The University of Indianapolis (UIndy) is delighted to announce a significant gift in memory of Nanci Vargus. This generous gift was provided by Nanci’s daughter, Jilda Vargus-Adams who wanted to create a lasting legacy for her mother’s commitment and dedication to education and her remarkable impact on the University.
The University will establish the Nanci Vargus Learning Resource Center to remember Nanci’s legacy. Nanci was an educator at the university for over 20 years who used her expertise and kindness to guide elementary and college-age students alike in their journeys to literacy.
“As a child, Mom literally read every book in her local library’s children’s section. She loved books. But more than that, she loved the joy that everyone can get from reading and she built her career with that goal in mind,” Vargus-Adams said. “Both as an elementary school teacher and as a professor of education, Mom endeavored to ensure that all children could have the gift of literacy.”
This article was originally published on October 29, 2023, with Honolulu Civic Beat.
At Makakilo Elementary, Christine Carder posed a question to her first graders. “What letters make the sound ‘ea’ as in tea?” The class eagerly scrambled to write down the correct letter combination in their notebooks.
This exercise helps to build students’ phonemic awareness, instructional coach Karen Yogi explained to the group of parents invited to observe Makakilo’s reading lessons for the morning. Older students will later advance to activities such as reading in pairs and assessing each other’s fluency and vocabulary skills, Yogi added.
“This is why my son says he’s famished at dinner, instead of hungry,” said parent Donna Sinclair, noting the improvement she’s seen in her fifth-grader’s vocabulary this year.
Makakilo Elementary is one of about 80 schools in the state to receive funding from a roughly $50 million federal grant awarded in 2019 to improve literacy among the country’s youngest readers.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the latest round of findings from the School Pulse Panel (SPP). These SPP data examine teaching and non-teacher staffing, technology/digital literacy, and community partnerships as reported by school leaders in U.S. public schools.
Staffing for 2023-2024 School Year
- Forty-five percent of U.S. public schools report feeling that they are understaffed entering the 2023-2024 school year, a decrease from the 53 % of schools who felt understaffed entering the last school year (2022-2023).
- For public schools that report feeling understaffed, 67 % of schools that have classroom aides report feeling understaffed in this area. Sixty-three percent that offer special education services report feeling understaffed in this area.
- Outside of the classroom, public schools report feeling understaffed with their transportation staff (61 %) and mental health professionals (49 %).
This blog article is part of the Global Education Faculty PLC Professional Development Series, sponsored by the Longview Foundation. The writing series aims to elevate the perspectives of international scholars — including teacher educators, graduate students, and alike — to offer insights into how Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) can integrate intercultural understanding within their programs. AACTE members interested in participating in the series should contact AACTE’s Brooke Evans.
Incorporating diversity into the curriculum has never been more relevant or necessary.
Culturally competent teaching begins with acknowledging and embracing the considerable diversity students bring to the classroom and it builds on the culturally relevant literature utilized in teaching. However, teachers with minimum or no prior diversity experience are less likely to make informed decisions in their book selection. Failure to properly design inclusive lesson plans could create and maintain misunderstanding between teachers and students, further contributing to the cultural gap between them.
In February, the House Education and Workforce Committee held their first hearing: “American Education in Crisis.” During the chairwoman’s opening remarks, Virginia Foxx (R-NC) expressed her support for H.R.5 , more commonly referred to as “The Parent Bill of Rights.” The legislation was first introduced in the 117th Congress and would require K-12 school districts receiving federal funding to publicly post their curriculum and annually provide parents with a list of books in the school library, a breakdown of school expenditures, the ability to opt their child out of all data collection, and more. As anticipated, on Wednesday, House Republicans reintroduced the bill.
There has never been a more critical time to work together to support public education and students’ success. AACTE is joining forces with Learning First Alliance and partners across the country to support a critical effort to help ensure a bright future for our children.
The Here for the Kids campaign brings together families, educators, and community members to shine a light on local public schools and tell the stories of the amazingly positive things happening in classrooms and school buildings nationwide.
On September 1st, 2022, the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics released the mathematics and reading results of 9-year-olds from the 2022 NAEP long-term trend assessment. The following summary is from NAEP’s Highlights report:
In 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted a special administration of the NAEP long-term trend (LTT) reading and mathematics assessments for age 9 students to examine student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics.
Prairie View A&M University students, faculty and staff were on hand bright and early to help welcome students to the first day of school at Aldine ISD’s Impact Leadership Academy (ILA), the district’s first all-boys school. PVAMU is partnering with the ILA to cultivate learning experiences rooted in identity, leadership, community, and activism, all designed to address academic achievement and support social and emotional needs for young Black and Latino male students.
The National Education Association (NEA) and Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) announced today significant steps to strengthen their partnership to ensure every P-12 student in the Nation has access to a great teacher and opportunities for learning success. This partnership will continue to inspire middle and high school students who reflect the demographics of their communities to serve as the next generation of highly effective educators. Students will have opportunities to explore programs, curricula and additional resources to prepare them for a career in education through Educators Rising, an ongoing project of PDK developed with the support of NEA.
Among the many challenges K-12 educators are gearing up for this upcoming academic year, building more equitable, inclusive schools is of utmost priority. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is proposing a new project for the U.S. Department of Education’s Innovation and Research program to implement and test a whole-school program called “Becoming a More Equitable Educator: Mindsets and Practice.”
MIT invites all district school administrators, teachers, and staff to participate in this 12-16 hour online course — and share with any partnering district.
The Arizona Teacher Residency has accepted its first cohort of 30 future teachers, as well as the 30 supervising teachers who will be working with those teacher residents this next school year.
The Arizona Teacher Residency is a first-of-its-kind graduate program in Arizona modeled after medical residencies to help recruit, prepare, support and retain K-12 teachers, especially those with identities that have been underrepresented in the teaching population. The two-year program provides aspiring teachers with in-classroom experience, a living stipend, a master’s degree and a job at a partnering school district. Residents will receive mentoring and induction from a trained instructional mentor through the Arizona K12 Center in their second year with the support continuing into the third year.
Earlier this year, a gay music teacher in Iowa was pressured into resigning from a private school after being outed1. As a queer nonbinary Iowan and a preservice teacher, I am continually reckoning with my place in education. My education has and continues to be engulfed in heteronormativity. Elementary school through college, I have heard about Mrs. Y’s husband. I had Ms. Z as a permanent substitute twice because Mrs. X was having a baby. Mr. W often placed an open call for babysitters because he and his wife were having a date night. The narrative of a happily married husband and wife with children was and is so common it erases other ways of being. Indeed, I was shocked to discover during high school that my Kindergarten teacher was gay. He is one of two LGBTQ+ teachers I have had. I distinctly remember the relief of knowing that queer elementary teachers exist. If Mr. Knoer could be gay in 2006, I can be queer and trans in 2022.
This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
After 45 years, the Department of Education has announced plans to update Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Stay tuned for opportunities to provide feedback to stakeholders on what you would like to see. Take a read for more information on that and more below.
Department of Education Announces Plan to Update Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Education announced plans to update Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The forthcoming changes will mark the first update to the regulations in 45 years. The Department’s Section 504 regulations were the first set of regulations issued by the federal government that addressed the treatment of people with disabilities through a civil rights framework, rather than through solely a medical or vocational framework. Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public and private programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, including schools and postsecondary institutions.
“While the world has undergone enormous changes since 1977, the Department’s Section 504 regulations have remained, with few exceptions, unaltered,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “As we observe the 45th anniversary of these important regulations this month, it is time to start the process of updating them. Just as in 1977, the voices of people with disabilities must be heard and incorporated as we engage in that work.”
The MDE is using American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to cover the grants.
The MTR will provide grants to the universities’ educator preparation programs to enroll diverse participants to work toward their graduate degree and Mississippi teacher certification. MTR will include training alongside a mentor teacher, testing support, professional development, ongoing assessment and a commitment to teach in a geographical critical shortage school or district serving low-income children, racial/ethnic minorities and children with disabilities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Mississippi Public Universities support the state’s children and K-12 schools across the state in numerous ways. In addition to preparing the teaching workforce through the education academic degree programs, the universities support teachers, students, and schools through outreach efforts ranging from a partnership school for middle school students located on a university campus to a clinic housed at a high school to help teens stay well so they can perform at their best in the classroom and beyond.
The Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program (METP) is a collaboration between the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University to attract top-performing students into the education profession with full financial support, travel abroad opportunities and invaluable professional incentives. METP aims to increase the import—and reduce the export—of talented educators to create a pipeline of new teachers committed to Mississippi’s future. All students who enter the program make a five-year commitment to teach in Mississippi after graduation. Funded by the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation of Jackson, METP is designed to create a unique “honors college-style” learning experience for high-achieving education students and promote collaboration between students and faculty at both universities.