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Virginia Journal of Education


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NBCTs Make Policy
Recommendations

COLUMBUS, OH-In a policy summit held here, a group of more than 500 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs), all association members, gathered to share their experience and expertise with each other and with education policymakers. Before they were done, the NBCTs had put together a report listing recommendations for education projects such as reducing achievement gaps and preparing students for the global economy of the 21st century. Here are some of their key suggestions:

. Universal preschool should be provided, and it should be taught by licensed early childhood educators.

. All teachers should receive at least four hours each school year of professional development in teaching special needs students.

. Funding should be allocated for at least one licensed media/technology specialist per school building or per 300 students.

. Collaboration time of one hour per day should be provided to teachers, in addition to other professional development and individual planning time.

. Incentives should be created for families to attend enrichment classes in their local school divisions that focus on topics such as home-school relationships, children's learning styles, developmental stages, and parenting tips.

. Full-time teacher leadership positions should be created in each school for modeling teaching, planning, curriculum, developing assessments, providing professional development, and mentoring teachers and administrators.

. Leadership Academies should be established in school divisions to prepare teachers and first-year administrators for effective, collaborative leadership.


NEA President Calls for
NCLB Revisions

WASHINGTON-In a recent appearance before Congress, NEA President Reg Weaver called on members of the House Education and Labor Committee to reject draft language currently under discussion for the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Instead, Weaver asked the committee to slow the legislative process down in order to make a major course correction in how the federal government supports state and local education initiatives.

Some 40 NEA members and staff leaders from around the country joined the NEA president on Capitol Hill to lobby for rejection of the draft language. "The draft that has been provided for discussion makes only minor tweaks in the divisive and dysfunctional law that parents, teachers, and public schools have been saddled with these past five years," says Weaver. "If the committee is not going to make meaningful changes that truly address the needs of America's public school students, a major opportunity will have been missed."

Chief among educator concerns with the discussion draft is the continued focus on high stakes testing, punishments, labeling of children, and unfunded federal mandates. Also, while these items are not corrected in the draft language, equally important educator concerns are left out of the discussion altogether. These would include initiatives to reduce class size, increase the training and retention of highly qualified teachers, expand access to early childhood education, and provide adequate funding for improved school facilities and materials.

"One of the major reasons the current No Child Left Behind law has been so divisive and dysfunctional for public schools these past five years is the very fact that it was passed without any real time for review or input from those who work in public schools," says Weaver. "That's why we've seen so many unintended and negative consequences associated with this law. How can we make sure that every child has access to a great public school when we're not even given enough time to study what's being proposed?"


Dropping Out is Result
of Lengthy Process

CLEMSON, S.C.-When a student drops out of school, it is almost always the result of a "long process of disengagement that sometimes begins before the child enrolls in kindergarten," and not a single event, says a new study sponsored by Communities in Schools and conducted by the National Dropout Prevention Center (NDPC) at Clemson University.

The study's authors say that their research underscores the fact that dropout prevention, to be effective, must begin well before high school. They say that dropping out of school is related to risk factors in four areas: individual, family, school and community.

"Children of low socioeconomic status are particularly at risk, and if you add low achievement, poor attendance and being too old for the grade, the risk increases dramatically and the student will not likely graduate," says Jay Smink, executive director of NDPC. "You can take those four factors to the bank."

Other risk factors are less obvious, such as students who work a lot of hours, have a large number of siblings, or are part of families that don't talk much about school.

The study, entitled "Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programs," also lists the types and characteristics of some successful prevention strategies. Details are available at www.dropoutprevention.org .


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