Curriculum association news roundup

A look at the latest developments from ACTFL, ACTE, NCSS, NCTM and NSTA

From student assessment changes and innovative science teaching awards to board appointments and leadership training, here’s what K-12 educators need to know about what’s happening at national curriculum associations:

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has elected three new directors to the board: Jessica Haxhi of New Haven Public Schools in Connecticut (president-elect), Ying Jin of Fremont Union High School District in California (at-large, K-12), and L.J. Randolph Jr. of the University of North Carolina Wilmington (at-large, higher education). They start January 1. Read more.

The Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) selected 25 veteran and new CTE educators for its 2020 National Leadership Fellowship program. Participants of the one-year program will meet with local, state and federal legislators; write blog posts; attend at least two events; and submit a final summary of accomplishments to the board of directors. Cindy Stover, executive director of Illinois ACTE, is fellowship coordinator. ACTE also announced that six CTE professionals, each with two to five years’ experience, will join its yearlong Leadership Exploration and Development program. Joy Morgan, an NC State University instructor, will run workshops and other leadership training events. Read more.

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has responded to the National Assessment Governing Board’s updated schedule for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which tracks educational achievement in grades 4, 8 and 12. There are five changes affecting social studies education:

  1. The next civics and U.S. History assessments in grade 8 will be moved from 2022 to 2021, and the assessments for grades 4 and 12 will be postponed until 2029.
  2. New assessment frameworks for civics and U.S. History will be introduced in 2029.
  3. State-level results for voluntary assessments for civics in grade 8 will be added in 2029.
  4. National assessments for civics and U.S. History in grades 4, 8 and 12 will be conducted in 2029.
  5. The economics and geography assessments have been eliminated.

“As NCSS believes that there is an interdisciplinary nature to social studies that intersects the four core disciplines of civics, economics, geography, and history, the decision to assess only two (and not all four) of these disciplines undermines the very purpose of social studies learning and splinters the K-12 curriculum,” NCSS President Tina L. Heafner and NCSS Executive Director Lawrence M. Paska said in a statement.

“NCSS is encouraged by the focus on new assessment frameworks for the NAEP Civics and U.S. History assessments, and a new timeline that aligns these assessments with other NAEP assessments,” Heafner and Paska continued. “While there is the potential for increased state-level influence with the introduction of state-level data for the Civics assessment in grade 8, there are no plans for state-level assessments for U.S. History in grades 4, 8, and 12, nor for Civics in grades 4 and 12. Furthermore, the postponement of these two assessments creates a 19-year gap in measuring educational programs for Civics and U.S. History in grades 4 and 12, since the last such assessment occurred in 2010.” Read more.

Read: K-12 association news: Curriculum roundup

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) found the recently released 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress mathematics scores “somewhat disappointing, but not all that surprising.” Average nationwide scores for students in grades 4 and 8 have been flat; fourth-graders scored one point higher and eighth-graders scored one point lower in 2019 compared to 2017. “These results should cause us to question whether we are providing our nation’s mathematics educators with the support they need to help our students reach their greatest mathematical potential,” NCTM President Robert Berry said in a statement. “We continue to see learning time dominated with test preparation rather than rigorous and engaging instruction.” Read more.

The National Science Teaching Association‘s (NSTA) Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge is underway for teachers who find innovative ways, with limited school resources, to deliver quality lab experiences for students. Applications are due January 15. Sponsored by Shell Oil Co. and administered by NSTA, the program will award 36 teachers up to $435,000 in prizes, which include science lab makeover-support packages for the elementary and middle school levels (each valued at $10,000) and for the high school level (valued at $15,000 apiece), as well as professional learning opportunities. Read more.

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