Can Poor, Rural Schools Reverse Their Fortunes?
Public schools are perceived as an obstacle to a better future in a small Mississippi town and county. So what can be done to turn them around...?
How One District Is Improving Native American Achievement
For Native American students to succeed, strong partnerships between schools and communities are vital. Just ask officials in Tahlequah, Okla.
Classroom Walkthroughs Can Improve Teaching and Learning
But you must plan them with patience and persistence
Making Every School A Magnet School
Converting all of its schools to magnets was a risk worth taking for an Arkansas district.
A Community of Learners
Developing strong learning communities for schools takes highly skilled leaders who are prepared to get the details right
Communicating What You Teach
As curriculum debates continue to be waged across the U.S., schools can learn from the mistakes of others.
What is Ready?
ASBJ examines the skills 21st century students need to succeed in life.
The Blame Game
Business leaders and educators often take opposite approaches to school reform. How can they work together?
What the 'Influencers' say
Groups weigh in on how schools prepare their students
Educating Generation Z
What will the graduate of 2020 look like? Take a virtual peek into the future.
The Caring Village
A nontraditional N.Y. school reaches students through small classes and personal connections
Searching for Zero
A dropout is a dropout. By this definition, nearly every school district has a dropout problem, regardless of its wealth or the kind of students it serves. The good news is that boards are key to solving the problem. Consider the influence school boards have over district policies: “What policies keep kids in [school], and what policies push kids out?”
Newsmaker: Andrea Peterson
Andrea Peterson describes herself as a “real day-to-day kind of person,” one who prefers to take on multiple projects as they come, deal with them, and move on to others. It’s how she has built an acclaimed music education program in Granite Falls, Wash., and how she views the next 12 months of her life.
The Boys (and Girls) of Summer
Does summer school really work? Districts across the country are turning to summer school, after-school, and even Saturday sessions to help academically struggling students meet testing goals, including federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards. With sanctions—and, in some states, rewards—riding on the outcome of those scores, meeting those benchmarks is critical. Does summer school help districts reach those goals? Most educators say it certainly does. But many also say there is still room to improve how most districts treat summer school.
College for All?
Should all high school graduates try to earn a four-year degree? It’s a complex question that carries strong opinions on both sides of the fence. But many critics question the wisdom of “college for all”—the philosophy that all high school graduates can and should go on to earn a four-year degree. Students who’ve barely scraped by in high school soon discover that colleges are not lenient about late homework and low test grades. Some find out college isn’t what they expected, and many fail.
Moment of Truth
If not schools, then what institution will prepare today’s children to live and work successfully in a nation that’s increasingly diverse racially? A generation after white flight ravaged many of the nation’s largest urban school districts, both racially and economically, a number of small metropolitan areas are now facing, in the words of one education analyst, “their moment of truth.”
Putting Students First
Putting students first spurred three school boards to create the programs taking top honors in this year's Magna Awards. Though radically different in size and geography, the three grand-prize-winning school districts share a vision for public education that succeeds because of community cooperation.
A Chance for Change
The great irony of our time is that the brutal reality of poor instruction is seldom addressed or even mentioned at school board meetings. It isn’t written about in the education section of newspapers or honestly discussed at faculty or central office meetings. It works silently to cripple every well-meant improvement initiative. There is a fairly simple way out. We can turn the tide immediately by instituting the most effective, widely recognized structure for guaranteeing effective teaching and coherent curriculum: professional learning communities.
A Dynamic Duo
An increase in the student population is the reason most cited for initiating a co-principalship. Parents, teachers, and community members expect to be able to talk to the principal, see a lead administrator at extracurricular activities, and have someone available in the building when important issues arise. As the student population increases, the principal’s role just becomes too much for one person. Why not consider two?
Leader of the Pack
You wouldn’t know it by looking at them, what with their slow gaits and sad, brown eyes, but cows may be savvier than school boards when it comes to selecting leaders. Or so the latest research suggests. Scientists in France found that bullying, selfishness, size, and strength weren’t recognized within the herd as suitable leadership qualities. Intelligence, inquisitiveness, confidence, experience, and good social skills were. Cows realize this. You’d think we would, too.
Across the nation, school board members and administrators are seeing how their districts benefit when corporations, universities, and local businesses come together in partnerships. Partnerships range from providing mentors for students, to offering leadership training for principals and other administrators, to recognition programs for teachers, students, and others. These partnerships can be critical for districts that are time strapped and cash squeezed.
Lost in Translation
A look at the first IDEA case to reach the Supreme Court. In terms of its significance, the Rowley case is considered by some to be second only to 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education. For the Rowley family, it was about fairness. For their school district, it was about fairness, too.
The Issues of IDEA
In its 31-year history, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has pushed the complicated realm of special education into the mainstream of K-12 education. The benefits have been tremendous: Countless students with disabilities have reached a potential that even their greatest advocates did not think was possible. But as with any law, there were unforeseen consequences and pitfalls, and the emotional aspect of special education has no doubt affected the way these have played out.
A Line Item for Achievement
How much are school districts spending to improve instruction and student achievement? No plans are cost-free, of course, but I have found an encouraging and reasonably priced initiative that several districts are implementing—instructional coaching. Instructional coaching is an encouraging, reasonably priced way to improve classroom teaching and student learning.
A Changing World
Gone are the days when vocational education, as it was once called, was considered a dumping ground for the unmotivated, the misfits, and the troublemakers. Today’s career and technical education is less about lug nuts and monkey wrenches and more about computer-aided drafting and premed bioethics. And it’s for everyone, not just the kids who aren’t going to college.
School of the Future
The name itself was a brash declaration: School of the Future. Its location was just as audacious. West Philadelphia was the last place you’d expect to make such a bold statement. Yet last September, there it was: a 162,000-square-foot marvel of architectural and pedagogical synergy between the Philadelphia School District and software conglomerate Microsoft. And there everyone else was, curious about what the future was supposed to look like. The future, as it is, looks remarkably like the workplace.
ASBJ Managing Editor Kathleen Vail recently interviewed author Alfie Kohn about his new book, The Homework Myth. Here are excerpts from the question-and-answer session.
Apprenticeships: A Tradition That Works
Teaching a trade may not be as popular as it once was, but apprenticeships remain useful. The best apprenticeships present students with compelling problems, time to come up with solutions, and opportunities to apply math, science, and English. The best mentors know when apprentices are ready to tackle new challenges. And they know when to walk away and allow their apprentices to own the problem.