CAT: A Thriving Hub of Student and Teacher Collaboration

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Posted:
February 25, 2011 05:55 pm

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I have been involved in school reform for some time now. I know this because some one recently referred to me as “seasoned.”  Ouch. During all that time, I have been lucky enough to participate in many school visits. My visit last week to the City Arts and Technology High School in San Francisco was hands down one of the most engaging and satisfying visits I have ever made.

City Arts (or CAT as it is known) is part of a small network of schools called Envision Schools. Envision is a charter management company based in Oakland that operates four college prep public charter schools. In total, these four high schools serve 1,300 students. CAT was opened in 2004 and it is a thriving hub of project –based learning, rigorous standards, student and teacher collaboration, and community engagement.  The building is literally humming with activity. The student population is 60% students of color, 57% first generation college bound, 51% free or reduced lunch, and 6% English Language Learners. Situated atop a hill in a tidy San Francisco neighborhood, it fits just perfectly….exactly what a neighborhood high school should be like.

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Categories:
College & Career Readiness, Common Core State Standards, Deeper Learning, Teachers & Leaders

Report Round-Up

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Posted:
February 25, 2011 04:48 pm

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Unlocking the Power of Expanded Learning Time: Year Two Report on TASC ELTfrom America’s Promise Alliance. This report highlights the second year of its three-year Expanded Learning Time pilot and introduces a new Grad Tracker tool under production. The Grad Tracker tool uses the “ABCs” indicators to identify kids at risk for school failure and measures whether elementary and middle school students are on track to graduate on time from high school.

Changing Tires En Route: Michigan Rolls Out Millions in School Improvement Grants from the Center on Education Progress. This study examines Michigan’s early implementation of the ARRA School Improvement Grant funds, including how many and what type of schools are receiving funding, the school improvement models being implemented, and the type of assistance provided by the state and districts to help improve low-performing schools. The report includes case studies on three SIG-participating schools: Lincoln High School (Van Dyke Public Schools), Romulus Middle School (Romulus Community School District), and Phoenix Multi-Cultural Academy (Detroit Public Schools).

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Categories:
Common Core State Standards, Data Systems, Expanded Learning Opportunities, Gear: Use of Time, Title I

Morning Announcements: February 25, 2011

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Posted:
February 25, 2011 03:57 pm

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In Forbes magazine, Michael Horn suggests that online learning would be a more affordable alternative to extended learning time.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees was widely covered this morning with a story in Education Week and two opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal.

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Categories:
Digital Learning, Expanded Learning Opportunities, Teachers & Leaders, Wisconsin

Do Paid Mentors Make a Difference?

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Posted:
February 24, 2011 08:34 pm

Friends of the Children, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, OR, says they do. The organization was recently profiled on NPR’s show All Things Considered. The group works to provide children a nurturing and sustained relationship with a professional mentor who teaches positive values and has attainable expectations for each child to become healthy, productive members of the community. Most mentoring programs rely on volunteers but Friends of the Children pays mentors and provides them with intensive social work training. Judy Stavisky, executive director of the program, says “The role of the mentor is both an anchor and a sail for the kids, because these kids have very little of each. We provide that grounding experience for the kids. We also open their eyes to the universe of possibilities of the way they could behave and the way their lives can be.” Research is still underway to determine the program’s success rates but Friends of the Children reports that 85 percent of its students graduate from high school. Click on the player below to listen to the full story.

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Teachers & Leaders

Morning Announcements: February 24, 2011

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Posted:
February 24, 2011 04:21 pm

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Education Week reports that most of the 17 urban districts that took part in a prominent science exam fell below the national average, with the exception of the school systems in Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; and Jefferson County, Ky.; where 4th graders scored about the same as their peers across the country. Meanwhile, at the 8th grade level, only students in Austin had an average score that did not fall below the national level; it was not statistically different.

In the Washington Post, President and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Frank Alvarez writes about Generation First Degree, a project to help more Latino students earn their family’s first college degree.

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Categories:
Assessments, Rural Schools, Students of Color

Stats That Stick: February 23, 2011

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Posted:
February 23, 2011 09:40 pm

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Providence (Rhode Island) school district plans to send out dismissal notices to every one of its 1,926 teachers.
The Providence Journal

State education officials have ordered the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools to immediately implement a plan that balances the district’s books by closing half its schools.
The Associated Press

More than 70 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s students are Latino, yet fewer than 25 percent of the district’s teachers are of Latino descent. –U.S. Department of Education

Categories:
Students of Color, Teachers & Leaders

Morning Announcements: February 23, 2011

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Posted:
February 23, 2011 02:22 pm

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The US Supreme Court decided against hearing Connecticut’s challenge to the federal No Child Left Behind law yesterday, ending the state’s six-year lawsuit over how to pay for the stepped-up student testing considered one of the law’s cornerstones, the Associated Press reports.

In Rhode Island, Providence school district plans to send out dismissal notices to every one of its 1,926 teachers, an unprecedented move that has union leaders up in arms.

In Maine, lawmakers are considering legislation to lengthen Maine’s mandatory minimum school year by five days, according to the Associated Press.

Categories:
Connecticut, Maine, No Child Left Behind, Rhode Island, Teachers & Leaders

Straight A’s: Reviews House Spending Bill, President’s Budget, AP Report to the Nation, and State of the States

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Posted:
February 22, 2011 09:35 pm

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Here’s a quick summary of the articles in the February 22 issue of Straight A’s, the Alliance’s biweekly newsletter.

Click on a title below to access the complete article or download a printer-friendly version of the entire newsletter here

HOUSE PASSES FY 2011 SPENDING BILL: Bill Cuts U.S. Department of Education Funding by $5 Billion; Title I, School Improvement Grants, Striving Readers, and Other Programs Facing Funding Cuts: At 4:40 a.m. on February 19, after days of contentious debate and hundreds of amendments, the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive spending bill that would keep the government running through Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, which ends September 30. The bill makes more than $60 billion in cuts, including a $5 billion cut to the U.S. Department of Education. The bill passed on a party-line vote of 235–189, with three Republicans joining 186 Democrats who voted unanimously against the bill.

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Categories:
College & Career Readiness, Economic Impacts, High School Graduation Rates, International Comparisons

Competitive Stimulus Grants: Winners and Losers

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Posted:
February 22, 2011 09:10 pm

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Education Week reports on the 35 states that applied for and did not get Race to the Top monies and their challenges and progress in implementing education reforms.

Also included in Ed Week are some great visuals showing how $5.3 billion was divided up among 6 federally funded, education grant competitions and how it was eventually awarded to states. The largest and most well-known competitive grant program was the $4 billion Race to the Top initiative. Other education programs included Investing in Innovation ($650 million), State Longitudinal-Data Systems ($250 million), Teacher Incentive Fund (Nearly $200 million), Teacher Quality Partnership Programs ($100 million), and Impact-Aid Construction Competitive Grants ($59.8 million).

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Categories:
Delaware, District of Columbia, Economic Impacts, Florida, New York, Teacher Quality

Two Webinars This Week: Deeper Learning and High-Leverage Partnerships

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Posted:
February 22, 2011 08:45 pm

upcoming web

This Thursday – Deeper Learning: So Everyone Can Succeed in a Changing World

On Thursday, February 24 from 2:30 pm –  3:30 pm, EST, the Alliance for Excellent Education will host a webinar that explores the concept of deeper learning and how this important initiative can increase economic opportunity and civic engagement by educating students for a changing world. Deeper Learning first and foremost prepares students to know and understand core academic content, but it also places equal importance on a student’s ability to think critically and solve complex problems, work collaboratively, communicate effectively and be a self-directed learner, all of which are vital competencies for success in the modern workforce.

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Categories:
Deeper Learning, Education Technology