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General Ed Reform

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Articles and Websites Related to General Ed Reform


Draft of National Math, English Curriculum Released - A draft of common national standards for English and math was recently released. The proposal includes specific benchmarks that students should achieve at each grade level. For example, by the end of eighth grade, students should be able to "informally explain why the square root of 2 is irrational." The effort -- endorsed by 48 states -- is being praised for its attempt to bring an "ambitious and coherent" curriculum nationwide, while others are critical of a "one-size-fits-all" approach. [source:]


A Rise in Efforts to Spot Abuse in Youth Dating - She was 17 when she met her boyfriend, and 20 when she died at his hands. In between, Heather Norris tried several times to leave the relationship, which was fraught with control and abuse, before she was killed — stabbed, dismembered and discarded in trash bags. Her death in 2007 in Indianapolis is one of several stemming from abuse in teenage dating relationships that have spurred states and communities to search for new ways to impress on adolescents — and their parents and teachers — the warning signs of dangerous dating behavior and what actions are not acceptable or healthy.


Value-added Evaluation Being Tried in Ohio Schools - What if you could measure how much a child learns over the course of a school year? What if you could gauge what a school actually adds to a child's learning experience? In Ohio, you can.


Tough Programs Attract Students - More Mich. districts offer International Baccalaureate study as demand grows. Drake Gamelin is only 13, but he already knows he wants to become a dermatologist. To get a jump on the competition, Drake, a freshman, enrolled in the International Academy East, a new high school in Troy that offers the rigorous International Baccalaureate program. When he graduates from the school, Drake will be the equivalent of a sophomore in college.


Featured Resource: The Power of Our Words: Teacher Language that Helps Children Learn: How you talk impacts how children learn. "The Power of Our Words should be a required resource for all K-6 teachers regardless of the number of years they have taught." (Principal, CT) Language may be a teacher’s most powerful tool. Every day the words, phrases, tone, and pace you use have the power to help students develop self-control, build their sense of belonging, and gain skills and knowledge. This book, by an author with more than twenty years of experience teaching children and educators, will help you recognize the influence your words have on the children you teach. It will show you how to use language more skillfully, building a classroom where students feel safe, respected, appreciated, and excited about learning.


WA WA to Pay for Free College of Low Income Middle-schoolers - Teresa Jackson is raising three grandchildren by herself on a fixed income, and saving money for their college education is nearly impossible. But now Washington state is stepping in to help low-income students like Jackson's grandchildren go to college.

High School Seniors Get 'F' in Finance - Young people's financial know-how has gone from bad to worse.
High school seniors, on average, answered correctly only 48.3 percent of questions about personal finance and economics, according to a nationwide survey released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. That was even lower than the 52.4 percent in the previous survey in 2006 and marked the worst score out of the six surveys conducted so far.


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Teacher Certification


Uncertified Teachers Performing Well, Study Finds - According to a new study, uncertified teachers end up performing just as well in the classroom as certified teachers and alternatively trained teachers. The study's results appear to challenge requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act that every classroom have a "highly qualified" teacher, instead suggesting that schools should put more emphasis on weeding out bad apples after the teachers have been hired. While alternatively certified and uncertified teachers do worse at first, they appear to improve at faster rates than traditionally certified teachers and by the teachers' third year on the job, students of alternatively certified and uncertified teachers are performing just as well as those of traditionally certified teachers.


Challenge to Teacher Ed - For-profit venture seeks to offer a new model, involving close ties to school districts and a curriculum based on the latest research.


Innovations In Education - "Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification" looks at six programs that prepare people who already have content knowledge -- such as mid-career professionals, liberal arts graduates, retired military personnel, and other college graduates -- to teach. "Alternative Pathways to School Leadership" provides examples of successful strategies to prepare candidates for school leadership positions. To receive two copies of each new book, write to Courtney Phillips at or click on the link above. [Source: Office of Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education]


Check your child's Michigan Teacher Certification Status

KY Kentucky Teachers Taking Alternative Paths to Certifications - A growing number of Kentucky teachers are taking alternative routes to their certification - getting into the classroom while earning their credentials.


Alternative teacher-certification program debuts online - A new internet-based program that allows underqualified teachers, career changers, and other professionals to bypass teacher colleges to become "highly qualified" certified teachers made its debut Aug. 22. Passport to Teaching targets people who are interested in becoming teachers but don't want to take the time and incur the expense of completing a traditional teacher-education program. [Free registration required to read/view this article @]




Innovations In Education - "Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification" looks at six programs that prepare people who already have content knowledge -- such as mid-career professionals, liberal arts graduates, retired military personnel, and other college graduates -- to teach. "Alternative Pathways to School Leadership" provides examples of successful strategies to prepare candidates for school leadership positions. To receive two copies of each new book, write to Courtney Phillips at or click on the link above. [Source: Office of Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education]


Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does the Research Say? - A new publication from the Collaborative on Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, examines the relationships between social emotional education and school success, specifically focusing on interventions that enhance student learning. The book provides both scientific evidence and practical examples in describing the benefits of social emotional learning programs, such as: skill-building linked to cognitive development; improved relationships between students and teachers; school-family partnerships to help students achieve; and increased student confidence and success. To order a copy from Teachers College Press go to


ISLLC Standards Found Lacking in Practices Related to Student Achievement (PDF) - The Mid-continent Regional Education Laboratory takes a look at the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards for licensing school principals and finds that they contain some---but not all---of the leadership responsibilities and practices that are correlated with student achievement. If you’re one of the 40 states that have incorporated ISLLC into their leadership standards, you’ll want to read this report.


Eight Elements for Superintendents Who Want to Make a Difference - Today’s superintendency calls on deep reserves from leaders who understand and seek to practice fundamental tenets of what Michael Fullan calls "system thinkers in action." The eight elements of sustainability constitute the agenda for the superintendent who wants to make a difference and has the resolve and energy to keep going: (1) Public service with moral purpose; (2) Change the entire context within which people work; (3) Strengthen peer relations across schools; (4) Increase the capacity of schools to engage in self-review; (5) Continuous improvement, adaptation and collective problem solving in the face of complex challenges; (6) Dual commitment to short-term and long-term results; (7) Taking the energy, additional time, and ingenuity required for the next breakthrough; and (8) Developing other leaders in the district.


KS In Less Than 2 Years, Principal Restores Discipline, Improves Test Scores - After Denise Wren took over one of Wichita's toughest high schools, she did more with less. A lot more. Math and reading test scores rose. Writing scores jumped 14 percentage points.


Commentary: Is Unity Possible? - One of the challenges of leadership in any organization (or country) is how to respect and incorporate diverse viewpoints and experiences while uniting behind a common vision in order to reach common goals – and not allowing the process to be derailed.


MI Everett's Principal is Named Best in the State - Dale Glynn, who has led Lansing's diverse Everett High School since 1995, is Michigan's new High School Principal of the Year. Affectionately known as "Rainbow Man" because of his inclusive nature, Glynn said the students "become my sons and my daughters."


Professional Development                      Click here for information on Grant Writing.


Featured Educational Websites for Teachers:  

4 Teachers

Education World
The Teacher's Corner
You Can Handle Them All - Discipline Help - (You want the "old" version)
Teacher Training Videos


GAMES FOR LEARNING: From MIT - Playful approaches for building cognitive skills and exploring science & math. Games play an important role in the learning process: they provide a safe, creative environment in which children learn to experiment, collaborate and problem-solve. We work with educators to make sure our games tie into their math and science curriculums. The games we develop can be played on computers or mobile devices, and are used both inside and outside the classroom.


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Drop Outs & GED


Dropouts Establish Patterns Early On - Warning signs of high school academic woes can be seen in students as young as 11 and addressed, researchers say.

MI State Grad Rate At 75% - More than four out of 10 students didn't graduate from Detroit Public Schools (DPS) in 2007, according to data released today by the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI).

MI Michigan CIS-Schools Partner to Fight Dropout Epidemic - Michigan's six Communities in Schools (CIS) programs, which use adult role models to prevent children from dropping out, could help relieve the budget strain on K-12 education because of the program's attractiveness to private donors, advocates say.

MI Hearings Scheduled to Address Michigan’s Dropout Crisis - Solutions sought to raise graduation rates. Finding ways to fix Michigan’s dropout crisis is the focus of public hearings beginning in May, part of a statewide initiative to increase the number of high school graduates to stabilize a weak economy.


Detroit Schools Graduation Rate: 32% - Just 31.9 percent of Detroit students graduate in four years, according to the first major study in Michigan conducted using a method now mandated by the federal government.


Reviews from the What Works Clearinghouse: Dropout Prevention (March 2007, Research Reviews) - The What Works Clearinghouse of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has published reviews of two dropout prevention interventions: Middle College High School and Twelve Together.

MI Dropout Numbers Not Always Verified - Data used by state and federal policymakers to set education policy, and by parents in making location decisions, could very well be inaccurate, according to an audit released today.


Math Emerges As Big Hurdle For Teenagers - Researchers from the United Negro College Fund went to West Virginia last year and asked 62 high school dropouts in the federal Job Corps program a simple, open-ended question. “What was it about school,” they wanted to know, “that caused you to quit?”


Looking for your Michigan GED Transcript? Click here to download the Michigan GED Transcript Request Form (PDF; size=61k).

Teacher Quality

Excellence in the Classroom - A new volume from The Future of Children concludes that good teachers make a difference. According to the 15 leading scholars who contributed to the journal, the most promising way to improve teacher quality is to broaden entry requirements, identify and promote effective teachers, provide additional pay to successful teachers who work in challenging schools, and promote meaningful professional development.

New Way of Rating Teachers is Sought - Lawyer Sandy Kress, an education adviser to President Bush and key architect of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, wants lawmakers to devise a system for rating individual teacher effectiveness, a controversial and trailblazing approach he says one day will allow Texas to match the best teachers with the students who most need them. Nationally, policymakers have shown little appetite to tackle the teacher quality gap, though many researchers consider it the most significant explanation for the persistence of test score differences between the haves and have-nots.

NY Commentary: Transform Teaching Now - For all the NY City students working to meet rigorous new academic standards, nothing is more important than having a good teacher. Teaching is a tough job, requiring a high level of talent, drive, knowledge and skill. But a new study of graduating college seniors found that students who major in education - the future teachers of America - have lower levels of literacy than all other students studied.


The Move to Get a Top Teacher in Every Major Class - After more than 25 years giving science tests to her middle-school students, Rebecca Pringle may have to pass one herself to prove she's qualified to teach the subject.

Teacher Recruitment & Retention

Five Tips for New Teacher Success (Book) - Here are five tips from Lynn F. Howard on what principals can do to support new teacher success: (1) Never let them feel isolated. New teachers want to know that they are not alone as they struggle to learn to manage and organize a classroom. Take time to share refreshments, have discussions, trade your stories of success and build excitement and energy at every opportunity; (2) Be visible -- everyday. Many new teachers say that visibility and personal interaction with the principal is the number one factor that would make the difference in their decision to stay or leave a particular school. Visiting classrooms regularly, promoting success, and allowing time for discussion and questions are powerful motivators for beginning teachers; (3) Provide the skills and knowledge needed for their success. All new teachers want help with classroom management, building relationships, strategic planning with lesson design, observations and evaluations and testing. Provide new teachers with step-by-step strategies and activities that build both confidence and competence; (4) Allow time for growth and reflection. Knowing what works and what does not allows new teacher to identify areas of growth and strength while determining specific areas that need improvement; and (5) Celebrate! Learning to teach is a long process and celebrating small, incremental steps is one way to recognize growth and achievement. Write positive notes, provide special treats or just say "Thank You" for coming to school. The rewards in teaching are often intrinsic and we must recognize the little things that happen every day that make school a good place to be.


Half of Teachers Quit in 5 Years - According to a new study from the National Education Association, a teachers union, half of new U.S. teachers are likely to quit within the first five years because of poor working conditions and low salaries.


Innovations In Education - "Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification" looks at six programs that prepare people who already have content knowledge -- such as mid-career professionals, liberal arts graduates, retired military personnel, and other college graduates -- to teach. "Alternative Pathways to School Leadership" provides examples of successful strategies to prepare candidates for school leadership positions. To receive two copies of each new book, write to Courtney Phillips at or click on the link above. [Source: Office of Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education]


TX Teacher Turnover Tracked in City District - A new Texas study punctures the commonly held notion that high levels of teacher turnover in poor, urban schools result from an exodus of the profession's "best and brightest." [Free login/registration required to view this article.]


Where the Public Schools Can Find $2.6 Billion More - Every Year - The turnover of failure/quitter teachers costs the public schools $2.6 billion each year. (Alliance for Education, 2004) As mind boggling as this figure is the authors of this report believe that the $2.6 billion is a substantial underestimate since it does not take into account the full costs to the districts of their teacher turnover.


Value of Teacher Incentives Questioned - Nearly 1,400 North Carolina teachers each were paid as much as $1,800 extra last year to work in schools hampered by poverty or lagging student achievement. The additional pay was an enticement for math, science and special-education teachers to join or stay in those hard-pressed schools. State education and political leaders are now questioning whether the money helped do either and, more broadly, whether incentives alone can remedy teacher shortages.


FL Educators Split on Fast-track Plan - Florida teacher certification is now a $500 click away. Online test lets would-be teachers get certified without taking teaching courses in college.


Ninth Grade

Many High School Freshman Have to Repeat 9th Grade - The first year Daniel Rodriguez was in ninth grade, he failed English and science and was suspended "countless times," he said, for fighting with classmates.

The Lost Freshmen - Many area students are ill-prepared for high school, with thousands repeating ninth grade.


Ninth Grade: A School Year to be Reckoned With - Nationwide, the rate at which ninth-grade students don't get to 10th has tripled in the past 30 years, according to a new study by Boston College.


NC Ninth Grade Key to Attrition: 'Academies' Help Curb Dropout Rate - Many North Carolina students hit a brick wall in ninth grade. They fail too many classes to be promoted. They're held back. Some of them just drop out or will quit eventually.


After School Enrichment

Book Release: Learning After School: A Step-By-Step Guide to Providing an Academic Safety Net and Promoting Student Initiative - Asked why after-school programs were so important, former Education Secretary Richard W. Riley replied “children’s minds don’t close down at 3 PM and neither should their schools.” Now, a new book, Learning After School, offers a step-by-step guide for schools to maximize student learning by harnessing after-school time.


High School

MI Easy College Prep Classes Get the Boot - The quality of Advanced Placement programs is coming under scrutiny at a time when educators are pushing to strengthen the academic level of high school class offerings.


Students Thrive in an Alternative to College - A growing trend might give educators a clue about how to change their high schools. As high school becomes little more than a memory for thousands of recent Tampa Bay area graduates, some have begun to wonder what they will do with the rest of their lives. Others already have a pretty good idea, and it doesn't involve a traditional path through college.


Transforming High Schools for All Youth - The National High School Alliance released "A Call to Action: Transforming High School for All Youth," a framework of six core principles and recommended strategies for guiding leaders at all levels in the complex process of transforming the traditional, comprehensive high school. The Call to Action representing the collective knowledge of the National High School Alliance’s forty-three partner organizations and communicates. The six core principles, cited as "inter-related and non-negotiable," are as follows: (1) personalized learning environments; (2) academic engagement of all students; (3) empowered educators; (4) accountable leaders; (5) engaged community & youth; and (6) integrated systems of high standards, curriculum, instruction, assessments and academic supports beyond the school day.


High School Redesign A Step Closer to Reality - The push for remaking the American high schools became one step closer to reality as the nation’s governors released their Action Agenda for Improving America’s High Schools and called for a fundamental redesign of the American high school, including alignment with postsecondary institutions.


Tests Are History at This High School - The 9-year-old Met School defies convention, with no letter grades, no required classes, and "advisors" instead of teachers who work with the same small group of students for four consecutive years. Instead of taking tests, the 580 students present "exhibitions" of their work. With 100% of its seniors accepted each year to college, the Met's "one student at a time" approach to learning has caught the attention of educators around the country.


Is a Smaller School Always a Better School? - School districts across the US are seizing on size as the key to reform. But some experts worry that the rush to create smaller schools is happening too fast.


Middle School

Jailhouse Middle School - It felt more like a juvenile detention center during lockdown than lunchtime in my neighborhood public middle school.

Paraprofessional Qualification
Teacher Aides Win Extra Time to Qualify - Teacher aides, under federal pressure to prove they are qualified to stay in the classroom, will get extra time to comply under a new Education Department policy. The time frame for aides to get qualified will be pushed back to the end of the 2005-06 school year, the same deadline for teachers in poor schools to prove their qualifications.
Article: Once At Rock Bottom, This Northern Michigan Elementary Now Produces Stars
Once at rock bottom, this Northern Michigan elementary now produces stars
Bridge Magazine April 26, 2018

CADILLAC – By almost any indicator, the students at Kenwood Elementary in Cadillac should be poor readers.
Almost three in four Kenwood students are economically disadvantaged, in a state that ranks 44th in the nation in low-income fourth-grade reading skills.
More than nine in 10 students at the school are white; Michigan’s poor, white students rank a dismal 49th in fourth-grade reading, ahead of only Alaska.
Yet Kenwood’s low-income students are reading all-stars, meeting Michigan’s fourth-grade reading standards at double the rate of poor students elsewhere in the state. That’s quite a record for a school that, just four years ago, was one of the worst-performing in Michigan as measured by the Michigan Department of Education.
That turnaround was no miracle, say school leaders in Cadillac, just a new approach to teaching, a focus on data, and a lot of work.
“Change is hard,” said Cadillac Superintendent Jennifer Brown. “A sense of urgency is needed.”
Hope in an unexpected place
Cadillac is a town of 10,000 in the northwest Lower Peninsula. In the 1800s, it was known for its lumber business and locomotive manufacturing. Rock band KISS played at ahomecoming dance there in 1975. Today, it’s a typical northern Michigan community, with below-average household income and educational attainment, surviving on small industries and tourism.
Four years ago, the Michigan Department of Education placed Cadillac’s highest-poverty school – Kenwood Elementary – in the second percentile of all Michigan schools, based on assessments and performance growth on a variety of tests and subjects.
Two years later, the school rose to the 59th percentile.
The remarkable turnaround was based partly on the school’s rising reading scores. On the 2017 M-STEP, Michigan’s state accountability test, only 29 percent of the state’s low-income fourth-graders were proficient or better in English language arts, half the rate of their wealthier classmates.
But at high-poverty Kenwood, 62 percent of low-income fourth-graders were proficient or higher ‒ one of the highest rates for low-income students in the state.
Kenwood’s success shows that Michigan schools can improve learning, and can do it without a huge infusion of cash.
In a small, cluttered principal’s office, Kenwood Principal Kelly Buckmaster and Cadillac Superintendent Jennifer Brown rattled off a list of changes instituted at the school since its low-water mark in 2014.
• Major teacher shakeup: Six of Kenwood’s 14 classroom teachers were replaced “We gave them the option – get on board (with the plan) or (leave),” Brown said.
• Support staff: The school added two certified teachers without classroom assignments – a behavioral specialist to head off student issues before they caused disruptions, and an instructional coach who meets with every teacher at least once a month to go over data and tweak teaching methods sort of like a batting coach on a baseball team. The Cadillac Area Public Schools district squeezed money from other programs to fill the new positions.
• Common planning time: Teachers have time during the school week to meet to strategize classwork.
• Food and dentists: Kenwood offers free breakfast for all students, rather than the third of students who received it before the turnaround. And a dentist visits the school twice a year for students who may not see dentists regularly.
• Quick turnaround classroom data:“My teachers have weekly common planning time,” Buckmaster said. “One week we may be looking at math data, and another week at reading data: ‘Here’s where we want to be. Here’s the kids who got there. Here’s the kids who didn’t get there. What are we going to do to get them there? How are we going to assess that they actually got there?’”
• Smaller groups: An emphasis on small-group and individualized instruction, to work with students who are struggling with a concept. This was more complicated than it sounds, Buckmaster said. Teachers had to prepare multiple lessons that could keep various groups active at the same time.
• Good vibes: A culture that praises students for what they do right rather than criticizing them for what they do wrong. “When you walk into the school, you can feel the positive environment,” said third-grade teacher Kelly Baas.
“It probably doesn’t sound revolutionary,” admitted Brown. “I know people want to find a silver bullet in a program, but most of that turnaround was due to a shift in thinking. It really is about finding people who are committed to the work and the kids, and are willing to roll up their sleeves (and say) ‘Whatever the kids bring to school, we’re going to work with it.’”
“We still have all the problems,” Buckmaster said. “We just handle them differently now. We focus on what we can control.”
The reforms at Kenwood have been so successful they’ve been expanded to other elementary schools in Cadillac, with Brown squeezing dollars from the district’s budget to pay for more literacy coaches
What happened at Kenwood can happen elsewhere, Brown said. “We can’t clone Kelly and her staff, but you don’t need to,” she said. “Teachers work hard. They’re invested. No one gets into the profession to see kids not succeed. This is scalable, if teachers are supported in the right way.”
That support includes building in time for teachers to work together to share an idea, ensuring they receive quick access to student data, and providing the money for good professional development.
“It takes a commitment to allocate resources where needs are and not just follow the same paradigm you’ve always followed,” Brown said.
The question is whether the state now has that same sense of urgency that Kenwood instructional coach Heidi Stange feels when she recalls the faces of teachers the day they learned the school was in the second percentile.
“We can’t think we have a handle on it, because then we’re losing focus,” Stange said. “It scares me when I think about us sliding.”

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