News & Articles

Since the early 1990s, English language learners have increased over 70% in the United States, making them the fastest growing group of students. With 14 million new immigrants arriving in the United States in the last ten years, it is evident that teachers need to use effective practices to ensure their success in acquiring academic English and the rigor required for school success....

At the start of the school year the media usually raises the issue about the increasing number of students who are failing to learn to read. The interesting thing is, there is no evidence that standards of achievement in reading are declining. In fact, the evidence shows that there has been a steady increase in fourth grade reading levels since 1988, but “the current difficulties in reading largely originate from rising demands for literacy, not from declining levels of literacy.” (National Research Council 1998) This has huge implications for us in our teaching. We need to think carefully about how we are going to equip our students with the strategies to deal with the rapidly changing world of print. Our students will need to have strategies to deal with the: Volume of print and the need to be able to read selectively to negotiate this Range and complexity of print, including electronic sources, and the need to be able to read in many ways Availability of information from a wide range of sources and the need to be critical readers Focusing on questioning as a comprehension strategy is one way we can help our students become critical and strategic readers. Questions and making sense of the world. From a very young age, children actively strive to make sense of their world through constant questioning. The ability to ask questions comes naturally for young children, such as these questions from a group of five-year-olds watching a fly: “How do flies...

Leading instructional leaders: Reflections from a former NYC principal By: Josh Klaris, Director of School Leadership, Generation Ready As hints of spring hit the air in what has been a very long winter on the East Coast, things are buzzing for instructional leaders throughout New York City. With the introduction of the proposed new teacher evaluation system and the inaugural administration of PARCC assessments, our Leading Learning services could not have been launched at a better time. Taking the lead are instructional leaders from 54 (and growing by the day) NYC Department of Education schools that have invested in their own learning, lighting the fire in their bellies to enhance their personal and professional skills in order to improve their schools As an ex-NYC principal myself, I have to wonder what is taking so long for many of our districts to realize the necessity of investing in our school leaders. If we don’t provide the learning environments for leaders to tackle the challenges they face, defeat and burnout are inevitable. To address the gaps in traditional leadership programs, which generally lack sufficient support to fully improve school leadership practices, our Leading Learning services combine theory and practice—fusing traditional workshop professional development days with innovative techniques and job-embedded support. I’ve been humbled, at times frustrated, and mostly invigorated as a facilitator of this work. I’ve heard leaders lament about the dearth of professional learning opportunities that they’ve had over the past few years; ones that truly focus on their needs and...

Learning from a Comprehensive Approach to Adolescent Literacy Cal Hastings, Generation Ready's Senior Director of Adolescent Literacy, reflects on a comprehensive approach that he spearheaded to improve the literacy results of approximately 90 New York City middle grades schools in his white paper: Learning from a Comprehensive Approach to Adolescent Literacy. As the former head of the Middle School Quality Initiative, Cal was tasked to plan and implement a large-scale initiative to support schools with high need populations in meeting the challenge to build the reading skills of their students to ensure high school, college and career success. In this white paper, you will learn the statistics showing the significant difference that still remains between the academic knowledge and skills required to graduate, and those necessary for postsecondary success, as well as learn about one possible solution to improve these outcomes. ...

Partner School, P.S. 105, The Blythebourne School, Celebrates Chinese New Year February 13, 2015 As Chinese New Year approaches next week, P.S. 105 - The Blythebourne School, celebrated early. As one of the largest elementary schools in Brooklyn, NY, P.S. 105 has a population of 1,800 students. 93% of the student population is Chinese, with 4% Hispanic, 1% white, and 2% multi-racial students. 57% of P.S. 105's students are English Language Learners. Principal Johanna Castronovo, longtime supporter of Generation Ready, put together this assembly so that students had the opportunity to get in front of their peers, parents and community and shine all while learning about the Chinese culture. Generation Ready has been working with P.S. 105 for years, providing Math and Literacy services to continue to enhance teacher effectiveness and student achievement. In fact, data from the most recent 2014 ELA and Math state tests show that P.S. 105 have significantly increased their scores compared to district, borough, and city comparisons. Generation Ready was excited to be there during P.S. 105's Chinese New Year celebrations, and Local News 12 was also at the event. Check out their coverage! ...

It's time to double down on middle school reading By: Cal Hastings, Senior Director for Middle School Literacy, Generation Ready Robert Balfanz, the preeminent national scholar on the high school dropout crisis, hits the nail on the head in his June New York Times opinion piece entitled Stop Holding Us Back. Although we should collectively celebrate a national graduation rate that has hit an all-time high of 80 percent, far too many youth–anestimated one third of all African American and Hispanic males – arenot making it. The economic, societal and personal consequences of this outcome are simply unacceptable. As Balfanz points out, the research is clear, youth begin to show the undeniable warning signs as early as sixth grade of dropping out in high school. I had the privilege to work with Dr. Balfanz in New York City while supporting several middle schools with the implementation of a comprehensive approach to identify and respond to the early warning signs that far too many of our young adolescents in low income communities demonstrate. In one Bronx middle schoolthat had exceptional leadership, the school implemented, deepened and sustained this system over a period of years. This particular school ended up ranking as one of the top performing middle schools in the city, despite serving an unscreened population of students. More importantly are the countless number of youth that the school's principal, teachers and counselors nudged and nurtured back onto the pathway to academic success. As the Balfanz research indicates, critical...

Personalized learning: Not just for students Data can, and should, help K-12 leaders offer personalized professional development as well By: Justin Serrano, CEO, Generation Ready Published on: eSchoolNews May 7, 2014 For more than 20 years, educators and ed-tech companies have pursued the promise that technology and personalized instruction can raise student achievement. Sophisticated educational software now can adapt to students’ content knowledge, language skills, and engagement preferences to provide truly unique learning experiences. So why has so little work been done, similarly, in professional development for adults? Personalized instruction—often technology-enabled or supported—is a proven approach for students that builds competencies by allowing kids to work on the things they need to work on first, then build on those successes by setting ever higher goals. But when it comes to teachers, so much of what passes as professional development is not even tailored to the school, let alone each educator. There are a plethora of pre-packaged workshops, content libraries, free online resources, and reams of materials to be used. And while the quality of the content is sometimes high, the tools are too often provided as “one-offs” rather than as part of a system to address teachers’ initial or ongoing development needs. One thing that all high-performing schools have in common is a culture of high expectations—not only for students, but also for teachers and school leaders. In these schools, principals are instructional leaders who foster a collaborative environment. They believe in, and invest in, sustained, job-embedded professional development. Schools that have made this cultural...

Professional Development of Teachers is Absolutely Key By: Dr. Michael Ward Generation Ready Advisory Board Member; Associate Member of the Graduate Faculty in Educational Leadership, University of Southern Mississippi March 14, 2014 In Mississippi, as elsewhere, educators and business leaders are asking “How can we better prepare our children to be college and career ready?” This is not a new question. It has been asked, in one way or another, ever since there have been jobs to fill and colleges to enter. Yet today, the stakes are higher. Almost all of our nation’s fastest-growing jobs require either a college education or specialized skills. And too many young people leave high school prepared for neither. Though we often struggle with how best to prepare students for what’s next, it all starts with giving our kids three fundamental gifts: capable, caring teachers; academic content that prepares them for life; and the confidence that there will be affordable postsecondary education and jobs where they can apply their education. While all three are important, I worry most about the first one — making sure our teachers have the experience and professional skills to help our students. There is no doubt that caring teachers can be found in every Mississippi school. But we’re fighting an uphill battle to keep teachers where they are needed most: in the classroom. The rate of teacher attrition, following a recession lull, is increasing. About 14 percent of teachers nationwide leave the profession after only one year. Between 30 and 50 percent leave during...

Overcoming the Assessment Culture to Achieve Real Education Reform By: Dr. Richard Elmore Generation Ready Advisory Board Member; Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership, Administration, Planning and Social Policy, Harvard Graduate School of Education March 3, 2014 Professional development for educators is a fundamental key to large-scale improvement of learning for children. Yet building the capacity of adults charged with preparing students for the future is the weakest part of our nation's reform strategy. This is not because we don't know what to do. We understand that professional development must be sustained over time. We know it must be structured and focused, and include direct observation and support in the classroom. We know that teachers and school leaders must understand the importance of children's cognitive and emotional development and embrace it with a sense of urgency. Our nation's record in professional development isn't weak because we don't have the knowledge or the tools to do it right. It's weak because it is difficult to do and because policymakers tend to gravitate toward what is easier. Professional development is an investment of dollars and time. And, it often demands profound culture change. Culture change is particularly difficult in an environment with schools that have been redesigned around assessments, which measure school performance. And we have not figured out how to make this accountability system support the development of human beings. I would argue that this assessment culture is the single biggest challenge facing professional development and school improvement. If you visit most American...

How to Ensure Your PD Investment is More Than Window Dressing by: Dr. Michael Ward, Graduate Faculty University of Southern Mississippi Department of Educational Leadership and School Counseling February 7, 2014 Professional development (PD), when done right, is one of the most important investments a school can make. That’s because it’s not just an investment in teachers, but in students and the economy. Unfortunately, much of what passes for PD these days is more window dressing than anything else. Schools often don’t resource it well – either because they haven’t made it a priority or because they simply don’t have the budget. At other times, the PD itself is lacking in quality. PD, engages teachers directly using multiple teaching methods (just like the best classroom teachers do for their kids). It provides hands-on, classroom-based collaboration between education consultants and the teacher. And it incorporates a constant feedback loop, based on direct observation, to ensure progress. There are many PD providers out there, and nearly all of them can chatter about why their way is best. This can make it difficult for school leaders to winnow out the wheat from the chaff. Yet, there are sure signs of quality that an astute school leader can look for to choose an effective, high-quality PD organization. First, it’s worth noting that there are all kinds of reasons schools, and school districts, seek PD for their teachers. Some have been shamed into doing something because the situation in their schools has become dire. Others run good schools that...

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