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A downside of setting student academic results targets in schools

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When I reflect on the positives of working in my current school and share my thoughts with colleagues from other schools, they are often amazed when I tell them that we do not set specific targets for student results.

Our school does not have a specific average score that it needs to achieve from IB Diploma students or other standardized tests for that matter. I know that many schools have such targets and I have often contemplated the impact of doing so.

Performance targets can give us something to aim for and a school’s reputation may grow from it being able to say that their students received this result and that result, which makes them better than other ‘like’ schools. There is, however, a significant downside to being a results driven school based on student academic success.

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Education

Gallaudet President Navigates From World Of Hearing To Sound Leadership Of The Deaf

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Gallaudet University President Roberta Cordano speaks using American Sign Language in her office in Washington, D.C. She is the first Deaf woman president at the university.

Becky Harlan/NPR

In its 152-year history, Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. never had a deaf female president — until a year ago. Roberta Cordano is the first deaf woman to lead the school.

Gallaudet is a liberal arts university devoted to deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Classes are taught in American Sign Language, and all students and faculty are required to know how to sign.

But president Cordano never attended a deaf school herself.

“I grew up during a period of time when it was believed that American Sign Language was what they called a monkey language,” Cordano says, speaking through an interpreter provided by Gallaudet. While the interpreter translates rapidly, Cordano whispers out faintly in English as she signs.

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Education

Education Department Drops Fight Over School Money

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Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Education Secretary John B. King Jr. had been in a battle over Title I enforcement for some time.

LA Johnson/NPR

The U.S. Department of Education has withdrawn a proposal that could have fundamentally changed the flow of federal dollars to schools that serve low-income students.

“The law is clear that it is unacceptable to systematically underfund low-income schools and fill the hole with federal resources,” explained Dorie Turner Nolt, a spokeswoman for the education department. “While we worked tirelessly to put forward a regulation that implements that simple requirement and to incorporate the extensive feedback we received, we ultimately did not have time to publish a strong final regulation that lives up to the promise of the law.”

This brings to an end a long and bitter fight between the Education Department, led by Secretary John B. King, Jr., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, himself a former education secretary and current chairman of the Senate committee that handles education.

“This is an intolerable situation,” Alexander said of the Department’s so-called “supplement-not-supplant” proposal back in May, in a heated speech on the Senate floor. “If the regulations are not consistent with the law, I don’t believe [states] should follow them,” he said. “If the department persists, then the state should go to court to sue the department.”

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Education

After 50 Years, Head Start Struggles With Uneven Quality

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LA Johnson/NPR

For more than 50 years, Head Start has provided free early childhood education and other services to low-income families. But new national research, out Wednesday, shows great variation from state to state in how well the program works.

The study comes from the National Institute for Early Education Research, and it examined Head Start programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

It focused on quality and ranked states accordingly. Kentucky and Vermont came out the best, while 18 states ranked very poorly: Arizona, Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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Education

How Investing In Preschool Beats The Stock Market, Hands Down

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LA Johnson/NPR

If you got 13 percent back on your investments every year, you’d be pretty happy, right? Remember, the S&P 500, historically, has averaged about 7 percent when adjusted for inflation.

What if the investment is in children, and the return on investment not only makes economic sense but results in richer, fuller, healthier lives for the entire family?

That’s the crux of a new paper out Monday, The Life-Cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program, co-authored by Nobel laureate James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and the director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development.

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Education

6 Potential Brain Benefits Of Bilingual Education

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Chelsea Beck/NPR

Part of our ongoing series exploring how the U.S. can educate the nearly 5 million students who are learning English.

Brains, brains, brains. One thing we’ve learned at NPR Ed is that people are fascinated by brain research. And yet it can be hard to point to places where our education system is really making use of the latest neuroscience findings.

But there is one happy nexus where research is meeting practice: bilingual education. “In the last 20 years or so, there’s been a virtual explosion of research on bilingualism,” says Judith Kroll, a professor at the University of California, Riverside.

Again and again, researchers have found, “bilingualism is an experience that shapes our brain for a lifetime,” in the words of Gigi Luk, an associate professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

At the same time, one of the hottest trends in public schooling is what’s often called dual-language or two-way immersion programs.

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