These 3 policy areas could help principals become more effective
While school principals are often low priorities on state education policy agendas, a handful of states have taken steps to strengthen the role principals play in schools, according to a new report commissioned by the Wallace Foundation.
After analyzing how principals are supported and prioritized in a number of states, Paul Manna, professor of government and public policy at the College of William & Mary and the report's author, suggests that those states' actions focus on three areas in policymaking.
1. State leaders can move principals higher on policy agendas. Teachers typically have the larger share of agendas and professional development investments, according to the report. But when principals are elevated in state policy agendas, it can strengthen other state education efforts. "Numerous state education policy initiatives developed during the last two decades depend heavily on excellent principals for their success," the report notes.
2. State leaders can use six possible policy levers. The report identifies six policy levers potentially available to state leaders, including adopting principal leadership standards, altering incentives to draw the best potential principals into the profession, approving and overseeing principal preparation programs, connecting state licensing requirements to principals' real-world job requirements, better allocating resources to support principals' professional development and seeking effective principal evaluation techniques.
3. State leaders can better understand diverse state and local contextual factors likely to influence how those levers play out in practice. Policymakers may want to consider four contextual factors as they set priorities. Those include the distribution of powers within state education governance systems; district environments with diverse local conditions and needs; the level of state and local capacities needed to implement policy; and the overall web of state policies and the demands they create for principals.
Front Row Education launches ELA program
Front Row Education, Inc. has launched Front Row ELA, a new reading comprehension program for first through eighth grade classrooms. Front Row ELA provides teachers key tools to help their students improve their reading comprehension skills, regardless of their proficiency level.
More than 300 articles are available for use, with hundreds more scheduled to be added in the coming months.
Front Row Math launched in 2013 and is now used by over 20 precent of U.S. schools. With the launch of Front Row ELA, the company’s adaptive, gamified, and data-driven approach now enters the language arts.
"The Front Row ELA program format is an ideal fit for my classroom,” said Kellianne Miley, a 4th grade teacher in Primos, Pennsylvania. “I love that I get a level for each student’s reading ability right off the bat, and really like the variety of articles Front Row provides, as many of them are in line with what I am teaching in social studies and science, and are things my kids actually find interesting. This cross curriculum teaching not only helps my students learn, but it taps into my goals as a teacher.”
To begin the program, a student takes a short diagnostic test which gives the teacher a recommended level for the student. The program then offers passages and subsequent questions on one of the 60 topics a teacher can choose from. These range from Jackie Robinson to hurricanes to the first moon landing, and are designed to fit with lessons already being taught in class. As with the initial diagnostic test, student will receive increasingly difficult passages and questions that move them forward in their reading comprehension skills.
New history curriculum based on 1940s drama
WGN America and Young Minds Inspired, a provider of free educational outreach programs, have teamed to bring a unique history and social studies curriculum to high school and college students across the nation, inspired by the Emmy Award-winning series, “Manhattan.”
The critically acclaimed series, which returns for its second season on Tuesday, October 13 (9:00 pm ET / 8:00 p.m. CT) on WGN America, is set in the 1940s during The Manhattan Project and follows the tangled lives of the scientists who were responsible for building the world’s first atomic bomb, in an unforgettable moment in American history.
The educational program, created by the curriculum specialists at Young Minds Inspired, offers teachers tools to give their students the opportunity to learn more about The Manhattan Project, which not only marked the beginning of the atomic era but also led to the development of national security agencies that still exist today. The toolkits provided to educators across the nation will include a teacher’s guide, student activity sheets, Common Core Standards, and a set of educational guidelines that are designed to align states with equal curricular goals in every subject.
“We are pleased to partner with Young Minds Inspired to bring to students across the nation an engaging and enlightening curriculum based on 'Manhattan,' said Brian Dollenmayer, executive vice president, marketing and promotions, WGN America. "We're excited that through this partnership 'Manhattan' can spark a vibrant conversation in the classroom about this transformative time in history and the ways in which it has impacted modern society.”
“The Manhattan Project provides an ideal case study for history students, encapsulating a wide range of social, political, and ethical issues that remain urgent and challenging today,” said Dr. Dominic Kinsley, editor in chief at Young Minds Inspired. “With 'Manhattan,' WGN America enables history teachers to bring this era to life in the classroom, and we are delighted to help WGN America provide teachers with the tools to take full advantage of this unique learning resource.”
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