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Data Data Everywhere, But Not a Budge in Student Achievement

Everything we read says that harnessing data is the key to education improvement: we should be able to break down data, understand and look for trends, and drive more effective student instruction. How can we get there?

Leslie Kerner, Senior VP and General Manager, Professional Services for Amplify Insight, offers the following advice for publishers:

  1. Every program needs to produce data, and that data should be real-time formative data.
  2. Ensure educators have adequate support in learning about how to connect the data to instruction and the time to plan, reflect, and share.
  3. Decisions about professional development, coaching, training, use of team meeting time, and the ways teachers will use the data have to be made collaboratively with the publisher and administration.

Read on to see how this plays out in schools and districts.

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Reflection on Common Core Standards Midway to Launch

Common Core in 2013
Major reform efforts never work as planned; to be successful, midcourse corrections are needed so the original goals can be achieved. States and school systems have been working on Common Core for two years and plan to test results in 2015. It is a good time to reflect on progress and suggest midcourse corrections. Across the country, from classroom teachers to the USDOE, there is tremendous excitement about the Common Core Standards. There is also noise from a significant minority who are concerned about a national education reform effort.

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The Education Marketer 2014: Balancing Brand, Leads, and Change

In my role as associate publisher at Education Week, my team and I engage with hundreds of education company marketing leaders every year. To understand the challenges education company marketing leaders are facing, we surveyed EdCo marketing staff across the country. Key findings in our resulting presentation, The Education Marketer 2014: Balancing Brand, Leads, and Change, include:

  • Lead gen is marketers’ #1 “up-at-night” issue
  • Marketers may be neglecting brand stewardship to fuel lead generation imperatives
  • More than half of companies overrate their brand strength
  • Top “trending” tactics for 2014 include content creation and thought leadership
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Is Required Online Assessment the Y2K of K-12 Education?

The United States is betting the farm that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will provide the rigor and accountability needed to re-establish the U.S. as a world leader in education. The two assessment consortia—PARCC and Smarter Balanced—are building next-generation assessments based on the Common Core State Standards, which by 2015 are expected to be delivered online in every school in the country. Whether or not that is feasible depends on the interdependent functioning of a number of components, including:

  • Bandwidth
  • Infrastructure
  • Devices
  • Wi-Fi Density

Read on to learn more about the current state of readiness for online assessments and what districts need to do now to make online assessment work.

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The Fearless Classroom

In the fall of 2011, after 14 years of teaching, I made the bold decision to transform my second-grade classroom into a “fearless classroom.”

To enable a fearless learning environment:

  • The teacher needs to adopt a more humble role, relinquishing many traditional controls.
  • When planning lessons, teachers must focus mostly on the outcomes and tools students will use as learning evidence and provide them with reliable resources from which they can glean understanding.
  • Teachers must learn how to explore their curriculum’s big ideas and concepts.
  • Failure should always be an option, both for you and your students.
  • Be a risk-taker.
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BYOD – A Cost-Effective Approach to 1:1 Computing

The BLEgroup Thought Leadership Consortium on 1:1 Computing covers the key points of BYOD implementation:

  • What needs to be in place to successfully implement BYOD?
  • What are the rationale and conditions for BYOD as an instructional environment, not just as hardware?
  • What do vendors need to do to make this work?
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Redesigning Schools to Meet Student Needs: Essential Elements

In 30 years of working with technology in K-12 education, I’ve observed the same lessons being learned again and again. While we’ve progressed over that time period from Apple II and TRS-80 computers to the powerful, connected, mobile, multimedia technologies that are omnipresent today, we’ve made far less progress in the structures and processes of education. Moore’s law about exponential growth of technological power unfortunately has not applied to our knowledge of how to redesign schooling to best prepare our students for college, careers, and citizenship in the global, digital world in which they will live. Here are some of my key observations. Read More »

Educational Technology for the Developing World

I went to Senegal, West Africa, as a tourist in 2007 and was taken to visit a poor rural primary school, École Sinthiou Mbadane1. The school is off the power grid, with holes in its rusted roof, opening to dark, dusty classroom interiors. Whatever is lacking in terms of physical infrastructure is more than made up by the intense dedication of the teachers and the students. Some of the kids walk miles on an empty stomach to have the privilege of attending school. The school won over my heart, and I began to explore ways that my experience in the technology, content, and online learning fields might help improve the school and others like it. Read More »

1:1 Computing: More Than Devices

Implementing 1:1 computing is like cooking the perfect meal: For spectacular results, you must conduct the process slowly and patiently, using the right ingredients at the right time…all the while visualizing the outcome. In K-12 schools, 1:1 computing connotes a child having his/her own device. Most school districts believe they are engaging in 1:1 computing when there is a ratio of one computing device, pad, or phone for every child. Often, this concept is considered a silver bullet: “If the computer is present, education will occur.” Read More »

Aligning Your Messaging with District Leaders’ Real Needs

A superintendent from a large, southern school district told me this story recently: “A publisher’s sales guy came into my office and handed me a textbook with a sticker on it. He pointed out the sticker: ‘Now Common Core Aligned.’ I said to him, ‘That’s the same [redacted] textbook you sold me two years ago.’” As it turns out, this war story is playing out time and again as companies in the education space struggle to craft effective bring-to-market strategies and messaging that provide compelling explanations of how they support Common Core objectives. More importantly, this anecdote captures in a microcosm how companies consistently fail to deliver an “outside-in” focus on solving the discrete needs of targeted purchasing influencers. Read More »