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Eight extraordinary individuals who are making a big impact for equity in schools across the country



How to Reopen Schools so Learners Thrive

Fielding International is a global architecture practice with uniquely integrated teams of Architects, Educators, Planners, and Interior Designers with one primary goal in mind — Designing Schools Where Learners Thrive. Our firm’s mission is to move school design out of the mid-1950s into the rapidly changing world. This means a paradigm shift from the “cells and bells” model to a more collaborative model. New schools should support multiple modalities of learning including, collaboration, student-directed learning, and many other key 21st century skills. Schools should be nurturing and engaging places for all students and teachers. Most importantly, learning environments must resemble the world we live in now and point to the future, not the past. In addition to designing schools, we also carry on research, teacher training, and coaching. To understand COVID-19, our teams worked together to develop a set of flexible options that address the various levels of risk involved in the reopening of schools to maintain a sense of safety, belonging, and community.

“A Day in the Life” was developed as a learning tool to help teachers orient themselves in space and time, use school facilities for active, collaborative learning, and demonstrate how COVID safety measures, educational best practices and social and emotional well-being can all be addressed when using the Full Return and Hybrid Scenarios.



Learning Zone 3

4th Grade Student Eden Park Elementary Cranston, RI

4th Grade Eden Park Elementary Cranston, RI

A Day in the life of Alex in the Alternating Return Model

8:00 - 8:15 AM Breakfast and Attendance It is important to build in social and emotional wellness for students.

After Alex arrives at school, he moves to his color-coded learning zone

Full Return Approx. 95% of Students return to in-person learning 5 days a week.

8:15 - 9:00 AM Advisory

9:00 - 9:05 AM Bathroom Break

Advisory is attended synchronously.

When Alex finishes, he washes his hands but forgets his mask. His teacher provides him with a new mask.

Alex needs to use the restroom

9:00 - 9:30 AM Academic and Instructional Assessment

9:30 - 10:30 AM ELA Literacy

Alex transitions to a learning studio in his zone for literacy instruction and individual practice

10:30 - 12:10PM Math Workshop and Rotations

Hand & desk sanitation measures are taken throughout the day.

12:15- 1:00PM Lunch and Recess

Alex has lunch in his learning studio. The teacher distributes the meals and Alex eats at his desk.

The small group room in Alex’s is used for zone for math instructional assessments and peer-to-peer support.

Math is held in one learning studio. Learning stations and small-group practice using hands-on manipulatives and devices.

It is important to ventilate enclosed and move activities outside whenever possible.

1:00 - 2:25PM PBL Prototyping and Teacher Workshops

2:25- 2:35PM Cleaning Alex returns to his learning zone with his class. They clean their spaces and pack-up to leave for the day.

Alternating Return On alternating days, approx. 50% of Students attend inperson, the remaining 50% engage in enrichment activities remotely.

After recess, the students move to an outdoor learning space. The teacher launches a Social Studies project-based learning entry event.

Flexible Return Students who require in-person attendance attend in-person, the remaining engage in blended learning.

The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy offers states, districts, and charter- and private-school networks resources and guidance that improve academic and civic outcomes. Our team designs each project in partnership with system leadership to deliver precise, actionable data on classroom instruction, curricular heft, and school culture across multiple domains. Our resources and policy recommendations include: School Culture 360™ Teacher Survey on Curriculum Use Knowledge Maps™ Learned curriculum, benchmarked to comparable systems Classroom Observations Focus Groups

School Culture 360™ A school survey instrument that produces an “under the hood” analysis of behaviors and beliefs that influence student success.

Teacher Survey on Curriculum Use Creates a full picture of what teachers know about standards, their use of curriculum materials, and their satisfaction level with those materials.

Learned curriculum, benchmarked to comparable systems Paints an accurate picture of academic performance in the relevant contexts and relevant subgroups.

Classroom Observations An in-person review of standards alignment and academic rigor.

Focus Groups

Knowledge Maps™ Show systems whether or not their English language arts and social studies curricula adequately build students’ content knowledge.

Uncover community judgments from teachers, principals, parents, and other stakeholders as to the conditions of schooling.




CHAMPIONS OF EQUITY | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER, 2020 Jill Ackers, Hector Cardona, Shirley Forehand, John Harrington, Gholdy Muhammad, Jody Nolf, Kojo Quartey & Marisol Quevedo Rerucha


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THE ACE-ED.ORG EXECUTIVE TEAM Publisher & Director of Sales LARRY JACOBS 978-712-8187

VP & Editorial Director MAIA APPLEBY 561-427-5092


at School • apafdn.org/schools

Notice. Talk. Act. at School School Mental Health Education Program Our professional development curriculum, developed with education and mental health professionals, helps school staff know how to best: NOTICE warning signs TALK with the student ACT appropriately in referring students to resources

What’s Included? »

E-Learning Module (30-40 mins)


 lassroom Module Designed to be C Tailored to your School


Online Assessments


18-months of Learning with New Courses, Based on Your School’s Assessments

Learn More & Access Free Resources Visit us at apafdn.org/schools to learn more about our professional development, utilize our free resources, or view our recorded town halls. Resources include: FAQ Mentally-Healthy Schools in Times of a Pandemic Notice. Talk. Act. at Home Coping Skills What Do Disruptive Behaviors Indicate? Twitter: @PsychFoundation | Facebook: @apafdn

at School • apafdn.org/schools

What Do Disruptive Behaviors Indicate? By Christopher Seeley, MSW When children display disruptive behaviors at school, it often means that there is turmoil in their lives. These behaviors are caused by underlying issues that students are trying to communicate. They are purposeful and are their attempts to solve a problem. The American Psychiatric Association Foundation hosted a virtual town hall, What Do Disruptive Behaviors Indicate? Featuring psychiatrists and a juvenile rights expert. During this discussion we touched on why students may be displaying this behavior, how we can respond with compassion and empathy, and how schools can begin to address the school-to-prison pipeline.

What messages should adults receive when they see disruptive behavior? The first message that you should receive as an adult is something is not right and I need to be supportive. One of our experts offered up an analogy of a fever: when someone has a fever, there is an underlying cause, the fever is just a symptom. The fever could be cause by a lot of different things, so we must figure out what it is to deliver the best treatment. Same for disruptive behaviors, we must see that as a symptom, with an underlying cause that we must discover. This discovery must be handled with compassion and empathy.

What can adults do when a youth is displaying disruptive behaviors? It is crucial to understand the importance of giving that youth space when they might be displaying disruptive behaviors. Giving them a chance to cool off, reassess their emotions, and coming back to the conversation.

This is important for the adult to do as well, sometimes even engaging in an argument with a student who is being disruptive, can cause us to lose our cools. It is also important for adults to remember when they might be causing more harm then good and may need to remove them-selves from the situation. A youth may show that they are trying to remove themselves in other ways like putting their hood up or putting in headphones. Seeing these as signs that they need a break, can prevent an outburst from even happening.

How can schools begin to address the school to prison pipeline? The rise of trauma, especially racial trauma is going to continue to show itself in these ways at school. When we can only provide the resource of police officers, then that is the only support they are going to be met with. The experts shared that we should notice when a student is showing disruptive as a sign for support services, not punishment. You need to start a conversation with the student to check-in, show you care, and to determine what might be causing this disruptive behavior to occur. If further support is needed, then you need to take action, that can depend on your community resources or the resources at your school. We must not forget that these at still developing brains that need our help and support, we must be able to respond with compassion and empathy because we do not know what is causing this disruptive behavior to occur. We encourage everyone to check out our resource What Do Disruptive Behaviors Indicate? Find out how you can bring our Notice. Talk. Act.™ at School key-frame to begin addresses the schoolto-prison pipeline in your local community. Visit apafdn.org/schools

DO NOT BE STILL ON ENDING SYSTEMIC RACISM IN OUR SCHOOLS: A CALL FOR CHANGE By Ali Alowonle | Reprinted with permission by LocalTiesMedia.com

When you hear the word school, what thoughts and feelings do you have? What memories and associations does your mind conjure up? If you were or currently are a student of color, no doubt, trauma permeates your soul. American schools were never intended or designed for students of color. The same is true in the present-tense: American schools are not intended or designed for students of color. Before I ever stepped my pre-kindergarten foot inside an elementary school, I was already sent the message that I did not belong. I was four years old when the school readiness proctor told my mom that I should not begin school because I did not know enough English. It is a common microagression to assume students of certain ethnicities do not speak English. Not only did I begin kindergarten against the test administrators recommendations, but I also graduated a semester early, summa cum laude.

I did not have teachers who looked like me? Was it that books by authors of color about people of color were absent from our school library? Was it that we only learned about non-white cultures as an isolated, exoticized shit attempt at “multiculturalism”? Was it kids pulling on their eyes and spewing racist words? Was it me getting asked to be the token Asian and dress up in my traditional clothing (aka my costume) for a school program? These experiences are just a fraction of the experiences that contributed to my negative feelings about school as a young child. Middle school was the stage in life where I began to openly question authority (primarily my teachers), challenge the status quo, and repel orthodoxy. Yes, I know many pre-teens become rebellious at this age, but after careful reflection, it was more than the quintessential teenage angst: I was actually defying racism and white supremacy. Teachers and students used

Similar experiences to this testing bias continued throughout my K-12 years The other students of color and I were put into a box where the climate swirled with white-centric perspectives and curriculum, microaggresions, lack of consideration for cultural norms, and blatant racism. In elementary school, I always felt different and separate, but I was not exactly sure why. Was it that 8

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

racial slurs with no consequence, and the curriculum was just as bad as these derogatory comments. In high school, I was a walking paradox, trying to fit in, simultaneously doing everything in my power to fit out. Learning in middle school that challenging my teachers was not a successful method, I changed my tactics in high school to walking out of class or not attending at all. I vividly remember a teacher saying that there were no intelligent black people in existence and me looking around at my classmates like, “Yo, why doesn’t anyone have a problem with what she just said?” This was one of the many times that I chose to leave class.

School beat me up and left me for dead It is no wonder why we have an achievement gap and why students of color are less likely than their white peers to graduate high school or go on to pursue higher education. Even so, I gave education one more chance and went to college: I was in a cohort made up of students of color, I leaned on multiple resource centers for marginalized students, and I had mentors and educators of color. Having teachers who resemble you makes a significant positive impact on the lives of students. This is why it is monumental to have organizations like The Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota and efforts to recruit and retain teachers that are more representative of our student populations. Fast forward two decades, and here I am, working for the very institution that crushed me over and over again. Why would I return? I knew I could and must make a difference for marginalized students. From a combination of my own childhood experiences and the teacher-training I had, I felt that I would have the greatest impact in urban schools, so that is where I applied. The inequities for students of color also exist for teachers of color. Here I was with a perfect GPA, a few credits short of my master’s degree, excellent recommendations, and most importantly a face that looked like the student populations where I applied. It didn’t

matter! They did not want me; I did not belong... again.

I started looking for teaching positions in urban areas out of state Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada was recruiting teachers. One of the important issues to me was the underrepresentation of minorities in gifted programming. I had highly gifted students of color in my classes, but they were never referred for gifted programming. It was obvious to me how bright these learners were. One of these students was well-known for his “defiant” behavior. Teachers talked about how he argued with adults and was aggressive both verbally and physically. This student was brilliant, funny, candid, passionate, persistent, and inquisitive. Sadly, it is common practice to focus on the behavior of black and brown students, rather than their talents and potential, and it is no secret that students of color are disproportionately subject to disciplinary actions. What happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. I eventually made my way back to The Land of 10,000 Lakes and brought my experiences with me to classrooms in Minnesota suburbs. After sixteen years of teaching, I still see similar issues I grew up with as a student, but now I see these racial inequities through the lens of a teacher and mother. As early as pre-kindergarten, my children have experienced racial injustices in the very place that is supposed to lift them up and give them wings. My child´s gauge of a good day at school depended on how he behaved in class (from the teachers’ white-normed perspective), rather than his successes and achievements. My child was isolated and segregated from classmates based on classroom seating and expectations. My child expressed disdain for his skin color because comments and incidents at school went uncorrected. My children were not differentiated for and their needs went unserviced; we had to move school districts to get access to gifted programming that my children qualified for.



We must not be still in a system–a world–where some children are treated as less-than. Here are some viable solutions that we must demand to dismantle racism in educational institutions: • Diversify the white-centric curriculum and perspectives: districts need to develop and use culturally relevant, anti-racist pedagogy and curriculum. For example, there should be ample literature written by authors of color, including characters of color in complex roles (not just stock characters in oppression stories). This is more than just creating a diverse collection of books–teachers need to teach students how to uncover biases and examine texts to see who they serve, and there needs to be discussions about what role race plays in readings. • Provide different types of assessments and ways students can show what they know. Study the cultural norms for different ethnicities and ensure there is a place for these norms in the classroom. For instance, there is a strong emphasis on writing as a communication tool in schools; however, speaking is a preferred mode of communication for some cultures and should have equal value. I am not saying that we do not teach writing; rather, we need to teach skills that provide students of color access to the dominant culture, simultaneously disrupting this very culture in power.

• Create safe spaces in schools for students of color to gather, share experiences, and lean on each other for support. Mentors and teachers of color should be involved in facilitating these groups. • Recruit and incentivize teachers of color, as early as high school, to make education an attractive option. Additionally, schools need to take measures to retain and support their teachers of color. • Mandate comprehensive and ongoing training and staff development on cultural competency. • Eliminate referral bias for gifted programming by providing universal, culturally relevant screening and testing. • Evaluate and change which behaviors are rewarded and which behaviors are punished. For instance, overlapping talk and interrupting are discourse patterns for some cultures; nevertheless, these behaviors are often admonished in the classroom. • End discipline measures that push students out of the classroom and out of the processes; implement restorative practices that keep students part of the conversation. • We must improve systemic racism in schools.

Do not be still: school must be intended and designed for students of color.

Ali Alowonle is a teacher, advocate, seminar trainer, and life-long student. Building community and rapport with students and families, as well as ensuring all children are challenged, engaged, and celebrated are Ali’s top priorities as an educator. She aims to cultivate a love for learning and a love for self and humanity. 10

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

Know What They Know and Give Them What They Need This year, balance unfinished learning with grade-level content. With i-Ready Assessment, get a clear picture of every student’s performance and an individualized pathway to grade-level proficiency.

Learn How i-Ready Can Support You in 2020–2021 i-Ready.com/Assessment

VIEWPOINT FROM NSPRA (National School Public Relations Association)


Parents want what’s best for their children and they are looking to us to help provide the answers. According to the National Parents Union Coronavirus Impact Survey Week Eight Update, 63 percent of parents say school should be re-imagined as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. The survey also says non-white parents are more likely to say their child may need additional instruction next school year, yet white parents are more likely than non-white parents to think they will feel safe sending their children back to school in the fall. We need to do what we can to deliver information that helps them make the best decision for their family. No crisis manual could have prepared us for the coronavirus pandemic and anticipating only tactical solutions just won’t be effective. We have an opportunity by adjusting our lens, revisiting crisis communication strategy, repurposing community partnerships, and using our imagination. The manual has been discarded so it’s a unique moment to bring the equity divide together using these methods: 1. Adjust your lens: Remove unconscious bias’s that may present itself when the topic is social grouping. We all organize actions, words, and people in categories. It’s the way our brain thinks. It’s important to adjust your lens, or have a mindset change, so you can learn about others and discard assumptions. Discarding assumptions can help facilitate healthy dialogue as you have discussions with your different stakeholder groups about returning to school. 2. Revisit crisis strategy: Work directly with internal stakeholders, review and adjust crisis communication and teams, survey parent groups, know what the district stands for, create key messaging, stay ahead of landmines, over-share information related to the topic, listen to feedback, adjust where necessary, evaluate. Repeat. 3. Repurpose community partnerships: While Black and Hispanic households are more technologically advanced than in years past according to a study by the Pew Research center, there is still some internet connection disparities. Many districts now provide one-to-one technology, but homes still 12

struggle with internet connectivity. Who thought the local library was only good for the summer reading program or the bus only transported students? Work with your local libraries or faith-based community that would be willing to provide internet and a safe physically-distanced space for students to learn. Apply for grants that outfit old school buses with hotspots so they can be parked in an area that needs connection. 4. Use your imagination: One size does not fit all when it comes to communication methods and channels. Break hard-to-digest information into bite-sized pieces so stakeholders are not overwhelmed. Thoughtful graphics, bulleted lists, colors that break up text, common language, animated memes, and Kahoots learning games …it’s all open to use as long as you follow your organization’s brand when selecting these imaginative items and colors. There isn’t just one unifying message, method, or manual to refer. Overall, what works best is a shared vision, lots of communication, and constant realignment. It takes the creativity and teamwork of stretching deep into the education Lego box to construct a bridge that unites stakeholders on the purpose of the business: providing a safe place for kids to learn and succeed. Yolanda Stephen is the Director of Public Relations for Troup County School System (Ga.) and Vice President of Diversity Engagement for National School Public Relations Association. For over 15 years she has worked in communications for Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, and now public education. You can find her blogging at prisking.com or combing through Linkedin or Twitter @noordinaryrose.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

Engage Learners Anytime, Anywhere Discover how i-Ready provides motivating, personalized instruction that supports students’ growth and engages them with rigorous grade-level learning.

Learn How i-Ready Can Support You in 2020–2021 i-Ready.com/Learning


By Mark D. Benigni, Ed.D., and Nathan D. Quesnel, MA

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD We believe public education is one of the reasons America is the greatest nation in the world. After beginning our teaching careers in city schools and spending the last decade as both Superintendents leading diverse urban school districts, we need to share how urban public education school systems can level the playing field for all of their students. It all starts with leading with equity, ensuring access for all, embracing creative partnerships, getting results, and believing in urban education. While we both share the same beliefs and commitment to leadership and equity, no two school systems are ever completely alike. We have shared the “best” of both districts’ initiatives, opportunities, and activities to promote a quality urban public education.

LEADING WITH EQUITY Leadership requires the ability to attract followers, create believers, and make a 14

difference. We cannot think of a place where effective leadership is more necessary today then public education. The need is even greater in our urban public education systems. We were two young, idealistic principals who became Superintendents, dedicating our careers to fighting for the underdogs. We are both super competitive, with an air of confidence or conceit, depending on whom you are talking to at the moment. We both inherited terrific team members and then hired for emotional intelligence. We continued to build our teams with innovators, creators, and folks who saw the power and importance of public urban education. Our teams had to be passionate and compassionate, as well as empathetic. They had to create safe environments for risk-taking and have the ability to get stakeholders invested in their community. We wanted team members who had high-energy levels, can do attitudes, growth mindsets, and something to prove. Yes, we wanted them to have a chip on their shoulders. They needed to be able to inspire students,

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

staff, and families; and they needed to be clear that adults would not set limits on children.

ENSURING ACCESS FOR ALL Building a college and career culture for all students starts on Day 1 in kindergarten. This continues through to their senior year with students participating in College Signing Days, highlighted with banners and artifacts from colleges they will be attending in the fall. High expectations start early as we instill in students and parents that all students will be college, career and life ready, regardless of racial or socio-economic status. Our districts, with the support of the Dalio Foundation’s Connecticut RISE Network, have embraced student-centered learning environments to ensure that our high school students graduate college and career ready. Personalized pathways provide students with greater voice and choice in their learning, embedded critical thinking tasks, and opportunities for creativity and innovation. A Climate Suite of tools helps us get to know our students and measures their college and career readiness. Community and Parent Learning Walks, led by teachers, allow community members and parents to see student-centered learning in action. Staff and students work to embed a growth mindset into the school culture. “No-zero” grading procedures support student effort, leading to greater engagement and motivation. Restorative practices and youth dialogue groups have increased student involvement and improved school climates. Recognizing that ninth grade is a pivotal grade for future success in high school, our districts implemented Summer Bridge Programs. These programs are held at our high schools to support at-risk entering ninth graders, with follow-up provided by our on-track grade nine transition counselors during the year. To increase credit accumulation and reduce failures, transition counselors provide intensive “case management” to a targeted group of at-risk underserved ninth graders. A Grade 9

Team meets three times weekly to review academic, attendance and behavioral data, identify on-track, almost on-track and off -track students, implement interventions, and provide a biweekly after-school homework program. Further, one-to-one conferences occur three times a year with a caring adult sitting with each student individually to review academics and college and career readiness goals. These one-to-one conferences continue into tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. With open access to classes, including Advanced Placement (AP) and Early College Experiences (ECE) courses, we removed all barriers to accessing high-level learning. PSAT benchmark data allows us to meet with students and families to encourage enrollment in dozens of AP and ECE courses, which offer a wide array of choices. As a result of these initiatives, data show large percentages of students of color enrolling in these rigorous courses. Our districts expanded college visit opportunities, realizing that many students lack the resources, support, and ability to visit on their own. For some students, these visits are the first time they have ever ventured onto a college campus. Through Bridge, ninth graders visit an in-state college campus, tenth graders visit local colleges, while eleventh and twelfth graders visit four-year and two-year colleges of choice. Virtual college tours are offered using Google’s Expedition Virtual Reality Lab to broaden horizons for students whose families may not have the finances to travel out of state. High schools assist students with their college application process offering College Application Bootcamp, FAFSA Workshops, and Military and Apprenticeship Roundtables, as well as Alumni Seminars and a Scholarship Fair with local scholarship committee representatives providing information.

EMBRACING CREATIVE PARTNERSHIPS Together, with numerous public and private partnerships, we are ensuring that all high school students receive the support they need



More than just a safe space.

A learner’s well-being doesn’t stop at physical distancing. They desperately need developmentally, socially and emotionally safe spaces as well. Though we never counted on a pandemic, we designed our spaces to move, change, and adapt to meet every learners’ needs. Especially now. As believers and disciples of agency and equity for each and every learner, we believe now is not the time to retreat into past practices, but a time to tap our collective resources to collaborate, investigate, innovate and excel like never before. Get to know us . Tour our spaces . Join the converversation of creating engaging spaces for extraordinary futures, whatever they may hold.

nor vanivel.com

to graduate college, career, and life ready. Both our boards of education and districts value and respect diversity among students, and reflect their commitment to success for all learners. Their dedication to promoting equity is reflected in our strong conviction that to achieve equity and access for all, we must collectively challenge existing inequities, build meaningful relationships, and actively remove barriers to success.

many initiatives are funded through creative restructuring and “outside the box” solutions. While there is always some “start-up” funding associated with training staff, these costs disappear once we have “grown” our own in-house equity leaders, instructional coaches, presenters, and model classrooms. The following numerous components of our equity campaigns were implemented without additional funding:

We value the uniqueness and varied experiences of all our students and staff and believe that regardless of racial identity, socioeconomic status, or prior learning experiences, all students must have access to equitable learning opportunities and digital resources to expand their world. The recognition of unconscious or conscious systemic and individual bias continues to guide our efforts and commitment to assure equity for all.


The values and principles captured here are commonplace in both of our districts and the cornerstone to the success of urban education. We must rebuild our cities as manufacturing jobs have left, factories were shuttered up, and abandoned buildings and blighted properties were left behind. It is clear that our communities see education as a way to break the poverty cycle, bring hope back to our cities, and provide a better life for their children. That is why our districts work hard to instill a mindset that all students and families see postsecondary plans as a real option for all children. As with any Board supported initiative, it is up to the central office staff to prioritize funding by reallocation of resources, realignment of staff, and exploring outside funding opportunities. Our equity efforts required all of these elements, and were supported, in part, by state grants and foundation funding. All funders are looking for self-sustaining initiatives and to see that districts can continue to move the needle when grant funds are no longer available. It is difficult to put a price tag on our efforts, as 18

1. Revise Board policies 2. Eliminate lower-level classes 3. Create no-zero grading procedures 4. Adopt BYOD guidelines 5. Reallocate funding for mobile devices 6. Launch career pathways 7. Develop academic and emotional supports 8. Open access to all high-level classes 9. Implement college credit classes 10. Provide virtual college tours 11. Conduct college readiness seminars 12. Celebrate student success! For many of these activities, the efforts of enthusiastic administrators, teachers, parents, and community volunteers make the difference. They are eager to pitch in because they support the mission, value our efforts, and recognize the importance and value of urban public education. When Boards set clear visions, students are put at the center, unions are involved in the planning, and staff and families work together—all students succeed. There is no turning back now; our students, staff, families, and partners are counting on us.

GETTING RESULTS Data in our districts over the last ten years has shown impressive results and attest to the impact of embracing student-centered learning and insisting on equitable learning opportunities. Both districts have achieved some of their highest scores ever on the State’s Accountability Index and each district has shown substantial growth on a variety of their

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

own academic, social and behavioral measures. Presently, over 90 percent of Grade 9 students are on-track to graduate in four years. High school graduation rates have increased by double digits. Since implementing open access to AP courses, enrollment of students of color, those who qualify for free and reduced meals, and students in special education has increased exponentially. School climate data show dramatic improvements with suspension, expulsions, and chronic absenteeism, showing significant decreases for all subgroups.

leading an urban school district. For many of these cities, public education is the pride and joy of the community. Their facilities are true community assets. Their sports and music programs, as well as entertainment and recreation outlets, are for the entire community. Their educational leaders, revered and appreciated! Urban public education will continue to be the great equalizer; when led by strong leaders, who embrace equity, ensure access, engage in partnerships, and believe—non-believers need not apply!

Our school reforms seek to foster lifelong learners who can adapt to the complexities and pace of a global society without regard to racial or socio-economic status. We have moved from the traditional factory model to student-centered learning and incorporated equity and access into college and career readiness programs. Our efforts span the areas of culture, student engagement, motivation, student choice, technology, instructional leadership, assessment, and communication. With equity and access as our compass, we are getting results!

Mark D. Benigni, Ed.D., is superintendent of the Meriden Public Schools, co-chair of the Connecticut Association of Urban Superintendents, and vice president for the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. Mark was recognized by AASA and CoSN as the first recipient of the 2019 Empowered Superintendent award and was honored as a 2015 Education Week Leader to Learn From.

BELIEVING IN URBAN EDUCATION Throughout our careers, we have witnessed the magic, observed the difference makers, applauded students and staff, ignored the naysayers, embraced change, inspired and been inspired, and watched public education change students’ lives forever. No job - or career, can be as rewarding as

Nathan D. Quesnel, MA, 6th Year, is superintendent of East Hartford Public Schools. He co-chaired the State of Connecticut’s Common Core Task Force. Nathan was recognized as the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education’s Outstanding Superintendent, Alumni award as well as a Statewide Outstanding Leader and was named to Hartford Business Journal’s Top Leaders “40 under 40.”



VIEWPOINT FROM NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children)


Among the most interesting and helpful reports on gifted education are the periodic State of the States studies, produced through a joint collaboration of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted (CSDPG), and university researchers. The purpose of the study is to provide comprehensive data on current policies and practices related to gifted education in all 50 states, and the data are widely used by educators, policymakers, advocates, parents, and journalists. The 2020 edition of the report, covering the 2018-2019 school year, has just been released. The university team for the 2020 study was from the College of Education at the University of North Texas and included Profs. Anne Rinn, Rachel Mun, and Jaret Hodges, with assistance from a large number of staff and board members from both NAGC and CSDPG. The team did a great job, gathering data from all 50 states and Washington, DC. The researchers relied primarily on data collection via surveys. Those questionnaires focused on six broad areas: • SEA personnel and funding for gifted education • Factors impacting gifted education • State definitions of giftedness, identification, and gifted students • Programs and services • Personnel training requirements • Accountability The study provides us with an enormous amount of information about how states approach advanced education, who receives these services, and the level of oversight within each state. This information is needed now more than ever given the urgent national and state conversations surrounding issues of equity and access regarding gifted education. We cannot improve this situation without knowing what that


situation is, and without seeing the range of strategies states are using to address it. The report contains so much rich information that attempting to summarize it here would be a fool’s errand, and I encourage everyone to download the full report at http://nagc.org. But at the 30,000-foot level, I’d like to hit on a few themes. First and foremost, the report contains evidence of significant, positive developments in gifted education. For example, all 50 states plus DC offer some level of services for advanced students, but the level of services varies widely in scope and regional coverage. For example, South Dakota reports that the state does not offer gifted education services and does not have any related state requirements, but that local districts may have gifted education programs. Given the lack of a federal mandate for advanced education, I was pleasantly surprised by the data showing the blanket coverage across the states, albeit more of an afghan blanket with holes and inconsistencies. In a similar vein, half of the states reported dedicated, gifted education funding for school districts. A notable example is Arizona, which restored funding to the tune of nearly a million dollars. That’s not a huge per capita increase, but it is movement in the right direction and a huge victory for gifted students and their advocates in that state. Regarding equity, I see lots of good news in the data. Several states report specific actions to address equity concerns, including the use of universal screening, professional development focused on the identification of underserved populations, having a state mandate that specifically addresses equity in gifted identification, and the use of state or federal funding specifically for addressing equity in gifted identification. In addition, 29 states collect subgroup data on students receiving services, with 6 other states

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

collecting these data at the district level – we can’t close excellence gaps without knowing the magnitude of the problem, so this is important progress! The report also clearly points to several tangible action steps. For example, regarding factors impacting gifted education, respondents from 41 states cited site-based decision making or local control. Again, given the lack of a federal mandate (and only 24 state mandates) for gifted education services, it is not surprising that the majority of decisions regarding services are made at the district or school level. But if decisions impacting gifted education and equity are primarily being made at the local level, it is imperative that all educators and personnel have at least a minimal amount of training in giftedness and advanced education. As in past reports, the news here remains grim: Only 4 states require coverage of giftedness and gifted education in administrator preparation programs, only 3 states in teacher preparation programs, and only 4 in counselor prep. We have much work to do in this area.

When advocating for equity in education, I often remind myself that “research and data are our friends.” This important report provides a wealth of data on which educators can build high-impact advocacy efforts that will create lasting and equitable change for our students. Jonathan A. Plucker is the Julian C. Stanley Professor of Talent Development at the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University, where he is also a Professor of Education. He currently serves as President of the National Association for Gifted Children board of directors. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Johns Hopkins, CTY, or NAGC.


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CHAMPIONS OF EQUITY We’re thrilled to bring you a special section in this issue, in which we celebrate the standouts who are making a true impact for equity in our schools. There are so many wonderful educators out there — far too many to list in a publication like this — but we want to do our part to showcase the work of as many as possible. Read. Share. Get involved. Enjoy!

Jill Ackers Hector Cardona Shirley Forehand John Harrington Gholdy Muhammad Jody Nolf Kojo Quartey Marisol Quevedo Rerucha Know someone who would make a great Champion of Equity in a future issue? Take a minute to fill out the nomination form! We’ll be highlighting a few individuals in each of the six issues coming out in 2021. If your nomination is selected, we’ll contact both of you to get the information we need. NOMINATE A CHAMPION


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CHAMPION OF EQUITY “Curiosity is the core element of greater humanity. Giving all learners an equitable opportunity to collaborate, create, and communicate with equal affordances through authentic, relevant, and complex learning experiences. It means reimagining the antiquated systems to move learners beyond mere tokens but making them real agents in their own learning.” — Jill Ackers

As an educator with more than 20 years of experience, Jill Ackers brings her passion for constructivist learning, languages, and technology to educators through authentic, relevant learning and professional development.

Jill Ackers regularly supports teachers and administrators in developing capacities, competencies, structures, and systems that result in powerful 21st-century learning experiences and outcomes for students. Jill works with educators to help them prepare to transition to evolving pedagogies and work together in a new collaborative team organization within newly designed innovative learning communities.

Jill Ackers at Fielding International Twitter @ibpbljill




CHAMPION OF EQUITY When Hector Cardona was young, he felt that his opportunities would be limited as a result of where his parents were from, where he was growing up, and the color of his skin. It diminished his expectations of a bright future for himself. He now leads Meriden Public School educators in reassessing themselves and their role in a system that all-too-often perpetuates feelings of diminished future prospects for many of our children of color, who often don't see themselves represented in their teachers. “Racial equity is vital for our children's full participation as productive citizens in our country, and for all of our children to grow up in a world that welcomes them.” – Hector Luis Cardona, Jr.

Washington Middle School’s Teacher of the Year, Hector Cardona, represented middle school on the newly formed cadre of Equity Leaders. He was instrumental in developing the district’s racial equity modules: Defining Racial Equity, Increasing Our Racial Consciousness, Engaging in Difficult Conversations, The Impact of Microaggressions and Unconscious Bias, and Dimensions of Being White, which are utilized district-wide. Hector promoted the initiation of the district Affinity Group for teachers of color. Currently, they are engaging with administrators and neighboring districts. Hector organized and led a school book club which discussed “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?” Learn more about his equity work at Meriden Public Schools Follow him on Twitter: @HectorLuisCard


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CHAMPION OF EQUITY “If children don’t learn the way you teach, then teach the way the children learn. As teachers, we need to embrace and develop students’ learning styles to help them become lifelong learners. This often means reaching beyond our comfort zones and be open to try a new ideas, teaching strategies, and resources to reach every single student.” — Shirley Forehand

As Math Department Head, Shirley Forehand is implementing innovative ways to help students succeed and become engaged with learning. Putting math concepts to music is one strategy that’s making a difference.

Having taught for more than 25 years, Shirley Forehand currently teaches at one of the lowest-income schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. She's always willing to try new ideas to get students excited about learning, and she is truly changing lives with her love and compassion. Watch this video to see what we mean.

Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @HallMagnetLRSD




CHAMPION OF EQUITY Funds For Learning has supported E-rate applicants in all 50 states, and currently serves 4.2 million students at 10,000 sites across America. Harrington also volunteers on several education-related Boards, actively participates in a number of civic and professional groups, and, in 2012, was appointed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to serve on the Oklahoma State Virtual Charter School Board.

“We each have a responsibility to educate members of Congress and federal regulators to make sure they comprehend the scope of this problem, and then we need to hold them accountable to help our communities.” — John Harrington

John Harrington is the Chief Executive Officer of Funds For Learning, the nation’s first and largest professional E-rate compliance firm. Since 1997, Mr. Harrington and his firm have helped schools and libraries apply for $2 billion in E-rate funding. Read his article on digital equity, published in the July 2020 issue of Equity & Access, here.

Learn more about John Harrington and Funds for Learning here.


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CHAMPION OF EQUITY Dr. Gholdy Muhammad offers a unique, culturally and historically responsive approach toward the goal of genius and joy in her book Cultivating Genius. This approach draws from Black historical excellence and is essential for all students, especially youth of color, who traditionally have been marginalized in learning standards, policies, and school practices.

Gholdy Muhammad works with teachers and young people across the United States and South Africa in best practices in culturally responsive instruction.

An Associate Professor of Language and Literacy at Georgia State University, Gholdy also serves as the director of the GSU Urban Literacy Collaborative & Clinic. She studies Black historical excellence within educational communities with goals of reframing curriculum and instruction today. Some of her recognitions include the 2014 recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English, Promising New Researcher Award, the 2016 NCTE Janet Emig Award, the 2017 GSU Urban Education Research Award and the 2018 UIC College of Education Researcher of the Year.

www.hillpedagogies.com; @gholdym (Twitter) @gholdy.m (Instagram) Cultivating Genius (Facebook)




CHAMPION OF EQUITY Jody Nolf, M. Ed., serves as ESOL Coordinator for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, which has a large population of students from Central America. Many of these learners speak Spanish, but some speak indigenous Mayan languages, posing unique challenges for their teachers and communities.

“We need to advocate for and support not only our wonderful students, but also each other.” — Jody Nolf

In 2017, Jody helped advocate for a field trip to Palm Beach State College, completely in Spanish, to give eighth-grade ELLs a chance to see what’s possible and experience a fascinating learning activity that involves studying DNA. This is now an annual event that encourages these students to apply for choice programs for high school. Jody presents regularly at conferences, including VirtuEL 2020, maintains a website packed with valuable resources and guidance for ELL teachers, and shares her knowledge about Anchor Learning with other educators across the country.

Visit her website Follow her on Twitter: @jodynolf


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CHAMPION OF EQUITY Originally from Ghana, Dr. Kojo Quartey spent his college years in a rough-and-tumble inner-city Baltimore neighborhood and eventually earned a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi. Along the way, he learned more than anyone should ever have to learn about racism.

“I see education as the cure for ignorance, the cure for poverty, the key to success, the roadmap to prosperity, and the ticket to the middle class.” – Kojo Quartey

Now President of Monroe County Community College in Michigan, Kojo is spearheading efforts within his county for each local public school district to adopt a statement and policies that condemn racism. He also works with local early childhood advocacy teams and is starting a support network to build awareness about race at the earliest levels. He recently delivered a keynote speech, “Unity in the Community,” at a local event. He also organized and leads a group that meets each month to focus on "An Honest Conversation About Racism."

Learn more | Read his blog




CHAMPION OF EQUITY “Each of us is striving to be the best version of ourselves possible. To do this, we need to face all that is keeping us from being so. We must engage in reflecting, connecting and healing within while guiding these practices at home and in our communities. The equity work that starts from within is what promotes authentic connections, builds trust and honors our inherent dignity, that is needed to transform our educational systems.” – Marisol Quevedo Rerucha

Marisol Quevedo Rerucha builds and leads career readiness and career technical education in juvenile court and community schools to address and end the school-to-prison pipeline.

Rerucha serves as Chief of Partnerships and Strategy for the National Parents Union; Director of Culture and Community for DBC Inc; Co-Chair of UNIDOS US National Institute for Latino School Leaders alumni council; Board Member of Youth Empowerments Finest; and as a partner with organizations (nonprofit and for profit business) to provide comprehensive strategic action planning. She and Dr. Carolyn Geary are designing a professional learning pathway for The Core Collaborative Learning Network that leverages the power of restorative practices. Her book is set to release late Fall of 2020.

Visit her website Twitter & Instagram: @marisolrerucha


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TEACHING NEWS & MEDIA LITERACY IN AN ELECTION YEAR Being an informed contributor to America’s democratic practices and principles requires strong media literacy skills. Without them, even the most civic-minded will find it hard to assess and interpret the mass of information out in the world. Jeff Knutson, Common Sense Education Content Strategist and Senior Producer, recognizes how challenging it is for students to negotiate media. In an edWebinar sponsored by Common Sense Education, Knutson outlined

ways teachers can help students strengthen their media literacy to knowledgeably participate in civic engagement. Common Sense Education works from the belief that students are creators as well as consumers of media. This means that lessons move beyond fact checking; they involve students in a deeper exploration of not only what they read but what they create (even a meme, which can have a terrific impact, even on an election!) and share.

CLICK TO VIEW THE RECORDING This edWeb broadcast was sponsored by Common Sense Education.





NOT ALL LEARNING IS ONLINE, BUT EVERY LEARNER SHOULD BE. By John Harrington There is a growing gap between students who have access to a fast Internet connection and those who do not. This gap is sometimes referred to as the Digital Divide. More recently, the term “homework gap� has been used. But no matter how you refer to it, for students who lack the necessary resources, the inability to get online is a barrier to their success. Like access to running water and electricity, Internet access plays a vital role in providing students a quality education. It is time for our society to address digital equity by ensuring that every learner is online. Not all learning is online, but every learner should be.

NO INTERNET ACCESS AFTER SCHOOL Funds For Learning estimates that there are 34

7.2 million family households in the United States who are not online -- millions of Americans who lack and cannot afford Internet access at home. For students, this means an inability to complete homework assignments, collaborate with their peers, review materials from their teacher, or access a Khan Academy video to help them understand a concept. They cannot check their grades, take a practice quiz, or ask a question via chat. In the best case, they can a visit the local library (inside, or, more likely, outside in the parking lot). But that is hardly an ideal learning environment.

WHAT CAN BE DONE? There is good news. The challenge facing our communities is surmountable. This is a not a

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

“moon launch” situation requiring us to stretch the limits of human knowledge. No, on the contrary, we can readily address now. It turns out there is quite a bit that can be done and there are legions of individuals lining up to help. The same technologies that connect most Americans to the Internet are accessible, or nearly accessible, to many of those who do not have it already. For a broad segment of the disconnected population, the cables or wireless signals needed are relatively close by. In a study conducted by Funds For Learning in 2016, we found that there were one million Americans living in public low-income housing within a quarter mile of a school or library with Internet access. In other situations, school buses and library book mobiles loaded with Wi-Fi have been used to bring the Internet further out into the community. Cellular data plans and special “point-to-point” connections can also be used. The point is this: in almost every circumstance in which a student is offline, there exists a way to bring them back across the digital divide, and many of those options are quite affordable.

NO FEDERAL SUPPORT If the technology is there, what is stopping online education? The piece missing is a serious commitment from the federal government to address the need of off-campus Internet access for students. A lack of financial support, combined with regulations that prohibit off-campus Internet

access, is the primary barrier to closing the digital divide. There are no federal funds specifically earmarked to address this need. For years, many of us in the “EdTech” community have been calling for additional aid to help these students. But no support has been made available. Furthermore, there is a perverse wrinkle in the current federal regulations. Schools and libraries are prohibited from extending their Internet connectivity to the community around them. If a Wi-Fi signal stays on school property, that is okay. But if a student uses that Wi-Fi signal across the street, then the school risks losing federal funding.

ACTION IS NEEDED The lack of Internet access for students is a systemic problem that results in limited academic opportunities for far too many children. These impediments then fuel cycles of poverty and other social ailments. We can and should do better. It starts with understanding and communicating the need. Leaders and decision makers in Washington, DC, cannot address situations if they are not aware of them. We each have a responsibility to educate members of Congress and federal regulators to make sure they comprehend the scope of this problem, and then we need to hold them accountable to help our communities. By prioritizing federal funding and cutting through unnecessary red tape, we can help connect all students to the Internet.

John Harrington is the CEO of Funds For Learning, a nationwide consulting firm committed to helping schools and libraries connect students to the Internet. Learn more about Funds For Learning.




By Ido Yerushalmi

Practically every industry will be impacted by automation in the next 10 to 15 years (or even sooner). So, it is vital to prepare students for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs that this change is bringing about. One of the major challenges for modern educators is increasing reach of STEM learning, inclusiveness and equity. Put simply: getting access to STEM learning to more students of all backgrounds, levels, genders, and in all types of schools. Only a few fortunate students -- about one percent -- have access to robotics clubs. The other 99 percent are held back by a number 36

of constraints: the prohibitive cost of hardware kits, a shortage of teachers with training in technology education, and a lack of schedule time for implementing such programs. Another cause for concern is a shown in a 2018 survey from Junior Achievement USA and Ernst & Young that found only 11 percent of 13-to-17-year-old girls were interested in STEM careers. Forbes reports that girls regularly outperform boys in exams for STEM subjects, but they are half as likely as boys to think that their best subject is a STEM subject. Incidentally, the biggest gap is in technology education, which 14 percent of boys and just ďŹ ve percent

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of girls name as their best subject. In other words, girls’ attitudes toward STEM subjects do not match their aptitudes. To rectify this, schools and communities need to build “career highways” to STEM fields by promoting STEM awareness, confidence, and efficacy through fun activities that develop students’ interest in STEM that will potentially have them considering careers in technology. This is what we’re doing with the CoderZ Cyber Robotics Learning Environment and the Cyber Robotics Coding Competition (CRCC), an online coding and robotics tournament that launched in 2017. In its first year, the competition took place in the state of New Hampshire, with the help of the NH Commissioner of Education, and 2,600 students participated. After just one year, CRCC expanded to 23 states, with more than 45,000 students from 640 schools completing over 211,000 misions. It has also been held in Israel, Paraguay, and Vietnam. Competition sponsors have included institutions such as Oracle Academy, Cisco, Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, NBT Bank, NASA, the Air Force Association, the USA Science & Engineering Festival, and many others. In addition to promoting real-world coding skills, tech literacy, inclusiveness, and diversity, our goal was to take a large-scale look at the efficacy of learning coding on a cloud-based coding platform and how students react to that environment. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Ease of Access Facilitates Equity In our regular work, schools often tell us that they plan to implement a robotics program in two years. Even if they are able to adhere to that timeline, it means that two cohorts of their students will not have had the opportunity to explore the subject. However, when schools opt for virtual robotics and coding, they can simply use their existing infrastructure (namely their

computers and internet connections). That ease of access aspect was underscored by the fact that in the 2018 CRCCs, 33 percent of the participating U.S. schools were in rural areas. Rural schools typically lack funds for digital resources, or the staff required to provide their students with a lot of elective or advanced courses, but hundreds were able to take advantage of the technology learning that their state CRCC offered. The smallest rural school that participated had just 27 students, and they were able to compete with the other schools in their state without even having to travel.

Virtual Evens the Playing Field One of the biggest challenges of robotics is the high cost of hardware. Robotics hardware needs constant updating, new hardware is often expensive, and competitions require new kits annually and also incur travel costs for participating teams. So, as with robotics clubs, the costs often constrain all but a very small number of students. Virtual robotics, while not free, is much more cost-effective since no additional or new equipment or software is required. CRCC does have regional finals, but since they are one-day events and usually nearby with no equipment required, the cost of participation is low. As a result, CRCC opens a new track of learning for even the most disenfranchised of schools.

Coding Experience is not Required Thirty-eight percent of the schools participating in the U.S. 2018 CRCCs had no computer science curriculum, and about 50 percent of the teachers involved had no experience teaching coding. A lot of kids who had no prior experience whatsoever found that coding was something fun. We also found that tools such as scaffolding, teacher guides, and suggested solutions for teachers were sufficient for getting students to work in a self-directed manner.



Cloud Platforms Scales to any Number of Users Our goal is to have as many students as possible participate in CRCC and that is something that web access allows because there is no user limitation. Our first big scalability challenge occurred in Vietnam during the summer of 2018 when over 20,000 students registered for the event in 48 hours. This scaling lets the competition be school wide and not just for the few students in the robotics club.

Female Students Participate at Higher Rates Online Our data showed that over 40 percent of the 2019 CRCC players in the United States were girls. Physical robotics programs tend to have much lower participation rates from female students, so these numbers are very encouraging; it means that girls do not feel unwelcome or threatened in an online environment.

Starting Early Boosts Participation Educators need to introduce students to STEM education at an early age rather than when those students are in high school and have already acquired biases (e.g., being convinced that they’re not good at math) that prevent them from thinking of STEM fields as possible career options. For that reason, CoderZ League Junior focuses on students in grades five -eight, while CoderZ Leauge Pro is suited for students in grades seven and up. When we’re dealing with younger students, we see more interest and less bias or trepidation about trying out robotics and coding. That is probably another reason why we see such high female student participation.

education and building tech literacy and 21st century skills. To that end, CoderZ is joining with CSforAll, a nonprofit Computer Science Advocacy Organization, and has offered the following commitments in partnership with Amazon: • CoderZ in partnership with Amazon Future Engineer, commits to provide coding and robotics instruction to 150,000 students over the next twelve months by offering free access to its virtual robotics platform for up to 1,000 teachers working in Title I schools across the US by Summer 2021. • CoderZ in partnership with the Intelitek STEM and CTE Education Foundation, commits to empower traditionally underserved communities with better access to STEM programs. We know that taking technology education to the cloud enables students who otherwise would not have had access to robotics and coding to explore the subject and decide if it is their calling. If we’re going to meet the demands of the coming technological advancements, providing robotics and coding access for all students is vital.

For the past six years, Ido Yerushalmi has served as the president and CEO of CoderZ.

We believe that to succeed to broaden the reach of STEM education, it is important to increase the options students have for immersing themselves in technological 38

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Clockwise from top left: Anbu Subramaniyan, Sabari Raja, Andi McNair, Jennifer Harrison (moderator), Ana Porras, Nicole Jackson.

We recently had an opportunity to ask five inspiring, successful, incredibly admirablwomen in STEM careers for their thoughts on education policy: “If you could wave a magic wand and make one specific policy change in every K-12 school in the United States, what would it be? And how could that one action bring about subsequent change?”

Read on to see what they said. 40

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ANBU SUBRAMANIYAN “I just want to wave a magic wand and take the fear of math and science away. That’s all I want to do. Take the fear of math and science away.” Anbu Subramaniyan is the quality manager for the Metal Stamping Division of General Motors in Arlington, Texas, where GM’s full-size utility vehicles such as Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon are assembled. Anbu also serves as the chair of Women In Manufacturing (WIM), an employee resource group at GM. Through WIM, she leads several community outreach programs, working with local schools through programs such as Junior Achievement, Virtual Classrooms, mentoring and STEM workshops. She is also the Dallas Chapter Lead for Isha Vidhya, a nonprofit organization focusing on rural education in India. A native of India, Anbu earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering from the National Institute of Technology, India; and her master’s degree in engineering from the University of Tulsa. She also holds a certified manager of quality certification from the American Society for Quality.

ANA PORRAS “Step away from so much testing and standardized testing. Testing works for people like me, but it doesn’t work for most people. A few studies have also demonstrated that the way we test can also be to the discredit of girls in STEM specifically. Along with what Nicole said, if we can also figure out some other more holistic ways to test

a student’s knowledge, by project based learning, maybe learning in groups. Another thing that we haven’t talked about is that technology and the problems we can tackle with technology are so big that we need to cultivate the ability to work in teams with our students, because that’s just how the future is going to work. No one person can tackle every problem. And the way we test right now, we’re not really developing any of those skills.” Ana Porras is a Cornell Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research experience encompasses a wide variety of topics ranging from tissue engineering to the gut microbiome and global health. Ms. Porras has completed a BS, MS, and PhD in Biomedical Engineering. During graduate school, she obtained a Delta Certificate in Teaching and Learning with an emphasis on inclusive pedagogy. Originally from Colombia, she is passionate about multicultural and multilingual communication in both formal and informal settings. She is an advocate and active participant in organizations and communities that foster diversity in STEM.

ANDI MCNAIR “Anytime a kid can learn and experience STEM through their passion, it is a game changer. It’s authentic and it’s real. And it makes learning so much more than just learning through a test or filling out a worksheet. And so, passion-based learning is a real thing, it’s a real conversation in education right now and I think the more we can get momentum behind that idea, any type of project based learning across curricula.” Andi McNair is currently a digital innovation specialist at ESC Region 12 in Waco, Texas. She



has spoken nationally at many conferences, education service centers, and worked with many school districts to provide innovative learning experiences for their students. Andi was named one of the Top People in Education to Watch in 2016 by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences. She has published Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry, A Meaningful Mess: A Teacher’s Guide to Student-Driven Classrooms, Authentic Learning, Student Empowerment, and Keeping it All Together without Losing Your Mind and is in the process of working on her third book to be published soon. She absolutely loves sharing her passion for innovative education with other educators that want more for their students.

SABARI RAJA “Entrepreneurship has to be part of middle school and high school. That is the quickest way for students to really apply a lot of skills. I always say the biggest learning that I’ve had has been in the last seven years since this idea became a product, which became a company. The amount of learning that I’ve had in my adult life has been immense. Giving that opportunity to students covers a lot of things that you want.” Sabari Raja has a strong track record in building and launching successful education technology products in markets around the globe. Prior to starting Nepris, she worked for 15 years with Education Technology division of Texas Instruments to lead product and content strategy, publisher relations, business development, partnership and alliance ecosystem for new edtech products. Sabari has an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from India, Masters in Computer Science from Louisiana State University and 42

graduated Beta Gamma Sigma with an Executive MBA degree from Cox School of Business, SMU.

NICOLE JACKSON “Move away from having such constrained curriculum and move toward intriguing students, by exposing them to things very early on and letting them pick a path. People who are excited and emotionally compelled for something, tend to pursue it … You see an impact when you can let students be engaged and pursue STEM naturally on their own, as opposed to just shoving STEM down students’ throats, trying to convince them that it’s cool when they don’t see why it’s cool.” Nicole Jackson is a technologist and a Health IT SME (subject matter expert) specifically working alongside Android, iOS, and Web developers and technical strategists in a highly competitive work space. Ms. Jackson keenly identifies and cultivates new talent in the health IT field and encourages young talent to be their best. Ms. Jackson is also a veteran of the US Armed Forces, a cellist, a mother and a proud wife.

Thank you so much, Anbu, Andi, Sabari, Nicole and Ana. Your leadership and example are exactly what we need to prevent society, families, and even schools from discouraging girls to find and follow their passion in STEM areas.

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How to Conduct an Effective EdTech Audit

Odds are your district is spending a good deal of its critical funding on EdTech.

In fact, it’s estimated that U.S. school districts now spend over 13 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR on educational technology. Conducting an internal EdTech audit enables administrative leaders to attain a bird’s-eye view of their district’s technology usage and identify successes, challenges, vulnerabilities, and cost savings opportunities.

Download the EdTech Audit Checklist now and ensure your EdTech’s ROI is meeting your expectations. Download the EdTech Audit Checklist

CONTACT US TODAY! For more information about CatchOn, contact 866-615-1101 or info@catchon.

VIEWPOINT FROM AESA (Association of Educational Service Agencies)


Educational Service Agencies (ESAs) across the country provide various support and services for the school districts in their region. One of the most critical functions is Crisis response work that many ESAs engage in with their schools. Crisis response is essential to keep the educational setting stable and free from disturbance. Learning can only take place in a safe environment. AESA members ensure that educational environments are fortresses of safety, and acceptance has become an important service. One such example is in the heart of Texas, where a team of professionals with experience in school leadership, counseling, mental health, safety, and communication has come together to respond whenever a call comes in after a devastating event or loss of life occurs. Crisis calls often confound the efforts of educators and interrupt the learning environment for students. They utilize specified tools, resources, and best practices from an arsenal of strategic responses to assist the impacted school district as they mitigate what is understandably a visceral and very personal response to a tragedy.

with districts in the region have resulted in stronger partnerships and relationships, knowing that caring for people is the heart of ESAs, the unified mission for all schools. School districts in this region and across the country have come to utilize crisis response services to make critical decisions involving their response to media and consult how to address memorials. Consultation and support are provided to help schools structure the first day back on campus after a fatality, consider the resumption of class schedules and school events, and assist with referrals for affected students and staff. One school crisis response specialist has learned many lessons and leads this effort for seventy-six independent school districts and ten charter schools in the heart of Texas. You can read more about the work of a Crisis Responder in The Tenets of Care: A Perspective from a School Crisis Responder by Jenipher Janek, M.Ed., LPC, Education Specialist III/Coordinator, Education Service Center Region 12.

The National Organization of Victim Assistance (NOVA) protocols are useful for debriefing with small groups in most cases, and the After A Suicide Toolkit for Schools is also useful when warranted. Resources from the National Child, Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) for Psychological First Aid and the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) and other supports, chosen based on varying factors that impact each given situation. Often, the collaboration is based not only on evidence but also on experience with crisis calls regarding human losses that range from accidents or terminal illnesses. On extremely rare occasions, the loss of a person may be to a homicide, but all too often, the loss is suffered when a student or teacher dies by suicide. The lessons learned from so many crisis interactions


The American Consortium for Equity in Education

Joan Wade, Ed.D. Executive Director for the Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA), is a life-long educator with more than 30 years of service in public education. In addition to teaching, she has worked as a library media specialist, Technology Coordinator, and Distance Learning Director.

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By Bryan Contreras, Vice President, K12 & Education Partners, myOptions® From the fruit orchards of Texas’ Rio Grande to the tomato fields of south central Florida, back to the pecan groves of the Gulf Coast, the cotton fields of West Texas and the lush strawberry and apple lands of Oregon, I come from a Mexican-American migrant family shaped by the history and economics of our nation. Our family’s grit and determination to break out of intergenerational poverty has not been easy, and this fight is far from complete, however, the bedrock of my family’s accomplishments is built on my paternal grandparents’ deep-rooted beliefs in education. Their combined will and vision pushed us through obstacles, too many to mention here, and toward heights where dreams, hard work and miracles intersected. As a family of migrant workers, we followed the 46

crops and seasons across this great land, living day to day, like vagabonds seeking stability and a place in our nation’s promise for the American dream. Much like chasing this dream and the harvests of our labors, my family’s educational experiences felt just like our migrant journeys unstable, unpredictable, and at times limited. Across generations, we experienced school segregation, busing, de-segregation, bilingual education, and many compromised policies that tried to stitch together our communities’ needs and the solutions from educational policymakers. Some amazing school counselors and mentors, whom I believe are “equity heroes,” brought to life educational opportunities and changed the trajectory of my family. Cornell, MIT, Phillips Exeter Academy, and self-made entrepreneurs (now affectionately called “start-ups”) are now woven into our family’s fabric. I wish I could say these accomplishments were based solely on

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our dedication and determination, but the educational playing field required “equity heroes” to help give us access to opportunities, along with their unwavering support as we courageously challenged ourselves to pursue something so foreign and unproven in communities like ours. I am proud of my personal journey which includes public secondary education, private independent boarding school, public four-year university and private four year graduate studies. This rich set of educational experiences, along with my personal Mexican-American truths, provided me with a great foundation to build upon as I set forth into college counseling to help shape a better future for students who live in communities much like that of my family. I wanted to be one of those mentors or “equity heroes” I admired so much. Fifteen years ago, I jumped into my college counseling career where I lived in multiple databases dazed by columns and rows trying to figure out how to stitch together data, student information, tracking transcript follow up, and checking off completed items…all in the name of completing college applications. I grew frustrated and tired as I witnessed my students fall through the cracks after all the incredible hard work my team and I invested in each student and family; I knew that a better system would be required if our students were going to complete their degrees. The super powers of “equity heroes” can only go so far. The team that I had assembled worked tirelessly. However, the pace to keep up with all our students, especially their sets of unique needs, really forced us to innovate our data ecosystem, both out of necessity and opportunity. We needed to accelerate our efforts through technology if we were to hit our ambitious goal of closing the achievement gap. So we embarked on a mission to find existing data tools, secure data partnerships, and build new tools. At

the end of the process, we had designed a data-driven approach to college and career counseling by using seven different databases, sprinkling in some sharable platforms; we were ecstatic. Our belief was that students, families, mentors, and counselors needed to be empowered with the same data and information traditionally found in the teacher’s gradebook or counselor’s files for success to be achieved in the college planning process. In a recent article published in The 74, Jon Deane (CEO, Great Schools) writes about parents’ needs for greater transparency and a holistic view of their children's growth. This is the same concept that validated our strategy for the first generation students we served. We committed to data transparency and sharing it in real time with families - which we knew was lots of hard work and required investment of our team’s time. But in the end, this would keep the families informed and make our work easier and more efficient. We took the leap and dove into the work. We learned a lot, like the fact that working in seven different “systems” while trying to maintain meaningful connections with students, parents, and college counselors soon became another exhausting experience. And it was

there at the crossroads of “necessity and opportunity” where “grit, determination and technology” intersected, yet we were determined to help design technology tools to meet student, parent, and mentor needs in the college planning process. We knew that the technology would need to evolve once again. I am honored to be part of the myOptions team that brings together all these “learnings” and data-driven practices. Our mission to ensure that all students have equal access to the critical planning resources for college and career, and that educators and mentors do as well, is brought to life in myOptions and myOptions Encourage™. This brand-new educator platform, myOptions Encourage, launched in September. With it, schools do not have to worry about finding budget dollars to add a “best in class” college and career planning tool to their suites of resources. So what did we build? We designed solutions that: 1. Make it accessible and easy for students to join…its completely free 2. Provide great tools, checklists, and links to scholarship opportunities 3. Connect students to colleges and universities 4. Allow students to invite parents, mentors, and counselors to connect with them. 5. Allow students to request critical documents, like transcripts and recommendation letters, to be sent to colleges and universities through this platform

Through this new technology platform, we give all mentors the ability to connect with students, collaborate with them in the college planning process, monitor their progress, and gather critical reports to help prioritize their needs. At Encourage’s core, we have also included college application management tools, like the ability to send documents electronically to colleges and universities on behalf of students. We believe all this will offset the issue of incomplete college applications, falling off of their mentors’ radars, and helping families become active in their children’s college planning processes. School counselors, college counselors, teachers, and mentors create a unified assault on the achievement gaps that low income youth face across our nation. Their supernatural “grittiness” and “perseverance” push the boundaries of what is possible. There are huge opportunities for counselors, mentors, program leaders, and managers to accelerate their work with free resources, like myOptions Encourage, and empower their students to be educated decision-makers. Ultimately, for all of us, our final exam as educators is to make sure students have equal access to opportunities, and that these opportunities lead to productive lives for each student and their families. LEARN MORE AT http://myoptions.org

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By Kristina J. Doubet and Eric M. Carbaugh At this point in most school years, we have settled into the flow of classroom life. The hard work invested earlier in the year establishing norms and routines has paid off, and we can “lean into” the resulting rhythm of the school day – a rhythm which allows us to be flexible in meeting the diverse learning needs of our students. This, however, is not “most school years”. Most of us are using some kind of remote learning, many of us in tandem with small groups of students meeting face to face. Adopting and adapting to these new blended models of instruction reinforces the reality that nothing about this year feels normal. Many of us are still trying to establish routines. For others, we’ve found a flow, but are dissatisfied with the opportunities it affords us to connect 52

with our students, to connect students to each other, and to address learning diversity in a meaningful fashion. The good news is that no matter where we are in our search for a satisfying routine, there is hope. Because this is not “most school years”, we have the flexibility – at any point in the year – to take stock of and make adjustments to our instructional practices in the pursuit of more equitable learning experiences. Although so much about daily school life has changed, what remains the same is that our students need access to high-quality, meaningful, and engaging instruction that is tailored to meet their unique learning needs. Below, we share six principles to help shape classroom practice in virtual and blended learning models to provide teachers with a sense of routine and students

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

with a sense of connection, engagement, and self-efficacy.

2. Establish clear learning goals and articulate them to students.

1. Continue to build and maintain student-teacher and student-student relationships, particularly when students are learning remotely.

When designing online or blended learning experiences, avoid the temptation to reach for the “low hanging fruit” of ready-made activities without being certain they are aligned to important learning goals or the diverse needs of a group of learners. Equitable learning experiences begin with a clearly articulated set learning goals, organized under important “big ideas” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Only then should assessment and activity selection or creation begin, with the design process guided by those learning goals. This approach helps weed out the “busy work” students can sense is unimportant, and therefore avoid. It’s also important to communicate learning goals to students so they see purpose in their work. Continuity of learning is best achieved when desired learning outcomes are crystal clear in the minds of both teachers and students.

Whether by intuition or instruction, most teachers understand the foundational role learning environment plays in promoting equity. Its importance is magnified in online and blended environments, where students often feel isolated from their classmates (Zweig, et al, 2015). While we may have begun the year with initial get-to-know-you activities and student inventories, we can’t stop there; daily icebreakers, and regular check-ins are more important than ever in nurturing teacher-student relationships. Begin each week with a brief check in for students’ wellbeing (“On a scale 1-5 how are you and why?” Or “Share a high and a low from your weekend.”). To foster student-to-student relationships, begin each day or class with an attendance question (e.g., Which superpower do you wish you had and why?”). To strengthen these relationships and facilitate intellectual camaraderie, consider placing students in home groups or assign them rotating “buddies”. Ask these teams to meet each week in face-to-face or remote environments. If you consistently have students meeting simultaneously at school and at home, pair a face-to-face student with a remote partner and provide a regular time and structure (e.g., Zoom break-out rooms, Microsoft “channels”) for these meetings, along with a forum for students to share evidence of collaboration (e.g., Google Docs and Slides). For example, one week a blended team might complete a self-assessment of a new concept; the following week they might choose a favorite meme and record and post a video discussing how it illustrates the lesson’s big ideas.

3. Recognize that “accountability” doesn’t mean more grading; instead, surround students with multiple layers of support. Traditional grading practices such as assigning zeros and grading participation can pose a significant challenge to equity in assessment (Feldman, 2018). In an online or blended environment, it is even more essential to reconsider these traditional notions of accountability. Rather than regard accountability as the “stick” of grading, consider it the “carrot” of students’ senses of responsibility and ownership. Hold students accountable for their learning through student-student and teacher-student interactions, as well as through ongoing low stakes checks for understanding. For example, asking students to post an “aha” in Padlet and then to comment on a classmate’s post will foster both accountability and connection. Using a strategic approach to “layering” accountability through multiple, varied methods provides students with a support system where accountability is woven into the



ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF STRUGGLING STUDENTS OVERCOMING CHALLENGES AND FINDING SOLUTIONS “Whether financial hardship, loss of a family member to COVID, or reactions to the boiling over emotions of Black Lives Matter, no two students will have had the same experience.” - Sam Drazin, Executive Director at Changing Perspectives This year—perhaps more than any other in recent memory—our classrooms are full of students who have all made it through the first 75% of 2020, but are unlikely to share the same story. We have spent a lot of time making sure that educators know how to engage students in synchronous sessions; that they’re able to master the tools of online learning; and they know how to set solid boundaries when communicating with learners weekly. But one topic keeps pricking at the heart: how to reach students who aren’t engaging well. We tackled this topic in the spring, but while we have made a lot of progress in day-to-day teaching during the age of COVID-19, the need for inclusion and support has only grown.

THE TROUBLE WITH HYBRID & REMOTE LEARNING In addition to the issues present with access inequality, students who need additional support in the classroom have also been disproportionately impacted by hybrid and remote learning. For many exceptional learners, a structured routine is a foundational way to ground learning. As we are all aware, structured routine was the first thing to be disrupted this year, and though the 2020-2021 school year was better planned than last spring, it is often marked by varying schedules, pivots to full online learning, and lots of home-based learning where structured support services are not available at the same level as they would be in a traditional classroom or campus. Although support services are focused on the student, when students shift to home-based learning, families are forced to play an additional role. All parents of remote learners face extra challenges this year. But there is no doubt that children who are on IEPs or 504 plans are under extra stress, and will require more support and resources to be successful.

To learn more, watch the full recording of our webinar: "Addressing the Needs of Struggling Students: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Solutions." Joining hosts Kris Murner and Dennis Yim are E. Christopher Williams, Associate Director of STEP at New York Institute of Technology, and Sam Drazin, Executive Director at Changing Perspectives. The American Consortium for Equity in Education

To learn more, watch the full recording of our webinar: "Addressing the Needs of Struggling Students: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Solutions." Joining hosts Kris Murner and Dennis Yim are E. Christopher Williams, Associate Director of STEP at New York Institute of Technology, and Sam Drazin, Executive Director at Changing Perspectives. The American Consortium for Equity in Education

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academic and motivational fabric of learning. 4. Invite students into meaningful learning experiences, both at school and at home, to increase motivation and engagement. Because students (including but not limited to those at risk) may struggle with engagement, perseverance, and motivation during remote learning (Zweig, et al., 2015), it is vital for online and blended assignments to invite students to learn. Authentic work, and interest-based tasks offer two kinds of invitations. Authentic work has value outside of the classroom and can increase motivation and investment in learning (Wentzel & Brophy, 2014). Teachers can establish authenticity by focusing on genuine issues or by assigning products that mirror those encountered in everyday life. For example, students might use percent change to calculate the impact of buying groceries in bulk on a monthly budget and share their findings in an infographic. Connecting course material to the students’ lives serves as another invitation. To demonstrate their understanding of civic leadership, for example, students might create a series of blog posts advocating for an issue relevant to the needs of their community (McTighe, Doubet, & Carbaugh, 2020). When we assign work that feels important to students, they are more likely to both invest in that work and persevere in the face of challenge.

formative assessment evidence through multiple modes, as well (e.g., images on Pinup, drawings via GoFormative, videos through Flipgrid, or audio clips with Anchor). Give students choice in how they respond to formative assessment via the tools just described or by providing several prompts to choose from. Provide task options through menus of perspectives to examine, roles to assume, data sets to analyze, topics to research, or products to demonstrate mastery. 6.Respond to student needs revealed by ongoing assessment by providing tailored resources, tasks, and grouping opportunities. Students are more likely to invest in work that presents an achievable challenge (Willis, 2010). We can use digital tools to provide differentiated resources, tasks, and grouping configurations in online and blended environments. For example, Newsela.com provides tiered informational texts, and Commonlit.org curates differentiated text sets featuring multiple genres. Rewordify.com allows teachers to simplify dense language to

5. Whenever possible, include multi-modal methods of presenting and collecting information as well as opportunities for student choice. To further engage all students, vary the means of both delivering and collecting information. In recorded lessons, use visuals to supplement text on slides. Link to virtual models and video clips to provide examples of concepts in action. Embed brief audio clips of interviews and play instrumental music during “think time”. Whenever possible, use everyday household items to explain a concept (and invite students to do the same in their responses). Collect 56

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support students learning English or struggling with reading. Tasks can include links to graphic organizers, sentence stems, or models of expertise. To further target instruction, consider pulling small groups of like need, regardless of their learning setting. Use your online learning platform’s small group feature (e.g., break out rooms or channels) to work online with student groups, even if some are in the classroom and some are tuning in remotely. Station work is still possible in blended environments, too. Consider using this template by Stephanie DeMichele to assign students to virtual stations; use the teacher-led station to pull small groups in the manner just described. Finally, use time flexibly to get more “face time” with students who need a smaller student-teacher ratio. End a 60-minute synchronous meeting after 45 minutes and use the remaining 15 minutes to work with a small group or simply allow students who desire feedback to stick around and ask questions about the lesson or assignment. Of course, implementing all of these changes at once would overwhelm both teacher and students! So, choose an aspect of your routine with which you are least satisfied and start there. Try one thing; when that step feels under control, try another, and so on. The quest for providing equity and access to our students is an ongoing journey, but every step we take in that journey makes teaching more satisfying because we are fulfilling our calling as teachers – to support and challenge each student in their development as learners and as people.

Kristina Doubet, Ph.D. and Eric Carbaugh, Ph.D. are award-winning professors in the College of Education at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where they prepare future teachers for careers in the classroom. In addition to their individual accomplishments, together they have co-authored the QRG (Quick Reference Guide), Principles and Practices for Effective Blended Learning, the book, Designing Authentic Performance Tasks and Projects (with Jay McTighe), and the book, The Differentiated Flipped Classroom: A Practical Guide to Digital Learning. Kristi and Eric work nationwide with schools and districts implementing initiatives in differentiation, curriculum design (UBD), performance assessment, and digital learning. doubetkj@jmu.edu, @kjdoubet, carbauem@jmu.edu @emc7x





An Integrated Approach to Teaching Students Who Learn Differently While many colleges offer special programs for students with learning disabilities (LD) and other learning challenges, Landmark College is one of the only accredited colleges in the United States designed exclusively for students who learn differently, including students with learning disabilities (such as dyslexia), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For almost 40 years, our combination of research-based learning strategies and academic support has proved successful in preparing students for the rigors of college-level work. As the field of learning disabilities and differences expanded, our approach to working with students has grown more varied, but always with a constant unyielding mission to provide best practices for all.


In addition to classes, students in their first year at Landmark College participate in weekly academic advising sessions while engaged with the advising curriculum. As students progress in their coursework, they become increasingly independent and meet with their advisor less frequently. Students pursuing their bachelor’s degree work with degree specific advisors. The academic advisor is central to the system which supports individual student performance.


Landmark College offers the same range of student services found at any college—from counseling and health services to student life and athletics. The difference at Landmark College is that these professionals, like our faculty and academic advisors, bring specific expertise in, and a passion for, working with students who learn differently. Working together, we help students discover their path as confident, empowered, and independent learners. We integrate our innovative learning strategies into everything we do.


Landmark College’s Centers for Academic Support offer unparalleled support to students who learn differently, at no additional charge. The Drake Center for Academic Support is the first place students turn for help with reading, writing, and study skills. Academic support centers within individual departments offer drop-in support and one-on-one scheduled appointments with Landmark College faculty.


Counseling Services are available to provide support to students dealing with stress and other personal, social, or academic difficulties. Health Services offers support for physical issues.


Through the office of Coaching Services, Landmark College’s Professional Certified Coaches work with students who have a variety of learning profiles and struggle with executive functioning.




Whether located on our Putney, Vermont campus or at one of our programs in California and Colorado, the instructors consist of current Landmark College faculty as well as teachers from the surrounding areas who are experienced in working with students who learn differently.

Students with autism who are academically prepared for college may still face significant challenges navigating the social curriculum and adjusting to the more fluid routine of the college student. Landmark College recognizes the need to provide additional programming to assist students with autism to meet their college goals. Our integrated services model for ASD support services provides a structured living and learning environment that combines an effective pedagogical approach with tailored social and other programmatic supports. Originally founded as a two-year college, Landmark College began offering four-year degrees in 2014. We now offer an array of baccalaureate and associate degrees, with optional minors and concentrations.

Landmark College offers summer programs to assist a wide range of students with learning differences, including middle school students, high school students, graduating high school seniors, and students enrolled at colleges around the country. All of the programs are designed to enable students to identify their learning strengths and differences. Students learn specific strategies to be successful in formal academic settings and grow personally and academically in an intentional and supportive academic community.

Landmark College offers a diverse selection of courses in anthropology, English, business, communications, humanities, philosophy, psychology, history, literature, math, science, foreign languages, theater, video, music, art, physical education, and other disciplines. For all entering students, the curriculum sequence begins with skillsdevelopment courses, designed to address the key areas of writing, reading, communication and study skills. Self-management, as well as the development of self-understanding and self-advocacy, are also important parts of this firstsemester curriculum. Initial courses are offered at non-credit and credit levels. This allows students to be placed in classes where they are able to succeed, from the start. Due to our rigorous academic standards, more than 50% of incoming students begin in non-credit courses, with most moving into credit courses after one or two semesters.


Landmark College offers several Open Houses on Saturdays each semester. You can also schedule a visit with our Admissions office any week day during regular business hours by calling 802-387-6718 or emailing admissions@landmark.edu.



That about covers the conference Magnet Schools of America (MSA) put on this past October. For those wondering, MSA represents the 4340 magnet schools throughout the country. These are all public schools under the same school board as other public schools in the school district. Where magnet schools may differ is their focus on racial diversity, and their application of themes -- like STEM, IB, and performing arts -- to draw students from anywhere in the school district. Last fall, MSA held its annual fall conference, virtually this time. There were heightened and trenchant presentations on equity and access to equity. These topics are, quite simply, top of mind. Additionally, MSA held roundtables of attendees, with the sole purpose of having discussions on how equity and equitable access was working in practice at schools. I “hopped” from one virtual table to the next, and I will tell you that it has been a while since I have seen such active engagement. Given the nature of MSA’s members, it is not surprising for the topic of equity to resonate so much. But our lens was more razor sharp than usual. The attendees were all zeroed-in more than usual. The attendees were signaling a need for change at all levels, and it was great to witness that. Now, for the reality check. A portion of the conference was devoted both to effectiveness in teaching and reaching students remotely, and the challenges involved. Some sessions stood out: the ones which focused on social and emotional learning, and in particular, one which talked about teacher self-care. It’s very clear that teaching students remotely is extremely taxing. Even in the early stages of the school


year, teachers have noted that they are wearing out sooner. The load feels greater. The session I singled out reminded teachers that caring for themselves is paramount for them to be able to care for, and give needed attention to, their students. We have to prop up our teachers and give them the support they need. This session gave teachers self-help tools to ensure that they stay self-aware of how they are holding up, and how to maintain and sustain themselves. I was very pleased with this conference. Not only did we draw eight times the usual number of attendees, we were able to focus on those things that matter the most, equity and sustaining remote learning.

Todd Mann serves as the executive director of Magnet Schools of America, where he developed the first certification program for magnet schools and secured a bipartisan funding increase for magnet schools. He also serves as the executive director of the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools, an association representing high schools that specialize in STEM approaches and outcomes.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

SUPPORTING EXCELLENCE The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy is an internationally-recognized center generating research-based education policy. We analyze the impact of educational interventions, provide evidence-based counsel, create tools to evaluate curriculum and school culture, and support district, charter, and private school networks across the country. We are non-partisan, sector-agnostic, and evidence-based.

THE INSTITUTE PROVIDES: and policy recommendations to national membership organizations, including Chiefs • Research for Change, the CCSSO, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and the National Council for Private School Accreditation

• Program evaluations, measuring the impact of high-quality materials on student learning • Research partnerships with several dozen state and local chiefs to support: and intellectually challenging curricula • Highly effective instruction – our teacher • Deep survey on materials creates a full picture of - through our Knowledge Maps™ in English language arts and social studies that measure content build and text quality

school cultures – with our • Strong comprehensive School Culture 360™ - a full analysis of the conditions that we know support student success

• Content-rich assessments

what teachers know about standards, their use of curricula, and their satisfaction level with materials

models that meet families' unique • School needs




A strong school culture, understood as the underlying ethical claims and habitual practices of a school, is linked to numerous positive academic and civic outcomes – from short-term assessment performance to long-term civic engagement and educational attainment. The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy has designed a best-in-class survey that identifies the alignment of a school’s mission with its practices and determines whether a school’s enactment of practices correspond to those we know support academic achievement and civic formation. In elementary schools, administrators, teachers, and parents undertake the survey; in secondary schools, students also participate.

THE SCHOOL CULTURE 360™ SURVEY EXPLORES: Academic emphasis and academic excellence Whole-student development (including practices associated with strong citizenship formation) Organizational coherence (the mission and practices align) Sense of belonging (communality) Trust and support among adults across the school community

Because COVID-19 necessitated an immediate migration to at-home learning, the Institute designed a related survey for the remote-learning context.


Dr. Ashley Berner and Dr. David Steiner join Ms. Lisa French, Director of Student Engagement and Success in the Office of Academic Content at the Louisiana Department of Education, and Dr. Eric Watts, Director of Instruction and Student Achievement for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to discuss school culture: its key components, its role in educational outcomes, and its use as an analytical framework for assessment.




The American Consortium for Equity in Education

MY TOP 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM THE 11TH CANADIAN EDTECH INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP SUMMIT By Robert Martellacci – M.A. EdTech Conference Chair | Founder and President, MindShare Learning Technology™

1) The future of learning is no longer restricted to a school building; the broader community is the school, with the teacher as an activator of learning 2) During these extraordinary times we need to embrace change and new and innovative modalities of personalized learning to continue to move systems forward beyond the pandemic. 3) The 'Hollywood Squares’ of learning online doesn't cut it from a student/educator user experience. We need more immersive 'real life' pedagogically sound learning experiences. 4) The future is about interconnected, human networks powered by tech infused pedagogy being the driver. Nurture leadership at the grassroots as well as from the top with ongoing proactive multimedia communications; positivity and hope are essential ingredients. 5) A national task force on learning is vital to address key issues facing Canadian education: well-being, equity, life-long learning, connectivity and best practice pedagogical research. Email, or DM me if you’re interested in being part of a movement.

MUST-SEE RECORDED DISCUSSIONS FROM THE WORLD OF CANADIAN EDTECH Recorded ямБreside chat: The Future of Learning in Crisis & Beyond



Cross Canada Checkup Checkup Panel recorded webinar


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WriQ is a writing achievement tool that helps teachers easily produce fast, simple and consistent writing assessment, whilst providing meaningful feedback and motivation directly to students - helping to increase and improve their writing skills. Save valuable time with technologyassisted marking. WriQ allows you to quickly assess, track and analyze student writing, meaning you can spend less time marking and more time teaching! WriQ provides a standardized benchmark for writing which allows you to assess learning loss due to COVID and the summer slide. You can chart writing progress over time and compare achievement year on year, not just within a class, but through a year band or an entire school.

Find out more at: text.help/ACE-WRIQ

ADVERTISERS ACT/American College Application Campaign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46-47, 61 American Association of School Librarians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 American Psychiatric Association Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38-39 Benetech/Bookshare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Boxlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Catchon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Curriculum Associates/iReady . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9, 11 Driving Force Institute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Education Talk Radio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 edWeb.net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Fielding International . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-3 Funds for Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32-33 izzit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20-21 Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 62-63 Kaplan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54-55 Landmark College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58-59 Mindshare Learning Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66-68 NorvaNivel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14-15 PresenceLearning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Texthelp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Turnitin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50-51

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The American Consortium for Equity in Education

DON’T JUST TALK ABOUT EQUITY AND ACCESS... LISTEN. EDUCATION TALK RADIO • Weekday mornings with Larry Jacobs • More than 3,000 shows on education • Average of 1,700 listens per day

A FEW RECENT DISCUSSIONS: AASA on Equity & Early Learning EdTech Funding During the Pandemic LatinX Leaders in Education Display Technology & the Hybrid Learning Environment Equity & Social Justice for Gifted Minority Students


Profile for American Consortium for Equity in Education

Equity & Access PreK-12 | Nov - Dec 2020