The best educators are always seeking to improve their practice. To equip all students with the tools for success in school and in life, teachers must refresh their own knowledge and skills. The Education Trust’s National Conference on Closing the Achievement Gap, Nov. 3-5, will provide a treasure trove of data-derived best practices gathered from leading-edge practitioners eager to share what they have learned. Conference-goers can handpick from a stellar selection of concurrent sessions — including sharpening ELL/ESL instruction and boosting performance in pre-college math.
This week marks the unveiling of a new American treasure. A monument on the National Mall honoring one of our country’s heroes, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., opened to the public this week. As visitors tour the memorial, they are greeted by some of his most profound quotes, including this one:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. —Martin Luther King, 1963, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"
In the 48 years since Dr. King wrote those words, we have journeyed a long way toward equality, especially in America’s schools. Every student now has the right to a good education. Yet sadly, many young people, especially those of color and from families of modest means, are denied the schooling to which they are entitled.
In a recent post, I talked about the importance of cultivating college aspirations among low-income youth and youth of color. A new report from the ACT gives us a reason to celebrate: It says 89 percent of all the students taking the ACT test taken by many high schoolers in 2011, including 78 percent of Latinos and 80 percent of African Americans, plan to continue their formal schooling beyond high school.
Long-time education leader Peter Gorman has built a career on his commitment to high student achievement, transparency, and accountability. “If it's educationally sound, if it's fiscally responsible, and if it's good for kids, I want to work to get it done,” he told the Broad Foundation upon taking the helm of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools five years ago. The former superintendent, who pioneered that district’s promising efforts to better serve its most vulnerable students, will share his insights during a plenary at the Education Trust’s 2011 National Conference, Nov. 3-5 in Arlington, Va. He will join a discussion with former Richmond, Va. Superintendent Deborah Jewell-Sherman and Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust.
States have historically used different assessments and benchmarks to determine whether students have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed. As a result, proficiency standards are highly variable, and neither teachers, policymakers, nor parents have a way of comparing what “proficient” means in their states with proficiency definitions in other states. A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics overcomes this obstacle, providing interested Americans with a rare opportunity to view proficiency standards comparatively. Sadly, the data show that most states continue to set their standards in reading and mathematics too low.
The results of a new survey from Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup send a positive message: The American public values teachers and their impact on student learning. In fact, 3 out of 4 think we should be recruiting high-achieving high school students to the profession. PDK’s annual survey also shows three-fourths of all Americans polled think student performance should play an important role in decisions about teacher pay and layoffs.
Numerous studies show that more and more young people expect to attend college. Examining data from its largest pool of test-takers ever, ACT found that students of all backgrounds have these plans. Nearly 80 percent of African-American and Latino graduates intend to pursue at least a bachelor’s degree.
Throughout the protracted struggle to raise the federal debt ceiling, education advocates focused their efforts on preventing federal cuts to education. While that attention was not misplaced, the precarious condition of most state finances means policymakers at all levels of government are making hard choices about which programs to cut, which to protect, and how best to share the responsibility for getting their finances in order. If programs designed to close the educational achievement gap are to be spared, equity advocates will need to work together to make their voices heard.
A new report, “The College Payoff,” soundly trounces the notion that a college degree doesn’t matter. Released by Anthony Carnevale, Ph.D., of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, the report clearly links the level of educational attainment with higher income potential. In fact, the average holder of a bachelor’s degree earns about $1 million more in a lifetime than does someone with only a high school diploma.
With school already starting in some districts, and no reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act in sight, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced on Monday that the Education Department will grant states waivers from some provisions of current ESEA law.
Though long overdue, ESEA reauthorization remains the strongest option for changing the law. The waiver strategy can be a next-best choice — provided that it supports attempts by reform-minded states to adopt new, higher standards and more rigorous assessments; set aggressive but achievable goals for raising achievement and closing gaps; and turn around their lowest performing schools. It must not let states off the hook for closing achievement gaps and improving education for all students.