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General Ed Reform

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Articles and Websites Related to General Ed Reform


Draft of National Math, English Curriculum Released - A draft of common national standards for English and math was recently released. The proposal includes specific benchmarks that students should achieve at each grade level. For example, by the end of eighth grade, students should be able to "informally explain why the square root of 2 is irrational." The effort -- endorsed by 48 states -- is being praised for its attempt to bring an "ambitious and coherent" curriculum nationwide, while others are critical of a "one-size-fits-all" approach. [source:]


A Rise in Efforts to Spot Abuse in Youth Dating - She was 17 when she met her boyfriend, and 20 when she died at his hands. In between, Heather Norris tried several times to leave the relationship, which was fraught with control and abuse, before she was killed — stabbed, dismembered and discarded in trash bags. Her death in 2007 in Indianapolis is one of several stemming from abuse in teenage dating relationships that have spurred states and communities to search for new ways to impress on adolescents — and their parents and teachers — the warning signs of dangerous dating behavior and what actions are not acceptable or healthy.


Value-added Evaluation Being Tried in Ohio Schools - What if you could measure how much a child learns over the course of a school year? What if you could gauge what a school actually adds to a child's learning experience? In Ohio, you can.


Tough Programs Attract Students - More Mich. districts offer International Baccalaureate study as demand grows. Drake Gamelin is only 13, but he already knows he wants to become a dermatologist. To get a jump on the competition, Drake, a freshman, enrolled in the International Academy East, a new high school in Troy that offers the rigorous International Baccalaureate program. When he graduates from the school, Drake will be the equivalent of a sophomore in college.


Featured Resource: The Power of Our Words: Teacher Language that Helps Children Learn: How you talk impacts how children learn. "The Power of Our Words should be a required resource for all K-6 teachers regardless of the number of years they have taught." (Principal, CT) Language may be a teacher’s most powerful tool. Every day the words, phrases, tone, and pace you use have the power to help students develop self-control, build their sense of belonging, and gain skills and knowledge. This book, by an author with more than twenty years of experience teaching children and educators, will help you recognize the influence your words have on the children you teach. It will show you how to use language more skillfully, building a classroom where students feel safe, respected, appreciated, and excited about learning.

55 Teaching Dilemmas - This book gives teachers specific, practical ideas for conquering a variety of common challenges: managing classroom time, supporting struggling students, preventing burnout, communicating with parents, motivating students, leading effectively inside and outside the classroom, and much more.


WA WA to Pay for Free College of Low Income Middle-schoolers - Teresa Jackson is raising three grandchildren by herself on a fixed income, and saving money for their college education is nearly impossible. But now Washington state is stepping in to help low-income students like Jackson's grandchildren go to college.

High School Seniors Get 'F' in Finance - Young people's financial know-how has gone from bad to worse.
High school seniors, on average, answered correctly only 48.3 percent of questions about personal finance and economics, according to a nationwide survey released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. That was even lower than the 52.4 percent in the previous survey in 2006 and marked the worst score out of the six surveys conducted so far.


OH Early-college Plan Details Scant - High schools across the state can begin applying this week for the first funds available to start “Seniors to Sophomores” early college programs. But it is unclear how many of those high schools – and their college partners – will be in the Cincinnati region. Some school officials here are just beginning to talk about how to launch the initiative in the fall. Proposed by Gov. Ted Strickland, Seniors to Sophomores would allow seniors to spend their fourth year of high school taking courses on college campuses in Ohio. They’d earn college credit and a high school diploma at the same time.

MD Villa Julie Focuses on Middle Years - Better teacher preparation for grades 6-8 is goal of planned program, a first in Maryland. Middle school teachers are usually thought of in the teaching profession as having a unique quality that allows them to put up with -- sometimes even enjoy -- the students who are turning from sweet children to awkward teenagers. But until yesterday no university or college had focused its undergraduate education majors on that period of life when kids need to learn a lot -- from how to write a paper to algebra -- and also get through those wacky, difficult years. Villa Julie College announced yesterday that, beginning this fall, it will offer Maryland's first teacher preparation program designed for the middle grades.

Education Watch: Afterschool Detention Can be a Chance to Learn Better Behavior - Six boys schlep into a second-floor classroom at Calcutt Middle School for what would have been afterschool detention in any other school. At Calcutt, it’s afterschool re-engagement.

How to Make Great Teachers - There's little research on what makes for a successful merit-pay system, but several factors seem critical, says Matthew Springer, director of the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University. In Denver, for example, Professional Compensation, or ProComp, is the product of a seven-year collaboration among the teachers' union, the district and city hall. Rolled out last school year, ProComp includes nine ways for teachers to raise their earnings, some through bonuses and some through bumps in salary. New hires are automatically enrolled, while veterans have the option of sticking with the old salary schedule. But in just one year, half of Denver's 4,555 teachers have signed on. Denver's program includes several of the factors critical to success: a careful effort to earn teacher buy-in to the plan, clarity about how it works, multiple ways of measuring merit, rewards for teamwork and schoolwide success, and reliable financing. In fact, Denver's voters agreed to pay an extra $25 million a year in taxes for nine years to support the program.

Film Raises Troubling Questions About U.S. Students - At first blush, Brittany Brechbuhl and Neil Ahrendt seem American success stories: They attend Carmel High School, a gleaming glass-and-brick edifice in suburban Indianapolis, where taxpayer support buys a genetics lab, a swimming pool and a 91% graduation rate. Brittany is 28th in her class, with a nearly perfect GPA; Neil is a National Merit semifinalist and class president. What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

Longer School Days Create Additional Opportunities for Learning - Struggling learners can get additional help and other students have more time for arts, music and enrichment at the increasing number of schools nationwide that are lengthening the school day or year, proponents say. "Our aspirations for both children and schools have increased dramatically, and we're still working out of the old, very limited box," said Paul Reville, Massachusetts Board of Education chairman, and co-chairman of a Boston-based organization formed to promote longer school days. "We're not getting all students to high standards. It seems to us, the way to do that is make more time available."

Blue-collar Teacher Contracts Work Against the Students - In an unfortunate accident of history, the labor contracts that won decent pay for teachers also cemented into place a factory-model design for schooling. Blue-collar labor contracts spell out and limit a worker’s obligations on the factory floor, or in this case a classroom, as if teachers were as interchangeable as die-press operators.

National List of Problem Teachers Made Public - A confidential, nationwide list of 24,500 teachers who have been punished for a wide array of offenses had been made available to the public by a Florida newspaper. The database can be searched online at

Study Questions Wisdom of Shift of 6th Graders From Elementary to Middle Schools - Sixth graders do better in elementary school than middle school, according to researchers at Duke University and the University of California at Berkeley who found that sixth graders in middle school had more discipline problems and lower test scores than their sixth-grade peers in elementary schools.

Classroom Management Tips: Start Your Day the Right Way
Behavior Management Tips: Encouraging Classroom Participation
Motivating Kids: Try a New Strategy
Help for Homework Hassles: What's Tonight's Assignment Again?
Best Idea Ever: Say "Thanks" to Your Student Teacher

Cutting Provisions Could Free Funds - Report finds that certain contract provisions for teacher pay raises have "a weak or inconsistent relationship with student learning." U.S. public schools could have as much as $77 billion more a year to improve teaching if they reduced spending on pay increases based on seniority, professional development days, generous health and retirement benefits, teacher's aides, class size limits and other measures often found in teacher union contracts, a new study contends.


Commission Recommends Drastic Changes to U.S. Public Education - A bipartisan commission has proposed a series of dramatic changes that would shake up American public education in an effort to make the nation more competitive globally. The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce issued its recommendations — which include paying teachers significantly better salaries, authorizing school districts to pay companies to run schools, and enrolling many students in college after tenth grade — in a 170-page report on the future workforce.

Do Corporations Peddle Junk Science to School Kids? - The oil industry, the coal industry and other corporate interests are exploiting shortfalls in education funding by using a small slice of their record profits to buy themselves a classroom soapbox, through textbooks, classroom posters and teacher seminars. Students should expect, and parents should demand, that educators present an honest and unbiased look at the true state of knowledge about the challenges of the day, writes Laurie David, the producer of documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." In the meantime, Mom and Dad may want to keep a sharp eye on their kids' science homework.

Summer Learning Opportunities Can be a Key to Academic Success - This Urban Institute evaluation on the nationally recognized summer enrichment program operated by BELL -- a nonprofit provider of after-school and summer programs to 8,000 low-income students in Boston, New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.—found that the program increases students’ reading skills and their parents’ involvement in their education.

TX New High School Sets Bar High for Students - How do you build a high school from scratch? In Collin County's Lovejoy ISD, it begins with high expectations. All students in the small district's first high school will take pre-AP classes when the new campus opens Aug. 7. The strategy is unusual and makes some parents nervous, but local officials and some experts say it potentially could boost student performance. Principal Mike Goddard visited schools as far away as New Hampshire and Minnesota to help develop the school's strategy.


Bill Gates Gets Schooled - Six years and a steep learning curve later Melinda Gates says she and Bill didn't realize at first how much cooperation it would take from school districts and states to break up traditional big schools. "If you want to equate being naive with being inexperienced, then we were definitely naive when we first started," she says.


A textbook Case of Failure - As younger, inexperienced teachers are thrown into classrooms to meet new federal standards, as much as 90 percent of the burden of instruction rests on textbooks, yet, few if any textbooks are ever subjected to independent field testing of whether they actually help students learn. “This is where people miss the boat. They don’t realize how important the textbooks are,” said Frank Wang, a former textbook publisher who left the field to teach mathematics at the University of Oklahoma. “We talk about vouchers and more teachers, but education is about the books. That’s where the content is.”


WI Madison Schools Closing Racial Achievement Gap - Madison's public schools appear to be succeeding with efforts to attack a problem common to urban districts nationwide — the performance gap between students of different races, according to two education researchers who attributed the gains to strategies that promote improved training of teachers and more focused tutoring.


The 65% Solution is Worth a Try - Five states have now adopted laws which require that school districts spend at least 65% of their budgets directly in schools to support classroom teaching and learning. Why? In order to understand what is really going on it is necessary to take a step back and look at the culture in major urban districts and what is really causing the problem of misappropriating funds away from classrooms. These districts have created a very clear reward system that distributes money, power and status to adults on the following basis: The less contact one has with children and youth in classrooms the higher one's status salary and power; the more direct contact with the students, the lower one's status, salary and power.


The Big Gift: A New Fundraising Strategy For Public Schools (PDF) - In 2004, more than $240 billion was contributed to worthy causes across America. Of this amount, approximately $31 billion (13 percent) went to education -- second only to religion in grants and gifts received. More than 80 percent of all contributions, including bequests, came from individual donors. That’s $170 billion. What does all this mean to public schools trying to bring in outside monies? It means that the schools need to learn how to pursue individual donors as never before.


Why School Achievement Isn't Reaching the Poor - We are at the point where any study that shows how low-income schools can reach the heights of academic performance is also an indictment of how the nation has no commitment to lifting all schools.


Helping Pupils, Other Teachers - It was in language arts class, four weeks into the school year, when Aileen Mercado saw the impact she was having on American children. As usual, her sixth-grade pupils were spending the first 10 minutes writing in journals. Unprompted, Elizabeth Mendoza decided to write about her teacher. I am going to tell you about Mrs. Mercado she is a very nice person and she is a beautiful lady. Then also Mrs. Mercado is really helpful to me and every one in the school. "I almost cried," Mercado says later. "It affirms that I'm doing my part somehow."


Are Single-sex Classrooms the Best Way to Teach Kids? - Three years ago, Principal Jeff Gray realized that his school needed help—and fast. Test scores were the worst in the county and the students, particularly the boys, were falling far behind. Gray revamped the curriculum and divided the classes by gender. Gray says the gender-based curriculum gave the school "the edge we needed." Tests scores are up. Discipline problems are down.


FL Miami-Dade Schools May Split Genders - When the single-gender classes began last year -- voluntary for both students and teachers -- the results were jarring. In co-ed fourth-grade classes, 33 percent of boys and 59 percent of girls passed the state's standardized writing test. In the single-gender classes, those figures jumped to 86 percent for boys and 75 percent for girls.


Blogging Classroom Connects to Parents - Some parents struggle to get their children to surrender even a scrap of information about what they did in school. But last year, Joyce Schubert didn't even have to ask. Each day, after her fifth-grade daughter, Kayla Vance, disappeared into a Pinellas Park Elementary School classroom, Schubert would log onto the Internet for a virtual peek inside.


8th Grade Equivalent Isn't the Same Anymore - Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895?...Take a Look: This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 from Salina, KS. USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS and reprinted by the Salina Journal.


Practice Scenes For the Tough Choices of Adolescence - Role playing helps students engage in class and show less aggression, a study shows.


MA Dorchester School's Seniors All Accepted to College - One 9th grader read at the 3rd grade level. A few struggled to multiply or divide. One girl's father had been slain. Another student was homeless. Most students who entered the new Codman Academy charter high school never expected to get into college. Some simply did not want to try. But they had no choice at Codman. Each had to apply to college before they would be allowed to graduate.


Forget Midterms, What About Midriffs? Teacher Attire Becoming a Touchy Topic - Teachers are expected to bear long days, challenging students and demanding parents. Now, apparently, some teachers are baring too much of themselves. School boards and superintendents increasingly are pursuing dress codes for teachers. At issue is the same kind of questionable attire most often associated with students.


NY How A District in the Bronx Got Results: From Pushing - For decades, District 9 was a tale of woe. The local school board had a history of corruption and for many years, the district's reading scores were the worst in the city. Six years ago only 17.1 percent of District 9's fourth graders scored at grade level, now, the number 17.1, represents the district's percentage-point gain in fourth-grade scores. Parents and community groups banded together to form CC9, the Community Collaborative to Improve District 9 Schools. Last year CC9 brokered a remarkable deal between the teachers' union and the school system to create a "lead teacher" program, in which veteran educators were paired to share a class so they could spend half their time mentoring less experienced colleagues. Lead teachers are paid an extra $10,000 a year. 


Commentary: Schools Need to go Back to Basics - Apparently believing more than 200 years ago that an idle mind can be the devil's playground, Wordsworth and his classmates spent 11 hours a day in school, five days a week, and half a day on Saturday.


Do Clothes Make the Student? - Many administrators say uniforms help improve student behavior and learning.


Tool: School Communities that Work - The complexity of traditional school funding formulas makes it difficult to compare budget allocations among schools in a district. In urban districts, especially, the diversity of programs, student populations, and funding streams can result in very different per pupil dollars for different schools. Assessing Patterns of Resource Distribution (APRD) is a free online tool that allows district officials and other stakeholders to compare district spending for schools with different students and programs, pinpointing possible inequities. All you need to do is enter public data on spending and enrollment, and the tool does all the calculations.

NC Parents Decry Inner-city Schools - They say educational quality suffers in high-poverty CMS areas Frustrated black parents complained Saturday that their children are getting a second-rate education in inner-city schools that are filled with students from poor families.


MA Schools Feed a Need - This wasn't sixth-grader Kevin Roche's day. It was well after 6 p.m., and he was still at school, racking his brain to explain the chemical reactions of acids and bases. Worse, his Dad sat beside him, peering at his every pencil scratch. And just across the cafeteria table sat his teacher, making sure he stayed on task. They came to Andrews Middle School for a ''Family Homework" dinner, where once a month teachers and students prepare a meal for families in the cafeteria. After breaking bread, everyone breaks out the books.


MI At-risk Kids Get Education Boost - Commerce Twp. middle-schoolers who struggle get help in alternative program. When Kandiss Keller tried to understand her homework last year, she would often get frustrated and give up. This school year, she has the help of Skills for Success, an alternative middle school program that meets twice a day, at the beginning and end of the school day.


MI Dearborn Schools Enlist Online Tutors - The first 24-hour online tutoring program in the state for middle and high school students was launched Tuesday in the Dearborn Public Schools to boost standardized test scores, homework grades and comprehension of classroom lesson plans.


UK The Head Who Banned Homework - Spiritualists believe the village of Marlborough, in Wiltshire, lies at the heart of the modern-day crop circle phenomenon. Last week, however, a local headmaster achieved something even more mystical: he made homework disappear.


The One-size-fits-all Way Girls Are Taught Explains Their Differences With Boys - A distinguished Harvard professor suggests women may be innately less capable of scholarship at the highest levels and asserts that the pursuit of an academic career will cause a woman's body to shunt blood away from the uterus toward the brain, rendering that woman "irritable and infertile." A flurry of press coverage ensues.


MN Minnesota Governor Unveils School Improvement Plan - Gov. Tim Pawlenty unveiled a sweeping education agenda for Minnesota on Wednesday before hundreds of educators, business leaders and politicians. That agenda includes higher pay for teachers who work in tough schools. The plan also gives more power to schools so they can pick their own teachers and set their own budgets. Pawlenty was joined at his talk by Louis V. Gerstner Jr., chairman of the Teaching Commission, a nationwide policy consortium of business leaders, educators and political figures dedicated to, among other things, changing the way teachers are paid and improving teacher training. Gerstner said Minnesota will be the first of four to six states the commission wants to work with to implement its agenda for education change.


MI State Superintendent Taps Energy of Model School - A meeting with the front line troops in West Bloomfield served as an energy booster for Michigan's head of public schools Monday. Tom Watkins, state superintendent of public education, spent most of Monday at the Bloomfield Hills Public School's Model High School to find out what teachers and students believe is important in education.


MI Local Students Provide Insight to State Education Leader - Bay-Arenac Community High School's progress with troubled and challenged students has caught the attention of the state's top educator. Tom Watkins, Michigan's superintendent of public instruction, visited the Essexville school on Friday to ask the students what has helped them become successful. "You'll hear some real pearls of wisdom," Watkins said of talking to the students. "They'll tell you what works and what doesn't."


Emotional Ties to School Vital to Success - There's a growing body of evidence that building emotional connections between young people and their schools improves their commitment to education and increases their ability to resist risky behavior. Research shows that 40 percent to 60 percent of all students -- urban, suburban and rural - are "chronically disengaged" from school. And these numbers don't include kids who actually drop out of school. "Essentially, we're telling kids they're on their own, and while many of them succeed, many don't. This is not acceptable."


No Black-White Test-Score Gap at Age 4, But It Appears After Children Enter School - African American children and white children from similar family backgrounds who entered kindergarten in 1998 began school with approximately the same test scores. This striking finding is drawn from the national Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. But by the end of first grade African American children have lost ground to comparable white children. The authors find no evidence that slippage occurs over the summertime, an oft-offered explanation for the test-score gap. Nor are differences in family background the likely cause. Instead, it appears that the cause is within the schoolhouse.


CA Teachers Find Making House Calls Pays Off - Katrina Ramos had difficulty keeping her class under control when she first started teaching at Hiram Johnson High School three years ago. Her students were defiant and talked back to her, making it difficult to teach, the special education teacher said. So she opted to take advantage of a local program, receiving the training necessary to make individual home visits. The result: Her classroom's behavior turned around in no time.


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Teacher Certification


Uncertified Teachers Performing Well, Study Finds - According to a new study, uncertified teachers end up performing just as well in the classroom as certified teachers and alternatively trained teachers. The study's results appear to challenge requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act that every classroom have a "highly qualified" teacher, instead suggesting that schools should put more emphasis on weeding out bad apples after the teachers have been hired. While alternatively certified and uncertified teachers do worse at first, they appear to improve at faster rates than traditionally certified teachers and by the teachers' third year on the job, students of alternatively certified and uncertified teachers are performing just as well as those of traditionally certified teachers.


Challenge to Teacher Ed - For-profit venture seeks to offer a new model, involving close ties to school districts and a curriculum based on the latest research.


Innovations In Education - "Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification" looks at six programs that prepare people who already have content knowledge -- such as mid-career professionals, liberal arts graduates, retired military personnel, and other college graduates -- to teach. "Alternative Pathways to School Leadership" provides examples of successful strategies to prepare candidates for school leadership positions. To receive two copies of each new book, write to Courtney Phillips at or click on the link above. [Source: Office of Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education]


Check your child's Michigan Teacher Certification Status

KY Kentucky Teachers Taking Alternative Paths to Certifications - A growing number of Kentucky teachers are taking alternative routes to their certification - getting into the classroom while earning their credentials.


Alternative teacher-certification program debuts online - A new internet-based program that allows underqualified teachers, career changers, and other professionals to bypass teacher colleges to become "highly qualified" certified teachers made its debut Aug. 22. Passport to Teaching targets people who are interested in becoming teachers but don't want to take the time and incur the expense of completing a traditional teacher-education program. [Free registration required to read/view this article @]


Attention Michigan Teachers: Information and teacher certification applications can be found at the Michigan Dept. of Ed. website at  Click on educators on the left and then on professional preparation on the left.


Looking for a job?  K-12 job opportunities may be found at or


What's Wrong With Teacher Certification? - Current teacher licensing, or teacher certification, as it is commonly called, does not do what it is intended to do. It does not differentiate clearly between those who are qualified to teach and those who are not.


Paige Backs Reform in Certification of Teachers - Mr. Paige yesterday endorsed the new American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), whose mission is to certify subject experts, experienced professionals and military veterans as public school teachers, even if they don't have degrees in education.


Teachers get an easy pass - Minnesota teachers hold a national reputation for excellence, but when it comes to the tests they take to get their licenses, the state allows some of the lowest passing scores in the country.




Innovations In Education - "Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification" looks at six programs that prepare people who already have content knowledge -- such as mid-career professionals, liberal arts graduates, retired military personnel, and other college graduates -- to teach. "Alternative Pathways to School Leadership" provides examples of successful strategies to prepare candidates for school leadership positions. To receive two copies of each new book, write to Courtney Phillips at or click on the link above. [Source: Office of Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education]


Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does the Research Say? - A new publication from the Collaborative on Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, examines the relationships between social emotional education and school success, specifically focusing on interventions that enhance student learning. The book provides both scientific evidence and practical examples in describing the benefits of social emotional learning programs, such as: skill-building linked to cognitive development; improved relationships between students and teachers; school-family partnerships to help students achieve; and increased student confidence and success. To order a copy from Teachers College Press go to


ISLLC Standards Found Lacking in Practices Related to Student Achievement (PDF) - The Mid-continent Regional Education Laboratory takes a look at the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards for licensing school principals and finds that they contain some---but not all---of the leadership responsibilities and practices that are correlated with student achievement. If you’re one of the 40 states that have incorporated ISLLC into their leadership standards, you’ll want to read this report.


Eight Elements for Superintendents Who Want to Make a Difference - Today’s superintendency calls on deep reserves from leaders who understand and seek to practice fundamental tenets of what Michael Fullan calls "system thinkers in action." The eight elements of sustainability constitute the agenda for the superintendent who wants to make a difference and has the resolve and energy to keep going: (1) Public service with moral purpose; (2) Change the entire context within which people work; (3) Strengthen peer relations across schools; (4) Increase the capacity of schools to engage in self-review; (5) Continuous improvement, adaptation and collective problem solving in the face of complex challenges; (6) Dual commitment to short-term and long-term results; (7) Taking the energy, additional time, and ingenuity required for the next breakthrough; and (8) Developing other leaders in the district.


KS In Less Than 2 Years, Principal Restores Discipline, Improves Test Scores - After Denise Wren took over one of Wichita's toughest high schools, she did more with less. A lot more. Math and reading test scores rose. Writing scores jumped 14 percentage points.


Featured Website:, a partnership of IEL (Institute for Educational Leadership) and the Laboratory for Student Success (LSS), offers states and districts information about how to provide better professional development for principals The renovated site now includes over 30 programs in its selected database, in addition to other guidance and resources.


Commentary: Is Unity Possible? - One of the challenges of leadership in any organization (or country) is how to respect and incorporate diverse viewpoints and experiences while uniting behind a common vision in order to reach common goals – and not allowing the process to be derailed.


MI Everett's Principal is Named Best in the State - Dale Glynn, who has led Lansing's diverse Everett High School since 1995, is Michigan's new High School Principal of the Year. Affectionately known as "Rainbow Man" because of his inclusive nature, Glynn said the students "become my sons and my daughters."


Mentors Are Biggest Help to New Teachers, Report Indicates - Since 1999, researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have followed the careers of 50 new Massachusetts teachers.

The Waiting Game - Alexander Russo looks at the struggles of graduates of the highly competitive program New Leaders for New Schools to find jobs in traditional public schools. New Leaders fellows receive the kind of leadership and management training that principals hired through traditional routes seldom enjoy. Each cohort of “new leaders” is chosen through a highly competitive application process. Those selected take courses during the summer, then spend a year in full-time “residency” at a school under the guidance of a mentor principal. The current fellows range in age from their late 20s to their mid-50s. Two-thirds are African-American, Hispanic, or Asian-American, and two-thirds are women. Most important, they are among the most confident, determined, and accomplished school leadership candidates you can imagine.

It Takes Much More Than Mentors to Help New Teachers - On Sunday, May 16, 2004, I saw a posting from headlining “Mentors are biggest help to new teachers, report indicates.” It cites the May/June Harvard Education Letter and the Public Education Network to support its headline and article. Both the posting and the Harvard Education Letter are incorrect. A definition is in order. Mentoring and induction are not synonymous. Mentoring is what a mentor does. Induction is the name given to the comprehensive process used to train, support, and retain new teachers, of which a mentor may be one component. Mentors are very important, but they must be part of an induction process aligned to the district’s vision, mission, and structure. For a mentor to be effective, the mentor must be trained and then used in combination with the other components of the induction process.


FL In This Florida District Diversity Hasn't Reached the Principal's Office - In Florida's giant Broward County school district, only 10 school principals are Hispanic. That's 6 percent, compared with nearly one in four students. Even as the county rapidly grows more diverse, school administrators are still mostly white non-Hispanics--and their grip on the principal's office can be damaging, Hispanic parents say.


OH Fewer Want to be Superintendents - Superintendents are retiring in record numbers, but schools can't fill their positions.


Seven Principles of Sustainable Leadership - A new study finds that a key force leading to meaningful, long-term change is leadership sustainability. Most school leadership practices create temporary, localized flurries of change but little lasting or widespread improvement. The study found some exceptions, however. From the first day of their appointment, some leaders thought hard about how they might implement deep, broad, and long-lasting reforms. The authors illustrate seven principles that together define sustainable leadership.


The Star Principal Questionnaire - Do you have what it takes to be the principal of a school serving diverse children in poverty? Individuals who can be effective school principals are in great demand. Leaders who can transform failing schools into successful ones have specific predispositions which have been identified and constructed into a test.


IL Schools Plan to Make Becoming a Principal Much Tougher - Would-be Chicago public school principals would have to pass a new oral and written exam and produce an adequate writing sample under a plan that could make Chicago one of the toughest places in the nation to win a job as principal, officials said Friday. [Source]


Toolkit - Parent Checklist: Examining Principal Leadership in Your Community (PDF) from


Leadership is an Affair of the Heart - "When I have asked teachers and principals, 'What is the guiding principle or big idea that drives the work of your school and gives direction and focus to the people who work within it?' the most common response is, 'We need to raise test scores,'" writes Rick DuFour. That's not enough. " Leaders who are most effective in generating results know how to "appeal not only to the bottom line, but also to the heart. In fact, one of the best strategies for improving results is connecting with people's deepest, heartfelt hopes." [Source: PEN]


CA Co-principals: Divvying up a Monster Job - At Polytechnic High School here, everyone wants a piece of Principal Shawn Ashley. They all also want a piece of Principal Gwen Mack. One minute, a teacher is complaining about kids loitering in the halls. The next, an aide is hauling in a boy caught in the girls’ bathroom. Then a custodian is griping about co-workers. Ashley and Mack take it all in stride.


NC Women Lead Few School Districts - The path to the superintendent's office can be difficult. Leaning slightly in her chair, Orange County schools Superintendent Shirley Carraway reflects on the path she took to her corner office in Hillsborough. The journey of a few paces from the front door was years long, navigating through male-dominated territory and leaping hurdles of preference, prejudice and perception. It's a voyage that many women don't get to make.


NY Principal Apple of His Eye - It didn't take an army of cops to turn around troubled Hillcrest High School in Queens. It took a tough principal. One day after announcing plans to flood the city's 12 most dangerous schools with more police, Chancellor Joel Klein made a surprise visit to the Jamaica school that just two years ago was one of the most violent in the city. The drop-in was designed to show that Klein thinks principals, not cops, are ultimately responsible for the safety in their schools.


CA A Buddy System for Educators - At Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, everyone wants a piece of Principal Shawn Ashley. They all also want a piece of Principal Gwen Mack. One minute, a teacher is complaining about kids loitering in the halls. The next, an aide is hauling in a boy caught in the girls' bathroom. Then a custodian is griping about co-workers. Ashley and Mack take it all in stride. Inside their office, with two gray cubicles and two names on the door, they divvy up a monster job usually heaped on the shoulders of a single principal.


Guiding Principles for Principal Professional Development - "E-Lead," a free website resource dedicated to providing states and districts with guidance about and information on the professional development of school principals, was launched through the partnership of the Laboratory for Student Success and the Institute for Educational Leadership. [Source: PEN]


Leadership Opportunity: Broad Center 2004 Urban Superintendents Academy - The Urban Superintendents Academy is a 10-month executive management course designed to prepare leaders from outside and inside the education sector to become successful urban superintendents. The Broad Center is seeking high-achieving, dynamic executives from the corporate, nonprofit, government, military and education sectors who have a passion for improving public education by serving as chief executive officers in our nation's largest urban school systems. Application deadlines are September 15 and October 15, 2003.


The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on state-level education policy and educational leadership development.  The mission of The Education Policy and Leadership Center is to encourage and support the use of more effective state-level education policies to improve student learning in grades K-12, increase the effective operation of schools, and enhance educational opportunities for citizens of all ages.


WA School Chiefs Lack Broad Authority for Reforms, UW Survey Finds - A University of Washington study being released Monday suggests the goals of No Child Left Behind -- a sweeping educational reform that holds schools and districts accountable for student achievement -- will be difficult to meet unless school superintendents are given greater authority.


An Impossible Job? The View From the Urban Superintendent's Chair - This report, the second in the Center's leadership series, finds that even the best superintendents cannot make the changes necessary to raise school performance because district governance thwarts their ability to implement reform. The research is based on surveys and interviews of 140 urban superintendents, and the final chapter outlines a number of recommendations to empower superintendents.  View the summary, policy brief, press release, or full report.


Agent of Change - A year in the life of a hard-charging superintendent shows what it takes to overhaul a school system. (You must login/register to read this article from Education Week.)


Report on Effective Leadership Now Available

Report on Effective Leadership Now Available - Effective Superintendents, Effective Boards: Finding the Right Fit looks at the relationship between school boards and superintendents and how it affects student achievement.  This report is available for free (pdf) on the Web and $10 for a hard copy at  (An Education Writers Association Special Report)


Beyond Instructional Leadership: The Learning-Centered Principal - "When I entered the principalship a quarter century ago, the research on effective schools warned that without strong administrative leadership, the disparate elements of good schooling could be neither brought together nor kept together. I heeded the message. I was determined to rise above the mundane managerial tasks of the job and focus instead on instruction—I hoped to be an instructional leader."


Target Stores and Tiger Woods Restructure Start Something Scholarship Program - Target Stores and the Tiger Woods Foundation have restructured Start Something, a program that helps young people pursue their dreams and goals and encourages youth leadership and community stewardship.


CA Chief San Diego school reformer to leave - Superintendent calls departure 'mutual'.


Read the article "A Compass in the Storm" - Guiding principles for a new age of business and school partnerships.


Leadership dilemmas can only be answered through spiritual and philosophical traditions - "I’d like to offer just a few simple practices that I personally can’t live without if I’m to maintain a sense of focus and peace as a leader...."


By looking inward, any individual has the capacity to rise to greatness - "Leadership is a mysterious and elusive concept. What we read as history is really the creation of myths. From an ordinary person, society creates a Napoleon or Gandhi, a Martin Luther King Jr. or Joan of Arc, someone who acquires mythic status as a shaper of destiny." - Deepak Chopra


A Way to Engage, Not Escape - "In a time when educational leaders are told to focus on numbers-driven, outcome-based, bottom-line accountability, the idea of spirituality in leadership can seem quaint, irrelevant and downright squishy. What possible use can spirituality have for leaders, other than perhaps to serve as a brief and unreal respite from the rough-and-tumble world?"


Five principles for welcoming soul into school leadership - “What are the ‘inner’ skills and strengths you have cultivated and sustained that make you a strong leader today?” I asked Bob Adams, the superintendent in Aurora, Colorado.


Professional Development                      Click here for information on Grant Writing.


Featured Educational Websites for Teachers:  

4 Teachers

Education World
The Teacher's Corner
You Can Handle Them All - Discipline Help - (You want the "old" version)
Teacher Training Videos


GAMES FOR LEARNING: From MIT - Playful approaches for building cognitive skills and exploring science & math. Games play an important role in the learning process: they provide a safe, creative environment in which children learn to experiment, collaborate and problem-solve. We work with educators to make sure our games tie into their math and science curriculums. The games we develop can be played on computers or mobile devices, and are used both inside and outside the classroom.


Space Study Sessions for Better Retention, Researchers Suggest - Proper timing between presenting class material and scheduling study sessions can dramatically affect learning, according to a new study of more than 1,000 people. Researchers found that the longer the gap between when material was first covered and when it was revisited in study sessions, the more likely students were to remember it a year later. "Instruction that packs a lot of learning into a short period is likely to be extremely inefficient," said Hal Pashler, a University of California, San Diego, psychology professor.


Speaking Slowly Helps Children Learn - The average adult speaks at a rate of almost 170 words per minute, but the average 5- to 7- year-old processes speech at a rate of only 120 words per minute. The gap between what a child hears and what he or she understands can appear to parents and teachers as inattention, confusion or outright defiance.


Learn more about Janice Fialka's unique approach to strengthening Parent-Professional Partnerships by visiting her website on The Dance of Partnership: Why Do My Feet Hurt?


Teaching Style and Classroom Management - The process of maintaining a calm and productive classroom environment starts with the teacher.


Editorial: 'Special' Education Helps All Students - The University of Cincinnati has just announced a plan to offer free or drastically reduced tuition to teachers willing to enter the field of special education. That's a cost savings and employment enhancement for teachers, but the real winners in this package are students - and that's not just children with special needs but regular education students as well.


Where Some Give Credit, Others Say It's Not Due - Teachers frequently ask themselves: If a student shows significant effort but averages a D on her tests, should her hard work result in at least a C? Or does that render grades meaningless?


Teaching Children With AD/HD: Instructional Strategies And Practices: 2004 (PDF) - An excellent overview of strategies and practices for teachers.


MI Macomb Facility Teaches Teachers - When Meggan McLain of St. Clair decided to become a special education teacher, she chose Saginaw Valley State University's Macomb Regional Education Center to help her achieve her goal.


A Chance to Teach--and to Learn - As a schoolteacher fights cancer, her pupils are showing her how to "live in the moment."



Looking for a job?  Visit our section on Job Opportunities & Resources or K-12 job opportunities may be found at or


The Saints of Education - The demands on the teachers of special education students are enormous. The work is emotionally and physically draining. The stress is considerable. The magnitude of the workload is colossal with all of the mandated reporting and administrative tasks expected of them. The cumulative effect of teaching the special education child causes many teachers to leave the profession after just a few years.


MI Featured Website: Michigan Learnport - The Michigan Department of Education and Michigan Virtual University have jointly created a professional development website that houses many of MDE's resources most commonly used by Michigan educators.


» Click here for more in-depth resources and information on this topic. 


Drop Outs & GED


Dropouts Establish Patterns Early On - Warning signs of high school academic woes can be seen in students as young as 11 and addressed, researchers say.

MI State Grad Rate At 75% - More than four out of 10 students didn't graduate from Detroit Public Schools (DPS) in 2007, according to data released today by the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI).

MI Michigan CIS-Schools Partner to Fight Dropout Epidemic - Michigan's six Communities in Schools (CIS) programs, which use adult role models to prevent children from dropping out, could help relieve the budget strain on K-12 education because of the program's attractiveness to private donors, advocates say.

MI Hearings Scheduled to Address Michigan’s Dropout Crisis - Solutions sought to raise graduation rates. Finding ways to fix Michigan’s dropout crisis is the focus of public hearings beginning in May, part of a statewide initiative to increase the number of high school graduates to stabilize a weak economy.


Detroit Schools Graduation Rate: 32% - Just 31.9 percent of Detroit students graduate in four years, according to the first major study in Michigan conducted using a method now mandated by the federal government.


Reviews from the What Works Clearinghouse: Dropout Prevention (March 2007, Research Reviews) - The What Works Clearinghouse of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has published reviews of two dropout prevention interventions: Middle College High School and Twelve Together.

MI Dropout Numbers Not Always Verified - Data used by state and federal policymakers to set education policy, and by parents in making location decisions, could very well be inaccurate, according to an audit released today.


Whatever It Takes: Reconnecting Out-Of-School Youth - This new report documents what committed educators, policymakers, and community leaders across the country are doing to reconnect out-of-school youth to the social and economic mainstream. It provides background on the serious high school dropout problem and describes in-depth what twelve communities are doing to reconnect dropouts to education and employment training. It also includes descriptions of major national program models serving out-of-school youth.


Drop Outs: In this three-part series, the Los Angeles Times examines why so many students drastically limit their prospects by dropping out of high school.

PART ONE: Back to Basics: Why Does High School Fail So Many?
Algebra: A Formula for Failure in L.A. Schools
Trail to Graduation: 'It's Like You're Climbing Everest'


Big IDEAs: Dropout Prevention Strategies - Big IDEAs: Dropout Prevention Strategies is the quarterly e-mail newsletter of the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities. You can browse back issues of Big IDEAs on the Center’s Website.

Preventing Dropouts Helps Nation’s Economy - Four words changed Josh Baker’s life: You can play football.


IN Paying the Price for the Dropout Epidemic - Two facts are closely linked: Indiana was 44th in the nation in job creation last year, and it's 46th in the educational attainment level of its population. The first number won't rise until the second is confronted.


CA Dropout Numbers Called 'Crisis' - A study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project and the Urban Institute found that California's reported graduation rate of 87 percent dramatically underestimates the actual number of dropouts. Researchers found that the actual graduation rate is probably closer to 71 percent. Rates for minority students were even lower: 57 percent for African Americans, 60 percent for Latinos and 52 percent for Native Americans. Rates for minority males dropped even further, according to the study.


Math Emerges As Big Hurdle For Teenagers - Researchers from the United Negro College Fund went to West Virginia last year and asked 62 high school dropouts in the federal Job Corps program a simple, open-ended question. “What was it about school,” they wanted to know, “that caused you to quit?”


Looking for your Michigan GED Transcript? Click here to download the Michigan GED Transcript Request Form (PDF; size=61k).


One-third of a Nation: America's Escalating High School Dropout Crisis (PDF) - "This is a story of losing ground," writes author Paul Barton. "At the same time that the dropout rate is increasing and out-of-school education and training opportunities are dwindling, the economic status of young dropouts has been in a free fall since the late 1970s. Employment and earnings prospects have declined and even for those who work full time, earnings have dropped steadily to averages around the poverty line for a family with children."
Book Review: Dropouts in America - The one essential fact that emerges from this collection of essays by scholars with Harvard’s Civil Rights Project is that the high school dropout rate is much worse than most people suspect. [Free login/registration required to view this article.]

MI Commentary: Raising Dropout Age Won't Fix the Core Problem - Forcing troubled students to stay in school until they're 18 may create more headaches for schools.


MI Nichole M. Christian: Give School Kids 2 More Years at a Better Chance - People will probably argue into the next millennium about the true number of kids who drop out of school in Detroit and other Michigan cities. Is it 20 percent who start high school but never graduate, or as high as 50 percent, the current belief about Detroit? State School Superintendent Tom Watkins would prefer to take the debate in a more provocative direction. Whatever the numbers, he says, the damage adds up to the same: Kids are being lost.


OH Mall Schools Offer New Chance - In teenage parlance, they "fell out." In their teachers' words, the students were "at risk." All agree - if it weren't for the nontraditional schools inside Randall Park Mall here and Southern Park Mall in Youngstown, Northeast Ohio would have hundreds more high school dropouts.


CANADA Dropouts Face Bleak Job Future - Christopher Hayes reaches into the back pocket of his blue jeans and pulls out a crumpled piece of paper. It's his pay stub from the previous two weeks' work. His net take-home pay after working 84 hours is $547.98. That's a meager $7.75 an hour, the dejected 20-year old points out. For Hayes, who has only a Grade 10 education, the prospects of finding a well-paying job are slim.


TX HISD Taps $435,000 For Dropout Prevention - Money will go to hire 10 specialists; officials laud effort at college prep. In approving the plan Thursday, Houston Independent School District trustees said they want the money to make a difference in a district where as many as 30 percent to 40 percent of all students drop out.


TestPrepReview - is a free service "created to provide free practice test questions for students in a variety of career situations." Includes online review for ACT, SAT, GED, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, ParaPro, Nursing, and many more.


GED: Testing Out - The GED booms among teenagers, but is it a good idea? The two girls from the Merrimack Valley both believed the GED was their ticket out of high school.


TX State Undercounts Dropouts, Expert Says - Boston professor says Texas should look at completion numbers. Annual school ratings surged over the past decade in Texas with the help of a faulty formula used to count dropouts, a Boston College professor said Tuesday during a court challenge to the state's school finance system. [Free login/registration required to view this article.]


MA After-School Program, Support Turns Teen Around - A knee injury kept Phil Pham of Worcester from playing football anymore. He became depressed and says he would have dropped out of high school if it weren't for an after-school program.


High Schools Producing the Most Dropouts Identified (PDF) - Graduation is hardly a given for freshmen in 2,000 of America's public high schools. Using data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics, researchers compared the number of freshmen in each school to the number of seniors there four years later. The results indicate that the dropout crisis is fueled by the 20 percent of high schools in which graduation is not the norm. Nearly half of the country's African American students and two out of five Latino students attend one of these "dropout factories," compared with just 11 percent of America's white students.


NY Higher 'Degree' of High School Kids Seek GED - The number of Big Apple students under 21 who have enrolled in alternative high-school GED programs has skyrocketed 40 percent, a new state report shows.


MI A GED, Your Ticket To Freedom - Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law a bill today that would allow a judge to require someone to get their high school diploma or their general education development (GED) certificate before they are allowed to get off probation.


CA On GED Exam, the Dropout Had an Answer for Everything - Zach Olkewicz posted a rare perfect score after leaving school to care for his ailing father last year. He joins the 14 million people who have taken the General Educational Development test since it was introduced in 1942 for U.S. servicemen returning from World War II who wanted to go directly to college without heading back to high school. [Free registration/login required.]


Universities Not Doing Much to Stem Dropout Rate - There is nothing wrong in principle with Americans who choose not to go to college, or who drop out soon after they start, but it would be nice if their decisions stemmed from careful reflection rather than frustration with large institutions that don’t care much about them.


Many High School Freshman Have to Repeat 9th Grade - The first year Daniel Rodriguez was in ninth grade, he failed English and science and was suspended "countless times," he said, for fighting with classmates.

MI Schools Struggling to Address Drop out Rate - Michigan schools don't know how many students are dropping out of high school or where they're going when they quit, leaving thousands of teenagers lost in the state system designed to track them.


MO YouthBuild charter school won't reopen in fall - A St. Louis charter school aimed at teaching dropouts does not expect to be open next fall, shuttered by the difficulties of paying for special education and helping students at risk of failing.


FL High school dropout rates fall for 3rd year - High school dropout rates fell in Miami-Dade County for the third consecutive year, improving across all demographic lines and firming the district's national reputation for keeping students in school with a variety of targeted and innovative programs.


Retention efforts pay off for CAPS - Efforts launched last year by Cadillac Area Public Schools to reduce the district’s drop-out rate already are showing results.


Teacher Quality

Excellence in the Classroom - A new volume from The Future of Children concludes that good teachers make a difference. According to the 15 leading scholars who contributed to the journal, the most promising way to improve teacher quality is to broaden entry requirements, identify and promote effective teachers, provide additional pay to successful teachers who work in challenging schools, and promote meaningful professional development.

New Way of Rating Teachers is Sought - Lawyer Sandy Kress, an education adviser to President Bush and key architect of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, wants lawmakers to devise a system for rating individual teacher effectiveness, a controversial and trailblazing approach he says one day will allow Texas to match the best teachers with the students who most need them. Nationally, policymakers have shown little appetite to tackle the teacher quality gap, though many researchers consider it the most significant explanation for the persistence of test score differences between the haves and have-nots.

NY Commentary: Transform Teaching Now - For all the NY City students working to meet rigorous new academic standards, nothing is more important than having a good teacher. Teaching is a tough job, requiring a high level of talent, drive, knowledge and skill. But a new study of graduating college seniors found that students who major in education - the future teachers of America - have lower levels of literacy than all other students studied.


The Move to Get a Top Teacher in Every Major Class - After more than 25 years giving science tests to her middle-school students, Rebecca Pringle may have to pass one herself to prove she's qualified to teach the subject.


Check your child's Michigan Teacher Certification Status

TEACHER QUALITY: Understanding the Effectiveness of Teacher Attributes - Teacher quality matters. In fact, it is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement. Moreover, teacher compensation represents a significant public investment: in 2002 alone, the United States invested $192 billion in teacher pay and benefits. Given the size of this investment, there is remarkably little research to guide such critical decisions as whom to hire, retain, and promote. In the absence of a strong, robust, and deep body of research, the debate in this field is largely ideological. As schools struggle to meet the national standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act, a new Economic Policy Institute study suggests that, when it comes to teacher quality, the Act may be taking the schools in the wrong direction by, among other things, de-emphasizing the importance of courses on how to teach. An executive summary of new research by University of Maryland professor Jennifer King Rice, sketches what is known about the kind of training and experience teachers need to teach effectively and for their students to succeed in school. The book analyzes nearly 80 studies in the link between teacher attributes and performance, and looks at a variety of areas, including certification, teacher test scores, coursework and degrees. [Source: PEN]

Do Teachers Make the Grade? Educators Recommend Scrapping Teacher Tests - A group of Pennsylvania's top education leaders will release a report next week calling for significant changes in state laws and school district practices to improve the quality of teachers in the state's public schools.


MI Study: Urban Teachers Less Qualified - "When you go to any teacher college around this state, a larger proportion of teachers want to teach in the suburbs...Teachers are humans. Teachers like to get paid as much as they can."


Hasty Hiring, Heavy Duties Found to Plague New Teachers - New research on beginning teachers suggests that more than a third are hired after the school year starts, and that most are jumping into jobs where they are expected to shoulder the same responsibilities as their more experienced colleagues.


Teacher Recruitment & Retention

Five Tips for New Teacher Success (Book) - Here are five tips from Lynn F. Howard on what principals can do to support new teacher success: (1) Never let them feel isolated. New teachers want to know that they are not alone as they struggle to learn to manage and organize a classroom. Take time to share refreshments, have discussions, trade your stories of success and build excitement and energy at every opportunity; (2) Be visible -- everyday. Many new teachers say that visibility and personal interaction with the principal is the number one factor that would make the difference in their decision to stay or leave a particular school. Visiting classrooms regularly, promoting success, and allowing time for discussion and questions are powerful motivators for beginning teachers; (3) Provide the skills and knowledge needed for their success. All new teachers want help with classroom management, building relationships, strategic planning with lesson design, observations and evaluations and testing. Provide new teachers with step-by-step strategies and activities that build both confidence and competence; (4) Allow time for growth and reflection. Knowing what works and what does not allows new teacher to identify areas of growth and strength while determining specific areas that need improvement; and (5) Celebrate! Learning to teach is a long process and celebrating small, incremental steps is one way to recognize growth and achievement. Write positive notes, provide special treats or just say "Thank You" for coming to school. The rewards in teaching are often intrinsic and we must recognize the little things that happen every day that make school a good place to be.


Half of Teachers Quit in 5 Years - According to a new study from the National Education Association, a teachers union, half of new U.S. teachers are likely to quit within the first five years because of poor working conditions and low salaries.


Innovations In Education - "Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification" looks at six programs that prepare people who already have content knowledge -- such as mid-career professionals, liberal arts graduates, retired military personnel, and other college graduates -- to teach. "Alternative Pathways to School Leadership" provides examples of successful strategies to prepare candidates for school leadership positions. To receive two copies of each new book, write to Courtney Phillips at or click on the link above. [Source: Office of Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education]


TX Teacher Turnover Tracked in City District - A new Texas study punctures the commonly held notion that high levels of teacher turnover in poor, urban schools result from an exodus of the profession's "best and brightest." [Free login/registration required to view this article.]


Where the Public Schools Can Find $2.6 Billion More - Every Year - The turnover of failure/quitter teachers costs the public schools $2.6 billion each year. (Alliance for Education, 2004) As mind boggling as this figure is the authors of this report believe that the $2.6 billion is a substantial underestimate since it does not take into account the full costs to the districts of their teacher turnover.


Value of Teacher Incentives Questioned - Nearly 1,400 North Carolina teachers each were paid as much as $1,800 extra last year to work in schools hampered by poverty or lagging student achievement. The additional pay was an enticement for math, science and special-education teachers to join or stay in those hard-pressed schools. State education and political leaders are now questioning whether the money helped do either and, more broadly, whether incentives alone can remedy teacher shortages.


FL Educators Split on Fast-track Plan - Florida teacher certification is now a $500 click away. Online test lets would-be teachers get certified without taking teaching courses in college.


Teach For America Study Reports Some Gains, But Obscures Failed Teaching Policies in Urban Schools - A recently released study indicates that students of Teach for America (TFA) teachers matched students of a comparison group of novice and veteran colleagues from the same schools in reading and performed slightly better in math. While the study's authors viewed the results as evidence of TFA success and concluded that, "the success of TFA teachers is not dependent on their having extensive exposure to teacher practice or training," their findings illustrate the failed teaching policies that plague our nation's urban schools. The student achievement of both TFA teachers and the control group was abysmal, with students making extremely limited gains.


FL Law Aims to Lure Teachers to Low-performing Schools - Florida's school leaders have cajoled, lured with high-money bonuses, and even forced good teachers into low-performing schools with limited success. Now, a new law, passed last year, requires a four-step career ladder for teachers and prohibits poor and high-minority schools from having more first-year and out-of-field teachers than a school district's overall average.


The Teacher Shortage & its Implications For Recruitment Policy - If districts are to meet No Child Left Behind's requirement for a "highly qualified" teacher in every classroom by 2005-06, they need to reform underlying human resource operations and take a strategic approach to teacher recruitment. This report examines the way districts responded to the teacher shortage problem between 1999 and 2002.


Hasty Hiring, Heavy Duties Found to Plague New Teachers - New research on beginning teachers suggests that more than a third are hired after the school year starts, and that most are jumping into jobs where they are expected to shoulder the same responsibilities as their more experienced colleagues.


Ninth Grade

Many High School Freshman Have to Repeat 9th Grade - The first year Daniel Rodriguez was in ninth grade, he failed English and science and was suspended "countless times," he said, for fighting with classmates.

The Lost Freshmen - Many area students are ill-prepared for high school, with thousands repeating ninth grade.


Ninth Grade: A School Year to be Reckoned With - Nationwide, the rate at which ninth-grade students don't get to 10th has tripled in the past 30 years, according to a new study by Boston College.


NC Ninth Grade Key to Attrition: 'Academies' Help Curb Dropout Rate - Many North Carolina students hit a brick wall in ninth grade. They fail too many classes to be promoted. They're held back. Some of them just drop out or will quit eventually.


After School Enrichment

Book Release: Learning After School: A Step-By-Step Guide to Providing an Academic Safety Net and Promoting Student Initiative - Asked why after-school programs were so important, former Education Secretary Richard W. Riley replied “children’s minds don’t close down at 3 PM and neither should their schools.” Now, a new book, Learning After School, offers a step-by-step guide for schools to maximize student learning by harnessing after-school time.


High School

MI Easy College Prep Classes Get the Boot - The quality of Advanced Placement programs is coming under scrutiny at a time when educators are pushing to strengthen the academic level of high school class offerings.


Students Thrive in an Alternative to College - A growing trend might give educators a clue about how to change their high schools. As high school becomes little more than a memory for thousands of recent Tampa Bay area graduates, some have begun to wonder what they will do with the rest of their lives. Others already have a pretty good idea, and it doesn't involve a traditional path through college.


Transforming High Schools for All Youth - The National High School Alliance released "A Call to Action: Transforming High School for All Youth," a framework of six core principles and recommended strategies for guiding leaders at all levels in the complex process of transforming the traditional, comprehensive high school. The Call to Action representing the collective knowledge of the National High School Alliance’s forty-three partner organizations and communicates. The six core principles, cited as "inter-related and non-negotiable," are as follows: (1) personalized learning environments; (2) academic engagement of all students; (3) empowered educators; (4) accountable leaders; (5) engaged community & youth; and (6) integrated systems of high standards, curriculum, instruction, assessments and academic supports beyond the school day.


High School Redesign A Step Closer to Reality - The push for remaking the American high schools became one step closer to reality as the nation’s governors released their Action Agenda for Improving America’s High Schools and called for a fundamental redesign of the American high school, including alignment with postsecondary institutions.


Tests Are History at This High School - The 9-year-old Met School defies convention, with no letter grades, no required classes, and "advisors" instead of teachers who work with the same small group of students for four consecutive years. Instead of taking tests, the 580 students present "exhibitions" of their work. With 100% of its seniors accepted each year to college, the Met's "one student at a time" approach to learning has caught the attention of educators around the country.


Is a Smaller School Always a Better School? - School districts across the US are seizing on size as the key to reform. But some experts worry that the rush to create smaller schools is happening too fast.


Middle School

College Readiness Begins in Middle School - Many of America's middle and high school students need more help from schools to effectively plan for the future, according to a recent study by ACT. "There is clearly a disconnect between students' post-high school goals and their plans to meet those goals," said Richard J. Noeth, director of ACT's Office of Policy Research. "The most important element for middle and high school students in preparing for the future is to take the right courses, and too few are doing that now."


Jailhouse Middle School - It felt more like a juvenile detention center during lockdown than lunchtime in my neighborhood public middle school.


Paraprofessional Qualification
Teacher Aides Win Extra Time to Qualify - Teacher aides, under federal pressure to prove they are qualified to stay in the classroom, will get extra time to comply under a new Education Department policy. The time frame for aides to get qualified will be pushed back to the end of the 2005-06 school year, the same deadline for teachers in poor schools to prove their qualifications.
Article: Once At Rock Bottom, This Northern Michigan Elementary Now Produces Stars
Once at rock bottom, this Northern Michigan elementary now produces stars
Bridge Magazine April 26, 2018

CADILLAC – By almost any indicator, the students at Kenwood Elementary in Cadillac should be poor readers.
Almost three in four Kenwood students are economically disadvantaged, in a state that ranks 44th in the nation in low-income fourth-grade reading skills.
More than nine in 10 students at the school are white; Michigan’s poor, white students rank a dismal 49th in fourth-grade reading, ahead of only Alaska.
Yet Kenwood’s low-income students are reading all-stars, meeting Michigan’s fourth-grade reading standards at double the rate of poor students elsewhere in the state. That’s quite a record for a school that, just four years ago, was one of the worst-performing in Michigan as measured by the Michigan Department of Education.
That turnaround was no miracle, say school leaders in Cadillac, just a new approach to teaching, a focus on data, and a lot of work.
“Change is hard,” said Cadillac Superintendent Jennifer Brown. “A sense of urgency is needed.”
Hope in an unexpected place
Cadillac is a town of 10,000 in the northwest Lower Peninsula. In the 1800s, it was known for its lumber business and locomotive manufacturing. Rock band KISS played at ahomecoming dance there in 1975. Today, it’s a typical northern Michigan community, with below-average household income and educational attainment, surviving on small industries and tourism.
Four years ago, the Michigan Department of Education placed Cadillac’s highest-poverty school – Kenwood Elementary – in the second percentile of all Michigan schools, based on assessments and performance growth on a variety of tests and subjects.
Two years later, the school rose to the 59th percentile.
The remarkable turnaround was based partly on the school’s rising reading scores. On the 2017 M-STEP, Michigan’s state accountability test, only 29 percent of the state’s low-income fourth-graders were proficient or better in English language arts, half the rate of their wealthier classmates.
But at high-poverty Kenwood, 62 percent of low-income fourth-graders were proficient or higher ‒ one of the highest rates for low-income students in the state.
Kenwood’s success shows that Michigan schools can improve learning, and can do it without a huge infusion of cash.
In a small, cluttered principal’s office, Kenwood Principal Kelly Buckmaster and Cadillac Superintendent Jennifer Brown rattled off a list of changes instituted at the school since its low-water mark in 2014.
• Major teacher shakeup: Six of Kenwood’s 14 classroom teachers were replaced “We gave them the option – get on board (with the plan) or (leave),” Brown said.
• Support staff: The school added two certified teachers without classroom assignments – a behavioral specialist to head off student issues before they caused disruptions, and an instructional coach who meets with every teacher at least once a month to go over data and tweak teaching methods sort of like a batting coach on a baseball team. The Cadillac Area Public Schools district squeezed money from other programs to fill the new positions.
• Common planning time: Teachers have time during the school week to meet to strategize classwork.
• Food and dentists: Kenwood offers free breakfast for all students, rather than the third of students who received it before the turnaround. And a dentist visits the school twice a year for students who may not see dentists regularly.
• Quick turnaround classroom data:“My teachers have weekly common planning time,” Buckmaster said. “One week we may be looking at math data, and another week at reading data: ‘Here’s where we want to be. Here’s the kids who got there. Here’s the kids who didn’t get there. What are we going to do to get them there? How are we going to assess that they actually got there?’”
• Smaller groups: An emphasis on small-group and individualized instruction, to work with students who are struggling with a concept. This was more complicated than it sounds, Buckmaster said. Teachers had to prepare multiple lessons that could keep various groups active at the same time.
• Good vibes: A culture that praises students for what they do right rather than criticizing them for what they do wrong. “When you walk into the school, you can feel the positive environment,” said third-grade teacher Kelly Baas.
“It probably doesn’t sound revolutionary,” admitted Brown. “I know people want to find a silver bullet in a program, but most of that turnaround was due to a shift in thinking. It really is about finding people who are committed to the work and the kids, and are willing to roll up their sleeves (and say) ‘Whatever the kids bring to school, we’re going to work with it.’”
“We still have all the problems,” Buckmaster said. “We just handle them differently now. We focus on what we can control.”
The reforms at Kenwood have been so successful they’ve been expanded to other elementary schools in Cadillac, with Brown squeezing dollars from the district’s budget to pay for more literacy coaches
What happened at Kenwood can happen elsewhere, Brown said. “We can’t clone Kelly and her staff, but you don’t need to,” she said. “Teachers work hard. They’re invested. No one gets into the profession to see kids not succeed. This is scalable, if teachers are supported in the right way.”
That support includes building in time for teachers to work together to share an idea, ensuring they receive quick access to student data, and providing the money for good professional development.
“It takes a commitment to allocate resources where needs are and not just follow the same paradigm you’ve always followed,” Brown said.
The question is whether the state now has that same sense of urgency that Kenwood instructional coach Heidi Stange feels when she recalls the faces of teachers the day they learned the school was in the second percentile.
“We can’t think we have a handle on it, because then we’re losing focus,” Stange said. “It scares me when I think about us sliding.”

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