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Educators, Media Professionals Discuss ‘Digital Divide’ at AACTE Forum

AACTE’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, addressed the demands of professional practice and the tough questions that face educators on a variety of fronts. On February 24, the editors of the Journal of Teacher Education (JTE)chose to focus their major forum on “Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide: Challenges for Teacher Education,” bringing together panelists from around the country who are working to close opportunity gaps for young people relative to—and through—the use of technology.

After JTE Coeditor Gail Richmond of Michigan State University introduced the panelists, the discussion started with Hardin Coleman, dean and professor in the School of Education at Boston University (MA). He spoke about shared characteristics of gap-closing schools, accreditation standards, and the steps he sees as necessary to close the technological gap. Coleman suggested focusing on the role of educators in the gap-closing process, deep engagement with educational partners, and supporting the systems of data that will inform progress. He championed efforts to create education systems that will provide a high-quality learning experience for all children.

Ready to Teach: Simultaneous Renewal in a Colorado PDS

A new video in AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series focuses on a thriving partnership in Colorado from the perspectives of novice teachers prepared in a professional development school model. This blog highlights one teacher’s experience and offers insights from his assistant principal about the program’s success.

The forward-thinking partnership between Colorado State University (CSU) and the local Poudre School District employs a professional development school (PDS) model to prepare teachers who are ready to teach on Day 1. Their classroom is the classroom: Instead of taking their classes off site at the university, prospective teachers receive their lessons and then put them into practice in the same school building—with real kids and under the tutelage of a real teacher. While the program’s elements are fairly typical, its particular success comes from each course’s clinical component and support from a robust professional community.

STEM Conference Inspires, Shares Strategies to Close Gaps

AACTE’s Washington Week kicked off with diverse perspectives, enlightening anecdotes, and compelling conversations at the special conference “Progress and Factors That Contribute to Closing the STEM Achievement Gap,” sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Five presenters joined AACTE leaders on two panels discussing ways to improve learning outcomes of underrepresented populations in the STEM fields.

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Hall Davidson, Vasanta Akondy, and Armando Sanchez-Martinez at STEM Conference

The conference began with presenters Armando Sanchez-Martinez, manager of Editorial Santillana in Mexico, and Vasanta Akondy, co-manager of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP), who together provided a global perspective on innovative solutions to increase access to STEM education in Mexico and India.

Sanchez-Martinez presented a comprehensive look into Mexico’s educational landscape, including a detailed explanation of sociocultural factors that contribute to local achievement gaps and of the current educational movements and solutions to closing the gap. Akondy highlighted the importance of VILP and its efforts to recruit more girls in India into the STEM fields. The aim of this program is to provide a community network of support while focusing on student engagement and providing technological resources to underfunded schools.

NEA Symposium Spotlights Strategies to Close Gaps in Educational Opportunity

Earlier this month, we were excited and honored to attend the symposium “Closing the Gaps: A Policy and Practice Conversation to Advance an Opportunity Agenda,” presented by the National Education Association at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. It was a thought-provoking event, filled with great speakers and compelling strategies for closing gaps in student achievement and opportunity.

Panelists included Linda Darling-Hammond (Stanford University), Robert Balfanz (Johns Hopkins University), Kisha Davis-Caldwell (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards), Ron Ferguson (Harvard University), and many others. These speakers discussed gap-closing strategies, policy levers to support effective practices, and directions the education field will (and should) take in the future. They also consistently emphasized the importance of community engagement.

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