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Articles: Evaluation

Professional development is a key component of any district, but what takes professional learning to the next level of engagement and effectiveness is being able to differentiate and personalize professional growth for each teacher or administrator. In the recent Personalized Professional Learning Survey sponsored by Performance Matters (formerly Truenorthlogic), over 500 educators from around the country shared their insights on best practices and challenges for creating a personalized professional learning climate in their school districts.

Diane Stark Rentner, the deputy director of Center on Education Policy, says teacher morale will improve if they have more say in the directions of their directions.

A new survey not only indicates that public school teachers are frustrated with shifting policies, but a majority are losing enthusiasm for the job. Moreover, nearly half say they would quit teaching now if they could find a higher-paying job.

A teacher at Howe Elementary School in Wisconsin, above, shows a student the steps of how to submit a digital artifact into his own e-portfolio. (Photo: Photo credit: Digital Student Portfolios, Matthew Renwick/Thinkstock.com: 123dartist)

Decades ago, portfolio assessment meant finding room for bulging binders stuffed with paper. But digital technologies that make it far easier to collect, curate, share and store student work have dismantled the physical barriers that once made portfolio assessment daunting.

High achievers did significantly better in reading while staying stagnant in math, according to the Nation’s Report Card. (Click to enlarge)

From 2013 to 2015, reading scores dipped from 288 to 287, out of 500 total. Math scores also went down a point, from 153 to 152, out of 300. The lowest-performing students showed the biggest drop.

A student from Pullman School District 267 in Washington wears electrical sensors on her head for an electroencephalogram (EEG) test that measures and records the electrical activity of her brain.

In what appears to be an average classroom, students from Pullman School District 267 in Washington wear devices that measure their pulse, eye movements and brain waves as a teacher gives a lesson. The lab monitors neurological data to study how learning takes place.

Gregory Firn has been a superintendent and a deputy superintendent, and has had educational leadership roles in Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington and Nevada, and overseas.

Leadership is never more critical than when creating and sustaining a data-centric learning culture, as Lane Mills advises in a white paper on how districts can access and integrate data to make informed, proactive decisions.

Leaders in Johnston County Schools in central North Carolina knew they needed to find more effective ways to help struggling students, close the achievement gap and meet their core instructional priorities. So they carefully planned a pilot program to choose the best adaptive learning system for the district’s 25,000 K8 students and their educators.

Students attending the 38 schools in the New York Performance Standards Consortium complete practical assessments instead of high-stakes tests. (Photo: Roy Reid)

An alliance of New York schools continues to drop high-stakes tests in favor of performance-based assessments as the opt-out movement gathers steam.

Source: National Council on Teacher Quality (Click to enlarge)

The vast majority of states require student growth and achievement to be factored into teacher and principal evaluations.

But most states and districts are now grappling with the practical realities of implementing those policies, according to the October report “State of the States 2015: Evaluating Teaching, Leading and Learning” from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents to a DA survey expect of opt-out movement against testing to grow in 2016.

With students in grades 3 through 11 spending more than 20 hours per school year on testing, resistance and frustration over standardized assessments and learning standards may have reached critical mass.

Ramy Mahmoud teaches in the Plano ISD and is a part-time senior lecturer at The University of Texas at Dallas.

In my 10 years of teaching the ninth grade, I have struggled with a certain category of students—the low performers. These are the students who walk into class on the first day of school expecting to fail. They know nothing about me, but I represent every adult who has ever failed them in the past.

Mastery trumps class time in competency-based education models now catching on in more U.S. classrooms—from New England to the Midwest to Alaska.

Students must show they grasp a concept fully before they can move on to the next unit. Those who get a low grade or score can’t advance until extra instruction by a teacher reveals that students demonstrate comprehension, says Susan Patrick, president of CEO of iNACOL.

The organization promotes the new approach through its ComptencyWorks initiative and provides support to schools making the transition.

Education professor Cathy Vatterott says that grades have come to reflect student compliance more than student learning and engagement.

Education professor Cathy Vatterott says that grades have come to reflect student compliance more than student learning and engagement. In her new book, Rethinking Grading, she advocates for a standards-based approach that more accurately demonstrates learning through mastery.

John Hattie is an education researcher at the Melbourne Educational Research Institute at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

As an education researcher, I’ve spent more than 15 years conducting nearly 800 meta-analyses of 50,000 studies focused on student learning. The result, which I call Visible Learning, is about understanding the attributes of schooling that truly drive student learning and have a significant impact on achievement.

Renee A. Foose is superintendent of Howard County Public School System in Maryland.

Student engagement is directly linked to achievement. The higher the engagement, the more successful students are in their work.

The reverse, however, is also true. Howard County Public School System chose to face this challenge head-on through a partnership with Gallup, in which school leaders, educators and students identify their own strengths, then learn ways to leverage those strengths to increase engagement and success in learning and teaching.

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