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Showing posts from November, 2016

Board Retreat: Impressions

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I'd been under the weather for several days, but was feeling better and made a point of going to the Board's scheduled retreat in Devens* this past Tuesday. I thought I'd share some of my lingering impressions:
Elections (and ballot questions) have consequences. Once we were coffeed and seated(1), the Chair opened the meeting with some comments about "company off-sites"(2), the election, and the Board's work. About the election he said (paraphrasing), in terms of Massachusetts, we're "maintaining the status quo" for children in our schools, and members of the Board have a "role to play" and it's more important than ever that we help every student become proficient. Some members said they weren't clear if he was talking about the outcome of the national election or of the charter school ballot question. He clarified that he was indeed talking about Question 2 and was of the opinion that the outcome of that debate had [put] "…

EOE Presentation

Secretary of Education, Jim Peyser, gave a short presentation at today's Board retreat in Devens entitled, "Education Reform in Massachusetts: From Good to Great". I've recreated text from his slides below, with his permission:
Key OutcomesStrengthening the global competitiveness of Massachusetts' workforceClosing the opportunity and achievement gap
Getting the Conditions RightWorld-class standards & assessmentsAccessible, timely & meaningful information for policymakers, providers, educators & parents/consumersTransparent, predictable, sustainable finance systems, with incentives for performanceEffective educators and leadersAuthority to act with accountability for resultsHigh-quality options and parental choice
Focusing, Aligning & IntegratingUpgrading Early Education QualityWorkforce DevelopmentKindergarten Readiness ScreeningRate increases Tied to Quality ImprovementStrengthening & Expanding Career PathwaysVoc-Tech Capital GrantsWorkplace Lea…

ESSA Community Forums: UPdate

If you've registered to attend the first ESSA Community Forum this Monday from 6:00-7:30 PM in Boston, you already know it won't follow a typical "public hearing" format.

As per the email from DESE, those who have registered to attend a session will be seated at tables for facilitated brainstorming sessions, and it looks as though they'll home-in on a few areas, based on the first round of survey and private meetings last spring. An outline of activities was provided in the email:
~10-15 minutes: DESE staff will introduce ESSA and the opportunities for Massachusetts to consider~30 minutes: Brainstorming - Session 1: DESE will conduct brainstorming activities at each table. In this session, they'll be focused on the opportunity to modify our school accountability system (the measures and leveling systems used by the Department)~30 minutes: Brainstorming - Session 2: DESE will conduct a second set of activities at each table. For this session, participants will …

ESSA Community Forums

Five ESSA Community Forums/Fora are being hosted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The first Forum is this Monday, November 14 from 6:00-7:30 PM (details for all Forums/Fora below).

Each Forum provides an opportunity for stakeholders to join in a regional discussion and share ideas on how to improve K-12 public school assistance, accountability, and engagement, so that schools receive the supports they need to benefit each and every student. A stakeholder is anyone with a stake in the success of all students in our K-12 public schools, including:
Parents Students Teachers Principals Superintendents other education administrators and personnel community members business leaders and entrepreneurs community organizations faith-based communities Statewide organizations and associations post secondary public and private colleges and universities paid or elected public service individuals and committees Monday, November 14 | 6:00-7:30 PM: Boston Public Schools, Bolling Building, 2n…

The Hours*

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I've blogged before about my years living at Shim Gwang SaMind Light Temple, located on the outskirts of Boston. It was wonderful community living and a privilege to train zen martial arts under the tutelage of a modern Zen Master. After several seasons I became attuned to temple life and the concomitant seasonal changes in nature, due in part to the tempo of care and maintenance of the temple building itself, its gardens, and grounds.

With the setting back of clocks this weekend, I'm reminded that we revere monastics (and poets) for their moment-to-moment awareness: awareness of subtle shifts in nature, awareness of time.(1) Thinking further about time found me reflecting on the monastic understanding of the word "hour", which goes back to the Greek word, hora.

The Greek notion means "time" or "season", and is more expansive than our notion of a day evenly divided into twenty-four-hour segments. Modern folk come closer to an appreciation of the …

Modern Lead Learners*

To the Gilbert & Sullivan tune, "Modern Major General":

To model a true Partnership with Fam'ly and Community,
(As leaders of our school it is a key responsibility),
To strive to liberate the barriers with true integrity,
For Stu' success we'engage all fam'lies to our best ability!

We do not hesitate to work hard to improve engagement rates,
Shared vision that we all create will lead us to eliminate
The gaps in learning that exist, the urgency is oh so great,
Our staff is focused ev'ry day, as school improvement demonstrates!

The Partnership needs all of us, it's more than a philosophy,
We take to heart relationships and excellence and equity,
Our strength lies in diversity to re'lize opportunity,
Modern fam'ly 'engagement is a shared responsibility!

We have experience and skill with tools and staff most critical,
Communications ev’ry way from face-to-face and digital,
We build relations big and small, collaborate with one and all,
For…

Parent Perspective: State Assessments Under ESSA

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About state assessment results, parents have said they want to know and understand:
How does this information help me and help teachers to provide a better learning environment for my child?What does this mean? Is she doing well or not doing well? How will teachers get the information they need?(Note to DESE: Look at, and think about, what you're going to say to parents!)

One of the things ESSA has done is give States more flexibility* in education governance. It's not a perfect system; it's a series of trade-offs and choices.

Those trade-offs and choices begin with the question: What do you want the test to do? If one thing is to spend less time on testing, are we trading-off on content coverage, which may result in less reliable data than a longer test. How well is the assessment aligned to state's standards? Both questions are striking, given Massachusetts is in the midst of developing its 2.0 test.

(I'm told every testing vendor, if asked, can give an analysis of…

Modern Family Engagement

Hands: How often have you experienced "random acts" of family engagement at your child's school, those one-off events to count heads in the building toward the school's family engagement plan?

Research demonstrates that when families are engaged in children's education, student achievement and graduation rates increase. Also? Studies show that effectively engaging families is cost effective, so much so that schools would have to spend more than $1,000 per pupil to get the same results.

So, it's clear that schools need families to help close learning gaps, but few know what good family engagement looks like, and fewer are willing to take the risk.

It's been observed that, in the homes of high-achieving children, the academic climate is in-sync with the academic climate of their schools. Together they generate a series of beliefs, attitudes, skills, and motivations that lead to higher achievement of many kinds.

Modern families play critical roles for student su…