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  • Transforming Math Education: Insights from the K20Connect Leadership Roundtable

    By Claudia Carias The K20Connect Leadership Roundtable recently hosted an illuminating webinar  on the future of math education. Renowned presenter Kecia Ray led the event, which featured insightful discussions from panelists Claudia Carias and Erin Ndah. The session explored effective strategies for introducing math, creating the ideal classroom setup, and the importance of early engagement in math through manipulatives and real-world experiences. The panel also delved into the critical role of tiered interventions and the support teachers need to bridge learning gaps, highlighting the Alef Pathways program as a valuable tool. Practical Approaches to Introducing Math Kecia Ray set the stage with an engaging presentation on the right and wrong ways to introduce math to students. She emphasized the importance of making math relatable and accessible early on. "Math should be seen as a part of everyday life, not just a subject in school," Kecia stated. She highlighted the negative impact of presenting math as a series of abstract concepts without context, leading to disinterest and anxiety among students. Claudia Carias added to this by discussing the importance of using manipulatives and real-world experiences to hook students early on. "Manipulatives provide a hands-on way to understand complex concepts," she explained. Claudia shared examples of using everyday objects and interactive activities to make math tangible and engaging for young learners. She emphasized that these tools help demystify math, making it more approachable and fun. Creating the Ideal Classroom Setup The discussion then shifted to the ideal classroom setup for math education. Erin Ndah stressed the need for a flexible and dynamic learning environment, and classrooms should be designed to facilitate collaboration and exploration. Kecia Ray concurred, adding that technology should be seamlessly integrated into the classroom. Digital tools can enhance learning when used appropriately. Kecia highlighted the importance of training teachers to use these tools effectively, ensuring they complement traditional teaching methods rather than replace them. The Role of Tiered Interventions Most of the roundtable focused on tiered interventions—Tier 1, 2, and 3—and their role in bridging learning gaps. Claudia Carias explained that Tier 1 interventions involve high-quality classroom instruction accessible to all students. Tier 2 interventions provide targeted support for students who need additional help, while Tier 3 offers intensive, individualized assistance.

  • Advancing Research in Education Act -- What's Different this Time?

    Just before Christmas, the United States Senate took a step in advancing the reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) and updating it to what would now be referred to as the Advancing Research in Education Act (AREA). This would be huge for education, but the road to passage is more than uncertain. What is ESRA? According to the Congressional Research Services , the ESRA “authorizes much of the federal government’s efforts to collect statistics and conduct research on the U.S. educational system. ESRA-funded activities support numerous nationally representative survey programs and award hundreds of basic and applied research grants each year.” There are actually three parts to the law which includes not only ESRA, but the Educational Technical Assistance Act (ETAA) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act.  ESRA established the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) as an independent research institute that lives within the Department of Education. This is a big deal, as IES provides a resource to many who use the data for a vast variety of reasons. This bill also reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) among others. All to say this law has shaped much of education for the last several years. There are a total of four research centers that were authorized under ESRA. (National Center for Education Research (NCER), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Center for Education Evaluation and REgional Assistance (NCEE) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER). ESRA also includes the Educational Technical Assistance Act (ETAA) which created a comprehensive centers program to make grants to local entities and provide technical assistance and the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) program that was initially passed to encourage states to put an SLDS in place for the purpose of consistent data collection across the country. Finally, ESRA authorized the NCES Commissioner to carry out assessments of academic achievement, where much of the national assessments, state assessments, and long-term trend assessment of reading and math in grades 4, 8, and 12 come from. Even though the authorities expired in 2008, all programs still receive funding from annual appropriations from Congress to IES as a whole. IES was appropriated $734m for FY 2023. What Would Change in the Proposed Reauthorization? The lengthy bill sets forth many directives for the IES-   Edweek  summarizes the most notable ones as the following:  “A requirement that the National Center for Education Statistics commissioner develops a new, accurate way to measure poverty rates other than the percent of students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals, as that measure has become less reliable, especially as more states pass universal free meal programs ;  Authorizing funding for a new data-innovation grant that will help states find more efficient and effective ways to collect information; and  A requirement that IES increase the participation of researchers from historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions in data collection and research projects. A 2022 report on the research agency found less than 15 percent of IES-funded research project grants went to researchers of color.” In April 2023, Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) requested input   from educators on how they could best reauthorize ESRA. The request included questions such as, “How could the Federal government and IES provide more flexibility to the field of education research to pursue innovative solutions to the challenges we face in education?” “How could research projects at IES and grantees better engage students, parents, and educators in the research process, including through recruitment and informed consent?” and “How could IES bolster partnerships with the full range of partners— including but not limited to educators, school systems, institutions of higher education, including minority-serving institutions, public and private entities, localities and States, researchers, and the Federal government—to more effectively utilize, scale, and commercialize education research to improve teaching and learning?” During the markup committee on December 5, Chairman Senator Sanders stated that, “I am also delighted that we have come to an agreement on bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act. This legislation will ensure that high-quality and timely research gets into the hands of teachers and principals so that they can improve teaching and learning in our nation’s schools.” This is Only the Beginning There have been attempts to reauthorize ESRA before now; however, there have been several battles that get brought into the conversation whenever it comes up. Even with bipartisan legislation, there are many roadblocks to even getting this off of the Senate floor, let alone movement in the House. One interesting thing about this time is that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also proposed updates for student privacy- which also has not been updated since 2013. Student privacy debates always come along with any data collection for research. Could the timing of the FTC trying to update student privacy laws help actually reauthorize ESRA? Only time will tell - so keep checking back here at K20Connect to see what’s going on in our nation’s capitol!

  • The Deepfakes are Here — Are Your Leaders Ready?

    Susan Gentz , COO, K20Connect We are all trying to harness the good of AI to spur learning and engage students in ways we have never been able to do. Through AI, audio and visual deceptions can be made. The dictionary defines deepfake as, “a video of a person in which their face or body has been  digitally  altered so that they appear to be someone else, typically used  maliciously  or to spread false information.” As always, with every good invention or innovation, there can be serious risks, and we’re already seeing examples.  In April 2024 a Maryland high school teacher was arrested because he allegedly used artificial intelligence to plant racist and antisemitic words  into the voice of his boss, Principal Eric Eiswert. Thankfully the AI is still new enough that authorities were able to determine the recording was generated through AI, but as AI gets smarter- will that always be an option?  The use of AI in this instance is suspected because of retaliation. Students will soon (if they haven’t already) be able to figure out how to do this to their teachers at the drop of a hat. If they get a grade they don’t like, if they don’t like that their teacher called them out in class, if their teacher makes a call to their parents- the reasons are endless. All educators need to be prepared for this.  How Do you Identify a Deepfake?  According to the MIT Media Lab, there are several things to be on the lookout for :  “Pay attention to the face. High-end Deepfake manipulations are almost always facial transformations.   Pay attention to the cheeks and forehead. Does the skin appear too smooth or too wrinkly? Is the agedness of the skin similar to the agedness of the hair and eyes? Deepfakes may be incongruent on some dimensions.  Pay attention to the eyes and eyebrows. Do shadows appear in places that you would expect? Deepfakes may fail to fully represent the natural physics of a scene.   Pay attention to the glasses. Is there any glare? Is there too much glare? Does the angle of the glare change when the person moves? Once again, Deepfakes may fail to fully represent the natural physics of lighting.  Pay attention to the facial hair or lack thereof. Does this facial hair look real? Deepfakes might add or remove a mustache, sideburns, or beard. But Deepfakes may fail to make facial hair transformations fully natural.  Pay attention to facial moles.  Does the mole look real?   Pay attention to blinking. Does the person blink enough or too much?   Pay attention to the lip movements. Some deepfakes are based on lip-syncing. Do the lip movements look natural?”    States are Working on This- But Districts Need to Discuss and Implement Policy Now  The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) just released a roundup of state policies working to address “deceptive audio or visual media” in 2024. According to NCSL , “lawmakers in at least 17 states enacted laws that specifically refer to online impersonation done with an intent to intimidate, bully, threaten or harass a person through social media sites, email or other electronic or online communications. These states are California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.” Additionally, they report that 40 states have pending legislation.   A few examples of what states are doing include disclaimers that the media has been AI-generated, stating that a person is guilty of possessing child pornography is the person knowingly possessed any computer-generated child pornography, and updating personal rights to provide that any individual has a property right in the use of that individual’s name, photograph, voice, or likeness in any medium in any manner. Legislators are generally in the definition phase right now, very few have made it to the consequences.  Additionally, legislators are not as focused on what this means in schools, and as minors who participate. Districts must have a strong district policy on how to address these circumstances. Does audio or visual evidence of an educator automatically mean administrative leave? Who oversees identifying a deepfake? What is the punishment? How do you restore the reputation of the victim? All these questions must be addressed, and if possible, before the scenario happens in the school.  K20Connect would love to help you navigate these challenges. Reach out to Susan@k20connect.net  to talk through some ways to stay ahead of this increasingly prolific challenge.

  • US Academic Decathlon: National Competition Winners

    Dr. Pam Lloyd, Chief Strategy Officer, K20Connect Picture the exhilaration and inspiration I experienced, immersed in the company of over 700 high school students nationwide.  These weren't just your average high school students; they were the crème de la crème, the champion decathletes who had earned their spots to compete at the prestigious United States Academic Decathlon  national championship in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania , from April 24-27. As I meandered through the bustling corridors of the Westin Hotel  and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center , I was enveloped in their vibrant energy, listening to their animated conversations about their schools and homes.   Every student had a burning desire to emerge victorious in the United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) national competition  and secure the coveted title for their school division. The competition was fierce, with most students battling it out as a team, while a few chose to go solo, showcasing their brilliance.  When I listen to these decathlete students and their coaches' stories, I am continually reminded of the resilience and courage these students and their coaches demonstrate. The USAD board of directors and the many hands of the USAD State Directors  eagerly welcome these hard-working students who have earned their state title to compete at the national USAD premier educational event.  The United States Academic Decathlon (USAD)  was the brainchild of Dr. Robert Petersen , a visionary school superintendent from California.  He firmly believed that competition in learning was the key to unlocking students' potential, fostering maturity, and enabling self-fulfillment. What started as a humble tournament in his school district in 1968 has now blossomed into a nationwide and international phenomenon, with the first national championship in 1982.  Today, the USAD has grown nationwide as well as internationally.  The core elements of the first Academic Decathlon are still in effect today.  Dr. Peterson required each team to include not just students with the highest grade point average (GPA)  – “A,” or Honor students, but also those students with a “B” GPA or Scholastic students and “C” GPA or Varsity students.   Each team consists of nine full-time students from the ninth through twelfth grades of the same high school.   Each team comprises three Honor students, three Scholastic students, and three Varsity students. The team approach was intentional in fostering collaboration and learning from each other. This emphasis on teamwork and collaboration creates a strong bond, and many of these students continue to be a part of USAD as judges and volunteers. Some become teachers, coaches, and state directors, a testament to the profound impact of the USAD competition on their personal and professional development. The heart of this year’s competition was based on the USAD-themed curriculum topic , “Technology & Humanity.” This comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum spans various disciplines, including Art, Music, Social Science, Science, Mathematics, Economics, and essay writing. The curriculum uses Common Core Standards for high school mathematics and reading and the national content standards for the remaining subjects.  Each student tested in these subjects as an individual and as a team. In addition, each student delivered a speech on a topic of their choice and an impromptu speech in front of three judges.  They wrote essays demonstrating their learning to argue an idea powerfully.  They were interviewed by three judges, asking them about their experience and their goals for the future.   While many attributes of being a great decathlete require dedication, determination, and focus, these students' greatest attributes are communicating, having compassion for one another, and working together for a common goal. The USAD National Competition is the culmination of a year’s worth of work by each student to commit to learning the themed curriculum.  ith their coach, they spend hours working together to become state champions and then on to nationals to earn the right to be called “national champions.”  Some school districts create a class for the USAD curriculum and teams, while others provide the opportunity for their students through an extra-curricular activity.  Regardless, these students and coaches deserve recognition for making it to the national stage. Like sports teams, the USAD has created divisions depending on school size.  The 2024 Nationals competition  winners by division included: Division 1: Overall National Champions :  El Camino Real Charter High School, CA Division II:   Lathrop High School, AK Division III:  Oakwood High School, OH Division IV:  Lane Tech College Prep, IL Division V:  Hallmark Academy, CA All the students who make it to the national competition are champions. They have earned their titles. I am incredibly proud of my hometown Division II first-place winner, Lathrop High School, in Fairbanks, Alaska .    While USAD began as a high-school team program, today, it has expanded to include Pentathlon , a five-event scholastic competition for middle school students. It provides the same benefits as the Academic Decathlon with team and individual competition . The USAD also created a separate competition for students in non-traditional school settings with the same thematic curriculum and ability for students to compete individually. But we didn’t stop there; the USAD created an International Competition  and invited students worldwide to participate. I have the privilege of serving as the vice chair of the USAD board of directors . Our mission is to promote learning and academic excellence among students of varying achievement levels by developing and providing multidisciplinary academic competitions using the Academic Decathlon curricula. I have been involved with USAD for almost two decades, and each year, I see hope for our future.  I began my journey in Alaska, serving as President of the Alaska Academic Decathlon .  I have witnessed first-hand the difference this program has made for students across the globe.  Our former decathletes become teachers, coaches, and state directors to continue promoting learning and academic excellence among students of varying achievement levels by developing and providing multidisciplinary academic competitions using Academic Decathlon curricula. An event like this doesn’t happen without parents, coaches, state directors, USAD staff, volunteers, and sponsors who show up for testing, essays, speeches, interviews, and proctors. USAD brings people together for the common goal of helping our students become the best versions of themselves. Thank you all for making this event the highlight of my year!  If you are interested in participating in the 2024-2025 school year, there are many opportunities to get involved! You can, ·         Start a Team ·         Become a Sponsor ·         Volunteer ·         Donate      The curriculum theme for next year’s competition is “Our Changing Climate.” The National competition will be held in Des Moines, IA , May 1-3, 2025. I hope to see you there!   Dr. Pam Lloyd  ( pam@k20connect.net ) is  the Chief Strategy Officer for K20Connect, working to connect industry and education to provide the best outcomes for students. K20Connect is a women-owned business focused on business development, strategic planning, policy tracking, professional development, and marketing development.

  • A Shift from Memorization to Conceptual Understanding

    Article written by Rob Dickson on LinkedIn  and crossposted with permission. Last night, we celebrated my daughter Bailey's 21st birthday with a grand celebration. It was a unique moment as friends from various stages of our life came together to mark the occasion. During the festivities, we had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend who now teaches at Emporia State University and specializes in instructing incoming teachers. Our chat was mostly centered around ChatGPT and how it's shaping the landscape of communication. It was a fascinating discussion about how technology is transforming our world. We kept coming back to the question, “What’s the need for memorization in education?” A tough question to answer, even for those of us who have been in education for 20+ years. Memorization has been a long-debated concept in the field of education. While some argue that it has no practical significance in today's world and that it is a waste of time, others believe that it plays a crucial role in the learning process. Memorization helps students to retain information, which can be beneficial in a variety of ways. For instance, it can help them to recall important facts and details during exams and in real-world scenarios. Additionally, memorization can improve students' cognitive abilities and enhance their critical thinking skills. It can also help them to develop a stronger understanding of complex concepts and theories. However, it is important to note that memorization should not be the sole focus of education. Rather, it should be used as a tool to aid the learning process and to supplement other educational methods. Ultimately, the need for memorization in education will depend on the subject matter, the learning objectives, and the individual student's needs and preferences. Large Language Models such as ChatGPT, Bing Chat and Bard have transformed the way we learn and access information, shaking the very foundations of education. With these models, machines can now learn from colossal text data and spit out human-like responses, even creating new content. But, does this mean we can finally bid farewell to memorization and wave in a new era of technology-fueled learning? On the one hand, these models can be a tremendous learning asset, providing instant access to a wealth of information and freeing up time for higher-level thinking skills like analysis and synthesis. So, why bother memorizing when we can just ask the machine? However, relying solely on these models might stunt the development of critical thinking and recall abilities. Memorization is crucial for cementing knowledge and boosting information retrieval. Plus, while these models can provide accurate answers, they might not always understand the context or provide a deeper understanding of the subject matter. A balanced approach is key: let's embrace technology while keeping traditional learning methods in check. This way, we can develop a more effective education system that nurtures well-rounded learners. As we contemplate the integration of old and new, it's important to recognize the potential of AI to transform education in numerous ways, including: Providing personalized and adaptive learning experiences for students of different abilities, interests, and backgrounds. AI can help teachers tailor instruction and feedback to each student’s needs and goals, as well as offer additional support and resources. For example, AI tutors can deliver knowledge directly into students’ brains, or use natural language processing to assess students’ understanding and provide guidance. Enhancing teachers’ professional development and collaboration. AI can help teachers improve their pedagogical skills, access relevant data and research, and connect with other educators around the world. For example, AI can analyze teachers’ performance and provide suggestions for improvement, or facilitate online communities of practice. Expanding access and equity in education. AI can help overcome barriers such as distance, cost, language, and disability that prevent many people from receiving quality education. For example, AI can enable virtual reality and augmented reality experiences that simulate real-world environments and situations, or assist students with learning differences through speech recognition, text-to-speech, and other technologies. Fostering creativity and innovation in education. AI can help students develop higher-order cognitive skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. AI can also inspire students to explore new domains and express themselves in various ways. For example, AI can generate novel questions and challenges for students to solve, or support students’ artistic and musical endeavors. However, AI also poses significant risks and challenges for education, such as: Exacerbating existing inequalities and biases in education. AI may widen the gap between those who have access to advanced technology and those who do not. AI may also reflect or amplify the biases and prejudices of its creators or users, such as racism, sexism, or elitism. For example, some AI systems may favor certain groups of students over others based on their data or algorithms, or exclude or harm students who do not fit the normative assumptions of the system. Threatening privacy and security in education. AI may collect and use large amounts of personal data from students and teachers without their consent or awareness. AI may also be vulnerable to hacking or manipulation by malicious actors who seek to exploit or harm the system or its users. For example, some AI systems may leak or sell students’ data to third parties for commercial or political purposes, or be hacked by cybercriminals who want to disrupt or sabotage the system. As we build cybersecurity programs to train the next generation of workers, we will need to be able to adapt our curriculum and techniques much faster than we ever have. In the evolving landscape of education and technology, the role of memorization is a pertinent question. In my role and age, I see a balanced approach that integrates both tradition and innovation. It will be interesting if future leaders will see a different vision as technology evolves in society. Memorization has its merits, aiding information retention and critical thinking. Yet, with AI and large language models like ChatGPT, we have instant access to vast knowledge. While this challenges memorization's necessity, we must avoid overreliance on AI, which can hinder critical thinking and context understanding. AI offers personalized learning, supports teachers' growth, and enhances access to education. However, we must address issues like bias and privacy concerns. In conclusion, we should blend traditional methods with technology to create a dynamic education system. Memorization remains valuable, but we must adapt to a changing world. By striking this balance, we can effectively prepare students for the future, inspiring leaders and equipping them with 21st-century skills.

  • The True Value of Standards for K-12 EdTech

    Article by Timothy Beakman crossposted from LinkedIn with permission. Interoperability standards have played an integral part in advancements in edtech over the past decade-plus, from providing a more simplistic digital teaching and learning environment for teachers and students to streamlining data inputs and outputs for administrative staff. However, there are still many improvements that the K-12 edtech community should keep striving to achieve. The value of standards far exceeds the idea that it enable easy integration between tools and resources. Let’s talk about how standards can help K-12 digital learning solutions achieve greater impact. The idea of teachers, students and administrators creating high-quality, standards-based resources, in addition to purchasing standards-based content, presents a greater opportunity to truly personalize the learning experience for all students. When creating their own resources, educators can personalize the resources, from language to different learning styles, to help fully engage students in the learning process. Additionally, the idea that one vendor’s resources can meet all of a school district’s needs goes away once we open the door to easily integrating and customizing resources from many vendors using standards. Chicago Public Schools’ Skyline – a culturally relevant PK-12 digital curriculum voluntarily adopted within 91% of the district's 530 schools – is a great example of how to successfully leverage standards to create and customize resources. Achieving their vision for a custom-built curriculum would not have been possible without adopting standards and ensuring compliance from all of their content providers. Standards provided the district with a path for reaching their desired outcome; however, although standards opened the door for CPS, how they were utilized and what they achieved still comes down to the district's vision. Fulton County Schools’ Curriculum Hub – a public portal designed to provide parents with resources to support their student’s learning – is another great example of how to effectively use standards. By building their instructional resources using standards, the district was able to easily populate their parent portal with their existing resources without having to rework the content. In both of these cases, the districts achieved success by building support from all community stakeholders. Teachers were engaged in creating personalized resources and, as a result, students were better engaged in the process via personalized learning opportunities. Both projects also provided administrative staff with data across all platforms in a single pane of glass, enabling them to accurately assess student progress and identify ways to help them improve. Districts need standards to help them design and build functional and effective models in which teachers, administrators and parents all have access to view a student's academic progress in real time. As more K-12 edtech solutions continue to advance in terms of providing concurrent data and interoperability standards continue to evolve, all stakeholders should soon have the ability to view what really works in real-time. This will enable districts to better identify the right resources and tools to help keep students engaged and on track to achieve their intended learning outcomes. There will always be challenges with standards due to the fact that vendors must commit to being open with their design and implementation. However, my hope is that, as a community, we will listen to the needs of students and keep building standards-based solutions that improve the learning experience for students and provide plug and play capability across all platforms.

  • The Math Gap - Using the Science of Learning to Close Gaps

    The pandemic devastated math education in the U.S. Declines affected almost every student. The National Assessment of Educational Progress tests reports that we have lost ground in math with a drop of three points. Black students lost 13 points compared with their white peers, who lost five points, creating an even more significant disparity among racial groupings. These setbacks impact a generation of children who must be well-prepared for life beyond high school. Students didn’t only fall behind academically during the pandemic; their social and emotional aspects were also impacted. Twelve percent of children aged 3 - 17 experienced anxiety or depression in 2020, which appears to be rising, and experiencing mental health challenges impacts learning, behavior, and relationships in a school setting. Trauma reduces the ability to concentrate, remember, and organize thoughts and actions, and even language abilities in school-aged children. The gap isn’t just an academic gap, but a needs gap. The gaps in students' acquired knowledge are unquestionable, especially for low-poverty students. Students are now almost a full year behind where they should be in their academic achievement. Andrew Coulson, Chief Data Science Officer at Mind Education, suggests schools must consider a different approach to learning to attend to these deficits. One suggestion is to lower the floor and allow students to productively engage with the material on grade level independent of where they score on assessments. This move is from an approach focused on deficits to one based on assets and suggests to the students they can do the work. This enables a learner to maintain a positive outlook on learning while building skills and practicing for mastery. This approach creates a safe way for students to experience learning without having the necessary continuity of learning for the past three years. Many learners are in vulnerable positions on their learning paths. Education systems must be responsive in offering timely and effective personalized interventions utilizing effective and proven resources to meet the gap. Reducing the individual student’s knowledge gap will allow them to regain the pace of their educational journey. Meeting students where they are and personalizing their instruction is a proven strategy to address learning gaps. The University of Southern California is home to a research group focused on the Science of Teaching Math (STM). Specifically, the team studies teachers’ acquisition of knowledge and pedagogical skills and the transfer of these skills into their practice, with particular attention to equity issues. Recognizing how teachers approach math teaching offers insight that can help professional developers adjust a teacher's mindset encouraging them to adopt mathematical thinking to improve student engagement. Considering the role of the teacher in the gap is a piece of the science behind improving a student’s overall performance. Helping address students' basic needs by building hope, establishing a safe learning environment, and building esteem prepare students for learning. Allowing students to remain on pace by adopting Coulson's suggestions and ensuring teachers develop more vital skills in the teaching of math are research-based strategies systems can use to close the gap.

  • Women's History Month

    Women’s History Month began in 1975; I was 10 years old. I don’t remember much to do over the declaration that women had equal rights and deserved equal recognition. Still, I believe the fact that these events were taking place in my pre-teen and teen years influenced my call to action. As a woman-owned and operated business leader, I am particularly interested in supporting women in the education leadership role and those transitioning out of district leadership and into the next phase of their education career journey. It is still interesting that women are just now breaking some glass ceilings, particularly women of color. Did you know the first Black female public school superintendent in U.S. history was Velma Dolphin Ashley, who was in charge of schools in Boley, Oklahoma, from 1944 to 1956. Are you interested in finding other fascinating facts about women's history? Check out this link to the History timeline as well as these great Women’s History Month lessons and activities from Tech & Learning. Here’s to the women who continue to break glass ceilings and do great things!

  • Intolerable Violence in Classrooms

    I’m not sure if you saw the video of the teacher’s assistant in Florida being beaten by a student because he couldn’t play his video game. It is brutal and demonstrates the control an angry student can have in a classroom, especially if he is of larger stature than the teacher. This type of classroom violence is abhorrible and must be stopped. Thankfully, a camera in the classroom captured everything and presented an accurate picture of what took place rather than interpretations based on interviews of witnesses. Some schools push back on cameras in the classroom, but if this video doesn’t demonstrate the need for that type of surveillance, I don’t know what will.

  • Seattle is Taking on Social Media

    Seattle Public Schools has taken on social media in an unprecedented way. This week the district filed a lawsuit against social media companies. Social media is riddled with cyberbullies and kids focusing more on their social profiles than academic performance. It is such an obsessive component of our students' lives today that television series like Mattel's Barbie Dreamhouse have entire shows dedicated to vlogging. This lawsuit may be hard to win, but it will be outstanding to see social media providers at least called to question how they support and endorse content produced by minors.

  • Estimated Stimulus K-12 State by State Breakdown

    Thanks for our friends at Foresight Law + Policy for sharing this estimate of K-12 funding breakdown state-by-state in the newly passed COVID-19 Stimulus package. The largest states will receive over $1 billion-- the equivalent to what the entire Title IV-A fund in the Every Student Succeeds Act that is currently allocated for the entire country. Virtual learning and edtech are now on the main stage, we must be prepared to implement well in order to move the field forward. Let us help you strategize how best to use your funds, and again please read the "Just in Time Remote Learning Playbook" to get started! Contact: keciaray@k20connect.net susan@k20connect.net Schedule time with us

  • Edtech Gets Boost in COVID-19 Stimulus Package

    The Senate & House passed a historic $2 trillion dollar package (just needs the president’s signature) that has a major focus on improving both working and learning from home environments. The sudden closures of workplaces and schools across the nation have uprooted all of our lives, and nobody is feeling it more than educators who are working to provide equitable opportunities for every student in their district. This stimulus bill has a large focus on bolstering districts, especially when it comes to virtual learning opportunities. Specific education funding includes a total of $30.75 billion. The National Conference of State Legislatures has provided a complete breakdown of funding. The specific funding distributions are as follows: Elementary and Secondary Education: $13.5 billion. Funds to LEAS can be used for coronavirus-response activities, such as planning for and coordinating during long-term school closures; purchasing educational technology to support online learning for all students served by the local educational agency Governors: Each state will receive a share of $3 billion for governors to allocate at their discretion for emergency support grants to local educational agencies and institutions of higher education that have been most significantly impacted by the coronavirus Higher Education: $14.25 billion for emergency relief for Institutions of Higher Education to respond to the coronavirus. At least 50% of institutional funds must provide emergency financial aid grants to students that can cover eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care. Remaining institutional funds may be used to defray expenses for IHEs, such as lost revenue and technology costs associated with a transition to distance education. Not only does the bill cover education technology, but technology in general, which could also be helpful to districts during this time. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) holds two programs that help to improve broadband access. Two specific programs are receiving funding under this stimulus package. They include $25 million to the USDA’s Rural Development Grant Program for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, as well as $100 million to the USDA’s ReConnect program to help ensure rural Americans have access to broadband. To understand just how vast this investment is, Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act which specifically allows districts to use dollars on technology is currently allocated at $1.21B. (Advocates had to fight long and hard for even this amount.) The Stimulus bill also builds in flexibility for LEAs to request waivers for specific provisions under Title IV-A. This includes the ability to waive the requirement that 1: a needs assessment be conducted for any amount received over $30,000 (Section 4106(D)) and 2: waives the cap of the use of 15% on technology for any LEA receiving $30,000 or more.. (Section 4109(b)) The Just in Time Playbook for Remote Learning K20Connect will continue to monitor this legislation and implementation as an agreement is made and dollars start being sent to the states for distribution. In the meantime if there is anyway we can help you understand any pieces of the legislation, please feel free to reach out to Susan Gentz at susan@k20connect.net Additionally Dr. Kecia Ray, President of K20Connect authored the "Just in Time Playbook for Remote Learning". Check it out here as you’re looking for effective strategies to implement these dollars well for remote learning in your district. We’re always here to be a resource for you. Contact us: Kecia Ray: keciaray@k20connect.net Susan Gentz: susan@k20connect.net

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