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Students and Schools

  

This reporting initiative is made possible by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation — working to reshape public education to better prepare all students for the future.

See additional work from the Journalism and Media Academy's Youth Media project »

Jean Leising admits she's no expert on brain development, but she still hopes to do something about the way kids learn.

Leising serves in the Indiana state Senate. Last month, she convinced her Senate colleagues to pass a bill that would restore instruction of cursive writing to the state's educational standards — the set of skills and knowledge kids are expected to master in each grade level.

Even in the email age, teaching cursive might be a great thing. But when legislatures impose mandates on instruction, professional educators get nervous.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Federal education officials have granted Connecticut’s request to delay standardized testing requirements connected to the Common Core State Standards. That will allow some breathing room for teachers before new evaluations connected to the tests begin. 

Evaluating Common Core

Feb 4, 2014
Chion Wolf / WNPR

After mounting complaints from teachers, officials recently announced the state plans to delay the implementation of teacher evaluations. Meanwhile, other lawmakers are calling for a re-examination of the Common Core standards. Two years after Connecticut approved sweeping education legislation, we'll check-in on the implementation and receive an update on Common Core in the state. 

Brett Jordan / Creative Commons

Imagine a day without adjunct faculty. Many colleges and universities would effectively shut down.  Somewhere between 70-75% of the academic workforce in higher education is not tenured or on track for tenure. Most of those people fall into the category of adjunct. 

John Mastroianni

In addition to leading his own quartet and a 16-piece jazz orchestra, Connecticut saxophonist John Mastroianni is a music teacher, and the director of bands at Hall High School in West Hartford. He’s also Connecticut’s 2014 Teacher of the Year. I visited him recently at the school to talk about his work.

Todd Petrie/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: What was it about good teachers, the ones we'll never forget, that made them good at what they did? We ask this in the interest of understanding what qualities and judgments are necessary to make a great teacher.

mahlness / Creative Commons

Several schools in Connecticut will expand their school days under a new initiative. The goal is to improve student achievement, and offer poor children access to enriching after school activities.

Sujata Srinivasan

Thomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves....” For kids in the Connecticut Invention Convention program, now poised to expand through corporate grants, becoming inventors and entrepreneurs seems to be all in a day’s work.

Starmanseries, Flickr Creative Commons

Now that we're reeling at the prospect of life after "Breaking Bad," let's find out about the real lives of chemistry teachers! Hear from Dr. Donna Nelson, the consultant "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan hired to make sure the on-screen science was correct, and then go beyond the test tubes, and meet some chemistry teachers to hear about what actually goes on in the classroom.

What did you learn in the chemistry classroom? What's the future of understanding and harnessing the power of chemistry? Remember to wear your safety goggles for this Colin McEnroe Show.

Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education, spent years advocating for an overhaul of the American education system. She supported the No Child Left Behind Act, the charter school movement and standardized testing.

But Ravitch recently — and very publicly — changed her mind. She looked at the data and decided that the kinds of changes she'd supported weren't working. Now she's a prominent critic of things like charter schools and school choice — and she's particularly opposed to privatizing schools.

Ralph Hockens/flickr creative commons

Happy New Year! It's Rosh Hashanah. The new television season is upon us. And… school's back in session.

Students, teachers, parents: How was your first day of school? What qualities and experiences made the start of school feel like the year might be exciting? What are your best tips and tricks for navigating that transition from the freedom of summer to the day-in-day-out of school?

Students across the state are heading back to school this week – and they’ll be seeing a lot of changes.  The common core state standards are taking effect and changing the way teachers teach and students take tests.

Schools are struggling to find the best way to teach ESL kids English.  New Britain school system was recently featured on PBS Newshour for changing all their bilingual classes to English only. 

Diane Orson

School’s out for kids, but this summer many teachers can be found in classrooms around Connecticut learning about the Common Core State Standards.  

In a large room at the ACES building in Hamden, groups of teachers are seated around tables.

"These are middle school and high school teachers, grades 6-12, all English and English language arts teachers."

Leslie Abbatiello is the director of professional development for Area Cooperative Educational Services, which works with 26 school districts in the New Haven area.

Sujata Srinivasan

A new study finds that the way teachers interact with young children while they play, can have a powerful impact on toddlers’ mathematical abilities. WNPR visits a pre-school on the campus of Eastern Connecticut State University.

This toddler is rolling a dice on a board game, trying to figure out how many spaces to get to a pig. Along the way, his teacher is constantly engaging him in “math talk.” The child was one of about 65 four and five-year-olds in a study on the importance of math education during play.

Professor Sudha Swaminathan.

School districts across Connecticut are wrestling with how to implement  the new Common Core state standards, which mean changes to the way teachers teach reading and math along with new computer-based tests. 

The transition is expected to take place over the next year and a half. But some districts say that time frame may be hard to meet.

The Common Core State Standards are a set of expectations for language arts and math. The goal is to ensure that  students have the skills they need for success in college and careers. 

Flickr Creative Commons

There is a lot happening in Connecticut education.

Public school districts are busy preparing for the new Common Core State Standards that promise more rigor, a different kind of high-stakes testing, and a teacher and Principal evaluation system that could lead to job loss if students don’t make the grade.

Is the common core the key to closing the achievement gap? To preparing students for a career? Or are these big changes a grand, untested...and expensive experiment? We’ll find out more from a panel of experts.

Connecticut’s largest teachers’ union filed a complaint Tuesday against Bridgeport School Superintendent Paul Vallas.  The dispute centers on the city’s school governance councils,  whose members say they’re being shut out.

School governance councils were established by law in Connecticut in 2010.  Parents, teachers and community members have a chance to serve as advisors, and collaborate with school administrators to improve student achievement.  

Connecticut’s largest teachers’ union filed a complaint Tuesday against Bridgeport School Superintendent Paul Vallas.  The dispute centers on the city’s school governance councils,  whose members say they’re being shut out.

School governance councils were established by law in Connecticut in 2010.  Parents, teachers and community members have a chance to serve as advisors, and collaborate with school administrators to improve student achievement.  

Wikipedia

Going to class wasn't enough. Victoria L. Soto wanted to help children. So, she started as a volunteer.

Pool Safety Bill On Table In Wake Of School Drownings

Apr 10, 2013
Flickr Creative Commons

A bill to create pool safety standards in swim classes across Connecticut is moving forward for a vote by the General Assembly following two drowning deaths in East Hartford and Manchester schools. 

Flickr Creative Commons, The U.S. Army

If you had to tell the story of 10 years ago today, the story of our invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, what story would you tell? How hard would it be to assemble a narrative?

Today we'll look at that story through the lens of collective (or collected) memory, a fascinating branch of history that looks at the way people and societies assemble and preserve factual narratives.

 We'll also look at one high school history teacher's attempt to teach the Iraq War even as it hovers on the cusp that separates contemporary issues from history.

Educating Students Around The Globe

Mar 5, 2013
Eren {Se+Prairie} on Flickr Creative Commons

Good teaching is the single biggest indicator for student success, and while we spend more money to teach our students than in any other country, we achieve at lower levels than our foreign counterparts.

So, what makes for a good teacher, and how do we know it when we see it?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation asked that question of 3,000 students and their teachers in a recently released study that took 3 years and cost $45 million dollars to complete. 

What they learned is what most kids already know, students are the best judge of what works. 

Local municipalities open their charters for revision at least once every ten years. New Haven is in the midst of a charter revision process, and the issue getting the most attention, is whether the school board should remain appointed by the mayor.

In New Haven, the mayor appoints the entire school board and is also a member. 

J Holt

Teaching business can be a pretty rigorous discipline, and sometimes a bit dry. But Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business has embraced an unconventional teaching tool - one that involves its professors taking to the stage. WNPR’s J Holt has this report.

In the black box theater at Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Performing arts, the cast of Glengarry Glen Ross is taking their places backstage as a sold out crowd assembles in the lobby, and after a final check of the lights, 

Alistair Highet “And, I guess that’s it.”  

Hartford, CT - The hotly contested Connecticut senatorial race is in full swing with only two candidates remaining and Election Day fast approaching- Or is it? On the eleventh anniversary of September 11, we headed to the University of Hartford campus to gather students memories about the attacks and opinion’s on the upcoming senatorial election. While students were able to vividly remember where they were 11 years ago today – impressions about the upcoming senate election were much vaguer.

Youth Vote: Senators, Students and Some Perspective in Connecticut

Sep 18, 2012

Hartford, CT - It may be one of the biggest elections this year in CT, but the senatorial race between Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy doesn’t appear to be making large strides within the college/university crowd. As part of the coverage for the 2012 Connecticut Senatorial Race, the CPTV Media Lab Interns went out to the University of Hartford to experience first hand the views of students during the 2012 election year. Most students who were interviewed didn’t have explicit knowledge of the Candidates though there were a few students who rose above the rest with their knowledge.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding

Sep 4, 2012
Mark Yaworowski

When Kerry Christianson first rode a horse, she needed people on each side of her to make sure she did not fall. Her posture was poor, and she needed to wear a special brace, so someone could hold her. Now, she is able to sit upright in her saddle, and hold her head steady. This is thanks to High Hopes Theraputic Riding in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Real Life Survival Guide Episode 57

Aug 27, 2012
Cindy Papish Gerber

When the calendar switches from August to September, I can't help but think about the various ways I have felt about fall over the years: nervousness and corduroys, preseason soccer, returning to college, and now, getting the kids OUT OF THE HOUSE!

Senator Who?

Jul 30, 2012

HARTFORD, CT - Some politicians believe that young people, between the ages of 18 and 26, don't care about politics. Senator Grump C. Mudgeon is one of those politicans. He claims that young people don't watch the news, pick up newspapers, or even register to vote.

The CPBN Media Lab went out in search of young people at the University of Hartford and Trinity College. After showing people Grump's message, which urges youth to avoid the polls, we filmed their reactions. "Who is this?" asked Andre Dixon, former UCONN student.

Connecticut’s House of Representatives has unanimously passed a wide-ranging education reform bill. Legislators describe the bill as an important step toward improving the state’s public schools and closing Connecticut’s achievement gap.

The chamber erupted in cheers after the 149 to zero vote, giving final legislative approval to a compromise education reform measure. 

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