Articles tagged with AASA

Common Core implementation concerns raised

AASA, the School Superintendents Association, has newly released a survey of superintendents on the adoption and implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The survey, “Common Core and Other State Standards: Superintendents Feel Optimism, Concern and Lack of Support,” found that although superintendents were overwhelming optimistic about the new standards, a majority also expressed concern about a lack of implementation support at the local level.

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have adopted CCSS, which establish grade-level expectations in math and English language arts for K-12 students. The standards go into effect next school year, with the first state-wide student assessments expected in the spring of 2015.

Of note in the AASA survey is that many superintendents expressed concern that their districts will not be prepared for implementation of the standards, especially the year-end assessments.

Other key findings in the AASA Common Core survey of superintendents include:

• Superintendents overwhelmingly (92.5 percent) see the new standards as more rigorous than previous standards.

• More than three quarters (78.3 percent) agree that the education community supports the standards, but that support drops to 51.4 percent among the general public.

• More than half (60.3 percent) of the respondents who had begun testing say they are facing problems with the tests.

• Just under half (41.9 percent) say schools in their states are not ready to implement the online assessment, while 35.9 percent say they lack the infrastructure to support online assessments.

Part of the problem has been finding and approving new curriculum and teaching materials aligned with CCSS. NPR recently reported on the “void” between the new rigorous standards and the curriculum materials available to help educators develop enriched lesson plans. Fears that teachers may “hit a wall” when asked to teach tougher standards without changes to materials have contributed to concerns about next year’s assessments.

The National School Board Association (NSBA) supports high academic standards, including CCSS when they are voluntarily adopted by states with school board input and when the standards are free from federal directions, mandates, funding conditions or coercion. NSBA has previously raised concerns about CCSS implementation.

“High academic standards are important for improving student achievement,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “For Common Core State Standards and other state standards to succeed, states and school districts must have the financial resources, infrastructure, and the necessary professional development for school personnel before implementation.”

For more information about CCSS, read NSBA’s Center for Public Education’sUnderstanding the Common Core.”

Alexis Rice|June 4th, 2014|Categories: Center for Public Education, Common Core State Standards, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , |

New fluorescent lighting rules would be expensive and unnecessary for schools, NSBA tells EPA

Saying new regulations would be costly and unnecessary, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and two other prominent education groups are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to issue further requirements concerning the removal of a group of harmful chemicals — Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) — that are commonly found in light fixtures in public buildings constructed prior to 1980.

In a joint letter to EPA’s Director of the National Program Chemicals Division, NSBA; the Association of School Business Officials International; and AASA, The School Superintendents Association said a recent survey the three groups conducted of more than 1,200 school board members, superintendents, school business officials, and maintenance/facilities personnel found that the vast majority of school districts are aware of the issue and “are overwhelmingly already removing PCBs.”

Of those responding to the survey who have buildings their districts constructed prior to 1980, 77.5 percent said they were aware of PCB issues in their schools, with 66 percent actively removing PCBs in all or some of the schools in their district. Only 11.5 percent were aware but not actively addressing these issues. In addition, only 2.1 percent of the 1,200 respondents reported having any PCB-related issue in their schools in the past two years.

“School administrators, school board members, and school business officials remain steadfast in their commitment to providing the students they serve with an excellent education in a safe learning environment, which includes removing potentially harmful environmental factors (like PCBs),” the letter said. “With any federal policy/regulation, the success of the end goal — in this case, elimination of light ballasts with PCBs — depends as much on the policy itself as it does in recognizing the importance of not only state and local leadership but also the unintended consequences, costs and burdens that may come with the rule.”

The new regulations could pose significant financial and operational challenges to schools, which would be responsible for identifying, inspecting, and upgrading light figures that were installed before 1980 to ensure that PCBs were eliminated.

Lawrence Hardy|March 27th, 2014|Categories: Environmental Issues, Federal Advocacy, School Buildings|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA representatives on selection committees for superintendents’ awards

Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, has been named National Superintendent of the Year by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, at the group’s National Conference on Education in Nashville.

This is the 27th year of AASA’s National Superintendent of the Year program. The award celebrates the leadership of public school superintendents and their contributions to K-12 education.

“Superintendent Carvalho leads a dynamic urban school district that has made remarkable gains in student achievement and graduation rates,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, a member of a national blue-ribbon panel of educators, business leaders, and government officials that selected Carvalho from four national finalists. “Under his leadership, Miami-Dade has streamlined its business operations, strengthened its financial position, and targeted its resources to classroom priorities.”

A nationally recognized expert on school reform and finance, Carvalho, 49, has taken on issues such as education funding, flexibility in the use of school dollars, school performance grades, and equality for English Language Learners, special education students, and children of undocumented parents.

Under Carvalho’s leadership, Miami-Dade won the 2012 Broad Prize for Urban Education. The district is a member of NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education and was featured in a 2013 NSBA’s Technology Leadership Network site visit that highlighted its success in providing equitable access to high quality digital content for all students.

“As the winner of the 2012 Broad Prize for Urban Education, Miami-Dade Schools is a model district that resembles a high-quality learning environment for America’s fourth-largest school system,” said AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech. “It will be an honor to have Superintendent Carvalho serving as our nation’s ambassador for public education this year.”

The son of a custodian and a seamstress who each left school after the third grade, Carvalho was the first in his family to graduate from high school, according to an AASA profile. He then worked to save $1,000 to travel as a teenager to the United States, where he hoped to find better educational and professional opportunities.

Carvalho, who has been the district’s superintendent for more than five years, has spent his entire educational career at Miami-Dade, serving in a variety of positions, including science
teacher, assistant principal, chief communications officer, and lobbyist.
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AASA also announced at its conference the honorees of the 2014 AASA Women in School Leadership Award, Karen C. Woodward, superintendent, Lexington County, School District One in Lexington, S.C., and Linda Carrillo, principal, PSJA North High School in Pharr, Texas, were honored. Kathleen Vail, Editor-in-Chief of NSBA’s American School Board Journal, was on the selection committee for this award.

Alexis Rice|February 19th, 2014|Categories: Announcements, School Boards|Tags: |

NSBA and AASA express concern about new restraint and seclusion bill in U.S. Senate

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued a joint statement today in response to new legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman, U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The new bill would reduce the authority of states and local school districts to decide the appropriate use of restraint and seclusion in public schools. Restraint and seclusion are used as a last resort in situations that may endanger the safety and welfare of students, teachers and other school personnel.

We agree with Harkin that routine use of restraint and seclusion is indeed inappropriate. However, we believe this legislation is a federal overreach—it fails to recognize the need for local school personnel to make decisions based on their onsite, real-time assessment of the situation. This includes school officials’ consideration of lesser interventions before making the decision to use restraint or seclusion. Our primary concern must be the safety of all students and school personnel.

Seclusion and restraint are only exercised to protect students and school personnel when other measures fail. A 2011 survey of AASA members found that 70 percent of districts invest local funds in annual training to ensure that school personnel use seclusion and restraint judiciously, first engaging in de-escalation techniques and other nonviolent crisis intervention strategies.

Of equal importance, we’re also concerned that the bill would allow parents to go to court without first exercising administrative procedures afforded to them under the current Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This bypass encourages litigation and diminishes congressional intent that parents and school districts collaborate to address student special needs. We’re also concerned that the federal court system does not have the capacity to take on these additional cases.

Even with limited funding, local school board and school administrator policies continue to demonstrate best practices beyond state requirements on the use of seclusion and restraint. This is further supported by a 2011 survey, in which nine out of 10 superintendents said their school districts would benefit from additional funding to implement school-wide positive behavioral support and intervention systems and nonviolent crisis interventions.

We urge Harkin to reconsider his position and work closely with local school boards and superintendents to develop legislation that ensures maximum authority to local school districts while ensuring safety for all students.

Alexis Rice|February 12th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, School Climate, School Security, Special Education|Tags: , , , , , , |

Words of wisdom from education association’s top brass

ASBJQuestion and Answer pieces, or Q&A’s as we call them in the industry, are one of my favorite type of articles to write. It’s essentially a profile of  someone whose thoughts, deeds, or mere persona we deem interesting, so right off, it’s an intriguing assignment.

Though to be honest, when you get the opportunity to delve into a person’s life or passions, you find that just about everyone is interesting in their own way.

I find this process of discovery to be the other reason I like Q&A’s so much; the ebb and flow of conversation is essential in flushing out the tiny details and little known factoids that make the final product so rich.

And while I think the final product of my Q&A with two of education’s heavy hitters was a rich and insightful look at the future of school leadership and governance, I got none of those above perks.

Though, let me be clear, it was through no fault of my subjects, NSBA Executive Director Anne Bryant and AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech. I can tell you, firsthand, both of them are fascinating people— and I’m not just saying that because one of them is my boss.
(more…)

Naomi Dillon|March 24th, 2010|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , |
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