guide to measuring student growth and Better late than never reports.

Jim Hull|May 15th, 2009|Categories: Announcements, Educational Legislation, High Schools, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement|

Tech savvy education leaders, this one’s for you!

Calling all tech savvy education leaders committed to making a difference.  T+L registration is now open!

T+L is the premier technology and learning conference for district leadership teams.   Don’t miss this opportunity to work with and hear from some of the most innovative education leaders nationally and internationally, learn best practices from fellow school districts, and network with your colleagues.  T+L, presented by the National School Boards Association’s Technology Leadership Network  (TLN), will be held in Denver this fall from October 28 – 30 and will focus on these critical issues:

  • Tools for Engagement
  • Technology & the Law
  • Professional Development
  • Leadership for Innovation
  • 1:1 – Next Steps
  • Preparing Tomorrow’s Workforce with S.T.E.M.
  • Mission Critical IT Management

As the face of education changes, take a leadership role and ensure that your students are traveling down the path to success and a better tomorrow.  T+L offers multiple opportunities for learning immersion: workshop sessions, site visits, field trips, exhibits, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities for every member of your district team.  The conference includes:

  • Interactive district-led sessions with proven strategies for integrating technology in your district -with a limited budget;
  • In-depth workshops and “mini-academies” to delve deep on special topics and pick-up implementation tips;
  • Field trips and site visits to see practical, real-world applications of new technologies;
  • Small group roundtables where you can explore new ideas and concerns and network with colleagues from across the country;
  • Inspirational speakers to give you fresh perspectives on the future of education technology; and
  • Two full days of exhibits where you can explore the latest products in the field.

Team members from Merced Union District (California) attended last year and said:

  • “T+L convinced me that we need to truly change the current way we try to educate young people. But more importantly, it gave me insight into how to make that change.” Sandy Braa, Director of Technology
  • “At T+L I gained critical information and “in-the-trenches” tactics from expert speakers.” — George Sziraki, Assistant Superintendent
  • “We don’t stop needing to find better ideas and better ways to improve student learning just because the budget is tight; quality training is always an investment and never an expense – T+L is definitely quality training.” –Tim O’Neill, Board Member

This fall return to your district with new ideas, innovative approaches to current challenges, and a vision for change!  T+L is the place where ideas are born and change happens.  Be there!

Register now!

Colleen O'Brien|May 15th, 2009|Categories: Announcements, Conferences and Events, Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, Student Achievement|

Take that John Stossel! Some good education news!

Ok. BoardBuzz admits, we’re picking on media’s most vocal school-basher. But educators should be forgiven if they gloat over these results: at every age, by every student group, in both reading and math, American schoolkids are outperforming their counterparts from 30 years ago. Moreover, our 9- and 13-year olds are scoring at their highest levels since scores have been collected.

According to NAEP’s Long-Term Trends released today, reading and math scores also increased by statistically significant margins in the four years between 2004 and 2008, with the one exception of 17-year-olds in math. In addition to higher student performance, the report shows dramatic increases in the numbers of students taking high-level math. Nearly two-thirds of 13-year-olds (62%) were taking algebra or pre-algebra compared to one-third in 1986. And a whopping 72% of 17-year-olds had taken courses Algebra II and higher, up from 47% in 1978.

The folks at Education Week had a markedly different take on the matter.

For more information, be sure to check out the Center for Public Education.  You can also participate in an online discussion hosted by NCES at 2:00 p.m. ET.  Click here to submit your question in advance and participate in the chat.

Christina Gordon|April 28th, 2009|Categories: Announcements, Curriculum, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement|

Help kids stay healthy and ready to learn on National Healthy Schools Day!

National Healthy Schools Day is here and BoardBuzz encourages you to transform it into an ongoing celebration!  Observed on April 27, 2009 and sponsored by the National Healthy Schools Network, Inc. and the Coalition for Healthier Schools, this day promotes healthy school environments that are conducive to learning and help protect school occupants.  The day unites schools, parents, personnel, advocates, and agencies nationwide to promote healthy and green school environments for all children and school staff. 

BoardBuzz knows too well that children’s academic achievement can be impaired by unhealthy school environments, which can occur because of things like poor indoor air quality.  And poor indoor air quality is often a culprit in the onset of asthma – one of the leading causes of school absenteeism.   National Healthy Schools Day is the first day of School Building Week, presenting a great opportunity for schools and school districts to:

1) talk about children’s environmental health;

2) focus on school facility policies or practices that support children’s and employees’ health and safety, and promote healthy school environments; and

3) include several stakeholders such as school officials, children’s environmental health professionals, parents, and elected officials, among others. 

The day is also an excellent time for schools to adopt guiding principles of school environmental quality, including every child’s and school employee’s right to an environmentally safe and healthy learning environment that is clean and in good repair. 

There are several events that can be held to help recognize the day, including:

  • A workshop or a panel discussion on green cleaning or school indoor air quality;
  • A hearing on indoor air quality and asthma;
  • Distribution of information related to these issues;
  • A school board, mayor/city council, or governor/state legislature National Healthy Schools Day proclamation or new policy initiatives;  
  • Demonstration of green cleaning practices and products; and
  • A conference on the importance of healthy school environments for children’s health and learning.

Those recognizing the day can also write or visit school principals or facility directors to ask about cleaning and pest control products or school repair needs; learn how many children use asthma inhalers at school; walk around schools to identify any repairs that are needed and/or any health or safety problems that need attention; and write a letter to the editor of a newspaper on the importance of a healthy school. 

To help celebrate, the National Healthy Schools Day web page includes a guide to green cleaning, a model proclamation, sample letters to the editor or school, and a checklist for healthy schools.  Furthermore, NSBA’s School Health Programs has an “Asthma in Schools 101” Packet that can be ordered online which includes useful materials on asthma prevention and management in schools.  Also, if you subscribe to ASBJ, check out a special section on green schools in its April 2009 edition.

Join BoardBuzz and NSBA in helping to keep our kids and schools healthy!  To learn more about National Healthy Schools Day, click here. For further information on School Building Week, click here.

What are you doing to keep your schools “green”?  Let us know!

Daniela Espinosa|April 27th, 2009|Categories: Announcements, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement, Wellness|

Stay tuned for two online discussions

NSBA Director of Federal Relations Reggie Felton will discuss the Obama Administration’s first 75 days and what that means for school boards and public education. Log in to view the live discussion on Sunday, April 5th at 1:00 PM PDT.

NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negron, Jr. will discuss recent legal developments and how they will impact school district policies and procedures. Log in to view the live discussion on Monday, April 6th at 1:00 PM PDT.


Erin Walsh|April 2nd, 2009|Categories: Announcements, Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Law|

NSBA website adds RSS feeds

Joining the 21st century at last, the National School Boards Association has recently added RSS feeds to various parts of our website. BoardBuzz, as you know, has always been available via RSS. If you don’t already subscribe, well, why not?

The newest RSS feed comes from the Council of School Attorneys. We’re pleased to announce this great upgrade to the Council’s website. A “recent updates” section has been added to notifiy subscribers of new additions to the Council website or other important information. The other great feature is that RSS updates are archived in date order so if you know the approximate date that something was posted, you can easily find it.

Other feeds that are available on the NSBA site include, the TLN eZine, Electronic School, School Health Programs’ updates and announcements, School Board News, and the Economic Stimulus Resource Center.  Be sure to check them out!

Erin Walsh|March 27th, 2009|Categories: Announcements, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Law|

Education Secretary to address school board members

BoardBuzz is always excited about NSBA’s Annual Conference, and this year is no exception.  In addition to the amazing professional development and networking opportunities the conference affords, this year’s conference attendees will get to hear from our new Education Secretary, Arne Duncan.  The conference, which will be held from April 4-7 in San Diego, also features Julie Andrews, Toni Morrison, and Greg Mortenson

Being able to hear firsthand from the Administration on its priorities and the implications for school boards is a one-of-a-kind opportunity.  We can’t wait!  For more information about how to attend the conference, programming, and other opportunities, be sure to check out the conference site.

Additionally, Duncan, shared with Education Week, “If education secretary Arne Duncan is a T-Mobile user, he let us know who in the lobbying world belongs in his “Fave 5” — and that includes NSBA’s Executive Director Anne BryantClick here to read the full list.

Christina Gordon|February 17th, 2009|Categories: Announcements, Conferences and Events, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

What scares you?

Times are tough.  We hear it, see it, and read it all the time.  Job losses, bank failures, bailouts, oh my!  But are today’s students scared?  Does everything being reported in the news get to them in the same way it gets to the grownups around the country?  Probably not–they read about vampires, and other scary subjects, on purpose, all the time.

Consider today’s Washington Post article that discusses what teens, tweens, and elementary kids are reading.  The top picks are the Stephanie Meyer books about Edward, a vampire who is hundreds of years old and the world surrounding a teenage girl who falls in love with him.  As a matter of fact, Meyer’s books have topped bestseller lists around the country.  Not just the children’s bestseller lists, but the ‘real’ ones too.  While Edward the Vampire certainly isn’t Harry the Wizard, the trend of escapism continues with students anxiously awaiting the release of new books and flooding libraries and bookstores for the books.  That’s good news for everyone, especially those who have been labeled ‘reluctant’ readers.  Graphic novels and audiobooks also entice those students who would have passed up reading in years past.

This morning, another scary book received accolades from the American Library Association.  “The Graveyard Book” was granted the Newberry Medal for Children’s Literature.  The title tells us that it’s not exactly “The Cat in the Hat” and is certain to scare a few folks.  According to the New York Times, the story is “about a boy who lives in a cemetery and is raised by ghosts.”  It also spent some time on bestseller lists and appeals to kids of all ages (including adults).  So take that, mass media, with all your bad news…the students in America’s schools are ignoring you and finding ways to get scared by reading award winning books, and more.

Kevin Scott|January 26th, 2009|Categories: Announcements, Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement|

Education Secretary named, BoardBuzz cheers!

The news that the education world has been waiting for has broken!  President-elect Obama has named Arne Duncan, the superintendent in Chicago Public Schools, as the next Education Secretary — and BoardBuzz is delighted.  After weeks of speculation, the choice was out last night and will be announced formally this morning at a news conference in Chicago. 

NSBA issued a statement on the choice, with Executive Director Anne Bryant saying,

We hope that Arne Duncan departs from the “top-down approach” that has been the norm for the past decade, and instead sustains a culture of partnership and support for states, as well as local school districts.  We believe a new federal role should “facilitate, not dictate.”  Duncan and the Chicago Board of Education have demonstrated that innovation can flourish when the school district puts student achievement first. 

Duncan represents a realistic view about what is possible in our schools and what will lead them into the future. 

 We are familiar with his accomplishments leading the Chicago Public Schools, a member of our Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE). With a solid background in public education and a commitment to improving teacher quality, Arne Duncan is a natural choice to support Obama’s goals of increasing school funding, creating assessments that accurately measure student achievement, and recruiting, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers.

You can read the full statement here.  Also be sure to check out NSBA’s recommendations for President-elect Obama and his team for A New Era in Education.  For more on Duncan, check out this article in the Washington Post.

Christina Gordon|December 16th, 2008|Categories: Announcements, Educational Legislation, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Is public education becoming “post-racial”?

An NSBA webinar this coming Friday will take on issues arising from one of the key intersections of race and public education in America. Details below, but first: A lot of the buzz surrounding Barack Obama’s victory focuses on what it heralds about race in American society and what it portends for the future on those questions. In some ways, the election of our first African-American president is the culmination of the civil rights movement. In other ways, some suggest, it represents a generational torch-passing—a page-turning that transcends the traditional 1960s paradigms of that movement.

So what about public education? The Supreme Court’s decision in the Seattle and Louisville student assignment cases, and its aftermath, focused attention on the reality of racial isolation in U.S. schools and left school boards and others re-evaluating whether and how to address the issue. Some analysts like Richard Kahlenberg have suggested that, as a matter of legal and social reality, it’s time to start focusing less on race and more on socio-economics. Others say we should just get over the diversity thing altogether and focus on good schools. At the same time, No Child Left Behind is quite overtly race-conscious, with its emphasis on closing achievement gaps among racial subgroups.

As these issues of race and public education play out, and as the nation grows more diverse, another focal point hits close to home: racial diversity on school boards. On that front, the results of one election last week were tossed out before voters even cast their ballots. A California judge had invalidated, in advance, the school board election results for Madera Unified School District, finding that the at-large election of the entire board was the reason only two Latino members have served in a district in which 82% of the students are Latino.

What does the law say about this? And does the racial composition of the school board make any real educational difference for children? Why would some districts want to use at-large elections anyway? And what are some options for boards?

NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) is offering a short webinar this Friday, Nov. 14, 2:30-3:00, to address these and other questions. Join NSBA Senior Staff Attorney Tom Hutton to review the most recent issue of the NSBA law and policy newsletter Leadership Insider, and what the research says. If you’d like to participate, just send an e-mail to CUBE’s Manager of Member services, Kevin Scott, at

Erin Walsh|November 10th, 2008|Categories: Announcements, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, School Law|
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