Last week, Jay Mathews released his yearly Challenge Index. All the discussions and controversies about the Index reminded me of a recent conversation about school rankings when I was at a local pizza restaurant after school. As I was getting ready to take a bite out of my pizza, a man at the table next to me saw my ID badge and said, "You work for the school system, right?" After I nodded, he continued, "Well, I'm up here on a contracting project, so my family and I are moving to this area. I heard test scores are good. Any ...


This week the Apple Retail Store turns 10 years old. While the concept and appeal of the Apple store today can be seen in the numerous stores that have opened worldwide, ten years ago, there was a fair share of doubt and criticism that an Apple store would succeed. There is much to be learned from the success of these stores. Back then, the vision of an Apple store did not match how we viewed and experienced a technology store. The "first" retail store opened in Tyson's Corner shopping mall in Mclean, Virginia in May 2001. I remembered visiting the ...


In 2001, Mark Prensky coined the terms "Digital Natives" and "Digital Immigrants" to describe the differences between adults and students in using technology. Educators are the "Digital Immigrants" who have to adapt and learn how to integrate technology into their lives. Students are "Digital Natives" born into a culture and lifestyle where technology immersion is the norm. Although I know a lot of educators who argue that immigrants can use technology in the same ways as the natives and that being a native does not necessary guarantee proficiency, I have found the Digital Immigrant and Native comparison to be helpful ...


In a recent dialogue between Secretary Duncan and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the Secretary emphasized using multiple measurements in response to CEC's concern about linking teacher pay to student performance on annual state tests: A teacher's effectiveness in the classroom must be determined using multiple measures. These measures should include observations by trained evaluators who have knowledge about teaching, the subject matter, and the context. They could also include student and parental feedback and portfolios of student work. And the evaluations should include the academic growth their students make over the course of a year. Growth should be ...


In my capacity as a Classroom Fellow with the US Department of Education, I had the privilege of attending the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) National Conference at the National Harbor in Maryland last week. Given the current debates about teacher evaluation, many educators had comments and questions about the challenges of assessing the effectiveness of teachers who may have students with learning needs that are not accurately assessed through standardized test scores. As a current middle school special education department chair, I understand these concerns. It was encouraging to see this topic raised in a conversation between CEC and ...


In this education debate, there are those working quietly in the background in pragmatic ways to build consensus for lasting change and improvement. It's important for these voices to be heard. Steve Owens is a Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow and National Board Certified Teacher from Vermont. He is a member of the Vermont National Education Association (VT-NEA) Board of Directors and a music teacher in two rural elementary schools. This is a cross post from the US Department of Education blog, where the Teacher Ambassadors often post to express their teacher perspective. A Teacher Reflects on ED's Role in Union ...


The Digital Immigrant and Digital Native Discussions Continue.... In 2001, Mark Prensky coined the terms "Digital Natives" and "Digital Immigrants" to describe the differences between adults and students in using technology. Educators are the "Digital Immigrants" who have to adapt and learn how to integrate technology into their lives. Students are "Digital Natives" born into a culture and lifestyle where technology immersion is the norm. Although I know a lot of educators who argue that immigrants can use technology in the same ways as the natives and that being a native does not necessary guarantee proficiency, I have found the ...


"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." -Albert Einstein "What is tested does count, but much of what counts cannot be tested." -Student Learning, Student Achievement Report Task Force Many teachers quote Albert Einstein when describing the challenges and frustrations they feel towards standardized testing and its impact on their classrooms. Teachers often explain how testing narrows the curriculum, limits the variety of student learning opportunities, emphasizes basic skills, and fails to measure higher level thinking such as creativity. Teachers feel that they help students learn so much more than what ...


How can we measure teacher effectiveness? The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) recently released their report, Student Learning, Student Achievement: How Do Teachers Measure Up? to discuss effective methods of using student learning as a measure of teacher effectiveness. The full report is available on the NBPTS website with this following description: Few education issues are raising more questions and greater interest than that of how the nation should fairly and accurately evaluate teachers and assess their influence on student performance. And few issues are more important. To help better understand how teachers are assessed in this new ...


The Digital Immigrant and Digital Native Discussions continue. We talk about how student access to the Internet is regulated by Internet filters and firewalls. Should the Internet be regulated in schools?


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