States are adopting more rigorous academic standards. This will be a well-intentioned but meaningless effort if education officials do not accurately measure student proficiency and progress in mastering them. A standard without accurate measurement and strong accountability quickly becomes optional. Today’s students and teachers need tests that go beyond measuring rote memorization to measuring depth of understanding and critical thinking. These are the skills required for success after high school. Hear how four states are moving in this direction and creating a path for other states to follow.
Moderator: Cornelia Orr, Executive Director, National Assessment Governing Board
As private school choice programs grow, states debate how these programs should be held accountable to the public. Some states simply require choice schools to meet the basic regulations that all private schools must meet. Others states require choice schools to administer state tests and be included in the accountability system. Some even regulate who the schools can hire and what they can teach. In this session, you will gain insight on how to strike the right balance between autonomy and accountability.
Moderator: Michael McShane, Research Fellow in Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
In a perfect world, education reforms would take root and spread based on their merit. But we are confronted by an organized and well-funded opposition dedicated to maintaining the status quo. And so we also must sell reform because even the most thoughtful and effective education policies have little chance to succeed without the support of parents, educators, business leaders and community members. But what messages work best when reaching out to different audiences and demographic groups? During this session, experienced communications professionals will review the most effective, proven, and tested strategies for engaging the public in reform.
Moderator: Allison Aubuchon, Director of State Communications, Foundation for Excellence in Education
High school graduation for many children is a race against the clock, which begins ticking in kindergarten. Time is critical: students struggling to read by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. That is why states across the country are identifying struggling readers early and implementing comprehensive K-3 reading policies to put at-risk students on the path to graduation. Join this session to learn the fundamental principles of an effective K-3 reading policy, lessons learned from states currently implementing the policy, and the role that different stakeholders can play to help ensure effective implementation.
Moderator: Mary Laura Bragg, Interim Vice President of Advocacy, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Next to parents, teachers are the most influential people in a child’s academic life. This is why there has been a growing focus on teacher quality, particularly in low-income schools where good teachers are most needed but least likely to be found. Some states are addressing teacher quality through high-profile reforms, including revising tenure and last-in, first-out layoff policies. Others are digging indfto the teacher licensure process to ensure teachers have mastered the subject matter and pedagogy necessary to teach on their first day. This panel will explore the strategies these states are using to ensure there is a quality teacher in every classroom.
Moderator: Sandi Jacobs, Vice President & Managing Director for State Policy, National Council on Teacher Quality
Despite all evidence to the contrary, there is still widespread belief that school success is tied to school funding. Money without accountability does not improve education; it just makes it more expensive. Many traditional school funding models stifle innovation and make student success optional. Instead, we need to create incentives for success and direct funds where they will produce the best results in the most efficient manner. In this session, hear innovative approaches for funding education in the 21st century.
Moderator: Chester E. Finn, Jr., Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Education savings accounts are the newest innovation in choice programs. These accounts, set up with funds that otherwise would pay for a traditional public school, allow parents to customize their children’s education. The accounts can be used for private school tuition, online education, tutoring, textbooks, therapy and assistive devices for students with disabilities, and savings for college. During this session, panelists will explore the ins and outs of this newest choice option.
Moderator: Robert Enlow, President and CEO, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
In the wake of the Great Recession, our nation is confronted with conflicting statistics. Unemployment is high, yet thousands of manufacturers and other employers still cannot find skilled workers. So high-wage jobs remain unfilled. The simple conclusion underscores a crisis in American education today: too few high school graduates and adults are prepared for the technically complex jobs of the 21st century. See how some states are addressing this issue with career and technical education programs that include industry certifications. This is definitely not your daddy’s woodshop.
Moderator: Governor John McKernan, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Sixteen states have now adopted a system to grade schools like teachers grade students — using an objective and easily understood A-F scale. Parents use the grades to make informed decisions about their children’s education. Grades also put pressure on districts to address failing schools. It is a low-cost strategy that pays huge dividends in student achievement. In this session, workshop participants will share state strategies for grading, and discuss how to maintain accountability during the implementation of more rigorous standards and tests.
Workshop Leader: Christy Hovanetz, Senior Policy Fellow of Accountability, Foundation for Excellence in Education – Download Presentation (PDF)
Co-leader: Adam Peshek, State Policy Director, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Sixty years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, equality remains an elusive goal in public education. There is a wide and stubborn academic achievement gap, with low-income children often languishing more than two grade levels behind their more affluent peers.
This achievement gap does not reflect their abilities because we see, time and again, how disadvantaged students can excel when given the opportunity. We have the most diverse student population in history, and we have the ability to challenge them and provide an education that best meets their individual needs. But public education still largely exists in a 19th century bubble in which all children are squeezed into the same learning environment.
Join this exceptional line-up of thinkers and leaders as they discuss the education revolution that must begin now if we are to prioritize academic excellence for all children in our schools.
Moderator: Juan Williams, National Political Correspondent and Author
All children deserve a chance to achieve their full potential in school. Yet, our most disadvantaged students continue to languish in failure factories, their futures written off by bureaucracies and unions more vested in job security than student outcomes.
Addressing this inequity is not only a moral imperative but also a national priority. America cannot leave vast swaths of its population on the sidelines and continue to lead in an increasingly competitive 21st century global economy.
We need to turnaround low performing schools and advance reforms that ensure children are taught by effective and high quality teachers. To elevate children, we must empower their parents to choose where they go to school. When that happens, we see parents respond enthusiastically – resulting in long waiting lists for charter schools and a demand for vouchers that is outstripping the supply.
In this session, learn what some states, cities and schools are doing to ensure effective teachers are in the classroom, improve educational equality and why access to a quality education is a critical component in the struggle for civil rights.
Moderator: Campbell Brown, Founder, Parents’ Transparency Project
You can have unlimited collateral and the best websites, but what is that worth if no one hears your message or finds your site? In our first communications session, attendees learned which messages resonate with which audiences. In this session, they will learn how to effectively reach your target audiences with tailored messages. Hear advice from experienced professionals on being heard, getting published and maximizing every opportunity to share your reform message.
Moderator: Allison Aubuchon, Director of State Communications, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Course Access policies allow states to offer families choices at the individual course level. From within the confines of a single school building or even at home, students can take a wide range of classes from a list of state-approved providers. From online AP Calculus or language courses to in-person welder and electrician certifications, Course Access promises to bring new opportunities for all students and bring traditional high schools into the 21st Century. Drawing on lessons learned from states implementing Course Access, attendees will learn how to pass, set up and successfully implement Course Access programs in their own states.
Moderator: John Bailey, Vice President of Policy, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Teachers and parents are understandably concerned about student privacy as schools increase their use of digital technology and broadband networks. These stakeholders must be assured that students’ information will be protected. Digital tools and resources range from simple grade books to fully online courses and personalized learning platforms. This exciting use of technology supports teaching and learning, but also raises important questions about how data is used, protected, and shared.
Moderator: Charlie Firestone, Executive Director, Communications and Society Program, The Aspen Institute – View Handout (PDF)