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Summary: This report, initiated by a task force established by the Economic Policy Institute and signed by hundreds of educators, aims to broaden the goals and nature of education reform beyond academics and beyond the school itself to include also social and community issues that impact learning. From the report, "America has a decision to make. We can continue to pursue education strategies that focus on schools alone and on narrow, test-based accountability and be content with the modest improvements long associated with this approach. Or we can ratchet up our ambitions and adopt a new and expanded strategy with the capacity to improve student achievement and adult outcomes more effectively and efficiently."
Summary: A Nation at Risk is one of the most influential education policy reports in recent decades. Commissioned by President Reagan and Education Secretary T. H. Bell, this 1983 report set off what became a widespread belief that the nation's schools were failing and falling farther behind other nations. Urging a broad curriculum and stronger standards and expectations, A Nation at Risk is still commonly referenced today and is an important document to be familiar with.
Summary: Leading civil rights organizations provide a Civil Rights Framework for the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. From the report: "As civil rights organizations, it is our responsibility to seek to close and ultimately eliminate the opportunity and achievement gaps experienced by communities of color. To this end, we outline six major principles that we will collectively advocate to strengthen the ESEA and ensure that the federal government provides the support necessary to protect every child's civil right to a high quality education."
Summary: Kindergarten has changed radically in the last two decades in ways that few Americans are aware. Children now spend far more time being taught and tested on literacy and math skills than they do learning through play and exploration, exercising their bodies, and using their imaginations. Many kindergartens use highly prescriptive curricula geared to new state standards and linked to standardized tests. These practices, which are not well grounded in research, violate long-established principles of child development and good teaching. It is increasingly clear that they are compromising both children's health and their long-term prospects for success in school. This report analyzes decades of research on early childhood learning and provides clear recommendations for what early childhood education should look like and how we can get there by supporting teachers, doing more research, and enacting new policies.
Summary: Democratic Dialogue is committed to the critical exploration of democratic ideals in education and society through a program of international collaborative research and dissemination. We engage educators, political scientists, sociologists, philosophers, teachers, policymakers, and cultural workers (e.g., artists, curators, and critics) as well as the broader public community who are concerned with ideals, tensions, policies, and practices of education for democracy. Democratic Dialogue reaches across disciplinary, institutional, and national boundaries through innovative research projects and methods of dissemination, community dialogues and events, and the pursuit of creative approaches to projects that engage themes of democracy, education, and society.
Summary: Drafted by the Education Commission of the States' National Study Group on Citizenship in K-12 Schools, this paper makes the case for education to go beyond facts to engage young people as active citizens of society and members of the public community. Claiming that society is experiencing a growing lack of citizen engagement, the paper provides recommendations to teachers, students, schools, districts, and policy leaders that can increase student ownership of learning, promote service-learning, and strengthen the connection between young people, schools, and society.
Summary: This extensive and nearly 10-year long study undertaken by leading educators, economists, and psychologists with support from the U.S. Department of Education and several foundations carries a strong message: high-stakes assessments and incentives such as those mandated in NCLB, high school exit exams, and merit pay for teachers have little or no effect on student learning, and sometimes have negative consequences. While numerous studies and critics of testing and high-stakes assessment have sounded these warnings for years, the prestige and influence of the National Academies and the committee who drafted the report sends one of the strongest signals yet to policy-makers and education officials that we should proceed slowly - if at all - with high-stakes measures of education.
Summary: CCSSO, ACSD, and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) convened 150 education thought leaders, practitioners, and technology providers in Boston, Massachusetts for an invitation-only discussion on the need for the systemic redesign of our K-12 education system to one that is centered on the personalized learning needs of each student. This report summarizes that two-day discussion and outlines the shared vision, views, and recommended action steps of the participants.
Summary: Stating that conventional schools are based on an out-dated model that often suppresses learning, this paper by the policy group Education Evolving makes the case for school reform to embrace innovation. Specific recommendations include creating schools that have more autonomy in building their structure and organization, making learning more engaging by giving young people more responsibility and going beyond the walls of the classroom, and re-defining achievement and assessment to include not only academics but also creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and character.
Summary: Children's health - today and in the future - is a critical public health challenge. Physicians tell us that today's children will live shorter lives than their parents, while economists predict that the long-term costs of childhood obesity will be catastrophic. Reversing the decline in children's health requires a multi-pronged approach. Diet and exercise are already getting increased attention. Another vital but overlooked factor is the loss of free play, especially active outdoor play, initiated and directed by children themselves.
Summary: The Dignity in Schools Campaign is developing a Model School Code to present a set of recommended policies to schools, districts and legislators to help end school pushout and protect the human right to education, dignity, participation and freedom from discrimination. It includes recommended policies on quality education, parent, youth and educator participation in decision-making, school discipline policies, PBIS and restorative justice, data collection and accountability.
Summary: The North Dakota Study Group on Evaluation is a diverse network of progressive educators dedicated to advocacy for useful, fair, and democratic ways to document and assess children's learning and offering a criticism of educational reform and practice in the light of an enduring concern with democracy and the estate of childhood.
Summary: On July 28, 2010 CEPS issued a report, Our Communities Left Behind: An Analysis of the Administration's School Turnaround Policies, with the support of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University documenting that students in schools identified under the U.S. Department of Education's school turnaround program are overwhelmingly poor, African American and Hispanic and that the majority of schools are in our nation's cities. The report, and our accompanying proposal for Sustainable School Transformation, critique the Administration's school turnaround policies for focusing too much on who runs and works in schools and not enough on what needs to happen within classrooms and school buildings and for lacking an adequate research-base in formulating policy options.
Summary: Convened by the Economic Policy Institute and drafted by leading educators including Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Richard Rothstein, this policy brief provides strong evidence that evaluating and making personnel decisions about teachers based largely on student test scores is a deeply flawed approach. While such data can be part of teacher evaluation, the brief states that there ought to be a much broader system of review on the issue of teacher effectiveness.
Summary: New research has documented the disappearance of play from U.S. kindergartens. This essential mode of learning for young children has largely been replaced by didactic instruction, often scripted, and by testing. Kindergarten teachers in New York and Los Angeles spend two to three hours per day teaching and testing children in math and literacy, with 30 minutes per day or less for child-initiated play.
Summary: Written and endorsed by more than 50 scholars and education practitioners, The Civic Mission of Schools report summarizes the status of and need for civic learning in schools, kindergarten through 12th grade. It analyzes trends in American political and civic engagement; identifies promising approaches to educating students for democracy; and offers recommendations to educators, policymakers, government officials and funders.
Summary: The purpose of Vermont's Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities is to improve student learning. The standards will be used in three ways:
1. To provide a structure from which standards-based district, school, and classroom curriculum can be developed, organized, implemented, and assessed.
2. To provide the basis for the development of a state, local, and classroom comprehensive assessment system.
3. To make explicit what may be included in statewide assessments of student learning.
Summary: Classroom teachers from all corners of the United States spent hundreds of hours exploring big-picture policy questions together. After the large group identified ideas for improving personal development, a small group collected the ideas into this report. On December 17, 2010, the group presented the findings to Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the Department of Education.
Summary: Drafted by a panel of educators, policy-makers, researchers, and non-profit leaders, this paper sets out the key role played by teachers in the education process, and presents a series of recommendations to recruit, train, and continually support the development of caring, competent, and qualified teachers. Directed by Linda Darling-Hammond, a widely respected educator and researcher, this extensive report includes proposals that address the entire education system and go far beyond the current call to simply evaluate teachers based on test scores.
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