Education Week - June 3, 2015 - (Page 15)

math and engineering concepts through trial and error efforts with paper models. The program, Think3d!, consists of six units in which students in grades 3-6 learn to fold origami and build paper structures, both from diagrams and by reverseengineering from models. In the process, they learn to develop their own algorithms to ex" One reason that STEM concepts are difficult to transfer is because they are siloed. Although ... there is change afoot in this regard." HOLLY A. TAYLOR Tufts University psychologist plore and track how changes in the angle of a fold, for example, or in the number of cuts in a folded paper change the final sculpture. While the curriculum at first differed by grade, Allyson Hutton, an architect and the president of Think3d!, the public-benefit corporation created to develop the program, said it was changed to the same sequence for all students after 6th graders proved no better than students in lower grades at understanding the directions in diagrams and charts. "The kids wouldn't make the distinction between a line directing them to fold paper in half to make two rectangles and one showing a fold along the diagonal to make two triangles," she said. "Many did not connect the 2-D diagram to the piece of paper they were holding in their hands." In a pilot study of the curriculum for grades 3, 4, and 5, Ms. Taylor found that students who took part in the curriculum improved their spatial reasoning and ability to mentally fold objects, compared with a demographically similar control group. Fourth and 5th graders who went through the program also showed significantly better accuracy on a standardized math test and more frequent use of diagrams to solve problems. The 3rd graders did not show such a benefit-Ms. Taylor said the curriculum seemed to be difficult for them-and Ms. Hutton said she is now overhauling the curriculum for that grade. "The sequences are designed to be catalysts, so students can just run with it," Ms. Hutton said. "The more time the kids are sitting down folding, mentally manipulating, visualizing, the more they are developing their spatial thinking." "What we're working to do is train a skill that can be used across disciplines," she added. Coverage of "deeper learning" that will prepare students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world is supported in part by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, at Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage. Scan this tag with your smartphone for a link to "Think3d!: Training Spatial Thinking Fundamental to stem Education." The INSIDE SCHOOL RESEARCH blog tracks news and trends on this issue. BLOGS Districts Must Address Effects Of Trauma on Students, Suit Says | RULES FOR ENGAGEMENT | Five students and three teachers have filed a federal lawsuit against the Compton, Calif., district, alleging that it violates students' federally protected access to a free and appropriate public education by failing to provide "reasonable accommodations" to help them deal with the effects of trauma in the classroom. "Prolonged exposure to trauma results in injuries to the developing minds of children," said Mark Rosenbaum, the directing attorney for Public Counsel's Opportunity Under Law project, which filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs. "It's the type of roadblock to learning that our federal anti-discrimination laws were created to address, so that students in these circumstances are not denied equal opportunity to public education." Stories included in the suit detail students' exposure to domestic violence, murder, sexual assault, homelessness, and racism. Because of resulting trauma, students were unable to focus in class, saw an increase in absences, and exhibited aggressive or disruptive behaviors, the suit says. The Compton district responded to those behaviors through exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions, and it failed to provide necessary mental-health supports to help students deal with the effects of trauma, the suit says. Teacher plaintiffs say the district did not adequately train them to work with students who've faced significant, often ongoing trauma outside of school. Some complained of secondhand effects from working with such students. While researchers have formed a consensus that such experiences have significant effects on children, there are few highly evaluated, school-based approaches to addressing such concerns. The plaintiffs are asking for trauma-sensitive training for school staff, the use of restorative practices to reduce exclusionary discipline, and increased mental-health supports for students. Will the suit blaze a new trail of rights for traumaexposed children? No federal laws I am aware of specifically list these students as a protected class. And many concerns detailed in the lawsuit could be addressed through civil rights complaints under other federal laws. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the suit isn't about the needs of individual students, but about the collective, unmet needs of the district as a whole. -EVIE BLAD Are the NCTQ's Standards Linked to Better Teaching? | TEACHER BEAT | When the National Council on Teacher Quality put out its 2013 report savaging the quality of the nation's teaching programs, critics pounced, claiming the ratings were flawed, meaningless, and should be ignored. Two years, two reviews, and countless back-and-forths later, does that criticism hold up? Well, yes and no, according to a recent independent study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Overall, the council's infamous four-star ratings didn't have a discernable relationship to teaching quality, raising questions about whether it makes sense for programs to try to improve their performance on the standards. But higher scores on two of the group's 19 standards- teacher selection and using outcomes data-did seem to predict which programs produced better teachers, at least in North Carolina. And higher scores on at least two other benchmarks, middle school content and classroom management, bore a negative relationship to principals' opinions of good teaching. How's that for "mixed findings"? The findings are not particularly easy to interpret. That's in part because, as the authors note, what the nctq was judging programs on was not always conceptually well aligned with what principals were looking for on the state's teacher-evaluation framework. Jayne Fleener, the dean of North Carolina State's college of education, said the study points to the challenges of measuring what really matters in teacher preparation. The nctq largely welcomed the findings, saying it will make revisions to its review. NAEP to Gather Data on Grit, Mindset By Sarah D. Sparks New York The nation's premiere federal testing program is poised to provide a critical window into how students' motivation, mindset, and grit can affect their learning. Evidence has been building for years that these socalled noncognitive factors play a role in whether children succeed both academically and socially. Now, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often dubbed the "nation's report card," is working to include measures of these factors in the background information collected with the tests beginning in 2017. "Teachers self-report spending 10 percent of their teaching time on noncognitive skills. That's more time than students spend on any subject other than English and math-more than they spend on arts, for example," said Chris Gabrieli, an adjunct lecturer with the Transforming Education project at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a co-founder of the National Center on Time & Learning in Boston. He is helping to develop the new measures. "It's not a question of whether schools are going to do more working on noncognitive factors," he said, "it's of whether we are going to have any instrumentation at all that lets us know which things are working and which things are not." Researchers from the Educational Testing Service described the project at a symposium here last month at the annual conference of the Association for Psychological Science. The background survey will include five core areas- grit, desire for learning, school climate, technology use, and socioeconomic status-of which the first two focus on a student's noncognitive skills, and the third looks at noncognitive factors in the school. These core areas would be part of the background survey for all naep test-takers. In addition, questions about other noncognitive factors, such as self-efficacy and personal achievement goals, may be included on questionnaires for specific subjects to create content-area measures, according to Jonas P. Bertling, ets director for naep survey questionnaires. Careful Wording Researchers tested different variations of the questions with 140 students in grades 4, 8, and 12 from a representative sample of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds in a three-state area around the District of Columbia. Students were led through a 90-minute interview, in which they answered the survey questions and then discussed their individual thought process in responding. For example, students across all grades showed no difference in how they rated themselves on questions that asked them about their mindset in different contexts, and they reported preferring general questions rather than those specifically about school, said Debby Almonte, a naep manager for ets. "A majority of students preferred questions that went beyond a simple yes or no, whether they did something or not," she said. Small changes in phrasing make a difference in how well students respond to the questions. For example, "4th graders didn't know what 'thinking abstractly' meant. ... Students had difficulty describing what experiencing failure meant and what it meant to be committed," Ms. Almonte said. As a result, the researchers changed survey questions asking whether students had "experienced failure" to "making mistakes" and changed "committed to goals" to "continue to work toward my goals." The background questions will go through a third and final round of review in spring 2016, before the questions are administered beginning with tests in 2017. Not for Accountability Schools will not be judged based on the naep noncognitive measures of their students, but other such tests for accountability purposes may be on the horizon. A coalition of seven California districts that have received waivers from some federal accountability requirements are developing a new accountability system, in which 40 percent of a school's evaluation will take into account school culture and students' social and emotional learning. Within the latter section, researchers are completing the field testing of growth mindset, self-efficacy and self-management, and social awareness measures with 9,000 students and 1,000 teachers. Mr. Gabrieli said the new measures are expected to be in place next year. However, while poor performance on academic accountability measures can lead to sanctions in many districts, coalition schools with poor ratings for noncognitive skills will simply be paired with a higher-scoring mentor school. As measures of noncognitive skills become more ubiquitous, Mr. Gabrieli said, it will be important to track disparities between students' reports of their mindset and tenacity, and teachers' observations of them. "I have often seen in data collected in smaller samples this tendency for teachers to rate students on separate [questions] basically the same, as if they have one view of Johnny as a good kid or less-good kid," Mr. Gabrieli said. "It's hard to get teachers to follow the rules of 'this construct is about self-regulation and that one is about interpersonal skills.' " The INSIDE SCHOOL RESEARCH blog tracks news and trends on this issue. -STEPHEN SAWCHUK EDUCATION WEEK | June 3, 2015 | | 15

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 3, 2015

Education Week - June 3, 2015
New S.C. Standards Ease Political Pushback
Summer-Job Demand Outstrips Opportunities
Districts Use Student Insights To Guide Policy, Practice
Charters Look Anew At Teacher Retention
With Common Core, Algebra Course Undergoes a Face-Lift
News in Brief
Report Roundup
PARCC Shortens Testing Time, Shifts to Later in the School Year
Ties Deepening Between Schools, After-School Providers
Parent Engagement on Rise As Priority for Schools, Districts
Charter Sector Challenged by Caliber of School Boards
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: The E-Rate Overhaul in 4 Easy Charts
Studies Probe How Students Can Apply Math More Widely
NAEP to Gather Data on Grit, Mindset
Blogs of the Week
Teacher-Retention Data For Charters Still Murky
Stakes High for Bureau of Indian Education’s Overhaul
California Seeks Waiver on Use of Federal Title I Tutoring Money
Blogs of the Week
FRANCESCA STERNFELD: Necessary Lessons, Schools’ Critical Role in Reducing Family Violence
BENJAMIN RILEY: Can Teacher-Educators Learn From Medical-School Reform?
RANDI WEINGARTEN: States Should Ditch ‘Cut Scores’ on New Tests
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
TERRY B. GRIER: Creating a College-Bound Culture in an Urban School District

Education Week - June 3, 2015