Articles in the Uncategorized category

NSBA comments on Fordham Institute’s new school leadership report

A new report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute concludes that school districts whose school board members are focused on student achievement are more likely than others to “beat the odds” academically — that is, to perform better than the demographics and financial conditions of their students would suggest.

The report, “Does School Board Leadership Matter?” is a follow-up to the 2010 report “School Boards Circa 2010: Governance in the Accountability Era,” a joint project of Fordham Institute, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and the Iowa School Boards Association. As with the earlier report, NSBA says that — while the new study makes a valuable contribution to the field of school board research —  some of its findings are based on questionable assumptions.

NSBA issued the following statement regarding the report:

The report, “Does School Board Leadership Matter?” released March 26 by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, DC, affirms the fact that local school boards matter and that their actions can positively impact student achievement.  The study sheds additional light on what makes a quality school board, and adds further support to a Jan. 2011 research review issued by NSBA’s Center for Public Education (CPE) on the “Eight Characteristics of Effective Boards.”

As such, the new Fordham Institute report makes a valuable contribution to the field of school board research, especially when viewed alongside other research, such as the CPE report, that also shows a relationship between school board behaviors and higher student achievement.  We appreciate the transparency with which Fordham Institute indicates the limitations of its findings, which were based in part on a prior Fordham Institute-NSBA-Iowa School Boards Foundation national survey of school boards, “School Boards Circa 2010: Governance in the Accountability Era.”  As with all correlational studies, reviewers of the Fordham Institute report should use caution when interpreting findings, some of which are based on questionable assumptions. For example, in determining the accuracy of school board members’ knowledge of district funding, the authors conflate relative per pupil dollars with school board members’ perceptions about how sufficient those dollars are — two entirely different things.

Nonetheless, NSBA appreciates the Fordham Institute focus on providing greater insight around effective local school board governance, recognizing that school boards need the support of key influencers such as parents, teachers, principals and others who help to create positive teaching and learning environments.  We look forward to continuing our collaboration on this important issue.

Lawrence Hardy|March 26th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Center for Public Education, Governance, School Boards, School Reform, Uncategorized|Tags: , |

NSBA Technology Site Visits highlighted on Education Talk Radio

On Tuesday, March 18, Education Talk Radio host Larry Jacobs discussed how school boards can drive education technology innovation and integration with a panel of experts, including Ann Flynn, Director of Education Technology at the National School Boards Association (NSBA); Greg Wilborn, Colorado Springs School District 11’s Personalized Learning Coordinator in Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Mike Dronen, Executive Director of Technology for Minnetonka Public Schools in Minnetonka, Minn.

The radio discussion focused on both the Colorado Springs and Minnetonka districts, which will be featured on upcoming Technology Leadership Network (TLN) Education Site Visits in April and May 2014.

Site visits recognize school districts with sustained, long-term visions for education technology paired with personalized learning and professional development for educators.

“It’s critical for school board members to create an awareness around education technology, particularly how it impacts teaching and learning, district operations, and communications strategies,” said Flynn. “Site visits provide an intersection between policy and practice: How do you handle mobile devices in school? How do you protect student data? These site visits provide real-world examples.”

Since NSBA’s popular 2007 TLN site visit in Minnetonka, significant innovations have been introduced that warrant a second visit.  Dronen provided details about how technology accelerates learning in the primary grades through language immersion, early childhood, special education, and the arts while Minnetonka’s 1:1 iPad program highlights the district’s approach to digital learning at the secondary level.

Wilborn spoke about the trajectory of personalized learning at Colorado Springs District 11. The visit will focus on the district’s commitment to Personalized Learning Plans, the staffing and professional development to support them, and how technology helps to prepare every student, every day and in every class for a world yet to be imagined.

Listen to the Education Talk Radio:

New Education Podcasts with EduTalk on BlogTalkRadio

Additional details about NSBA’s Education Technology Site Visits are available at www.nsba.org/tlnsitevisits.

Alexis Rice|March 19th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

National survey of high schools shows wide discipline disparities

 

A comprehensive survey of more than 72,000 K-12 schools serving 85 percent of the country has found that nearly one out of every five black male students received at least one out-of-school suspension during the 2009-10 school year — a rate three and a half times that of their peers.

The report, released this week by the Discipline Disparities Collaborative, headquartered at Indiana University, added more data to support the $200 million, five-year “My Brother’s Keeper” project, which was announced by President Obama last month to address the multiple problems facing young black men. At the same time, it highlighted what a number of forward-thinking schools and school districts across the country are doing to reduce the number of students they suspend and expel.

“When you suspend a student, what you’re basically saying is, ‘You’re not entitled to receive instruction,’” said Ramiro Rubalcaba, principal of Azuza High School northeast of Los Angeles, who spoke Thursday at news conference on the report.

Years ago, when he was a high school administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Rubalcaba was a self-described “skeptic” of disciplinary alternatives who once suspended 600 students in one year. But over several years at LAUSD’s Garfield High School and now at Azuza, Rubalcaba has helped change disciplinary policies, resulting in a sharp drop in the number of out-of-school suspensions. Last school year at Azusa High School, for example, there were more than 70-out-of-school suspensions: So far this school year there have been three.

“Schools have the power to change these rates of suspension and expulsion,” said Russell Skiba, director of Indiana University’s Equity Project, of which the collaborative is a part. He and other experts emphasized that the higher suspension rate of black students – as well as Hispanics, disabled students, Native American students, and LGBT students – is not because of higher rates of infractions by these groups. “The research simply does not support this belief,” he said.

NSBA is taking a leading role in the effort to reform school disciplinary procedures and reduce out-of-school suspensions. Last March NSBA  and its Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) — along with its Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native caucuses — issued Addressing the Out of School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members.

“School boards must take the lead in ensuring that out-of-school suspension is used as a last resort in addressing violations of school codes of conduct,” NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, said in the report. He also noted that school boards were already in the forefront of addressing these issues.

The collaborative’s report made several points about school discipline reform. The first is that improving schooling overall does not necessarily lead to a reduction in disciplinary disparities. Indeed, as Dan Losen, director UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies said at the news conference releasing the report, “You can’t close the achievement gap unless you close the discipline gap.”

NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members hosted a webinar in November 2013 titled Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline. On April 7, at NSBA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans, the caucus will also be hosting a breakout session titled We Can Do Better: Reforming School Discipline and Accountability. The session will highlight the work of Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools and the Broward County Public Schools in Florida.

Lawrence Hardy|March 14th, 2014|Categories: CUBE, Discipline, Dropout Prevention, Educational Research, High Schools, School Reform, School Security, Uncategorized, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

NSBA announces featured companies for 2014 Technology Innovation Showcase

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has announced the six companies selected for its annual Technology Innovation Showcase.

The 2014 class will be featured in an exclusive area of the exhibition and participate in a Tech Innovation Showcase panel during the NSBA Annual Conference in New Orleans, April 5-7, 2014. Later this spring, they will be featured in NSBA’s magazine for school leaders, American School Board Journal, and participate in a webinar hosted by NSBA’s Technology Leadership Network (TLN).

“The Technology Innovation Showcase was created to highlight emerging companies that are using new technologies for products or services in K-12 education in ways that were virtually impossible to deliver otherwise,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “The 2014 companies serve as a reminder to always look for new approaches to old challenges.”

The 2014 Technology Innovation Showcase includes these companies:

  • BirdBrain Technologies – Art & Bots, an on-going research project at Carnegie Mellon University, led to the development of the Hummingbird robotics kit,, compatible with popular maker tools and software like Raspberry Pi, MaKey MaKey, and Scratch, to introduce students to engineering design, electronics, and programming across the curriculum.
  • Books That Grow – This adaptive reading platform addresses one of the most common problems that teachers face – how to help struggling and advanced students read and learn together. The digital books ‘grow ‘ in difficulty as students become better readers letting teachers focus on teaching while the company manages the differentiation.
  • Kajeet – The development of the Kajeet Smartspot™ addresses the digital divide by providing a simple, portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can be deployed by school districts to provide off-campus broadband access to students anytime, anywhere.
  • Share911 – In a world where seconds matter in a crisis, Share 911 has developed a real time web application to change how administrators, teachers, and first responders react and communicate during an emergency event by leveraging technology already in place.
  • Standard for Success – This powerful, customizable online teacher evaluation tool, designed by educators, facilitates the collection of complex information and analysis of data that supports continuous improvement with easy access to multiple research-based rubrics.
  • TreeRing – A new generation of yearbooks allows all students to upload personal photos and memories to a special set of pages that will be printed in their personal copy of the school yearbook, while also saving their districts from costly stacks of unsold copies.

Submissions were solicited from start-up companies providing new approaches to challenges across the K-12 curriculum, administrative operations, and communication channels. Reviewers included educators from NSBA’s “20 to Watch,” a recognition program that honors emerging education technology leaders.

“The rapid growth of the education market, driven by investors and creative entrepreneurs, makes it difficult for the 90,000 board members and their school districts to stay abreast of the latest developments,” said Ann Flynn, NSBA’s Director of Education Technology. “NSBA can serve as a bridge between the entrepreneurial community and the nation’s decision-makers by highlighting innovative solutions designed to inspire and ignite district discussions that challenge how they think about their traditional way of doing things.”

TLN, launched in 1985 by NSBA and its state school boards associations, helps advance the wise use of technology in K-12 education to support learning, operations, and communications.

 

Staff|March 14th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|

Educator Sal Khan receives prestigious Heinz Award

Sal Khan, founder of the not-for-profit Khan Academy and the first celebrity advocate for NSBA’s national “Stand Up 4 Public Schools” campaign, has been named one of five recipients of the 19th annual Heinz Awards.

The awards, administered by the Heinz Family Foundation, were established in 1993 by Teresa Heinz to honor the work of her late husband U. S. Sen. John Heinz.

Khan is one of three celebrity spokesmen in NSBA’s national public advocacy campaign, Stand Up 4 Public Schools, where he will be joined by basketball legend and business mogul Earvin “Magic” Johnson and talk show host and celebrity spokesperson Montel Williams.

The idea for Khan Academy dates back to 2004, when Khan began remotely tutoring his young cousin, who was struggling with math, and began posting the videos on YouTube. Khan Academy houses more than 5,000 instructional videos and interactive lessons, and its resources are accessed by more than 10 million unique users per month, making it one of the most frequently used online education tools in the world.

“Salman Khan has been a pioneer in the use of online technology to promote personalized learning and to transform education,” Heinz, the foundation’s chairman, said in a written statement. “His Khan Academy is helping move education from a mass-production model where every student learns the same material at the same rate in the same way to an individualized model where students can learn and engage differently based on their personal styles of learning.”

Khan was given the award in the Human Condition category. The other award recipients are:  Abraham Verghese, M.D., Arts and Humanities; Jonathan Foley, Ph.D, Environment; Sanjeev Arora, M.D., Public Policy; and Leila Janah, Technology, the Economy and  Employment.

NSBA’s public advocacy campaign operates on a simple premise: “Who I am today began with public education,” paired with the rejoinder, “Today’s public schools are better than ever.”

In one of the advertisements featuring Khan, he notes that “People talk about college and career readiness, but both are just a means to an end. What we really need to talk about is life readiness.”

Lawrence Hardy|February 26th, 2014|Categories: Computer Uses in Education, Mathematics Education, Student Engagement, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

Public advocacy is a must, NSBA panelists tell school boards

School board members must speak up and speak out about the successes and challenges of their local public schools, panelists told 750 school board members at the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) first annual Advocacy Institute.

Competing interests — including those who want to privatize the system — are already defining the message and potentially putting school boards and public schools out of business, some media experts warned.

NSBA also announced its national campaign, which will promote public schools and help local school board members engage their constituents. The campaign includes a new website and national print and online advertisements featuring celebrities such as former NBA star and education advocate Earvin “Magic” Johnson, television personality Montel Williams, and Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy.

Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, noted that last year’s annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on public education reported an all-time high — 53 percent — of Americans surveyed graded their local public schools with an A or B. Nearly three quarters of public school parents would give the school their oldest child attends an A or a B. However, when asked about the nation’s public schools overall, only 18 percent gave public education an A or B.

And those results —  support for  local public schools, but skepticism of public education in general  – were mirrored in several other poll questions, Busteed said. “There is a huge gap between the reality of the local level and nationally.”

Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss, who writes The Answer Sheet blog, told school board members  that they must do a better job working with local and national media. That means finding important stories about their community’s public schools and bringing them to journalists.

“When you don’t speak up, your critics define you, and that’s what’s happening,” she said. “I don’t hear much from you, either individually or as groups.”

Further, school board members should understand student performance data in order to rebut false claims about public education. “You have to play the data game and you have to do it better,” Strauss added.

In an earlier panel, NSBA invited school voucher advocates, including representatives from the CATO Institute and the American Federation for Children (AFC), organizations that have pushed for expanded school choice, to present their ideas and K-12 platforms. While the panel was designed to showcase oppositional ideas, the panelists and school board members found common ground with CATO’s dislike of federal regulations and AFC Executive Counsel Kevin P. Chavous’ remarks on the need for student achievement.

 

Lawrence Hardy|February 5th, 2014|Categories: Charter Schools, Federal Advocacy, School Reform, School Vouchers, Uncategorized|Tags: , |

NSBA touts public schools as strong choices

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is calling for public schools to be schools of choice during National School Choice Week. It is warning lawmakers not to divert funds away from public schools in favor of unproven educational experiments.

Getting lost in the hype around National School Choice Week, school voucher legislation, and calls for expanded options for low-income students is the fact that public education already offers many options—including magnet schools and district-authorized charters. Further, some states are using taxpayer-funded vouchers and tax credits as an excuse not to fund their community public schools that educate all children, NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel said in a conference with reporters on Jan. 27.

“Public schools have a track record that we can be very proud of,” Gentzel said. It’s important to have innovations in education, he added. However, “experiments should not come at the expense of low-income children.”

Students suffer when “choice” schools go out of business, are shut down, or are allowed to continue to operate without any accountability.

In the call, Gentzel and other NSBA experts noted that:

  • Not all school choice is equal: Some forms of school choice operate outside the public system with little or no oversight and accountability for student learning and fiscal stewardship of taxpayer funds. Gentzel recommended what he dubbed a “nutritional label” that would require any school that receives public funds to be required to show the same results as students in the community public schools.
  • “Choice” is not a reform strategy: Research shows that the schools parents choose are more likely to be the same or even worse than the community public school they leave. Charter school successes such as KIPP Academies and the Harlem Children’s Zone are the exception rather than rule, Gentzel said, and many charter and voucher schools are performing significantly worse than traditional public schools.
  • Local school boards are in the best position to oversee school choice options and hold schools accountable for student learning and finances. Gentzel noted that NSBA supports charter schools and believes local school boards understand local communities’ needs and look out for their interests. Further, according to the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO), a major education research organization, states that empower multiple authorizing agencies are most likely to report the weakest academic results for charters.

The February issue of American School Board Journal discusses the regulation of charter schools and how lawmakers should build policies to avoid abuses of the system and failing schools. For example, in Columbus, Ohio, a record 17 charters closed last year for poor performance. Many of these charters had only been open a few months. Ohio allows for multiple authorizers.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|January 27th, 2014|Categories: Charter Schools, School Boards, School Reform, School Vouchers, Uncategorized|

Common Core poses opportunities, challenges for English Language Learners

Imagine you’re a student being asked to demonstrate a level of knowledge and critical thinking never before demanded of the vast majority of students in the United States. That is what assessments for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative are asking — or will soon ask — students to do in at least 46 states and the District of Columbia.

Now imagine you’re being asked to demonstrate this high level of learning and cognitive ability in a language different from the one you grew up with at home.  If you were, say, a native English speaker and were asked to do this in Europe or Latin America, would your high school French or Spanish suffice?

That’s a little what the growing population English language learners in this country is being ask to do.  And whether these students succeed or not is critical to our nation’s future.

“English language learners represent the future majority of our student population,” said Rose Aronson, executive director of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.  (TESOL).  “So whether you come from a district where English language learners are already in large numbers, or from a district where their numbers are growing rapidly, you are directly affected.”

Aronson and Patte Barth, director of NBA’s Center for Public Education, spoke last week at a webinar, now archived, called The Common Core State Standards and English Language Learners: Challenges and Opportunities for Academic Success, which was sponsored by NSBA’s National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members.

On the “opportunities” side, the CCSS sets the expectation that all students — including English Language Learners — will meet rigorous performance standards. And, because of this, Aronson said, “it has the potential to raise academic achievement of ELLs and close the achievement gap.”

In addition, “CCSS and NGSS [the Next Generation Science Standards] give us an opportunity to reassess our assumptions, instructional approaches, and polices related to the education of ELLs” and to strengthen the role of teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL).

Among the biggest challenges is ensuring that ELLs “acquire and use the academic language necessary to access the rigorous content demanded by the CCSS,” Aronson said. And there is the challenge of ensuring that all teachers are prepared to teach in the academic language that CCSS requires.

School boards have a big role to play regarding CCSS, Barth said. They can help all students succeed in this initiative by setting clear and high expectations, creating the conditions for success, holding the system accountable, creating the public will to success, and learning as a board team about CCSS and what it requires.

Lawrence Hardy|January 14th, 2014|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Assessment, Center for Public Education, Common Core State Standards, Curriculum, Diversity, Immigrants, Student Achievement, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA webinar to explore Common Core challenges for English language learners

Join Patte Barth, executive director of NSBA’s Center for Public Education, and Rosa Aronson, executive director of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., (TESOL) for a webinar 2:30 -4:40 p.m. Wednesday, titled  The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and English Language Learners: Challenges and Opportunities for Academic Success.

As school districts begin adjusting their programs to meet the expectations of the CCSS, they need to ensure that English Language Learners get the curriculum they need to meet the CCSS’s requirements and achieve academic success.

The webinar will outline the benefits and challenges of CCSS and provide practical solutions to these challenges for teachers, administrators and policymakers.

The webinar is sponsored by NSBA’s National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members.

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat here.

 

Lawrence Hardy|January 7th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, Student Achievement, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

At international technology conference, NSBA discusses potential to improve U.S. schools

Ann Flynn, Director of Education Technology for the National School Boards Association, was invited to participate in the recent World Innovation Summit for Education, known as the WISE conference, in Doha, Qatar. This is the second time Flynn has been invited by the Qatar Royal Family to participate in the initiative by the Qatar Foundation. In this video, she describes her experience, the potential of technology to improve the U.S. education system, and the plights of countries with far fewer resources than the U.S.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 9th, 2013|Categories: Conferences and Events, Diversity, Educational Technology, Governance, Leadership, Online learning, STEM Education, Technology Leadership Network, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |
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