Themes for 2013–14
December 2013/January 2014
Getting Students to Mastery
How does classroom practice change when the overarching goal for students becomes mastery of the Common Core State Standards? This issue will rethink the goal of mastery in light of such developments as adaptive testing, standards-based grading, formative assessment, and Response to Intervention (RTI). How might schools teach for proficiency and mastery in an age of accountability, and what role can technology play? How are teachers handling homework, and how are they fitting in reteaching and opportunities for test retakes? Articles will discuss strategies for working with students who have mastered the basic objectives as well as helping struggling students who risk falling behind.
Building School Morale
How do we build schoolwide cultures in which administrators, teachers, students, and parents are energized and positive about learning? This issue will explore how both principals and teachers can achieve balance, reduce stress, and become confident advocates for public education in the face of outside criticisms. What practices build educator morale; protect educators from negative pressures and initiative fatigue; empower them to be problem solvers; and promote trust, mutual respect, collegiality, and celebration? How can the demands of accountability and high expectations be realized in a positive culture? How can school leaders create a culture of community by forging alliances and involving families?
Using Assessments Thoughtfully
With the new assessments connected to the Common Core State Standards to be implemented in the 2014–15 school year, high-stakes tests will continue to be a force shaping schooling. This issue will look at current questions and challenges associated with both high- and low-stakes tests. How different will the new assessments created for the common core be? What must schools do now to prepare for the new tests, including providing professional development and getting the infrastructure needed for computerized testing? How can schools fairly assess English language learners and students with learning differences? What about "exit exams" for high school students? How do such gatekeeper tests affect at-risk youth and the dropout rate? We welcome new perspectives on how to align standardized and classroom-based tests and how to teach for meaning in an age of testing.
Writing: A Core Skill
The Common Core State Standards call for schools to emphasize not only creative and narrative writing, but also argumentative and informative writing. How can writing instruction across the content areas best respond to these new standards? How important is it to explicitly teach language mechanics, such as spelling, vocabulary, and sentence construction? How can schools give writing instruction more time in the day and more focus in all subjects? This issue will examine the writing skills that students need to develop to become college and career ready, as well as promising approaches for teaching writing.
The New Face of Professional Development
Professional learning is no longer only something that schools do for educators; it's also something educators do for themselves. Educators are not only building professional communities online and in their schools and districts, but they are also personalizing their own learning. Data teams, lesson study groups, and virtual communities provide opportunities to learn with and from peers. Teacher-led "unconferences" and edcamps provide new models for professional conferences. And blogs, wikis, and Twitter chats are enabling educators to learn and share anytime and anywhere. How can school leaders customize and evaluate professional development opportunities? What types of learning communities are most effective, and what are some of the barriers to creating such communities?
Deadline: December 3, 2013