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

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  • JP works with schools providing training on how to ameliorate teacher weaknesses brought to light through the process of teacher evaluation.
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5 ways teachers can improve student learning based on current brain research



How students can better overcome language and reading problems thanks to the plastic brain and teacher know-how.

The brain is an experience-dependent organ. From our very earliest days, the brain begins to map itself to our world as we experience it through our senses. The mapping is vague and fuzzy at first, like a blurred photograph or an un-tuned piano. However, the more we interact with the world, the more well-defined our brain maps become until they are fine-tuned and differentiated. But each person’s map will vary, with some sensory experiences more distinct than others depending on the unique experiences and the clarity and frequency of the sensations he or she has experienced.

Educators can positively influence students’ learning by understanding how the brain is shaped by their early experiences—and how it can be rewired and reorganized to work more quickly and efficiently.

The Plastic Brain and the Critical Period

Brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, refers to the brain’s ability to change with experience. In infancy and early childhood, a brain is so “plastic” that its structure is easily changed by simple exposure to new things in the environment. This time is sometimes called “the critical period,” or “the sensitive period.” [NOTE: the term ‘critical period’ although popular a couple of decades ago it is rarely used anymore because we understand plasticity better and realize new skills can be acquired long after the early developmental period, hence it is not really “critical”.]

Consider, for example, how babies easily learn the sounds of language and words by listening to their parents speak. Inside the brain, what this learning looks like is the brain actually reorganizing itself to change its own structure and create new sound maps that reflect the sounds of their native language. These sound maps are then interconnected with other maps and nodes to form interconnected networks so sound can be linked to meaning.

Networks can be expansive. For example, the sound map needed to recognize the word “pen” might first be connected to the meaning connoting a writing instrument, but over time, “pen” might be part of a network for comprehending “pen” as a verb meaning to write, then part of a word referring to legibility, “penmanship” and perhaps later to farm regions, like a pig pen.  Networks will also develop to allow words to be used in grammatical sentences then organized for reading.

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Preschool, A State-By-State Update

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More states than ever are providing publicly funded preschool. That's according to a new report from the researchers at the National Institute for Early Education Research, or NIEER, who have been tracking state preschool policies and programs since 2002.

In 2016, the report found, 43 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam, provide publicly funded preschool. They serve about 1.5 million children across the country — mostly 3- and 4-year-olds. Total state spending on preschool is now about $7.4 billion, an eight percent increase over last year. That increase has pushed spending to nearly $5,000 per child.

Last year 24 states increased spending per child. California and Texas saw some of the biggest increases.


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States take different approaches to closing teacher shortages in early ESSA plans


With over a quarter of a century of experience in designing and implementing professional development to thousands of schools JP can assist you in creating a plan that will work for you.

RESA Academies focus on preventing high teacher attrition identifying it as the one factor within a school’s sphere of influence.

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Dive Brief:

  • As states begin to offer the U.S. Department of Education the Consolidated State Plans on how each state intends to comply with the guidelines of the Every Student Succeeds Act, several ideas and programs to address the country’s teacher shortage have been consistent appearances, according to an American Institutes for Research analysis.
  • Connecticut and New Jersey intend to incorporate new marketing pushes into their attempts to attract talent, while 11 of the 17 states that have submitted plans thus far intend to strengthen the data and processes available for teacher recruitment, including online pipelines that make applying for teaching jobs simpler.
  • Six of the states are considering ways to entice teachers through higher pay, particularly for subject areas with shortages, like STEM fields, or locations with teacher shortages, like in rural areas.

Dive Insight:

Many of the methods to combat teacher shortages incorporated in the submitted plans deal with the low rates of teacher recruitment, but fewer directly address teacher retention rates, besides suggestions to boost pay. An NPR report found that approximately 8% of teachers leave the field each year, contributing to the low numbers of educators. A report analyzed this massive gap, saying if the country could reduce that rate to 4%, the teacher shortage could be sufficiently addressed. 

National Governors Association Stephen Parker Legislative Director, Education & Workforce Committee​ said in a recent interview that several consolidated state plans submitted to the U.S. Department of Education are more focused on compliance and offer fewer details about plans for innovation, following recent changes to the reporting requirementsStates had been planning for the coming changes for several years, but now the requirement that the federal government approve plans has been eliminated. 

DIVE Article

The Financial Literacy of 15-year-olds in the U.S. and Abroad

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U.S. students scored, on average, about the same as their international peers on a financial literacy assessment in 2015, according to a new report released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Results for U.S. students were not significantly different from their performance on the same assessment in 2012

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) assessed the financial literacy of 15-year-old students in the United States and 14 other education systems around the world. Two U.S. state education systems – Massachusetts and North Carolina – also participated in the assessment. 

The PISA assessment of financial literacy measures students’ knowledge and understanding of fundamental elements of the financial world, including financial concepts, products, and risks. PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and conducted in the United States by NCES.

Among the findings in the new report: 

• In 2015, U.S. students scored 487 (on a scale of 0 to 1,000), which was not statistically different than the OECD average (489). Of the 15 national education systems taking the assessment, students from Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong (B-S-J-G), China scored highest (566), followed by Belgium (Flemish Community) (541), and the seven participating Canadian provinces (533); 

• The U.S. scored significantly higher than six other education systems that took the assessment; significantly lower than six education systems; and about the same as two other systems;

• Massachusetts students outperformed their U.S. peers with an average score of 523. The average score of students in North Carolina (496) was not statistically different than the U.S. average; and 

• The average score of U.S. students on the assessment (487) was not significantly different than in 2012 (492). Of the eight national education systems that took the assessment in 2012 and 2015, two (Italy and the Russian Federation) saw significant increases in their average scores, and four (Australia, Poland, Spain, and the Slovak Republic) saw significant decreases.

To view this report, go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017086

To learn more about PISA and the upcoming report, visit http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/.

Report: Students with Learning and Attention Issues Three Times More Likely to Drop Out

One in five children have learning and attention issues, or brain-based challenges in reading, writing, math, organization, focus, listening comprehension, social skills, motor skills or a combination of these, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). In a new report, the NCLD examines why students facing these issues are three times more likely to drop out of school.

For “The State of learning Disabilities,” the NCLD used “recently released data for the 2015-2016 school year and other field-leading research to shine a light on the current challenges and opportunities facing the 1 in 5 children who have learning and attention issues such as dyslexia and ADHD,” the report’s introduction states. Offering up statistics, first-person stories, recommendations and more in the report, NCLD looks at how specific learning disabilities (SLD) can impact student success, starting in K–12 and moving on to college and the workplace...

The report also touches on the stigma surrounding learning attention disabilities — how students with SLD are often seen as lazy or unmotivated to learn in classrooms. The NCLD says these perceptions can contribute to the fact that some students won’t disclose that they have a learning disability.

Based on recent surveys, insights into stigma include:

  • 33 percent of educators say that sometimes what people call a learning disability is really just laziness;
  • 43 say they would not want others to know if their child has a learning disability;
  • 48 percent of parents believe incorrectly that children will outgrow these brain-based difficulties; and
  • Parents only follow doctor recommendations on SLD about 54 percent of the time.

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