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Articles in the Teachers category

NSBA’s Center for Public Education discusses professional development and teacher evaluation on Education Talk Radio

The National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education (CPE) was featured on Education Talk Radio today. CPE’s Senior Policy Analyst Jim Hull was a guest on the show discussing CPE’s research on professional development and teacher evaluation.

Listen to the show:

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CPE is a national resource for credible and practical information about public education and its importance to the well-being of our nation. CPE  provides up-to-date research, data, and analysis on current education issues and explores ways to improve student achievement and engage public support for public schools.

Alexis Rice|August 28th, 2013|Categories: Center for Public Education, Center for Public Education Update, Professional Development, School Boards, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

NSBA pleased with Obama administration’s decision to delay Affordable Care Act employer mandate

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) today applauded the federal government’s decision to delay the implementation of IRS rules for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until January 2015, based upon the “complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively.”

On March 18, 2013, NSBA filed a comprehensive response  to the IRS’s proposed rules implementing  ACA to apprise the agency of the “unanticipated impact certain provisions of the proposed rule may have as public school districts across the country wrestle with questions” ranging from calculation of service hours to the so-called “large employer” determinations.

NSBA Executive Director, Thomas J. Gentzel said, “We are pleased that the IRS has heard our concerns about the need for clarification on the Affordable Care Act before the rules become final to minimize any adverse impact on the nation’s schools and students’ educational outcomes.”

In its comments to the IRS, NSBA raised concerns about the challenges the proposed rules would have on school employment arrangements such as long vs. short term teaching substitutes with consecutive assignment, independent contractors, additional extra-curricular duty providers, re-hired retired employees, and even pay for school board members.

NSBA General Counsel, Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. added, “We believe the IRS has made a prudent choice with regard to implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  School districts are in particularly challenging situation as employers, because of the unique part-time and full-time employment configurations they utilize.  We look forward to further clarification from the IRS that will help school districts effectively navigate this new legal framework.”

Governing highlighted NSBA in their story today Obamacare-Mandate Delay to Have Little Impact on Public Employers. The article noted:

Some groups, however, said they were pleased with the White House’s action. The National School Boards Association (NSBA), which represents school districts that collectively employ more than 6 million people nationwide, had submitted lengthy comments to the Treasury Department, asking for clarifications on issues specific to the public school sector. For example, substitute teachers who teach at different schools or part-time employees who perform additional duties, such as coaching, raise some unanswered questions about the initial guidance for calculating full-time employment, says Francisco Negron, general counsel for NSBA.

Tuesday’s announcement should allow the federal government, the school boards and other employers to continue the dialogue about these issues, he says, without the health reform law’s penalties looming in 2014.

“We were glad to see they have taken what we think for the time being is a prudent approach, to slow things down in response to our concerns,” Negron says. “This seems to suggest that they heard those concerns, and we can continue to work to make sure we are in compliance with the law.”

Education Week’s District Dossier also covered the delay announcement and what it means to school district in, Affordable Care Act Delay Means Reprieve for Districts, and cited NSBA.

Alexis Rice|July 3rd, 2013|Categories: School Boards, School Law, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

CPE discusses resurgence of “Ability Grouping” in video chat

The Center for Public Education’s (CPE) Director Patte Barth joined the Huffington Post today for a video chat on “’Ability Grouping’ in Schools.”

The segment discussed the classroom practice of “ability grouping,” often known as clustering, of students by their strengths and abilities. The practice declined in the 1980s and 1990s because of concerns over inequalities, according to a recent article in Salon magazine, “The Return of Ability Grouping,” that inspired the video chat. The online chat asked, “Why are we revisiting a teaching method that we abandoned back in the 1990’s?”

Barth noted that two decades ago, students usually stayed in the same “track” that they started from first grade through high school, and the track became “a self-fulfilling prophecy.” However, the standards-based reform movement and mindset that all children need to achieve at high levels changed the landscape, she said, adding that teachers now know that they cannot let struggling students falls behind.

“All of these children are able, but the grouping needs to be dynamic” so that the structure does not become too rigid, Barth said.


Watch the archived chat at HUFFPOST Live.


Joetta Sack-Min|June 12th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Assessment, Center for Public Education, Curriculum, Data Driven Decision Making, Educational Research, Mathematics Education, Policy Formation, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , , |

School boards speak out in upcoming Supreme Court employment case

The U.S. Supreme Court should not allow employees to file constitutional lawsuits for alleged age discrimination because employees already have ample legal remedies in place, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the Illinois School Boards Association say in an amicus brief.

The brief in Madigan v. Levin urges the Court to deny an employee’s ability to add an Equal Protection Clause claim to a lawsuit that alleges age discrimination against the employer. NSBA argues in the brief that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the main federal employment law that protects individuals over the age of 40, provides the employee sufficient avenues for resolution and remedies for discrimination. Under the ADEA, older employees may sue employers, including school districts, for damages, back pay, reinstatement, injunctive relief, and attorney fees. If the Supreme Court holds that employees are also allowed to concurrently sue under the Equal Protection Clause, school district staff, teachers and officials will be personally liable for monetary damages.

“School districts often make district-wide employment decisions based upon student educational needs that impact both new and veteran employees,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “They should be able to make these decisions using their best professional judgment to ensure student achievement without the needless fear of constitutional claims.”

School districts are particularly vulnerable to age-discrimination lawsuits because a majority of school employees are 40 or more years old. School districts may take employment actions to serve their educational goals that affect these older employees to a greater degree than younger staff. For instance, if a school district attempts to reassign more experienced teachers, who are likely to be older, to an academically struggling school, those teachers might resist the assignment by filing an age-discrimination lawsuit.

The case was spurred by a former assistant attorney general in Illinois, Harvey Levin, whose job was terminated when he was 60 years old. He sued the State of Illinois, the Illinois Attorney General, and several other employees in their official and personal capacities under both the ADEA and the Equal Protection Clause. The lower court has ruled that the employee can bring claims under both laws.

“If the Supreme Court affirms the Equal Protection Clause as a means for addressing alleged age discrimination, this case could mean prolonged, expensive litigation and potential personal liability of school officials,” said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. “The net result would be a chilling effect on school officials’ ability to properly supervise personnel out of fear of personal liability.”

Alexis Rice|June 11th, 2013|Categories: School Boards, School Law, Teachers|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: , , , |

Ohio legislation fallout may impact labor relations

When Ohio lawmakers approved a sweeping overhaul of collective bargaining for public employees, the teachers unions quickly led a counterattack that that saw the controversial legislation overturned in a statewide referendum.

But the battle is far from over—and the fallout from the state’s 2011 legislative session may still have profound implications for local school boards, according to labor relations experts with the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) who led a Monday workshop at NSBA’s annual conference on education labor law and contract negotiations.

Under Senate Bill 5, a conservative-minded legislature two years ago attempted to curb collective bargaining rights, said Renee Fambro, OSBA’s deputy director of labor relations. The law prohibited teacher strikes, abolished tenure for future teachers, eliminated salary schedules, and limited the range of issues that could be negotiated by unions.

“The law hit unions on a very powerful level,” she said. “Their response was, if we can’t strike, what power do we have?”

Joining forces with other public employees, the unions ran an aggressive referendum election campaign that saw the law overturned by a sizable margin. But, noted Van Keating, OSBA’s director of management services, the controversy over Senate Bill 5 meant that teachers largely overlooked another potentially game-changing piece of legislation: House Bill 153.

That law mandated a new statewide teacher evaluation system that, as developed by state education officials, will rate teachers according to student academic growth as well as a number of other measures. All teachers will end up with a rating of accomplished, proficient, developing, or ineffective.

One potentially controversial side effect of this new system is that, right now, these teacher ratings will be a matter of public record, Keating says. And that raises some interesting political challenges: What if a school has two sixth-grade teachers—one rated proficient and one rated ineffective? And exactly will you assign students to those two classrooms?

“I’m going to have about 50 percent of my parents pretty angry with me,” he said. “As a school district, assigning half of my kids to an ineffective-rated teacher, how are we manage the results that are going to come out of this?”

Del Stover|April 15th, 2013|Categories: Educational Legislation, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Teachers|

School boards given guidance to avoid excessive out-of-school suspensions

Suspension Guide

Access the complete guide, "Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members”

A new report shows how school boards are creating discipline policies to avoid excessive out-of-school suspensions, which disproportionately affect minority students, that disrupt student learning and engagement.

The report, “Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members,”  was released today during the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Annual Conference in San Diego. The report was written by NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education, National Black Caucus of School Board Members, National Caucus of American Indian/Alaska Native School Board Members, and National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members along with National Opportunity to Learn Campaign.

Using examples of successful student discipline policies created by school boards, this policy guide will help school board members build policies that support learning and safe environments. The guide also shows how out-of-school suspensions have a negative impact on student achievement and can predict a students’ likelihood of dropping out. In particular, the guide points to research findings that highlight the troubling racial disparities in school suspension and expulsion nationwide.

“Discipline should not deprive a student of an education,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “While all students are affected by overly harsh policies, it is well documented that minority students are being disproportionately affected by suspensions and expulsions. These measures should only be used when the safety of other students and staff are threatened.”

In the 2009-2010 school year, more than 3.3 million K-12 students were estimated to have lost time in their classrooms because of an out-of-school suspension, according to The

Civil Rights Project at UCLA. National suspension rates show that 17 percent, or 1 out of every 6 African-American students enrolled in K-12 were suspended at least once–much higher than the 1 in 13 (8 percent) risk for Native Americans; 1 in 13 (7 percent) for Latinos; 1 in 20 (5 percent) for whites; or the 1 in 50 (2 percent) for Asian Americans. Students with disabilities are also disproportionately affected.

School board members can increase learning time and decrease out-of-school time by focusing  on student learning and behavioral needs, professional development for teachers and administrators, and parental and community engagement. Many school boards have policies that offer alternatives to suspension, including proactive strategies to de-escalate tensions and address school climate. For instance, the Baltimore City Public Schools introduced a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program to help improve student behavior. School personnel participate in ongoing PBIS training.

“Across the country school boards are succeeding in finding alternatives to out-of-school suspension that promote student growth,” said Gentzel. “This policy guide provides school board members with ideas, models, and processes that school boards nationwide are using to keep students in school through positive school discipline reform models.”

Alexis Rice|April 13th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

NSBA’s Annual Conference Exhibit Hall offers one of the largest national showcases of education products and services

One of the most exciting places to be at the Annual Conference is the Exhibit Hall. This year, more than 290 exhibitors are waiting to show you their latest services and products, including more than 100 first-time exhibitors.

This year’s Exhibit Hall hours are Saturday, April 13 from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm, with exclusive hours from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, and 2:45 to 3:45 pm. The Exhibit Hall will reopen Sunday from 11:30 am to 4 pm, with exclusive hours from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

“Even if you are a conference veteran, we’ve added some new features to the 2013 Exhibit Hall that you will not want to miss,” says Karen Miller, NSBA’s Exhibit Director. “Each year dozens of our conference attendees find new products and services from our exhibitors that save their school districts money and help streamline their operations, so we hope everyone will take advantage of the Exhibit Hall time.”

Be sure to take in a Learning Lounge session while you are here. Sponsored by OdysseyWare and Pearson, these informal 20-minute sessions give you a quick briefing on hot topics, from social media to legal issues and leadership skills. Check your conference schedule for a list of events and times.

The NSBA booth–No. 943–also has been expanded to show you the full range of NSBA services. You can meet some of the experts on NSBA’s staff, have your picture taken with a sign supporting school boards and public education for your social media account, and pick up some great deals on NSBA merchandise. Also, the booth is hosting book signings by authors Diane Ravitch, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Stacey Bess.

Don’t miss the new Technology Showcase Pavilion at Booth No. 543. This exhibit showcases the six winners of NSBA’s first Technology Innovation Showcase.

The NSBA Health Fair is back, and will be featured once again in the Health and Wellness Pavilion (Aisle 1500) Demonstrations are scheduled for both days, from 12:30 to 3:30 pm, on topics such as Nutrition, exercise, tobacco use, and relaxation. You can also have your blood pressure checked and speak with health-care professionals.

The Green Zone (Aisle 500) will show you how to advance green initiatives in your schools and improve student achievement.

Music & Arts Main Street (Aisle 200) is one of the most popular features, with numerous exhibitors showing ways to strengthen your schools’ music and arts programs. Be sure to stop by and see a student performance at the designated times, below:

  • Saturday, noon: McMichael Phoenix Singers, Dalton L. McMichael High School, Mayodan N.C.
  • Saturday, 3 pm: “OPUS” – San Diego Youth Symphony, 4-5th grade String Ensemble, San Diego
  • Sunday, noon: McKay Chamber Orchestra, McKay High School, Salem, Ore.
  • Sunday, 1 pm: Mariachi Chula Vista, Chula Vista High School, San Diego

Look for the NSBA Exhibit Exam Challenge inside the Exhibit Hall Addendum/Pavilion Guide or at the NSBA Information booth. Visit the participating exhibitors, get the answers to questions about their companies, then drop your “exam” in the raffle bin in the Health and Wellness Pavilion (located in Aisle 1500) by 3 pm on Sunday for the chance to win exciting prizes!

The NSBA Marketplace is a special area in the rear of the hall where exhibitors are allowed to sell their products and services.

And when you need a break, stop by the upscale College Board Lounge, at Aisles 300-400. The lounge features comfy seating, refreshments and even a TV.

NSBA Booth Schedule (# 943)


11:30 am -2 pm – Take your picture and stand up for public education!

2:30 – 3:30 pm – Kathryn Wege– Healthy students, healthy schools;

2:45-3:15 p.m.– Kathleen Branch, Reggie Felton, Deborah Rigsby – Legislative advocacy at the federal level;

3:30 – 4:30 – Marie Bilik and Debbie Finkel – Meet NSBA’s new Chief Operating Officer.



11:30 am – noon – Patte Barth — Learn the latest findings from The Center for Public Education;

12:30 – 1:30 pm – Kathleen Vail and Glenn Cook – Meet with NSBA publications staff;

2 – 4 p.m.– Take your picture and stand up for public education!

3 – 3:30 pm – Kanisha Williams-Jones answers your questions about NSBA Caucuses and Leadership Services.


Joetta Sack-Min|April 12th, 2013|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Nutrition, Online learning, School Boards, School Buildings, School Security, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers, Technology Leadership Network, Urban Schools|

NSBA board members find lessons in Finland’s schools

Three members of the National School Boards Association’s board of directors saw the well-regarded education system in Finland on a recent academic trip. And while the two countries have major differences, there are some important lessons school boards can take away from the Scandanavian schools, said NSBA President C. Ed Massey.

Massey joined a group of researchers and educators from Northern Kentucky University for a guided tour of Finnish schools, where they saw classrooms from early education to postsecondary and career training. He invited fellow NSBA board members David A. Pickler, NSBA’s President-Elect and a school board member from the Shelby County School Board in Memphis, and Kevin E. Ciak, a school board member from the Saylorsville School District in New Jersey, to join the tour.

Massey noted that the country emphasizes the importance of education by giving all children access to high-quality schools from age one through college—and the government pays for it all.

“The biggest thing that struck me was that they only hire the best teachers,” said Massey, a member of the Boone County, Ky., school district’s board of education. “A teacher cannot be hired unless they have a master’s degree, and then they are treated as consummate professionals, on the same rank as a doctor or lawyer.”

Members of NSBA's Board of Directors pose with Bruce J. Oreck, U.S. Ambassador to Finland, on their recent trip. From left, NSBA President-Elect David A. Pickler, Oreck, NBSA President C. Ed Massey, and Kevin E. Ciak.

Students in Finland also learn three languages through immersion by the time they leave elementary school. One thing that schools do not have is sports teams—popular pastimes such as hockey take place in clubs after school. And the schools provide a free lunch for all students, regardless of their families’ income level.

Each school is run by a “counsel” made up of administrators, teachers, and parents, Massey said. A school district is governed by a municipal education board, where members are appointed by the country’s Ministry of Education.

There are some important differences between Finland and the United States that make any comparisons unfair, Massey noted. For one, the country only has about 5.5 million people and 540,000 students—much smaller than even Kentucky, which has more than 670,000 students. The population is largely homogeneous with very little immigration, Massey said, noting that there are 59 different languages spoken within Boone County’s student population.

And—perhaps the most significant difference–Finland pays for all its educational services by taxing its residents at much higher rates than U.S. governments, he added.


Joetta Sack-Min|April 4th, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Board governance, Educational Research, Governance, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Preschool Education, School District Reorganization, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers|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:

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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.

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