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An investigation of middle school science teachers and students use of technology inside and outside of classrooms: considering whether digital natives are more technology savvy than their teachers

February 16, 2015 Comments off

An investigation of middle school science teachers and students use of technology inside and outside of classrooms: considering whether digital natives are more technology savvy than their teachers
Source: Educational Technology Research and Development

The purpose of the study is to investigate the popular assumption that the “digital natives” generation surpasses the previous “digital immigrants” generation in terms of their technology experiences, because they grow up with information and communication technology. The assumption presumes that teachers, the digital immigrants, are less technology savvy than the digital natives, resulting in a disconnect between students’ technology experiences inside and outside of the formal school setting. To examine the intersection of these generations and their technology experiences, this study used a mixed-methods approach to survey and compare middle school science teachers’ (n = 24) and their students’ (n = 1,060) inside–outside school technology experiences, and conducted focus group interviews to investigate any barriers that prevented them from using technology in school. The findings imply that the concept of digital natives may be misleading and that the disconnect between students’ inside–outside school technology experiences may be the result of the lack of sufficient teacher training concerning technology integration strategies.

Meeting the Professional Learning Needs of Career and Technical Education Teachers

January 23, 2015 Comments off

Meeting the Professional Learning Needs of Career and Technical Education Teachers
Source: American Institutes for Research

States, districts, and teachers identify a need for professional learning that enables Career and Technical Education teachers to help their students meet new standards and respond more effectively to shifts in policy and requirements. This brief outlines the most-needed training topics, the challenges to meeting these needs, and the learning opportunities that work best.

Key Points

The most highly desired topics for professional learning include

  • integrating academics into CTE instruction;
  • using industry-based certifications to plan instruction;
  • using student data for decision making;
  • providing dual enrollment and articulation programs;
  • teacher certification; and
  • curriculum development and revision.

The greatest obstacles to receiving the appropriate training were identified as

  • lack of dedicated or available time;
  • scheduling complexities; and
  • lack of funding or resources.

CTE teachers preferred

  • collaborative and experiential learning, finding these approaches helpful in meeting their need to master technologies, techniques, and skills specific to CTE courses and content; and
  • teacher collaboration in planning, teamwork in instructional delivery, and an increased focus on student learning rather than on teaching.

Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation (2014)

January 12, 2015 Comments off

Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership: Summary of a Convocation (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Many national initiatives in K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education have emphasized the connections between teachers and improved student learning. Much of the discussion surrounding these initiatives has focused on the preparation, professional development, evaluation, compensation, and career advancement of teachers. Yet one critical set of voices has been largely missing from this discussion – that of classroom teachers themselves. To explore the potential for STEM teacher leaders to improve student learning through involvement in education policy and decision making, the National Research Council held a convocation in June 2014 entitled “One Year After Science’s Grand Challenges in Education: Professional Leadership of STEM Teachers through Education Policy and Decision Making”. This event was structured around a special issue of Science magazine that discussed 20 grand challenges in science education. The authors of three major articles in that issue – along with Dr. Bruce Alberts, Science’s editor-in-chief at the time – spoke at the convocation, updating their earlier observations and applying them directly to the issue of STEM teacher leadership. The convocation focused on empowering teachers to play greater leadership roles in education policy and decision making in STEM education at the national, state, and local levels. Exploring Opportunities for STEM Teacher Leadership is a record of the presentations and discussion of that event. This report will be of interest to STEM teachers, education professionals, and state and local policy makers.

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Moving Teacher Preparation into the Future

December 9, 2014 Comments off

Moving Teacher Preparation into the Future
Source: Brookings Institution

New teachers are essential to K-12 education. They allow the system to grow as the number of students grows, and they replace teachers retiring or taking other jobs. In light of the size of the K-12 sector, it’s not surprising that preparing new teachers is big business. Currently more than 2,000 teacher preparation programs graduate more than 200,000 students a year, which generates billions of dollars in tuition and fees for higher education institutions.

Preparing new teachers also is a business that is rarely informed by research and evidence. In 2010, the National Research Council released its congressionally mandated review of research on teacher preparation. It reported that “there is little firm empirical evidence to support conclusions about the effectiveness of specific approaches to teacher preparation,” and, further on, “the evidence base supports conclusions about the characteristics it is valuable for teachers to have, but not conclusions about how teacher preparation programs can most effectively develop those characteristics.” That there is no evidence base about how best to prepare people to teach is concerning.
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Teacher Pay Penalty

December 2, 2014 Comments off

Teacher Pay Penalty
Source: Economic Policy Institute

There is an increased emphasis in building a quality teacher workforce but little attention paid to the pay penalty teachers face for working in their profession.

The figure below shows that teachers earn less than other similar non-teacher college-educated workers. Teachers working in the public sector who are represented by a union earn 13.2 percent less than other comparable college graduates. The pay gap is largest for private sector teachers without union representation (-32.1 percent). Separate analyses by gender are also presented given that the overwhelming majority of teachers are women (around 72 percent)—here female teachers were only compared to female non-teacher college-educated workers, and male teachers were only compared to male non-teacher college-educated workers. Compared to female teachers, the teacher pay penalty is worse for male teachers for each of the four teacher groups. In general, teacher pay disadvantages are mitigated if teachers are employed in the public sector—and more so if they have union representation.

Ending Teacher Tenure Would Have Little Impact on its Own

October 12, 2014 Comments off

Ending Teacher Tenure Would Have Little Impact on its Own
Source: Brookings Institution

Tenure for public school teachers is increasingly under attack, with the Vergara v. California judge ruling in June that “both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reason…disadvantaged by the current Permanent Employment Statute.” Last year, North Carolina legislators voted to phase out tenure, although that law was later blocked by a state judge. In 2011, Florida legislators ended tenure for new teachers beginning this year.

A primary stated goal of the California case is to “create an education system that gives every child a passionate, motivating and effective teacher,” and it is likely to become a model for efforts throughout the nation. According to one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, “This is going to be the beginning of a series of these lawsuits that could fix many of the problems in education systems nationwide. … We’re going to roll them out to other jurisdictions.” A similar lawsuit has already been filed in New York State. If these challenges to tenure laws are successful, will they lead to improvements in education?

The Challenges of Promoting Equal Access to Quality Teachers

October 7, 2014 Comments off

The Challenges of Promoting Equal Access to Quality Teachers
Source: Brookings Institution

The start of a school year brings with it a crop of anxious parents hoping their child has an excellent teacher. And recently, policymakers have wondered whether the playing field is level when it comes to getting that excellent teacher. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in July that “family income and race still too often predict how likely a child is to attend a school staffed by great educators.” Beginning in April 2015, states will need to submit plans to the Department of Education to ensure that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers.

On the surface, this is a reasonable response to the issue of inequity in access to quality teachers. But how large of a problem is teacher inequity really? Looking at recent research on teacher equity suggests two conclusions. If equity is defined as access to teachers with particular characteristics such as experience, the problem seems large. But if equity is defined as access to effective teachers, those that contribute more to test score growth, the problem does not seem large. Which is not to say issues of teacher equity should be ignored, but that proposed solutions should be proportional to the problem.

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