Archive for State Actions

Focusing on implementation

Thank you to the state improvement leaders who are focusing on the implementation (the how) a plan is done and for encouraging schools and districts that simply buying a program with a strong evidence base isn’t enough to turn around student achievement.

Check out the recent EdWeek article for more: States Hunt for Evidence to Underpin School Turnaround Efforts

 

Advertisements

Leave a Comment

An update to Having a teaching force look like the students they serve

Apparently, I was late to the game seeing the proposed legislation in CT, and luckily other education reform advocates (who focus specifically on CT) were already at work proposing additional legislation that does a better job taking a multifaceted approach to increasing the minority teaching force.

AN ACT CONCERNING MINORITY TEACHER RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION. requires the state to work on developing reciprocity agreements with all states (not just the neighboring states who have some of the same representation issues that we do), and provides options for student loan reimbursements and mortgage assistance. In addition, AN ACT ESTABLISHING A PILOT PROGRAM TO PROVIDE INCENTIVES FOR EDUCATORS TO LIVE IN CERTAIN MUNICIPALITIES, includes the creation of a housing pilot program to develop affordable housing for educators. I particularly appreciate that the latter bill breaks down the silos in state government and requires collaboration between the Departments of Housing and Education. 

The combination of these bills is more likely to result in actually increasing the number of minority teachers in CT, as opposed to a bill that looks good on the surface, but doesn’t actually have much of an impact in individual buildings. The big question remains, does the state have funds to make what’s proposed in these bills a reality? But, if it works and results in increased learning and engagement in students, how can we not make such a commitment?

Leave a Comment

Having a teaching force look like the students they serve

While an effective teacher is desired for all classrooms, we know that teachers who look like their students has a positive impact on student learning (see this article from The 74 for links to several studies).

While many districts are taking steps to recruit more minority teachers and leaders (including alternate routes to certifications for paraprofessionals), states are getting in the game as well. Recently in Connecticut, Gov. Lamont advocated for legislation to extend mortgage assistance and student loan forgiveness programs to graduates of historically black colleges and hispanic-serving institutions, and to enhance reciprocity agreements with other states (EdWeek, proposed legislation, CTPost). These steps, in addition to existing efforts to increase the number of quality teachers in CT should help improve the ratios of minority teachers in the state, and especially in districts with high percentages of minority students.

While it looks good on the surface, the legislation could be strengthened as there are a limited number hispanic-serving institutions (especially in the Northeast) and Latino students are the fastest growing demographic in many communities. The most updated list of Hispanic-Serving Institutions that I could find was from 2007 [and are mostly based in Puerto Rico, California, and Texas (1 in CT)], but there was an eligible list from 2016 (eligible but not necessarily approved), and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) also posts a list of HSI’s (2 in CT), but they may not be approved by the U.S. Department of Education as an official HSI. Bottom line, the legislation is helpful, but if it’s not very feasible for students to attend Historically Black Colleges or Universities or Hispanic-Serving Institutions, how helpful is it?

Even beyond these efforts, ensuring that teachers and staff are culturally responsive to students, regardless of their own cultural lenses, is also important. Teachers who share a racial/ethnic background with their students, still need to be culturally responsive. We all have multiple cultural lenses which overlap, and sometimes even conflict, with each other. These lenses might include our upbringing (family composition, urban/suburban/rural), gender identity/expression, ancestry, skin color (as perceived by others), languages, etc. These lenses form our own identities and how we interact with others, but they also influence how others interact with us as well. All teachers (and all of us) should work to acknowledge our own lenses and the lenses of others. (For more on culturally responsive teaching, check out this publication from the Center on School Turnaround.)

Increasing the diversity of our teaching force is one important step. Ensuring that the teaching force is highly effective AND culturally responsive are the crucial subsequent steps.

 

Leave a Comment

Federal policy is the floor not the ceiling

We often talk about states complying with federal requirements, yet it is important to remember that federal policies and procedures represent the floor and not the ceiling. ESSA requires states to do a number of things related to how schools are identified for support, what their accountability metrics must include, how states communicate progress on those accountability measures, and how funds are used (amongst other things). But, states can go above and beyond those requirements. I highlighted this concept last week at CCSSO’s Implementing Systems for Continuous Improvement meeting in Tampa, Florida. Schools and districts identified for CSI supports must complete needs assessments, but schools and districts identified for TSI supports don’t have to complete needs assessments. Some State Education Agencies have realized the importance of needs assessments are are also requiring schools identified for TSI supports to also complete a needs assessment to ensure that their plan for improvement aligns with their actual needs.

A recent rollback of federal lunch standards is another example of this concept. Just because the federal government is allowing more flexibility to districts to slow down their decreased sodium content or relax the whole grain requirements, it does not mean districts must do so. Districts were already working under the previous guidelines, so why should we backtrack to less healthy food again? Schools and districts have the ability to go above and beyond the federal guidelines to ensure school meals are as healthy as possible for their students. (And yes, healthy food can taste good, and kids can learn to like veggies, whole grains, and salads!)

States, districts, and schools have the responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of the students they serve. Sometimes the federal government’s standards ensure that happens, but other times the adults at the local level must step in and set their own floors, which may be higher than the feds.

Leave a Comment

New reviews of state ESSA implementation

Is your state creating systems to meaningfully address underperforming schools for all kids? I was honored to join education policy experts to analyze 17 states’ school improvement plans. Here’s what we had to say: https://forstudent.org/csp-p2p

The peer review process was a great experience digging into the resources that states have created for district and school leaders, learning about what others are doing, seeing trends across the country, and an energizing opportunity to work with peers to assess, evaluate, and make recommendations. States are light years ahead of where we were just a few years ago, and yet there is still much more room for improvement. We must monitor implementation and make midcourse corrections to best serve the students and the education system, in each and every state.

Leave a Comment

New publication– System Thinking Leadership for District and School Improvement

In the next few weeks, I’ll highlight a new three-part series of documents that was created for the Illinois Center for School Improvement (run by the American Institutes for Research). The first, System Thinking Leadership for District and School Improvement, was designed as a primer on how systems thinking informs school and district improvement. We focus on leadership as it is the heart of any improvement work. The document includes some Illinois-specific references, yet the majority of the content is applicable for any district or state across the country. One of the most important pieces that came out of the early thinking for this publication was a visual representation on how the the continuous improvement cycle is applicable for each of the foundational elements of improvement (leadership, talent, instruction, and culture); is supported by needs assessment(s); must include efficient and effective systems, structures, and processes; and, be supported by districts and state actions. LAYLAND_GRAPHIC_v4

Leave a Comment

New release: Recommendations for differentiating supports for schools identified for TSI

This brief includes recommendations for state level supports and services for schools identified for Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI). The brief is co-sponsored by the Council on Chief State School Officers and the Center on School Turnaround (at WestEd) and was originally drafted and released as a draft for an ESSA Implementation conference in September. Additional examples were added after the conference.

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »