Virtual School Meanderings

October 2, 2014

Common Core And Next Generation Standards: Raising The Bar

Also from yesterday’s inbox…

October 2014 | Email to a Friend | Subscribe | View in browser   WestEd on FacebookWestEd on TwitterWestEd on Google+WestEd LinkedIn

WestEd E-Bulletin
Raising the Bar

Raising the Bar on Instruction

Today’s college- and career-readiness standards raise the bar for students and education systems alike. WestEd’s new Raising the Bar on Instruction website supports educators with planning and delivering highly effective instruction. You’ll find:

  • Free research-based, media-rich resources
  • Professional development planning and implementation tools
  • Opportunities to collaborate and interact with communities of peers
  • Guidance on resource selection for schools, districts, and states
  • Information about WestEd’s professional development, technical assistance, consultation, research, and evaluation services
Formative Assessment Books

Formative Assessment: Improve Teacher Instruction and Student Learning

Formative assessment gives teachers immediate information about if and how students are learning and what might be holding them back.

Check out WestEd’s collection of resources designed to help educators understand and implement effective formative assessment.

WestEd Webinars

Beyond the Test: ELA Performance Tasks on Smarter Balanced Assessments and Implications for Classroom Instruction

Smarter Balanced English language arts performance tasks ask students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems.

In this webinar, participants will review sample tasks and scoring rubrics, and discuss ways to design classroom instruction and assessment that supports and challenges students.

Teacher and students

Common Core Standards, Curricula, & Assessment

Does your school district have materials and assessments aligned to the Common Core ELA and Mathematics standards, and are teachers comfortable using them?

As part of a comprehensive transition to the Common Core State Standards, WestEd guides administrators, teachers, and other leaders in developing and implementing research-based curricula and assessments.

Teacher and young child

Best Practices for Early Childhood Educators and Families

Two new online resources—a series of videos and a website—highlight best practices for early childhood educators as well as parents and families of young children.

A complementary resource, California Early Childhood Educator Competencies, describes what well-qualified early childhood educators need to know and be able to do.

Assessment Data Cover

Using Assessment Data to Guide Math Course Placement of California Middle School Students

Recent studies show that Algebra I may not be suitable for all 8th graders. This Regional Educational Laboratory West report presents the key findings from a study of course placement based on different test scores available for middle school students in California.

Motivation to Learn Cover

Motivation to Learn: Transforming Classroom Culture to Support Student Achievement

When channeled in the right direction, motivation drives student learning. Aligned with Common Core State Standards implementation and Race To The Top Initiatives for teacher evaluation, this new guide offers field-tested techniques for creating and maintaining a highly engaged classroom community.

Product Spotlight

Formative Assessment Task Banks for Science and Math, Grades 6–8

Augment existing curricula with formative assessment tasks that go beyond simple recall and encourage students to think and reason. Each of these ebooks contain 20 or more black line masters on the following science and math topics:

  • Energy
  • Matter
  • Force & Motion
  • The Number System
  • Equations & Expressions
Featured Initiative

Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center: Helping State Leaders Improve Education

The Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center helps state leaders in the Mid-Atlantic region (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia) implement, support, scale up, and sustain statewide education reforms.

The Center focuses on the following key reform areas:

  • Standards and assessments
  • Educator and leader effectiveness
  • School turnaround
  • Early childhood school readiness
  • College and career readiness
  • Scaling up of innovative approaches that improve student outcomes
  • Effective use of data to improve education
October 2014 | Email to a Friend | Subscribe WestEd FacebookWestEd TwitterWestEd Google +WestEd LinkedIn

Copyright © 2014 WestEd. All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:


730 Harrison Street

San Francisco, CA 94107

Add us to your address book

September 18, 2014

Cultivate Effective Leadership — McREL e-News September 2014

From Tuesday’s inbox…

Having trouble viewing this email? View it online here.

September 2014

Research Roundup

Advancing the Success of Boys and Men of Color in Education: Recommendations for Policymakers  

Collective Policy Statement from seven university-based research centers

This report, produced by seven university-based research centers that co-investigated the educational experiences of boys and men of color, makes 15 recommendations for preK-12 and postsecondary solutions to addressing lagging academic performance in minority groups.

Why Flunking Exams Is Actually a Good Thing

The New York Times


This article from The New York Times examines the results of a recent study out of U.C.L.A. that examined how pretesting improves retention of information. Using multiple-choice tests that asked questions both related and unrelated to the material being taught, students took a pretest at the beginning of a course, and were supplied with the correct answers promptly after taking the test. On the cumulative final exam, students averaged a 10% higher score on questions related to the material taught in the class.

Principals Aren’t Tapping Teacher-Effectiveness Data, Says Study

Education Week
This article examines the results of a study out of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, which identified barriers to the use of teacher-effectiveness data in human resources decisions: access to the data; lack of availability of value-added measures during decision-making process; lack of understanding of the statistical models used in evaluation systems; and absence of training in how to use the data.

In the Field

McREL’s new teacher evaluation system approved for use in New York


McREL International is pleased to announce that the New York State Education Department recently approved McREL’s CUES Teacher Evaluation system for use by schools and districts in New York. The CUES system and McREL’s Principal Evaluation system, which was previously approved for use, now appear on the state’s Teacher and Principal Practice Rubrics approved list, which can be found here.

NAESP and McREL join forces to augment principal mentoring and development


To help elementary and middle school principals be successful 21st century leaders, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and McREL International are introducing elements of McREL’s Balanced Leadership® program to NAESP’s nationally certified principal mentors to create an advanced principal mentor training program.


In the Advanced Mentor Training in Balanced Leadership, NAESP’s nationally certified principal mentors will deepen their understanding of McREL’s Balanced Leadership research applied to practice. They will use this training to provide targeted support for the development and growth of leadership skills to their protégés.
Advanced Mentor Training in Balanced Leadership will coincide with NAESP’s national Leadership Immersion Institute, January 22-24, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Click here for more information and registration for this event.


Read our press release here.

McREL blog: Student success is influenced by district leadership


In a recent blog post, CEO and President Tim Waters weighs in on a recent report from the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy, which looked at whether superintendents affect student achievement within their districts. Their findings run counter to our own research on the same subject, but there were fundamental differences in methodology between the two studies, as Dr. Waters explains. “We discovered positive relationships between key, specific practices of superintendents-and, perhaps more importantly, their leadership teams-and higher average measures of district-level achievement,” he writes. Read the blog post here.

McREL blog: Some schools say no to homework: Is that a good idea?


In our latest blog post, Chief Program Officer Howard Pitler offers four tips for teachers that align with research on homework when developing homework policies. He also discusses how heavily homework should weigh on a student’s cumulative grade, asking, “Considering that teachers really can’t know who actually completes homework assignments, is it good practice to allow homework to potentially account for up to half of a student’s grade?” Read the blog post here.

Events & Opportunities

Webinar: The Essentials of a Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS)


Join us on October 15 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, 12:00 p.m. Mountain, for the first in a series of four free 30-minute webinars outlining the essential steps for implementing an MTSS to engage all students toward college- and career-readiness. Future webinars in the series: MTSS Team Structures on December 16; MTSS Data Processes on February 4; and MTSS Standard-driven and Evidence-based Instruction and Intervention on February 25. Register here for the first session.

Denver: District-level Leadership Institute


Take your leadership to the next level and make a greater impact on the success of the students and staff in your district. McREL’s District-level Leadership Institute, being held October 20-22 in Denver, offers the latest research and most effective strategies for successfully initiating and managing short- and long-term improvement and innovation in your system:

  • Day 1: Connecting School and District Leadership through the Balanced Leadership® Framework
  • Day 2: Evaluation Systems for Superintendent and Central Office Instructional Staff
  • Day 3: Leadership Coaching and Mentoring
This is a free event for superintendents and other district-level leaders. Attendees will be responsible for their own travel and lodging. Space is limited to 40 participants; RSVP required. Register here.

McREL in the News

Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) Public School System wishes McREL CEO a happy retirement 


An article in Marianas Variety describes a surprise greeting from CNMI Education Commissioner Rita Sablan and her staff, who thanked Tim Waters, McREL’s CEO who will retire at the end of September, for all the help that McREL has given to the school system. “McREL International has helped the islands’ public schools by making sure teachers and education leaders have access to professional development training,” she said.

Penns Valley School District (Pennsylvania) uses 12 Touchstones as study guide for teachers


On September 1, the Centre Daily Times in State College, Penn., ran a back-to-school story about local districts, in which superintendent Brian Griffith of Penns Valley School District in Spring Mills mentioned that his district has been using The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching (Goodwin, Hubbell) as a teacher study guide to prepare for the school year, in order to be “demanding, supportive, and intentional.”
In This Issue

Featured Content

Bryan Goodwin explores curiosity in ASCD’s latest Educational Leadership Research Says column


Bryan Goodwin observes, “We probably owe most conveniences of modern life to someone’s curiosity,” in his latest column, “Curiosity Is Fleeting, but Teachable,” in ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine, in which he explores the role of curiosity in learning. Read the article here.
Blogger Michael Ebeling posted a thoughtful response to Goodwin’s article on his blog. Read his response here.

Connect with Us on Social Media


For the latest in professional development opportunities, education news, research, and McREL employment opportunities, follow us on our social media channels.


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our profile on LinkedIn


Find us on Google+ View our videos on YouTube Visit our blog

McREL International | 1.800.858.6830 | Fax 303.337.3005
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
Forward to a friend
McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500 | Denver | CO | 80237

September 9, 2014

Common Core and Next Generation Standards: Successful Planning and Implementation

Also from today’s inbox…

September 2014 | Email to a Friend | Subscribe  WestEd on FacebookWestEd on TwitterWestEd on Google+WestEd LinkedIn

WestEd E-Bulletin
The New Content Standards

New Era of Standards: Tap Into WestEd’s Collection of Resources

Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards promote a vision in which all students are highly prepared for both college and career. Plan and implement the new standards in your school, district, and/or state with resources from WestEd, including:

  • Free webinars
  • Free reports
  • Books and publications
WestEd & Partners Webinars

A Close Encounter, Through the Writers’ Eyes, of the New ELA/ELD Framework

Deepen your understanding of California’s new English language arts/English language development (ELD) framework. You will also discover strategies for teaching the Common Core and ELD standards.

The Ones That Got Away

Why Completing a College Degree Is Not the Only Way to Succeed

Research shows many students participating in workforce training programs at California community colleges secure high earnings whether or not they complete a degree or certificate. This brief explores new ways of measuring community college student success.

Speak Out, Listen Up!

Speak Out, Listen Up! Tools for Using Student Perspectives and Local Data for School Improvement

Listening closely to what students say about their school experiences can help educators better understand and address local challenges and rethink policies and practices. Learn how to use tools to elicit and listen to student voices to inform school improvement efforts.

Screenshot of the Doing What Works Library Site

Doing What Works Online Library

The Doing What Works (DWW) Library contains the full range of DWW materials to help educators improve student academic performance. This new online resource includes interviews with researchers and educators, multimedia examples and sample materials from schools and classrooms, and tools that can help educators take action.

Making Sense of Student Work

Making Sense of Student Work Protocol and Companion Materials

The Making Sense of Student Work protocol and companion materials help K-12 teachers promote effective student assessment and teacher collaboration around analyzing and interpreting student work.

Product Spotlight
PD2Go Logo and Website Screenshot

PD2GO: Early Childhood Professional Development

PD2GO (Professional Development To Go) is a new strategically organized collection of professional development experiences (or “packs”) designed for early childhood center directors and family child care home providers to use with staff. Get started by choosing a pack today.

Featured Initiative

Center on Standards & Assessment Implementation

The Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) is a collaboration between WestEd and CRESST, two national leaders in the standards and assessment field. CSAI helps states and the districts they serve implement high-quality standards and assessments throughout the United States.

CSAI is part of a federal network of technical assistance centers sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.


September 2014 | Email to a Friend | Subscribe WestEd FacebookWestEd TwitterWestEd Google +WestEd LinkedIn

Copyright © 2014 WestEd. All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:


730 Harrison Street

San Francisco, CA 94107

Add us to your address book

August 21, 2014

Supporting Success — McREL e-News August 2014

A final item from Tuesday’s inbox…


Having trouble viewing this email? View it online here.


August 2014

Research Roundup

Missing the Mark: Students Gain Little from Mandating Extra Math and Science Courses  


Using data from the ACT, National Student Clearinghouse, and the Illinois State Board of Education, a new ACT policy brief shows that taking extra math and science courses did not have a significant effect on student college- and career-readiness for Illinois high school students. Read the brief here.

4th Graders Struggle With Icons, Directions on Computer-Based Tests

Education Week


This article outlines the results of a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics, which found that 4th graders had difficulty using basic functions on a computer-based writing assessment. The students were able to use computers to type, organize, and compose, but had trouble with drop-down menus, editing icons, the highlighter tool, and text-to-speech functions.

A Double Dose of Math Has Diminishing Returns, Study Finds

Education Week
In a study released by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, 6th-grade students in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools who took one standard and one remedial math class scored significantly higher on the end-of-year state math test than students who took only one math class. However, the gains achieved after doubling up on math diminished completely by high school. Read the article about the study results here.

In the Field

McREL blog: A “fresh eyes” perspective on school climate change


Shelby Maier, systems transformation researcher at McREL, presents one idea you can easily implement in your school climate change plan. “The appearance of your school sends implicit and explicit messages to your parents, students, staff, and visitors about the quality of the learning environment and care to be found inside,” she writes. Read her blog post here.

McREL Policy Brief: Continuous improvement in schools and districts


Discussions about improving public education often focus on outcomes without considering how schools and districts can accomplish those outcomes. Research shows that using a continuous improvement process has proven successful in healthcare, manufacturing, and technology, and may hold potential for use in education as well. This brief defines and describes the continuous improvement process, and looks at the policy considerations for using such a process in education to help schools, districts, and systems achieve higher levels of reliable performance. Read our latest policy brief here.

Success Story: Helping Florida districts better implement and evaluate professional development (PD)


McREL’s work with the Florida Department of Education helped improve schools’ and districts’ capacity to implement and evaluate their individual PD needs, as identified through the reviews conducted by the state in each school district. Read more about our Florida work here.

Events & Opportunities

U.S. Department of Education announces $250 million in preschool grants nationwide


On August 14, the U.S. Department of Education announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to offer $250 million in federal money to support early childhood education. The Preschool Development Grants program will accept applications for funding through October 14, 2014. Read more here.

McREL in the News

pitlerHoward Pitler discusses classroom observations and coaching on Wisconsin public radio 


In July, Dr. Steve Brown of Wisconsin’s WGTD public radio interviewed McREL’s Chief Program Officer Howard Pitler about the importance of trust in building a purposeful school community, conducting instructional observations, and peer-to-peer coaching. They also talked about technology in the classroom and Cosmic Chemistry, McREL’s out-of-school time program for high school science students. Listen to the interview here.

N.J. district reports benefits from McREL’s teacher evaluation system


Administrators from the Passaic Valley High School (PVHS) district in Little Falls, N.J., reported to trustees on the district’s adoption of McREL’s Teacher Evaluation system at a board meeting on July 22. Principal Ray Rotella noted, “We feel the process for the evaluation system is very beneficial for us because of the teacher input, and there’s been a general agreement on the administrative part and teachers’ part that this system started constructive conversations on instruction and how we can continue to improve and take suggestions.” Read the entire article at here.

In This Issue

Featured Content

Free Webinar: Using the POMT application: A simple dashboard for program outcomes, measures, and targets — August 21


This free webinar, offered by REL Pacific, will focus on the relationships between the various components of a program monitoring plan; the role of leadership in the planning and assessment of a program; and how REL Pacific’s Program Outcomes, Measures, and Targets (POMT) module can help you create an ongoing plan for monitoring, measuring, and tracking outcomes over time to evaluate program effectiveness. This webinar will help teachers, administrators, policy makers, and evaluators understand how program monitoring can be an important method for ensuring that programs run smoothly. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, August 21 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. (MDT). Learn more and register for the webinar here.
For more information on the POMT application, visit the REL Pacific website.

Connect with Us on Social Media


For the latest in professional development opportunities, education news, research, and McREL employment opportunities, follow us on our social media channels.


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our profile on LinkedIn


Find us on Google+ View our videos on YouTube Visit our blog

McREL International | 1.800.858.6830 | Fax 303.337.3005
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
Forward to a friend

McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500 | Denver | CO | 80237

August 11, 2014

Digital Learning For Credit Recovery In Idaho And Beyond

This came across my radar screen last week…

Digital Learning for Credit Recovery in Idaho and Beyond

A REL Northwest Webinar | Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | 9:30–10:45 am PDT, 10:30–11:45 am MDT Online programs and courses have been hailed as a viable learning solution to many issues facing schools, including credit recovery. This free webinar will discuss key strategies in building a successful online program and curriculum to meet the needs of at-risk students and those who need credit recovery for graduation. Topics include:

  • National trends for online program design, course functionality, course structure, and teacher support
  • How one program, the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, meets the specific learning needs of students through
    modifications to online programs, trainings for local mentors and online teachers, adjustments to course design,
    and working with districts to implement blended programs


Janet Twyman, Ph.D., is the Director of Innovation and Technology at the National Center on Innovations in Learning. Twyman’s work includes identifying emerging promising practices in education technology and developing web-based systems and tools.

Sherawn Reberry, Ed.D., is the Director of Education Programs at the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA), a statewide virtual school established by the Idaho legislature in 2002. IDLA provides e-learning expertise, virtual services, and leadership in collaboration with Idaho school teachers and administrators to ensure all of Idaho students’ needs are being met.

Who should attend

This 75-minute webinar is designed for:

• School administrators, counselors, and educators, particularly in rural and/or alternative schools
• State education agency staff interested in online programs for at-risk students
• Parents whose students might benefit from online instructional programs

To register

Register at

For more information Contact Claire Gates at

This event is sponsored by Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest,
funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences.

Next Page »

The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,610 other followers