5 resources to help students with information literacy

Information literacy skills top many lists of must-have abilities, especially in the age of fake news. Not all results in a Google search are legitimate–but how many of today’s students know this?

Children have access to devices at younger ages, which underscores the importance of teaching them how to look at news with a critical eye and to evaluate the information’s origin. Because today’s students are growing up in an age where information is easily accessed, they need to know how to apply critical evaluation skills when met with information purporting to be truthful.

A 2017 Stanford University study determined that students from middle school through college were not able to distinguish between reliable news sources and sponsored content or advertising.…Read More

New Common Sense tool shows how secure your ed-tech apps are

New educator resource is intended to find accurate, up-to-date evaluations of privacy and security practices of ed-tech applications

Common Sense Education, in collaboration with over 70 schools and districts nationwide, launched its K-12 Ed-Tech Privacy Evaluation Platform to support educators in their effort to make informed decisions about the educational software being used on campuses throughout the country.

With schools and districts struggling to manage the challenge of evaluating the privacy and security practices of thousands of educational technology products on the market, Common Sense convened stakeholders to develop a platform that provides accurate and up-to-date evaluations of the security practices of the most commonly used ed-tech apps. The robust set of resources is available at https://privacy.graphite.org.

“Evaluating the privacy and security practices of educational software is a daunting task for most schools and districts, but it doesn’t have to be,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. “By working together with educators, Common Sense has developed a comprehensive, centralized, and free resource to help an education community that is spread out across the country learn from each other and make more informed decisions about protecting student privacy.”…Read More

The 7 questions every new teacher should be able to answer

Teaching for the 21st century looks a lot different. Here’s what admins — and teachers — need to know for job interviews and beyond

Not long ago, the leadership team of a school district I was working with asked me: “If you were going to hire a new teacher, what would you ask in the interview?” They were concerned that hiring teachers with the right skills now can save a district a lot of money in staff development later. Moreover, they wanted to hire teachers who would be open minded about changes to come. The problem is to balance the reality of today’s pressure for test scores and required teacher evaluation with the changes that can be anticipated during the next two decades.

As I wrote in my last column, the traditional skill we valued in teachers when paper was the dominant media—the ability to transfer knowledge of a subject—is becoming less important. Increasingly, a teacher’s knowledge can be found online and in various learning styles. As the internet drives down the value of a teacher’s knowledge, their ability to personalize learning with resources from around the world will increase. We will have more data generated about our students as we build out our online communities. We will need teachers who understand how to make meaning of this data to personalize learning for every student from a vast digital library of learning resources. Also of increasing value is their ability to teach students to be self-disciplined about how “to learn to learn.” Rather than losing overall value, teachers will be more important than ever.

The big change is not adding technology to the current design of the classroom, but changing the culture of teaching and learning and fundamentally changing the job descriptions of teachers and learners.…Read More

Classroom observations may hurt teachers more than they help, study says

Classroom observations — one of the most widely-used forms of teacher evaluation — might be setting teachers up to fail

Teachers might be at a disadvantage during classroom observation of their instructional practice, which is one of the most widely-used tools for high-stakes job performance evaluations. And whether or not students have a history of high classroom achievement could be the reason why.

Research from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR) indicates that evaluations based on observing teachers in the classroom often fail to meaningfully assess teacher performance.

The study, published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, adds to the ongoing policy debate over when and how teachers should be evaluated.…Read More

Utah’s early literacy program works–here’s why

Latest evaluation of statewide early literacy program shows high correlation with kindergarten readiness compared to control group

A statewide kindergarten readiness initiative in Utah is helping children develop early literacy skills before they enter kindergarten, and is doing so at a higher rate than among children who are not in the program.

The state’s UPSTART program, developed by the nonprofit Waterford Institute, uses an early literacy curriculum delivered digitally in the home.

A report analyzing the program’s fifth year suggests that technology has considerable merit for delivering curriculum, teaching critical early reading skills that are known predictors of later school performance, and closing early learning gaps that disproportionately affect disadvantaged children.…Read More

Report: States improve teacher policies

NCTQ’s annual report finds state policies to support teacher effectiveness are no longer the exception in the U.S.

teacher-policyTeacher policies across the U.S. averaged a C- grade, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), which on Dec. 8 released its ninth annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook.

The annual policy yearbook analyzes every state law, rule and regulation that shapes the teaching profession, from teacher preparation, licensing and evaluation to compensation, professional development and dismissal policy.

Across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, states average a C- for their teacher policies in 2015, up from an overall grade of D in 2009. The average state grade has held steady since NCTQ’s last comprehensive report card in 2013, despite the bar being raised on several key topics, including aligning teacher licensing policies with the expectations of college- and career-readiness standards adopted by many states.…Read More

10 facts about teacher evaluation policies

New report says states making “unprecedented” teacher evaluation changes

teacher-evaluation New teacher evaluation policies are being developed across states, but states still have a long way to go in connecting the data from these evaluations to action—specifically when it comes to either rewarding or disciplining teachers, and developing professional development programs, according to a new report.

Spurred partly by federal Race to the Top program funds, as well as by federal conditions to be followed by states pursuing waivers of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), “the widespread adoption of more rigorous teacher evaluation policies represents a seismic shift rarely seen in education policy in general or state teacher policy specifically,” according to the report.

The report, “Connecting the Dots: Using Evaluations of Teacher Effectiveness to Inform Policy and Practice,” by Kathryn Doherty and Sandi Jacobs, was released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)—a non-partisan research and policy organization.…Read More

App of the week: Look For

lookforappName: Look For

What is it? A research-based program developed with national and state core teaching standards that enables users to organize, identify, clarify, and provide immediate feedback to classroom teachers regarding their instructional practices. This app is an answer for high performing staff developers, instructional coaches, peer coaches, and school administrators seeking to improve classroom instruction in their schools.

Best for: Administrators…Read More