10 of the best and worst school systems

For the majority of US families, public education is the only option for their child’s education. But the quality of public school systems varies widely from state to state and is often a question of funding. Public elementary and secondary education dollars traditionally flow from three sources: the federal, state (state governments contributing nearly half of public-school funding) and local governments. According to EdCentral, states contribute nearly as much as local governments, while the federal government supplies the smallest share of the total. Some researchers have found that more resources — or taxes paid by residents — typically result in better school-system performance.

Because of the variances in funding for public school systems, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently conducted an analysis of 2017’s States with the Best & Worst School Systems.

Unlike other research that focuses primarily on academic outcomes or school finance, however, WalletHub says their analysis take a more comprehensive approach, accounting for performance, funding, safety, class size and instructor credentials.…Read More

Is this the new class every student should take?

With the high-school graduation season over, it’s time for grads and parents alike to celebrate and relax a bit – and maybe enjoy a long summer before recently minted graduates start college or a new job.

But here is something to contemplate (hopefully not too strenuously) over the coming summer weeks and months: What is the next learning step in the graduate’s preparation for a future career?

Whether a recent graduate plans to study 18th Century English literature in college or jump right into the workforce in any number of jobs, I have a one-word suggestion for them: Data.…Read More

4 best practices for education data

Data can be immensely helpful to educators–but anyone who hopes to learn from data must know how to analyze and interpret it.

Although the word “data” can raise red flags when it comes to protecting student privacy and sensitive information, it can help students, parents, teachers, and administrators learn from and adjust practices. The catch, though, is that these stakeholder groups need access to the education data and must be able understand what it means.

“Collecting the right education data at the right time, if the right people have access to it, can be a very powerful tool to help improve teaching and learning,” said Doug Mesecar, vice president of strategic partnerships at IO Education, who also has extensive experience with education data and blended learning solutions.…Read More

How do parents really feel about student data?

Ask many public school parents about student data use and privacy, and you’ll likely end up with a heated debate about protecting sensitive, personal information. But what do parents really understand about school technology use and student data privacy?

The Future of Privacy Forum set out to do just that in 2015 and 2016, and surveys revealed that while parents understood the technologies used in their children’s schools, they were less informed about specific laws and practices that pertain to protecting student information.

As technology becomes more prevalent in classrooms, parents say they support technology’s increasing prevalence in classrooms, as long as they are informed about how their children’s information is gathered and used.…Read More

K-12 data is failing students-here’s what education could look like

U.S. education is not effectively leveraging data to increase student performance and close achievement gaps in the same way other sectors have used data to improve work processes, according to a new report from the Center for Data Innovation.

And while many have lamented education’s slow adoption of data-driven practices, there may be a hidden bonus to slow progress.

“The United States now has an opportunity to rebuild its education system to support data-driven education by taking advantage of technologies and best practices already established in other sectors,” noted the report.…Read More

Report: 4 security recommendations to keep student data safe

Educators have relied on data to make informed decisions for as long as it’s been available (the foundations of standardized testing got its start in the 19th century).

For much of that time, the main worry was whether or not that data was being accurately interpreted. Technology, of course, has radically improved how we collect and analyze data, but has thrown a new wrench into its use — mainly regarding ethics, privacy, and safety.

Chief among these concerns are breaches into school systems and accidental data leaks, according to a new report on data privacy from the Southern Regional Education Board, a collective that works with K-12 and higher ed policy leaders in 16 southern states. The report, titled Data Privacy and Security, mentions a number of pressing concerns regarding education data and makes several recommendations for how states and education agencies can stay safe and transparent as they collect, govern, and share student data.…Read More

Schools earn national privacy designation

CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) revealed the inaugural set of schools to earn the new Trusted Learning Environment (TLE) Seal.

Butler County (AL) Schools, Cambridge (MA) Public Schools, Denver (CO) Public Schools, Fulton County (GA) Schools, Lewisville (TX) Independent School District, Miami-Dade (FL) County Public Schools, and Raytown (MO) Quality Schools received the TLE Seal for carrying out their commitment to ensure the privacy and security of student data.

“These schools—representing small, large, urban, and suburban communities—have built a culture of trust and transparency. They continue to make these efforts every day while taking advantage of the benefits and promise of technology in modern learning settings,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.…Read More

Getting struggling students to read requires both data and compassion

When I became an administrator back in 2008, I realized there were too many students flying under the radar and not reading at their grade level. If there’s one thing I know as an educator, now a superintendent, it’s that reading level defines success—period. Research shows that if a student reads on grade level, his or her likelihood of being successful dramatically increases.

Early in my educational career, I learned first-hand the impact of using student achievement data to guide my instruction, but assessment results don’t tell the whole story of a student. As part of my mission to see that no student falls through the cracks, all are greater than average, and everyone graduates knowing how to read, I developed an idea called “Truthful Kindness and Necessary Action” to help me balance objective reporting and empathy for students.

The ‘compassionate rescue’ is not enough

In my district, we talk a lot about being kind to students. While my teachers are extremely kind, there are situations where students are what I call “compassionately rescued” from their struggles. In other words, teachers may be allowing struggling students to slide through, or rescue them from the necessary struggle of having to master key skills, when they haven’t shown mastery.…Read More

The simple LMS move that has made our teachers more effective

Migrating to a single platform for assessment, data analysis, and instruction has simplified most everything for one district

Teachers today are responsible for so many things.

They have to plan instruction for all of their classes. They have to tie this instruction to rigorous state and national standards. They have to assess their students’ understanding on an ongoing basis, look at what the data say, and adjust their teaching based on the results. They have to differentiate instruction for every child. They have to foster deeper understanding among their students, addressing not only core content standards but also key 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving.

Teachers can’t do all of that if they’re constantly logging out of one software system and into another. It’s far too much for them to manage.…Read More