Could mobile tech training boost achievement?

A new study reveals that providing mobile training to teachers could have positive results

mobile-surveyIt’s no secret that mobile technology is a powerful tool that connects students and teachers with digital resources and boosts engagement. Now, a new study indicates that targeted teacher training in the area of mobile technology could result in higher standardized test scores, STEM interest among students, and proficiency gains.

A partnership between the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) program and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) aims to support teachers as they effectively use mobile technology to transform instructional practices and student achievement.

VILS partners with administrators and teachers in 12 schools across the U.S., equipping them with a two-year series of professional development and resources aligning with ISTE standards and focusing on leveraging mobile technology’s potential. The program expanded to 24 schools, although this survey includes student data from only the first 12 schools.…Read More

Teachers union calls for certification exam

There is no single, national standard for teacher certification, although the federal government does ask states to meet certain criteria to be eligible for federal funding.

School teachers should have to pass a stringent exam—much like the bar exam for lawyers—before being allowed to enter the profession, one of the nation’s largest teachers unions said Dec. 3.

The American Federation of Teachers called for a tough new written test to be complemented by stricter entrance requirements for teacher training programs, such as a minimum grade point average. It also called for a more “systemic approach” to preparing future teachers.

“It’s time to do away with a common rite of passage into the teaching profession, whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they and their students sink or swim,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, calling that system unfair to students and teachers alike.…Read More

Some scary training for teachers

On July 5, T he Answer S heet published a post I wrote about the Relay Graduate School of Education. That began a lively discussion about the Relay School, and the teaching techniques demonstrated in a video entitled “Rigorous Classroom Discussion” (Relay subsequently renamed the video “A Culture of Support”), says Carol Corbett Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York, for the Washington Post.  The discussion moved to Diane Ravitch’s blog with readers weighing in on whether charter school teacher training programs should be authorized to grant graduate degrees. During the course of that discussion, I learned that the Relay Graduate School of Education is not the only charter school-based graduate program. This past spring, a similar degree-granting program opened in Boston, which Diane Ravitch wrote about here . Its name is Match and it awards a master’s degree through the newly formed Sposato Graduate School of Education. Like Relay, it is a two-year program subsidized by charter schools and venture philanthropies. Its faculty members are not researchers or scholars but rather charter school teachers or leaders. Similar to Relay, many of its courses are online. Match looks to Relay and Teach for America as models and has a collaborative relationship with Harvard’s “Ed Labs.”

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Does 5 weeks of training make a teacher ‘highly qualified?’ House panel to vote

Today a U.S. House appropriations subcommittee will consider legislation that would allow students still learning to be teachers to be considered highly qualified teachers under federal law, the Washington Post reports. The nonprofit organization Teach for America places college graduates into high needs schools after giving them five weeks of training in a summer institute. The TFA corps members, who are required to give only a two-year commitment to teaching, can continue a master’s degree in education with selected schools while teaching. Of course it doesn’t make any real sense that a new college graduate with five weeks of ed training or any student teacher should be considered highly qualified — because they aren’t. But federal officials inexplicably partial to Teach for America have bestowed millions of dollars on the organization, and TFA has, not surprisingly, lobbied Congress for this legislation. The reality is that teachers still in training are disproportionately concentrated in schools serving low-income students and students of color — the children who need the best teachers. This inequitable distribution disproportionately affects students with disabilities…

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Education colleges to be put to test

Ohio will soon become the first state in the nation to grade colleges on how well they train teachers to help students succeed, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut announced 15 measures yesterday that will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the education colleges at Ohio’s public and private universities. The evaluation will be similar to the state report cards of Ohio’s K-12 schools, which look at whether students learned a year’s worth of material over the previous school year. The single greatest factor in student learning is teacher quality, Fingerhut said.

“And so we have a moral, professional and institutional obligation to make sure the quality of teachers is as high as possible,” he said.

The schools will submit annual data on how well their students do on the state teacher licensure exam, as well as on a “value-added” component that is being developed by the State Board of Education as part of Ohio’s Race to the Top plan. Value-added data allows tracking of academic growth of individual students from year to year, regardless of the school attended. Ohio was among 12 states awarded funding in President Barack Obama’s $4.3billion Race to the Top competition. The $400 million awarded to Ohio will be shared by the state and participating school districts and charter schools. The money will finance data systems to help teachers fine-tune lessons, redesign teacher evaluations, provide mentoring programs for educators and expand efforts to close the achievement gap between white and minority students. The state also will create a teacher-performance assessment that measures how well new teachers communicate with parents, structure lesson plans and manage classrooms. Colleges will be able to gain extra recognition for working with academically struggling schools, placing graduates in hard-to-staff Ohio school districts or demonstrating a high-quality student-teaching experience. Schools will start submitting data as soon as benchmarks are created for each component of the plan, but the first comprehensive report won’t be ready until the end of 2012.…Read More

NCTAF: Transform teaching through collaboration

Teacher teams can increase student achievement.
Teacher teams can increase student achievement.

According to a new report, 21st-century teaching and learning can only occur if teachers and school staff work together as a collaborative team; simple adjustments to antiquated school policies and structures that are already in place won’t help.

The research brief, titled “Team Up for 21st Century Teaching and Learning: What Research and Practice Reveal about Professional Learning,” was conducted by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), with support the Pearson Foundation. The publication gives school policy leaders and educators an extensive review of research and case studies on innovative teaching practices currently implemented by top-performing schools.

According to Hanna Doerr, NCTAF program leader and editor of the report, the research was undertaken as a reaction to the Obama administration’s mission to have every student college and career ready, and to close the achievement gap for low-income students.…Read More