Articles in the Student Achievement category

NJSBA report proposes statewide plan for improving special education

A new report from the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) calls for statewide efforts to reduce special education classification by diagnosing children’s learning problems early and intervening with multi-tiered levels of support.

“Special Education: A Service, Not a Place” says such early interventions – which can often focus on students’ needs within the general education classroom – have proved to be effective in reducing the number of students later classified as needing special education services.

The report was written by NJSBA’s Special Education Task Force, which spent more than a year studying ways public schools could reduce special education costs while maintaining the quality of programs and services. The task force report makes 20 recommendations addressing such issues as funding, staff training, and the importance of early intervention.

In recent years, New Jersey school districts’ special education costs have increased much faster than the costs of general education, something Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA’s executive director, said has “often divided school communities into two opposing camps: special education and general education.”

“That’s not a healthy situation for any of our students.” Feinsod said.

Two major trends affecting special education costs since 2007 are “frequency of classification” and “severity of classification,” the report said. For example, between school years 2008 and 2012, the number of students receiving special education services increased 4.9 percent, while total public school enrollment fell by 1 percent.

To help school districts more accurately assess children’s needs and avoid over-classifying those requiring special education services, New Jersey should develop a multi-tiered system of supports that includes programs such as Response to Intervention, Intervention and Referral Services, and Positive Learning Supports, the report said. These types of programs would help school district identify children’s learning needs at an early age and provide strategies for intervening in the general education classroom.

Echoing the title of the task force report, Feinsod said school districts need to view special education as part of a range of services public schools provide to students, not a “place” where children are assigned.

“Public education should not be viewed as two separate systems – general education and special education – but rather as one continuum of instruction, programs, interventions, and services that respond to individual student needs,” Feinsod said.

Lawrence Hardy|April 23rd, 2014|Categories: Special Education, Student Achievement|Tags: , |

NSBA develops guide for school boards on boasting student success through community partnerships

Cover of "Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success"

Cover of “Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success”

A new guide released today details how school board members can build partnerships to secure a high-quality education, from early learning to graduation, for students in their districts. “Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success,” demonstrates how school boards can work with other community partners to provide seamless services and engage community members to improve their schools.

Every student who leaves high school without a diploma costs the U.S. hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income over the student’s lifetime. Despite the recent gains in U.S. graduation rates, far too many young people, mainly students of color from educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, are leaving school without a high school diploma or are severely underprepared for college-level work.

“As advocates for equity and excellence in public education, school boards play a key role to build a student-centered environment that addresses the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students in their school district,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA).

“School board members are local leaders who understand the needs of their students, teachers, and school staff, and this guide shows how to tap into community resources to further enhance and strengthen their community’s schools.”

NSBA led the effort to develop this guide with a group of school board members from NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members, National Caucus of American Indian/Alaska Native School Board Members, National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members, and the Council of Urban Boards of Education.

The guide serves as a blueprint for school board members to build a better-coordinated system of supports for children and their families. By partnering with key stakeholders and local service providers, school boards can ensure that all children benefit from a “Personal Opportunity Plan” that guarantees access to out-of-school resources each child needs to succeed in school and in life.

One such example is the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Initiative in Oregon, as featured in the guide. This school community partnership helps create a seamless learning environment. A cohesive collaboration between the school districts, the city, and county, it includes more than 70 schools within the Portland-Multnomah County Area. SUN partnered with various partners such as libraries, parks, local health clinics, churches, and businesses to provide in-school and wraparound support to students and their families. The collaboration is guided by an inter-governmental among between all three entities that outlines that processes in which they will work together in creating a shared vision and common goals to support the schools within the initiative.

NSBA partnered with the Alliance for Excellent Education; American Federation of Teachers; Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; Coalition for Community Schools; National Education Association; Opportunity Action; National Opportunity to Learn Campaign; and Rural School and Community Trust to release the guide.

Alexis Rice|April 22nd, 2014|Categories: Dropout Prevention, Reports, School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

NSBA Past President Earl Rickman recieves Abrazo Award

Earl Rickman, center, receives the Abrazo Award from Elizabeth Sanchez and NHC Chair Guillermo Lopez during  NSBA's 2014 Annual Conference.

Earl Rickman, center, receives the Abrazo Award from Elizabeth Sanchez and NHC Chair Guillermo Lopez during NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference.

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members (NHC) has awarded NSBA Past President Earl C. Rickman III the 2014 NHC Abrazo Award for his work as a leader and advocate on behalf of children as well as an advocate of NHC along with National Black Caucus of School Board and National Caucus of American Indian and Alaska Native School Board. Rickman served as NSBA President for the 2010-2011 term.

First presented in 1998, the Abrazo Award is given annually by the NHC to honor individuals who have committed their time, energy and resources to improving educational opportunities for Latino children. The term “Abrazo” in English translates to “hug” or “embrace,” a common gesture used to greet and say goodbye.

Rickman is Michigan’s Mount Clemens Community School District’s Board of Education President. Rickman has been working with NHC for the last 20 years.

In an interview with The Macomb Daily about receiving the Abrazo Award, Rickman noted, “Being a minority, I realize the immense difficulty and challenges facing our Latino and Hispanic kids in schools throughout the country. Speaking a different language is an incredible barrier that so many of these youngsters have to work through. At the national level, I represent all kids and all school boards, not just those who look like my district. I feel we all should do whatever we can do to help the 50 million children we have in public schools across the country.”

Alexis Rice|April 18th, 2014|Categories: Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , |

Video: 2014 Magna Awards grand prize winners honored at NSBA’s Annual Conference

2014 Magna Awards

2014 Magna Awards

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Medina, N.Y., and Kent School District in Kent, Wash., were honored today at National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Annual Conference as grand prize winners in the 20th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by NSBA’s American School Board Journal. The Magna Awards recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to advance public education.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, honors districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from nearly 250 submissions.

Watch the video that was shown at today’s General Session at Annual Conference profiling the grand prize winning districts:

Details on the 2014 grand prizes winning programs:

• The Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, in Medina, N.Y., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its Literacy Zone/Men’s Cooking Class. The program helped the board meet its goal of being the premier provider of innovative solutions for its component school districts and their communities. At a monthly luncheon of the Men’s Cooking Class, the adult students—many of whom were military veterans—decided to help veterans through the class’s cooking and by raising community awareness of veterans’ needs. The class was part of the area’s Literacy Zone, which provides adult education and is run by the Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The class’s culminating event for veterans may have taken place on one day—July 5, 2013—but their efforts continue to accrue benefits for all involved.

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for its Arts Awareness Festival, which drew inspiration from the fabled New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The one-day festival, now in its fifth year, showcases the district’s theater, music, dance, and visual arts. Like the Jazz Festival, it features multiple stages with performances going on simultaneously. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade participate in the festival. The event raises awareness and builds support among parents and community member for the district’s arts programs. The school board views it as a vital way to connect schools and community.

• In the over 20,000 enrollment category, the Kent School District in Kent, Wash., is the grand prize winner for its iGrad—Individualized Graduation and Degree Program. A partnership between Kent and Green River Community College, the program helps 16- to 21-year-olds earn high school diplomas, GEDs, college credits, or professional certification. Located in a shopping center, iGrad offers students a flexible schedule—students can attend in three-hour blocks in the morning, afternoon, or evening—and individualized learning plans. This program is the result of the school board’s goal of high achievement for all students. The Kent School District has also received Honorable Mention in this year’s Magna Awards for another of its programs, Kinder to College.

 

 

Alexis Rice|April 6th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2014, Student Achievement|Tags: |

NSBA and CDE name 2013-2014 top 10 digital school districts

The tenth annual Digital School Districts Survey

The tenth annual Digital School Districts Survey were by CDE and NSBA

Top-ranked school districts have been announced in the tenth annual Digital School Districts Survey by the Center for Digital Education (CDE) and the National School Boards Association (NSBA). The survey showcases exemplary school boards’ and districts’ use of technology to govern the district, communicate with students, parents and the community, and improve district operations.

This year’s recognition goes to school districts for their expanding use of innovative technologies district-wide as well as in the classroom.

The first-place winners in each classification are:

Here are a few of the examples of the technology and information used in the school districts who placed first in each classification, based on student enrollment.

Prince William County Public Schools’ school board meetings in Virginia are televised and streamed live, and available via podcast and on-demand, connecting the public digitally without having to attend Board meetings in person. They have embraced social networking from email, blogs, and discussion boards to forums and more. They use Twitter as part of communications with parents, students and the community. They teach students proper techniques and standards for participation, and explain issues of privacy, tool use and network etiquette. Plus, they expanded their virtual high school (VHS) to include 22 courses for over 9,000 students.

Henry County Public Schools has the largest digital textbook initiative in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Currently sixth graders have their science book installed as an e-text, with plans to add more textbooks as they become available digitally. Plus, the new Parent Connect mobile application not only links parents and students to the same apps, it also extends the curriculum to all mobile devices.

Springfield Public Schools in New Jersey has continued their one-to-one laptop initiative creating a virtually paperless environment with almost no textbooks in the classroom. Teachers use web-based curriculum and students and teachers have e-lockers and e-portfolios.

“Schools and school districts are embracing technology and it is really exciting not only to see the innovative ways they implement technology, but how they are using technology effectively to teach and advance education,” said Alan Cox, Senior Vice President for the Center for Digital Education. “These education leaders serve as an inspiration to other school districts nationwide for their creative efforts to provide an outstanding education for today’s students. Congratulations to this year’s winners!”

“Technology innovations enable local school boards to connect with their communities and support students and teachers in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago,” said NSBA’s Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “The 2014 Digital School Districts Survey offers powerful examples of technology’s role in the transformation of public education.”

The top ten rankings are awarded to those school boards/districts that most fully implement technology benchmarks in the evolution of digital education, as represented in the survey questions.

All U.S. public school districts are eligible to participate in the survey within the three classifications based on size of enrollment.

There will be a reception honoring the school districts at NSBA’s Annual Conference next month in New Orleans.

Full list of 2013-2014 Digital School Districts Survey – Top Ten-Ranking Winners:

Large Student Population District Category (student population 12,000 or more):

1st Prince William County Public Schools, Va.

2nd Colorado Springs School District 11, Colo.

3rd Hampton City Schools, Va.

3rd Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Ga.

3rd Township High School District 214, Ill.

4th Houston County School System, Ga.

4th Richmond County School System, Ga.

5th Houston Independent School District, Texas

5th Kent School District, Wash.

6th Fayette County Schools, Ga.

6th Katy Independent School District, Texas

7th Klein Independent School District, Texas

7th Northwest ISD, Texas

8th Forsyth County Schools, Ga.

9th Cherokee County School District, Ga.

9th Hall County School District, Ga.

10th Blue Valley Unified School District #229, Kan.

Mid-sized Student Population District Category (student population 3,000 – 12,000):

1st Henry County Public Schools, Va.

2nd Monroe County Schools, Ga.

2nd School District of Janesville, Wis.

3rd Decatur City Schools, Ala.

3rd Jefferson City Schools, Ga.

4th Oconomowoc Area School District, Wis.

4th Center Grove Community School Corporation School District, Ind.

5th Harrisburg School District 41-2, S.D.

5th Mt. Lebanon School District, Pa.

6th Fayetteville Public Schools, Ark.

7th Colquitt County Schools, Ark.

8th Bergenfield Public Schools, N.J.

9th St. Charles Parish Public Schools, La.

10th City Schools of Decatur, Ga.

Small Student Population District Category (student population 3,000 or less):

1st Springfield Public Schools, N.J.

2nd Hanson School District 30-1, S.D.

3rd Maine Regional School Unit 21, Maine

3rd Lindop School District 92, Ill.

4th Lower Moreland Township School District, Pa.

4th Carroll County School District, Ky.

5th Allendale Public Schools, Mich.

6th Chickamauga City School System, Ga.

7th Cedar Bluffs Public Schools, Neb.

7th Goochland County Public Schools, Va.

8th Charlton County School System, Ga.

9th Taylor County School District, Ky.

10th McIntosh County Schools, Ga.

Selected Survey Findings and Trends:

School Board Meeting Availability:

  • Board meeting agenda and docs e-displayed on screen – 80 percent
  • Televised – 31 percent
  • Streamed and Archived – 32 percent
  • Via Podcast – 22 percent
  • Fifty-two percent of states allow Board members to participate/vote in school board meetings remotely.

The district allows alternatives to core content instruction in classrooms:

  • Students can take fully online classes for core content credit – 79 percent
  • Blended classes are offered and meet core content requirements through a combination of face-to-face and online instruction – 67 percent
  • Core content is currently delivered online – 61 percent
  • The “flipped classroom” concept is utilized- 61 percent
  • Video conferencing for instruction is utilized as part of core content – 47 percent
  • The district has developed plans to deliver core content online – 33 percent
  • No alternatives to core content face-to-face instruction are being explored – 3 percent
  • Describe the district’s strategy regarding mobility:
  • District offers professional development for teachers on how to use mobile devices and apps for instruction – 88 percent
  • Student-owned mobile devices can be used in the classroom – 83 percent
  • District encourages the use of mobile apps for instruction – 81 percent
  • District provides mobile apps for students to use for instruction – 67 percent
  • District has successful actions in place regarding physical protection of district-owned devices – 65 percent
  • District provides 1:1 mobile devices for students to use in the classroom – 46 percent

Status of BYOD:

  • Implemented – 56 percent (up 22 percent from last year)
  • Of the 56 percent that have implemented, in which grades?
  • 9th – 12th – 84 percent
  • 6th – 8th – 74 percent
  • 4th and 5th – 62 percent
  • Pre-K – 3rd – 51 percent
Alexis Rice|March 27th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Educational Technology, Leadership, School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, T+L, Teachers, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , , , |

National School Boards Association announces “20 to Watch” education technology leaders

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Technology Leadership Network (TLN) announces its “20 to Watch” honorees for 2013-2014. These distinctive education leaders from across the country are being recognized for their ability to inspire colleagues to incorporate innovative technology solutions that contribute to high-quality learning environments and more efficient school district operations.

“The ’20 to Watch’ honorees offer real-world examples of how new technologies are being used to impact learning and how these new tools may influence or inform policy,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “From ‘BYOD’ and the Maker Movement to virtual schools and the increased use of the cloud, these inspirational pioneers are paving the way.”

Ann Flynn, NSBA’s Director of Education Technology, shared that common characteristics across honorees include their willingness to take risks, share learnings with colleagues, and inspire others to believe that they, too, can effectively use technology. “Their voices and experience will inform local, district, and state approaches to education technology decisions for years to come,” Flynn said.

This is the eighth year of the NSBA “20 to Watch” program, created in 2006. This year’s honorees are being recognized at the 2014 Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Conference on March 19 in Washington, DC, along with a TLN-hosted luncheon at NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference in New Orleans this April. TechSmith Corporation is sponsoring the “20 to Watch” celebration events and is providing software scholarships to the honorees.

The 2013-2014 NSBA “20 to Watch” honorees are (listed by state/territory):

Arizona:
John Andrews, Chief Information Officer, Dysart Unified School District, Az.
John Andrews facilitated “BYOD” as a solution for integrating technology at a time of hyper–growth when the district had limited funds for sufficient technology purchases. He led development of iPAL (iPlan, iAssess, iLearn), an assessment and resource software providing teachers with live and historical student data, instructional resources, and professional development opportunities. Andrews provides a combination of technical and pedagogical support for each of the district’s schools.

Connecticut:
Matt Meyers, Teacher, Greenwich Public Schools & CEO, Slate & Tablets, Conn.
In addition to writing his school’s new computer science course, Matt Meyers “changed the high school forever” through his creation of a world-class, mobile app that replaced the traditional paper plan book used by teachers and students. Hailed as beautiful and functional, this popular Planner app was developed by Slate & Tablets, the company Matt started with his brother and where he serves as CEO.

Illinois:
John Connolly, Director of Technology, Consolidated High School District 230, Ill.
John Connolly has transformed District 230 with his ideas, collaborative leadership style, and technology improvements. Setting a vision which includes directing a 1:1 and “BYOD” program, leveraging social media, digital citizenship, Google migration, and website overhaul, Connolly’s energy and passion inspire colleagues.

Indiana:
Brad Hagg, Chief Technology Officer, Warsaw Community Schools, Ind.
As a Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL), Brad Hagg has become an invaluable resource in his district with the introduction of an online data dashboard and tools that enhance student safety. Hagg serves on the Indiana Department of Education’s 2014 eLearning Leadership Cadre to help the state focus on strategic components of 21st century teaching and learning that directly impact student achievement and instructional practice.

Kansas:
Rob Dickson, Director of Technology, Andover Public Schools, Kan.
Rob Dickson’s technical understanding of how technology should support student learning contributed to his district’s ranking among the “top ten” digital districts in the nation four of the past five years. Key among Dickson’s accomplishments are leading the first VBlock cloud data center installation in K-12 education and serving as an advisor of the BLEgroup helping schools across the country with their technology planning and integration.

Dr. Beth Hudson, Associate Superintendent, Geary County USD 475, Kan.
Beth Hudson’s work focuses on understanding the relationship between technology and learning and creating professional development opportunities, including the district’s K-12 Technology Learning Fair, in which teachers acquire the skills essential to effectively use their tools to support authentic learning experiences. Hudson wants teachers to view their devices as a portal to the world.

Kentucky:
Roger D. Cook, Superintendent, Taylor County School District, Ky.
Roger Cook continually pushes the boundaries of how education is delivered, from providing iPads to all high school students to challenging teachers to embrace a Flipped Classroom concept. The district assists students with “24/7” learning opportunities and allows adults who previously dropped out of school to enroll in the Virtual Academy to receive their high school diplomas.

Maryland:
Timonious Downing, Teacher & Technology Liaison, Prince George’s County Public Schools/Walker Mill Middle School, Md.
Timonious Downing pioneered a flipped and gamified English/Language Arts class at his school where Gifted and Talented 7th graders are placed in guilds that engage in academic competitiveness with a leader board to foster comradery and teamwork. He shares his success stories from his paperless classroom with other colleagues through blogging, conferences, and Google Hangouts and provides after school support for the Minecraft Club.

Michigan:
Brad Waid, Teacher, Eastover Elementary, Bloomfield Hills Schools District, Mich.
Brad Waid goes beyond showing his students technology, he lets them explore it and more importantly, have a voice in deciding how they think it could be used in their classroom. His students are using and creating their own Augmented Reality to enhance their learning and deepen their engagement, while utilizing their iPads for various projects. Waid’s contagious passion for teaching and learning has made him a game-changing educator.

New Jersey:
Dr. Barry Bachenheimer, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Pascack Valley Regional High School District, N.J.
Improving instruction, while appropriately promoting the use of technology, drives the work of Barry Bachenheimer. District educators are successfully creating “Virtual Days” to take the place of snow days; creating a hybrid master schedule to maximize student choice that supports individual learning opportunities; flipping classrooms, embracing social media to provide authentic global learning experiences; and focusing on digital citizenship as a result of his leadership.

Laura Fleming, Media Specialist, New Milford High School, New Milford School District, N.J.
Laura Fleming’s blog, Worlds of Learning, shares many of her initiatives including the development of a digital badge program to acknowledge teachers’ informal learning. Her media center, now packed with students every period, has become a makerspace with a 3-D printer, Raspberry Pi and Makey Makey Kits to unleash students’ creativity to construct new knowledge.

New York:
Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent of Schools, Ithaca City School District, N.Y.
Luvelle Brown’s vision is to create a student body of 6000+ Thinkers, encompassing every student in the district. The district’s mission to engage, educate, and empower is supported by ubiquitous wireless coverage and contemporary learning spaces, designed to be responsive to pedagogical shifts influenced by technology tools.

Ohio:
Tracey Dunn, Teacher, Hopkins Elementary, Mentor Public Schools, Ohio
Tracey Dunn pioneered a kindergarten blended learning model in her district’s research and development classroom, Catalyst, focused on small-group instruction. With the support of QR codes and a 1:1 iPad program, students rotate through stations to engage with the teacher, digital content, and digital storytelling. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her humble approach has made it easy for others to want to share in the magic of her success.

Pennsylvania:
Rich Kiker, Director of Online Learning, Palisades School District, Penn.
Rich Kiker designed and built the K-12 blended and online learning program at Palisades School District that established a new relevance for learners and saves the district hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. When his home district needed to replace a school board director, Kiker was unanimously appointed to serve on the Pennridge School Board.

Bradley Wilson, Curriculum Leader of Customization & Instructional Technology, Upper St. Clair School District, Penn.
Bradley Wilson is an innovative 7th grade teacher who leverages technology to customize instruction for his students through flipped learning and “The Explain Everything” app, among other strategies. He demonstrates leadership in both formal and informal settings as he continues to champion district wide initiatives and capacity building activities.

Tennessee:
Dr. Kecia Ray, Executive Director of Learning Technology, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Tenn.
Kecia Ray has been instrumental in lobbying for state laws and policies that facilitate and eliminate barriers to virtual learning after the success of the district’s first virtual school launched under her leadership. In her role as President of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the contributions Ray has made to learning technology extend well beyond Nashville borders.

Texas:
Joli Barker, Elementary Educator, Slaughter Elementary, McKinney Independent School District, Texas
Joli Barker is leading the way in game-based, project-based learning in her Fearless Classroom where lessons include real-world, global-minded empathy games. The Fearless Classroom movement she started is inspiring educators world-wide to change the way they approach lesson design, pedagogy, and the art of teaching.

Elaine Plybon, Instructional Resource Trainer, Keller Independent School District, Texas
Elaine Plybon’s motto of “relevant and meaningful” is reflected across all aspects of her work as an Instructional Resource Trainer whether she is delivering professional development, serving on the Leadership Council of the Discovery Education Network, or exploring ways to address gender issues. As co-founder of Girls of Technology (GOT), she has inspired girls interested in STEM to pursue career opportunities in that field.

Virginia:
Dr. Barbara Gruber, Technology Resource Specialist, Loudoun County Public Schools, Va.
As a true champion of 21st Century Learning, Barbara Gruber’s schools are thriving environments where students become excited about STEM through collaborative projects with peers, both locally and overseas, as they work on solutions for relevant projects. Students are supported through videoconferencing with field experts; NASA-guided simulations, and the opportunity to create 3-D objects through Makerspace Centers (or innovation labs).

Jennifer Maddux, Assistant Principal, Byrd Middle School, Henrico County Public Schools, Va.
As an assistant principal, Jennifer Maddux has brought life and energy into her school’s culture using skills she honed as an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher to facilitate process change and coach teachers in student-centered, engaged instruction. The suite of resources and training portals she developed support the delivery of high-quality, 21st century instruction.

Alexis Rice|March 7th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, T+L, Teachers, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , |

School districts in Louisiana, New York, and Washington earn grand prize honors in 2014 Magna Awards

2014 Magna Awards

2014 Magna Awards were announced on March 5, 2014

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Medina, N.Y., and Kent School District in Kent, Wash., have been named the grand prize winners in the 20th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) American School Board Journal (ASBJ). The Magna Awards recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to advance public education.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, honors districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from nearly 250 submissions.

“The Magna Awards showcase outstanding models for local school board leadership and school district success to advance student achievement,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA. “We commend Sodexo for their continuing support of the Magna Awards to highlight the great achievements happening in public education.”

This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students. Each of the grand prize-winning school districts will receive a $5,000 contribution from Sodexo during a special presentation at NSBA Annual Conference, to be held April 5-7 in New Orleans.

“Just like the school districts recognized in the annual Magna Awards program, Sodexo supports student achievement,” said Steve Dunmore, President of Sodexo Education-Schools. “As a partner in education and a company committed to improving the quality of life for students, Sodexo realizes that it is vitally important to call attention to and support school districts that go above and beyond to enrich the learning environment for its students. Therefore, we are proud to sponsor the Magna Awards again this year.”

Details on the 2014 grand prizes winning programs:

• The Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, in Medina, N.Y., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its Literacy Zone/Men’s Cooking Class. The program helped the board meet its goal of being the premier provider of innovative solutions for its component school districts and their communities. At a monthly luncheon of the Men’s Cooking Class, the adult students—many of whom were military veterans—decided to help veterans through the class’s cooking and by raising community awareness of veterans’ needs. The class was part of the area’s Literacy Zone, which provides adult education and is run by the Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The class’s culminating event for veterans may have taken place on one day—July 5, 2013—but their efforts continue to accrue benefits for all involved.

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for its Arts Awareness Festival, which drew inspiration from the fabled New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The one-day festival, now in its fifth year, showcases the district’s theater, music, dance, and visual arts. Like the Jazz Festival, it features multiple stages with performances going on simultaneously. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade participate in the festival. The event raises awareness and builds support among parents and community member for the district’s arts programs. The school board views it as a vital way to connect schools and community.

• In the over 20,000 enrollment category, the Kent School District in Kent, Wash., is the grand prize winner for its iGrad—Individualized Graduation and Degree Program. A partnership between Kent and Green River Community College, the program helps 16- to 21-year-olds earn high school diplomas, GEDs, college credits, or professional certification. Located in a shopping center, iGrad offers students a flexible schedule—students can attend in three-hour blocks in the morning, afternoon, or evening—and individualized learning plans. This program is the result of the school board’s goal of high achievement for all students. The Kent School District has also received Honorable Mention in this year’s Magna Awards for another of its programs, Kinder to College.

The 2014 winners are highlighted in a special section in the April issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 5, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 74th Annual Conference.

In addition to the ASBJ special section, the districts’ winning entries will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program’s searchable best practices database. Both can be found at www.asbj.com/magna.

2014 Magna Award Winners:

Grand prize winners:
Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Medina, N.Y. – less than 5,000 students
St. Charles Parish Public Schools, Luling, La. – 5,000 to 20,000 students
Kent School District, Kent, Wash. – more than 20,000 students

First place winners – under 5,000 students:
Indian Creek CUSD #425, Shabbona, Ill.
Leyden Community High School District #212, Franklin Park, Ill.
Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, Maplewood, Mo.
Murphy School District No. 21, Phoenix, Ariz.
White Pine County School District, Ely, Nev.

First place winners – 5,000 to 20,000 students:
Carmel Clay Schools, Carmel, Ind.
Kannapolis City Schools, Kannapolis, N.C.
Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, Nashville, N.C.
Piscataway School District, Piscataway, N.J.
Topeka Public Schools, Topeka, Kan.

First place winners – over 20,000 students:
Lexington County School District One, Lexington, S.C.
St. Tammany Parish Public School System, Covington, La.
Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver, Wash.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach, Va.
Yonkers Public Schools, Yonkers,, N.Y.

Honorable mentions – under 5,000 students:
East Irondequoit Central School District, Rochester, N.Y.
Elk Mound Area School District, Elk Mound, Wis.
Middlesex County Public Schools, Saluda, Va.
Phoenix-Talent Schools, Phoenix, Ore.
Seaman Unified School District #345, Topeka, Kan.

Honorable mentions – 5,000 to 20,000 students:
Caesar Rodney School District, Wyoming, Del.
Danville Public Schools, Danville, Va.
Frederick County Public Schools, Winchester, Va.
Harrisonburg City School, Harrisonburg, Va.
Michigan City Area Schools, Michigan City, Ind.

Honorable mentions – over 20,000 students:
Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Va.
Horry County Schools, Conway, S.C.
Kent School District, Kent, Wash.
Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, Va.
Spotsylvania County Public Schools, Fredericksburg, Va.

Alexis Rice|March 5th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

NSBA comments on Race to the Top early education grants

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has weighed in on a new $250 million federal Race to the Top (RTT) grant program for early childhood care and education, saying it shares the U.S. Department of Education’s commitment to ensuring that all children arrive at school ready to learn. But NSBA is also urging the education department and its partner in the grant, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to “require significant local education agency (LEA) involvement” in state applications for the competition.

In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Kathleen Sebelius, director of HHS, which is also participating in the grant, NSBA Interim Associate Executive Director Reginald M. Felton noted that local school districts “are essential in the P-3 continuum of education and care, and the success of the RTT- preschool program will be improved by integrating the perspective of local schools boards.”

Underscoring the critical importance of school district involvement, Felton urged the education department to require that at least 80 percent of competitive grants awarded by the program “be disseminated to local eligible entities as subgrants.”

Duncan described the program as “a major new competition to build, develop and expand high-quality preschool programs, working with local communities and with states,” including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. He said the program is distinct from the RTT – Early Learning Challenge, which is designed to help the 20 state recipients increase the low-income number children, from birth to age 5, who are ready for kindergarten. By contrast, the new grant focuses specifically on preschool for 4-year-olds.

Felton noted, in the NSBA letter, the importance of maintaining local control for school districts receiving grants. Noting that school district capacity “has been overwhelmed with requirements” for other RTT state grants, he urged the education department “to support capacity building for local eligible entities, not just states.”And he said the department should not make receipt of the funds conditional on the development of new-nationally recognized standards.

In his announcement of the new competition, Duncan said any new program should include “comprehensive services and family engagement” and use RTT preschool grant funds to help programs meet “nationally recognized standards in those areas.”

According to an NSBA issue brief on early childhood education, NSBA said that federal legislation must: be voluntary; support the school district’s role in early learning; be adequately funded so as not to require a redirection of federal, state, or local resources for current K-12 programs; and support and permit maximum flexibility in the use of federal funds. In addition, NSBA said, this legislation must “respect local school board authority in school district matters such as personnel and workforce issues.”

Lawrence Hardy|February 28th, 2014|Categories: Preschool Education, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

NSBA partners with filmmakers to distribute “12 Years a Slave” to public high schools

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is partnering with New Regency, Penguin Books, and the filmmakers to distribute copies of the acclaimed film, book, and study guide 12 Years a Slave to America’s public high schools.

The initiative, coordinated by Montel Williams,  will start to distribute 12 Years a Slave nationwide in September 2014 in concert with the new school year. It is modeled against an initiative Williams launched to distribute the Civil War film Glory to public high schools that ultimately led to The Montel Williams Show.

12 Years a Slave is one of the most impactful films in recent memory, and I am honored to have been able to bring together Fox Searchlight and National School Boards Association to maximize its educational potential. When Hollywood is at its best, the power of the movies can be harnessed into a powerful educational tool. This film uniquely highlights a shameful period in American history, and in doing so will evoke in students a desire to not repeat the evils of the past while inspiring them to dream big of a better and brighter future, and I’m proud to be a part of that,” said Williams.

“Since first reading ’12 Years a Slave,’ it has been my dream that this book be taught in schools. I am immensely grateful to Montel Williams and the National School Boards Association for making this dream a reality and for sharing Solomon Northup’s story with today’s generation,” said Steve McQueen, director of 12 Years a Slave.

12 Years a Slave is an award-winning film that depicts the harrowing tale of a New York State-born free black man kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. This groundbreaking film won this year’s Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Picture, the PGA Award for Best Picture, the BAFTA Award for Best Film and is nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Motion Picture of the Year.

“The National School Boards Association is honored to partner with Fox Searchlight Pictures and Penguin Books to ensure that every public high school student in America has the opportunity to stare the stark realities of slavery in the eye through books and film,” said NSBA President David A. Pickler. “We believe that providing America’s public high school students the opportunity to bear witness to such an unrelenting view of the evils of slavery is essential toward ensuring that this history is never forgotten and must never be repeated.”

Williams also has joined NSBA as a celebrity spokesperson in its Stand Up 4 Public Schools campaign that showcases the great things happening in America’s public schools.

“We appreciate the strong initiative by the producers of ‘12 Years a Slave’ and Montel Williams to bring this vividly accurate, award-winning documentary to America’s public high schools,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Allowing students to see the tragic circumstances and messages conveyed through these works are vital to learning and reflection on our nation’s era of slavery.”

Joetta Sack-Min|February 21st, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Watch NSBA discuss digital learning at Discovery Education’s Future@Now

National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel is a featured panelist at Discovery Education’s second annual Future@Now forum, where he and other K-12 education leaders will discuss the transition from traditional classrooms to digital classrooms and the critical steps necessary to successfully implement digital learning.

E931FA4B-6A7C-4150-ACBF-6A983511A493-1Future@Now: Roadmap to the Digital Transition is designed to give educators the opportunity to hear practical advice and real success stories from K-12 and technology educators. This event takes place Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Rep. George Miller, Broad Prize Winner Superintendent Alberto Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and leaders from other national education groups will participate as well. Duncan will lead attendees on a live visit to a digital classroom in Washington D.C. Panels will include student discussions of technology, how to transition to digital learning, creating a culture and community of change, developing teacher leaders, and integrating digital resources into the classroom.

The free event also will be live-streamed at Discovery Education. Register today to watch.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 21st, 2014|Categories: Curriculum, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Technology, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , |
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