Articles in the Educational Research category

Massachusetts Association of School Committees’ governance project honored with national award

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) honored the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) for a project that has helped Massachusetts school boards improve teaching and learning in their districts. MASC received a 2014 Thomas A. Shannon Award for Excellence at NSBA’s Leadership Conference in Washington on Feb. 2, 2014.

The Massachusetts District Governance Support Project (DGSP) is a joint initiative of MASC, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This project, which began in 2010 and was fully implemented in 2013, is part of a larger professional development initiative that includes a professional development program for principals, a new superintendent induction program, and a labor management partnership.

“The Massachusetts Association of School Committees has led an important effort to provide school boards with tools to improve their educational programs and operations,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Their project will ultimately lead to stronger public schools and greater student achievement in Massachusetts.”

MASC staff and collaborators produced a seven-part training program which focused on different strategies for the boards to understand and execute their roles in a way to improve outcomes for students. The MASC staff engaged in implementing training throughout the state to ensure that school boards understood the state’s new, comprehensive educator evaluation system. As part of the program, a highly detailed school committee evaluation tool was developed and utilized as well.

“Our goal was to use the research on how boards advance teaching and learning and to make our members part of the solution,” said MASC Executive Director Glenn Koocher. “If we want our democracy to include school governance, it’s a mission that must succeed.”

The Thomas A. Shannon Award, named after a former executive director of NSBA, is a national award for leadership in public education given annually by NSBA.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 2nd, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Educational Research, Governance, Professional Development, State School Boards Associations|

NSBA featured in major media on school choice concerns

After Republicans introduced legislation that would allow states to send up to $24 billion in federal funding toward school choice programs, National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel offered a reality check on the performance of charter schools, vouchers, and other measures. Gentzel appeared on Fox News and was quoted in The Washington Post and The New York Times stories on the measure.

“We certainly haven’t seen any consistent evidence anywhere in the country that these kinds of programs are effective or producing better results,” said Gentzel, who appeared on a segment during Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier on the Senate proposal, introduced this week by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has introduced legislation in the House that also would include some students with disabilities and use funds from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Watch the video segment.

In the New York Times article, Gentzel countered proponents of school choice who claim that traditional public schools have not improved fast enough, and that low-income families should have other choices.

“The big issue is really that lack of accountability,” Gentzel told the Times. “Frankly, our view is every child should have access to a great public school where they live.”

In The Washington Post, Gentzel discussed Alexander’s proposal, the “Scholarships for Kids Act,” which would allow states to create $2,100 scholarships from existing federal K-12 programs, including Title I, to “follow” 11 million children whose families meet the federal to any public or private school of their parents’ choice. The total cost would be $24 billion—41 percent of the current federal education allotment.

“School choice is a well-funded and politically powerful movement seeking to privatize much of American education,” he told the Post. “We’re not against public charters, and there are some that are well-motivated. . . . But our goal is that public schools be schools of choice. We need to invest and support public schools, not divert money and attention from them to what amounts, in many cases, to experiments.”

Reginald Felton, NSBA’s Interim Associate Executive Director for Federal Advocacy and Public Policy, also told Governing magazine that Title I would inevitably face cuts under Lamar’s plan, along with other programs that benefit disadvantaged children. For states that would choose not to opt into the proposed program, that means less money is available for their most vulnerable populations, he said.

“It’s hard for us to believe that a $24 billion reallocation could exist without drastically reducing funding for Title I students,” he told Governing.

The Ohio Schools Boards Association (OSBA) recently showcased how funding to choice programs hurts neighborhood public schools. In its December newsletter, OSBA notes, “Ohio Department of Education data shows traditional public schools will lose more than $870 million in state funding to charter schools in fiscal year (FY) 2014. That’s an increase of 5.4 percent over FY 2013, when approximately $824 million was transferred from traditional public schools to charters. This increase comes amid ongoing reports of charter school mismanagement, conflicts of interest and felony indictments and convictions.”

According to CREDO (Center for Research on Educational Outcomes) research on charters, states that empower multiple authorizing agencies are more likely to report the weakest academic results for charter schools. Local governance – enacted by local school boards – offers transparency and accountability along with a direct focus on student achievement versus profit.

In 2008, 64 percent of Ohio’s charter schools were on academic watch or emergency status, compared to 9 percent of traditional public schools, according to “The Regulation of Charter Schools” in the Jan./Feb. issue of American School Board Journal.

While the state changed its regulations in 2008, ASBJ cites the case of Hope Academy Cathedral, a K-8 charter school in Cleveland, as an example of the loopholes that exist in Ohio’s charter law. The school was ordered to close in 2011 after repeatedly being rated as in “academic emergency.”

Less than two months later, a new K-8 charter — Woodland Academy — opened in the same building, with 15 returning staff members, the same authorizer, and the same for-profit management firm, wrote ASBJ Senior Editor Del Stover. In its first year of operation, the new charter school also was judged to be in academic emergency.

 

 

Digital School Districts Survey seeks districts with exemplary technology practices

The Center for Digital Education (CDE), in partnership with the National School Boards Association (NSBA), invites all U.S. public school districts to participate in the 2013-14 Digital School Districts Survey.

The survey recognizes exemplary school boards and districts’ use of technology to govern the district, communicate with students, parents, and the community, and to improve district operations.

Information and an entry form is available at CDE’s website. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, February 11, 2014.

Top-ranked school districts will receive the Digital School Districts Survey award and will be honored at a reception during NSBA’s annual conference in New Orleans, April 5-7, 2014. Winners also will be featured on the Center for Digital Education’s websites.

The Center for Digital Education, a Division of e.Republic, is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding. For past winners and articles, visit CDE’s website. For more information about the survey, please contact Janet Grenslitt, Surveys and Awards Director.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 28th, 2014|Categories: Educational Research, Educational Technology, NSBA Recognition Programs, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , |

Expanding School Choice: An Education Revolution or Diversion?

Patte Barth,  director of the Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association, penned  the following column for the Huffington Post:

House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) was speaking recently at the release of the Brookings Institution’s latest report on Education Choice and Competition. Calling these policies “an education revolution,” the House leader baldly stated, “school choice is the surest way to break [the] vicious cycle of poverty.”

Not “a solid education.”  School choice.

The Brookings’ report ranks 100 large districts on their school choice policies. Their report came out in advance of National School Choice Week whose organizers boast 5,500 scheduled events across the country beginning January 26, 2014. Both share a goal to drum up more support for funneling tax dollars into educational options — whether they be charters, magnets, private, or virtual schools.  The rationale is that a free marketplace will force schools to innovate in order to compete for students. Popular schools will equate with “good schools” and unpopular ones will close. And thus, in Brookings words, we will raise “the quality of the product.”

Unfortunately, that’s one mighty big assumption.

Most choice advocates defend their position by pointing to successful charter schools in New York City and elsewhere. Others extol the promise of virtual learning. What they all provide, for the most part, is anecdote, intuition and belief. When they do cite data, it basically shows that choice policies work in some places with some students some of the time.  Truth is, the evidence is much spottier than the champions for choice would have us believe.

Charter schools, for example, are the most studied “choice” reform.  Charter schools are public schools that have certain requirements waived so they can try out new ideas.  There is much to commend successful charters and what they are learning about effective practices. But according to a 2013 study from Stanford researchers, these are the exception. Only one in four charter schools outperforms its traditional public school counterpart in reading. About one in five performs significantly worse. In math, it’s nearly one in three.

The quality of research on voucher programs is notoriously uneven and often contradictory. Nonetheless, there seems to be general agreement that vouchers may have had a modest impact on some low-income and minority youth in some urban districts. But the findings are inconclusive as to their effect overall.  And the general efficacy of virtual schools is a big unknown, largely because districts lack the infrastructure to sufficiently track student performance in online environments.

Ironically, the Brookings report card itself illustrates the disconnect between choice policies on one hand and student performance on the other.  One does not necessarily follow the other.

Only three districts earned A’s on Brookings choice and competition rankings:  Louisiana’s Recovery District, Orleans Parish and New York City. Along with its Brookings “A,” Orleans Parish earned an “A” on Louisiana’s report card for district performance.  Yet the state gave the Recovery District an F. New York City’s A- from Brookings bears little relation to its math scores on NAEP, a national assessment. The city’s scores were at the average for large cities, and below average in terms of gains over the last decade.

Then there’s the low end of the rankings. Atlanta was given an “F” by Brookings. Yet the city boasts fourth-graders who perform above the national “large city” average in reading and posted more than twice the gains their peers made nationwide.  Charlotte, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas, are among the highest performing urban districts in both math and reading. Brookings gave them a C and D respectively.

see full data tables

 

So what does this tell us? That high-achieving, high-gaining districts can have “choice and competition” or not. Either way, it shows it’s a mistake to claim, as Rep. Cantor does, that choice is “the surest way to break the cycle of poverty.”

Contrary to popular perception, public schools have been steadily improving over the last twenty years. Math performance and graduation rates, in particular, are at all-time highs. Neither are public schools the monolithic creature some of the choice advocates make them out to be. Many districts across the country already offer alternatives in the form of charter and magnet schools, and continue to diversify instructional programs in traditional neighborhood schools, too. But parents and students need assurance that the choices they are offered are good ones, something choice for choice’s sake has not done, as the research shows.

In addition, it’s one thing to offer alternatives. It’s quite another to encourage public schools to compete with each other for students which could send the wrong messages. We need only look to our colleges and universities who, in their race to attract students, build football teams and state-of-the-art facilities at the expense of investments in teaching.  I really doubt that’s the kind of marketplace we want to create for public schools.

Far from an education revolution, the political attention given choice and competition is diverting us from the hard work of making sure public schools prepare every child for their next steps after graduation.  This means continuing to invest in those things that an abundance of evidence shows consistently work  – access to high-quality pre-kindergarten, effective teachers, rigorous curriculum and individualized instruction for students. It also means learning from successful schools — including schools of choice — about what works with different students in which situations, and bringing those practices to scale.  When we get that right, districts will earn the grades that really matter.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 22nd, 2014|Categories: Center for Public Education, Educational Legislation, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, Governance, Legislative advocacy, Religion, School Law, School Reform, School Vouchers, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA’s Massey discusses leadership for new Discovery Education webinar series

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is taking part in a new webinar series by Discovery Education designed to feature innovative leaders in K-12 education.

The series debuts Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. EST with NSBA’s Immediate Past President C. Ed Massey leading a conversation on adaptive leadership. In this webinar, Massey will investigate the many challenges education leaders face today, discuss his personal definition of adaptive leadership, and propose how educators can foster this style of leadership within their own schools.2012-2013 - Massey_President_2 (large)

The monthly series, Leadership@NOW, is offered at no charge. The events are designed by Discovery Education to provide an opportunity for educators to interact with leaders experts to share their ideas about hot topics within education and learn from experiences. Topics discussed will include effective and adaptive leadership, emerging technologies, instructional techniques, planning for change, and impactful communication. Discovery Education is using technologies including Google Hangouts and Edmodo’s social learning platform “to provide real-world experience with these services as you interact with leaders making a difference in their districts and schools.”

Registration information and a schedule of future events can be found at www.discoveryeducation.com/leadershipnow.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 15th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Educational Research, Governance, Leadership, Multimedia and Webinars|Tags: , , , |

NSBA: School board involvement critical to addressing discipline issues

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice have issued a four-part guide designed to address disparities in discipline practices and improve school climate. The guide, which includes data showing that minorities and students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by harsher punishments, is the first time the federal government has dealt with these issues through guidance.

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), responded to the guidance and noted that  local school board and community involvement is essential in addressing concerns of discipline and race.

“Our nation’s school boards share the Education and Justice departments’ concerns for ‘safe, inclusive and positive school climates,’ with zero tolerance for discriminatory practices in public schools,” he said. “NSBA is generally pleased with the documents’ emphasis on positive interventions, but it is vital to underscore that school discipline must acknowledge the various levels of resources available to public schools and communities. It is critical that the guidelines not impose any type of unfunded mandate on local public schools and not be misused as a loophole to fund private educational placements at taxpayer expense. A one-size fits all approach is not appropriate, since public schools, communities, and resources differ.”

Further, he added, “NSBA is concerned that part of the Education and Justice departments’ legal framework may constitute an expansive interpretation of the law. We are studying the agencies’ legal analysis and will likely issue further comment.  We invite the agencies to confer further with NSBA to ensure that guidelines released incorporate school boards’ perspective on these critical topics.”

The guide could be helpful to local school boards because it provides a detailed process of how the Education and Justice departments will approach investigations with respect to student discipline and race, he added.

On a related topic, NSBA released a report, “Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members,” in April 2013. The document examines discipline policies and the disproportionate impact on students of color. It recommends that school disciplinary measures should not be used to exclude students from school or deprive them of educational services, and suspensions should only be used as a last resort for school safety.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 9th, 2014|Categories: Discipline, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, Governance, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , |

White House announces new career education program

The White House announced a new $100 million competitive grant program this week that will help educators redesign high schools to better prepare students for high-tech and STEM careers.

The U.S. Department of Labor is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education to give 25 to 40 Youth CareerConnect grants, part of President Obama’s State of the Union and budget proposals to provide industry-relevant education and skills high school students will need for successful careers. The funding comes from the H1-B visa program.

NSBA is reviewing the details of the programs to assess the operational impact on states and local school districts. Additional comments will be provided as the information becomes available.

According to the White House, the Youth CareerConnect schools will strengthen America’s talent pipeline through: Integrated academic and career-focused learning; work-based learning and exposure to the world of work; robust employer engagement through mentoring and engagement; individualized career and academic counseling; and integration of postsecondary education and training into the high school curriculum.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|November 21st, 2013|Categories: Educational Research, Educational Technology, Federal Programs, Policy Formation, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: |

NCES report shows most states compare favorably to other countries in math and science

Results from a new study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the U.S. Department of Education has found the vast majority of states score above the international average in 8th grade math and science. Although U.S. eighth-graders compared relatively well to their peers in other countries in math, the comparison was even more favorable in science, where just three states scored below the international average. However, the average 8th-grader in most states has obtained a basic knowledge and understanding of both math and science and can demonstrate it in a variety of practical situations.

But the study also highlights the fact that there is a huge variation in student performance across states. While there are a number of states that compare more favorably to the highest performing countries in the world, there are other states whose performance matches the performance of developing countries. For students in all states to have a chance to compete in the ever growing global labor market they, at the very least, must possess basic math and science skills.

Here’s what the study found:

     Mathematics

  • Over two-thirds (36) of states’ average score were significantly above the international average of 500.
    •  Six states (West Virginia (492), Oklahoma (491), Tennessee (490), DC (481), Mississippi (476), and Alabama (466) scored significantly below the international average.  These scores are similar to those of New Zealand (488), Kazakhstan (487), Sweden (484) and Armenia (467) among others.
  • Massachusetts was the highest scoring U.S. state (561 points) and outperformed all but five of 47 countries as well.
    • Massachusetts was outperformed by Korea (613), Singapore (611), Hong Kong (586), and Japan (570).
  • Nearly a two-third of U.S. states performed as well as or better than the traditionally high performing country of Finland (514).
  • Alabama was the only state whose average score (466) fell within the TIMSS Low benchmark (400-474), an indicator of whether a student possesses knowledge of whole numbers and decimals, operations, and basic graphs.
    • On the other end of the spectrum, Massachusetts was the only state to score above the TIMSS High benchmark (550) which indicates that students can apply their understanding and knowledge in variety of relatively complex situations.
    • The remaining 50 states’ average score fell within the Intermediate benchmark (475-549) which indicates a student can apply basic mathematical knowledge in a variety of situations.

Science

  • Nearly every state (47) performed above the international average of 500 while two states (Arizona and California) did not perform significantly different than the international average.
    • Mississippi (486), Alabama (485) and DC (453) scored significantly below the international average. These scores are similar to those of Kazakhstan (490), Turkey (483) and Iran (474), among others.
  • Massachusetts (567) and Vermont (561) were the highest scoring U.S. states and performed as well or better than every country except Singapore (590).
    • Massachusetts and Vermont performed as well as Chinese Taipei (564), Korea (560), and Japan (558) and outperformed such countries as Finland (552), Hong Kong (535) and England (533).
  • The District of Columbia was the only place where students’ average scores did feell within the TIMSS Low benchmark (400-474) which indicates whether a student has a grasp of elementary knowledge of life, physical, and earth sciences.
    • On the other end of the spectrum, eight states (Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin) scored above the TIMSS High benchmark (550), which indicates whether students can apply their knowledge and understanding of the sciences to explain phenomena in everyday and abstract context.
    • The remaining 43 states’ average score fell within in the Intermediate benchmark (475-549), indicating students have basic knowledge and understanding of practical situations in the sciences.
Jim Hull|October 24th, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Assessment, Center for Public Education, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Research, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|Tags: , |

Ariz. districts look to early childhood programs to boost long-term achievement

The following article was originally published by the Arizona School Boards Association

By Tracey Benson, ASBA Director of Communications

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It may be an old saw, but it well summarizes what many education leaders across Arizona and the nation believe to be true about the relationship between college and career readiness and early education – the learning and experiences that happen between birth and age 8.PAT 14

Current research about brain development and early learning backs those beliefs, according to Karen Woodhouse, chief program officer at First Things First, a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to help children be successful once they enter kindergarten. For example:

  • 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before they enter kindergarten, and the quality of a child’s interactions with adult caregivers – from parents to childcare providers and preschool teachers – lays the foundation for a lifetime.
  • Differences in children’s vocabulary first start to appear at 18 months.
  • A child’s vocabulary, attention and general knowledge at 3 and 4 years old correlates to their reading comprehension levels at ages 9 and 10.

With the implementation of new, more rigorous academic standards in Arizona and the Move On When Reading law, which requires students to be reading at a sufficient level before they can be promoted from third to fourth grade, the stakes have been raised for preparing children for K-12 success.

Dr. Debbie Pischke, director of the Peoria Unified School District’s preschool program for the past 19 years, and a regional partnership council chair for First Things First, says early childhood education is more important today than ever before. Peoria USD serves approximately 1,000 preschool students through 40 programs on 15 campuses. Scholarships are available for more than one-fourth of those children through a grant from First Things First.

“In education we talk about the achievement gap a lot, but there was a readiness gap before there was an achievement gap,” she says. “We know that the brain a child brings to kindergarten started way before they got there. The pathways for learning were established by age three.”

Pischke and others say that achievement gap may widen if early education isn’t more fully addressed.

While preschool attendance is not the only indicator of readiness, it is one. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2013 Kids Count report, 46 percent of all U.S. children attend preschool. In Arizona, only 33 percent do.

That could become a bigger problem. “Kindergarten is no longer about reciting the ABCs,” Pischke says. “Today when children come into kindergarten, they need to know how to work with other children, listen to an adult other than mom or dad, pay attention, demonstrate persistence, be able to control their emotions and body appropriately for their age.”

They also need pre-math and pre-literacy skills.

She repeats a saying she once heard at an early childhood conference to drive home her point: “The speaker said, ‘You can’t climb the ladder of success if the first rung is broken.’”

Coconino County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Kelty also is concerned that without more aggressive early preparation and greater access to early childhood programs, the achievement gap will grow. “We see too many children starting behind, and that gap is rarely closed,” says Kelty. “We’re so used to blaming the K-12 system (for this), instead of asking how we can provide more access to quality early education options for children and their parents.”

A community survey conducted this year in Coconino County revealed that 53 percent of children in the county enter kindergarten unprepared to learn what is now expected of them. “Our county data and our statewide data are reflecting that (lack of preparedness) in our students’ academic performance,” he says.

Woodhouse, Pischke and Kelty all note that the academic and social costs to children can be high if they enter kindergarten unprepared. School districts incur financial costs, specifically those associated with remediation and retention. These education experts contend that rich early childhood experiences, whether at home, or through preschool or quality childcare settings, can reduce those costs.

A growing cadre of advocates from business, economic development, government and the social service sectors say the positive effects of investment in early childhood education are even more far reaching. Rob Grunewald is one of those advocates. An economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, he will speak before a group of Arizona citizens that will gather this fall for the annual Arizona Town Hall, where the topic of early childhood education in Arizona will be explored in-depth.

“Research shows that investments in early childhood education can return up to $16 for every $1 invested through reduced need for welfare assistance, increased income tax revenue, less burden on the criminal justice system and fewer children needing remedial education services,” says Grunewald. “Children and their families benefit from these investments, but the majority of financial benefits accrue to society and taxpayers.”

According to research cited by First Things First, children exposed to rich experiences in early childhood are 80 percent more likely to graduate high school, 70 percent less likely to commit a violent crime by age 18 and 40 percent less likely to be held back a grade.

That message about broad societal benefits is reverberating in many parts of Arizona. As part of its economic development strategy and in light of the results of the county’s recent community education survey, Coconino County has invested nearly $350,000 in a parent education program focused on the early years. Parenting College, developed and implemented by the Coconino County Superintendent of Schools Office as part of its Transformative Learning Center, focuses on nine topics, including brain development, safety, discipline and nurturing pre-academic skills through reading and vocabulary. The classes are delivered to teen parents attending Ponderosa High School, the county’s accommodation school, through a partnership with a high school in the Flagstaff Unified School District, and most recently through community sessions offered on Saturdays.

For these reasons and others, school district leaders increasingly are looking for ways to engage and influence parents and provide foundational learning and socialization experiences to children before kindergarten. “The model many people think of is to begin thinking about children as learners when they start kindergarten, but more and more school districts are taking advantage of opportunities to connect with families of young children before that point,” says Woodhouse. “It’s really important for the leaders on a school board to be familiar with the variety of ways that can be done.”

She emphasizes that meeting needs of children and families in ways that make sense for the local community is essential. One strategy does not fit all.

In addition to offering preschool programs that serve students with developmental delays, which is required by law, many school districts are extending the opportunity to other local children by braiding state and federal funds with grants from organizations like First Things First that provide scholarships to students whose families would not otherwise be able to afford preschool. First Things First currently provides 51 Arizona school districts – from small and rural, to large and urban – with grants for preschool scholarships.

Since opening a preschool four years ago, the small, rural Topock Elementary School District in Mohave County has seen kindergarten readiness jump. The 20-student preschool is offered free to 3- and 4-year-olds through a grant from First Things First. “It has become the great equalizer,” says John Warren, superintendent of the district that serves 140 students overall. “That pipeline of success stemming from the preschool is evident.” (See page 19 for an in-depth look at Topock’s program and the results it is producing.)

The Mesa Unified School District repurposed an elementary school this year as a preschool center. The school board voted last year to convert the campus because of declining enrollment. The Jordan Center for Early Education will house special education preschool, state-sponsored programs and the district’s tuition-based program, along with a “wrap-around care” option for working parents.

The Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson also has a preschool and early education campus, created after the district closed one of its elementary schools two years ago. All its preschool programs, which serve 400 children, are housed there.

Some districts and JTEDs offer fee-based, licensed preschool programs on their campuses that do double duty by providing high school students opportunities to earn career and technical education credits and valuable skills by working in the preschool programs.

The Pima County JTED is one of them. “We’re training the next generation of preschool teachers,” says Greg D’Anna, director of public relations.

West-MEC, a JTED that serves students in Maricopa County, funds early childhood education/education professions programs at 23 high schools in the West Valley. One of those schools, Apollo High School in the Glendale Union High School District, offers COOP – the Child Oriented Occupational Program. The program gives the older students hands-on experience by working one hour a day in the preschool along with an additional hour for classroom instruction and lesson planning. It gives the preschoolers a leg up on kindergarten.

Similarly, the East Valley Institute of Technology offers its early childhood/education professions students the opportunity to learn and work in a childcare center, but it has done so by partnering with a private preschool operating a center on its campus.

Other districts have created family resource centers on school campuses that offer parents of pre-K children access to information and materials to help prepare their children for school success.

Some districts blend a variety of approaches. Co-located on Sunnyside USD’s preschool campus is the district’s award-winning, research-based, free and voluntary Parents as Teachers – or PAT – program. PAT serves expectant parents and parents of children birth to 5 years old residing in the Sunnyside district. It provides them with information on the latest research in neuroscience and child development, support and strategies during the crucial early years to strengthen families and prepare children for lifelong achievement. According to district spokeswoman Mary Veres, PAT has increased children’s school readiness and success. It also improves parenting practices and provides early detection of developmental delays.

And other models exist as well.

“Having varied approaches is important,” notes Woodhouse. “We need to meet parents where they are. Preschool is not for every child or every family, but every child does need rich early childhood experiences, and it’s in the interest of school districts to be a part of that.”

In addition to improved student achievement, ancillary benefits are being experienced by districts engaged in early childhood programs. Preschools and parent programs draw young families to the district.

“The early years are a great time for districts to begin building relationships with the family, to become a great resource, to make them comfortable in the school community and to help them understand what will happen when their child starts kindergarten,” Woodhouse explains.

Pischke agrees and says Peoria has experienced that benefit. An elementary school that opened four preschool programs on its campus one year had 25 variances for kindergarten the following year. “We’re their first exposure to school,” she says. “So if we’re making a good impression, they’re going to want to stay.”

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 11th, 2013|Categories: Curriculum, Educational Research, Preschool Education, State School Boards Associations, Student Achievement|Tags: , |

Missouri businessman, MSBA announce $1 million incentive for Baldrige school district award

A Missouri couple will donate $1 million to the first public school district in their state that can win a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which recognizes organizations for achieving performance excellence. The award will be announced at the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) conference this weekend.

Larry Potterfield said he and his wife, Brenda Potterfield, are making the donation because they want to help improve public education in Missouri. “This is for the children,” he said. “We want to impact the educational system, to make the school districts more accountable, to better prepare and educate the next generation so that our nation can continue to compete in the global marketplace.”

The gift challenge will reinforce current efforts for measurable educational improvements among Missouri’s 520 school districts as they strive to achieve “role model status,” as defined by the Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence. Each year, the President of the United States honors American organizations in business, health care, education, non-profit, and government that win a Baldrige Award, the nation’s only award for performance excellence.

Anne L. Bryant, who sits on the board of the Baldrige Foundation and is a former executive director of the National School Boards Association, said that Larry and Brenda Potterfield’s million dollar challenge has called upon the entire state of Missouri to “show the way” by encouraging every school district across the state to consider taking up the Baldrige quality and excellence program.

“Like all Baldrige Award winners, a school district that goes through the process is demonstrating to its students, faculty, staff, parents and entire community that it wants to be the best,” Bryant said. “I watched my neighboring district, The Montgomery County Public Schools (MD) go through the process and reach the national award with such pride and excitement. It reinforced to the community and the entire state that this public school district could be an example for all.”

Moreover, Bryant said that the Baldrige community is “thrilled by the Potterfield’s generosity but, even more importantly, by their foresight to focus on education…which indeed is the cornerstone of a state’s economy and future.

The $1 million gift will be stewarded by the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award until it is awarded.

“The million dollar unrestricted gift will be an obvious benefit to the school district that demonstrates outstanding performance,” said Potterfield, who is CEO of Midway USA, a company that sells hunting and gun supplies. “The school district will receive tremendous recognition for winning the Baldrige Award. Most importantly, the winner will have to demonstrate an improvement in educational outcomes because the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are results-driven.”

The Potterfields’ official announcement will be made at the 2013 MSBA Annual Conference on Oct. 5, 2013. The conference is held in cooperation with the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA).

“We’re delighted Larry and Brenda Potterfield chose the MSBA Annual Conference to announce their gift,” said Dr. Carter Ward, the MSBA executive director. “MSBA strongly supports school districts interested in utilizing the Baldrige Criteria to create a culture of continuous improvement ultimately aimed at providing the finest possible education for the students in our public schools.”

Dr. P. George Benson, chair of the Board of Directors of the Baldrige Foundation, called it “gratifying” for the Potterfields to link their donation to the Baldrige National Award for Performance Excellence.

“It demonstrates the faith and confidence that Larry and Brenda Potterfield have in the Baldrige Program,” Dr. Benson said. “For 25 years, we helped organizations in the public and private sectors reach their peak level of effectiveness, and honored the very best with a Baldrige Award. With their generous donation, the Potterfields are challenging Missouri school districts to provide a better education to their students.”

School districts must reach the highest level in the Missouri Quality Award, the state Baldrige-based program, to apply to the National Baldrige Performance Excellence Award Program. School districts will need to demonstrate performance results that are national benchmarks and better than their peer groups at comparably-sized school districts across the country. In so doing, they will be improving their budget and operations, as well as the education they provide in the classrooms.

“Schools and districts interested in pursuing a Baldrige award can access resources through the recently launched Missouri Network for Educational Improvement (MNEI),” says Daniel L. Clay, dean of the University of the Missouri College of Education. “The network will help schools and districts strategically coordinate continuous improvement efforts.”  The MNEI is led by the Hook Center at the University of Missouri College of Education, in partnership with MSBA, MASA and districts around the state.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 4th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Board governance, Educational Research, School Board News, School Boards, School Climate, School District Reorganization, School Reform, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , , , |
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