Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 11

U.S. public education is rooted in the belief by early
American leaders that the most important knowledge
citizen. If America is experiencing a civic crisis now, as
many say it is, schools may well be failing at that job.
To understand the role of education in preparing the
next generation of citizens, Education Week began a
series of articles, surveys, and projects in early 2018.
These articles and an accompanying video make up the
latest installment in that initiative.
See other stories in the series

reward schools for doing things
like including students in their budgeting process, or in redesigning
"Those kinds of things would be
ways to make sure schools are providing rich opportunities for students, and that civic engagement is
at the core of the work they do," she
Many civics leaders are pinning
some hope on technology's potential
to measure students' civic thinking
and dispositions. Some innovators,
for instance, are working on ways to
identify skills like leadership or empathy as students make choices in
digital platforms that immerse them
in civics simulations.
In schools and districts, educators
are hopeful but nervous. What form
will testing take? Will states take the
fast-and-affordable approach, which

cheats complex questions? Or embrace a tougher, costlier, but more
nuanced method?
"Yeah, I worry a lot," said Gorman
Lee, the social studies director in
Braintree, Mass., and a past president
of the Massachusetts Council of the
Social Studies.
"Will teachers just be teaching to
what they know is on the test? I feel
like there's a point in time where you
just really need to focus on your students in the classroom," Lee said.
"Are they getting it? And what is
the 'it'? The biggest thing, to me, is
for students to realize their voices
have a great deal to contribute to the
community a nd that they need to be
active participants. If they get that,
they'll be on the right path."

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To inspire and empo


Years of Work
But Still
By Race


* August 21, 2019
| Vol. 39 * Issue 1




By Christina A. Samue

as much as Wake
Few districts have done
its schools racially
County, N.C., has to keep
and socioeconomically
board says it
It is a battle that the school
has been losing.
in Wake County,
Now, the school board
capital of Raleigh,
which includes the state
it wants to reverse
has publicly declared that
ing numbers of its
a trend where increas
y poor or affluschools are overwhelmingl
ngly separated
ent, and as a result, increasi
in North Carolina
by race. In the county, as
inantly poor
as a whole, schools with
more inexperihave
and minority students
rated by the state
enced teachers and fewer
as effective, even
ic needs.
have the highest academ
able to slow the
If any district might be
County, the nation's
16th largest school system.
The question is, will it?
ation about
Wake County's latest convers
earlier this summer,
school diversity started
the Democratic
just a few weeks before
propelled courtpresidential debate that
and the role that
ordered desegregation-
it-back into the
busing played to achieve
Striving for racially
national consciousness.
schools has long
and economically mixed
's community
been part of Wake County
PAGE 16 >


In Illinois, where a 2015 law requires students to take a semester
of civics that includes service learning and democracy simulations, the
strategy is to assess students' learning, attitudes, and behaviors through
surveys, projects, and performance
It's an approach that requires a
lot of patience and hard work from
teachers, since many don't know
how to create their own assessments
of hard-to-measure civics skills and
attitudes, said Mary Ellen Daneels,
a social studies teacher in West Chicago who mentors teachers on civics
She's leading an effort funded by
the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which has played a lead role
shaping civics instruction in Illinois,
to bring teachers together to learn
how to create mini-projects, questions, and evaluation rubrics that
help them judge students' work on
a range of hard-to-measure civics
skills. The American Institutes for
Research, which designs assessments, is also working with the group
and providing funding.
The original plan started with Illinois teachers, but quickly expanded
to include 20 teachers from four
states. The tasks teachers created
last summer illustrate what it can
look like when assessment is indistinguishable from instruction.
Teresa Kruger, a high school
teacher from Belvedere, Ill., worked
with two out-of-state colleagues to
create a performance assessment for
a service-learning project. Students

to impart to young people is what it means to be a

Sarah Rice for Education

Florida testing data have also enabled schools to shift instruction to
better support students, Brazofsky
said. In Miami-Dade, leaders noticed that students often stumbled
on questions with text from primary
sources written in older-style English, such as The Federalist Papers.
They assembled teams of English
teachers to coach social studies
teachers on how to "break down"
that language for students, Brazofsky said.
Massachusetts, where a new law
requires middle school students to
study civics with student-led "action"
projects, is working on an 8th grade
test. Leaders of that project are aim
for a newfangled kind of exam that
better measures the "doing" of civics, not just the "knowing," and that
teachers won't hate for siphoning
time away from instruction.

A Different Approach

would research historically disadvantaged groups and how they created
change, through legislation or civil
disobedience. Then they'd identify
a community need and a project to
address that need. Finally, at the
heart of the assessment, they'd put
the pieces together, analyzing links
between what they studied and what
they did, how well it worked, and
whether it influenced their thinking
about their futures as citizens.
Piloting the task at her school,
Kruger's students zeroed in on foster
children, and learned that they often
lacked school supplies. They organized a jewelry-making event, sold
the jewelry, and used the proceeds to
purchase supplies, Kruger said.
"This is way different from how I
used to assess, and most teachers assess," Kruger said. "It's difficult. We
needed to immerse them, really engage them, in something. We got to
think about what is it-the skills, the
attitudes-we really want these kids
to walk away with? But it was really
good. Really good."
Many civics educators say that the
current moment represents an opportunity that No Child Left Behind
missed: to gather testing data, but
use the information to support-not
Marshall, for instance, the former Chicago social studies supervisor, argues for a new approach to
accountability, in which feedback
from civics assessments is used to

Elementary School
class at Bethlehem
physical education
s dealing with trauma.
ts his mood during
supportive of student
color block that represen
schools that are more
MacElhiney slaps the
e experiment to build
First grader Conner
the way in a statewid
New Hampshire.

Activist Auditor
Decries W.Va.'s
Funding Data
By Daarel Burnette

Learns It
In a Day'

Bethlehem, N.H.

With little to guide them
schools scramble to
learning environments
students in chronic stres
PART 1 of a 3-part

ce traumatic
stability. Students who experien
ically and cogstress perform worse academ
s reported worse
nitively, and their teacher
ng to a
r in the classroo
scientific pic- behavio
There's never been a clearer
g experiences and 2016
s. Nearly half
ture of the ways damagin
And that's a lot of student
to at
hurt a child's abilcan
all U.S. children
for many schools, of
g to the
ity to learn in school. But
one traumatic event, accordin
sensitive school- least
than 1 in 5 have
the picture of what traumalatest federal data, and more
is still developing.
ing looks like in practice
because there's been
-sensiti ve
"We're in an all-fired hurry
In the last decade , trauma
we have to help our
the emergthis 'trauma' thing and
g has spread, driven by
the director of the schoolin
and mankids," said Melissa Sadin,
research, devastating natural
ve Schools Initia- ing
and school discipline des,
Creating Trauma-Sensiti
trains school and
tive, a national group that
Federal laws on special
have to do it cor- bates.
to use
now encourage schools
district staff. "Yes, but you
it in a day."
more than
rectly, and nobody learns
informed practices, and
studies show traumaor creCognitive and neuroscience
states have passed laws
es with memory a dozen
PAGE 18 >
traumatic stress interfer
and attention, good health,

By Sarah D. Sparks


t Lessons
National Study Finds Tha
st Grades
of nearly
representative sample


s waged war
As West Virginia's teacher
over the fate of
with politicians last year
and rapidly
the state's financially strapped
, State Auditor
shrinking public schools
the road, preachJohn "JB" McCuskey hit
ency during
ing his gospel of fiscal transpar
board meetings
dozens of late-night school
to any official willing to
Open your books, he told
see exactly how
trust by letting the public
of dollars you're
you spend the millions
provided each year.
school system,
West Virginia's public
technical, logistibecause of a series of
, is one of the
cal, and political hurdles
bodies in the
last major
exactly how
state to detail for its citizens
14 >

By Sarah D. Sparks


Improving Instruction

"Since we're not required by [the
Every Student Succeeds Act] to have
a social science assessment, we do
have an opportunity to experiment
with new forms of assessment," said
Jeff Wulfson, the state's deputy commissioner of education. "We're trying to create something that reduces
[testing] time, and is really seamless
with the lessons going on."
One part of the test-likely short
essays-would be scored at the
state level, to allow comparisons
among schools. The other part
would be school-based projects and
tasks scored locally by teachers,
using common guidelines. Teams
of teachers are writing those tasks
now, Wulfson said.
Even in a test that allows students
to describe or demonstrate their
learning, though, some of the state's
civics standards are probably still
too difficult to convert into test questions, Wulfson said. Massachusetts
standards include civic "dispositions,
values, virtues, and behaviors," such
as respect for others, a "commitment
to equality," communicating in ways
that are accessible to others, and a
"capacity for listening."
"Good communication skills are
probably possible [to assess], but respect for others is a little out there in
terms of our ability to create an assessment to measure that," he said.

Caitlin Penna for Education

tion department has teamed up with
a half-dozen organizations to survey
students' attitudes and beliefs in 10
areas related to civics instruction,
from civic "virtues" like helping others to community involvement and
tolerance of others' viewpoints.
It doesn't use the results to rate
schools; it shares them with districts
so they can reflect on, and adjust, instruction.
The survey showed that more than
three-quarters of students believe
it's important to "speak up" for liberty and equality, defend the U.S.
Constitution, and make their communities better places to live. But
when it came to taking action, they
got lower marks: Fewer than 3 in 10
said they're interested in political
issues or qualified to participate in
them, and more than 4 in 10 said
they never took part in student government, or volunteered their time
to help at hospitals, food banks, and
other community organizations.
One of the controversial aspects
of Florida's test is that it carries high
stakes. Even if schools aren't held accountable for the survey results, proficiency rates factor into schools' A-F
rankings, and students' scores influence whether they're promoted from
middle to high school.
Those kinds of consequences worry
some, who fear that teachers will
focus too much instruction on what's
on the test. But others argue that the
value of Florida's statewide test overshadows potential drawbacks.
"This test isn't perfect. But if you
don't have the assessment, you're not
in the game," said Robert Brazofsky,
who is Miami-Dade County's social
studies director and helped develop
the new civics exam.
"Assessment allows you as a subject area to be in the thick of it, to be
considered important," he said. "It
translates to principals calling your
office and asking questions, people
fighting to get into your professional
development, and schools placing
their most talented teachers in civics

holds her
EL PASO: A mother

a vigil,
daughter tightly during
a mass shooting

t in El Paso, Texas, where
outside the Walmar
Page 5 >
took place this month.

fidence can
Any student's self-con
high school.
take a hit at the start of
a brief opYet giving students even
and reflect on
portunity to understand
can make
their mindsets for learning
them likelier to challeng
and improve, finds a new
study in the journal
The study,
experimonth, represents the largest
mindset inmental evaluation of a
a nationtervention to date, covering

subur12,500 9th graders in urban,
schools. It
ban, and rural public high
of a 25-minute
found that two sessions
of freshman
online task at the start
' grades and
year could boost students
d classes.
willingness to take advance
for 9th
"The study was timed
we think
grade on purpose because
for young
it's a transiti onal year
people, a time when the
they're losare rising, but also when
s of friends
ing their support network
PAGE 14 >

(301) 280-3100 |
EDUCATION WEEK | September 18, 2019 | | 11

Education Week - September 18, 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 18, 2019

Education Week - September 18, 2019
How Caring for Students Can Take a Steep Toll
Teachers on Front Lines of Making Schools Safe for Transgender Kids
Could Testing Wreck Civics Education?
Wanted: Teachers as Diverse As Their Students
Briefly Stated
Digital Tools Are Everywhere, But Evidence of Impact Is Not
What the Research Says
Talking Politics at School ‘When the World Is on Fire’
Presidential Candidates Argue Charters, Equity
The Perils of Equity-Focused Leadership
Special and General Education Should Be One Nimble System
Letters to the Editor
EdWeek Top School Jobs
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Wanted: Teachers as Diverse As Their Students
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 2
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Briefly Stated
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 4
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Digital Tools Are Everywhere, But Evidence of Impact Is Not
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Talking Politics at School ‘When the World Is on Fire’
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Presidential Candidates Argue Charters, Equity
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 8
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 9
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 10
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 11
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 12
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 13
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 14
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 15
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - The Perils of Equity-Focused Leadership
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Special and General Education Should Be One Nimble System
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Letters to the Editor
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - EdWeek Top School Jobs
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 20
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - CW1
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - CW2
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - CW3
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - CW4