• Common Core State Standards, Factors Influencing Student Achievement, Responsive Coaching, Teacher Evaluation, Autism

  • JP works with schools providing training on how to ameliorate teacher weaknesses brought to light through the process of teacher evaluation.

  • JP Associates offers our sites grant writing assistance. Take advantage of our experience writing successful grant requests.

  • JP brings together several critical factors in the development of an effective school.

  • JP partners with schools and districts across the country to provide intensive professional development for scientifically-based programs.
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Pre-to-3: New mapping tool provides a data snapshot of youngest students

An Urban Institute tool is giving school and district leaders a more accurate view of future kindergartners

School district leaders may think they have a pretty good handle on the characteristics of the pre-K students in their classrooms, but what do they knew about the children who are not enrolled in pre-K, or in any type of early-childhood program? A new interactive site from the Urban Institute allows district leaders and principals to have a more accurate view of their future kindergartners.

The tool can also be useful to community organizations, policymakers and others focusing on increasing young children’s access to early learning opportunities.

The 50-state map, which can zoom in to the community, or “micropolitan” level, provides data on the 10 characteristics that the tool’s creators say are necessary for planning future services, professional development, or even curriculum materials in the early grades. The 10 data points available in the tool are enrollment, race and ethnicity, citizenship, family income, the number of parents in the home and the parents' education level, employment, nativity, English proficiency and primary language.

“Whatever door or agenda you’re walking through, you need the same information,” says Gina Adams, a senior fellow in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute. “Whatever angles you have, you can create a fact sheet for your locality.”

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How Reading Rewires Your Brain for More Intelligence and Empathy

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Fitness headlines promise staggering physical results: a firmer butt, ripped abs, bulging biceps. Nutritional breakthroughs are similar clickbait, with attention-grabbing, if often inauthentic—what, really, is a “superfood?”—means of achieving better health. Strangely, one topic usually escaping discussion has been shown, time and again, to make us healthier, smarter, and more empathic animals: reading.

Reading, of course, requires patience, diligence, and determination. Scanning headlines and retweeting quips is not going to make much cognitive difference. If anything, such sweet nothings are dangerous, the literary equivalent of sugar addiction. Information gathering in under 140 characters is lazy. The benefits of contemplation through narrative offer another story.

The benefits are plenty, which is especially important in a distracted, smartphone age in which one-quarter of American children don’t learn to read. This not only endangers them socially and intellectually, but cognitively handicaps them for life. One 2009 study of 72 children ages eight to ten discovered that reading creates new white matter in the brain, which improves system-wide communication. 

White matter carries information between regions of grey matter, where any information is processed. Not only does reading increase white matter, it helps information be processed more efficiently. 

Reading in one language has enormous benefits. Add a foreign language and not only do communication skills improve—you can talk to more people in wider circles—but the regions of your brain involved in spatial navigation and learning new information increase in size. Learning a new language also improves your overall memory.

In one of the most fascinating aspects of neuroscience, language affects regions of your brain involving actions you’re reading about. For example, when you read “soap” and “lavender,” the parts of your brain implicated in scent are activated. Those regions remain silent when you read “chair.” What if I wrote “leather chair?” Your sensory cortex just fired. 

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Research: How the Best School Leaders Create Enduring Change

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Transforming a school is a long, hard, and often lonely task. Some people want change, others don’t, and some simply aren’t prepared to wait for results to show. As a school leader sets off on this journey, how do they know what to do, when to do it, who to listen to, and how to manage critics along the way?

Our study of the actions and impact of 411 leaders of UK academiesfound that only 62 of them managed their turnaround successfully and sustainably transformed their school. While other leaders managed to create a school that looked good while they were there, but then went backwards, these 62 leaders built a school that continued to improve long after they’d left. We call them Architects, because they systematically redesign the school and transform the community it serves.

We studied them over eight years, using 64 investment and 24 performance variables to identify what they did, when they did it, and the impact they had. We visited the schools to see first-hand their actions and results. And we interviewed the leaders and their teams to understand the challenges they faced, when they occurred, and how they overcame them.

We found the Architects sustainably transformed a school by challenging how it operated, engaging its community, and improving its teaching. They took nine key steps over three years, in a particular order. Each step represented a different building block in the school performance pyramid. But it was a bumpy ride, with 90% almost fired at the end of their second year. Here’s what they did, and how they did it.

The school performance pyramid

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Teaching Adolescents How to Evaluate the Quality of Online Information

Three students discuss information they’re reading on a laptop.

Use these strategies to help middle and high school students identify relevance, accuracy, bias, and reliability in the content they read.

An essential part of online research is the ability to critically evaluate information. This includes the ability to assess its level of accuracy, reliability, and bias. In 2012, my colleagues and I assessed 770 seventh graders in two states to study these areas, and the results definitely got our attention. Unfortunately, over 70 percent of the students’ responses suggested that:

  • Middle school students are more concerned with content relevance than with credibility
  • They rarely attend to source features such as author, venue, or publication type to evaluate reliability and author perspective

When they do refer to source features in their explanations, their judgments are often vague, superficial, and lacking in reasoned justificationOther studies highlight similar shortcomings of high school and college students in these areas (see, for example, a 2016 study from Stanford). From my perspective, the problem is not likely to go away without intervention during regular content area instruction.

Other studies highlight similar shortcomings of high school and college students in these areas (see, for example, a 2016 study from Stanford). From my perspective, the problem is not likely to go away without intervention during regular content area instruction.

So what can you do to more explicitly teach adolescents how to evaluate the quality of online information?

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ReadWorks offers audio versions of all of its 3,874 articles to support students

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ReadWorks offers audio versions of all of its 3,874 articles to support students as they read. Audio narrations are important tools for helping readers access texts - especially emerging readers, struggling readers, English Language Learners, and students with learning disabilities. 

Over 600 of our K-8 articles have audio versions that feature real human voices reading with fluency and expression. 

Find and listen to human-voice narrated articles by clicking the button below!

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