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KNEA's Standards for Quality Public Schools


Quality Public School (QPS) Standards

KNEA sets standard for Quality Public Schools

Standards for Quality Public Schools
Standards for a Quality Staff
Working Conditions that Impact Student Achievement
Background

Standards for Quality Public Schools

KNEA believes that a Quality Public School:
· is learner centered.
A Quality Public School (QPS) establishes clear goals for learning and expects success of all staff and students.

· requires a caring, competent and qualified teacher in every classroom.
Well-prepared teachers can increase the cumulative educational achievement for students. What teachers know and can do makes the crucial difference in what children learn.

· seeks and accepts meaningful engagement of all staff, students, parents and community.
A QPS promotes and supports strong, positive relationships between and among groups and members of groups. All persons embrace their responsibilities and see their roles as vital to the success of the school.

· demands individual and collective accountability for student learning.
A QPS provides meaningful learning opportunities, which benefit students equally regardless of differences. All staff, parents and students accept responsibility for student achievement.

· is organized to promote learning.
A QPS makes decisions based on student learning. The school expects collaboration and provides time for in-depth planning by the staff. It also requires class size limits of fewer than 19 in the first through third grades.

· has the necessary financial, technical and political support.
A QPS is an integral part of a community-wide system of agencies and organizations which regard the success of students as a measure of their own success. The community and the systems that serve it provide consistent resources to accelerate student learning in a safe environment which is conducive to learning.

· maximizes teacher success.
A QPS offers effective induction for new teachers, quality mentoring and peer assistance, meaningful evaluation for improvement of instruction, support for National Board Certification and job-embedded professional development that meets the teachers' needs.

Standards for a quality staff

The staff of a Quality Public School:

· has clarity of purpose.
All staff of a QPS cultivate and maintain a focused vision that evolves over time.

· Is willing to change to ensure that all students can learn.
All staff of a QPS approach school with an attitude of inquiry and a willingness to reflect on practice. Changes are based on the needs of students and support student achievement.

· chooses strategies based on evidence of success.
All staff of a QPS continuously assess student and school progress and choose strategies and methods which are supported by research or by professional experiences. The school supports systematic, collaborative problem-solving and innovative approaches consistent with school improvement goals.

Working Conditions that Impact Student Achievement

Those Seven Working Conditions found to be most critical for student achievement and supported by research are:

  1. Class size limits of less than 19 in the 1st through 3rd grades;
  2. Collaboration time;
  3. Effective mentoring and peer assistance;
  4. An effective evaluation system;
  5. Professional development that meets the needs of teachers;
  6. Support the nationally certified teachers; and
  7. A caring, competent, qualified teacher in every classroom

Background

The members and staff of KNEA spent three years working and researching standards for quality public schools.

In addition to the standards, KNEA has taken teacher-based and research-driven standards for quality pubic schools and included what research has proven to be seven conditions that count for student achievement.

"Student achievement for all students is our goal," said KNEA President Christy Levings. "These conditions are as important for post-secondary education as they are for pre-K through 12," Levings said. "While the list may seem perfectly obvious, what is helpful is research that demonstrates the links to student achievement."

The standards have been reviewed and modified by the KNEA Representative Assembly and have been officially adopted by the KNEA Board of Directors.

Collaboration Time

Public Law 10-62 (The Education Council Act of 1991) established the National Education Commission on Time and Learning as an independent advisory body. The Act called for a comprehensive review of the relationship between time and learning in the nation’s schools. The legislation created a nine-member commission and directed the commission to prepare a report on its findings by April 1994.

[As Oliver Hazard Perry said in his famous dispatch during the War of 1812: “We have met the enemy and they are [h]ours.”]

The report states:

“Unyielding and relentless, the time available in a uniform six-hour day and a 180-day year is the unacknowledged design flaw in American education. By relying on time as the metric for school organization and curriculum, we have built a learning enterprise on a foundation of sand, on five premises educators know to be false.

“The first is the assumption that students arrive at school ready to learn in the same way, on the same schedule, all in rhythm with each other.

“The second is the notion that academic time can be used for nonacademic purposes with no effect on learning.

“Next is the pretense that because yesterday’s calendar was good enough for us it would be good enough for our children – despite major change in the larger society.

“Fourth is the myth that schools can be transformed without giving teachers the time they need to retool themselves and reorganize their work.

“Finally, we find a new fiction: it is reasonable to expect ‘world-class academic performance’ from our students within the time-bound system that is already failing them.”

Much of the data on planning time/collaboration time was taken from a 1997 American Federation of Teachers study. 4 This study emphasized that good teacher working conditions make a vital contribution to educational success, and poor working conditions create nearly insurmountable obstacles to student learning.

This study found that U.S. teachers spend more time with students than teachers in any other nation studied. Excluding duty-free lunch time and preparation periods, US primary teachers spend more than 30 hours per week in contact with children. Japanese teachers spend only 17-20 hours a week in front of students and German teachers spend 21 hours a week in instruction. Along with England, Scotland, Ireland, and The Netherlands, US secondary teachers have the largest number of instructional hours per week – approximately five classes a day for five days. US secondary teachers easily have the highest number of required work hours per week in all activities.

To allow the United States to conform more closely to international standards for teacher pay and working conditions, a recommendation was made concerning time: Reduce daily student contact to give teachers more time to plan and prepare (especially primary teachers) while increasing the number of student attendance days.

Class Size

The benefits of smaller classes with qualified teachers are clear. Available research, including the Tennessee STAR study, the Wisconsin SAGE program, and California's class size reduction initiative, show that small classes with qualified teachers lead to higher student achievement, more individualized attention for students, and fewer classroom disruptions.

Small classes in the early grades give students a strong foundation in basic math and reading skills. Small classes also provide long-term payoffs, including fewer students retained in their grade, higher student achievement each year even after students are placed in larger classes, and better student preparation for college. Additionally, students who are proficient readers by the end of third grade are more likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school. 5

Class size reduction in the early grades leads to higher student achievement, with significant effects of class-size reduction appearing when classes contain somewhere between 15 and 20 students. Achievement continues to increase as class size approaches a one-to-one ratio.

If class size is reduced from substantially more than 20 students per class to below 20 students, the related increase in student achievement moves the average student from the 50th percentile up to somewhere above the 20th percentile. Student, teachers and parents all report positive effects from the impact of class-size reductions on the quality of classroom activity. 6

Pupil-teacher ratio and class sizes are two very different areas. Pupil-teacher ratios include teachers in specialized areas, counselors, media personnel, and other school employees. Class size refers to the number of students who regularly appear in a teacher’s classroom and to whom the teacher is primarily responsible and for whom the teacher is accountable.

Many schools lack extra classrooms for smaller classes. Schools have tried different approaches to address this problem, including:

  • assigning two certified teachers to teach in a single classroom either for part of the school day or for the entire school day;
  • hiring an additional certified teacher for a grade level (e.g., providing three teachers for 2 third-grade classes) and dividing the students among the larger number of teachers for sustained instruction each day in priority subjects such as reading or math,
  • hiring an additional certified teacher who works with half the students in a class for reading and math instruction, while the other half remains with the regular classroom teacher, or rotate students through a year-round schedule. 7

Recruiting teachers to fill empty teaching positions is becoming difficult. Districts have been successful in rehiring teachers who had retired or left teaching by offering them the opportunity to teach smaller classes and to work closely with other teachers.

A competent, caring, and qualified teacher in every classroom is the most important factor in increasing the educational achievement of students.

What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future sets out a blueprint for recruiting, preparing, supporting and rewarding excellent educators in all of America’s schools. 8

In 2000, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future 9 provided another report that showed evidence that a competent, caring, and qualified teacher is essential to student achievement.

A Tennessee study revealed that students with three highly effective teachers in succession made tremendous leaps in learning – regardless of family background. 10

Other states and organizations have conducted similar studies and have arrived at the same conclusion. 11 12

2 Mentoring, Peer Mentoring Training Materials, by Marilyn Rogers, NEA Training and Organization Development, Affiliate Capacity Building, 1999.

3 The Status of Peer Assistance, Peer Assistance and Review, Teacher Evaluation, and Professional Development in Kansas School Districts: A Report of the KNEA work team on Strengthening the Teaching Profession by Don Anderson, Mark Desetti, Marilyn Flannigan, Tim Schultz, June 1, 1999.

4 “How US Teachers Measure Up Internationally, A Comparative Study of Teacher Pay, Training, and Conditions of Service", by Nelson and O’Brien, 1993.

5 Local Success Stories, REDUCING CLASS SIZE, US Department of Education, November 1999.

6 Reducing Class Size: What Do We Know, RIE November 1998.

7 Local Success Stories, REDUCING CLASS SIZE, US Department of Education, November 1999.

8 What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future, Report of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, September 1996.

9 Solving the Dilemmas of Teacher Supply, Demand and Standards: How Can We Ensure a Competent, Caring Qualified Teacher for Every Child, Linda Darling-Hammond, National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2000.

10 Put Students First, The Kansas Commission on Teaching and America’s Future,, May 2000.

11 Educational Testing Service: Teacher Classroom Practice Matter Most for Student Achievement, October 2000.

12 Good Teaching Matters, How Well-Qualified Teachers Can Close the Gap, A Publication of The Educational Trust, Summer 1998.

Also “The Certification System of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards: A Construct and Consequential Validity Study”; The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2000. (As described by Education Week on October 25, 2000)

Excerpted from REPORT FROM THE KNEA PROFESSIONAL WORKING CONDITIONS WORK TEAM, August 2001

 


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