Virtual School Meanderings

May 25, 2016

McREL e-News May 2016 | How Will You Flourish This Summer?

Also from yesterday’s inbox…

May 2016

Celebrating fifty years of helping students 
and educators flourish
Fifty years ago this June, McREL opened its doors as an educational research laboratory dedicated to bridging the gap between research and practice. In the decades since, our organization has evolved and expanded, but our core focus remains: To provide research and guidance that help educators and students succeed and flourish. We’ll continue our mission as we look forward to the next 50 years of serving educators.
Join us for exceptional summer PD
As summer approaches, we invite you to join us in Denver for a series of PD institutes on effective teaching and leading. We’ll share our best insights, research, and strategies to help you transform your classrooms, schools, and districts.

Visit our events page to view the complete lineup of PD sessions and register.

Research Roundup

Local education inequities across U.S. revealed in new Stanford data set
Stanford University

Researchers at Stanford University reviewed test score data from 40 million 3rd- through 8th-grade students over four years to identify and compare achievement gaps. The researchers found that nearly all U.S. school districts with substantial minority populations have large achievement gaps between their white and black and white and Hispanic students. Researchers also studied the relationships among academic achievement, segregation, geography, and resource allocation.

The best school violence prevention program may start with raising test scores, study shows
The Hechinger Report

Researchers from the University of Southern California and Bar Ilan University in Israel looked for links between school climate, school violence, and student achievement, and found a connection between higher academic achievement and reduction in school violence, concluding that achievement gains preceded improvements in school safety, and not the other way around.

Parents, teachers, students split on overtesting
THE Journal

A recent Gallup poll of 4,200 educators, parents, and students showed that parents and students view formative and interim assessments more favorably than educators do. All three groups valued the benefits of classroom tests and quizzes more than state-run standardized assessments. As for the amount of time spent on assessments, while most teachers (83 percent) said they think students spend too much time on tests, most students and parents disagreed, with a majority of both groups saying students were spending the right amount of time or not enough time on assessments.

Curiosity about a topic helps learners retain new information and incidental knowledge

New research on parts of the brain that are involved in learning revealed that people retain more information when learning about topics that pique their curiosity, and that curiosity-based learning activates the same dopamine-releasing neural networks in the brain as activities that are intrinsically rewarding.

Events & Opportunities

Conference Session | ISTE National Conference
Denver, Colorado, Jun. 26-29
Join McREL consultant Cheryl Abla for a conference session, “Best Tech Tools for Formative Assessment,” to discover online tools and applications elementary teachers can use to check for student understanding while maximizing student engagement—-including how to help students create their own online assessments tools to help them check for understanding. Also, visit our business partners in the exhibit hall for information on our Power Walkthrough classroom observation system (Media-X Systems booth), and an online tool for improving leadership skills, change management skills, and initiative success based on our Balanced Leadership research and training program (BrightBytes booth). Learn more and register.

Conference Session | NAESP National Conference
National Harbor, Maryland, Jul. 6-8
Join Dr. Grace Gutierrez for her session, “Leveraging Balanced Leadership Research for Effective Change Management,” and learn how to predict potential obstacles to changes in schools and proactively develop and implement plans to achieve better results. Participants will gain insights on effectively initiating, monitoring, and leading change by applying McREL’s four phases of change: Creating Demand, Implementing, Monitoring and Evaluating, and Managing Personal Transitions.Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Balanced Leadership® Institute for School-Level Leaders
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 18-21
Learn the leadership responsibilities that research shows are most strongly connected to student achievement. You’ll receive practical strategies you can use in your school to develop a purposeful and positive school community, initiate and manage change within your school, and choose the right focus for your school’s improvement initiatives. If you cannot attend all four days, you can register for individual days of your choice. Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Balanced Leadership Institute for District-Level Leaders
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 21-22
Explore the district-level leadership activities and behaviors that research shows are most connected to student and staff success, and how these leadership responsibilities apply to the actions of superintendents, school boards, and central office staff. We’ll share the principles of high-reliability systems and the actions used in healthcare, aviation, and other complex industries, and how these principles can be effectively applied to education systems. Learn more and register.

Conference Sessions | Annual CASE Convention
Breckenridge, Colorado, Jul. 25-29
Join McREL staff at the Colorado Association of School Executives’ annual leadership conference for two presentations:
Bryan Goodwin will lead a session on unleashing student and teacher potential, revealing the leadership keys to shifting to an “inside-out” improvement approach that taps teachers’ intrinsic motivation to get better every day and focuses on a powerful driver of success: student curiosity.

Matt Seebaum will present a high-reliability approach to system improvement and leadership development, offering a model and examples of districts that have successfully connected the principles of High Reliability Organizations (HROs) and Improvement Cycles with a focus on developing leadership at all levels. Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Classroom Instruction That Works® | Workshop
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 25-27
Learn research-based, practice-proven instructional strategies and ways to implement them in the classroom. Discover how each strategy can be effective with any student, at any grade level, and in any subject area, to enhance student achievement.
  • Learn new, evidence-based insights from the most recent, rigorous research
  • Get a framework to strengthen instructional design
  • Discover the reasons for choosing certain strategies for certain situations
  • Connect the strategies to essential 21st century skills

Whether the strategies are new to you or something you already use every day, this workshop will help you raise your level of effectiveness. Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Classroom Instruction That Works | Authorized Facilitator Training
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 25-29
Attend our Classroom Instruction That Works (CITW) workshop and authorized facilitator training to learn effective research-based instructional strategies and methods to help other teachers learn and implement these strategies in their classrooms. The first three days of this training will solidify your understanding of the nine CITW categories of instructional strategies and an instructional planning framework that maximizes the strategies’ effectiveness. The final two days will prepare you to become an authorized facilitator of CITW workshops in your own district or region. Learn more and register.

Podcast | TLTalkRadio interviews Bryan Goodwin on inside-out reform and the role of curiosity in learning
An interview with McREL President and CEO Bryan Goodwin is featured in the latest episode of TLTalkRadio, a weekly podcast focused on leading schools in the digital age. Hosts Lynn Fuini-Hetten and Randy Ziegenfuss talk to Bryan about the future of education, inside-out reform, and McREL’s two most recent whitepapers, The Road Less Traveled and Rebalancing Formative Assessment. Learn more and listen to the podcast.

Research Says | Evaluating and improving: Not the same thing
In recent years, annual performance reviews for teachers have become ubiquitous. But do teacher evaluations make a difference in how teachers teach? Do they really help teachers improve? McREL’s Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein look at the research to answer those questions in this month’s Research Says column in Educational Leadership.

Blog Post | GreenSTEM Model: Steps for an instructional approach
You’ve heard of STEM, but have you heard of GreenSTEM? In this blog post from Laura Arndt, she describes the GreenSTEM Model, and how GreenSTEM projects can deepen students’ understanding of STEM concepts by directly addressing environmental challenges within students’ communities.


Executive director of Alabama ASCD highlights Balanced Leadership book
In the May 2016 newsletter of the Alabama state chapter of ASCD, Executive Director Jane Cobia reflects on the balancing act required of educators, highlighting the insights she’s gained from McREL’s Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning: Tools for Achieving Success in Your School. The book, Dr. Cobia says, provides “clear research-based data to help us navigate and hopefully increase teacher and student learning” by reminding us that “balance is the key to everything.”Read the entire column.

McREL helps Nebraska update science standards
A recent article from the Omaha World-Herald (on highlighted the work of the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) in updating the state’s science standards, including partnering with McREL to compare existing standards with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). McREL’s analysis showed content was similar but that the NGSS goes “deeper,” indicating the opportunity for NDE to raise the rigor and complexity of its standards statewide. Read the entire article.
Client Testimonial
“Once the Instructional Planning Framework model clicked for me, a flood of ideas came to me on how to implement procedures to create a LEARNING environment for my students.”
Monica Kahe, Teacher, Hopi Jr./Sr. High School, Arizona
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InfoSci®-Videos Presents: Effective Techniques in Engaging Students in Online Learning

Not K-12 specific, but a couple of useful items for my readers…

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Complimentary Video Lesson for May
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Effective Techniques in Engaging Students in Online Learning
Published on May 20, 2016 | IGI Global

Effective teachers recognize the importance of engaging their students in learning, and in today’s evolving educational field, it is necessary to implement relevant technologies to make learning applicable to modern pupils. It is often a difficult task to accomplish, however, due to the endless possibilities for connecting over online media, and it is hard to know which outlet will make the strongest connection.

The IGI Global video lecture, “Creating an Online Web Presence for Instructional Use” overviews the strategies and procedures pre-service and in-service teachers can take in order to establish a strong and positive online image. Highlighting the ways in which various social media sites operate and their uses, this video also demonstrates how instructors can promote their educational content across social media platforms and forums…

From Video Lecture:
Creating an Online Web Presence for Instructional Use
Patricia Ann Dickenson (National University, USA)
EISBN: 9781466696983;
© 2016; 1 hrs 19 Mins
Creating an Online Web Presence for Instructional Use overviews the strategies and procedures pre-service and in-service teachers can take in order to establish a positive online image. Highlighting the ways in which various social media sites operate and their uses, this video also demonstrates how instructors can promote their educational content across social media platforms and forums. Educators, school administrators, and graduate-level students will all find this video beneficial to their academic and professional interests.

Related Videos:
Journal of Electronic Commerce in Organizations (JECO)
Journal of Electronic Commerce in Organizations (JECO)
Journal of Electronic Commerce in Organizations (JECO)
Exploring the Social Semantic Web for Lifelong Learners
© 2016; 1 hr 30 mins
Realizing the Power of Social Media in the 21st Century
© 2016; 2 hrs 52 mins
Integrating Adult Education Principles in an Online Environment
© 2016; 1 hr 42 mins
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News from the NEPC: Segregated Housing Undercuts Educational Equity

From yesterday’s inbox…

Policymakers have research-based options that address the harms of housing segregation.
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Segregated Housing Undercuts Educational Equity

Key Takeaway: Policymakers have research-based options that address the harms of housing segregation.
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BOULDER, CO (May 24, 2016) – Educational opportunities, and therefore life chances, have long been tied to family wealth and to housing, with more advantaged communities providing richer opportunities. Recognizing the key role of housing in this system, equity-minded reformers have proposed five types of interventions: (a) school improvement policies; (b) school choice policies; (c) school desegregation policies; (d) wealth-focused policies; and (e) housing-focused policies.

In a new brief released today, Housing Policy, Kevin Welner and William Mathis discuss each of these interventions, with an emphasis on housing-focused policies.

The authors point out that housing segregation did not happen by accident. Policy choices, often grounded in discrimination, resulted in inequitable zoning, the splitting of towns by interstate highways, dense public housing located away from more affluent areas, rationed Section 8 (rent subsidy) vouchers that provide very limited access, the red-lining of properties and the unavailability in Black neighborhoods of Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages—all of which created an absence of affordable and accessible housing.

School improvement policies, the authors explain, can help mitigate the harms of segregated housing. Similarly, school desegregation policies, if more widely used, could drive more integrated schools. Government programs that address wealth inequality can and do make a difference, but they will have to move beyond tepid measures such as a low minimum wage if they are to seriously address wealth inequality and thus drive changes in housing segregation.

Policies that directly address housing supply and affordability also can be beneficial. One example is inclusionary zoning, which uses incentives to encourage developers to build affordable housing in otherwise high-cost neighborhoods. In addition, we now have a golden opportunity to establish stable, integrated neighborhoods because of a “great inversion,” where more affluent buyers move into economically depressed urban areas while boundaries around the city center are becoming more porous, with families moving into the suburbs. In both locations, the result is greater integration—at least temporarily. Welner and Mathis point to policies that can stabilize these communities through proactive measures to sustain racially and ethnically diverse school districts and their educational benefits.

These sorts of housing integration efforts, as well as school improvement and school desegregation efforts and policies that address wealth inequality, do not present a mutually exclusive choice. In order to seriously address the harms of housing segregation, sustained efforts in all these areas will have to be pursued.

Welner is Director and Mathis is Managing Director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. This brief is one in a series of concise publications,Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, that address important policy issues and identify policies supported by research. Each focuses on a different issue, with recommendations to policymakers based on sound scholarship.

Find Kevin Welner and William Mathis’s brief on the NEPC website at:

This policy brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at:

Copyright © 2016 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

MB Daily: Headlines and Analysts’ Updates for 5/24/2016

The MarketBeat update for K12, Inc. from yesterday… Daily Update: Analysts' Upgrades, Downgrades & New Coverage Facebook  Twitter  StockTwits
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May 24, 2016

Speak Up News – May 2016

A final item today from Monday’s inbox…

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Speak Up News – May 2016

Happy Monday! Before the school year ends, check out the latest Speak Up News. In this newsletter you’ll find information on Speak Up 2016 registration, our Speak Up data templates, and a recap of recent media coverage of our Speak Up 2015 report.

We hope you have a wonderful summer and look forward to working with you in the fall for Speak Up 2016!

Quick links:

Speak Up 2016: Speak Up 2016: Sign up to take part in our annual survey fromOctober 12 – December 16, 2016. Get FREE data for your school/district!

Data templates: Download one of our easy-to-use Speak Up data templates! Use your Excel data sheets with these templates to easily display your school/district’s Speak Up data.

Speak Up in the News: Check out the latest media coverage of our Speak Up 2015 report!

Special briefing from NCTET: Our friends at NCTET are hosting an event about the homework gap on June 6th!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter, and our Blog.


Registration for Speak Up 2016 is now open!

Surveys run from October 12 – December 16, 2016

It’s not too early to start making plans for Speak Up 2016! Get a head start before the school year ends and register your school or district for the 2016 surveys at Remember, registration and participation is FREE! Contribute to our national research project and inform your work at the same time!

Registration also includes access to free promotional materials and helpfulwebinars next fall.

If you are a returning school or district contact, you can automatically register for Speak Up 2016 by logging in with last year’s contact information. Click here to visit the administrator log in page.


Speak Up data templates are now available!

Are you interested in presenting your data or viewing it by theme? Download ourSpeak Up data templates. We’ve created new thematic templates and presentation templates to help you view and present your data. To use these templates, just copy and paste your Speak Up data results from your results page into the appropriate areas.


Speak Up in the News!

Check out what various news outlets have written about our Speak Up 2015 National Findings report, From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education:

How School Districts, States Harness the Power of Digital Learning Data
Center for Digital Education
May 16, 2016

Speak UP! 2016
EdNET Insight
May 13, 2016

Survey Says: More Teachers Are Using Tech in the Classroom
Smarter Schools Beyond Pencils Blog
May 11, 2016

Games, Videos Continue to Make Big Gains in Classrooms, Survey Finds
Education Week
May 11, 2016

3 Reasons Teachers Are Integrating More Games, Videos into the Classroom
Center for Digital Education
May 9, 2016

Project Tomorrow finds gaming growing quickly in classrooms
Education DIVE
May 9, 2016

Survey: Teachers now use twice as much gaming and video in the classroom
eSchool News
May 6, 2016

Project Tomorrow Releases 2015 Speak Up Results, Highlights Gaming
WPLLC Education Report
May 6, 2016

Report: Games and Online Video Gain Traction in Education
THE Journal
May 5, 2016

Games, Videos in the Classroom Double
May 5, 2016


Speak Up Family and Friends: Special Briefing from NCTET

Seizing the Moment: Progress on Bridging the Homework Gap but More Work to be Done

June 6, 2016 from 1:00pm – 2:30pm
904 Hart Senate Office Building

In this installment of the Seizing Opportunity in the Digital Age Congressional briefing series, the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET)will discuss the progress made by the FCC and Congress in closing the “homework gap”: the chasm that exists between students who have home access to high speed broadband and those who do not. In addition to highlighting changes wrought through the Every Student Succeeds Act and the FCC’s recent Lifeline Modernization Order, this session will also explore the work that remains to be done to ensure all students have access to high speed broadband in the classroom as well as at home.

This event will feature remarks from:

▪ Senator Angus King (I-ME)

▪ FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel

▪ Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans

▪ Albemarle County Public Schools (VA) CIO Vincent Scheivert

RSVP by June 5th at


Thank you for your interest and continued support of Speak Up! Be sure to stay updated on all things Speak Up by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our Blog.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at or via phone at (949) 609-4660 ext. 12.

Many thanks to our sponsors and partners for the support of Speak Up: Blackboard, Inc., BrainPOP, CDW, DreamBox Learning, Qualcomm Wireless Reach, Scholastic Education, American Association of School Administrators, CETPA, Consortium for School Networking, CUE, Digital Learning Day, ICE (Indiana Connected Educators), iNACOL, International Society for Technology in Education, National School Boards Association, National School Public Relations Association, National Science Teachers Association, National Secondary School Principals Association, NCCE (Northwest Council for Computer Education), NETA (Nebraska Educational Technology Association), State Education Technology Directors’ Association and TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association).

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