Education Week - September 18, 2013 - (Page 27)

EDUCATION WEEK n SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 n 27 Nelba MarquezGreene’s daughter, Ana Grace, was killed in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December. also allow them to spot areas of improvement and benchmark themselves against peer programs. In fact, we believe the real change-making potential of the standards lies within CAEP’s work to help institutions strengthen the collection of the right kinds of data and make use of the information internally—by sharing what’s working and what needs to be improved with providers, faculty, partner institutions, and students themselves. Only in this way will a true culture of continuous improvement flourish. CAEP also recognizes that its standards are bounded by the types of evidence currently available and the limitations on what they can measure. As part of the development process, CAEP studied the use of surveys, observational measures, value-added measures, and other student-growth models, and it is keenly aware of the limitations of each set of measures and under what circumstances they are usable. We know we need far better research on exactly what constitutes highquality teacher preparation. However, we believe the emphasis on evidence and other expectations of programs are precisely what will move the field in the right direction, and CAEP will work with institutions, states, the federal government, and other stakeholders to develop the right kinds of data and eliminate duplicative efforts. In particular, we need the help of state leaders, many of whom are collecting, or are seeking to collect, the same kinds of data that CAEP is asking of institutions. The new standards are a big lift—for teacher-preparation programs, for teacher-candidates, for states, and for the field as a whole. But we believe that the higher expectations they represent are the only way to both elevate the teaching profession and improve outcomes for students—two lofty goals that now have both aspirational and concrete guidelines to help make them a reality.n MARY BRABECK is the dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Christopher Koch is the Illinois state superintendent of education. They are the chair and the vice chair, respectively, of the board of directors for the Washington-based Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. system, and many do, the picture is not rosy.” “ The courts will not rule on the appropriateness of a teacher-evaluation system, or the evidence-collection procedures incorporated in that system, if the procedures are applied in a fair and consistent manner to all teachers affected. Thus, even an inadequate evaluation system will avoid the rigor of court scrutiny when it is applied equally to all teachers. Rigorous teacher-evaluation systems, if properly conceived and appropriately implemented, will have a positive impact on teachers’ instructional ability and, as a result, on their students’ learning. But not all of today’s teacher-evaluation procedures are defensible. If the nation’s teachers realize that our courts can’t protect them from unsound teacher evaluations, perhaps they will dig into the details of their state and local teacher-evaluation procedures. Then, possibly with the support of relevant advocacy groups, any significant shortcomings can be brought to the attention of state authorities. The stakes are too high to allow shoddy teacher-evaluation procedures to exist. n W. JAMES POPHAM is a professor emeritus in the graduate school of education and information studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of Evaluating America’s Teachers: Mission Possible? (Corwin Press, 2013). MARGUERITA K. DeSANDER, a visiting assistant professor of education administration at George Washington University, was formerly a practicing attorney specializing in employment-related law. A Sandy Hook Parent’s Letter to Teachers By Nelba Marquez-Greene A For those who think that unjustly fired teachers will be protected by our court s another school year begins and old routines settle back into place, I wanted to share my story in honor of the teachers everywhere who care for our children. I lost my 6-year-old daughter, Ana Grace, on Dec. 14, 2012, in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My son, who was in the building and heard the shooting, survived. While waiting in the firehouse that day to hear the official news that our daughter was dead, my husband and I made promises to ourselves, to each other, and to our son. We promised to face the future with courage, faith, and love. As teachers and school employees begin this new year, my wish for you is that same courage, faith, and love. It takes guts to be a teacher. Six brave women gave their lives trying to protect their students at Sandy Hook. Other teachers were forced to run from the building, stepping over the bodies of their friends and colleagues, and they came right back to work. When I asked my son’s teacher why she returned, she responded, “Because they are my kids. And my students need me now more than ever.” She sent daily updates on my son’s progress, from his behavior to what he’d eaten for lunch. And four months later, when my son finally smiled one day after school, I asked him about it. His response? “Mom. My teacher is so funny. I had an epic day.” While I pray you will never find yourself in the position of the teachers at Sandy Hook, your courage will support students like my son, who have lived through traumas no child should have to. Your courage will support students who are left out and overlooked, like the isolated young man who killed my daughter. At some point he was a young, impressionable student, often sitting all alone at school. You will have kids facing long odds for whom your smile, your encouraging word, and your willingness to go the extra mile will provide the comfort and security they need to try again tomorrow. When you Google “hero,” there should be a picture of a principal, a school lunch worker, a custodian, a reading specialist, a teacher, or a bus monitor. Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools. Being courageous requires faith. It took faith to go back to work at Sandy Hook after the shooting. Nobody had the answers or knew what would come tomorrow, but they just kept going. Every opportunity you have to create welcoming environments in our schools where parents and students feel connected counts. Have faith that your hard work is having a profound impact on your students. Of the 15,000 personal letters I received after the shooting, only one stays at my bedside. It’s from my high school English teacher, Robert Buckley. But you can’t be courageous or step out on faith without a deep love for what you do. Parents are sending their precious children to you this fall. Some will come fully prepared, and others not. They will come fed and with empty bellies. They will come from intact homes and fractured ones. Love them all. When my son returned to school in January, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Imagine “ Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools.” the difficulty in sending your surviving child into a classroom when you lost your baby in a school shooting. We sent him because we didn’t want him to be afraid. We sent him because we wanted him to understand that while our lives would never be the same, our lives still needed to move forward. According to the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, nearly half of America’s children will have suffered at least one childhood trauma before the age of 18. They need your love. A few weeks before the shooting, Ana Grace and I shared a special morning. Lunches were packed and clothes were picked out the night before, so we had extra time to snuggle. And while I lay in bed with my beautiful caramel princess, she sensed that I was distracted and asked, “What’s the matter, Mom?” I remember saying to her, “Nothing, baby. It’s just work.” She looked at me for a very long time with a thoughtful stare, then she told me, “Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, Mom.” As you begin this school year, remember Ana Grace. Walk with courage, with faith, and with love. And don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry.n NELBA MARQUEZ-GREENE is a marriage and family therapist and the mental-health and relational-wellness director for Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization that supports those affected by the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and advocates policy changes related to mental health and gun violence. Ms. Marquez-Greene’s 6-year-old daughter, Ana Grace, was among the students killed. Spiro Courtesy of Nelba Marquez-Greene

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 18, 2013

Education Week - September 18, 2013
Calif. Testing Move Hits Federal Nerve
Teacher-Review Tool: Classroom Portfolios
TFA Educators Found to Boost Math Learning
Assessment Group Sets Accommodations Policy
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Spoken-Word Poets Bring Words to Life for Students
Partnership in Bronx Aims to Build Skills On Behalf of Parents
National-Board Certification to Be Cheaper, Smoother
Iowa District Reimagines the Five-Day School Week
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Consumer Demand for Digital Ed. Games Seen Rising
Blogs of the Week
Ed. Dept., Arizona in Clash Over Waiver
Congress Gears Up for Higher Ed. Law Renewal
Policy Brief
Louisiana Vouchers, Desegregation Case Prove Volatile Mix
House Panelists Question Relevancy of Education Dept. Research
Why the New Teacher Ed. Standards Matter
Unfairly Fired Teachers Deserve Court Protection
A Sandy Hook Parent’s Letter to Teachers
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Encouraging Courage

Education Week - September 18, 2013