Our United Nations Anniversary

Dear Friend of KDP,

Through the globalization movement and the use of technology that connects us both personally and professionally, the world has become smaller on multiple levels. Today, we have a better understanding of other cultures, regularly collaborate with peers from around the globe, and increasingly have a shared awareness that our futures are intertwined as we share one planet and its limited resources.

KDP has a rich legacy of promoting global understanding through the sharing of knowledge and establishing relationships with people from around the world. For example, in 1948 as KDP President, Dr. William Robinson gave 200 subscriptions of the Educational Forum to educators living in occupied Germany and China. Throughout our history, KDP has embraced activities, partnerships, and advocacy efforts that support our long-standing commitment to equity, global awareness, and quality learning for all.

With a goal of supporting global education endeavors and building the organization’s capacity, KDP applied for and was granted the status of a non-government organization, or NGO, of the Department of Public Information of the United Nations in 2010.

Today, we are celebrating the 7th anniversary of being recognized as an NGO of the United Nations!

KDP has five official representatives—which include three professional representatives and two youth representatives (between 18 and 25 years old).

Our representatives attend the weekly briefing, meetings, seminars, receptions, and other activities, and then share the information with the KDP community to keep you informed of critical global issues and to provide you with suggestions for integrating this relevant information into your classroom. The weekly briefing topics range from girls’ and women’s access to education, immigration, population and development, and special youth events.

Click here for an example of a recent Briefing Report on A Grassroots Approach to Education for All from one of our youth representatives, Clairetza Felix.

Since receiving official NGO status, KDP has fulfilled its role in a variety of ways, including hosting a conference with the Committee on Teaching about the UN on peace and conflict resolution and ongoing participation in various UNESCO meetings including the International Network of Teacher Education Institutions and the Asia-Pacific Institute for Education for Sustainable Development. Personally, I serve on the Expert Committee for this Institute.

KDP’s mission of quality learning for all and our strategic goal related to sustainability literacy align with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4, which speaks to a quality and equitable education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.  

One target of this sustainable development goal (4.7) states, “By 2030 all learners will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development and sustainable and lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

The UN and the world have realized that achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by the U.S. government in 2015, is dependent on education, and more specifically the transformation of education.

You may still have questions about what exactly sustainability literacy means. A student who is educated for sustainability has the ability, ambition, and know-how to create a world that works for everyone and every creature, now and forever. So what needs to happen to achieve the necessary level of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be sustainability literate? The integration of sustainable education calls for changes in the classroom, in the school, and in the community. It requires new approaches to preservice and inservice teacher professional development, a targeted research agenda, revised conceptions of student assessment, updated school policies, and inspired leadership.

Aside from our focus on sustainability education, the UN’s events and resources help us, as educators, and our students to be better global citizens by reminding us of key events and milestones throughout the year. 

For example, November 19 is World Toilet Day, a day to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and the fact that 2.4 billion people do not have access to a toilet.

Our role and responsibilities as an NGO to the United Nations and our access to the wealth of quality resources and knowledge on timely global topics the UN produces play a key role in the work of KDP and our community of educators who strive to create a better future.

As educators and citizens, we are reminded of the necessity of thinking globally while acting locally.

There has never been a more important time to be an educator.

I encourage you to check out the blogs of our representatives and the UN resources on our website as great ways to stay current on the issues, challenges, and opportunities that are impacting our world.

Faye_S_7-1-14Sincerely,

Faye Snodgress, CAE
Executive Director

Staying Rooted in Education

As a KDP Youth Representative, I had the opportunity to attend a briefing at the UN titled, “A Grassroots Approach to Education for All.”

The moderator, Alexander Wiseman, and speaker Lisa Damaschke-Deitrick were from Lehigh University’s education program. Their fellow speakers were Anwar Sayed from the Dayemi Foundation, Taylor Viens from Caring for Cambodia, and Jadayah Spencer representing the International Youth Leadership Institute.

As each person shared their experience with grassroots organizations, they connected to the importance of health and wellness. Health screenings and access to meals can transform the culture of learning to be responsive to the needs of students.

Furthermore, research presented at the briefing proved that funding new educational approaches results in shifts in curriculum and assists in combating poverty.

With political and religious turmoil displacing refugees, it is imperative that they receive a quality education that is inclusive and sensitive to their knowledge and cultural backgrounds.

As expressed by the speakers, partnering with local organizations within communities such as religious centers and non-governmental agencies can offer real-world experiences for our youth, as well as promote positive learning environments.

My Tips for This Approach

1. Know Your Neighbors

Get to know the people in your community. Seek out local businesses and organizations that are interested in helping us achieve our goal of providing an equitable education for all.

2. Brainstorm

Think of ways that you can support a student’s hygiene and diet at your school, such as items like toothbrushes and soap. A resource such as a school-wide food pantry would also be effective.

3. Be Active!

Encourage students to be problem solvers in their own communities. Simple tasks such as cleaning up parks and recycling can prepare them for bigger roles in society.

Happy Teaching,
Clairetza Felix

Clairetza Felix is a senior at St. Francis College, with a major in Childhood Education and a concentration in English. Currently, she serves as the Co-Event Coordinator for the Xi Rho Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi. As an aspiring Literacy Specialist, she chose to become a UN Youth Representative to offer a unique approach to education.

When Worlds Collide: A Teacher Becomes an Administrator

mceachern_photoToday’s blogger is Dr. Kirstin Pesola McEachern, Curriculum and Instruction Director at The Summit Country Day School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Read her full article, “Developing a Research Identity: Promoting a Research Mindset Among Faculty and Students” (coauthored by Dr. Jessica L. Horton), in The Educational Forum.

A few years ago, I moved to an administrative position at the private school at which I had been teaching high school English for more than 10 years.

I had long wanted to be in a position to change the problems I and other teachers lamented over in the lunchroom, but it wasn’t until the assistant principal role opened unexpectedly and others encouraged me that I threw my hat in the ring.

When the school announced my appointment, colleagues’ responses took one of two forms, sometimes both: delight that I was bringing my teaching experience to the job, and disappointment that I was joining “the dark side”—the place where administrators forget what teaching is all about and make decisions that leave faculty scratching their heads. 

mceachern_photo_mugFellow teachers even gifted me with a Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head, which still sits in my office.

Some might have perceived this change as abandoning one world in favor of another.

However, such transitions often grant us opportunities to draw from past experience to improve our future practice.

While teaching, I had gone back to school for my master’s and doctorate degrees, and being a student again made me a better teacher. My classroom assignments were more intentional, as I didn’t want my students questioning a lesson’s purpose like I sometimes did in the courses I took. My methods were more varied, as I was learning new approaches from my professors. And I better understood the realities of being a student with seemingly impossible homework loads and teachers who thought their class was the only content occupying my headspace.

Much like being a student made me a better teacher, being a teacher made me a better administrator because I knew firsthand the implications for the decisions I made.

For instance, as a teacher of freshmen, I believed the timeframe in which I had to recommend their level for sophomore year was too short; students often didn’t hit their stride until after Christmas, yet I had to decide whether they were honors material when half the year was still ahead of us. As a teacher, I did my best and crossed my fingers, but as an administrator, that deadline was one of the first policy changes I made—much to the satisfaction of my colleagues.

Another important transition I had to negotiate when becoming an administrator was what it meant for my identity as a researcher of my own practice. Did I have to give that up? As I describe in my article in The Educational Forum, teacher research was an empowering force when I was in the classroom, and encouraging teachers at my school to embrace a research mindset remains a passion of mine as an administrator. It requires cultivating a culture of trust and risk-taking, and doing so communicates to faculty that administrators understand and respect their teachers’ knowledge and contributions to the larger learning community.

My identities as a teacher and researcher strengthen my work as an administrator, and I remain confident that others can find similar benefits when facing transitions between what might appear, at first, to be different worlds.

KDP is proud to partner with Routledge to share Dr. McEachern and Dr. Horton’s article free with the education community through November 30, 2016. Read the full article here.

What’s the Role of Education in a Democracy?

The political candidates vying for local, state, and national positions have included education as a plank in their platforms.

To energize and curry favor with the voters, these politicians have focused on hot-button issues, such as standardized testing, the Common Core, and the affordability of college. Without question, these topics deserve our attention.

But, are we limiting ourselves? Are there other issues that we should include in our current conversation about education?

I encourage all educators to read the latest themed edition of the Kappa Delta Pi Record. (Click here to access full issue.)

The authors expand the current political debate about the role of education in a democracy to include issues such as community schools, undocumented students, and food insecurities. Let me pique your curiosity by sharing highlights from three articles in this edition.

Stacey Campo in the article titled “Nurturing Democratic Education in Community Schools: The Role of Leadership,” builds on her work as the director of a community school in the Bronx, New York, to explain how schools are ideal places to teach students about democracy. She contends that when schools and communities partner and inform one another’s work, students benefit intellectually, physically, and socially.

Rachel Chapman and Michael Olguin in the article titled “Teaching Democracy Without Borders,” detail an ethnographic research study that examined the use of humor and critical pedagogy in teaching undocumented youth in an alternative high school in Tucson, Arizona. These researchers found that schools can help students to learn how to challenge negative policies and practices, and create a more just society.

René Roselle and Chelsea Connery in the article titled “Food Justice: Access, Equity, and Sustainability for Healthy Students and Communities,” explain the food justice movement in Hartford, Connecticut. The authors claim that the health of a democracy depends upon the health of its citizens. Today’s young people need access to healthy foods.

The ideas of John Dewey, the great educational philosopher and KDP Laureate, serve as a foundation for two of these articles. Dewey (1916, as cited in Roselle and Connery) believed that a primary purpose of a school was to improve democracy. Dewey (1987, as cited in Campo) also believed that a school, by giving students opportunities to examine their differences in a nurturing environment, prepares them to become productive citizens in a democracy.

As you listen to the candidates’ campaign speeches, note the presence or absence of community schools, undocumented students, and food insecurities.

If you can, ask the candidates to clarify their positions in these areas.

As we move forward, let’s include these issues in our ongoing conversations about the purpose of a school in a democracy.

nbondDr. Nathan Bond is a full professor at Texas State University and the chair of KDP’s Public Policy Committee. Dr. Bond served nationally as KDP President from 2010 to 2012, and he has served locally as KDP Faculty Counselor at his university for the past 16 years. He and Sam Perry co-authored the article titled Voting as a Form of Professionalism: Five Steps to Take Now, which appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of the New Teacher Advocate.

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It’s A Small World, After All

We frequently hear about the importance of today’s students being critical and innovative thinkers and globally aware citizens. But did you know that the same discussions are happening halfway around the globe? As part of the 7th Annual High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange held in Beijing, June 7–9, 2016, a U.S.–China Education Think Tank Dialogue was held with a theme of Educational Research, Policymaking and Innovation in the Knowledge-Based Economy. Participants in the dialogue included policy makers, teacher preparation faculty, researchers, principals, and teachers. (You can download the agenda by clicking here.)

The presentations addressed topics such as lessons of education reform and development in China and U.S. educational reform efforts, curriculum reform, vocational education, and innovative teaching practices. The scope and variety of presentations provided attendees with a unique and comprehensive overview of education in China today. Similar to U.S. efforts to address inequalities in education and to equip our youth with the skills and mindsets necessary to thrive in the 21st century, Chinese policy makers and school administrators are working to improve access to quality education in the western parts of the country, to develop more critical thinking skills and creativity, and to make K–12 classroom instruction more student-centered.

As part of China’s commitment to internationalize its education, all 300 million students study English, starting in Kindergarten.

While the United States shares some of the same education goals, we also have similar challenges. Our Chinese counterparts are increasing funding and support of rural and minority schools, identifying new ways of engaging the community, working to make the profession of teaching more respected and with competitive salaries, and providing schools with more autonomy. Another area of commonality is providing professional development for educators and administrators. Because of Shanghai students’ high PISA scores, there has been global interest in learning more about Shanghai teachers and schools. Data from a Teaching and Learning International Survey revealed that Shanghai teachers have 62 professional development days per academic year.

All new teachers participate in a multiple-year induction program that includes a mentor who is an expert teacher. This level of support requires a financial commitment, which is particularly noteworthy given that 100 new schools are built each year in Shanghai.

The Think Tank Dialogue offered rich learning opportunities for both U.S. and Chinese educators. Reflecting on the three days of presentations, it is clear that we have much more in common than the differences that divide us.

Faye Snodgress is chairing a session on Higher Education Reform and Employment with presenters Dr. Leon Richard, Chancellor of the University of Hawaii Kapiolani Community College, Dr. Sun Cheng, Director of Vocational and Technical Education, National Institute of Education Sciences of China, Dr. Yi Li, Provost and Vice President, California State University-Northridge, and Dr. Wu Ni, Director for the Education Policy Research Center, National Institute of Education Sciences of China.

Faye Snodgress is chairing a session on Higher Education Reform and Employment with presenters Dr. Leon Richard, Chancellor of the University of Hawaii Kapiolani Community College, Dr. Sun Cheng, Director of Vocational and Technical Education, National Institute of Education Sciences of China, Dr. Yi Li, Provost and Vice President, California State University-Northridge, and Dr. Wu Ni, Director for the Education Policy Research Center, National Institute of Education Sciences of China.

Given KDP’s commitment to advancing sustainability literacy, I met with our partner, the Beijing Association for Education for Sustainable Development (BAESD), which is interested in becoming an affiliate chapter of KDP. BAESD is involved in the establishment of a national Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) District and Green Development Exemplary District in the Shijingshan District. China’s commitment to ESD has set a good example worldwide in curriculum development, teacher training, and innovations in technology. As part of working together with educators and other countries to promote the well-being of human society, the group is interested in establishing a partnership with U.S. high schools that have incorporated either environmental education or sustainable education in their pedagogies and curriculum.

Dr. SHI, Gendongi and his BAESD staff, principals, and teachers.

Dr. SHI, Gendongi and his BAESD staff, principals, and teachers.

Being in China for the Think Tank Dialogue also provided an opportunity for me to meet with two of our Chinese chapters. Members of the Far East China School chapter shared the many ways that members use and benefit from KDP resources, such as listening to and discussing podcasts, reading articles from the Record, and using the professional development resources and tips shared in emails from KDP Headquarters. Chapter members are eagerly awaiting Convo 2017!

KDP Counselor Dr. Chen Xaioda proudly displays the KDP banner which will hang in the school’s conference room.

KDP Counselor Dr. Chen Xaioda proudly displays the KDP banner which will hang in the school’s conference room.

The KDP Asia–Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education (APNIEVE) chapter, which was established by KDP Laureate Dr. Zhou Nan-Zhoa, is interested in expanding membership beyond Shanghai. Some new goals were established for collaboration between KDP and APNIEVE related to joint research projects and participation in exchange programs for teachers, principals, and students.

An international experience such as my recent trip to China reminds me how much we can learn from talking with other educators, whether they are part of our local community or teach in schools around the world.

Dr. Xiong Jianhui, Secretary-General of UNESCO-APNIEVE and KDP Chapter Counselor, joins me in showing our updated planning document.

Dr. Xiong Jianhui, Secretary-General of UNESCO-APNIEVE and KDP Chapter Counselor, joins me in showing our updated planning document.

We share a deep-seeded belief that education is the path to a better life, and we strive to ensure that today’s youth are responsible global citizens who have the skills and understanding to address future challenges in an equitable manner.

We are united by a profession in which we all strive to continually improve our practice to ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. It is a small world, after all.

Faye_S_7-1-14Faye Snodgress, CAE, is the Executive Director for Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.

Test Use and Abuse

Tienken_KDPStandardized test results play an important role in the education landscape today. The results from state-mandated standardized tests are used to make multiple determinations and interpretations about teachers, school administrators, students, and school quality. In most cases, state education bureaucrats use the results from one mandated standardized test in mathematics and one test in English language arts for multiple purposes to meet the various Race To The Top grant and No Child Left Behind waiver reporting requirements for teacher and principal effectiveness as well as college and career readiness for students.

The results from the state-mandated high school mathematics test in Grade 11 could be used to make determinations about (a) the effectiveness of the high school principal, (b) the effectiveness of the high school math teachers, (c) the quality of the school district’s mathematics program, (d) whether a Grade 11 student is college ready, (e) whether that student is career ready, (f) a student’s strengths and weaknesses in math, (g) Grade 12 course placements for that student, and (h) whether the student can graduate high school. That is eight determinations made totally or in part from one test score.

If the test results have not been validated for making multiple determinations, then the decisions made about educators, students, schools, and school districts that are based on the results could be flawed.

A current example includes the use of state test results to rank schools and school districts and to reward and punish them. As I elaborate upon in Education Policy Perils: Tackling the Tough Issues, results from state standardized tests can be predicted with a great deal of accuracy at the school and district levels, using only community demographic data. Some school and district educators are needlessly critiqued, replaced, or put on corrective action while others receive praise, all based on test results that have not been validated for making those types of determinations.

The seventh edition of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing contains 12 categories of standards and provides specific guidance on topics that include appropriate test design, development, validity, and use of standardized tests and results (AERA, APA, & NCME, 2014). Standard 1.0 states, “Clear articulation of each intended test score interpretation for a specified use should be set forth, and appropriate validity evidence in support of each intended interpretation should be provided” (AERA et al., 2014, p. 23). Standard 1.1 expands on this guidance: “No test permits interpretations that are valid for all purposes or in all situations. Each recommended interpretation for a given use requires validation” (AERA et al., 2014, p. 23). Standard 1.1 further recommends, “A rationale should be presented for each intended interpretation of test scores for a given use, together with a summary of the evidence and theory bearing on the intended interpretation” (AERA et al., 2014, p. 23).

For example, using a standardized test administered in Grade 3 to determine college and career readiness would potentially require a validation period of 8 years for the college readiness determination and longer for career readiness validation. College readiness and career readiness are two different determinations and require two separate validations of the test results to make those determinations. Similarly, one might argue for more evidence of validity in the case where an elementary school principal receives an ineffective rating based on school standardized test scores while the majority of her teachers are rated effective via the same test results.

The authors of the standards present specific cautions about using results from standardized tests for multiple purposes in educational settings like P–12 public schools. A test designed to measure the effectiveness of a school principal may not be valid for measuring the effectiveness of a classroom teacher. The authors state clearly, “No one test will serve all purposes equally well” (AERA et al., 2014, p. 195).

Users of standardized test results should attempt to confirm the results for groups and individuals by obtaining multiple forms of data about those groups or individuals. Data from various sources should be triangulated so that a decision is not made based only upon the results from a single state-mandated standardized test.

Educators in a school could develop a menu of other indicators one could use to make important decisions about students and teachers without using any results from state-mandated standardized tests. They could create a simple matrix with the type of determination to be made listed on the left side of the matrix and all the existing sources of data at hand running along the top of the matrix. Then they would be able to easily identify determinations that lack at least three different types of data. That could help alert educators to the types of assessments they might have to develop in-house. More importantly, the exercise will help educators kick the habit of using results from one test for multiple purposes for which the test was not designed.

Dr. Christopher H. Tienken is an Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University in the College of Education and Human Services, Department of Education Leadership, Management, and Policy. He is a former public school teacher and administrator. He serves as the Academic Editor of the KDP Record.

Excerpt from Tienken, C. H. (2015). Test use and abuse. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 51(4), 155–158. Used with permission.

Three Reasons Teaching is More Satisfying for Career Changers

Luis PentonTeacher shortage and high teacher turnover rate are two of the most challenging realities that the public school system in the United States faces today.

Low morale among teachers, lack of respect and appreciation, excessive paperwork, and continuous funding cuts continue to be the most profound reasons as to why many professionals in the teaching field decide to switch careers and have a fresh start. These eye-opening statistics for teacher desertion and shortage continue to be the focus on the news. However, little attention is paid to a lesser-known group of individuals who are successful professionals in other fields and, knowing the challenges the American public education system faces today, decide to become teaching professionals.

For this article I interviewed three professionals–a former dentist, a former lawyer, and a former political science major student–who switched careers to become educators. The purpose of these interviews was to better understand the reasons behind their choices of becoming schoolteachers and how the feel about their decision. From these interviews, there were three main reasons that seemed to be prevalent in these professionals’ decision on becoming educators and in how they feel today about the choice they made many years ago. These reasons are:

  1. Calling. Some would say that teaching is an art and a science, and only those who understand the balance between these two can truly educate. This statement is very relatable to the three teachers interviewed, as they believe they always knew teaching was their vocation. They were aware of all the challenges and extra hours of work the teaching field required prior to switching to education, but that did not stop them. As a calling, they feel fulfilled in front of the classroom and they state, that above all, teaching is the driving force for them personally and professionally.
  2. Impacting students’ lives. Impacting the younger generations is of upmost importance for most individuals in the teaching field. All interviewees agreed that they decided to move from their original field of study because they could not directly impact lives in a way that was personally meaningful to them as individuals. Particularly, one educator stated that when he became a teacher, he experienced that the relationship with his students was symbiotic and he felt fulfilled by affecting the learning and growth of his students while his students seemed to truly benefit from his instruction.
  3. Their children’s education. Having children is a powerful reason for wanting to be involved and learn more about the public education system. For our interviewees, becoming an educator was just an innate part of being a parent. One of the interviewees stated that the main reason why she became a teacher was because she did not like how her children were being taught and the information they were being taught. For this reason, she became a schoolteacher, with a hope of better understanding the information their children were being exposed to and with a vision of bettering the public education system from the inside out.

When we think about educators, we think about individuals who value, above all, the impact they have in their students’ present and future lives. For the career switchers interviewed in this article, their students are the number one priority and teaching has become an opportunity for them to become more actively involved within their community and help shape the new generation of thinkers. Even though there are some aspects of public education that they do not agree with, such as excessive standardized testing, teacher disempowerment, low pay, and lack of appreciation, they have found that teaching is where they belong and they do not plan to leave any time soon.

These seasoned professionals have found that staying humble and focusing on their students have been the most important lessons learned throughout their lives as educators and they would not change that for the world.

Currently, KDP is spending time collecting (and will soon be sharing) stories from around the globe about how teachers are making a difference and changing the world. Share yours today!

Luis J. Pentón Herrera is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Prince George County Public Schools in Maryland. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Leadership: Reading, Language, and Literacy at Concordia University Chicago. His research interests include language acquisition, bilingual education, teacher education, and immigrant education.