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Administration Announces $25M in Grant Awards to Advance Career Connected High Schools

The Biden-Harris Administration today is announcing 19 new grant awards totaling $25 million through the first-ever Perkins Innovation and Modernization, Career Connected High Schools (CCHS) grant program. 

This investment, issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department), builds the capacity of education and workforce systems to partner with business and industry, to develop new high-quality career-connected high school programs for more students. Grantees will leverage four evidence-based strategies, or “keys,” to help students in unlocking career success including: providing postsecondary education and career guidance; increasing access to dual or concurrent enrollment programs; increasing work-based learning opportunities; and providing industry-recognized credentials. 

New Documentary Serves as Powerful Tool for Changing Practice

Join XQ’s Featured Session, Disrupting Conventional Assumptions About High School Learning, on Saturday, February 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. This panel discussion is about “The First Class”—a powerful new documentary about a Memphis high school that highlights the role of educators in transforming teaching and learning. 

We at XQ are honored to participate in AACTE’s 2024 Annual Meeting, “Ascending New Heights: Propelling the Profession into the Future.” This year’s theme perfectly captures our mission to rethink the high school experience to fully prepare all students for whatever the future holds with more engaging, authentic teaching. 

Our conversations with AACTE and its members reveal a deep, shared vision for high school teaching and learning where adolescents are engaged, motivated, and empowered to develop the knowledge, skills, and attributes they need to thrive in our complex and rapidly changing world. In this shared vision, learning connects academic content to the real world and fosters opportunities for students to become makers, creators, critical thinkers, and problem-solvers. Good high school teachers remain crucial to this vision — and we also need to rethink how we prepare our educators so they can provide these experiences to their students.

In Iowa: DOE Announces $1.7 Million in Grants to Support High Schoolers in Earning Industry-Recognized Credentials

The Iowa Department of Education today announced that $1.7 million in competitive grants are available to Iowa school districts to align secondary career and technical education programs with industry-recognized credentials. The new Credentials to Careers grant will support high schoolers earning credentials with labor market value. 

“By expanding opportunities to attain an industry-recognized credential in high school, the Credentials to Careers grant helps connect the classroom to the workforce,” said Iowa Department of Education Director McKenzie Snow. “Students earning portable, stackable credentials will be ready to succeed in high-wage and public-good careers, changing lives and strengthening communities.” 

Industry-recognized credentials are certifications, credentials, or licenses that are vetted by employers and endorsed by a nationally recognized trade association or organization in a particular industry. Credentials are available across many career pathways, including those in health sciences, information technology, construction, manufacturing, child development, culinary, and business. 

Most Public Schools Face Challenges in Hiring Teachers, Other Personnel Entering the 2023-2024 Academic Year

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.

Key Findings

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 %).

House Republicans Introduce ‘Parent Bill of Rights’ … Again

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.

AACTE Helps Launch ‘Here for the Kids’ Campaign

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.

New UH Program Transforms STEM Pros into STEM Teachers

$1.2 Million Grant from National Science Foundation Funds Alternative Certification Program

Photo credit: Getty

Some people are born to be teachers, even if early career choices lead them down other paths first. For professionals working in STEM fields, a new University of Houston program offers a fast track to earn a place at the head of a secondary school STEM classroom – and change their own lives in the process.

Applications are currently being accepted for the first cohort of STEMPro, an intensive nine-month alternative teaching certification program and a collaboration between UH’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and College of Education. The addition of this post-baccalaureate outreach, which focuses on already established professionals, expands the existing teachHOUSTON program, which serves undergraduates seeking teaching certificates. It also supports the UH focus on training quality teachers ready to serve in communities where they are needed most.

NEA and PDK International Announce Expanded Partnership to Inspire the Next Generation of Highly Effective Educators

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.

MIT Seeks District Partners for Free Equity Professional Development

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.

$1.4M Grant for New JMU Upward Bound Program Aims to Help Underrepresented Students Prepare for College

JMU College of Education program will empower first-generation college and at-risk local students to unlock potential

James Madison University’s College of Education will receive $1.4 million over the next five years to help eligible high school students in the Shenandoah Valley overcome social, emotional, and academic barriers to achieve success in education beyond high school.

JMU will receive a total of $1,437,685 to create a JMU Upward Bound Program. The funds will support two programs, one at Harrisonburg High School in Harrisonburg City Public Schools and one at Spotswood High School in Rockingham County Public Schools, supporting a total of approximately 30-35 high school students at each school. 

Future Teachers Begin New Arizona Teach Residency

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.

Interactive STEM Camp at MSU offers Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Chance to Learn Physics, Consider College Options

(Photo by Grace Cockrell)

A group of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder who are interested in science, technology and related fields are getting a new chance to learn about physics and other topics as part of an innovative camp at Mississippi State, which may be the country’s first of its kind.

MSU Assistant Professor of Physics Ben Crider is using a prestigious $600,000 National Science Foundation 2019 Career Grant to advance his nuclear physics research, which includes a highly interactive summer experience for students with autism that was delayed due to COVID-19.

Department of Education Solicits Public Input on Amending Section 504

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.”

Belmont University Announces New Partnership to Recruit and Train Math Teacher

Belmont University logoIn partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education and local public school districts, Belmont University announced a new initiative to recruit, train and support the next generation of mathematics teachers in the Midstate region.

The newly established Belmont University Math Teacher Residency will leverage partnerships with area school systems — including in several rural communities — to enable high-quality potential candidates to become mathematics teachers in secondary schools across Middle Tennessee. 

With $2 million in grant funding awarded to Belmont University through a competitive state grant process, the program will place each teacher candidate in an in-school “residency” — a paid educational position in a classroom where they will learn from and receive support from an experienced mentor teacher. Concurrently, candidates will enroll in high-quality, intensive online coursework at Belmont, deepening their content knowledge and learning effective pedagogical strategies. Belmont professors will work alongside candidates’ mentor teachers to ensure that instruction has immediate and meaningful classroom application.