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January 13, 2014
ASCD SmartBrief Special Report
News for the Education Profession
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ASCD Special Report: Getting students to mastery
Mastery increasingly is taking center stage as educators seek to build students' skill sets beyond test taking. Defining "mastery" can be tough, but the instructional philosophy calls for teachers to set objectives, check for understanding, reteach and demonstrate attainment of the goal.

In this ASCD SmartBrief Special Report, we look at efforts at mastery by skill building, preparing students for college and using techniques and tools in the classroom.

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Building Skills 
  • Texas middle school adds instructional time for core subjects
    A Texas middle school has adopted a schedule that nearly doubles class time for core subjects -- math, science, English and social studies -- from 45 minutes to 85 minutes. Officials said the change is intended to help students better grasp core subjects and allow more time for remediation. The schedule limits students to one elective course daily to allow for the additional instructional time. Commerce Journal (Texas) (12/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How good is good enough?
    "Education has a long-standing practice of turning worthy learning goals into lists of bits," ASCD author Grant Wiggins writes in this Educational Leadership article. To assess for mastery, schools must ask students to apply their knowledge and skills to perform authentic tasks, Wiggins writes. Locally developed standards are not sufficient, writes Wiggins -- only wider-world standards, such as those developed by the Common Core State Standards initiative, can provide valid feedback that can assure students they have attained mastery. Educational Leadership (Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
KIPP and Measured Progress Partner on Common Core Tools
The KIPP Foundation recently partnered with Measured Progress to provide assessment tools that facilitate a smooth transition to the Common Core State Standards. "By working together, we can set our students up to meet these new, rigorous standards and succeed in college and life," said Richard Barth, CEO of the KIPP Foundation. Read press release here.
Seeking College Readiness 
  • N.C. schools to allow students to test out of some courses
    Under guidelines adopted by the North Carolina State Board of Education, students in sixth through 12th grades will be able to earn some academic credits without sitting in class. The Credit By Demonstrated Mastery program will require schools to allow students to test out of some subjects. "The goal is to ensure that students are in the right and appropriate learning environment for their growth," said Sneha Shah-Coltrane, director of Gifted Education and Advanced Programs for the state Department of Public Instruction. The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) (12/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Utah school prepares elementary-school students for college
    One elementary school in Utah is offering its students an early taste of college, using the Advancement Via Individual Determination program to teach them skills they'll need such as how to study, get organized and work with others. AVID is offered in about 4,800 schools across the country, primarily in junior high and high schools, but administrators say it's never too early to start. "It's important for motivation at school," school counselor Susi Hauser said, "because sometimes kids don't understand why they're working so hard in abstract subjects." The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) (12/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How one school's students became college-, career-ready
    South Side High School in Rockville Centre, N.Y., has reworked its curriculum so that all students complete courses that prepare them for college, school administrators Carol Corbett Burris and John Murphy write. Almost all of the school's 11th- and 12th-graders take an International Baccalaureate math and IB English course, they write. The authors show how teachers can differentiate instruction yet maintain the rigor of academic tasks. Educational Leadership (Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Common Core Content: What Educators Should Ask
Preparing students for classroom instruction and summative assessment is priority one as the transition to the Common Core unfolds. Educators are grappling with what to look for when weighing Common Core assessment options. The choices are many—the solutions varied. How and where do educators begin to navigate through it all? Read our white paper.
Techniques & Tools 
  • Study: How tablets are used makes a difference in schools
    A study of how four fifth-grade teachers and their students used tablet computers in a Chicago elementary school revealed that the manner in which the teachers integrated the tablets in the classroom affected students' learning. "Students in the classes where the teachers were able to more deeply integrate the devices into instruction had a slightly stronger or different set of values associated with the device usage than students in classes where the integration was still limited," the report states. KQED.org/Mind/Shift blog (12/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Flipped-instruction skeptic changes her tune after trying it
    Jody Passanisi, an eighth-grade U.S. history teacher and self-described skeptic of flipped instruction, writes in this blog post about how she used the instructional model to help explain complicated instructions to students and how they reviewed basic concepts at their own pace. Including some of her videos in this blog post, Passanisi writes that the way she uses the flipped model has allowed more time for content. "And I don't know many social studies/history teachers who wouldn't welcome more time to invest in the actual stuff of history," she writes. MiddleWeb/Future of History blog (12/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Creating a student-paced classroom
    When high-school science teacher Kelly Morgan Dempewolf shifted her classroom to center on mastery, she set up classroom routines that allowed her students to work independently and master course objectives at their own pace. In this article, she describes a typical day in her student-paced chemistry class and addresses concerns about using this approach, such as students falling behind. Educational Leadership (Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Guide Daily Instruction. Foster Success.
Guide your students' daily transition to the Common Core with Measured Progress COMMON CORE Assessments. Transform classroom instruction with rigorous items and next-generation assessments built to the Common Core. Administer rich content in an advanced online platform—both designed to foster success.
ASCD Resources 
  

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