P-12

"MakerBot Replicator 2" by Peabodybore. Licensed under CC0 via Wikipedia
Overview

After-School Programs

Offered at schools and community sites throughout the country, after-school programs have been used for years as a means to provide a safe place for children when many parents are at work and unable to provide supervision.

Backed by research that shows the hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. are a peak time for students to engage in dangerous, illicit, and delinquent behavior, these programs have been proven to not only reduce misbehavior, but to improve students’ motivation and attendance in school.

Flickr/Alan Cleaver (CC BY 2.0)
Overview

Arts Education

Paints, pantomimes and piccolos – the arts are on display in our movies, on TV sets, and along city streets. But in recent years schools have had an uneasy relationship with arts education, sidelining stand-alone classes here while adding elements of the arts there. Yet after years of debate over perceived declines in access to arts education in U.S. schools, efforts are underway to expand funding and opportunities for students to draw, drum or dance.

image of teacher and children sitting in circle in classroom
Overview

Educating for Character & Citizenship

The intensive focus in public schools on boosting achievement in core subjects has sparked concerns that the U.S. education system is neglecting an important responsibility: to help foster in children strong character and prepare them for active citizenship in a democratic society.

Overview

Charters & Choice

Over the past two decades, charter schools have emerged as the fastest growing form of school choice, outpacing other alternatives such as vouchers, magnet schools, and homeschooling. Charters have also become a touchstone for how people feel about a host of related issues: job protections for teachers, the role of elected school boards and teachers unions, and the privatization of schools. The materials compiled in this section of Story Starters examine the ways charter schools and other school choice options play out in the education process.

Overview

College & Career Readiness

Among school reformers, “college readiness” has become a rallying cry. But what does it mean, and how does career readiness factor in?

Overview

Common Core
The Push for Common Standards

In 2010, state after state took a remarkable—and unprecedented—step: They adopted common academic standards. Once the dust had settled the following year, 46 states and the District of Columbia had signed on to the Common Core State Standards.

Image depicting curriculum and instruction in US schools
Overview

Curriculum & Instruction

The content taught in American classrooms has been in the spotlight for years, particularly as researchers have shown what a difference a quality curriculum can make for P-12 students’ achievement. 

Reporters can take a closer look at the quality of curricula, teachers’ experiences in implementing them and what effect these have on student outcomes.  

Overview

Data & Accountability

From test scores to teacher salaries, from graduation rates to grade-point averages, the education world is full of data. The federal No Child Left Behind law, signed in 2002, created an unprecedented demand for detailed information about students and schools. No longer are public schools judged simply by average test scores for all students. The law requires states, school districts and campuses to break out (“disaggregate,” in education-speak) test scores by race, gender, English proficiency, socioeconomic status and more.

Image of a student using digital learning
Overview

Digital Learning

Online education was once hyped as a silver bullet for revolutionizing education, providing broad access to high-quality learning tools to all regions and bringing down the high cost of college. But while it didn’t transform education completely, the online format is booming, as schools expand their offerings to reach students everywhere, and benefiting people like adult learners who can’t stop their lives to go back to campus.

Overview

District Management

How are the policies for America’s local school districts set? Who is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of those policies? What happens when control over public schools shifts from a school board to the mayor? 

Questions about the governance, leadership and management of local school districts are often at the heart of conversations about how to improve U.S. public education, whether through incremental change or sweeping reform. This Topics section focuses on the lines of authority over public school systems, including the superintendents and other leaders entrusted with running them.

Overview

Early Childhood Education

The education beat doesn’t begin when 5-year-olds enter kindergarten. Expanding knowledge on how young children learn, combined with an array of early education models, means reporters also cover the different settings in which children spend their earliest years.

President Barack Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act. ©2015 NEA. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of the National Education Association.
Overview

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act is the long-awaited rewrite of the main federal law for K-12 education, and replaces the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act.

Overview

Expanded Learning Time
Lengthening the School Calendar

Pressure to meet testing benchmarks and close the achievement gap have spurred growing interest nationally in examining new ways to think about the structure and use of time within schools. One such emerging reform, called Expanded Learning Time (ELT), adds hours and/or days to the traditional school schedule under the assumption that more classroom time will help disadvantaged, minority students “catch up” to the speed of their higher performing peers.

Overview

Federal P-12 Policy & Funding

While states and local school districts control day-to-day operations in classrooms and provide most of the funding to schools, the federal government’s importance in both areas should not be discounted. It plays a significant role in promoting educational equity and protecting students’ civil rights, and has influenced everything from school accountability systems and academic standards to school safety and the education of students with disabilities.   

Bigstock
Overview

The Global Context for Education

Interest has mounted in how U.S. students stack up academically against their peers abroad, as well as the potential lessons educators and policymakers here might glean from high-achieving nations.

Overview

K-12 Finance & Operations

Many education decisions—from how many students will be in each class to how long bus routes will be—are driven by one significant factor: money. This Topics section offers materials that explore the myriad decisions that affect how money for K-12 schooling is raised and spent, and how those decisions shape the way the nation’s public schools are run.

Overview

Online Learning

Just a little over a decade ago, online learning for many educators fell into the realm of science fiction, or worse, snake oil. Visions of students accessing an array of courses on their computers, interacting with teachers over the internet, and participating in virtual “field trips” seemed more fantasy than reality.

Flickr/dierk schaefer (CC BY 2.0)
Overview

Psychology of Learning

INTRODUCTION

Backed by decades of research, a movement is afoot to rethink how students learn inside and outside of classrooms. As a result, momentum is building to introduce students to fresh ideas that will help them confront their anxieties about homework, tests and their own ability to learn, making them more motivated learners along the way.

Overview

School Climate & Safety

There was a time when the idea of creating a desirable school climate was practically redundant because there were few, if any, obstacles. “In the earliest public schools, teachers taught and students listened,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has written approvingly about that simpler era in American education. “Teachers commanded, and students obeyed.”

In the modern era, however, maintaining a good school climate is a continuing challenge for teachers, administrators, and policymakers.

Overview

School Leadership

The role of the school principal has come into sharper focus in recent years, as a growing body of research shines a light on how principals affect student learning. With that knowledge comes a growing recognition that, in an era of accountability, the success of school improvement initiatives depends heavily on having effective leaders on campus.

Overview

Standards & Testing

There are few questions more crucial to the field of education than what students should learn and how that learning should be measured. This Topics section examines several currently hot topics – including common standards, international comparisons, and cheating – in the often-contentious realm of standards and testing.

Overview

STEM Education

Calls to improve education in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math have taken on fresh urgency in recent years. With U.S. prospects for prosperity increasingly seen as tied to performance in the STEM fields, the education community has stepped up efforts to rethink and revamp how U.S. students are educated in those subjects and groomed for technical careers.

Overview

Student-Centered Learning

At its core, “student-centered learning” is the idea that each student is an individual who learns in unique ways. Students come to school with prior knowledge, educational experiences, trauma, attitudes, interests, preferences, strengths and weaknesses unique to their lived experiences. At their best, student-centered approaches give students agency over their learning so they are active participants in the process, rather than empty vessels to be filled.

Overview

Summer Learning

Recognition of the importance of summer to the traditional school year is growing nationally, as more districts realize just how detrimental months away from school can be to students – especially those who are already struggling academically.

But how best to use the summertime to foster student learning and development remains undetermined, although more research has emerged on what works best.

Overview

Teacher Evaluation

In recent years, the evaluation of classroom teachers has become an increasingly high profile and controversial issue, especially as many states began to require those judgments to be based — at least in part — on student test scores.

But the landscape is shifting once again, spurred on by changes in federal law. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which went into effect with the 2017-18 school year, ushered in a new era of greater state flexibility and decreasing federal oversight of teacher evaluations.

Overview

Teacher Workforce

Many efforts to improve U.S. education today focus squarely on the “talent strategy” – how to get more great teachers into the pipeline and keep them in the classroom.