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Updates: Department of Ed and Other Federal Agencies on COVID-19 Resources for Education

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

As the United States responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal agencies connected to the education and care of our nation’s higher education and PK-12 students are releasing information and guidance for taking action, as well as flexibilities and waivers offered.

The U.S. Department of Education offered a phone call to K-12 stakeholder on Friday March 20, 2020, with officials from the Department, the CDC, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Department has posted a readout of the call, with links to resources on servicing students with disabilities, student loan relief, student privacy, and more.

Main Links for COVID-19 Information

U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service

Centers for Disease Control

KDP Offers Professional Development on Education for Sustainable Development

In response to many requests, Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), an AACTE affiliate member, is offering faculty to participate in free professional development related to education for sustainable development (ESD). The Online Global Forum on ESD is designed to meet the needs of teacher educators who work with preservice and in-service teachers of primary and secondary schools. The Forum focuses on educational themes (e.g., systems thinking, pedagogy, and assessment) and teaching about current threats to global sustainability (e.g., climate change and social inequity).

Each unit includes an overview of the theme, usually in short videos, online discussions, and thought activities, as well as a live discussion with ESD experts. Videos and discussions will include practical topics, such as how to integrate sustainability into existing teacher preparation courses and good practices. 

To join the Forum, please visit our website. There is no cost to participate!

Faye Snodgress is the executive director of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.

The President Recommends Big Cuts for Education: Will the Congress Agree?

A pair of scissors representing cuts in education concept

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Bad News for Education in President Trump’s FY 2021 Budget Proposal

The FY 2021 appropriations process was officially launched with the release of the President’s budget proposal on Monday. The budget is thematically similar to previous Trump budgets, in that it calls for big spending cuts all around and proposes federal support for private schools in the form of a tax credit for donations to scholarship programs (called “Education Freedom Scholarships”). The proposal represents an overall 7.8% cut ($5.6 Billion) to the Department of Education.  Key features of the proposal include the following:

Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Twenty-nine K-12 grant programs will be consolidated into a single block grant (“Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant”) designed to provide maximum flexibility for state and local systems at $19.4 Billion – a $4.7 Billion cut from current spending.
  • The prized charter school grant program is consolidated into the block grant.
  • The big winner in the budget proposal is Career and Technical Education which is slated for $763 million increase.
  • Education Freedom Scholarships (tax credits for private schools) would cost $46 Billion over 10 years.
  • All IDEA programs are level funded; however, Part B of IDEA receives a $100 million increase.

AACTE Supports Global CoSN Program to Drive K-12 Innovation

AACTE has partnered with CoSN (The Consortium for School Networking) to provide school leaders with high-quality information on emerging issues and technology trends for K-12 innovation, as a member of the advisory board. Recently, the international advisory board, about 100 education leaders, identified 15 key Hurdles, Accelerators, and Tech Enablers for schools to leverage in 2020 in order to drive innovation in K-12 education.

The next generation of teachers and leaders are being prepared at AACTE member institutions. In collaboration with our K-12 school district colleagues, educator preparation programs can leverage technology that supports the learning and social emotional growth of all our students. 

Together AACTE and CoSN are committed to advancing progressive practices in the field and addressing challenges and opportunities such as data privacy & ownership, social emotional learning, and tools for privacy & safety online.

CoSN will issue its insights and findings from the advisory board in two individual free briefs. These publications, along with an implementation toolkit, will be released throughout 2020 to spur ongoing discussions and visibility that analyze the top Hurdles, Accelerators and Technology Enablers in K-12 education. This project is part of CoSN’s EdTechNext initiative, extending their long-standing work surrounding emerging technologies.

The Little Makerspace that Could

Student in maker space using two 3-D printer penThe Maker Movement has been gaining momentum over the past 14 years with the publication of MAKE magazine in 2005 and the first Maker Faire sponsored by John Dougherty. The book titled Invent to Learn, 2nd Ed.  (2019) has become what is known as the Maker’s Movement Bible. Written by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, the book goes into detail about how teachers and students can let loose their creativity in a myriad of ways if they are provided with space and materials to do so. 

There have always been “makers” who used their hands, brains, and hearts to invent and produce the things that people use for work and play. Classrooms have long been known as places where students could be caught making things on any given day. Why the hype about maker spaces, then?

Perhaps it has to do with the disconnect that appears to have occurred due to the technology revolution that has moved learning through exploring with material objects to learning from screens. On our small campus in Northeast Ohio, we have seen a constant move toward emptying the library of books and journals in favor of digital texts. Getting a hard copy of a textbook from publishing companies is becoming more of a challenge as well. Students on all levels rely more on Google than library stacks to conduct their research. It may be that the pendulum, as it always does, is beginning to swing the other way, and humans are craving the need to get back to hands-on learning that can leave printing ink on your hands, and clay under your finger nails.

2019 Nation’s Report Card Shows Growing Disparity between High and Low Achievers in Math and Reading

2019 Nation's Report CardThe recent release of the 2019 Nation’s Report Cards for mathematics and reading in grades 4 and 8 illustrates a growing disparity in achievement between the highest and lowest achieving students. The results show the divergence is happening across the nation, across states, and for student groups by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), widely known as the Nation’s Report Card, provides data from the nation, states/jurisdictions, and urban school districts that volunteer to participate in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA).  Approximately 296,900 fourth- and eighth-grade students across the nation participated in the 2019 mathematics assessment and nearly 294,000 fourth- and eighth-grade students across the nation participated in the 2019 reading assessment.  Results are available for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools, as well as for the 27 participating large urban districts.

Avatar Lab at KSU Provides a World of Scenarios for Teachers of the Future

Child Interacting with avatars as educators observe.

This article and photo originally appeared in Cobb Life Magazine and are reprinted with permission.

Teachers encounter all sorts of situations when they’re instructing students in the classroom, and the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State University is taking an animated approach to preparing teacher candidates for scenarios they will experience as educators.

Bagwell has a new laboratory where KSU students and faculty utilize mixed-reality technology to interact with avatars of children and adults, simulating a variety of situations and challenges teachers can encounter. The student avatars each have their own unique personalities, and the scenarios have low, medium and high settings requiring varying levels of problem-solving.

“The lab’s capabilities are endless for providing purposeful practice for teacher candidates before they ever step foot in a classroom,” said Kate Zimmer, interim chair of the Department of Inclusive Education and an associate professor of special education.

Four Middle School Teachers Named Civic Engagement Champions

NASBE 2019 Civic Engagement Banner

The AACTE Programs and Professional Learning team served on the committee to select the following inaugural Civic Engagement Champions with the National Association of State Boards of Education and the Frank Islam Institute.

Four middle school teachers have been named Civic Engagement Champions (CEC) for their work in promoting civics education and active citizenship.  

In partnership with the Frank Islam Institute for 21st Century Citizenship (FII), the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) created the CEC award to highlight the critical role that middle school teachers play in helping students become active, responsible citizens. Teachers from four states representing each of NASBE’s regions—Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Washington—were eligible to apply. 

 The four winners are Jane Leyderman, Dever Elementary School in Chicago, IL; Michael Neagle, Pyne Arts Magnet School in Lowell, MA; Michelle St. Pierre, Loch Raven Technical Academy in Baltimore County, MD; and Don Jenkins, North Whidbey Middle School in Oak Harbor, WA.

ECS Profiles the School Funding Allocations of States

Apple, ruler and pencil on a desk with a backdrop of money

As states work to allocate funding for school districts, they must take into account the various needs and populations of the students they serve. The Education Commission of the States (ECS) has developed a resource, “50-State Comparison: K-12 Funding” that helps clarify and compare each state’s school funding mechanisms, organized by method and category. 

Visit the ECS webpage to review data describing the funding mechanisms of the states as well as the specific funding allocations for a list of funding priorities, including special education, English language learning and at-risk and low-income students. 

As elementary and secondary teachers head back into their classrooms, conversations on teacher shortages, teacher salaries, and teacher strikes continue. Having an understanding of how your state funds its K-12 schools can help you support the schools in which your graduates will teach and engage in democracy on this critical issue. 

Tips From PSU on Navigating an Inclusive Educator Prep Program

Representatives from PSUAs the student population has diversified so has our understanding of the general education classroom, specifically who we serve in an inclusive setting. Our students with special education services are learning the majority of their grade level curriculum in general education classrooms. This paradigm shift requires effective collaboration between service providers and teachers as well as a deep understanding and application of differentiation to meet the needs of all students.

For years, the two fields of general education and special education have been siloed. Persistence and partnership is how 

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