August 2017 IDRA Newsletter
This month's focus: Teaching Quality
"The best, high-impact innovations do not involve stop-gap, slap-dash or silver bullet solutions. Rather, successful innovations include a set of key features that assure student access to quality teaching and a high-quality curriculum."  - Dr. María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, IDRA President and CEO
Students need competent, caring teachers who are well prepared, placed in their field of study and informed by continual professional development. 

This issue of the IDRA Newsletter has stories on 
  • critical areas of professional development for teaching in 21st century classrooms, 
  • how assessment impacts teaching and learning, 
  • IDRA's new three-day literacy learning series for strengthening teachers' knowledge of the mental processes in inferencing, and 
  • our annual school opening alert on immigrant students' rights to attend public schools.
Teaching Quality
Three Critical Areas of Professional Development for Teaching in 21st Century Classrooms
Paula Johnson_ M.A.
Classrooms designed for 21st century education generate environments that foster the competencies needed for success in today's world. Headed by the National Education Association (NEA), the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21) defines Four Cs of 21st century learning: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity (NEA, 2014). To compete in a global society, students must develop interpersonal and leadership skills. Many careers require individuals to work as part of a team or in partnership with members of other organizations.

Unfortunately, the rapid transformation of campus demographics can leave some students feeling isolated for a variety of reasons. Differences among students (including language, income, race/culture and religion) can leave students feeling out of place. Due to changing dynamics throughout our communities, educators across the country are facing the challenge of incorporating multicultural education without proper preparation.

Creating positive school climates that embrace student diversity reframes perceived barriers into building blocks leading to stronger student engagement and greater success. Providing teachers with professional development focused on cultivating staff and students' intercultural proficiency is a necessary first step in the process (Grayson, 2016).

This article offers pro-active recommendations for advancing empathy and equity in schools.  -  Keep reading

Backward Planning - How Assessment Impacts Teaching and Learning
Nilka Avil_s_ Ed.D._ and Kristin Grayson_ Ph.D.
Assessments are a critical step in the education process as they determine whether the learning objectives of a lesson have been met. By showing students' understanding of concepts taught, assessments enable teachers to see if their teaching has been effective. Assessment affects students' grades, placement, curriculum progress and enrichment, instructional needs, and even school resources and funding.

Assessments must address teaching for understanding through authentic activities that promote higher order thinking and construction of knowledge. Using a backward planning approach to enhance teaching and learning is a renewed approach that challenges the traditional methods of curriculum planning...

In backward planning, teachers focus their attention on: (1) knowing the curriculum standards; (2) creating formative and summative (in-class) assessments and reviewing and analyzing state- and district-required assessments to meet the needs of all students; and then (3) designing lessons that integrate these standards and assessments.  -  Keep reading
Immigrant Students' Rights to Attend Public Schools - School Opening Alert
This alert is a reminder that public schools, by law, must serve all children. The education of undocumented students is guaranteed by the Plyler vs. Doe decision, and certain procedures must be followed when registering immigrant children in school to avoid violation of their civil rights.

In Plyler vs. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that children of undocumented workers and children who themselves are undocumented have the same right to attend public primary and secondary schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Like other students, children of undocumented workers in fact are required under state laws to attend school until they reach a mandated age.

School personnel - especially principals and those involved with student registration and enrollment - should be aware that they have no legal obligation to enforce U.S. immigration laws.   Keep reading
Immigrant Students_ Rights to Attend Public Schools bilingual flier
Immigrant Students' Rights to Attend Public Schools, bilingual flier
eBook: Immigrant Students' Rights to Attend Public Schools
School Districts Pass Resolutions on Responding to ICE
Annual Report Released_______________________

IDRA Annual Report 2016
Keeping the Promise - 
Putting Children First 
Equal Educational Opportunity for Every Child Through Strong Public Schools

See how IDRA and our partners are... 

* Building national connections and networks for strong public schools, 

Elevating transformative models for education equality, and 

Crossing borders from research to practice to secure systemic solutions.

The report also is online at Issuu and as a PDF.
Bring this three-day literacy learning series to your school!
Instructional Strategies for Building 
Inferencing Skills
Three-Day Literacy Learning Series
IDRA conducted research on the reading test questions that a high percentage of students missed across grade levels. We found that students were having difficulty with questions that require a high level of proficiency in the underlying and foundational skill of inferencing. 

And we looked at the professional development that teachers had received. After an analysis of the topics, we saw a heavy emphasis on pedagogy and little, if any, on strengthening the content that teachers must deliver. Specifically, this means inferencing as the content: what it is, what types of inferences are addressed during instruction and testing, how inferences are foundational skills that affect the curriculum throughout the day, and how to address inferences during instruction.

At the end of these workshops, teachers report being filled with hope that, as one teacher stated, "excites and boosts our efficacy as effective teachers."

Educators aquire new understanding to apply in the classroom...
  • Inference as one of the most critical reading skills
  • What breaks down in reading for comprehension and interpretation
  • Critical brain research and its implication for instruction
  • Explicit instruction in context and its effectiveness as an instructional intervention practice
  • The critical relationship between background knowledge, vocabulary and inferencing
  • The viable practices for accessing background knowledge and cultural experiences of students
  • The cognitive benefits of bilingualism
  • The types of inference that are traditionally tested on standardized tests
  • The critical content knowledge and instructional intervention practices to develop inferencing as a "Habit of Mind"
  • Lesson study as a collegial practice
  • The power of a collaborative and individualized plan of action
IDRA app
August 2017
The Intercultural Development Research Association is an independent, non-profit organization. Our mission is to achieve equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by providing dynamic training; useful research, evaluation, and frameworks for action; timely policy analyses; and innovative materials and programs.

We are committed to the IDRA valuing philosophy, respecting the knowledge and skills of the individuals we work with and build on the strengths of the students and parents in their schools.