The exams system doesn’t put children at its heart

TES | February 02, 2019

Last week, Saul Nassé, the chief executive of Cambridge Assessment, suggested that it’s good to have high-stress moments in education, such as external examinations, as these help to prepare children for life after school.It’s a view from the school of hard knocks, in which what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and better prepared for the competitive career space beyond formal education. Many might sympathise, particularly if they too have successfully negotiated the system and are blind to others who have fallen by the wayside, but it’s not a position that many teachers will support, particularly those who have counselled a self-harming child or one threatening suicide.At their theoretical best, exams allow children to show what they know, understand and can do. They can be a valuable part of education, rewarding children for their progress and supporting a lifelong love for learning.Unfortunately, our examinations system doesn’t put children at its heart. From phonics and KS2 tests onwards, results are used to judge schools rather than help children’s learning. Headteachers have faced a bullet due to transitory dips in a school’s raw performance, with a data-driven inspectorate providing the ammunition. If heads are constantly looking over their shoulders, they are susceptible to the siren voices that serve to narrow the curriculum and diminish children’s educational experiences.

Spotlight

Personalized, competency-based learning allows students to engage deeply with what they’re learning, and for Strom Thurmond High School Principal Josh Black, it’s a critical step in preparing his graduates for an uncertain future.

Spotlight

Personalized, competency-based learning allows students to engage deeply with what they’re learning, and for Strom Thurmond High School Principal Josh Black, it’s a critical step in preparing his graduates for an uncertain future.

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TALENT DEVELOPMENT

Orenda Education Merges With Think Together to Create Scalable School Improvement Nonprofit

Think Together | September 13, 2022

Think Together, one of California's largest nonprofits serving K-12 schools today announced it has completed the merger with Orenda Education, a top school improvement and professional development consultancy. Upon the close, the combined organization will serve more than 200,000 students across the state with more than $150 million in annual revenue. Moreover, the organization will be better positioned to rapidly scale their impact. "We're thrilled to bring our two organizations together in our combined efforts to improve student success and close the achievement gap,This merger is the natural evolution of Orenda's existing relationship with Think Together and solidifies our joint commitment to ensuring that the more than 2 million California students that are performing far below grade level have the support they need during the school day and beyond to succeed academically." Think Together Founder and CEO Randy Barth Over the past seven years, Think Together and Orenda have had an affiliate agreement in place while the full acquisition builds the long-term financial and operational capacities for Orenda to continue to scale. Orenda's work focuses on transformingeducation systems, either across a school district or by cohorts of schools, providing professional development to all levels of district staff, around a specific data-driven but people-centric school improvement model. Think Together partners with over 60 school districts and charter management organizations to provide more than 900 direct-to-student academic and enrichment programs at more than 450 school sites across California, serving more than 100,000 youth. Orenda Education works behind-the-scenes with school district leaders and educators to identify inequities in schools and then transform their systems to ensure all students have access to a premium education. "Think Together has always been an incredible partner, infusing the infrastructure needed to provide an efficient model for changing the odds for kids," said Orenda Education Founder and CEO Dr. Robin Avelar La Salle. "Our two models have always complemented each other but now, we can efficiently scale our vision for all students to receive the premium education they deserve." The acquisition comes as both organizations experience tremendous growth due in large part to new and renewed state investments in education to accelerate learning recovery efforts and provide educators with needed support amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Now more than ever, teachers, school leaders and administrators need to think outside the box to address the issues impacting students including socio-economic biases, social emotional learning, and more," added Barth. "Providing these much-needed supports to educators means districts and schools can provide the skills they need to teach, lead and counsel during and following a period of great disruption during the pandemic. Recently the U.S. Department of Education reported a dramatic decline in scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) known as the nation's scorecard. Two decades of growth for American students in reading and math were wiped away by just two years of pandemic-disrupted learning, according to national test scores released last week. And, the declines were much larger for students at lower performance levels, widening already-huge learning disparities between the country's high- and low-achievers. Orenda's approach to school improvement has proven to accelerate student outcomes, such as mastery of grade-level standards (measured by math and English language SBAC scores), improved A-G class completion rates, and improved graduation rates. They also provide administrative coaching, teaching strategies, and leadership clinics. To expand these services, Orenda was recently awarded a $4 million Education Innovation and Research grant by the U.S. Department of Education to digitize and distribute their school improvement approach through an online platform that is effective and highly scalable to schools and districts in any geography, and to those who require less in-person support. Think Together adds Orenda to their growing list of services that support student education in and around the school day. Think Together's flagship afterschool programs support students in underserved communities with homework help, enrichment, social-emotional learning and physical well-being, all to enable students to strive for college or a fulfilling career. To provide high-quality programs, Think Together partners with philanthropic organizations like the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Breaking down the barriers to opportunity, equity and access in education by keeping students and their success as the centered focus is one of the most meaningful investments for our future generations" said Alyssa Santino, Program Director of the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Ensuring the educators, leaders and structures around students are supported and inspired and effectively trained with research-based, proven and engaging strategies is imperative for thriving students and communities. We are pleased to partner with Think Together and Orenda Education as they excel in this space and continue to transform the trajectory of students and the schools they attend." Barth sees the combination of direct services to students through expanded and early learning, coupled with equity-based professional development, as an effective combination to supporting student achievement alongside their school district and charter partners. Dr. Paul Gothold, Superintendent of County Office of Education in San Diego agrees. His former district, Lynwood Unified School District, realized astonishing improvements when partnering with both Think Together and Orenda, including increasing graduation rates from 56% to 90.8%, and A-G college eligible rates from 18% to 53%. Orenda provides the technical expertise for true district turn-around. The systems approach and professional development modules to build staff capacity ensures all leaders have the tools and resources to provide a premium education for all students, said Gothold. "With Think Together's financial and operational support, Orenda is well positioned to continue providing much-needed education innovation to schools throughout the state and beyond. About Think Together For over 25 years Think Together has partnered with schools and communities to pursue educational equity and excellence for all kids. As a nonprofit organization, Think Together innovates, implements, and scales academic solutions that change the odds for hundreds of thousands of California students. Think Together's program areas include early learning, afterschool, school support services and leadership development for teachers and school administrators.

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TALENT DEVELOPMENT

UNLV Joins Forces With Tech Talent Accelerator to Build New Pathways to High-Demand Careers

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) | September 30, 2022

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) today announced a collaboration with the tech talent accelerator SkillStorm designed to provide increased access to industry-recognized credentials in high-demand enterprise technologies, including AWS, Salesforce, CompTIA and Pega. An initiative of UNLV Continuing Education, the collaboration is specifically focused on driving technology talent to the UNLV community. "As an institution that is committed to supporting a growing population of nontraditional learners, we are always in search of new approaches that can help bridge the gap between learning and work,This collaboration is about expanding access to technology certification courses that can help our students, alumni, and community members access careers in the region's fastest-growing industries " Chris L. Heavey, UNLV executive vice president and provost. This collaboration continues an ongoing effort at UNLV, a designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Minority Serving Institution (MSI), to create new opportunities for students and community members to access technology training. Last year, the institution launched an incubator to support student and faculty entrepreneurs, and this past summer, UNLV Continuing Education introduced multiple programs and certifications in Cybersecurity, Software Development, Analytics, Sales Operations, and Sales Development Science to upskill alumni and the local community. Against a backdrop of ongoing technological change in the workplace, higher education institutions have both an opportunity and a responsibility to help students and community members alike access the skills that today's employers demand, said Justin Vianello, CEO at SkillStorm. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is exemplifying the crucial role that colleges and universities can play in building diverse pipelines of tech talent that help to close both talent and equity gaps across the country. About UNLV Division of Educational Outreach The Division of Educational Outreach at UNLV is committed to creating an environment that promotes quality instruction, professional development, stimulating research, and community engagement. The courses and programs that we offer are developed with excellence in mind. The Continuing Education unit designs and delivers high quality non-credit programs, courses, workshops and seminars to both professional and casual learners. The Division's programs support UNLV's mission and core themes. UNLV DEO is located on the Paradise campus of UNLV. Learn more at edoutreach.unlv.edu About UNLV UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 31,000 students and 3,900 faculty and staff that has earned the nation's highest recognition for both research and community engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. UNLV offers a broad range of respected academic programs and is committed to recruiting and retaining top students and faculty, educating the region's diverse population and workforce, driving economic activity, and creating an academic health center for Southern Nevada. Learn more at unlv.edu. About SkillStorm SkillStorm is bringing together Fortune 500 employers, universities, and government agencies to build tomorrow's highly skilled tech workforce. Through partnerships with platforms like Pega, Salesforce, AWS and ServiceNow, we help working learners and aspiring tech experts build in-demand skills and earn industry-recognized certifications to compete in an increasingly dynamic economy. Our work is rooted in the belief that closing skill gaps and boosting economic mobility are two sides of the same coin, and that new approaches to training can help to both expand the pool of skilled tech talent and create new pathways to opportunity.

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CORPORATE EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Fullstack Academy Partners with Amazon Career Choice to Provide Tech Training to Eligible Amazon Employees

Fullstack Academy | November 04, 2022

Fullstack Academy, a national tech education provider, announced today that it was selected to join the Amazon Career Choice program. Through the program, Fullstack Academy will offer Web Development and Cybersecurity bootcamps to eligible Amazon employees across more than thirty metropolitan areas. The Career Choice program empowers eligible Amazon associates to learn new skills for career success, at Amazon or elsewhere, by offering a variety of education and upskilling opportunities including prepaid college tuition, industry certifications designed to lead to in-demand jobs, and foundational skills such as English language proficiency, high school diplomas, and GEDs. Amazon pre-pays the tuition, books, and fees up to an annual maximum with no lifetime limit for eligible hourly employees. More than 90,000 Amazon employees have participated globally since the program’s inception in 2012 over 35,000 in the U.S. alone. The program is currently offered by 260 education providers across 14 countries. Amazon has a rigorous selection process for education partners and selected Fullstack Academy because of its high proportion of virtual live instruction and support, strong student support mechanisms, and demonstrated commitment to serving groups who are historically excluded in tech. “We’re honored to be a partner school in the Career Choice program delivering tech training to Amazon’s workforce, not only to increase access to local, in-demand jobs but also to support local community growth,As an AWS Training Partner as well, we are excited to continue expanding our partnership with Amazon – helping to develop new cloud talent through the integration of AWS Cloud Practitioner training and certification. Fullstack Academy Career Choice program graduates will be prepared to complete AWS Cloud Practitioner certification and exam vouchers are included with the program. Together with Amazon, we are committed to providing valuable tech education, job search resources, and continuous improvements to the student experience.” Jerrad Tausz, CEO of Fullstack Academy. Fullstack Academy’s Web Development Bootcamp teaches full stack JavaScript, giving students a foundation in both front- and back-end web development and the crucial programming skills needed for in-demand coding jobs. Bootcamp students will graduate with a portfolio to showcase the knowledge and skills required to be hired for roles like web developer, backend engineer, and computer programmer. The Cybersecurity Bootcamp teaches students how to monitor and secure systems, networks, and applications, as well as deploy offensive and defensive tactics needed to appropriately respond to cyber breaches. As part of the bootcamp, students will train for roles such as Information Technology (IT) help desk specialist, systems support specialist, and cybersecurity analyst. These part-time, 30-week training programs are designed for Amazon associates to pursue high-quality career training in tech while continuing to balance work or other commitments. All courses are instructor-led and 100% online. Fullstack Academy places a strong emphasis on career services, including networking opportunities and career counseling. In addition, Fullstack Academy has a hiring partner network of over 840 companies across the U.S., including companies like Bloomberg, Spotify, and Etsy. We’re committed to providing our employees with best-in-class support as they seek to advance their careers,” said Tammy Thieman, global director of Career Choice at Amazon. “Our partner network of educators offers access to in-demand skills training, further education opportunities, and job placement resources in high-growth fields. Career Choice is proud to add Fullstack Academy to our robust list of career training partners for Amazon employees looking to build their skills in the tech industry. About Fullstack Academy Fullstack Academy is a national tech education provider based in New York City. Founded in 2012, it offers web development, cybersecurity, data analytics, DevOps, and product management bootcamps. Fullstack Academy also offers the Grace Hopper Program, an immersive software engineering course for women and non-binary students, in addition to partnerships with leading universities nationwide, including Virginia Tech, Caltech CTME, and Louisiana State University. Graduates have been hired by Google, Facebook, Amazon, Fortune 100 firms, and startups.

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