The IDRA Newsletter is published 10 times a year. Each edition focuses on issues in education, striving to provide many different perspectives on the topics covered and to define its significance in the state and national dialogue. The IDRA Newsletter can only be mailed to U.S.addresses, but pdf and web copies are available online.

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September 2014 Issue ~ Articles


Current Issue:
September 2014

Focus ~ Teaching Quality 

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Newsletter Executive Editor
María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, Ph.D.

ISSN 1069-5672

An Elementary School’s STEM Success Story – IDRA Technical Assistance Empowers Teachers with Strategies to Impact Student Learning
IDRA’s South Central Collaborative for Equity has partnered with Gus Guerra Elementary to engage in changing the campus culture to one that is child-centered, college going and highly engaged with parents and community. Every child, regardless of characteristics and identified needs, is challenged to reach high standards and is given requisite pedagogical, social, emotional and psychological supports. The major goals are to increase the school’s effectiveness in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and to increase academic language by particularly integrating the linguistic demands of the STEM areas into the curriculum. Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., and Juanita C. García, Ph.D., describe how the campus is succeeding in preparing primary grade students for upper elementary grades, middle school, high school and college.

Dual Language Means Two – Reflections and Guidance for Teaching in Two Languages
In schools that work for English language learners, where transitional bilingual education or dual language maintenance programs are in operation, the students’ primary language is central to the goal of teaching English and to meeting the primary language goal specific to the program. If these goals are to be met, teachers need to pay attention to how much time they devote to each language. Research has shown that when bilingual teachers don’t consciously monitor their language use, they tend to use much more English than they intend or thought they were using. Adela Solís, Ph.D., points to resources for teaching Spanish in bilingual and dual language classrooms.

Court Rules Again – Texas School Funding Must Serve All Students Equitably – IDRA Statement on the Texas District Court Ruling on Texas School Finance System
The Texas District Court, Judge John Dietz presiding, ruled today that the Texas school finance system violates the Texas Constitution. Judge Dietz ruled that the current funding system is “constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient.” Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO, said: “The state of Texas has struggled with inadequate, inequitable education funding for far too long – perpetuating funding schemes that value some groups of schools and students over others. That was the old Texas. It is time for the new Texas – one that provides equal educational opportunity not for just some – but for all of its children.”

Infographic: Texas School Funding Equity Gap
See IDRA’s new graphic showing how some children are considered more valuable than others in Texas. It doesn’t have to be this way. (shareable web graphic, png 

IDRA Research for Teacing Quality
As we continue yet another year of working to assure equal educational opportunities for every child, it is the “Research” in our name that we are purposefully and with profound intent spotlighting in the IDRA Newsletter. And we are doing so by increasing visibility and awareness of IDRA’s research and the impact it has had for children. Each newsletter this year will feature our research contributions to particular topic. This month, the spotlight is on IDRA’s research for actionable knowledge.

September 2014 Issue ~ Newsletter Plus  

Classnotes podcasts on school leadership and change strategies

A Principal on Supporting Teachers for Student College Readiness – Episode 128

Learning While Teaching (A Conversation with New Teachers) – Episode 120

Tool for Building Quality Schools – Episode 81

Ensuring High Teaching Quality to Tap Into Students’ Strengths
In this interview for IDRA’s Equity Hub, PS279 principal Jean Dalton Encke in the Bronx talks about how she uses data and systems to monitor teacher effectiveness and student achievement to ensure that students are succeeding. Having grown up in the Bronx herself, she is passionate about using students’ strengths to help them learn and prepare for college. She has brought in IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program and has a partnership with Lehman College to bolster both literacy learning and exposure to college for students, many of whom may not have seen graduation and college as a possibility. Ms. Dalton Encke is interviewed by Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., an IDRA senior education associate. [18:18 min]

Classnotes podcasts on teaching English language learners

Building Levels of Leadership to Support ELL Success – Episode 121

Readers Theatre in Early Childhood Ed – Episode 134

The Role of Bilingual Ed and ESL in Our Schools – Episode 138

Building Opportunity through Dual Language – Episode 106

Reflections on Bilingual Education Today and Beyond – Episode 65

Properly Serving Secondary English Language Learners – Episode 48

Good Schools for Children Learning English – Episode 14


IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework™

Good Schools and Classrooms for Children Learning English: A Guide
Thirty years of research have proven that, when implemented well, bilingual education is the best way to learn English. New research by IDRA has identified the 25 common characteristics of successful schools that contribute to high academic performance of students learning English. This guide is a rubric, designed for people in schools and communities to evaluate five dimensions that are necessary for success: school indicators, leadership, student outcomes, support, programmatic and instructional practices.

Semillitas de aprendizaje Teacher Guide ~ Manual del maestro
This guide contains 10 units to support early childhood bilingual literacy development (English-Spanish). Each unit has a set of classroom activities that include a morning song, storytelling, literacy connection with STEM explorations, center activities, phonemic awareness, writing and alphabet knowledge, English transition, family connections and informal assessment. In addition, we have provided planning tools connected to knowledge, skill and concept objectives along with suggestions for using technology in early childhood. Includes: Bi-literacy Focus (blended instruction, storytelling & poetry reading, vocabulary development in both English & Spanish, alphabetic knowledge, English transition activities); Interdisciplinary Units (life skills, STEM focus, content integration); and Technology Integration (higher order thinking activities, phonemic awareness exercises). This guide is designed to correspond to the set of 10 Semillitas de aprendizaje bilingual big books, Cartitas series (letters home) and the set of 15 preschool math books and preschool self concept books.

Texas School Finance Trial News Dashboard
IDRA has created a dashboard to collect news about the Texas school finance trial for easy access for parents, school folk & communities. You can see the latest news stories, live tweets, images, etc. 

IDRA OurSchool portal – designed to help you – educators and community members – find out how well your high school campus is preparing and graduating students, what factors may be weakening school holding power, and what you can do together to address them. 

Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework
At a time when public education makes a world of difference to our students, communities and economic success, many are looking for strategies that will work for them and that will last. Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework shows how communities and schools can work together to strengthen their capacity to be successful with all of their students.