Goalbook wins Tech & Learning magazine’s 32nd annual Award of Excellence

Goalbook Toolkit honored with “New Product” award

PALO ALTO, Calif.  (Nov. 12, 2014) – Goalbook Toolkit was recently honored with Tech & Learning magazine’s Award of Excellence. The prestigious 32-year-old program recognizes the best new and updated products in edtech.

“Once again this year our judges had the pleasurable duty to evaluate more than 150 edtech products,” said Tech & Learning Content Director Kevin Hogan. “Each is put through the proverbial wringer: How well does it work in the classroom environment? How easy is it for students and teacher to use? And, most importantly, how effective is it in improving learning? Not a simple task. Congratulations to all of the winners.”

The “New Product” Award of Excellence is given to recently released edtech products that have taken the education world by storm and are already making a difference in students’ lives.

“It is such an honor to receive this Award of Excellence from Tech & Learning,” said Daniel Jhin Yoo, the co-founder and CEO of Goalbook. “Our team has worked very hard to make Goalbook Toolkit a go-to resource for teachers, and earning such prominent industry recognition will help us share our message with an even wider audience.”

Goalbook Toolkit helps teachers incorporate research-based strategies into learning activities. For example, an educator may reference the Toolkit to design an instructional plan that helps students develop attentive listening, solve problems independently, or cope with separation from a parent.

A detailed description of Goalbook Toolkit and judges’ comments about why it was selected for the award will be included in the December 2014 Awards issue of Tech & Learning.

About Goalbook
Goalbook’s mission is to empower teachers to ensure access and equity for all students.  The team integrates innovative technology, professional development, and leading pedagogical research to offer a holistic solution for helping teachers personalize instruction for students.  Founded by former teachers and administrators, Daniel Jhin Yoo and Justin Su, Goalbook partners with over 100 district customers in 30 states.  Goalbook was part of ImagineK12’s inaugural class and the first company funded through New Schools Venture Fund’s Seed Fund.  Learn more at www.goalbookapp.com.

About Tech & Learning

For over 30 years, Tech & Learning has been — and continues to be — the leading resource for K-12 leaders. Its publications, Web sites and events provide factual and evaluative information on trends, products, and strategies to educators who purchase technology products in their districts and schools. Tech & Learning, published by NewBay Media LLC, delivers the highest quality content and essential resources to manage, train, and teach technology. For more information, visit www.TechLearning.com.


NCTQ Report Finds That Teacher Prep Coursework Is Easier Than That of Other Majors on College Campuses

“Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them” Highlights Lack of Rigor in Teacher Preparation; Report Finds That 44% of Teacher Candidates Graduate With Honors While Only 30% of All Undergraduate Students Do So

Washington, DC — A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) documents that education majors are significantly more likely to receive high grades and graduate with honors than students in other majors on the same campuses.

The report, Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them, argues that the persistent lack of rigor in teacher education coursework is a disservice to future teachers and their students. By failing to signal the challenge and complexity of real teaching, these courses send too many graduates into the classroom woefully unprepared, thus diminishing the value of their investment in preparation.   The report can be found here.

NCTQ looked at graduation data for students from more than 500 institutions—where nearly half of all new teachers are prepared—and found that education majors are almost half again as likely as all graduating students to graduate with academic honors.

“Teaching is one of the most difficult and demanding jobs there is,” said Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ. “Yet for reasons that are hard to fathom, it appears to be one of the easiest majors both to get into and then to complete. Our findings are provocative and disturbing, helping to explain why most new teachers are overwhelmed when they walk into the classroom. The situation is not fair to the kids who get assigned to new teachers, nor is it right to shortchange the teachers themselves— who through no fault of their own are not sufficiently prepared.”

Easy A’s is the latest installment in a series of reports by NCTQ, each focusing on a different aspect of teacher preparation. These reports supplement NCTQ’s much broaderTeacher Prep Review, which rates the quality of teacher preparation programs and is published by U.S. News & World Report.

Easy A’s findings:

  • Based on spring commencement brochures from 509 institutions, a teacher candidate is half again as likely to graduate with honors: on average, 44 percent of teacher candidates versus only 30 percent of all students in graduating classes earn academic honors.
  • This 14 percentage point average differential between graduating teacher candidates and other graduating students (44%-30%) masks the much larger difference found at many of the institutions in the study. At about a quarter of the colleges and universities, the gap stands at a disturbing 20 percentage points, climbing as high as 40 percentage points in 14 (3 percent) of the institutions.
  • At a minority but significant number of institutions (42 percent), teacher candidates are not much more likely than their campus peers to earn honors. At these institutions, there are few, no or even reverse differentials—proof that it is possible for grading standards in teacher preparation to align to campus norms.

(Individual findings for the 509 institutions can be retrieved from the NCTQ website,http://www.nctq.org/teacherPrep/review2014.do, and are found in Appendix A of the report.)

NCTQ’s analysis did not stop with an examination of grades, but also investigated whyteacher candidates at so many colleges and universities might receive such high grades in professional coursework, even as many surveys report that new teachers frequently struggle to be effective despite their high grades. Ruling out a number of explanations, the analysis ultimately focused on the kinds of assignments that the candidates must complete.

NCTQ analyzed the types of course assignments for 1,161 courses, both education and non-education (including business, psychology, history, nursing, economics and biology) across 33 institutions, finding two basic types of assignments.

NCTQ termed these two types of assignments “criterion-deficient” and “criterion-referenced.” The prevalence of one type of assignment over another proves to be a powerful predictor of whether a course is more or less likely to lead to high grades. (This relationship was determined using a subsample of 499 courses for which the average grade is publicly available.)

Courses where it is relatively easy to earn an “A” rely primarily on criterion-deficient assignments. Such assignments tend to be generally quite broad in nature, do not require demonstration or mastery of particular knowledge or skills, and are often subjective, asking only that students express an opinion.

Courses where it is harder to earn an “A” tend to base grades more on “criterion-referenced” assignments, honing in more narrowly on specific knowledge and skills. These assignments are more objective in nature, with an understanding that some strategies are more effective than others in the classroom. (Examples of the two types of assignments can be found at the conclusion of the press release, with many examples taken from teacher preparation coursework in Sections 2 and 4, and Appendix D of the report.)

“Criterion-deficient” assignments are overwhelmingly more common in education coursework than in the courses in other majors. In the average teacher preparation course, criterion-deficient assignments account on average for 71 percent of the grade, but in non-education coursework such assignments account for only 34 percent of the course grade.

Based on this research, NCTQ makes a number of recommendations. Among them, teacher preparation programs need to examine teacher candidates’ grades on their own campuses to align their grades with other majors, set common standards for what it takes to earn top marks, shift the balance of assignments from criterion-deficient to criterion-referenced, and award honors to only a limited percentile of top-performing candidates.

About the National Council on Teacher Quality

The National Council on Teacher Quality is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization located in Washington, DC.  Founded in 2000, the National Council on Teacher Quality is committed to restructuring the teaching profession, led by our vision that every child deserves effective teachers. NCTQ is committed to lending transparency to and increasing public awareness of the four institutions having the greatest impact on teacher quality: states, teacher preparation programs, school districts and teachers unions.

Funding for NCTQ’s Teacher Prep Review and related reports is provided by over 50 foundations, located in 22 states.

What Others are Saying About Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them

Dina Rock, a 5th grade language arts and social studies teacher from Ohio who was an advisor to the project, said, “Too often new teachers don’t know what they didn’t learn until they’re on their own, facing classrooms of children. Easy A’s explains what’s behind the painfully frustrating experience of too many new teachers.”

​Celine Coggins, Executive Director of Teach Plus, whose focus is ensuring that urban children are taught by effective, experienced teachers, said, “Every year thousands of bright college students go into education, committed to working specifically with children in poverty. Then we drive them away from the profession because we didn’t train them well. Kids who desperately need these new teachers’ energy and passion are the losers. If we want to be successful at educating at-risk children, we have to teach their teachers well.”

Examples of Criterion-Referenced and Criterion-Deficient Assignments

The distinction between these two types of assignments is not unique to teacher preparation coursework, but we focus on examples that could have been taken from teacher preparation because of the focus of NCTQ’s work.  In order to show that it is not difficult to add criteria to an assignment that is criterion-deficient to ensure that both teacher candidates and their instructors can focus more on critical content and skills, the two criterion-referenced are modifications of the criterion-deficient examples. An explanation of how the assignment has been improved to provide a better foundation for strong training is provided.

Criterion-Deficient Assignment Criterion-Referenced Assignment
Indicate on the checklist that will be provided to you the techniques that the teacher whom you are observing in your field placement class uses to engage all students in discussion. Indicate on the checklist that will be provided to you in class the techniques that the teacher whom you are observing in [your field placement class] the video we will view in class uses to engage all students in discussion.
How is this improved?: By selection of a video, the instructor can ensure that candidates view particularly significant techniques and demonstrate the skill to discern the techniques.
After teaching a lesson in your field placement, analyze the results of pre- and a post-teaching quizzes and interpret how the results would inform your instructional planning if you were teaching the next day. [After teaching a lesson in your field placement,] Analyze the results of a the pre- and post-teaching quizzes that I have provided and interpret how the results would inform your instructional planning if you were teaching the next day.
How is this improved?: By analyzing results from quizzes that the instructor has developed,  the instructor both ensures that candidates are examining results that contain important content about student misconceptions and  common errors or difficulties, and that the candidates have the skill to discern both what has not been learned and what can or should be taught next.






ASCD Names Discovery Education First Lead Sponsor for 70th Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

Alexandria, VA (11/12/2014)—ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading, announced today that Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content for K–12 classrooms, is a lead sponsor for its 70th Annual Conference and Exhibit Show, to be held in Houston, Texas, from March 21–23, 2015.

“ASCD is pleased to once again welcome Discovery Education as a lead sponsor for our Annual Conference and Exhibit Show,” said Judy Seltz, ASCD executive director. “ASCD and Discovery Education’s mutual commitment to professional development solutions that benefit all educators makes this a productive relationship and one that we believe will provide great value to our conference attendees.”

Centered on the theme “Challenging Convention: Leading Disruptive Innovations,” this year’s conference will ask attendees this question: “In this time of uncertainty and the need for global connectivity, will you rise to the challenge to learn, teach, and lead?” More than 350 concurrent sessions will showcase proven strategies for educators of all roles, from best practices for classroom management and student engagement to ways to lead and inspire entire school communities. For full details visit http://annualconference.ascd.org.

The Welcome Reception will be held on Friday, March 20, from 5:00–7:00 p.m. and will be sponsored by Discovery Education. The reception will take place on the Jones Lawn of the Discovery Green Conservancy, across the street from the conference’s location at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in networking activities with fellow educators from around the world at this outdoor reception.

Discovery Education will also present a networking luncheon, “Putting the Sizzle in STEM,” on Saturday, March 21, from 12:30–1:30 p.m. at the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel. Cindy Moss, director of STEM initiatives for Discovery Education, will be the luncheon’s featured speaker. Moss, a nationally respected thought leader in STEM education and reform, brings more than 21 years of experience in district leadership, classroom instruction, and inquiry-based learning to her work as a champion for STEM engagement and career readiness.

“The ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show is one of education’s most valuable professional development events,” said Scott Kinney, senior vice president of educational partnerships for Discovery Education. “Discovery Education understands this and is pleased to return for the second year in a row as a lead sponsor of this incredible gathering of educators dedicated to supporting the success of each learner.”

Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content and professional development for K–12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content that supports the implementation of the Common Core initiative, professional development, assessment tools, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Available in over half of all U.S. schools and primary schools in England, community colleges, and 50 countries around the world, Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that accelerate academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications, the number one nonfiction media company in the world.  For more information about Discovery Education’s services and learning initiatives, visit www.discoveryeducation.com.

Each year, thousands of educators from across the world are joined by leading education experts, hundreds of exhibitors, and journalists and education bloggers at ASCD’s Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. The conference offers a range of professional development opportunities unrivaled in variety or quality and also provides numerous on-site services to help attendees make the most of their experience. Attendees can connect with ASCD and with each other throughout the conference by following @ASCD on Twitter, by following ASCD’s official Instagram account@officialascd, and by using the official social media hashtag for the conference, #ASCD15.

To register for the 70th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show, visit the conference website,http://annualconference.ascd.org. Early-bird pricing, at $289 for ASCD members and $355 for nonmembers, is available through January 21, 2015. Learn more ways to save on registration by visiting the registration page. To learn more about ASCD and the benefits associated with becoming a member, visit www.ascd.org.


Two schools achieve learning success with free math and reading licenses

Learning Upgrade offers free access to online curriculum

(SAN DIEGO) Nov. 12, 2014 — If your students need support in math and reading but your district doesn’t have the budget to provide more resources, what can you do?


Two schools – one junior high and one elementary school – have come up with a creative solution to this common problem. They’re using free licenses offered by Learning Upgrade, an online curriculum with catchy songs and engaging videos to teach students math and reading skills.


“I used to struggle with motivating my students to stay focused during math and reading lessons,” said Nadine Stewart, an ELA teacher at Emily Watkins Elementary in LaPlace, La. “Now they constantly ask me if we’re going to the computer lab so they can use Learning Upgrade. They enjoy the immediate feedback that teachers cannot always give right away. It has really helped me to help my students get their gap skills covered in an educational and entertaining way.”


Sandra Siqueiros, a 7th grade math teacher at Poston Junior High in Mesa, Ariz., has also had success with the online lessons, but with a different population of students.


“My gifted students love using the program to get ahead! They are competing with each other to see who can gain access to the next level the fastest,” said Siqueiros. “Having a little healthy competition has been wonderful.”


Not only did her students love the program, Siqueiros saw impressive learning growth for her students on Learning Upgrade. While the median growth percentile on math scores for the entire junior high school was 55, Siqueiros’ class had a median growth percentile of 84.5.


For the team at Learning Upgrade, results like this validate their decision to offer free licenses to schools.


“Great EdTech doesn’t need a huge price tag. We want every student to have access to the most engaging online math and reading lessons available, regardless of their district’s budget,” said Vinod Lobo, the co-founder of Learning Upgrade. “Hearing these stories from Poston Junior High and Emily Watkins Elementary is so encouraging to everyone at Learning Upgrade, and we hope to continue seeing the same results in other districts.”


Learning Upgrade offers free 20-student licenses to U.S. schools with 300 or more students. Teachers can enroll students into any of the Math Upgrade and English Upgrade courses, which feature songs, video, and games to bring students up to proficiency. One teacher license is included for whole-class interactive musical lessons.


About Learning Upgrade

Founded in 1998 by educators, musicians, artists and programmers in San Diego, Learning Upgrade produces innovative, engaging lessons designed to support struggling students in reading and math. Through the incorporation of song, video, games and educational research, Learning Upgrade has helped thousands of students reach and exceed grade level requirements.


For more information about Learning Upgrade, please visit them online at learningupgrade.com



New Social Justice High School in Detroit Engages in Meaningful Community Partnerships to Drive Student Success


Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) provides instructional expertise to new Equity Educational Management Solutions school    


DETROIT, Michigan, November 12, 2014 – In its first year of operation, Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy for Social Justice (Delta Prep) has partnered with numerous Detroit-based organizations to engage its students in community service projects that raise awareness about social justice issues. The partnerships with local organizations are foundational to the school’s goal of ensuring that all students will be academically and socially prepared for college upon graduation.


“Delta Prep provides students with a unique and engaging opportunity that combines rigorous academics with community service to provide the most comprehensive educational experience to prepare students for success in college and careers in social justice,” said Meagan Brown, founding principal of Delta Prep. “We’ve worked hand-in-hand with our organizational partners to provide our students with rewarding experiences that positively impact their educational experiences, as well as our community.”


Delta Prep is the result of collaboration between Equity Educational Management Solutions, ISA, and the Detroit Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to create a high performing educational community focused on changing the life trajectories of its students.


Once a week, Delta Prep students are released early so they can engage in mentorships with representatives from local organizations. Activities include: weekly cooking classes in partnership with the Henry Ford Health System to teach students about healthy eating and provide them with healthy ingredients to take home; a modeling class focused on self-esteem, etiquette and professionalism that culminates in an end-of-year fashion show fundraiser done in conjunction with a local designer; and more. In the coming months Delta Prep is adding driver’s education classes, self-esteem classes for boys, and offering support to a homeless shelter across the street from the school by volunteering at its soup kitchen and by hosting a hat and glove drive.


The students’ culminating social justice Legacy Project will focus on making a contribution to the city of Detroit. The school’s students, who are currently in 9th and 10th grade, will have the autonomy to define their own contribution and decide what the output of their project will be. When the students get to 11th grade, they will work with a local group and spearhead a project together and when they reach 12th grade, they will focus on a global injustice with the hopes of traveling to the area.


Delta Prep utilizes ISA’s comprehensive and collaborative approach to school design. It builds a high performing educational community focused on helping all students achieve higher education and successful careers. ISA’s focus on a college-ready curriculum, distributed counseling and personalization, and a culture of continuous improvement, creates vibrant, successful schools – such as Delta Prep – that are as unique as the communities they serve.


“ISA provides Delta Prep with the school, leadership and content coaching needed to ensure the ongoing success of both our students and teachers,” said Brown. “Together with ISA, as well as our community partners, we look forward to providing students with the most supportive and academically challenging high school experience.”


To learn more about Delta Prep, visit http://www.detroitdeltaprep.com/. To learn more about ISA, visithttp://www.studentachievement.org.


About ISA

The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) partners with schools and districts to transform public high schools so that students who are traditionally underserved and underperforming graduate prepared for success in college. Through a close partnership, ISA provides the organizational and professional development supports that schools, principals, and teachers need to succeed, giving students the opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve to their fullest potential. To learn more about ISA, visit http://www.studentachievement.org/.




Many College-Hopeful Students Missing Opportunities for Recruitment by Colleges

IOWA CITY, Iowa—According to a new report from ACT, many college-hopeful high school students are missing recruitment opportunities by choosing not to take advantage of an important benefit: having their ACT® scores automatically sent to their colleges of interest when they register for the test.

College Choice Report—Expanding Opportunities reports that nearly half (48 percent) of ACT-tested 2014 graduates passed up the opportunity to send their scores to specific colleges when they registered to take the ACT, opting to wait until later to send scores. That number has risen substantially over the past decade, up from 28 percent in 2005.

“Some sources advise students to wait until they have seen their ACT scores to send them to colleges,” said Wayne Camara, ACT senior vice president of research. “While well-intentioned, that advice may actually be counterproductive. Sending scores to colleges lets admission officers know that students are interested in attending their school, which can initiate the recruitment process. Waiting to send scores delays that process.”

When they register to take the exam, students may authorize ACT to send their test scores to up to four colleges for free. They may also wait until after they receive their results to send scores to colleges, but if they do so, they must pay an additional fee for each report they send.

“This report illustrates the ways in which standardized admission tests serve as resources for colleges in the student recruitment process,” said Joyce Smith, chief executive officer of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). “For students, counselors and colleges, having a clear understanding of the ways in which colleges and students interact through admission testing is an important step to appreciating the interrelatedness of different components of the admission process.”

The report also reveals that students are now taking the ACT earlier in high school than they did in the past. In the 2005 graduating class, 66 percent of ACT-tested students took the exam for the first time before 12th grade. In subsequent years, that figure has grown, rising to 75 percent in the class of 2014. That pattern is seen even in states that don’t administer the ACT to all 11th graders.

This trend is a positive one, according to ACT. Students who wait until their senior year to take the ACT also may be missing out on recruitment opportunities, as colleges tend to focus their recruiting efforts on high school juniors.

College Choice Report—Expanding Opportunities focuses on the characteristics, preferences and behaviors of high school graduates in the class of 2014 who took the ACT. The report and additional data can be accessed free of charge on ACT’s website at www.act.org/collegechoice/14.

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ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as the nation’s leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality achievement assessments grounded in more than 50 years of research and experience. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions that help people succeed from elementary school through career, providing insights that unlock potential. To learn more about ACT, go to www.act.org.