Speak Up Survey 2012- via EdTech Focus on K12 #MarlaClark

Each year, the education nonprofit Project Tomorrow spearheads Speak Up, a national online research project that collects and reports the views of K–12 students, educators and parents on a variety of education and technology issues.

More than 3 million stakeholders have participated in the survey since its inception in 2003, the results of which are shared with federal, state and local policymakers to inform education programs, policies and funding.

Speak Up 2012 data has been available to participating schools and districts since February this year, but the national release of findings is still a few weeks away. On April 19, Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans will present to Congress the insights of the 39,713 parents and 62,357 teachers, librarians and administrators who completed the 2012 survey. In early June, Project Tomorrow will present data from the survey’s 364,240 student participants.

Educators and IT leaders who attended the Consortium for School Networking’s annual conference in San Diego this week got a sneak peek at the responses of 500 technology leaders who participated in a special Speak Up survey on the issues of primary importance to them. Here are some highlights.

Challenges Extend Beyond the Budget

Asked which issues are most challenging to them or to their district or school relating to the use of technology within instruction, IT leaders’ most popular response was providing professional development, with 46 percent of respondents citing it as a challenge. The availability of technology for student use at school was also a popular choice, at 45 percent.

Other widely cited challenges include:

  • Providing technology support to teachers: 43%
  • Incorporating student-owned devices into the network: 39 percent
  • Evaluating emerging technologies for instructional use: 37 percent
  • Digital equity issues (student access to technology and the Internet at home): 35 percent

Leveraging More Bandwidth

Forty-one percent of respondents indicated that their school or district’s Internet connectivity needs are met most of the time. But if they had more bandwidth, they would overwhelmingly do three things:

  • Increase the use of streaming videos within instruction: 69 percent
  • Increase the use of multimedia resources in the classroom: 67 percent
  • Better utilize an online curriculum: 62 percent

Respondents were allowed to check any option that applied, and although the three aforementioned responses were cited most frequently, other uses that resonated include providing professional development for teachers (35 percent), providing online professional learning communities for staff and teachers (29 percent) and offering online or distance learning courses (29 percent).

Turning to Technology to Cut Costs, Increase Revenue

Every school and district is challenged to do more with less. Asked which technology solutions they’ve deployed in the past three years to help with budget challenges, the top three choices were parental online and phone-based notification systems, at 47 percentcloud computing applications, at 46 percent; and tablet computers or netbooks (instead of notebooks), at 44 percent.

Communicating with parents via social media (35 percent), digital textbooks (32 percent), online professional development (30 percent) and bring-your-own-device programs (29 percent) also were cited with some frequency.

Common Core Concerns

A number of challenges are emerging as schools and districts in Common Core states prepare for mandatory online assessments beginning in the 2014¬–2015 school year. Nearly six in 10 respondents (59 percent) indicated that not having enough computers was the most significant obstacle they faced, and 56 percent noted that the need to train teachers and studentswas similarly onerous.

Other widely cited challenges include:

  • Costs to modernize infrastructure: 44 percent
  • Limited facility space to accommodate a testing lab: 42 percent
  • The need to increase technology support staff: 42 percent
  • Costs to implement the online tests: 41 percent

Defining the “Ultimate” School

Asked which tools or strategies hold the greatest potential to increase student achievement and success, 84 percent of respondents identified the ability to access the Internet anywhere in school as a characteristic that the “ultimate school for 21st century learners” should have. Providing digital content was also a popular choice, at 76 percent.

Other technology offerings that would maximize teaching and learning, they said, include:

  • Adaptive learning software, which adjusts levels of difficulty and content to address student needs: 71 percent
  • Digital media creation tools: 66 percent
  • Online textbooks: 64 percent
  • Tools to help students and teachers organize their work: 60 percent

Teachers Need Time… ignored critical need for collaboration and reflection

From Linda Darling-Hammond “As recently as 2009, a MetLife study indicated that 68% of educators had more than an hour per week to engage in structured collaboration with colleagues to improve student learning.  By 2012, only 48% had an hour or more per week for this essential work. In what professional field can practice improve if most practitioners don’t have even an hour a week to work together collaboratively?”

By Linda Darling-Hammond

Concern for 21st century learning has driven the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by more than 40 states.  These new standards recognize that the premium in today’s world is not merely on students’ acquiring information, but on their being able to analyze, synthesize, and apply what they’ve learned to address new problems, design solutions, collaborate effectively, and communicate persuasively.

Achieving these goals will require a transformation in teaching, learning, and assessment so that all students develop the deeper learning competencies that are necessary for post-secondary success.

Whether that transformation occurs has everything to do with how policymakers and practitioners approach this new reform.  Ironically, old style factory-model thinking could undercut richer student learning if we follow traditional patterns of education reform implementation.   Like a contractor who is paid a bonus to finish a project on a tight timeline, school systems that cut corners by trying to “automate” teaching decisions through pacing guides, scripted curriculum, or frequent, narrow testing are likely to produce rickety, undeveloped student learning skills.

Efforts to manage instruction through top-down prescriptions rather than the development of deep expertise will not enable the kinds of teaching that are required to help students learn to read, listen, and think critically; conduct research and use evidence; communicate productively orally, in writing, and with technology; and continually improve their own work.   Teachers will need to be able to model and demonstrate these skills, identify what their students already know and link it to what they need to learn, build on students’ diverse experiences and language backgrounds, and structure rich learning opportunities that combine explicit instruction with inquiry, feedback, reflection, and revision.

How will teachers transform their practice to meet these expectations?  In fields like trauma care and the building trades that have seen sharp gains in quality over the past generation, the emergence of new standards for professional practice coincided with a focus on improving collaborative decision-making and inquiry to solve problems in real time. If we want to see similar gains in education, we must structure for success by understanding that effective collaboration in schools doesn’t occur by happenstance—it requires purposeful action.

New research from the National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE) shows that educators in every subject area and role are eager to work together to deepen literacy learning:  Across fields, 77% of educators, principals, and librarians agreed that developing student literacy is one of the most important responsibilities they have. It also showed that educators are committed to common-sense changes to improve teaching and learning practices: they most value time to co-plan with colleagues to create new lessons or instructional strategies and to analyze how their students are developing and what they can do together to advance progress.

On the face of it, these results don’t seem surprising—in every field, professionals benefit from connecting with dedicated colleagues to improve practice. What is surprising, even alarming, is how rarely collaborative activities that are essential to improving outcomes are supported in our schools. Here is what NCLE survey respondents reported about support for working together in their schools:

·         Only 32% have a chance to frequently co-create or reflect with colleagues about how a lesson has worked.

·         Only 21% are given time to frequently examine student work with colleagues.

·         Only 14% frequently receive feedback from colleagues.

·         And only 10% frequently have the opportunity to observe the teaching practice of a colleague.

Even worse, evidence suggests that time afforded to educators to collaborate and problem-solve is eroding quickly. As recently as 2009, a MetLife study indicated that 68% of educators had more than an hour per week to engage in structured collaboration with colleagues to improve student learning.  By 2012, only 48% had an hour or more per week for this essential work. In what professional field can practice improve if most practitioners don’t have even an hour a week to work together collaboratively?

But the NCLE survey data also gives us a foundation to build upon. It found that in schools where educators report that professional collaboration is routinely practiced, trust among all educators is high, and new learning about effective practices is shared much more rapidly.

It makes sense that where principals, school system leaders, and instructional coaches model collaborative decision-making and tackling problems as shared questions to be studied and solved, real change in student learning results.

So we can read the NCLE survey results as both a cautionary tale and a reason for optimism.  They suggest that far from resisting change or shirking responsibility, educators are eager to work together to evaluate the quality of teaching at their site and design changes that continuously improve student learning. But, not many schools are yet structured to provide the time and learning opportunities necessary to build this sustainable path to change.

The reform impulse that gave rise to construction of new learning standards and assessments will only work if we invest in the capacity of educators to work together effectively. Where educators are challenged and supported to get off the hamster wheel of “covering” ever more material and work together on important questions driven by what they actually observe, student learning thrives. It’s time to clear away non-essential demands and build capacity in our schools for smarter teaching and learning—educators are ready for it, students deserve it, and our future prosperity and security require it.

Digital Learning Day: What is the State of Digital Learning?

from the recent PBS Learning Media national teacher survey:

9 in 10 teachers have at least one computer in the classroom

6 in 10 have access to an interactive whiteboard

35% of classrooms have tablet and e-reader access, up from 20% a year ago

45% use Web-based educational games or activities in the classroom

43% use online video, images, and articles

65% say technology allows them to demonstrate something they can’t otherwise show


 Survey  Methodology: The survey spanned 503 web-based interviews with US pre-K-12 teachers. The survey was conducted January 15-20, 2013, by VeraQuest, Inc. and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4% at a 95% confidence level.


KQED Article on Educator-driven Start Ups Address Education Needs and Technology Innovations

 The Rise of Educator-Entrepreneurs: Bringing Classroom Experience to Ed-Tech  By Katrina Schwartz


Most teachers are happy doing their job — helping kids understand and make sense of the world around them. But there’s a growing number of educators who are wading into entrepreneurship, frustrated at the lack of tools they need, and wanting to extend their sphere of influence. As technology becomes more widely used and accepted in the classroom, teachers are taking their ideas about how to improve learning environments, sharing them online, and creating web-based tools to benefit teachers and students.

At the same time, the fact that the multi-billion dollar ed-tech space is exploding has not gone unnoticed by investors. Programs like Imagine K12 run crash courses in ed-tech entrepreneurship, connecting fledgling companies to Silicon Valley venture capital firms (and staking out a six percent equity).

But, as most educators know, while tech entrepreneurs can sometimes hit gold, not every newly minted site or software is useful to teachers. That’s what sets educator entrepreneurs apart — they have relevant classroom experience that can’t be gained any other way than by doing the hard work of teaching.


Jack West has taught for 16 years and has been at Sequoia High School in Redwood City for most of that time. He’s a physics teacher and is naturally inclined to innovate, even if his students aren’t as enthusiastic about his non-traditional teaching style. West returned to traditional teaching for eight years until he figured out how to use his innovative techniques not only to spice things up, but to actually help his students do better. That’s what led to the launch this year ofBraincandy, a tool to help students understand the underlying concepts behind their misperceptions.

West and his co-founders wrote trick-questions on physics concepts that many kids get wrong. The answer choices are all the common misperceptions. The goal is for students to be completely sure that they’re choosing the right answer, the obvious answer, only to find out that most got it wrong. “These aren’t test questions. They are instructional questions,” explained West. “So what we’re trying to do is create a discrepancy event, a shocking event to open the door for a teachable  moment.” West is going for an even distribution of wrong answers that shock students and allows him to create discussion and activity around understanding the misconceived concept.

West found that his students performed better on the Force Concepts Inventory, a test for honors physics students and first year college students on basic physics concepts when he used this technique. So far, nine other Bay Area teachers are trying Braincandy techniques on physical science, chemistry and biology students, and West is receiving help from Silicon Valley techies and business entrepreneurs to build out his site. The time is ripe for teachers to use their natural inclination to innovate to help the kids that they are failing, he said.

“If I do more of the same and just do it better — I’ve seen that trajectory, and I feel like I’ve gone as far as I can with that and I need to try something else,” West said. “Based on my experience and the luck of the draw, technology is my channel.”

Adam Bellow, another ed-tech entrepreneur, recently developed a Pinterest-like tool for teachers called eduClipper. Bellow is based in New York and has spent much of his career helping teachers use technology in the classroom more effectively.

“The biggest issue that we have as teachers is finding and sharing good stuff,” Bellow said. “You have teachers that are open to doing these things, that want to, but who don’t necessarily know where to go or don’t feel they have a time to find them.” He wants eduClipper to fill that void and for students and teachers to interact on the site, sharing the buckets of useful links, videos and infographics with one another. Students could even use the site as way to develop a digital portfolio, he said.

Bellow built the tool to serve a need he found distinctly lacking. “The reason I’m building this tool is that I’ve seen so many companies build websites that they think are cool, or that they think address a need, without consulting teachers. Teachers are usually the last people to be consulted on many of these education technology companies,” Bellow said.

The site has already drawn 25,000 users and he actually isn’t accepting more until he rolls out the next version of the site. Beyond just helping teachers, Bellow is most excited about features directed at students and meant to encourage them to create. He wants eduClipper “to have students inspire other students to make real things,” the way that the Maker Faire events have done. With a body of work to carry with them, students would be able to show achievement through more than just testing.


Digital Harbor Foundation

James Sanders, who worked as a teacher for many years, is another educator wading into entrepreneurship. For his day job, Sanders works as the Innovation Manger for KIPP, Bay Area Schools. But he’s also partnered withEsther Wojcicki, a journalism teacher at Palo Alto High, and Duncan Winter, to createClassBadges, scheduled to launch Monday. It’s a digital platform for teachers and students to collect badges for mastery of certain topics. The badges represent learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom. For example, a student could get a badge for going to a museum and completing an exercise related to the visit. Sanders sees ClassBadges as a way for students to look back at a digital record of what they learned – plus it’s fun and uses elements of gamification that students are already accustomed to.

Sanders agreed with both Bellows and West that education is at a crossroads. “Everyone agrees this is finally a time where people are opening up to the idea of change in the classroom and the power of technology,” said Sanders. “People recognize that this is a powerful tool for learning.”

Educators are taking advantage of the moment, and the flurry of investor interest in ed-tech, to leverage some of their innovations into products. Here are some other educator-initiated companies and non-profits:

  • ClassDojo: This free online tool, co-founded by teacher Sam Chaudhary, helps teachers manage behavior in the classroom by awarding points to students for positive behavior. Students get immediate feedback on their behavior, tied to a points system, which helps reinforce good behavior over time. 
  • Digital Harbor Foundation: This non-profit, cofounded by educator Shelly Blake-Plock, wasstarted by educators in Baltimore to connect teachers, students and technologists to one another through the web. They want to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in students before they even graduate. For example, they have a reverse mentoring club where students teach older members of the community about technology. Or a STEM club, where students interested in science, technology, engineering and math are given real world challenges posed by industry leaders. 
  • Socrative: This web tool was built by a team of educators, engineers and entrepreneurs with the goal of increasing engagement and decreasing grading time. Through smart phones, laptops or tablets students enter digital classrooms where the teacher can control the flow of activities and games – getting an instant understanding of whether the students are grasping certain concepts. The tool can then analyze individual and class progress 
  • NoRedInk: Jeff Scheur started this company after three years teaching in Chicago schools. As an English teacher he spent hours grading papers only to have students ignore the feedback they received. NoRedInk uses material that is engaging to students, like their own conversations or their favorite TV shows to try to engage them in the question. As students answer questions the material adapts to how they are doing, drilling down on the underlying concepts as they progress through the activities. Teachers can track student progress and give assignments and quizzes tailored to each student’s interests. The hope is that NoRedInk makes grammar fun, so students will practice more than what is assigned to them.


State of Education 2012– NCES Report is out– Highlights Here

Section 1 – Participation in Education in the United States



    •  From school years 2010–11 through 2021–22, public elementary and secondary school enrollment is projected to increase by 7 percent from 49.5 to 53.1 million students, but with changes across states ranging from an increase of 22 percent to a decrease of 15 percent (indicator 3).


    •  From 1999–2000 to 2009–10, the number of students enrolled in public charter schools more than quadrupled from 0.3 million to 1.6 million students. In 2009–10, some 5 percent of all public schools were charter schools (indicator 4).


    •  Private school enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 12 increased from 5.9 million in 1995–96 to 6.3 million in 2001–02 then decreased to 5.5 million in 2009–10. Some 10 percent of all elementary and secondary school students were in private schools in 2009–10 (indicator 5).


    •  Between 1990 and 2010, the percentage of public school students who were White decreased from 67 to 54 percent, and the percentage of those who were Hispanic increased from 12 percent (5.1 million students) to 23 percent (12.1 million students) (indicator 6).


    •  In 2011, higher percentages of Black (37 percent), Hispanic (34 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (33 percent), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (32 percent) children, and children of two or more races (20 percent) were living in families below the poverty threshold than were White (12 percent) and Asian (14 percent) children (indicator 7).


    •  The percentage of public school students in the United States who were English language learners (ELLs) was higher in 2009–10 at 10 percent (or an estimated 4.7 million students) than in 2000–01 at 8 percent (or an estimated 3.7 million students) (indicator 8).


    •  The number of children and youth ages 3–21 receiving special education services was 6.5 million in 2009–10, or about 13 percent of all public school students. Some 38 percent of the students receiving special education services had specific learning disabilities (indicator 9).


    •  Between 2000 and 2010, undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased by 37 percent, from 13.2 to 18.1 million students. Projections indicate that undergraduate enrollment will continue to increase, reaching 20.6 million students in 2021 (indicator 10).


    •  Postbaccalaureate enrollment has increased every year since 1983, reaching 2.9 million students in 2010. In each year since 1988, women have comprised more than half of postbaccalaureate enrollment. In 2010, postbaccalaureate enrollment was 59 percent female (indicator 11).


Section 2 – Elementary and Secondary Education and Outcomes

    •  In 2009–10, some 5 percent of traditional public schools were combined schools (schools with both elementary and secondary grades), whereas 19 percent of charter schools and 28 percent of private schools were combined schools (indicator 12).


    •  Among public school students in 2009–10, higher percentages of Hispanic (37 percent), Black (37 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native students (29 percent) attended high-poverty schools than did Asian/Pacific Islander (12 percent) and White students (6 percent) (indicator 13).


    •  Sixteen percent of public schools recorded at least one incident of serious violent crime in 2009–10; this was lower than the 20 percent of schools recording at least one incident in 1999–2000 (indicator 14).


    •  In 2009–10, some 53 percent of public school districts had high school students enrolled in distance education courses. In these districts, there were over 1.3 million high school student enrollments in distance education in 2009–10, compared to 0.3 million 5 years earlier (indicator 15).


    •  Of approximately 15,500 regular high schools with at least 10 seniors in 2009–10, there were 890 schools (6 percent) in which the number of seniors divided by the number of freshmen 4 years earlier was between 10 and 50 percent (indicator 16).


    •  A larger percentage of full-time teachers held a postbaccalaureate degree in 2007–08 than in 2003– 04. Forty-nine percent of elementary school teachers and 54 percent of secondary school teachers held a postbaccalaureate degree in 2007–08, compared with 45 and 50 percent, respectively, in 2003–04 (indicator 17).


    •  From 1999–2000 to 2007–08, the percentage of principals who were female increased from 52 to 59 percent at public elementary schools and from 22 to 29 percent at public secondary schools (indicator 18).


    •  From school year 1988–89 through 2008–09, total elementary and secondary public school revenues increased from $350 billion to $611 billion, a 74 percent increase after adjusting for inflation (indicator 19).


    •  Total expenditures per student in public elementary and secondary schools rose 46 percent in constant dollars from 1988–89 through 2008–09, with interest on school debt increasing faster than current expenditures or capital outlay (indicator 20).


    •  After increasing every year from 1997–98 to 2007–08, total variation in instruction expenditures per student was lower among public school districts in 2008–09 than in 2007–08 (indicator 21).


    •  In 2008, the United States spent $10,995 per student on elementary and secondary education, which was 35 percent higher than the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of $8,169. At the postsecondary level, U.S. expenditures per student were $29,910, more than twice as high as the OECD average of $13,461 (indicator 22).


    •  The average grade 4 reading score in 2011 was not measurably different from that in 2009. The average grade 8 score, however, was 1 point higher in 2011 than in 2009 (indicator 23).


    •  At grades 4 and 8, the average mathematics scores in 2011 were higher than the average scores for those grades in all previous assessment years (indicator 24).


    •  At grade 12, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) U.S. history score was 2 points higher in 2010 than in 1994, while the geography score was 2 points lower. There was no measurable difference in the civics score from 1998 to 2010 (indicator 25).


    •  In 2009, the percentage of high-performing 15-yearolds in the United States was higher in reading literacy, lower in mathematics literacy, and not measurably different in science literacy than the respective percentages in the OECD countries on average (indicator 26).


    •  In 2010, some 40 percent of high school seniors participated in athletics, including 44 percent of males and 36 percent of females (indicator 27).


    •  In 2009, the average NAEP reading score of 12th-grade students with perfect attendance (292) was not measurably different from the score of those who reported missing 1–2 days in the previous month (290), but was higher than the scores of those who reported missing 3–4 days (284) and missing 5 or more days (273) (indicator 28).


    •  In 2011, about 14 percent of youth ages 16–24 were neither enrolled in school nor working (indicator 29).


    •  Between 1980 and 2010, the percentage of high school students age 16 years or above who were employed decreased from 36 percent to 16 percent. For male high school students, the decrease was from 37 percent in 1980 to 14 percent in 2010 (indicator 30).


    •  The percentages of high school graduates who took mathematics courses in geometry, algebra II/trigonometry, analysis/precalculus, statistics/ probability, and calculus while in high school were higher in 2009 than in 1990 (indicator 31).



    •  Over the 35-year period between 1975 and 2010, the rate of immediate college enrollment after high school ranged from a low of 49 percent in 1979 and 1980, to a high of 70 percent in 2009. This rate increased most recently from 2001 to 2009. (indicator 34).


  •  In 1990, 2000, and 2010, higher percentages of female than male 12th-grade students had definite plans to graduate from a 4-year college. This gap in expectations by sex was larger in 2010 than in 1990 (13 vs. 5 percentage points) (indicator 35).

Section 3 – Postsecondary Education and Outcomes

    •  Of the 18 million undergraduate students at degreegranting institutions in the United States in fall 2010, some 76 percent attended public institutions, 15 percent attended private nonprofit institutions, and 10 percent attended private for-profit institutions (indicator 36 ).


    •  In 2010, about 40 percent of full-time and 73 percent of part-time college students ages 16 to 24 were employed (indicator 37).


    •  In 2009–10, more than half of the 1.7 million bachelor’s degrees awarded were in five fields: business, management, marketing, and personal and culinary services (22 percent); social sciences and history (10 percent); health professions and related programs (8 percent); education (6 percent); and psychology (6 percent) (indicator 38).


    •  Overall, 693,000 master’s degrees and 159,000 doctor’s degrees were awarded in 2009–10; these numbers represent increases of 50 and 34 percent, respectively, over the numbers awarded in 1999–2000. In 2009–10, females earned 60 percent of master’s degrees and 52 percent of doctor’s degrees awarded (indicator 39).


    •  The average total cost of attendance in 2010–11 for first-time, full-time students living on campus and paying in-state tuition was $20,100 at public 4-year institutions and $39,800 at private nonprofit 4-year institutions (indicator 40).


    •  From 2006–07 to 2009–10, the percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduates receiving any financial aid increased from 75 to 85 percent at 4-year institutions (indicator 41).


    •  In academic year 2009–10, total revenues per fulltime- equivalent (FTE) student were 1 percent less than in 2004–05 in public postsecondary degree granting institutions (in constant 2010–11 dollars). Total revenues per student went from $28,966 in 2004–05 to $28,781 in 2009–10 (indicator 42).


    •  In academic year 2009–10, instruction was the largest per-FTE-student expense at public ($7,239) and private nonprofit institutions ($15,321). At private for-profit institutions, instruction was the second largest expense category, at $3,017 per student (indicator 43).


    •  Combining salary with benefits, faculty received an average total compensation package in academic year 2010–11 that was about 8 percent higher than the package they received in 1999–2000, after adjusting for inflation. In 2010–11, the average total compensation package for faculty was about $97,200, including $75,500 in salaries and $21,700 in benefits (indicator 44).


    •  Approximately 56 percent of male and 61 percent of female first-time, full-time students who sought a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2004 completed their degree at that institution within 6 years (indicator 45).


    •  From academic years 1999–2000 to 2009–10, the number of postsecondary degrees conferred by private for-profit institutions increased by a larger percentage than the number conferred by public institutions and private nonprofit institutions; this was true for all levels of degrees (indicator 46).



  •  In 2010, young adults ages 25–34 with a bachelor’s degree earned 114 percent more than young adults without a high school diploma or its equivalent, 50 percent more than young adult high school completers, and 22 percent more than young adults with an associate’s degree (indicator 49).

The War on Teachers

Students in the U.S. are not performing well in comparison to students in other countries– particularly countries which do not experience the immigration and poverty issues in our schools.

U.S. economic struggles add to the sense of emergency we have about our kids not thriving in school. Are they getting the training or inspiration that they need to save this country?

Or are we boring them with the old fashioned factory school model and then discouraging them with heavy student loans, a lack of jobs, and irrelevance of their preparation to whatever unknowns the future holds.

So, we think, it must be the teachers. And of course some teachers are better than others. And most teachers are dedicated and skilled. But they are dedicated and skilled in a broken system.

So we set up charter schools that can circumvent bureaucratic and pedagogical rules. And students enter various charters. And are these charters doing what we said they were for? To yield new ideas that can be applied in the larger traditional schools? Not so much. A competition exists in many cases.

Can we better prepare teachers? Yes. Can we better evaluate teachers? Yes. But should we use tests designed decades ago, that test students on a part of what they are learning, and then judge the teachers based on student tests that are do not even do well at measuring students– what they are designed to do, much less measuring teachers.

If we care about the future, it is time to work with teachers to build new education models. We need to listen to the students so we don’t lose them as we experiment with the model.

If the teacher can make each student feel heard and seen, the rest can follow. It is hard for teachers to do that while watching their backs as one obstacle after another is put in their way. And all of us can see and hear students so see themselve be heard. So that they know they are part of a real changing society.

Let’s face it, it is not the teachers.

We have to step up and pay attention to young people, to schools, to teachers, and we need to help, not set up more tests.

Teacher Evaluation – A Time Line, Useful but with Holes

Wall Street Journal article on Teacher Evaluation provides a good timeline, EXCEPT it is missing the longtime, widely accepted National Board for Professional Teaching Standards comprehensive, reflective teacher certification process. This process has been accepted by teachers, teacher unions, states, districts and schools as deep professional development as well as a credible certification process for accomplished teachers. Now this widely respected program is also in use with teachers across the span of their careers, as a whole school transformation model.

Too bad this article missed a review of the National Board process and results!

National Board: History and Mission of 25 year Advanced Teacher Certification Process

Teaching Moments

1982 Bill Sanders, a professor at the University of Tennessee, begins building value-added models to measure teachers’ impact on student achievement. By 1992, Tennessee education officials adopt a refined version of the model to evaluate the state’s schools.

2002 President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law goes into effect, providing data that can be used to evaluate students’ growth.

2005 The University of Wisconsin’s Value-Added Research Center, or VARC, is formed by Rob Meyer.

2006 The federal Teacher Incentive Fund begins issuing grants to school systems and states to develop programs to award teachers who raise test scores.

2008 The Houston Independent School District begins issuing bonuses to teachers with high value-added rankings.

2009-2010 New York City starts including value-added data in decisions about whether to grant tenure to teachers.

2010 The $4.35 billion Race to the Top grants create incentives for states to adopt new education policies, including linking test scores to teacher evaluations.

Summer 2010 The Washington, D.C., school district uses value-added data to evaluate and fire


Teachers Love to Teach



… if we do not burden them with unreasonable expectations, bureaucratic barriers, and disrespectful working conditions.  To attract more great teachers, to keep more great teachers, to enable more good teachers to become great, we need to employ strategies to improve their teaching experience and practice.
  1. Leverage technology to provide respectful, fair, useful teacher evaluations to drive instructional excellence.
  2. Enable/require teachers to share exemplar lessons and to collaborate with master teachers. (Lesson Study)
  3. Revamp colleges of education, including early in-class experience and advanced instructional techniques.
  4. Link districts and colleges of education for mutual support, reflection, and effectiveness.
  5. Educate teachers in student and teacher assessment principles and scoring
  6. Provide time for teachers to collaborate across subjects.
  7. Leverage high quality media and technology for learning.
  8. Develop locally relevant, cross-curricular, project-based, inquiry-based, media-enriched instruction.
  9. Respect teacher unions’ important role in protecting and supporting teachers.
  10. Rethink teacher tenure and layoff policies to support teacher continuity and quality instruction.