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Shelly Larochelle grew up just a few yards from what is now Manchester’s Northwest Elementary school, has been an educator there for 17 years and is now the principal. Her teachers are committed to the State’s new College and Career Ready standards and are reflecting the new standards in their lesson plans. Here’s how Shelly described the process to me:
Introducing the new standards at Northwest
Implementing the new standards is not a matter of telling teachers, “This is what you have to do. Now have at it.” It’s, “Ok, this is what we need to learn about. Let’s not do anything yet but learn what this is. Then you’ll be able to make informed decisions in your classroom. And let’s do it together. But I also know you don’t have a lot of time. So let me do some of the legwork first. And know that there’s always more to uncover.”
We just have those conversations. It’s hard, because we just don’t have the time in the year to really get together and roll this out. But we chip away at it and make a decision that we’re not going to make these big changes until we know what this really is.
Some of our teachers are very well informed about the Common Core. They’ve gone to the great 10-day program we had here in Manchester last summer. Or they go to a national conference. What I’m trying to do is get everybody else in the building to where they are – build that capacity. We look for a balance between, “Let’s do this together,” versus, “This is your responsibility. Now do it and do it well.”
McLaughlin Middle School (Manchester) teacher Robin Galeaz asks the Manchester school board to support the new standards
Robin Galeaz is a committed and highly effective 7th grade math teacher at Manchester’s McLaughlin middle school. She has made great strides in implementing the new standards in her classroom and helping other teachers do the same. Here is what she told the Manchester Board of City Schools last night:
Mayor Gatsas and Board of School Committee members, Good Evening. My name is Robin Galeaz and I teach 7th grade math at McLaughlin Middle School.
I am here tonight to add a much needed show of support to the state education standards and the Manchester Curriculum Guides. I would like to focus my thoughts tonight on three areas: education standards, education curriculum and education instruction.
Education Standards are set at the state level. These standards are goals for each child to meet at a specific grade level. New Hampshire introduced Grade Level Expectations/Grade Span Expectations in the mid-2000s. These standards were accepted with little fanfare or dissension. In 2010, the state adopted new standards entitled, College and Career Ready Standards. Incorporated into these standards/goals are standards that over 40 other states have deemed important for the educational growth of our students. It has only been in recent months that these standards have been met with dissension.
When the State of NH adopted these new College and Career Ready Standards, they were strengthening the GLEs/GSEs that already existed. Standards were added, while others were moved from one grade to another grade to allow for a more focused approach, but no standards were discarded. By adopting these new standards the state has increased the expectations of students in terms of how they apply their knowledge and show mastery.
A teacher’s plea for leadership from the Manchester school board – Selma Naccach-Hoff, English teacher and head of the English department, Manchester High School Central
Here are excerpts (the highlights are mine) from a message sent to the Manchester Board of City Schools by Selma Nacach-Hoff, long-term Manchester educator and now head of the English department at Manchester High School Central:
“Where Do We Go Now?”*
(*Title of an award-winning film addressing how to bridge animosities in Lebanon between Christians and Moslems)
….We’re done with NECAPs in English and Math. We know that there’s some kind of standardized assessment that will take its place. Our students and our teachers will be held responsible. We want to be able to give our teachers the tools to help them move students in the direction that will help these students succeed in whatever they choose to do. But we are floundering. Where do we go? What do we do?
On the high school level, students are assessed based on mastery of competencies. In English (as in all other disciplines) our competencies are rigorous. They’ve always been aligned to state and national standards. Quite frankly, these competencies are basically the same as the new standards….One shift that we do see is a shift towards more informational text, both in writing and reading. And we’re already trying to address that. Another is a greater emphasis on technology, and our district has a comprehensive plan to address that as well.
The experience in district after New Hampshire school district is that it’s the leadership that makes the difference in how well the school performs. I’ve talked to school board members who thought that many of the teachers in a certain school performed poorly but, under a new principal, those same teachers, they agreed, were doing a great job. They were inspired and given direction and support. (more…)
We have established that, sInce charters do not out-perform traditional public schools, charter schools are a political choice (or a profit choice, but more on that later). After all, if you had a theory of education that got results and you were interested in promoting achievement, you could just show teachers – public, private, charter…anyone – how to do it.
That’s what Expeditionary Learning does. Here is Ron Berger, Expeditionary Learning’s Chief Academic Officer, talking about their approach:
Since the mid-90’s, Expeditionary Learning has developed into a network of over 165 schools and thousands of teachers “dedicated to student success through academic achievement, character development, and high quality work.” They say,
“We provide a model that challenges students – even those starting with low skill levels – with high-level tasks and active roles in the classroom.”
Over that same 20-year period, charter icon KIPP has developed a network of 125 managed schools, some high quality, all highly promoted. KIPP has made itself a resource to the political “school choice” movement seeking a publicly funded, privately managed alternative to public education.
Expeditionary Learning has made itself a resource for improving public education for millions. An educational choice.
The question will be, how much did we have to compromise on including student testing in teaching evaluations? From Education Week:
Two more states—Alabama and New Hampshire—are about to get waivers from requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, sources say. (Expect an announcement sometime very soon.) That will bring the grand total to … 39 states, plus the District of Columbia. So almost everyone. (But, notably, not big juggernauts California and Texas.)