Ed News: TFA, Alternative Programs Marginally Better Than Traditional Teacher Prep

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This week in education news, study finds that alternative teacher preparation programs are slightly better than traditional programs; Idaho education leaders are working with a consulting firm to gather data and feedback about testing; Colorado unveils plan to tackle teacher shortage; efforts to reduce standardized testing succeeded in many school districts in 2017; according to a new survey most students report feeling engaged in school and take pride in their work, but engagement drop as students get order; and public education in more broken than ever.

TFA, Alternative Programs Marginally Better Than Traditional Teacher Prep, Study Finds

Students whose teachers were trained in alternative teacher preparation programs such as Teach For America tend to perform slightly better academically than students whose teachers had traditional teacher training, according to a recent meta-analysis. The study aims to put to rest a long-held debate about whether alternative route teacher training programs, which tend to provide a quick path to the classroom for people who already have a bachelor’s degree, can sufficiently prepare new educators. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Assessment Task Force Gears Up For Likely New Science Test

Idaho education leaders are teaming up with a consulting firm to stage a yearlong conversation about testing. Created this summer by Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra, the Assessment Task Force is an approximately 20-member group that is gathering data and feedback as the state braces to launch a new science test. Read the article featured in Idaho Ed News.

Can We Better Define and Identify ‘STEM Deserts’? This Nonprofit Is Going to Try

It’s well known that there are disturbing, pervasive disparities for needy students in their science and math experiences: They attend schools with less lab experiments, have access to fewer rigorous classes, and have less hands-on teaching. But there hasn’t been an agreed-upon definition for what specifically constitutes a “STEM desert”—and especially, where they’re located across districts and neighborhoods. Now, the National Math and Science Initiative is hoping to create such a definition—and use it to better target its work and that of others in the STEM education space. Read the article featured in Education Week.

State Unveils Plan To Tackle Colorado Teacher Shortage, Including Exploring Ways To Boost Pay

To combat a shortage of teachers in Colorado, state education officials unveiled a sweeping strategic plan proposing ways to attract, keep and better pay educators. More than 30 strategies are spelled out, ranging from student loan forgiveness and housing incentives to coming up with extra pay to attract educators to stretched-thin rural areas. Read the article featured in Chalkbeat.

Teacher Professional Development: Many Choices, Few Quality Checks

Ask teachers what they actually do to renew their licenses every five years, and you are likely to get an elaborate description of their decision process, not a simple answer. There are, in other words, considerations of location and convenience. There’s the variability of what each school district offers—or can afford to offer—in the way of professional development. There are the costs, not just money but time as well, of attending conferences and courses. Beyond that, there’s the desire to learn something relevant to the job. Read the article featured in TEACHER.

Efforts To Reduce Standardized Testing Succeeded In Many School Districts In 2017. Here’s How And Why.

Parents, students and public education advocates have been telling policymakers for years about the many problems with excessive high-stakes standardized testing, including narrowed curriculum and evaluation systems that assessed teachers on the scores of students they didn’t have. While there is still a great deal of it in districts around the country, 2017 saw some reductions in the amount of testing as well as the high stakes attached to student scores. Read the article featured in the Washington Post.

Learning From Student Voice: Student Engagement

Across all grade levels, the majority of students feel engaged, according to data released by the San Francisco-based nonprofit YouthTruth Student Survey. The survey also found that less than half of secondary students feel that what they’re learning in class helps them outside of school, with high school students feeling slightly less positively than middle school students. Read the press release by YouthTruth.

How America Is Breaking Public Education

The ultimate dream of public education is incredibly simple. Students, ideally, would go to a classroom, receive top-notch instruction from a passionate, well-informed teacher, would work hard in their class, and would come away with a new set of skills, talents, interests, and capabilities. Over the past few decades in the United States, a number of education reforms have been enacted, designed to measure and improve student learning outcomes, holding teachers accountable for their students’ performances. Despite these well-intentioned programs, including No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act, public education is more broken than ever. Read the article featured in Forbes.

How A Blind Student Who Felt Locked Out Of STEM Classes Challenged—And Changed—Her University

Students who are blind rarely major in math or science, and Emily Schlenker understands why, from personal experience. A pre-med major at Wichita State University, Schlenker was born without sight. But that hasn’t slowed down her fascination with organic chemistry. What has repeatedly snagged her ability to study it, however, has been when homework assignments include charts and graphs that her screen-reading software can’t process. Read the article featured in EdSurge.

Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.

The Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs (CLPA) team strives to keep NSTA members, teachers, science education leaders, and the general public informed about NSTA programs, products, and services and key science education issues and legislation. In the association’s role as the national voice for science education, its CLPA team actively promotes NSTA’s positions on science education issues and communicates key NSTA messages to essential audiences.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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