Posts

Showing posts from 2019

Do Grades Matter?

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
Last month, ASCD released a series of articles on grading reform where both teachers and researchers identified key considerations for assessments that “fairly gauge and report students' learning” with the rise of the “no-grades classroom”, one where the traditional A–F system is replaced by teachers by one with methods that encourage students to take charge of their learning progress.
Included in the list was this recent ASCD article by Jay Percell, which discussed “Strategies for Diving into Successful Grading Reform.” Percell started by making the case for grading reform, noting that traditional grades can be demoralizing to students, inhibit creative thinking, and ultimately stifle lifelong learning. Percell went on to identify a set of stratrategies that teachers could use when starting with grading reform. They included things such as:
●Don't Go It Alone: Percell encouraged teachers to find a teaching colleague…

Moving Beyond Standardized Tests

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
Earlier this summer, Education Week published a thought-provoking blog by Maryland elementary principal Margaret Pastor where she explored the question, Why Standardized Tests Aren't Working for Teachers or Students? Pastor talked about how her view of the role of standardized testing changed when a colleague told her that she should match her lowest performing kindergarten teacher with her highest performing teacher, based on recent standardized testing. She realized that using that metric was impossible since it was the same teacher who had both scores (because she taught both morning and afternoon classes). From there, she began to formulate her opinion that many educators have “deep misgivings” about the role standardized tests should play.
Pastor went on to compare her work as an educator to that of her husband, a scientist. “While my husband carefully chooses which plants and which growing conditions to use in his …

Competency-Based Learning Systems Continue to Take Hold Across the Nation

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
Earlier this summer, the International Association of Online K-12 Learning, better known as iNACOL, released its most recent map displaying the implementation of state-wide K-12 competency-based learning policies across the nation. The map now shows 17 states that have reached an advanced level of implementation with comprehensive policy alignment and/or an active state role to build capacity in local school systems for competency-based learning. Another 14 states have been categorized as developing, with the remaining at the emerging level. In this version of the map, Wyoming is the only state that has yet to begin any level of state-wide work in this area. This current map is in stark contrast to the 2012 map which listed just three states at the advanced level.
Several advances have been made since iNACOL last published a map in 2018. California is one state that has been on the move this past year, moving from the “not y…

The Plan to Address Student Chronic Absenteeism in Newark Met With Initial Success

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
In an article published last month, Chalkbeat’s Patrick Wall reported that early data shows attendance gains in Newark, NJ, as a result of a district push to combat absenteeism. Wall reported that Superintendent Roger León launched an attendance campaign this past school year called "Give Me Five," where every district employee reminded five students to show up for the first day of school. León proudly announced that 24 percent of students were classified this year as chronically absent, a number that is a 5.4 percentage point improvement over the previous year, which translates to 2,100 fewer students missing 10 percent or more of school days. Additionally, Newark Schools also improved their average daily attendance rate from 86 to 91 percent this past year.
Newark has long been under the state’s microscope for its attendance issues. Although year to year attendance rates can be impacted by so many outside factor…

Understanding Principal Turnover

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
This month, I will complete my thirteenth year as a principal in the same New Hampshire High School. I’ve seen an entire generation of students complete their K-12 education in my system. According to the Learning Policy Institute, I am in a category with very few others - only 11% of principals nationwide have been in the same school for more than a decade. Last June, in a Multibriefs Exclusive, I wrote about an Arkansas principal who was retiring after 48 years of service to his district!
For me, this is about the time of the year when some of my teachers will come to me and ask me if I am planning to leave to school at the end of the year. “If you leave, I leave!” is a common phrase I hear from them. The truth is, I’m not looking to leave. I have a high level of job satisfaction, and every day I am excited to go to work in an effort to work with my team and my staff to make a different for the 700 students that we serve.…

How a New School Facility Can Improve Learning

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
“The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It’s about what you are made of, not the circumstances.” Years ago as a high school math teacher this quote was displayed in my classroom as a way to remind my students that regardless of their circumstances and their environment, they could overcome adversity and succeed. In life, we make do with the hand that is dealt to us. We find a way to exploit our strengths to compensate for our differences. Yet, for all the promise of a positive outlook when dealing with shortcomings in life, the reality is that sometimes, an upgrade can go a long way towards changing one’s promise for a better future.
In America, there are nearly 100,000 public and charter schools scattered across our 50 states. They represent a combined 6.6 billion gross square feet of instructional space, sitting on over 1 million acres of land. According to this report back in 2011, school district…

We Need More Graduates to Enter the Trades

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
Every month or so, a community member or parent in my high school sends me an article that talks about how schools need to spend more time investing in the trades. The latest share came from the Hechinger Report’s Matt Krupnick, who wrote about how after decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, U.S. needs more tradespeople. Krupnick went on to share how states like California are spending millions of dollars on campaigns to revive the reputation of vocational education, which includes funds targeted at redesigning career and technical education training programs. California’s efforts are at the heart of a debate raging across our country. Trades have often had an “image” problem, being seen as a less-desirable alternative to college. This is wrong.
What does it mean to be college and career ready? That definition has changed with the times, and it is likely set for another big change in the years that lie ahead. For generation…

Security Cameras in Classrooms: The Debate Continues

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
My New Hampshire suburban high school, home to some 800 students and staff, is not unlike many high schools from coast to coast that has, in recent years, received a variety of security upgrades including the expansion of our video surveillance network. What once was a limited system with just ten cameras pointed in the most high-traffic parts of the campus is now a system that is approaching 100 individual cameras that record and save footage for nearly two months. Our eyes in the sky allow us to watch, in real time, our hallways, stairwells, common areas, athletic fields, cafeteria and patio, parking lots, and entrances/exits. As visitors enter our building, they are greeted by a sign reminding them that our campus is under video surveillance. Our cameras have become an invaluable resource in our efforts to maintain order and discipline, acting as both a deterrent for misbehavior but also a primary witness in investigatio…

How To Protect Against Cyber Security Threats in the Schools

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
I’ll never forget the first cyber security attack I endured as a high school principal. It happened years ago, after I had to assign consequences to a tech-savvy student who regularly would hack into our school wifi network to access websites and social media platforms that, at the time, were blocked from student access during the school day. I remember the student being upset because he was trying to meet a critical deadline for his international business, and his two other partners (one in Finland, one in Russia) needed his help to finish a project for their company. The three ran a company that rented and solder server space to gamers around the world. Mind you, my student had just recently celebrated his 15th birthday.
Coincidentally, the day following the in-school suspension I assigned the student, my school district was placed under a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack from unknown sources on the web. For tho…

Stopping the Spread of Hate in Schools

Image
This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
It seems these days that every news broadcast starts with a look at a hate crime happening somewhere in our world. These cries could be as big as the recent attacks in New Zealand, where dozens were killed in Christchurch mosque attack; or as small as a hate crime story happening in the town next door. America’s youth are growing up in an age where they are seeing these instances of hate in a constant basis, and it is our job as educators to help them process, reflect, and take action to turn the tide on this awful trend for their generation.
Late last year, the FBI reported a 25% increase in hate crimes in schools and colleges from 2016 to 2017. The FBI tracks instances of criminal incidents motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity. Of the 7,175 instances of hate reported to the FBI in 2017, 10.5% occurred in schools and colleges. As an educati…