Ed News: What Are the Blind Spots in Teacher PD?

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This week in education news, NEA sees small increase in membership; effective grading practices, classroom technology, and social-emotional competencies among blind spots in teacher professional development; new study finds that 61% of high schools in California do not offer computer science courses; and new survey finds U.S. teachers in grades 7-9 spend more hours teaching and have longer work weeks than most of their counterparts in 48 other education systems.

Why Can’t Everyone Get A’s

For a generation now, school reform has meant top-down mandates for what students must be taught, enforced by high-stakes standardized tests and justified by macho rhetoric — “rigor,” “raising the bar,” “tougher standards.” Here’s a thought experiment. Suppose that next year virtually every student passed the tests. What would the reaction be from politicians, businesspeople, the media? Would these people shake their heads in admiration and say, “Damn, those teachers must be good!”? Read the op-ed featured in the New York Times.

Nation’s Largest Teachers’ Union Sees Slight Upswing in Membership

The National Education Association projected a steep membership decline in the wake of an adverse Supreme Court ruling—but the losses were not as bad as anticipated. The NEA had projected a more than 10 percent membership decline from 2018 to 2020. In response, it cut $50 million from its two-year budget. But the latest figures show that the projected losses did not entirely realize. The NEA recorded about 2.29 million full-time equivalent members (a number that includes teachers, education support professionals, and retirees) for the upcoming budget year of 2019-20. The union had projected dipping down to 2.11 million members. Read the article featured in Education Week.

What Are the Blind Spots in Teacher PD?

Teacher professional development is a multibillion-dollar industry that every educator will participate in over the course of his or her career. But often, it’s a source of teacher frustration. Nearly all educators can name an example of professional development that wasn’t relevant to their work, did not inspire lasting change, or was just plain boring. And according to a 2016 Education Week Research Center and MCH Strategic Data survey of teachers, 42 percent of respondents said they have little to no influence on the professional development available to them. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Study: More than Half of California High Schools Lack Computer Science Courses

California has the highest number of technology workers in the country. But many students in the state lack access to the computer science courses that may set them up for those career opportunities, a new study shows. Read the article featured in EdSource.

STEM Teachers are Most in Need of Additional Pay

Low teacher pay has attracted much attention over the last year in the wave of teacher unrest, even gathering attention among Democratic presidential candidates. A recent report from The Economic Policy Institute shows teachers were paid lower than other college graduates in all states, and the teacher pay penalty in the U.S. is also large by international standards. Yet, most conversations fail to acknowledge that teacher wage penalties differ quite markedly between teachers of different disciplines. Individuals with degrees in STEM fields are hit the hardest when they choose to enter teaching over other careers in their field. Read the article featured on the Brown Center Chalkboard.

Local Firefighters Spark Middle School STEM Lessons

Students learn about emergency services career while also getting to light something on fire. Read the article featured in District Administration.

Survey: Despite Long Working Hours, US Teachers Satisfied with Jobs

The latest Teaching and Learning International Survey also shows U.S. teachers are less likely than peers in 48 other educational systems to express a “high need” for professional development. Read the article featured in Education DIVE.

How A Former Teacher Is Improving STEM Education In America’s Schools

A former teacher, Serene Gallegos leads the Ignite My Future in School (IMFIS) initiative, an educational program designed to help instill computational thinking in American students and expand STEM skills within their curriculums. In her role, Gallegos partners with school districts across the country to bring free, high-quality professional development in computational thinking to teachers. In addition, she uses her personal experience as a teacher to improve educational experiences, opportunities, and outcomes for students from underrepresented communities. Read the article featured in Forbes.

Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.

The Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs (CLPA) team strives to keep NSTA members, teachers, science education leaders, and the general public informed about NSTA programs, products, and services and key science education issues and legislation. In the association’s role as the national voice for science education, its CLPA team actively promotes NSTA’s positions on science education issues and communicates key NSTA messages to essential audiences.

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