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You are invited to add your unique voice and perspective to a vibrant, forward thinking conversation around some of the most timely topics in the education sector.   We welcome sophisticated commentary, similar to that found in the world’s leading publications, that covers a wide range of education related topics and draws fresh connections to contemporary issues.  As a contributor you will both be invited to discuss topics of our choosing and have the exciting opportunity to create content of your choice around subjects that interest you as both a scholar and practitioner.  Let’s work together to move the conversation around education further into the future while reframing and evaluating scholarship of the past.




Commentary
by Srikala Naraian — 2015
In this commentary, I note the oppositional traditions that inform polarized perspectives on disability and schooling, and raise the question of the significance of such divisions for schools and for preparing teachers. Drawing on an international collaborative experience involving competing knowledge traditions, I begin exploring the creative possibilities of uncertainty and ambiguity for reforming schools.

by Lori Custodero — 2015
In this Introduction, the contextual background, organization, and contents of the issue are provided.

by Anita Pandey — 2015
This piece identifies cultural bias in the word gap debate and offers recommendations.

by Toni Brzeski — 2015
Do you know what the most common electronic device that college student’s possess? According to Joshua Bolkan, a multimedia editor for Campus Technology and The Journal, “85% of college students own laptops while smartphones come in second at 65%”. If technology is becoming a common practice among our students, what are we doing as professors to incorporate it into our classrooms? How can students use technology to reflect on their work? How can instructors use technology as a supplement in reading and writing courses? How can technology be used to deepen our student’s critical thinking skills? These are questions we should be asking ourselves in a world where technology is paving the way to learning.

by Gabriel Della-Piana, Connie Kubo Della-Piana & Michael Gardner — 2015
The authors build on previous scholarship describing signs that appropriate validity evidence for education achievement measures is either not gathered, not reported, or not accessible for independent review. The consequences are troubling for valid interpretation of test scores for evaluation of individuals, groups, or programs. Six potential sources of influence on the validity evidence gap for valid interpretation and use of test scores are explored: (a) the influence of demands on the test user for interpretation of test scores; (b) the challenges of professional standards in assigning responsibility for providing validity evidence and argument; (c) law and regulatory practices constraining validity evidence gathering; (d) technology constraints and opportunities on kinds of validity evidence gathered and accessible; and (e) effects of the new education industry on testing. The paper concludes with suggestions for developing case studies in responsible gathering of test validity evidence in the problematic contexts outlined, with the intent to promote dialogue on responding to the challenges of the influences on the validity evidence gap.

by Angus McMurtry — 2015
This commentary is an actual email letter from an education faculty professor to an educational textbook sales representative. In it, the Professor explains why he will not use a textbook that is based on the popular, but unexamined assumption that learning is about individual brains acquiring information. Instead, he uses numerous practical examples, sarcasm, and a strong dose of idealism to argue for a view of learning that engages with the realities of embodiment, individual subjectivity, social participation, cultural context, and biological diversity. To bolster his argument, the professor draws upon Piaget, Vygotsky constructivist theory, and a relational view of epistemology that transcends both objectivism and subjectivism.

by Amee Adkins, Tracy Spesia & John Snakenborg — 2015
This commentary rebuts several questionable claims asserted by the Dover et al. (2015) commentary regarding the development and implementation of edTPA. Based on our deep and long-term involvement with the initiative, we counter their assertions drawing on a range of scholarly and experiential evidence that suggests their analysis is partial at best.

by Richard Fossey & Robert Cloud — 2015
Bankruptcy judges are increasingly willing to rely on compassion and common sense when they decide cases involving honest but unfortunate student-loan debtors who took on mountains of student-loan debt hoping to improve their lives but did not find jobs that paid well enough for them to reasonably make their loan payments.

by Mark Conley & Gina Garner — 2015
With more and more states adopting edTPA as an assessment of a teacher candidate’s readiness for the classroom, it is important to ask: will edTPA result in increasing a teacher’s classroom reasoning and decision making ability? Or could edTPA, like some reforms from No Child Left Behind, lead to a deskilling of America’s teachers? The purpose of this article is to explore these questions in the context of implementation scenarios and cases that can only be described as the worst of times and the best of times with regard to teacher preparation. This article portrays several different ways in which the tensions between state mandates and local contexts create conditions for a narrowing of visions for teacher preparation. On the other hand, edTPA poses some alluring possibilities for teacher preparation programs and teacher candidates to engage in self-study and improvement. The authors describe ways in which programs can maximize the potential for edTPA to complement and improve assessment and teacher preparation, as opposed to de-skilling teachers.

by Peter Cookson Jr. — 2015
In this commentary, the philosophic and policy origins of educational instrumentalism are explored, its learning myths revealed, and a positive alternative is suggested.

by Christopher Cross — 2015
This commentary reflects on the need to establish a national policy on education so that there is a clear understanding of our national priority and appropriate roles for states and the federal government.

by Jessica Holloway-Libell & Audrey Amrein-Beardsley — 2015
Despite the overwhelming and research-based concerns regarding value-added models (VAMs), VAM advocates, policymakers, and supporters continue to hold strong to VAMs’ purported, yet still largely theoretical strengths and potentials. Those advancing VAMs have, more or less, adopted and promoted a set of agreed-upon, albeit “heroic” set of assumptions, without independent, peer-reviewed research in support. These “heroic” assumptions transcend promotional, policy, media, and research-based pieces, but they have never been fully investigated, explicated, or made explicit as a set or whole. These assumptions, though often violated, are often ignored in order to promote VAM adoption and use, and also to sell for-profits’ and sometimes non-profits’ VAM-based systems to states and districts. The purpose of this study was to make obvious the assumptions that have been made within the VAM narrative and that, accordingly, have often been accepted without challenge. Ultimately, sources for this study included 470 distinctly different written pieces, from both traditional and non-traditional sources. The results of this analysis suggest that the preponderance of sources propagating unfounded assertions are fostering a sort of VAM echo chamber that seems impenetrable by even the most rigorous and trustworthy empirical evidence.

by Benjamin Justice — 2015
This commentary describes the promises and pitfalls of writing institutional history.

by M. Thirunarayanan — 2015
Shakespeare was wrong when he posed the question “What is in a name”? A name means a lot. It tells us a lot about the person and his ancestors and culture. The author of this commentary argues that Global Understanding begins with understanding an unfamiliar name.

by Carla Evans — 2015
Currently, we focus on the technical and social appropriateness of educator evaluation systems; should we consider adding ethical notions of fairness to enrich evaluation and situate it within a task that has an essential ethical dimension? This commentary explores why ethics is a useful additive framework focusing on the professional act of teaching.

by Kirsten Agius, Jenny Aitken, Mindy Blaise, Kelly Boucher, Catherine Hamm, Jeanne Marie Iorio, Brenda Lovell & John McCartin — 2015
The Early Childhood Discipline Group at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia dissects the Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers report released by the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, questioning how the recommendations were developed and raising concern for the report's lack of focus on early childhood teacher education.

by Laurence Steinberg — 2015
American high schools continue to show lackluster performance relative to high schools in comparably developed countries and to American elementary and middle schools. Laurence Steinberg argues that the problem isn't our schools, but the ways in which we raise our adolescents.

by Lisa Rosen & Linda Rubin — 2015
Last year marked the tenth anniversary of the film Mean Girls. This film has brought widespread attention to the difficulties of navigating high school peer relationships, including the pain of relational aggression (or relational bullying). As the name implies, relational aggression is defined as behavior aimed at harming another’s relationships, and includes spreading rumors and social exclusion. The longstanding popularity of Mean Girls makes it clear that the movie continues to strike a chord in popular culture. Despite popular interest and growing research, the majority of school-based intervention programs have focused solely on physical aggression to the exclusion of relational aggression. This commentary discusses recent empirical findings on relational aggression and offers suggestions for how educators can use this research to decrease mean behaviors on their campuses.

by National School Climate Council — 2015
There is growing federal and state support for school climate improvement and pro-social education. The National School Climate Council has developed a consensus statement about the foundational importance of intentional pro-social instruction and school climate improvement efforts. In addition, this consensus statement outlines a core set of research-based systemic, instructional and relational goals as well as processes that underscore, characterize and shape both effective school climate improvement and pro-social instructional efforts. Research, policy, practice and teacher education implications are outlined.

by Michael Gottfried & Seth Gershenson — 2015
Researchers, policy makers, and practitioners commonly assume that student absences matter. When students are not in school, we uphold that they miss out on learning opportunities and forgo valuable social/developmental activities; consequently, when absent students return to school, they are said to be behind and often feel alienated. Moreover, student absences may affect teachers and classmates by disrupting routines and causing teachers to spend time helping students to “catch up” following an absence spell. Given these concerns, recent discourse has emphasized the importance of school attendance.

by Aaron Kupchik — 2015
This commentary reflects on the detrimental effects of excessive school security policies.

by Jess Clawson — 2015
This commentary discusses why, if education policymakers and practitioners do not have a grounding in education history, they cannot adequately meet the needs of queer/of color students. Education history in indispensable to policymakers, administrators, and practitioners in adequately educating marginalized students.

by Bradley Ermeling — 2015
This commentary compares Japanese and US approaches for integrating technology in K-12 classroom environments. While many American schools are consumed by a haphazard race to adopt the latest gadgets and new innovations, often these devices function as little more than expensive and colorful accessories with minimal influence on existing instructional methods. In other cases, devices sit unused, collect dust, and soon become obsolete, costing thousands of dollars in upgrades. Despite Japan’s much slower pace of technology adoption, one might argue that Japanese educators are well ahead of the US in effective technology integration. Using the chalkboard and bansho (board-writing) as an example, this article describes how Japan’s slow and steady integration approach enables educators to deliberately study and build knowledge about which technologies best facilitate particular learning opportunities. The US should take note and consider a more purposeful integration strategy that emphasizes efficacy over hasty implementation.

by Alice Ginsberg — 2015
This commentary looks at the labels "vampire," "terrorist," and "little demon," that are used to annotate a first grade teacher's class list on the first day of school. The author, a teacher educator, questions the relationship between the use of such derogatory labels and the resulting stereotypes and statistics of black boys and crime in light of recent events.

by Alison G. Dover, Brian D. Schultz, Katy Smith & Timothy J. Duggan — 2015
This essay examines the impact of outsourcing teacher preparation and evaluation through high stakes teacher performance assessments like edTPA. In addition to undermining teacher preparation by marginalizing the local experts best situated to evaluate candidates’ performance, this has led to a growing industry of edTPA-related services. The authors use their own experiences with edTPA “coaching” and scoring to illustrate the inevitable consequences of shifting teacher preparation and evaluation to the private sector.

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Upcoming Topics

Teachers’ commentaries provide an important perspective on current educational issues. If you are a K-12 educator, we welcome you to submit a 1,000-1,500 word commentary in which you draw on your experience to address problems and opportunities confronting students and educators.



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  • Dear Editorial Department, I hope you are doing well! My name is Syed S. Ahmed. I was interested in the opportunity to submit a piece on "Teaching The Diversity of Islam-A Non Arab Approach." I would be delighted if given the opportunity to contribute in any way. With regards, Professor Ahmed
  • To Whom It May Concern: I'm writing to see if Teachers College Record would be interested in an article on a very specific event. If so, I'll happily write the submission with any writing preferences or directions Teachers College Record desires. Positive psychology, happiness, and character education has been a very hot topic recently. David Levin, the founder of KIPP, is leading an online free class off coursera.org entitled, "Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms." I think this is a very significant event, because so much of the research and science on character development has: (1) remained mostly in academic journals and books away from lay audiences, and (2) has not really been able to offer suggestions for incorporation in the classroom with the science to back it up. I also think this is a very significant event because so much of this research is extremely controversial. Is developing Grit in-itself, without attention to context, anything but obedience? Can you track for character without having students become more dependent on praise? I plan to take this online course. Would TCR be interested in a submission that offers a reflective but possibly highly critical review of this course from someone who is both a student of psychology and a teacher? I'd detail some important research studies but also tie it into the narrative of my classroom as someone who became a teacher (like so many) to inspire and build character. If you think this would be an appropriate submission for TCR, I'd happily write it to be a specific length, with a particular writing style, or accommodate any other preferences the publication might have. The online course will last until the beginning of March, and I could have the article submission to you by the end of March. Thanks for your consideration. Dan Daniel.J.LaSalle@gmail.com
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