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Chapter 1

John R. Wink Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 1

Every Teacher Counts

Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.

—Solomon Ortiz

Teaching is maybe the noblest of all professions. No other career plays a more powerful role in shaping who we are, how we think, and what we are capable of doing as human beings. Teachers help their students become better thinkers, problem solvers, creators, and dreamers. Teachers also have the ability to help students turn their dreams into a robust reality, to inspire and equip young learners for the hard work of overcoming the many barriers they will confront in life. In short, teachers are the real game changers. If we believe that every student counts, we, as leaders, must believe that every teacher counts as well.

Today, teachers have to overcome some formidable barriers of their own. They are charged with doing more than they’ve ever done in the history of education, facing more challenging obstacles and higher standards than ever before. Many teachers are successfully adapting to the ever-changing environment of standards-based education and high-stakes testing as they ensure that students achieve. Others, however, are falling through the cracks. With an excellent teacher in the classroom, we know that most students have the best hope of making huge strides in their learning. But when a teacher struggles in his or her craft, we can expect many students to suffer gaps in their learning. Those gaps eventually fall to next year’s teacher to fill, diverting time and energy away from the curriculum. One year’s failed advancements, in other words, erode the next year’s achievements. In the introduction, I defined an excellent school as one whose mission is to guarantee that every student who walks through its doors will graduate with a firm foundation for future success at college or in a career.

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2 Grading That’s Accurate

Ken O'Connor Solution Tree Press ePub

The second critical attribute of grades is accuracy. Principals must ensure that the grades students receive are accurate because very important decisions are made about and by students on the basis of those grades. If the decisions are based on inaccurate grades, then obviously they will not be good decisions. To be accurate, grades must measure student achievement as precisely as possible. This means that skills of independence and cooperation must be tracked and reported separately from achievement. This is done by utilizing what I call “expanded-format reporting”—report cards that have a separate section for reporting student behaviors.

The story that follows provides an example of common practice that results in inaccurate grades and clearly illustrates the need for expanded-format reporting:

When Vicki Madden of New York City saw her son Sam’s fifth-grade report card, she was dismayed—and more than a little confused. Last year Sam had received 3’s and 4’s (on a scale of 1 to 4) in social studies, which was one of his favorite classes. But this time, despite getting 3’s in the subcategories for knowledge and analytic skills, Sam’s overall grade was a 1. “I asked myself how he could master the material and still fail,” says Vicki, 51, a social studies teacher at a school for 6th- to 12th-graders. “It didn’t make sense.”

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7. Humanism Found

Claire Elise Katz Indiana University Press ePub

Let justice well up like water,

Righteousness like an unfailing stream. (Amos 5:24)

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks

Nation shall not take up

Sword against nation;

They shall never again know war. (Isaiah 2:4)

God is not in heaven. He is in men’s sacrifice, in the mercy men show for one another.

Heaven is empty but men’s mercy is filled with God.

—Levinas in conversation with Michael de Saint Cheron

This book has argued that Levinas’s writings on Jewish education help us understand his fundamental concerns motivating his ethical project. He witnessed a crisis of humanism for which a new subjectivity was required. His philosophical writings argue for this new subjectivity, but the question of how this subjectivity can develop begs for an answer. His writings on Jewish education provide some direction. Yet as they guide us in answering this question, other questions emerge. The most obvious is to ask what his argument means for the non-Jewish community. How does the solution that Levinas offers to the Jewish community translate to the non-Jewish (or even non-practicing Jewish) community? Even if my argument regarding the importance of Jewish education to Levinas’s project is sound, we are left wondering what we do now. Can we identify or construct an educational model that is both necessary and comparable to the Jewish educational model which Levinas presents?

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4 - U.S. Advanced Performance in Global Perspective

Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson and Ludger Woessmann Brookings Institution Press ePub

          CHAPTER FOUR          

U.S. ADVANCED PERFORMANCE IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

To remain competitive in the global economy, we must…commit to an ambitious national agenda for education.

Bill Gates, 2007

Public discourse tends to focus on the need, particularly among disadvantaged students, to reach basic levels of achievement. That focus has been evident since the passage of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965, when special attention to the needs of low performers was reinforced by concentrating federal funding on schools with high percentages of students who were economically disadvantaged. That focus continued in 2002 when the law, relabeled No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required that all students be brought up to a minimum level of proficiency.

As welcome as the focus of the federal legislation may have been, we clearly cannot neglect the need to lift more students to especially high levels of educational accomplishment. In 2006 the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Coalition was formed to “raise awareness in Congress, the Administration, and other organizations about the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the United States to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace for the twenty-first century.”1 In the words of the National Academy of Sciences report that jump-started the coalition's formation, the nation needs to “increase” its “talent pool by improving K–12 science and mathematics education.”2 The U.S. position as the “world's innovator” almost certainly rests heavily on the talents of our most highly skilled citizenry. We think of the advanced students as the pool from which our future scientists and engineers will come.

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4 Closing the Gap at Tier 1

Donna Walker-Tileston Solution Tree Press ePub

A basic goal of any RTI program is prevention and early support for learning problems revealed in universal screenings. Schools prevent learning problems by making sure that all children are taught by highly qualified teachers who know and use best practices, know how to modify instruction for culture and poverty, and use research-based practices and materials. Teachers provide early supports by gathering and analyzing student screening data and then making changes in instruction at the first sign that current methods are not working. This core preventative curriculum is typically called Tier 1 in the RTI model. It requires regular screening for academic and behavior issues, differentiated instruction that addresses those issues, and regular progress monitoring to ensure that the differentiated instruction is meeting all needs.

Tier 1 is sometimes referred to as the universal level. Tier 1 screening combines resources from the staffs of general education, special education, and Title I to gather data (through testing and observations) about the achievement of every student, based on identified benchmarks for subjects and grade levels. Included are state and local benchmarks for both academics and behaviors. Key questions include: Are students making the academic and behavioral progress expected for this grade or subject? Are students making adequate yearly progress? If not, what skills do students need, and how can teachers modify instruction so that students can succeed? Differentiated instruction should be part of the daily teaching and learning process in whole-class and small-group instruction. If educators spend adequate time and attention on solving problems at the planning stage, then they will have identified best practices that will be needed to ensure students’ success and embedded those into the teaching process. This chapter will explore how educators can ensure their Tier 1 RTI program is implemented to ensure the success of all students—to close the gap from the outset.

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