Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

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Leading to Reform: October 1, 2014

This week we
focus on how states are changing the name of Common Core, how districts get around the ACT challenge for all kids, ways to be more creative and a quick fix on how to keep kids learning. Some great jobs as well.

Common Core By Any Other Name
As the national debate over the Common Core K-12 academic standards rages on, most of the states that originally adopted them are standing by the standards, though they’re calling them something different.

A new survey by the Education Commission of the States, a non-partisan organization that tracks education policy, shows that many states have ditched the “Common Core” name but have kept the standards and slapped on a new moniker that doesn’t carry as much political freight.

Nineteen states have come up with a new name that includes anything but “Common” or “Core.” There’s the “Wyoming Content and Performance Standards.” Or “Ohio’s New Learning Standards.” Maine chose not to change the name of its standards, instead folding the Common Core into its existing “Maine Learning Results.”

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have fully adopted the Common Core State Standards, which spell out the skills and knowledge in math and reading that students should possess from grades K through 12. Four states – Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia – never adopted the Common Core. Minnesota adopted the reading standards only.

Forty-three states have adopted the Common Core State Standards, but many states have changed the name to avoid the political baggage. Read what states have chosen to call the national academic standards locally. See state names for the Common Core.

Learn more at the Washington Post...

Preparing the Average Student for College?
Jay Mathews wrote recently about the importance of giving average students a chance to prepare for college. Massachusetts appears to be our nation’s best state for education. Its preschool and kindergarten enrollment, testing standards, high school graduation rates, family income and parental employment put it at the top.

But in one important respect, Massachusetts lags behind, particularly when compared with Washington-area schools. Its most affluent public high schools do a poor job giving average students a chance to prepare for college, a fact school evaluators usually ignore. Few people in Massachusetts know how little their schools challenge average kids, just as few people in the Washington area know how well their schools do on that front.

Affluent Massachusetts high schools show very high passing rates on college-level Advanced Placement exams. In 2013, Dover-Sherborn High School had a 99 percent AP passing rate. Other top performers included Wellesley High, at 93 percent, Lexington High, at 92 percent, Lynnfield High, at 88 percent, and Foxborough High, at 87 percent. Those numbers far exceed the national average pass rate of 57 percent.

That’s good, right? Wrong. Those big numbers stem not from great teaching but from severe limits on who is allowed to take AP courses in those schools.
Learn more at the Washington Post...

3 Ways to Boost Your Creativity
Creativity may be partly innate aptitude, but science has shown it's influenced by a host of other factors, including your physical environment and how many new experiences you expose yourself to. Businesses looking for fresh ideas can certainly leverage these lessons to build spaces that encourage creativity. Individuals can use them to maximize whatever level of inherent creativity they were born with.

But by now, a lot of these insights are old hat. The innovation-enhancing effects of offices that allow people to bump into one another and gel together easily in small groups have been well covered, for instance. So what if you've been through the usual list of creativity boosters and are still hungry for new ways to rev up your brain to produce out-of-the box ideas?

It takes a little looking, but there is no shortage of more off-the-wall ideas. Recently, writer Herbert Lui went prospecting around the Web for weird and wacky creativity boosters for The Freelancer and came back with a host of promising possibilities.
Here are a few of them...

Articles for the Week:
Is This the Plan to Change American Schools?
As the debate rages about the best way to fix America's public schools -- from heated rhetoric on the role of standardized testing to wonkier discussions about the intricacies of curricula -- a new report is arguing that reformers have overlooked a game-changing solution: addressing absenteeism.

While it may seem obvious that students who miss more school would not perform as well as other students, a new report released Tuesday shows just how much of a difference attendance can make. According to the report, written by nonprofit advocacy group Attendance Works, about 1 in 5 American students -- between 5 million and 7.5 million of them -- misses a month of school per year. The report suggests that missing three or more days of school per month can set a student back from one to two full years of learning behind his or her peers.

"All our investment in instruction and Common Core and curriculum development will be lost unless kids are in school to benefit from it," said Hedy Chang, the group's director and co-author of the report.

I know my local school district doesn’t pay attention to student attendance does yours?
Learn more at the Huffington Post...

Leadership Positions:
Milwaukee Colligate Academy: A Milwaukee charter school is currently seeking an Operational Administrator/Controller. This position will manage all school administrative and financial matters.
Requirements and Responsibilities for this position include but are limited to the following:
  1. Knowledge of not-for-profit school operations within the private school and charter school framework
  2. Ensure maintenance of accounting records in accordance with GAAP, including implementation of new accounting guidance.
  3. Provide structure for timely reconciliation of all general ledger accounts, proper segregation of duties, appropriate review and other elements of effective internal control environment.
  4. Complete monthly and year-end close audit processes and financial statements
  5. Significant interaction with external auditors, including coordination of year-end audit procedures.
Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in Finance or accounting (or demonstration of significant experience in school administration
  • A minimum of 4 years experience
  • Excellent knowledge of accounting pronouncements
  • Strong analytical skills focused on problem solving
Apply here...

Bellwether is helping IDEA Public Schools with its Director of Communications search. Check out the position description on their website. This position plays a leadership role in developing an integrated internal communications strategy, growing and strengthening the network’s brand, and positioning IDEA as a thought leader and quality education advocate at the local, state and national levels. IDEA has a mission-centric, entrepreneurial, and high-performance culture where people who are good fits thrive.

The Raikes Foundation currently seeks a nimble, experienced, and innovative professional to serve as a Program Officer for its national Student Agency grant making strategy.

Based in Seattle, WA the Raikes Foundation’s mission is to empower young people to transform their lives. An endowed, family foundation led by its co-founders - Tricia and Jeff Raikes - the Foundation expects to grow as annual grant making capacity expands. The Raikes Foundation will distribute roughly $9 million in 2014, and annual grant making will more than double over the next 10 years. The Raikes Foundation hires smart, strategic people who are confident when faced with tough challenges and who are driven by a desire to improve the lives of young people by increasing the effectiveness of grant making.

To learn more,
view the full position profile here.

K-12 CEO, Principal and District Leadership Positions in Public, Charter and Private Schools. Read More Here: S
chool Leadership Positions

Looking for a public charter school leadership position? Read more here:
Public Charter School Leadership Positions

About the author: Dr. William Hughes has worked in education for  31 years as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools. He has served as Superintendent of the Greendale School District in Greendale, Wisconsin for the past 14 years. Greendale is a garden community and one of three greenbelt communities in the United States. It is a suburban district of about 2,600 students located in the Milwaukee metro area; an area known for high achieving schools.  Greendale is known for its high level of student achievement with over 90 percent of graduates attending higher education institutions, ongoing community engagement on multiple levels, along with collaborative relationships with bargaining groups while retaining a focus on children, service, citizenship and learning. He is a former board member of the Milwaukee Area Technical College, a member of the National School Climate Council, board member of the National Center for Learning and Citizenship and adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

You can contact William Hughes at

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