Designing fair and inclusive tests for non-native speakers

Roughly 20 percent of U.S. residents, which is approximately 67.3 million people (equal to the population of France), speak a language other than English at home, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. When it comes to taking tests not in their first language, these groups can be at a notable disadvantage – especially for tests that influence a test-takers’ future. 

Language is a significant barrier to fair and inclusive testing, particularly if language fluency is not relevant to the skill being measured by the test. This is why designing fair and inclusive tests for non-native speakers is a key component of equitable testing.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that migrants, on average, get significantly lower literacy and numeracy test scores than native speakers. About half of it relates to the language of the test, meaning that if the migrants were tested in their own language, about half the difference would disappear.…Read More

In post-COVID schools, let’s redouble efforts to support students

The other day, my friend’s high school daughter complained, “It’s not fair!” “What’s not fair?” her mother asked. “Everyone is cheating!” her daughter replied. “They started doing it during COVID, and now it’s a habit.” Unfortunately, academic dishonesty is just one example of the many negative consequences of the COVID pandemic.

In hindsight, we have ample evidence that remote learning during COVID increased hardships for PK-12 students, both academically and non-academically. Some students lacked necessary resources. In one study, even after all students were provided with a laptop computer, internet access, and headphones, low-income students’ school attendance and engagement were consistently less frequent than their higher-income peers (An, 2021). Food insecurity also increased during COVID, partly due to the hiatus of school breakfast, lunch, and take-home snack pack programs (Parekh et al., 2021). And worst of all, children at home during COVID were twice as likely to experience physical abuse and three times likely to experience emotional abuse during the pandemic than in prior years (Park & Walsh, 2022).

Without a doubt, remote learning during COVID was distressing for students, with 71 percent of parents in one study reporting that the pandemic had “taken a toll on their child’s mental health” (Abramson, 2022, para. 2). …Read More

Gen Z students are aiming for STEM careers

A majority of high school and college students chose STEM as their No. 1 preferred career path, according to a survey of 11,495 Gen Z students conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).

The 2022 Career Interest Survey gives insights into what motivates an adventurous, civic-minded, concerned, vocal, tech-savvy, emerging workforce.

NSHSS is an academic honor society that recognizes and serves high-achieving student scholars in more than 26,000 high schools across 170 countries.…Read More

Inspiring STEM Creativity and the DIY Spirit with a New Virtual Field Trip from The Home Depot and Discovery Education

Silver Spring, MD (Friday, May 20, 2022) — To empower students to embrace STEAM and tackle DIY projects, Science Fair Central presents the Operation Build It Virtual Field Trip, which premiered on May 17th at 1 PM EST and is now available on-demand. Science Fair Central is an educational initiative from The Home Depot and Discovery Education that is helping STEAM-powered classrooms and homes across the country prepare students for the careers of tomorrow. With 10 million students from grades K-12 participating in science fairs and STEAM events every year, Science Fair Central provides students the tools they need to take their projects to the next level. 

The Operation Build It Virtual Field Trip introduces students to innovative DIYers who demonstrate how to set-up workshops anywhere and tackle real-life challenges that they are passionate about. The Home Depot is celebrating 25 years of the Kids Workshops, and the new Operation Build It Virtual Field Trip further supports these efforts. Suited for students in grades 6-12, this Virtual Field Trip provides educators with ready-to-use classroom activities and a valuable educator guide that makes this plug and play virtual experience suitable for almost any lesson plan. Watch the VFT here or on Discovery Education’s K-12 learning platform. 

“At The Home Depot, we’re here to help people make, create, and explore every day. Science Fair Central, in partnership with Discovery Education, empowers students to connect with and grow their curiosity and creativity. This new virtual field trip is another way for students to explore the world around them,” said Lisa DeStefano, Vice President of Brand Marketing & Creative at The Home Depot.  …Read More

11 resources to avoid the summer slide

The summer slide, summer brain drain, summer learning loss–whatever you call it, it’s of even more concern to parents and educators with COVID thrown in the mix.

While many districts resumed hybrid or full in-person learning during the 2020-2021 school year, many educators and experts are still concerned about learning gaps and learning loss.

It’s fair to say students have more than earned their impending summer breaks. Still, it’s not a bad idea to encourage students to keep reading and to give their brains a little exercise here and there.…Read More

Professional development should remain a pandemic priority

For Diane Lauer, Assistant Superintendent of Priority Programs and Academic Support at St. Vrain Valley Schools in Colorado, COVID couldn’t stop teacher training. In fact, her work became that much more important.

In this conversation with eSchool News, Diane breaks down her strategies for keeping faculty on point with technology and instruction. [Edited for clarity.]

eSN: Before the pandemic struck, would it be fair to say there was a general resistance amongst some teachers, who would be skeptical of various aspects of professional development? How have remote setups changed the way you teach those teachers?…Read More

How district administrators can drive student success in the COVID “tech rush”

Following an abrupt shift to remote learning this past spring, school and district administrators have had their fair share of summer homework as they prepare for a technology-first fall term. From filling out funding applications to reworking classrooms to promote social distancing, to choosing the right technology for hybrid learning environments, they’ve been working diligently to prepare for a school year that drives student engagement.

With COVID-19 showing few signs of slowing down, schools will likely not get through the next school year without some form of remote learning. It is also a safe bet that schools will lean heavily on education technology solutions to help ensure teachers can continue to deliver lesson plans to wherever students are located. With thousands of districts around the nation going back to school, the need for online education tools for students, teachers, and parents has never been more vital.

Related content: Using digital tools for engaging STEM instruction…Read More

Follett Online Book Fairs a Convenient Option to Keep Kids Reading

Whether the 2020-21 school year is starting in the classroom or remotely,  Follett is ensuring elementary and middle school students won’t be missing out on one of their favorite back-to-school traditions: the book fair. With  Follett Book eFairs, events can be held 100 percent virtually with schools choosing the dates that work best for them, students are empowered to select the books they wish to read, and families are afforded the opportunity to conveniently purchase books online.

The ease with which Follett’s online fairs are carried out are extremely attractive to school and book fair coordinators. The approximate setup time is 10 minutes, while there is no need for forms, handling cash or finding space in the school.

“I chose a Follett Book eFair because it seemed so easy,” said Shawn Crist, media assistant at James E. Plew Elementary School in Niceville, Fla. “It was almost too good to be true. I didn’t have to worry about rearranging our Media Center or finding volunteers.”…Read More

5 Big Ideas for Education Innovation in 2019

Over the last year, education innovators around the country continued to pursue expanded definitions of student success, personalized approaches, and wholly new models of school. For many, the very real challenges of change management and discovering ways to promote scale with quality dominated 2018. But for those conversations to go a level deeper, we can’t assume that these new measures and new models are fully baked or that everything deemed “new” is at it seems. Looking ahead, here are five big ideas I’ll be watching for in 2019:

1. ‘Unbundle’ what we mean by SEL.
Social-emotional learning. Soft Skills. Habits of mind. These critical but sometimes elusive ideas have gotten their fair share of love over the past year. But pulling back the curtain on the research base, the paltry supply of reliable SEL assessments can make the current energy around SEL interventions feel anemic at best, and hollow at worst. Like personalized learning, “SEL” now connotes a bundle of concepts and aspirations that may need to get unbundled in order to be useful. In that vein, in 2019 I’m most excited to watch emerging SEL point solutions targeted at specific, narrow skills or dispositions. These innovations are focused on doing a few things really well. For example, GiveThx, the brainchild of Leadership Public Schools’ teacher-entrepreneur Mike Fauteaux, plucks off one particular emotion and skill: gratitude. In a similar vein, Kind Foundation’s effort, Empatico.org, focuses on experiences that inspire empathy across classrooms. I’ll be watching models like these that offer narrower on-ramps to more rigorous measurement and targeted interventions within the exceedingly broad SEL landscape.

2. Commit to threading the coherent curriculum needle.
Speaking of the murky waters of personalized learning, rumblings (and occasional shouts) about the fragmented state of curriculum to support personalization have been building for years. One of the fundamental tensions we hear articulated is whether a coherent, evidence-based, off-the-shelf curriculum is better than a potpourri of lessons that teachers and leaders assemble—and in some cases build—themselves. Although these debates are not unique to personalized environments, personalization hinges on a commitment to tailor learning experiences to individual students. But the more varied those experiences and resources are, many worry the less rigorous and coherent curriculum becomes. Through the lens of our own Modularity theory, these tradeoffs aren’t unique to curriculum per se: across industries, a modular approach can be more affordable and flexible, while integrated solutions are pricier but better at pushing the frontier of performance. In 2019, I’ll be keeping an eye on how districts and schools manage to strike a balance between the tradeoffs of modular and flexible versus integrated and coherent approaches to curriculum.…Read More

Blog: Technology Creates Dynamic Insights at Tampa Preparatory School

At the Tampa Preparatory School, the mission is to provide students “a preparation for life with a higher purpose than self.” Each classman must abide by an honor code and resolve to make a positive difference both in the school and outside world by being honest, respectful, trustworthy, and fair.

Conversely, the educators and staff at Tampa Prep promise to create a place where young people can Think, Create, Be Themselves, Aspire to Excellence and Go Beyond. Students are encouraged to reflect and analyze on the path to personal understanding. They are asked to celebrate the imagination in geometric proofs and formal essays, on canvas, the computer, and stage, in poetry readings and morning assemblies. They are taught to respect people’s differences. And, they are guided toward winning attitudes in academics, athletics and arts so that they may meet the challenges that exist beyond their communities and experiences.

The academy offers concentrated studies in the academic areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Global Studies and Art.…Read More