Core of the Matter: The Critical Role of the Common Core in Dropout Prevention (#CoreMatters)

RSS feed

Posted:
June 02, 2015 12:34 pm

Graduates

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), when implemented fully and effectively, will ensure that all students graduate prepared for college and career. Implicit in this statement is the part about students actually graduating. The CCSS may not be thought of as “dropout prevention,” but they are. Not only can the standards increase the number of students who graduate fully prepared for college and career, they also can improve school climate and reduce rates of school discipline, which are critical components of dropout prevention.

As a significant number of schools across the country struggle to provide a positive school climate and create and implement inclusive, equitable, and effective school discipline policies, they must recognize the role of student engagement in that process and that the CCSS are a big piece of the puzzle.

Read Entire Post

Categories:
Common Core Equity Series

How to Address the Over-Representation of Students of Color in Special Education

RSS feed

Posted:
August 05, 2014 09:56 am

“Significant disproportionality” is the term used to refer to the over-representation of students of color in special education. For example, almost one in five African American students are in special education, yet they comprise only 14 percent of United States population in this age group. Disproportionality is greater in some states as compared to others. African American students also have a different educational placement than their peers in special education. African American students with disabilities spend 40 percent of their day in self-contained settings compared to 11 percent of white students with disabilities who are in self-contained settings. This trend is also evident across other students of color in special education.

There are number of reasons this disproportionality is even more concerning. Disproportionality has negative effects on students being disciplined and possibly entering the school-to-prison pipeline. According to a report by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, one out of every four African American students with disabilities was suspended during the 2009–10 school year, and students with disabilities in general were more likely to be suspended multiple times in the same year.

Read Entire Post

Categories:
Uncategorized

Great Expectations: How Can the Higher Education Act Support the Development of Well-Prepared and Effective Teachers?

RSS feed

Posted:
June 18, 2014 11:42 am

As states continue the process of implementing higher standards for students, so too must they implement higher standards for what is expected of teachers. Teaching is a complex profession that requires an extensive and diverse set of skills. Teachers must create classroom environments that are respectful, well-managed, nurturing, engaging, and provide all students with ongoing opportunities to develop the skills needed for success in college and career. This is no small undertaking.

It also has great consequence. According to a 2012 Rand report, a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor, including services, facilities, and even leadership, on student performance. Given this impact, it is critical that teachers enter the profession on day one prepared to meet the needs of all of the students in their classroom.

Read Entire Post

Categories:
Uncategorized

Alliance Recommendations in Response to the Department of Education’s Strategic Plan

RSS feed

Posted:
October 22, 2013 12:02 pm

One of the major things some people may have contemplated during the government shutdown is the role of federal government. For some, as the old adage says, they may not have realized what they had until it was gone. While lack of access to national parks or the Institute for Education Sciences website, for example, may have been an inconvenience, it pales in comparison to lack of access to tuition assistance for members of the military, food for the elderly, or access to Head Start for working families. For many, the shutdown served as a reminder that the government provides important services for the people and most often the people who are most in need.

Just prior to the government shutdown, the Department of Education released for comment a Draft Strategic Plan that will set goals for Fiscal Years 2014-2018. It is clear from the Draft Plan that the Department recognizes the critical role the federal government plays in ensuring that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career. As the Alliance frequently points out, graduating more students from high school is both a moral and an economic imperative. For the nation to compete globally, succeed economically and reflect a respect for the capacity within each individual, it must invest in an inclusive and rigorous system of education. The Department’s Draft Strategic Plan is a guideline for how to meet these goals.

For far too many students—primarily low-income and students of color—the current education system focuses almost exclusively on basic skills and knowledge. The Department’s plan places an emphasis on increasing opportunities for critical thinking, problem solving,  application of knowledge, effective communication, and teamwork. These deeper learning skills comprise the outcomes of a K–12 education system focused on college and career readiness. The Department’s strategic plan provides a roadmap for how the federal government can provide much needed support to states and school districts for achieving these goals.

The Alliance submitted comments in response to the Department’s Strategic Plan. The Alliance’s comments reflect support for a number of goals detailed within the plan, as well as some suggestions. Some of these include:

  • Supporting the Department’s focus on increasing the graduation rate. The Alliance encourages the Department to define a low graduation rate within the plan as one where the high school graduates two-thirds or fewer of its students (i.e., graduation rate at or below 67 percent). The number of high schools with estimated graduation rates below 60 percent, frequently referred to as “dropout factories” has declined over the past decade from 2,007 high schools to 1,424. Unfortunately, it appears the progress of these high schools may only be modest, as there are more than 2,000 high schools that graduate two-thirds or fewer of their students
  • Providing challenging and relevant learning experiences that prepare students for college and a career. The Department’s objective to bridge classroom experience with postsecondary expectations, while also increasing successful transitions can be supported at the high school level through and measured by increased access to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, dual enrollment, early college, and applied learning opportunities, which include work-based, project-based, and service learning.
  • Supporting the implementation of college- and career-ready standards by coupling them with high-quality formative and summative assessments that measure the full range of student standards. These assessments should elicit complex student demonstrations in order to ensure that students develop higher-order thinking skills and the ability to use knowledge to solve problems.
  • Ensuring that students in low-achieving and high-need schools, students with disabilities, and English learners are taught by highly qualified and effective teachers. The Department’s focus should also include students of color, native students, and students from low-income families. Part of meeting this goal requires that all teachers receive the necessary preparation prior to entering the classroom and are provided with ongoing, collaborative support.

One of the many reminders from the last three weeks is that the federal government has a limited but critical role in ensuring that all students have the opportunity to receive a college- and career-ready education. The Department’s Strategic Plan lays the foundation for how to fulfill that role.

Jessica Cardichon is the director of federal advocacy at the Alliance for Excellent Education. You can read her other blog posts here.

Categories:
Uncategorized

Additional Department of Education Flexibility Requirements are Intended to Promote Continuous Improvement

RSS feed

Posted:
September 13, 2013 03:19 pm

The Department of Education has awarded flexibility from certain provisions of No Child Left Behind to 41 states and the District of Columbia. This month the Department formally begins the process of renewing the first 35 approved flexibility requests and on August 29th, issued guidance for states seeking to extend their waiver through the 2015–2016 school year.

Read Entire Post

Categories:
Uncategorized

Senate HELP Committee Passes Bill that Would Improve the Nation’s High Schools

RSS feed

Posted:
June 13, 2013 02:52 pm

On June 11th and 12th,  the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a markup on a bill known as the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (SASA). Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced SASA and all the democratic members of the HELP committee co-sponsored it on June 4th, 2013. Harkin’s bill aims to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and maintains a significant amount of the language from the 2011 version of the bill while adding key provisions that would benefit high schools and students. On June 12th, SASA passed out of the HELP Committee along party lines, with all twelve Democratic Committee members voting in favor of the bill and all ten Republican Committee members voting against the bill.

Read Entire Post

Categories:
Uncategorized

Supporting 21st-century competencies

RSS feed

Posted:
March 26, 2013 07:00 pm

What does it take to succeed in the 21st century economy? This question has taken on new significance as it becomes clear that in a continually changing global economy, the skills that served the nation well in the past might not prepare us for economic success in the future. As the skills needed to succeed evolve, so too must the ways in which the nation’s high schools prepare its students to succeed.

An increasing number of high schools are focusing on developing “deeper learning” competencies – the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, master core academic content, work collaboratively, and communicate effectively, as a means to prepare students for both college and career. There has also been increasing attention on grit, tenacity, and perseverance, as additional competencies critical for success.

Read Entire Post

Categories:
Uncategorized

Alliance recommendations to the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund

RSS feed

Posted:
January 23, 2013 07:43 pm

The Department of Education recently provided an opportunity to comment on their proposed changes to application requirements for the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3). Funding from this grant is provided to school districts, and nonprofit organization partners, with a record of improving student achievement in order to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or growth, closing achievement gaps, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.

Read Entire Post

Categories:
Uncategorized