Race to the Top (RTT) is a $4.35 billion United States Department of Education contest for all 50 states and DC created to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K-12 education.
Arne Duncan, previous CEO of Chicago schools who changes the school systems in Chicago and the current US Secretary of Education was the person behind the idea and implementation. His idea was to bring the students in US at par with other countries that have advanced Math programs like Korea, China, India, Japan etc. President Obama backed it under the ARRA act of 2009.
The idea was to award money to various states who submitted applications showcasing better curriculum, assessment methodology, performance-based standards, implementing common core curriculum, turning around the lowest-performing schools, and building data systems. Points were awarded for each of the criteria and the state getting maximum points of a possible 500 wins the money! As simple as that.
What the program did though was unify states and expedite the process to adopt the common core curriculum. Get more information 48 states adopted the common core by the August 2010 deadline.
12 states won the Race to the Top competition and were awarded the money with NY and FL getting the maximum $700 mn each.
Now the states won the money to implement better methodology, implementing common core curriculum, turning around schools, rewarding parents etc. Now, the next logical step was the assessment, how to ensure all the students across the country are tested at the same level and are tested with 21st century skills, real time application testing. So the federal government under the RTT awarded money to 2 consortiums.
PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) http://www.parcconline.org/ had 23 states – DC and Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. This consortium was awarded $170 million (Award Letter) would develop next generation assessment tests that would replace all existing assessments in these states and use the PARCC assessment. The PARCC assessment would be done twice a year – mid-year and end of the year assessment. They will start with a pilot of 1 million students in spring 2014 and have all the other 22 million students using PARCC by the academic year 2014-15. The tests would be governed either on computers or by print for the initial 2 years and then completely online.
SMARTER Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) http://www.smarterbalanced.org/ – was another consortium of 22 states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and they were awarded $160 mn (Award letter). They decided to take a different approach with a computer based adaptive test rather than just assessment to ensure the questions get difficult if the student is getting them right and vice-versa.
For both the assessments – A web-based Consortium platform will be developed to manage assessment data and provide sophisticated data reporting and analysis tools for customized reports.
So no matter what state or school you belong to – the coming school year – be prepared for computer based test which will test the students application/cognitive skills rather than having bubble based simple multiple choice questions. 21st century – here we come!
A lot has been said about Common Core Curriculum in the past 2-3 years.
How it helps the greater good -This article from NY times and NEA today-
how it is not worth it at all –this article from Washington post and Fox news- http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/eight-problems-with-common-core-standards/2012/08/21/821b300a-e4e7-11e1-8f62-58260e3940a0_blog.html
To Myths vs Facts – http://www.corestandards.org/resources/myths-vs-facts
What we know for fact is that
- Common core is here to stay.
- 45 states have adopted it and there was no federal say in it.
- It was all community driven – parents, teachers, community leaders, school administrators all worked on standards, pitched in and created them
- It defines what is expected of each child of each state at each grade level
Now, when we keep debating if they are good or not, in my opinion we are arguing if our educators are any good or not. Not the government, the educators -Since these standards were created by them. And we can never be in a good shape if we question our educators and now show faith in them, so let’s support them and work on a path to ensure that the core standards are well implemented and help our kids and nation grow.
Now, coming to the second part – what needs to be done to implement core standards. So every educator including a company like ours has varied opinions on that. Let me present PracTutor’s opinion. We need to ensure 3 things while thinking of implementing any standard, any policy.
- Is it going to be fun, easy and motivating for the kids (who actually will be doing all the work)
- Is it going to be easy for the teachers to know what they need to do – across 45 states?
- Is it going to be satisfactory for the parents who are apprehensive about all the changes?
So at PracTutor we did a lot of brainstorming bringing in educators, technologists, consultants, leaders, parents and of course kids. To ensure all the above 3 things are well implemented we did the following 3 things.
- Made learning and practicing/testing fun with rewards, exciting environment
- Made everything aligned to core standards with flexibility to make changes so the teachers are comfortable knowing what is expected of each standard and how can they bring in their creativity
- Keep parents connected with students and teachers to know how the students are performing and what the teacher is implementing
This makes all 3 involved parties very content.
To ensure this works, we give it for FREE to most school districts/teachers so they are prepared when common core hits them.
This is our opinion, we may be wrong, but we are willing to do the hard work with the right people and ensure we make it right and I guess that is what the US education system needs right now.
What started as a seed of an idea over a coffee table discussion about 16 months ago have taken the shape of a product. We discussed about the problems the elementary and middle school kids faced in Math and English and how there were so many yet so few effective websites out there to address this problem.
I am so thrilled today to share the first version of PracTutor – www.practutor.com to address some of those problems and give the power back to the parents. We spent about 16 months discussing, ideating, developing, fine tuning and making sure everything worked and finally seeing it live feels like magic.
Its like becoming a father after 16 months of anxiousness. However, like all father know, this is just the beginning. I still have to ensure my baby learns to walk, speak the first words and then run and grow. I would need every single users’ support to ensure this happens. So please call me (502-400-9374), email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), send me feedback, concerns, questions, likes, comments, tweets whatever to make PracTutor grow.
I would like to thank the entire team who made this happen.
We opened PracTutor to the world on June 2, 19.32 hours and since then we have got 5219 people registering on PracTutor which feels very good. I would like to have continuous feedback from you to ensure we make it better to suit your needs and make it the perfect solution to help you and the kids. If you think it can benefit others, please share it with your friends.
I want to ensure that your experience with PracTutor is as awesome as was ours while developing it.
Proud parent of PracTutor
Increasing student confidence and being a motivator is a core and a vital part in being an honest teacher. The high of teaching is the amount of respect you get from your students. It is each teachers dream to see his student be a great achiever. The aim of this article is to explore new method for students to learn better. Effective learning ensures dialogue and communication and must constantly flow between teacher-student paradigms.
Advances in each scientific discipline and knowledge technology have the potential to remodel education and coaching in ways that was previously impossible. If students aren’t encouraged to be told then they’re possibly not concerned within the lesson and if they’re not concerned within the lesson they’re rather more likely to cause management issues within the class rooms.
Therefore, it’s essential for academics to extend student motivation to be told and also the best method to change the way our students express learning so as to spark student interest at the initial stage of each lesson.
Below given are methods for motivating students to change their learning strategies:
1. Use essential thinking queries; the good factor regarding using these varieties of queries is that they do not essentially have a right or wrong answer thereby inspiring students to express their own opinions.
2. Use music to show ~ Music is one in all the foremost underrated learning tools and could be a good way to spark student interest. As an example, once teaching a lesson on the traffic a teacher of mine introduced the subject by enjoying the Marley songs “Buffalo Soldier” and “Catch a Fire”. It has till date stuck with me.
3. Use video ~ Video is one of the most misunderstood teaching tools and is commonly abused. However, if used properly video may be an excellent tool to increase student. The secret is to use short clips from movies and documentaries at the starting of lessons instead. Hollywood movies form great example for this, however you’ll use documentaries, famous speeches and entertainment to show a style of literature.
4. Associate what students learn compared to what’s occurring within the “real world”. This can clearly accomplish some subjects than others, however it may be done. Students ought to grasp “why” they’re learning one thing.
5. Associate what students learn to what is vital to them. The trick here is to urge to your students to grasp and encourage them to study more and more topics of their own interest.
6. Use technology, not just for the sake being modern but realize and apply it to save time and increase efficiency. Do measure application of technology at regular intervals. The periodic assessment will help you ensure that it actually does solve your purpose or the amount of revision required for better output.
7. Educators should specialize in new competencies and should be constantly researching as well as testing their research in practical markets. Changes at such huge magnitude need accepted wisdom of education both in terms of the syllabus as well as within the development of pedagogies.
The constant researches will insure that each student acquires the high level of skills required to thrive within the dynamic world of the twenty first century.
8. Technological fluency needs to be a basic ability. As assured user of technology, we must be able to use computers and internet to derive information and as we use to from a library at our schools. Technology is setting new records each day and is progressing and penetrating deep in even third world countries. To get our students to be techno-savvy is one of our greatest achievements as well as a constant challenge at Education Avenue.
9. Education should prepare students not just for jobs but for real excellence. If our challenges are restricted to getting ready folks for the styles of jobs accessible these days, we’d still have plenty of labor to try to. Honestly our challenge as an educator is far more bigger and it is our genuine duty to ensure that our students actually adapt to the challenge of changing times.
We all know that in a traditional classroom, it is the teachers who control the students and provide them with study materials when required. Gone are those days, today online teaching and learning plays a vital role where students and teachers both participate equally to obtain an enhanced learning experience.
There are many learning institutes coming up, offering different styles and methods of teaching, but we have to be very alert before choosing the best one for our child. PracTutor is one of the education programs, which provides K12 students with an adaptive platform of learning and mastering subjects like Math and English. Some important key features stated below should to be implemented in order modify the methodology of teaching to a more technological and customized online learning.
1) Student Presentation
It has been observed lately that, K-12 classrooms which have executed web-based learning, have observed drastic changes in the performance of students. Together with this, tests are conducted, in order to analyze their understanding abilities. On the basis of these collective results, the teaching style or course can be emphasized to enable the students grasp well. Online learning can play a major role in the overall development of a child.
2) Student Engagement and Achievements
Online learning inspires student’s engagement to a greater extent than ever before. The reason is because students really get a chance to come up with their difficulties to their faculty in real time without long waiting for hours. Also another benefit of online learning is most of the teachers and lecturers have organized online forums and communities to permit their students to join in. Under this forum, every student gets a chance to discuss, resolve their query and also share their learning materials and coursework with other students. In addition to this, teachers are available 24×7 to revert to their queries and clarify their doubts pertaining to a lesson or assessment work.
3) Features for Teachers
With the introduction of customized learning technology in the educational sector, we find changes in the role of teachers as compared to a traditional classroom where, teachers use to play a typical role speaking on a topic, then asking questions to students about the concept, and eventually assigning homework to them for the next day. However, implementing this online customized methodology of learning has brought in a paradigm shift from conventional teacher-based knowledge to meet the educational demands of the learners. Nowadays we find that teachers pressurize students and give more stress on the customization of content to meet the needs of individual students.
Practutor advices you think about Your Needs. Then, Consider Our customized learning Programs.
With PracTutor, we strongly believe student will reach “xPotential”, in other words their innate, personal possibility; therefore it is essential with the growing necessity to change the methodology of learning and teaching in order to guide schools and districts to face the challenges of student success, shortage of resources, and the expectations of 21st century learners.
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