3 ways the ESSA is improving the education system

Education as an industry can be compared to a lumbering giant. Since it is highly institutionalized, even minor changes can take inordinate amounts of time. After all the system is supposed to provide high quality education to all students regardless of race, socioeconomic status or where they live right? Well, despite recent gains in overall high school graduation rates, there is still much work to be done. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) last December marked a positive turning point, in my opinion. Where improvements to assessments and standards will take time, immediate implementations can be made. Often these are difficult topics and aren’t shiny and exciting to talk about. In this post, I will offer three areas that require introspection before the school year starts next September:


Simply making sure that students are in school, positioned to learn is imperative.Probably the least exciting area for improvement, but arguably the most important. Simply making sure that students are in school, positioned to learn is imperative. In her recent District Administrator piece titled: “6 million Students Miss Too Much School.” Alison DeNisco disaggregates data which confirms large number of students in America are missing school regularly. These students are from the entire range of racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

More than 6 million students—representing 13 percent of the K12 population—missed at least 15 days of school in 2013-14, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis from the U.S. Department of Education.

In her explanation of recent legislation aimed to improve attendance rates, DeNisco outlines the components of the slated essentials. I found the inclusion of community support and attention to whole child issues made me especially hopeful that this program will meet with success.

Of equal importance is that we make time spent in school intertwine, challenging and teaching  critical thinking. A successful learning environment will benefit from a student population that is stable and have low absence rates. Interestingly enough, texting services that have been studied in big cities form a stronger home to school connection and help keep kids in school.


Having much more local control over large assessments allows school districts to create more engaging curriculum. The ESSA is a nod towards more state, and ultimately local, control. This is a great thing! Implementation takes time, but the fundamental changes that could occur if we shift the focus of curriculum away from an over abundance of assessment are very powerful.


RTI (Response to Intervention) is an increasingly popular method to provide assistance to students during their learning experience. In the past this tool was used primarily to identify students in need of special education services. Within the past decade, RTI and Multi Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) have transitioned into the general setting. While highly successful, questions arise as to where funding for these programs come from. Some shared decision making still needs to occur to settle this situation, but many agree that by opening up funding for MTSS in schools will clearly benefits many students.

Change is inevitable in education. To respond to changing times and student needs policy needs to morph as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, too many in the field would agree that policy swings like a pendulum. In this case, I am optimistic that we are moving in the right direction. One that is putting the needs of our nations millions of school aged children as the ultimate priority.

Reference: “6 Million Students Miss Too Much School” By: Alison DeNisco http://www.districtadministration.com/article/report-6-million-students-miss-too-much-school Retrieved: 7/20/16

3 Ways Twitter will rev up your summer learning

twitter Want to energize your teaching this summer but aren’t sure where or how to start? Well, I suggest joining Twitter and reinvigorate your career. Why? From experience, my educational philosophy or practice wouldn’t be that well developed without constant reflection. This happens for me on Twitter. I learned about creating video content and standards based learning to name a few. Amazingly I was able to implement these new ideas quickly into my classroom effectively improving the experience for my students  Joining Twitter, and the learning that ensued, changed the course of my career If you are unsure about how you can benefit from the staccato rythm of Twitter I’ve distilled it down to three major advantages you’ll enjoy:

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3 Ways to Build a More Inclusive School

It’s that time of year again. Emotions run the gamut, pure elation from a job well done to the bone crushing emptiness of failure and defeat. Magnify these feelings by one thousand and you begin to feel what students feel upon hearing their final grade or having a parent open that report card. Often at the end of the year we don’t take into consideration the perspective of the student. When we do delve into how they feel, we can begin to see the serious, often unintended, consequences of the punitive nature of schools.

In her recent article titled “The Education Practice That Is Costing Taxpayers Billions Of Dollars” author Rebecca Klein explores how suspensions ultimately end up doing more harm then good- both to the students themselves, but also to the system and society as a whole. How then can we help support our neediest students and help keep them on a better, more productive path? In this post, I’ll explore three ways to build a more inclusive and welcoming school that could reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions.

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