New Advanced Lexile Professional Development Workshop

Take your Lexile Professional Development to the next level! We are excited to announce our newest Lexile workshop, The Lexile Framework in Action: Making Curriculum Content Accessible to ALL Students.

This full-day, advanced workshop will guide curriculum coaches, content specialists, classroom teachers and media specialists in the development of units of targeted text and resources. Our facilitator will lead the group in using resources already in place to support instruction that will target all learners. Current state standards, district curriculum pacing guides and recent student Lexile® measures will provide the foundation for developing customized lesson plans.

We also offer numerous other Lexile workshop options including half- and full-day introductory sessions. Learn more about this new offering and view our full range of workshops at www.lexile.com/pd/on-site-workshops/.

Interested in training on the Quantile Framework for Mathematics? Visit www.quantiles.com/content/professional-development/ to learn about our Quantile Professional Development workshops.

Games Playlist for Students

Soon, we could see teachers prepare a learning games playlist for their students. In March, a DC based startup unveiled a free web service called Legends of Learning that would help teachers assign educator-vetted games to the classroom.

Vadim Polikov, the creator of the web service calls it, “Spotify for learning games” after the online music streaming service that provides users with unlimited songs and playlists they can create. Polikov grew up with classic games such as The Oregon Trail and Civilization, but has come to the realization that most games now do not align with academic standards or teach material that is appropriate to students. Educational games can also be too long to be played in the length of time of a class session.

With Legends of Learning, teachers can create a playlist of short five minute games up to longer forty minute games with over 500 titles. Science games can be played now, but titles will be available soon for English and Math (Grades K-12). Gameplay will also be tied to virtually all state academic standards.

Teachers will also have their own online dashboard which will show the progress of each student. “What we’ve focused on is making this for teachers and, really, by teachers,” says Polikov.

From article in ASCD SmartBrief March 28, 2017

Who Schooled the Senate?

By Malbert Smith III, Ph.D. and Andrew Ashley

As in all elections, we tend to divide candidates up with binaries, such as Left/Right, Republican/Democrat, Establishment/Outsider. Yet, another binary we could use is Publicly/Privately educated. As we sit mired in an election cycle where the nation’s public schools, the Department of Education, and the cost of college tuition come under scrutiny, we decided to examine how members of the U.S. Senate were educated in high school. We also looked at the education of the candidates for U.S senate races this cycle who hope to unseat the sitting senators.

Despite many reports on the profession, ethnicity, gender, military service, and age of the 114th Congress, a neglected variable has been how many members attended public or private schools during their K–12 education. In order to shed light on this, we decided to research where senators graduated from high school. In the aggregate we found that 74 senators attended public school and 26 attended private school. The number of senators who attended private school is considerably higher than the national average. According to the 2010 census, approximately 1.3 million students went to private high school out of the 16.16 million students attending high school across the nation. This means that about 8% of the country is going to private high schools, considerably lower than the Senate. And thirty years ago it was similar a trend. According to the 1980 census, 9% of high school students were in private schools. Of the 44 Democratic senators, 29 graduated from public high schools while 15 graduated from private ones. Republican senators have a higher concentration of public school graduates, as 43 Republican senators graduated from public high schools. Eleven Republican senators graduated from private schools.

Some senators even attended the same high school. Senator, and Democratic primary presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders (VT-I) and Senator Chuck Schumer (NY-D) both attended the James Madison High School, a public high school in Brooklyn, New York. Senator Patrick Toomey (PA-R) and Senator Jack Reed (RI-D) both attended the private La Salle Academy in Providence Rhode Island. Though neither set were in high school at the same time.

Of the 16 members on the Senate subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education we found that 12 attended public schools. Four attended private schools.

Perhaps more striking than whether senators graduated from public or private high school, however, is how many senators choose to send their children to private schools. Members of Congress are considerably more likely to send their children to private schools than the national average. The Heritage Foundation has monitored congressional children’s education for many years. According to the 2009 report (Burke, 2009), 55% of U.S. senators sent all their children to public school. However, 45% sent at least one child to private school. This is relatively similar among Democrats and Republicans as, in the 2009 survey, 43% of Democratic senators sent at least one child to private school while 47% of Republican senators did so. As Catherine Cushinberry states, as quoted in a recent article in the Atlantic, not being a public-school parent still amounts to a detachment from the laws regarding education one hopes to make.

We expanded our search to examine where the candidates for U.S. Senate in 2016 went to school. While we could not find information on every candidate, as many are newer to the public limelight and their high school education has not yet been reported (and some primaries have not finished at the writing of this article), we were able to glean the education of 24 of the 31 candidates (for 26 senate seats). Overwhelmingly, the candidates have public education backgrounds. Of the 24 candidates, only five candidates graduated from private schools. Of these, Evan Bayh (IN-D) graduated from the prestigious St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. while his father served in the senate for Indiana; Chris van Hollen (MD-D) graduated from the Middlesex School, a preparatory school in Massachusetts where his grandfather taught, while his father served as U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives; and  Katie McGinty (PA-D), Jason Kander (MO-D), and John Caroll (HI-R) all graduated from catholic schools in their hometowns..

During this quest, we discovered finding information on senators schooling can be cumbersome. Finding information on all 100 sitting senators was difficult and for this reason we did not look into the 435 members of the House of Representatives. We believe it shouldn’t be so arduous to track down this information. As members of the 115th Congress convene in January of 2017 and begin to debate and craft educational legislation, we would encourage them to disclose their K-12  educational experience. The public’s confidence in our elected members would only be enhanced by such transparency.

Can Pigeons Read?

Reading as we know it comes from two important elements. One is the ability to decode, which is a trait known to humans and how we use language. While some studies have been used to see how well animals can learn this skill, like speaking (the most infamous maybe the work of the Communication Institute of St. Thomas founded by the illustrious anthropologist Gregory Bateson and neuroscientist John Lilly that attempted to teach dolphins to speak to humans), this is often considered a singularly human trait.

The other element is known as orthographic knowledge, or the ability to detect words. It turns out, this may be an ancient evolutionary trait, shared with species as distant as pigeons. A joint team of scientists from the University of Otago, New Zealand, and Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, determined that pigeons can be taught to recognize certain words. They also could learn to detect patterns to possibly identify words from non-words. Pigeons could learn to detect as many as 58 words. However, pigeons are far less adept at learning vocabulary as other primates, like baboons. Baboons could understand, on average, 139 words, to the average pigeons 43.

In short, to say that pigeons can read is a rather a truthful hyperbole. This amazing research, however, does demonstrate that pigeons and many other species quite separate from us have some of the essential building blocks that allowed our ancestors to create language. Hopefully, further research will illuminate what else such a connection may mean for the development of language.

Shakespeare in the Original Pronunciation

To all high school English teachers and Shakespeare fans, a wonderful—-albeit delightfully esoteric—-publication earlier this year may have slipped under your radar. David Crystal, the Anglo-Welsh linguist, has produced the first Oxford Dictionary on Original Shakespearean Pronunciation. While on the surface this may seem like Academic pedantry at best, and utter hogwash at worst, I couldn’t recommend exploring it more. Looking into the original pronunciation of Shakespeare allows us to feel closer to Shakespeare’s world; help us understand rhymes and puns that no longer seem to work (which reminds us of how rude and bawdy original Shakespeare really was); and have a lot of fun just examining how English has shifted. Forty dollars does seem like a frivolous investment just to be able to comprehend pronunciation of the Bard’s player. However, Crystal offers free material and information on how pronunciation works. You can also compare how the sonnets have shifted over time. For instance, you can compare one of my favorite sonnets, Sonnet 130, to the Original Pronunciation. Or see how A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream would have sounded to its first audience.

Here is a video of David Crystal and his son Ben explaining more OP and doing a demonstration of some of accent as they compare parts of the Henry V and Romeo and Juliet.

How Dogs Are Helping Kids Read Aloud

For many children, reading aloud in the classroom can be seen as a daunting task. Fortunately for those struggling to read in front of their peers, animals may be able to help. Across the country, programs such as Therapy Dogs International (TDI), and Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.), have been implementing the use of trained therapy dogs to help children gain confidence in their reading skills. The participants of these, and similar programs, enjoy reading to a calm pooch in a quiet environment, while they practice their reading skills with no fear of embarrassment or harassment. By associating the act of reading aloud with a pleasant experience with the animal, kids are learning to love reading in the process.

Encouraging children to spend time reading aloud to pets at home could similarly help strengthen the reader’s abilities. Utilizing resources like the Lexile® Framework for Reading and Lexile “Find a Book”, can help the reader choose a text at the appropriate level of difficulty to practice reading aloud with.

Sources:
http://www.tdi-dog.org/OurPrograms.aspx?Page=Children+Reading+to+Dogs
http://www.therapyanimals.org/ITA_Afilliate_Organizations.html
http://thebark.com/content/reading-dogs-help-children-learn

Happy Holidays From MetaMetrics!

As the holidays and the end of the year approach we’d like to take a moment to reflect on 2015. It’s been an exciting year for us here at MetaMetrics and an exciting time in the world of education. We have been happy to watch as our two core products, The Lexile Framework for Reading and The Quantile Framework for Mathematics, continue to expand both domestically and globally.

While we we can boast of many achievements this year, some of our proudest moments include the debut of the Lexile Career Database and the Lexile by Chapter Guides; increased participation in the CCSSO Chief’s Summer Learning Challenge and the Summer Math Challenge; numerous research publications and many new product and publishing partnerships.

This holiday season, we invite you to join us in supporting First Book. First Book provides new books to children in need throughout the United States and Canada. With over 135 million books distributed so far, First Book is making huge strides towards solving ton of the biggest challenges faced in the development of literacy—access to books. Please join us as we help to spread some joy and holiday cheer with the gift of books. 

From our family to yours, we wish you a very happy holiday season! For a few laughs we invite you to view our company holiday video and learn about our newest “product”, The Giftile Framework for Giving.

The Foundation of Education

So often we get caught up in the negativity surrounding education. Whether that’s funding, adjusting the curriculum, or tragic events. In the midst of this media coverage it is far too easy to overlook the people whose work forms the foundation of our education system: our teachers.

Teachers help shape students, they help mold them, encourage them, spark their creativity, give them things to aspire to. They give students the means to reach goals they didn’t think they could meet, or to have dreams they never thought they could have. Teachers do all this despite long hours, low pay, student diversity, and more. In light of this, NPR has created a series called “50 Great Teachers” to recognize what often goes unrecognized — great teachers. Teachers who make an impact. Teachers who go above and beyond not for their own benefit, but because they genuinely care about the future and development of our students.

This series features everything from swim teachers who focus on earning student’s unwavering trust to a principal who dedicated years of his life to transforming the success rate of senior exams at his school from 12% to 100%. These stories give insight to what goes on behind the scenes in the lives of teachers. It exposes what often goes unnoticed to the public — persistent dedication. It spotlights teachers like Rodney Carey. Carey was a bail bondsman who couldn’t shake the fact that most of the students he was bailing out of jail, who had an upbringing much like his own, were underserved and had scarce opportunities available to them. He decided then to dedicate his life to improving this through teaching. Carey remarks,  “I know that you cannot save everybody,” he says. “But if one of them could just go along, complete his education, go to college, and I see him in the future doing something positive with his life, that makes me think that what I was doing is all worthwhile.”

This series will give you perspective on the uplifting aspects of our schools and hopefully encourage you to look past the negativity and appreciate the positive influence teachers are having on our students, despite numerous obstacles.

National Library Card Sign-up Month

September is Library Card Sign-up Month. The event serves as a reminder that our public libraries continue to celebrate and encourage the act of reading, particularly among young people.

Libraries regularly offer readings for toddlers and preschoolers. Reading aloud to children is an activity that groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have long recommended. Now, a recent study has offered biological evidence of the positive effects of early exposure to reading, including increased ability to form mental images.

Reading to the very young also correlates with increased reading later in life. However, reading for pleasure usually declines as children enter their teens, due to increased demands on their time. For those without the time to wander the stacks, peering at miniscule numbers taped to the spines of books (a ritual many of us still enjoy), library websites now allow digital texts to be downloaded directly to e-readers.

Modern libraries are more than inexpensive book delivery systems.  Patrons are often unaware of all that libraries have to offer, including Internet services and educational events. September is the time to find out.  And, should students need book recommendations before they sign up, the free, Lexile-based “Find a Book” search tool helps readers discover titles that match both their interests and reading abilities.

Sign up for a card at your local library. Tell them Snoopy sent you.

Lack of Education: Just as Deadly as Smoking

Research conducted by the University of Colorado, New York University, and the University of Chapel Hill has concluded that 145,243 deaths a year could be prevented if every adult had a GED or regular high school diploma – a comparable mortality rate to that of smoking. Studies such as this one, on the association between education levels and health outcomes, is nothing new and has been extensively researched over the past decades, so what makes this recent study so intriguing?

The basic explanation for this connection between health and education, as explained by Victoria Chang, an associate professor at NYU and co-author of the study, is that people with more education usually have better jobs and higher incomes which translate into more opportunities such as higher quality foods, gym access, better health care, etc. But what sets this study apart is how it shows that there is more interconnectivity between education and health outcomes than just monetary means. Chang explains how there is a direct effect from education: improved cognitive skills. So even if your degree doesn’t increase your income, it still provides you with “more knowledge about health, more access to get that knowledge, more of a sense of agency, more self-efficacy, better peer connections.” These findings indicate something new – that there is sufficient evidence that a decent proportion of the relationship between education and health is causal, not just correlated.

But what do these findings mean? Well, they could set the stage for new debates in both education and health policy. The study concludes that “Our results suggest that policies and interventions that improve educational attainment could substantially improve survival in the US population, especially given widening educational disparities across birth cohorts.” This is good news for education policy! Chang points out how normally in health policy the focus has been on changing habits and behaviors such as diet, smoking, or drinking. But this study places emphasis on education, a more upstream, fundamental factor and indicates that it should also be included among the ranks of key elements in US health policy. This shift in thinking will hopefully put the spotlight on education and result in more educational attainment and positive health outcomes.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.