Articles in the National Standards category

Americans support for public schools, yet skepticism on testing, PDK/Gallup poll finds

The general public is quite skeptical about school vouchers, standardized testing, and teacher evaluations using student test scores, according to the annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, released August 21. But those surveyed continued to give record-high grades to their local public schools and showed strong support for charter schools.

The general public also overwhelmingly feels that schools are safe, and supports more funding for mental-health services instead of hiring security guards.

This year, 53 percent of the public gave their local schools a grade of A or B, the highest percentage recorded in the poll’s 45-year history. Public education as a whole received an average of a C, consistent with recent polls.

Public school parents named “lack of financial support” and “overcrowding” as the biggest problems facing public schools. PDK/Gallup reported that three concerns have risen on the list of the biggest problems facing public schools: lack of parental support, difficulties in getting good teachers, and testing requirements and regulations.

The poll also showed that a majority of the public believes charters do a better job educating students than traditional public schools, and two of three respondents support opening more charters in their communities. Yet, support for private school vouchers was extremely low, with only 29 percent of the respondents said children should be allowed to attend private schools at public expense.

And in a question that was sharply divided on partisan lines, 55 percent of respondents oppose providing a free public education to children of illegal immigrants. A majority also support home-schooling and support allowing home-schooled students to attend public school part-time and participate in athletic programs.

The poll also showed a growing skepticism toward standardized testing in schools, where 36 percent of those questioned said increased testing was hurting the performance of their local schools, 41 percent said it had made no difference, and 22 percent said it helped. In 2007, 28 percent of respondents said testing had helped their schools.

William Bushaw, executive director of PDK International and co-director of the PDK/Gallup poll, said in written remarks, “Americans’ mistrust of standardized tests and their lack of confidence and understanding around new education standards is one the most surprising developments we’ve found in years. The 2013 poll shows deep confusion around the nation’s most significant education policies and poses serious communication challenges for education leaders.”

Further, the public knows very little about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—slated to go into effect in 2014—and those who do still don’t understand it, the poll found. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they had never heard of CCSS, and of the remaining 38 percent, most believed that the federal government was forcing states to adapt the standards and that the standards covered more subjects than English/language arts and mathematics.

NSBA and the major administrators’ groups issued a statement in May that supported the principles behind Common Core but warned states and districts face “very real obstacles” to align their curricula with the new standards and administer the required tests.

In June, the Learning First Alliance, a coalition of 16 education groups including NSBA, called on lawmakers to give states and school districts more time to transition to the Common Core, noting that there needs to be more time to develop the proper resources for students and teachers, including curriculum, assessments, and professional development.

The 2013 PDK/Gallup poll results are available at www.pdkpoll.org.

Joetta Sack-Min|August 21st, 2013|Categories: Assessment, Common Core State Standards, Educational Research, Federal Advocacy, National Standards|Tags: , , , |

LFA calls for longer transition to prepare for Common Core

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is one of 16 members of the Learning First Alliance (LFA). This week LFA called on lawmakers to give states and school districts more time to transition to the Common Core State Standards so that they can develop the proper resources for students and teachers, including curriculum, assessments, and professional development. NSBA also recently asked Congress to give adequate time for stakeholders to prepare for the transition.

Here is a copy of LFA’s letter:

June 6, 2013

OPEN LETTER TO EDUCATION STAKEHOLDERS:

Fifteen members of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of national education organizations representing more than ten million parents, educators and policymakers, have agreed on the following statement:

The Learning First Alliance believes that the Common Core State Standards have the potential to transform teaching and learning and provide all children with knowledge and skills necessary for success in the global community.

To meet this potential, teachers, administrators, parents and communities are working together to align the standards with curriculum, instruction and assessment. Their work – which includes providing the pre-service and professional learning opportunities educators need to effectively teach the standards, making necessary adaptations to implementation plans as work progresses and field-testing efforts to ensure proper alignment – will take time.

Rushing to make high-stakes decisions such as student advancement or graduation, teacher evaluation, school performance designation, or state funding awards based on assessments of the Common Core standards before the standards have been fully and properly implemented is unwise. We suggest a transition period of at least one year after the original deadline in which results from assessments of these standards are used only to guide instruction and attention to curriculum development, technology infrastructure, professional learning and other resources needed to ensure that schools have the supports needed to help all students achieve under the Common Core. Removing high-stakes consequences for a short time will ensure that educators have adequate time to adjust their instruction, students focus on learning, and parents and communities focus on supporting children.

During this time, we urge a continued commitment to accountability. We recommend that states and districts continue to hold educators and schools to a high standard as determined by the components of their accountability systems that are not solely based on standardized tests, including other evidence of student learning, peer evaluations, school climate data and more.

We have seen growing opposition to the Common Core as officials move too quickly to use assessments of the Common Core State Standards in high-stakes accountability decisions. Such actions have the potential to undermine the Common Core – and thus our opportunity to improve education for all students. We must take the necessary time to ensure we succeed in this endeavor.

Cheryl S. Williams

Executive Director

Learning First Alliance

ON BEHALF OF:

American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE)

American Association of School Administrators (AASA)

American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA)

American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE)

American School Counselor Association (ASCA)

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Development Council)

National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)

National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

National Education Association (NEA)

National School Boards Association (NSBA)

National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA)

Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK)

National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

Joetta Sack-Min|June 7th, 2013|Categories: Assessment, Common Core State Standards, Educational Research, Mathematics Education, National Standards|Tags: , |

National school leadership organizations urge “adequate time” for Common Core implementation

States and school districts need adequate time, professional development, and the technical infrastructure to properly transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the assessment requirements, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the major organizations representing school administrators say in a joint statement on the issue.

“Strong educational standards can be an important tool for improving student achievement, but states and school districts must be well prepared to successfully implement the Common Core State Standards,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “For the standards to succeed, states and school districts must have the financial resources and the infrastructure to manage online assessments, and they must be able to provide school administrators and teachers with the professional development.”

NSBA, AASA (the School Superintendents Association), the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals wrote the document. It notes that states and districts face “very real obstacles” to align their curricula with the new standards and administer the required tests.

“Getting this transition right can mean the difference between getting and keeping public and educator support for the Common Core or a loss in confidence in the standards and even the public schools, especially if as expected the first-year scores will disappoint,” the statement notes.

There are further technical challenges surrounding the online assessments, which are scheduled to be put in place in 2014-15–including bandwidth, infrastructure and professional development. The concept of online assessments is widely supported by educators, but the timeline “could derail the good work already in place through the CCSS and deny the assessments the opportunity to provide the same academic benefits,” according to the document.

Currently 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the CCSS. In supporting the development of the CCSS, NSBA believes that the standards should be adapted voluntarily by the states and not mandated as a condition for receiving federal education program funds.

Alexis Rice|May 29th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Federal Programs, National Standards, Policy Formation, Public Advocacy, School Boards, Student Achievement, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

CPE Director sorts out facts and myths of the Common Core

Implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has already started in 46 states and the District of Columbia—bringing major changes to public schools in those states. But such a large undertaking also brings many myths and misconceptions about the curricular changes.

Patte Barth, Director of the Center for Public Education (CPE) at the National School Boards Association, writes about what some of the changes will mean for public education in a column for the Huffington Post, “The Common Core Standards: Truths, Untruths and Ambiguities.”

“Despite their high-profile supporters, not everyone is feeling the common core love and a handful of early adopting states are experiencing second thoughts,” she writes. “These are legitimate debates for us to have. Indeed, something this central to public education demands it.”

Read more at the Huffington Post.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 29th, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Board governance, Center for Public Education, Educational Finance, Educational Research, National Standards, Policy Formation, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

Common Core tests and school board success stories in the March issue of ASBJ

The Common Core State Standards are coming, and they will have a huge impact on how teachers are expected to teach, students are taught to think, and how both students and teachers are evaluated. In this month’s issue of American School Board Journal, online now, Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy looks at how schools around the country will now be facing not only common standards but also common tests.

Also in March:

A Michigan superintendent and two board members describe how they used test scores and other data to refocus and turn their district around.

In our continuing series of school board success stories, we feature an Arizona school board and superintendent team using a new approach to boost reading and math scores.

Also, make sure to vote on this month’s Adviser poll to see where your opinion on a sticky situation stacks up.

Kathleen Vail|March 5th, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, National Standards, School Boards, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

Secretary Duncan addresses school board members at NSBA meeting

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged school board members Monday at NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) meeting in Washington, D.C., to “stay the course” through a tumultuous time in public education, predicting that in a few years the nation will see big results from programs such as Race to the Top (RTTT) and the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

“The implementation of Common Core is really difficult,” Duncan said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work, and I really urge you to stay the course.”

However, he added: “I think the back-end of all this – three or four years from now – the country’s going to be in a radically different place.”

Duncan spoke briefly, but quickly and emphatically. He praised school board members for their dedication, and gave out his email address, saying he wanted to hear their concerns. In a short question and answer period, skeptical board members raised concerns about the proliferation of charter schools; unfunded federal mandates; competitions for funding, such as RTTT (the questioner said dedicated funding made more sense); and what many saw as an erosion of local control.

“This is a tough crowd,” the education secretary quipped at one point.

One requirement for states receiving funds has been a lifting of state caps on the number of charter schools. But Duncan said he didn’t favor charters over regular public schools.

“I’m just a big proponent of high-quality public schools,” Duncan said. “That’s traditional schools. That’s magnet schools. And that may be charter schools.”

Speaking of the achievement gap, Duncan said, “In some places we’re seeing real progress, but in other places these gaps are extraordinarily large.”

But Melinda Bernard, a board member for the St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Louisiana, said the problems of public school are being exaggerated.

“I think you will agree, public education’s being denigrated by the media recently,” Bernard told Duncan. “Especially our teachers.”

Duncan touted some of the Obama administration’s accomplishments, including an additional $600 million for early childhood education and an increase in the number of Pell Grants from 6 million in 2008 to 10 million last year. He said the $4 billion in competitive grants for RTTT may seem like a large number, but is less than 1 percent of the department’s $650 billion budget. He said that competition has spurred states to make major innovations regarding the common core, teacher evaluation, and other challenges.

Speaking of the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Duncan said the Obama administration has “huge support for the Second Amendment,” but added, “I do feel that if we don’t act now as a country, we will never act.”

A former school superintendent for the Chicago Public Schools, Duncan said he was acquainted with the problem of violence, particularly in inner-city neighborhoods.

“We lost one child every two weeks due to the gang problem,” Duncan said. “It was a staggering loss.”

Lawrence Hardy|January 28th, 2013|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, FRN Conference 2013, Governance, National Standards, Preschool Education, School Security|Tags: , , , , |

Kentucky leads on Common Core

When its state legislature passed the Kentucky Education Reform Act more than two decades ago, the Bluegrass State was lauded as a leader in K-12 education reform.

“In 1990, we were the darling,” said David Baird, associate executive director of the Kentucky School Boards Association. “Everyone was looking to Kentucky and saying, ‘What a wonderful reform you have done.’”

Kentucky basked in that praise for many years – maybe too many years, Baird said Monday. Like just about every other state, even with education reform, too many of its high school graduates were needing remediation when they got to college.

But Kentucky snapped out of its complacency in 2009 when the legislature passed Senate Bill 1, a new education reform initiative that just happened to dovetail nicely with the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Once again, Kentucky was the first state to raise the bar.

Baird and Patte Barth, director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education, talked Monday morning at the Federal Relations Network (FRN) meeting in Washington, D.C., about what school districts should expect from the Common Core – and what the Common Core expects of them. Described as “fewer, clearer, higher,” the new standards aim to help all students be prepared for college or the 21st century workforce.

A state-led program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, the Common Core standards in math and language arts have so far been embraced by 46 states and the District of Columbia. It is built upon the strengths of current state standards.

“[NSBA] supports these because they are state-led,” Barth said, but added that the organization expects more financial support for the program.

“We support more funding to go to research and support of assessments,” Barth said.

Two consortia are developing assessments to align with the common core. The assessments are scheduled to be released during the 2014-15 school year; it’s a scenario that doesn’t give school districts a lot of time.

Among the biggest changes in language arts standards will be a new emphasis on exploring and analyzing nonfiction texts, Barth said. She said U. S. students score highly on international comparisons on their ability to analyze fiction, but do less well on expository texts.

Some English teachers have been critical of the standards, believing it would force them to limit the teaching of literature, but Barth said the aim is to spread the requirements for nonfiction reading across the curriculum and to all teachers.

 

Lawrence Hardy|January 28th, 2013|Categories: FRN Conference 2013, Governance, National Standards, School Boards, School Reform|Tags: , , , , , , |

January ASBJ online now with Change Agents, Common Core backlash

The January issue of American School Board Journal is online now. This first issue of 2013 fittingly features our inaugural series on excellence in school governance: Change Agents. Each month we’ll tell the stories of reform-minded school boards that faced challenges and found solutions through strong leadership. January’s story shows how the Missoula, Mont., school board set a goal of having 100 percent of its students finish high school, and how the district responded with Graduation Matters Missoula.

The Common Core State Standards are coming — by the 2014-15 school year, more than 40 states will be introducing these math and language arts standards to their classrooms.  At least, that’s the plan.  Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy writes of the pushback the standards are receiving from both ends of the political spectrum in “The Backlash Against Common Core.”

Also in the new issue: an essay by education writer and commentator Alfie Kohn on the perils of top-down reform. And another article shows how last summer’s drought may be affecting school food service prices.

Kathleen Vail|January 3rd, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, American School Board Journal, Board governance, Curriculum, Food Service, Governance, National Standards, Nutrition, School Reform, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference to feature Geena Davis, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Diane Ravitch

Registration and housing for the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 73rd Annual Conference, to be held April 13 to 15 in San Diego, is now open. Join more than 5,000 school board members and administrators for an event with hundreds of sessions, workshops, and exhibits that will help your school district programs and help you hone your leadership and management skills.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

Special discounted rates are available for early registrants who sign up by Jan. 10, 2013. NSBA National Affiliate and Technology Leadership Network Districts save even more.

View the conference brochure for more details. Be sure to check the Annual Conference website for updates and more information.

 

 

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