August 2010 Vol. 31 No 4

August 2010

Focused learning communities build hope and bring equity into the classroom.


The Learning Professional

Published Date

In This Issue


Up Close

One starting point for understanding how different groups of students perform relative to their majority peers is a series of reports from the center on Education policy. Three recent reports discuss the educational needs of African-American, Latino, and Asian-American students.


As federal lawmakers take up the reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education act (NClB), a Broader, Bolder approach to education has laid out six key principles for consideration.

From The Director

A story from my school board experience illustrates how understanding of this topic evolves. During my school board tenure, state testing assumed new levels of significance. Our state department of education (pre-NCLB) disaggregated student test results by gender, race, free and reduced lunch eligibility, English language learners, and disabilities. The state education agency then announced school rankings determined by a formula that considered test scores across subjects as well as the categories above.

On Board

In its October 2006 policy brief, Are Boys Making the Grade? Gender Gaps in Achievement and Attainment, the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy noted that the gender gap is real and has a negative effect on boys, most notably black and Latino boys.


NSDC has received a $250,000 grant from MetLife Foundation to initiate the revision of NSDC’s Standards for Staff Development. First published in 1995 and revised in 2001, NSDC’s standards represent the collaborative work of NSDC and 17 other professional associations. Based on research, the standards define effective professional development and guide schools and districts in implementing professional learning to improve student achievement.

Through Students' Eyes

Like most policies and practices in education, agendas for achieving social justice in classrooms are defined and pursued by adults. Missing are the perspectives of those most directly affected by what educators decide and do: students. Research tells educators how to support diverse students’ learning and thus to foster more equal opportunities for school success.

Tradition Becomes the Teacher

One way to approach the improvement of instruction is for educators to learn from student interactions in cultural events that fully engage students’ motivation and curiosity. In such a context, educators get to know students in new ways and to connect student strengths to classroom instruction. This can be especially powerful when the learning context is a shared and collaborative experience among educators.

The Long And Winding Road To Social Justice

In working toward social justice in schools, we encounter people at different places on the continuum. Educators in our large, primarily white, suburban school district — Parkway School District in St. Louis, Mo. —  range from the resistant to the eager reformer. Our challenge over the last year has been to address the data and move our staff to a place where we can say that we will reach and teach all children.

A Large Cup of Insight

A couple of years ago, a few minutes after watching a teacher and student spiral into what might be called a spirited discussion about respect, I made a mistake. Fifty-six years old, with a shiny new conflict resolution master’s degree and 20 years of improv and facilitation experience, I thought I could handle a difficult dialogue.

Coaches Root Out Deep Bias

The National Equity Project helps educators examine their own perspectives on the pathway to addressing issues of race, class, and culture.

The Challenge For Educators

Seattle Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson spoke at NSDC's Summer Conference in Seattle in July. Goodloe-Johnson shared her insights on the role of professional learning in reaching all students in a diverse urban district.

Up Close

One starting point for understanding how different groups of students perform relative to their majority peers is a series of reports from the Center on Education Policy. Three recent reports discuss the educational needs of African-American, Latino, and Asian-American students. The reports reflect the growing national concern about the need for education and policy leaders at all levels to more aggressively improve the quality and effectiveness of these students’ educational opportunities.

Digging Deeper

I’ve never heard an educator in a high poverty school or district dispute whether his or her school needs to improve. The discussion is always about how and how much. And in all sorts of communities, while some people are satisfied with incremental improvements, others will not rest until every child experiences the nurturing and challenge he or she deserves.

Building Hope, Giving Affirmation

A school that ensures that all students — regardless of race, creed, color, socioeconomic status, gender, or disabilities — have access to and receive the highest-quality education has achieved a key measure of social justice (Cochran-Smith, 2009; Curren, 2009).


Building hope, giving affirmation: learning communities that address social justice issues bring equity to the classroom.

A Better Way To Measure

Just when educators are learning more about what constitutes effective professional development, a collaborative team of education researchers and practitioners have developed, tested, and implemented a cost-effective method of measuring and reporting on the quality of teacher professional development.

What Teachers Want

We are now well into the 21st century and as a nation are clamoring for change and opportunity. What does this mean for public school educators? As a group, are we moving rapidly into the future, or are our systems rooted in the past? Most importantly, what development opportunities do experienced and novice educators alike perceive as necessary to move our systems into a new era?

From The Editor

Cultural Proficiency

Campus visits are a common approach to preparing students for college. In many cases, students and their parents research potential colleges and then visit a select few to help make a final decision about which college to attend.

Site highlights

Collaborative Culture

The mission of the Corpus Christi Independent School District is to develop the hearts and minds of all students. It does our community little good to try to educate our students on academics without developing the heart to connect students to each other and to the community as a whole.

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