by Sara Neufeld, The Hechinger Report
In the beginning, Pennsylvania was going to be like most other states, following a new set of national education standards and administering new national standardized tests.
But a lot has happened since 2010, when the state signed on to participate in what’s known as Common Core, an initiative designed to make the United States more globally competitive by ensuring students’ ability to meet basic benchmarks.
A Democratic administration turned Republican, and Gov. Tom Corbett took seriously conservatives concerned about the federal government infringing on states’ rights. In March 2012, Pennsylvania officials released their own document, known as the Pennsylvania Core Standards, which they call a hybrid between the national Common Core and the state’s own guidelines.
How reliable are tests in measuring what really matters for 21st-century learning? And should high-stakes tests really be used as a punitive evaluation of teacher quality? With all the controversy surrounding standardized tests and cheating, it’s time for teachers, parents, districts and policymakers to consider alternatives.
South Philadelphia senior Marcus Johnson stands at the front of his classroom eager to give his presentation on mammals. But there are no poster board cutouts here, no sketches across a blackboard, no pages borrowed from an animal encyclopedia. Johnson, with his back to a class that has iMacs and iPads, works the keys on his laptop computer with the focus of an engineer in a computer lab. After a few clicks, he turns to face his peers, and the website he designed – which gives vivid images and rich content about the animals he loves so much – fills the interactive projector at the front of the room.
In Michele McKeone's autistic support classroom at South Philadelphia High School, students develop their communication skills and the abilities necessary for their transition to independence. McKeone, in her fourth year of teaching at Southern, uses digital media to keep the students engaged, as well as plugged in to what's relevant today. The Notebook talked with her about some of the exciting projects that students have created using digital media.
Teacher Action Group, or TAG, will be hosting its third annual Education for Liberation Curriculum Fair and Citywide Summit on Saturday, April 28. The theme for this year's event is "Our Schools, Our Solutions."
Organizers say the all-day event seeks to give educators a chance to develop best practices and strategies for improving and reforming their schools from within, at a time when School District leaders say they are looking to shift away from a top-down management style.
Johnny Oliver has no doubt about the best unit that he’s taught – and is still teaching – at Freire Charter School.
It’s on radio, recording, and music. Every year students mark it on their teacher evaluations as the most popular project.
Working with Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon to develop a new organizational blueprint for the School District, seven “academic design subcommittees” have been meeting since February.
Curriculum development: This committee is expected to develop a pre-K to 12 curriculum with outcomes for each grade level that are aligned to college and career program goals and the new Common Core State Standards.