3 key considerations for the future of assessments

The cancellation of summative assessments in the spring of 2020, coupled with the variability of the spring 2021 testing season, has significantly impacted the K–12 assessment landscape.

Though students continue to feel pressure around high-stakes tests, their perceived value has decreased dramatically, according to a recent study that surveyed K-12 educators and parents in the United States. In terms of measuring student success, respondents perceive standardized test scores as the least important among 14 factors, at only 29 percent.

When it comes to formative assessment or assessment for learning, however, things look different. To check students’ understanding, 76 percent of educators delivered formative assessments during remote learning. Though formative assessments have proven instrumental in addressing learning gaps related to school closures, the need for accountability testing has not gone away.…Read More

BetterLesson’s ‘Empowered Algebra Learning For All’ Named 1 of 11 Grand Challenge Grantees

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 — BetterLesson, a leading provider of high quality virtual and in-person K–12 professional learning, announces that the company’s “Empowered Algebra Learning For All” solution is one of only 11 grantees chosen for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge. Algebra 1 is among the most important on-track indicators of students’ future success. In fact, students who do not complete Algebra 1 have just a one-in-five chance of graduating from high school.

The content of Algebra 1 tends to reflect the inequities experienced by Black and Latinx students, thereby failing to engage their strengths, and inhibiting learning. BetterLesson will collect input from students to develop and test new activities on the Desmos platform that provide multiple access points and engage through creativity, exploration, and collaboration, such as sketching and free-form writing.

In addition, BetterLesson’s Empowered Algebra Learning for All solution will provide 17 hours of professional learning support for Algebra 1 educators through a mix of virtual and in-person support from BetterLesson Coaches. BetterLesson Coaches will work with educators to deepen their work over the course of the year, as educators move from a focus on identity and self-reflection, to student agency and engagement and cultural connections and inclusivity.…Read More

It’s beyond time to showcase all postsecondary education paths

COVID-19 has caused a marked shift in attitudes toward higher education, particularly among high school students who are rethinking their options as they look ahead to a future career path that remains in flux due to the pandemic’s impact on the workforce and economy. While exacerbated over the past year, this was a trend we were seeing in the United States even before our nation went under lockdown.

Data from ECMC Group’s Question The Quo surveys fielded throughout the pandemic show more than half of students are open to something other than four-year college and the majority want to forge their own educational path.

In addition, while more than half of teens believe they can be successful with education they can complete in three years or less, a majority feel uninformed when it comes to their options, with 63 percent wanting their high school to provide more information about the variety of postsecondary education routes. Parents are also looking for options that stray from the four-year path, according to a recent Gallup poll.…Read More

How to ensure classroom air safety during COVID-19

Ensuring classroom air safety is more critical than ever this year–and every school year in the foreseeable future. As we prepare for a return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year, discussions continue to focus on how schools will keep students and faculty safe from airborne COVID-19 and other viruses and pathogens.

The COVID-19 Delta variant and other numerous variants have the potential to cause localized outbreaks beyond student and faculty, infecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. This is a permanent challenge for school districts–one that requires proven, long-term, cost-effective solutions. Just cracking the classroom window or increasing the HVAC airflow in schools won’t cut it.

There are three primary air purifying solutions on the market today, each with many options within their categories: HVAC system upgrades, HEPA filtration systems, and UVC germicidal lighting systems. Understanding the pros and cons of each technology can be overwhelming for educators and administrators looking for the best choice to protect their staff and students.…Read More

3 technologies needed for remote learning

As everyone spends the summer preparing for a new school year, many are preparing for virtual options to stick around post pandemic. In a recent survey conducted by Instructure, two-thirds of the educators surveyed believe remote learning will impact classroom practices in the future. But what will this future look like, exactly?

A recent survey of districts estimated 56 percent of schools will offer a remote learning option in the fall. One of the biggest lessons this past school year taught us was that educators teaching students online and in-person at the same time is typically not a successful teaching model. Moving forward, many districts offering a virtual option are planning to have virtual teachers solely with virtual students, while teachers back in their regular classrooms will only teach in-person students.

In this same survey, 89 percent of teachers said they taught online for the very first time during the pandemic. So as districts ask teachers to volunteer to switch to remote teaching, there are technology considerations to get in place this summer to help make teaching virtually this coming school year a success.  …Read More

Lexia Learning Launches Customer Advisory Board to Deepen Educator Insights, Relationships, and Collaboration

BOSTON (Aug. 23, 2021) – Lexia® Learning, a Cambium Learning® Group company, today announced the formation of its customer advisory board, a group of key customers who will support the company’s goal of helping more learners read, write, and speak with confidence.

“It is extremely important to find more ways to foster meaningful conversations with customers so we can better understand their priorities and learn how we can directly address their needs,” said Lexia Learning President, Nick Gaehde. “We now have support from a group of outstanding educators who will help determine how we can best serve present and future customers and enable us to build stronger, deeper relationships with our customer base.”

The Customer Advisory Board consists of school district leadership from across the United States:…Read More

3 ways STEM learning supports the future of work

To succeed in college and the workplace, students require a solid foundation in STEM learning. Experience in these subjects does not only benefit aspiring scientists and engineers–it’s essential for all students.

In fact, between 2017 and 2027, the number of STEM jobs will grow 13 percent. Even positions in traditionally non-STEM fields (estimated to grow by 9 percent) will require some sort of technological knowledge.

STEM learning is all about designing creative solutions for real-world problems. Problem-based STEM curriculum allows students to see the impact of their learning. That kind of authenticity builds engagement. Students progress from asking “When will I ever use this?” to connecting skills and applications.…Read More

The future is all about durable skills

The price of a college degree continues to creep higher across the country. But has the value of that degree kept pace? Students expect their investment in college to pay off in the form of meaningful employment. However, according to new data, both recent grads and HR managers believe that the absence of durable skills–including people skills–training in higher education offers an opportunity for colleges and universities to partner with students and employers in closing a critical skills gap. 

A new report from Mursion, From Skill to Instinct: How Higher Education Can Bridge the Gap Between Classroom and Career, found that while the hard, technical skills ingrained throughout traditional academia are critical to career success, these skills may not be enough to stand out in a highly competitive job market.

In fact, the data revealed that 44 percent of HR professionals would hire an applicant with strong durable skills, such as superior people skills, over an applicant with superior hard skills.…Read More

5 skills for future success–and how to help students develop them

From the classroom to the district director level, and eventually my own desk in the principal’s office, I have served in many different roles in K-12 education.

However, in the midst of my career, I left public education to spend 2 years in corporate America.  That experience, working in what some call the “real world,” has given me a somewhat different perspective from many of my peers.  By working the corporate world, I’ve seen the connections between what is taught in the classroom and how that knowledge is applied in the workplace. 

Perhaps more importantly, I believe I have pinpointed five abilities all students need to develop before leaving K-12 schooling behind and moving into the world we call adulthood. …Read More

5 ways to use stimulus funds for long-term success

According to the U.S. Education Department, energy costs are the second biggest expense for K-12 schools after salaries, with districts spending nearly $8 billion on those costs annually. Given the massive influx of stimulus funds coming to districts, they have an enormous opportunity to target the infusion toward their energy usage. In addition to upgrading aging facilities, energy investments offer cost savings that can help fund future priorities while providing a safe and comfortable learning environment.

One district that successfully did that is Port Allegany School District. Superintendent Gary Buchsen invested $1.9 million in federal stimulus funds into much-needed capital improvement projects that, once complete, will provide dramatically improved indoor air quality and a comfortable learning environment through renovating aging restrooms and kitchen facilities.

Not only will the project cut energy and operational costs by 23 percent, but it will also leave 60 percent of the total funding received for additional projects.…Read More