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Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic

March 24, 2012 Comments off

Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic (PDF)
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education

This report shows that high school graduation rates continue to improve nationally and across many states and school districts, with 12 states accounting for the majority of new graduates over the last decade. Tennessee and New York continue to lead the nation with double-digit gains in high school graduation rates over the same period. The number of “dropout factory” high schools—and the number of students attending them—has also declined significantly over the last decade, particularly within suburbs and towns and in the South, and at a more accelerated rate within cities in recent years.

Other progress on the “Civic Marshall Plan” to build a Grad Nation, including progress in meeting the goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate for the Class of 2020, gives us hope that these positive trends can continue. One state has now met the national high school graduation rate goal and another state has nearly done so; improvements are being made against the early benchmarks of the plan; and a significant number of institutions with reach into schools and communities are aligning their efforts with the Civic Marshall Plan’s benchmarks.

Although some states and school districts show that the dropout crisis can be solved, other states and districts are lagging, with 10 states having lower high school graduation rates recently compared to earlier in the decade. The pace across the country must be accelerated more than three-fold to meet the national goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020. The strong relationship between education and the economy frames this year’s report to reinforce what is at stake in strengthening our nation and preserving access to the American Dream for generations to come.

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New Report: How Digital Learning Connects Technology And Teaching To Meet Today’s Educational Challenges

January 11, 2012 Comments off

New Report: How Digital Learning Connects Technology And Teaching To Meet Today’s Educational Challenges
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education

Digital learning can connect middle and high school students with better teaching and learning experiences while also addressing three major challenges facing the nation’s education system-access to good teaching, tight budgets, and boosting student achievement-according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education.

The report, The Digital Learning Imperative: How Teaching and Technology Meet Today’s Educational Challenges, comes one month in advance of the first-ever national Digital Learning Day scheduled for Wednesday, February 1, which is spearheaded by the Alliance.

According to the report, which significantly updates and expands on an Alliance brief released in 2010, the United States faces three critical challenges in education:
1.) America’s high schools are not improving fast enough so that all students are graduating college and career ready and able to compete in a rapidly changing world. Presently, the nation cannot meet President Obama’s goals for college completion without dramatically improving the quality of learning in secondary schools.
2.) Continued economic strains on state and local tax bases mean most schools have little hope for new funding sources or increases anytime soon, forcing leaders to rethink how resources are used. State policymakers and education leaders will continue to be challenged with raising student performance amidst tightened budgets.
3.) Many students still do not have access to highly qualified, skilled teachers; the best available teaching strategies that meet their individual needs; or enriching learning experiences.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Teachers Need Increased Support As Schools Aim To Graduate More Students College And Career Ready, New Report Finds

October 6, 2011 Comments off

Teachers Need Increased Support As Schools Aim To Graduate More Students College And Career Ready, New Report Finds
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education

School systems must provide greater support and sustained mentoring for teachers, especially those new to the profession, in order for students to graduate ready for college and a career, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education.

The report comes as most states have opted to hold their students to higher performance targets by adopting the common core state standards to make sure they have the skills to be successful after high school. However, if teachers do not begin to receive high level “induction,”— system support, professional development, and mentorship—the goals of the common core state standards will go unfulfilled, according to the policy brief “A System Approach to Building a World-Class Teaching Profession: The Role of Induction,” which was written with the support of Metlife Foundation.

To build a world-class teaching profession for the nation’s students, officials must develop strategies to reduce the rates in which teachers leave the profession and fix the unequal distribution of teaching talent between richer and poorer schools. The Alliance brief recommends the following solutions:

  • Develop systems that encourage high-quality educator development and teaching grounded in teaching practice that has been proven effective.
  • Design comprehensive programs for new teachers that provide coaching and guidance by well-trained mentors.
  • Determine the performance indicators that can reliably assess teacher competency and provide feedback to support professional learning.
  • Communicate core expectations for teaching practice, invest in professional development, and create organizational conditions conducive to meaningful staff collaboration and development.

+ Full Report (PDF)

New Policy Brief Calls for an Improved System to Measure Teacher Quality

February 25, 2011 Comments off

New Policy Brief Calls for an Improved System to Measure Teacher Quality
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education

Although teacher quality is recognized as one of the most powerful factors in student learning, schooling in the United States relies on teacher licensure systems that value academic degrees, years of experience, and paper and pencil exams over demonstrations of effectiveness. A new policy brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education calls for practical set of standards and assessments to measure the quality of teacher performance.

“Transforming High Schools: Performance Systems for Powerful Teaching” recommends providing teachers with the quality education and ongoing training needed to greatly improve student outcomes. The brief proposes changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind, which would elevate the teaching profession, support robust performance assessments to reliably measure teacher competency, and encourage feedback systems to help teachers continually improve their craft.

“Transforming High Schools” provides several recommendations for federal and state policymakers to support educator development in high schools:

  • Embrace high expectations and goals for all students by establishing college and career readiness as the core mission of the K–12 education system.
  • Encourage states working with practitioners to create standards of practice that define quality teaching based on what teachers need to know and be able to do to elicit targeted student performances embodied in common standards and assessments.
  • Support the development of rigorous assessments that incorporate observational and other performance measures of teaching for the purpose of evaluating, developing, and recognizing teacher effectiveness and informing professional preparation and development.

+ Full Document (PDF)

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