Over $500K in robotics grants going to 101 schools

Grants from a robotics education fund have been awarded to 101 New Hampshire schools so far up from 57 last year, the state Department of Education said Tuesday. The grants totaling $522,000 fund the purchase of robotics kits, stipends for coaches, and competition expenses. Schools can still apply. The purpose of the program is to motivate students to pursue educational and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while building critical life and work-related skills. Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said robotics tournaments combine teambuilding, problem-solving, and hands-on high-tech experience. “Funding is still available, and I would encourage any eligible school with a robotics team, or starting one, to apply,” he said.

Building better preparation programs is just one element of the state’s strategy to address a growing shortage of teachers. Other crucial approaches, officials say, include streamlining regulations that block people from entering the field, building more diversity among prospective candidates, and doing more to recruit and retain good educators. Of 12,760 students enrolled in 695 college-level teacher preparation programs statewide in 2016–17, only 4,889 completed the coursework, data shows. And among those who do go into teaching, not enough mirror the state’s increasingly diverse student population, said Carmen Ayala, state superintendent of education. Illinois’ 2 million students are roughly 48 percent white, 26 percent Hispanic, nearly 17 percent black and five percent Asian. By comparison, the state’s 129,178 teachers—77 percent of them females—are nearly 83 percent white, roughly seven percent Hispanic, six percent black and two percent Asian, according to the 2019 Illinois Report Card.

Using a Growth Mindset Intervention to Help Ninth-Graders

The transition from middle school to high school can be challenging for adolescents as they are faced with new academic challenges and an unfamiliar social environment. Students who successfully navigate this transition and pass their ninth-grade classes are far more likely to graduate from high school with their peers and attend college than those who fail courses in the ninth grade. The growing awareness of the importance of the first year of high school for future success has prompted the development of interventions for ninth-graders. One type of such intervention uses psychological tools to communicate to young people that their brains can grow “stronger.” These positive beliefs about intelligence—often referred to as “growth mindset” beliefs—are expected to result in academic resilience, which can lead to better academic performance.  (Source: MDRC)

Three Steps to Address the Fairness of School Funding Through ESSA

A key goal of public education is to provide equitable opportunities for students, regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances. Achievement gaps on state standardized tests based on differences in family income levels are staggeringly wide and have become larger over time. This can be particularly troubling considering waning upward mobility and the increasing necessity of a postsecondary education for entry into the middle class. The Every Student Succeeds Act provides states and districts an opportunity to work toward more equitable student outcomes—as long as they know how to leverage the provisions of the law to create change in their own contexts. Specifically, ESSA recognizes the challenge of within-district inequity of resource distribution and contains several provisions to support financial transparency.

Framework in Action: Learning Environment

The physical spaces in which children learn, and the social and emotional climates in which those spaces are set, must create learning environments that are culturally responsive, nurture relationships, and intentionally support diverse learners. Learning environments are powerful contributors to effective P-3 approaches and requires a keen awareness of how children use and perceive their space. The concept of the learning environment as a “teacher” was immortalized by Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia approach, and has been embraced widely as developmental psychologists, neuroscientists, and educators recognize the close link between physical environments and children’s psychological and cognitive development. Intentionality about learning environments is no longer the exclusive domain of Reggio-inspired or Montessori approaches but is being integrated into public school districts, as well.

Emotional Intelligence Translates Into Better Grades For Students

Students who are able to understand and manage their emotions get better grades than classmates who are less emotionally aware, according to new research. Emotional intelligence—the ability to identify and control your own emotions, and an awareness of the emotions of others—is a relatively new concept, although there is now a widespread recognition of its value. Studies have shown that people who are more in touch with their emotions are more likely to be better at their jobs and have better health and well-being outcomes, but while there is evidence that social and emotional learning programs in schools can be effective, there has been no previous large-scale examination of whether it relates to academic performance. But a new study suggests that emotional intelligence helps students succeed in school.