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|Gearing up to teach the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in rural Northeast Region schools
This study describes key challenges and necessary supports related to implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) identified by rural math educators in the Northeast. The research team interviewed state and district math coordinators and surveyed teachers in Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, to assess their most pressing challenges and associated needs. Key challenges included time and support for teachers to change their instructional practices to meet the CCSSM, availability of high-quality instructional materials, and opportunities for collaboration. The report was produced in response to input from the Northeast Rural Districts Research Alliance (NRDRA), one of eight research alliances working with REL Northeast & Islands.
|How Do States Define Alternative Education?
This study provides an overview of similarities and differences in how states and state education agencies define alternative education, as well as which states have alternative education standards and what those standards entail. The study reviewed information on alternative education definitions and programs from state and federal websites and from local school system websites in Maryland. Findings show that 43 states and the District of Columbia have formal definitions of alternative education. The most commonly cited target population for alternative education is students with behavioral problems. The most common services listed in state definitions and policies regarding alternative education programs are regular academic instruction, counseling, social/life skills, job readiness, and behavioral services (e.g., anger management, conflict resolution). The literature suggests that the definition of alternative education should include the target population, services offered, setting (e.g., in school, stand-alone schools), and scheduling (e.g., during school hours, outside of school hours).
|State Implementation of Reforms Promoted Under the Recovery Act
This report, based on surveys completed by all 50 SEAs and the District of Columbia (DC) during spring 2011, examines which states were implementing the key education reform strategies promoted by the Recovery Act in 2010-11, the extent to which implementation reflected progress since Recovery Act funds were first available, and states' challenges with implementation. Findings showed variation across the strategies assessed. Almost all SEAs provided guidance for choosing and implementing one of the four school intervention models ED recommended to improve low performing schools, while only two reported supporting teacher evaluation models that included the complete set of criteria (e.g., use of student achievement gains) that the Recovery Act promoted. Difficulty in measuring student growth for teachers of nontested subjects was the challenge reported by the largest number of SEAs.
|Plans to Adopt and Implement Common Core State Standards in the Southeast Region States
Based on interviews with state officials in the six Southeast Region states, this study describes state processes for adopting the Common Core State Standards (a common set of expectations across states for what students are expected to know in English language arts and math) and plans for implementing the common standards and aligning state assessment systems to them.
|Updated Multistate Review of Professional Teaching Standards
States update their teaching standards on an ongoing basis and can learn from other states' efforts. For example the "Updated multistate review of professional teaching standards" by REL West, adds to their previous 2009 review of teaching standards by offering options for broad consideration that include — structure and target groups of teachers, as well as ways of addressing special populations and use of technology — from six of the largest states in the nation.
|The Relationship Between Changes in the Percentage of Students Passing and in the Percentage Testing Advanced on State Assessment Tests for Kentucky and Virginia
Under the accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, states are required to assess students in reading and math and to identify them as below proficient or as proficient or advanced (both considered passing). Because schools are held accountable only for ensuring that students test proficient or better, there have been concerns that a focus on increasing the percentage of students testing proficient might unintentionally lead to fewer students testing at the advanced level. This REL Appalachia report, The Relationship Between Changes in the Percentage of Students Passing and in the Percentage Testing Advanced on State Assessment Tests for Kentucky and Virginia, finds that schools in Kentucky and Virginia with the greatest increases in the percentage testing proficient or better also have the greatest increases in the percentage testing advanced.
|Intervention: Odyssey Math
Odyssey Math, published by CompassLearning, is a web-based K–8 mathematics curriculum and assessment tool designed to allow for instructional differentiation and data-driven decision making. The online program includes electronic curriculum and materials for individual or small group work, assessments aligned with state curriculum standards, and a data management system that allows teachers to develop individualized instructional and assessment tools, as well as track individual and classroom student performance. Odyssey Math can be used as a standalone curriculum or as a supplement to other mathematics curriculum. The primary school version of the Odyssey Math curriculum focuses on fundamental math skills like numeracy for the earlier grades, while in later grades, the curriculum equips students for skills necessary in middle and high school mathematics. The interactive activities used for both age groups allow for the application of ideas, tools, and manipulatives, and build upon previous knowledge.
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