ASCD, CoSN, AASA & ASBO Join Forces to Certify School Data Systems

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Reposted from CoSN:

The Trusted Learning Environment (TLE) Seal initiative will allow school system leaders to communicate their privacy efforts to parents, communities and other stakeholders and assure the school system is adhering to best practices and taking steps in the right direction.

“When looking at the evolving digital tools and ongoing related activities in classroom settings, we agree with parents: They need assurances that student data are protected,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “That is why school system technology leaders and our diverse education leadership partners are putting forth this national program that builds a culture of trusted learning in all K-12 school systems.”

Over the next six months, the four national education organizations will collaborate with 28 U.S. school systems to create the seal and establish criteria for schools nationwide to follow. When formed, the TLE Seal will be available for adoption to all K-12 school systems, irrespective of size, location, socio-economic profile or governance form (i.e., public, private or charter).

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I Have a Dream: Teaching with No Grades

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Reposted from Ditch That Textbook:

In my dream, my students enter my Spanish class and automatically switch to conversational Spanish when they cross the threshold of the room. We tell stories, discuss topics, write about passions, create digital products in the target language. And nobody receives a grade for their work. They don’t have to. They’ve improved their skills, practiced them and put them into meaningful context. They have learned. That’s what they wanted out of the class. That’s what I wanted. And nobody’s concerned about the grades.

Hadley Ferguson is living a version of my dream. She teaches a seventh-grade history class that doesn’t assign grades – letters, percentages, etc. Ferguson, as she wrote on a post at SmartBlogs.com, gives them written feedback instead. Comments. Strengths. Their next steps for improvement. Most high-performing students still thrived in the gradeless environment. But the pure gold in this concept, in my opinion, is the empowerment of her middle- to lower-performing students. Their work, which may have received a poor grade despite their hardest work, was validated and they began to thrive. It was as if they were “freed from prison” and they were “willing to test their ideas and take risks that they never did before. It wasn’t a competition for the best grade;” Ferguson wrote, “it was a journey of learning that we are on together.”

I have yet to find a grading system that is fully fair:

  • Participation grades don’t reward students for doing their best quality work.
  • Grading on an overall performance rubric for the grading period can be subjective, even if there is evidence to support it.
  • Percentages of correct responses on worksheets, quizzes and tests can be a game of “gotcha” and don’t individualize.

They take away from the real focus of education: learning. We all innately want to learn. Even our most unmotivated students want to learn something, be it a method for beating their favorite video game or how to style their hair like their favorite celebrity. Our education system has excelled at turning learning into drudgery that’s quantified by an irrelevant scoring system.

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Moving Beyond a Single Measure of a School

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Reposted from EdSource:

The California State Board of Education is seizing the chance to redefine student achievement and reframe how schools are held accountable for performance. It is in the throes of replacing the Academic Performance Index (API), the three-digit number that has been California’s narrow gauge of school progress for a decade and a half. The question is, what will take its place? Fully rolling out a new accountability system is projected to take three years – there is no legislated deadline. But state board members and others who have shared their thoughts have expressed similar concepts of what it might – and should not – be. There is near-universal agreement among educators and policy makers that a new system should be distinctly different from the API, which is calculated by weighting school and district scores on various subject assessments. Instead of a single number with consequences tied to end-of-year standardized tests, there should be multidimensional measures reflecting the complexities of school life and performance, including potentially hard-to-quantify indicators of school climate, as well as test scores and indicators of success in preparing students for college and career options. State board President Michael Kirst uses the analogy of gauges on a car dashboard that display oil pressure, temperature, battery capacity and mileage, each measuring different components of a car’s performance.

Although there are shades of difference, state board members and educators generally agree that school improvement should be the overriding goal of a new accountability system and that schools and districts should be given time and flexibility to achieve specific and clear goals. This approach would contrast with a decade of top-down sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind law, said Rick Simpson, deputy chief of staff for Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and education adviser to a half-dozen Assembly speakers. “As a state, we kind of reached the consensus that the mechanisms of intervention and punishment were not effective tools for changing behavior,” he said.

A new accountability system would culminate a series of historic changes that are already reshaping K-12 education in California. These started with the shift of authority and responsibility over budgets and policy from the state to local school districts under a new funding system that directed more money to low-income children and students learning English. The funding law established Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPs, that require districts to set goals and steer money to meet broader indicators of school performance than test scores alone can provide. New academic standards – the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards – have raised expectations and shifted attention to the complex challenges of preparing students to succeed beyond high school. “A new accountability system must tie these big educational shifts together,” says Jannelle Kubinec, who directs the Comprehensive School Assistance Program for the San Francisco-based research agency WestEd and also is leading outreach efforts for the state board. “We are at a rare moment of change,” she said at a recent conference in Sacramento on the future of school accountability. “If we blow it now, we are not going to have this opportunity again, at least with regard to aligning policy.”

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It’s Time to Stop Using Terms Like “Achievement Gap” & “Student Success”

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Reposted from the Hechinger Report:

The sobering data on men of color in colleges is a reflection of college and university performance – so take the scrutiny off of student achievement. Outcomes for male collegians of color are lagging because postsecondary leaders aren’t held accountable for changing them.

If scholars want to rid themselves of deficit approaches (looking at weaknesses) moving forward, then we must stop using the deficit language in our speech and research. Acceptance of constructs like the achievement gap, drop out, student success and data driven may legitimize you in the academy, but they are complicit in promoting the verbal and statistical rhetoric that avoids the problem of institutional accountability.

The inferred white male referent in the achievement gap construct contributes to the centuries old logic that others should be compared to whites. On its face the idea of student success lets institutional factors of the hook, which have been shown to be at least half of the reason why men of color are pushed out of college. Educators shouldn’t be data driven. We should be community driven and use data to support students. These distinctions aren’t some semantic ruse. If scholars want a revolution in how students are treated in the academy, then we must be willing to question how statistics have been used to facilitate poor outcomes among black and Latino male students.

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How Secure are Your School Data Management Systems?

data security

Reposted from the New York Times:

Protection of student data is gaining attention as schools across the country are increasingly introducing learning sites and apps that may collect information about a student’s every keystroke. The idea is to personalize lessons by amassing and analyzing reams of data about each student’s actions, tailoring academic material to individual learning levels and preferences. “For many younger companies, the focus has been more on building the product out and less on guaranteeing a level of comprehensive privacy and security protection commensurate with the sensitive information associated with education,” said Jonathan Mayer, a lawyer and computer science graduate student at Stanford University. “It seems to be a recurring theme.”

To help schools evaluate companies’ security practices, the Consortium for School Networking, a national association of school district chief technology officers, published a list of security questions last year for schools to ask before they sign purchase agreements with technology vendors. “It is a huge challenge because there hasn’t been the time and attention and investment placed in security that school districts need,” said Keith R. Krueger, the group’s chief executive.

Although a federal privacy law places some limits on how schools, and the vendors to which they outsource school functions, handle students’ official educational records, these experts say the protections do not extend to many of the free learning sites and apps that teachers download and use independently in their classrooms. In an effort to bolster confidence in their products, more than 100 learning companies recently signed on to a voluntary industry pledge on student privacy. The signers agree, among other commitments, to “maintain a comprehensive security program that is reasonably designed to protect the security, privacy, confidentiality and integrity of student personal information against risks — such as unauthorized access or use.”

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Student-Led Parent-Teacher Conferences

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Reposted from Edudemic:

Parent-teacher conferences provide parents with updates on their child’s progress and opportunities to see their student’s work. They also open communication between school and home. However, students often are passive, or even absent, during traditional parent-teacher conferences. One way to fix this is to put students at the helm, as they are the ones who are responsible for their work and progress. Here, we detail a few ways to hold effective student-led conferences and we offer a guide for each conference participant.

In the student-led conference format, students and teachers prepare together, and then students lead the conference while teachers facilitate. “The triad then sits together to review and discuss the work and the student’s progress. The message, once again, is that the students are responsible for their own success.” Student-led conference models vary, but the premise is the same: “This is the student’s moment to share his or her reflections on achievements and challenges.”

According to Gus Goodwin, a teacher featured in the book, “Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools Are Transforming Education in the Twenty-First Century” (which in turn was quoted in this excellent MindShift article) is quoted as saying that parents appreciate student-led conferences as an alternative because they realize report cards are not useful, “and over time, the parents begin to set a higher bar for their students at these conferences.”

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Video

Coding: The New Superpower [VIDEO 5:44]

Testimonials for the potential of coding to help students learn to think strategically from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am, Chris Bosh, Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston, Gabe Newell, Ruchi Sanghvi, Elena Silenok, Vanessa Hurst, and Hadi Partovi.

Code.org thanks the cast and the film crew, and also Microsoft, Google/YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter for helping us spread the word

Learn more at http://www.code.org/