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Articles: Teaching & Learning

The American Association of School Administrators is doing its part to improve leadership development. Between January and May, AASA consultants are providing professional development for principals and assistant principals in the Prince George’s County (Md.) Public Schools.

“People are thirsty for an opportunity to learn everything that belongs to their jobs, from budget and finances to curriculum and instruction to school operations,” says AASA Director of Leadership Development MaryAnn Jobe.

Most principals today are hard pressed to find time for the multitasking they are expected to do, from overseeing the daily operation of their schools and interacting with parents to evaluating teachers and providing them with professional development to do their jobs at a high level.

To teach Common Core effectively, teachers will have to share such teaching methods within their school districts, says Richard Vacca, professor emeritus of Kent State University and a co-author of Content Area Reading: Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum. “Traditional professional development was always kind of an add-on,” Vacca says. “The difference (with Common Core) is that it’s going to be ongoing and embedded within a district rather than” about bringing an outside person in, he says.

Whatever approach is used, writing that upholds the standards of Common Core is demanding, acknowledges Gretchen Schultz, principal assessment editor for ELA at CTB/McGraw-Hill and a content specialist in developing ELA assessments.

In the YouTube video, “Keeping Up With the Common Core: the Latest from the Field,” Schultz spells out how teachers must shift their focus to meet the requirements of the Common Core.

Back in 2010, then-elementary school Principal Catherine White focused on writing in the Attleboro (Mass.) Public Schools. And with that, the school’s fourth graders beat the state average for long composition on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System.

After years of controversy, court battles, and a disbanded cultural studies program, the Tucson (Ariz.) Unified School District is turning to a new program to raise the achievement of Hispanic students.

Although school counselors play an important role in students’ college and career readiness, a lack of training and focus on this task often impedes their work, according to the 2012 National Survey of School Counselors. This can directly impact student success, the survey found, since students in schools where counselors are trained and held accountable for college-related activities are more likely to go to college.

Students from a NAF Academy of Engineering in San Francisco gain internship experience on construction sites of major transit projects.

A new assessment system for high school students providing multiple measures of college and career readiness launched this fall, helping students in career-themed public high schools understand what skills they need to enter the 21st-century workforce. The National Academy Foundation (NAF), the largest developer of career-themed public high schools in the country, partnered with education research agency WestEd to create the multi-method test, marking a move toward more effectively measuring college and career readiness.

A pilot solar panel project on the roof of Aiea High School in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Hawaii State Department of Education has embarked on a first- and largest-plan-of-its-kind nationwide to install solar panels in every school in the state. The plan will reduce the sunny state’s school energy costs from $47 million per year to zero, and generate revenue from extra energy that could go back to schools, school officials say.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2011). Foreign language enrollments in K-12 Public Schools: Are Students Prepared for a Global Society? www.actfl.org/files/ReportSummary2011.pdf

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2012). The Role of Technology in Language Learning. http://www.actfl.org/news/position-statements/role-technology-language-learning

According to an American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) survey, in 2007-2008:
18% of U.S. public school students were enrolled in foreign language courses
40% of those enrolled in a foreign language were in California, Texas, New York, Florida, or Pennsylvania
17 states, half of them in the northeast, reported a decrease in the number of students enrolled in a foreign language

While education research has long suggested that studying second languages in K12 schools boosts student achievement in other content areas, the current testing emphases on mathematics and reading has placed foreign language instruction relatively low on district priority lists. However, a growing body of research indicates that second-language learning should be bumped up significantly, as demonstrated particularly in the following areas.

A few months ago, a Chinese family moved into a house down the block from our home in New Jersey. The two kids playing in the front yard looked about the age of our own teenagers, so within a few days we did the neighborly thing and introduced ourselves. The good news? The family seemed genuinely happy to meet us. The bad news? They barely spoke a word of English. There was a lot of smiling and pointing (to our house) and uncomfortable sound-making from both kids and adults, but we didn’t manage to communicate very much in our brief encounter.

95% Group, www.95percentgroup.com

ACE (Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia),New England Center for Children, www.necc.org

Activity Trainer and DT Trainer, Accelerations Educational Software, www.dttrainer.com

Autism Apps, Touch Autism, itunes.apple.com/us/artist/touch-autism/id395610433

Autism Support Services: Education, Research and Training program,

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