No Child Left Behind Taking Toll On U.S. Schools

There are aproximatly 98,916 public schools in the U.S.,and according to a new report from the Center on Education Policy, 38 percent of ALL U.S. SCHOOLS have missed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) AYP testing standards. This is up five percentage points from 2009. Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education has said, “as many as 82% of schools could be labeled as failing for the current school year.”

Other stand out statistics from the report are as follows:

  • The District of Columbia’s school district failed the AYP standards by 91 percent.
  • Eight-six percent of Florida schools are considered unsuccessful.
  • In some states, changes in the number of schools not making AYP are largely attributable to changes in the cut scores defining proficient performance on state tests.
  • Even if most or all states adopt common standards and common assessments, variations in state accountability policies could continue to make it impossible to arrive at meaningful comparisons about the performance of different states.
The President feels Duncan’s claim that 84% of U.S. schools could be labeled as failing is unlikely. The Department of Education has fired back, and  stand by their analysis and this is just one more reason why the NCLB needs to be rewritten this year.

There are ways to get better education nationwide. It starts with great teaching, and there are a number of great teachers already around the U.S. So why are the numbers so bleak?  Could it be lack of motivation on the students’ part? Could it be teachers are feeling the budget cuts and are over worked? There are numerous reasons, but test scores are not the way to measure student achievement. In McPherson, Kansas, Arne Duncan has seen change, and has allowed a waiver to NCLB to the entire school district in McPherson.

In partnership with Quantum Learning and ACT, Inc., McPherson USD developed the C³ – Citizenship, College and Career Readiness plan that contains measures in the three areas of emphasis. McPherson is not the only district in America using Quantum Learning methodologies to change how their students learn and teachers teach. One of the reasons why Quantum Learning trained teachers are so effective is because they learn the “why” behind great teaching, by learning the way our brains develop and retain information.

Below is a video from teachers, students and administrators from three different school districts that have fully implemented Quantum Learning in their schools. We might not be the only solution, but we are a great solution.


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Budget Cuts Can Bring Creativity Into the Classroom

If you type in “education” into Google News, you find article after article on funding and budget cuts. The economy is still far from “reformed”, and everyone including our children, are feeling the effects. Teachers now need to be more creative in their classroom to keep their students engaged.

Incorporating new and fresh ideas isn’t a new tactic. Teachers have been evolving their craft since the first person started teaching. With that said, what can we do to keep student motivation and participation up when budget cuts are looming in the air? There are many cost-effective ways to include technology and fresh tactics into your curriculum.

Being energetic doesn’t cost you or your school board any money. It might be hard to put on a smile and be energetic some days, but if Ellen can do it—you can do it. If your teaching style is more serious in tone that doesn’t mean you can’t be energetic. We aren’t talking about jumping up and down and being a cheerleader for your kids, but it’s the way you stand, talk and give out information.

Smiles are contagious—how many of you could not smile at someone who smiles at you? Frowns are also contagious, so make sure you are setting the example for your students. You have to be 10x more energetic than your students to keep them engaged. Another way to get them energized is by INVOLVING them with the lesson. Have them work in teams, create a learning game, anything to get them up moving and motivated.

What if your next English assignment was inspired by a video of the Tempest you showed your class? Hooking up your computer to a projector is inexpensive, and brings the world of YouTube to your students. If you have a video camera you can have your students submit videos via YouTube for a video book report.

There’s an App For That!
If you have an iPhone, you can send your students text messages to remind them of an important test, or even home study tips in the evening.  Thinking of new teaching tools such as mobile apps can be extremely beneficial. The app Mozes is a great tool to reach your kids via text message.

Get Involved
Going to sporting events to support students who are participating is an excellent way of building a sense of trust with your students. Juliann Frangella, a teacher in Illinois told us on our Facebook Page, “I have been doing this for years…the kids get such a kick out of it!”

Parent involvement is important, and sporting events is a great place to meet them outside of the classroom. Interacting with parents in a different environment than your classroom can really make the bond between you and the parent even stronger.

What have you done to get more creative in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit:

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Orchestrating Your Classroom to Its Full Potential

OrchestratingFoundation is what holds everything together—metaphorically and physically. How solid your foundation is can set you up for success or failure. Here at Quantum Learning we understand this, and we constantly educate our clients on how important foundation is in the classroom.

A strong Foundation of aligned principles, beliefs, agreements, policies and rules (community) will make the teacher/student relationship run much more smoothly. While easier said than done, there are many ways you can build a strong foundation each and every school year.

First Day of School
The first day of school is exciting, potentially nerve racking for the students, but most importantly, it’s where you can start to establish that strong foundation. Letting your students know the  rules and beliefs you have set in your classroom will set a strong foundation from day one.

As soon as your students set foot in your classroom they are already getting a sense of who you are as a teacher. Is your classroom inviting? Does your room have posters and colorful pictures as opposed to stark white walls? A good Atmosphere helps to create a strong foundation.

Classroom Management
When you have a strong foundation, classroom management is much easier. Incorporating an atmosphere of engaging  traditions and other strategies will help create a sense of belonging and safety, focus attention and motivate students to increase participation in learning.

How are you designing your curriculum? Are you putting in enough student engagement? How many times have you sat in a class and the teacher/professor was lecturing—not engaging you? Coming up with creative ways to Design a lesson can make the difference in your students’ engagement.

Verbal and Non-verbal Communication
As you probably know, there are two types of communication—verbal and non-verbal. You could be teaching the most important information of the year, but if you aren’t energetic in your voice, or if you’re yawning the entire lesson, you could lose your students’ attention.  Your Delivery is everything.

Classroom Setting
The way you set up the physical space that supports the classroom culture can enhance learning.  The ideal classroom Environment is inviting, comfortable, and stimulating. Because everything in the classroom sends a message about what is important, the environment is purposefully constructed with the use of plants, lighting, décor, furniture arrangement, content-related and inspirational posters, and student-generated work.

An acronym to easily remember these points is FAD²E (foundation, atmosphere, design, delivery and environment).  Using the FAD²E model we build effective teaching by having:

  • a strong Foundation of aligned principles, beliefs, agreements, policies and rules (community)
  • an empowering Atmosphere of trust, safety and a sense of belonging
  • a dynamic and engaging curriculum Design and a great way to Deliver the material
  • a supportive Environment that enhances the learning

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Technology is Everywhere: How Can You Use it In the Classroom?

technology-in-the-classroomTechnology has evolved dramatically over the last ten years. We can now drive electric-powered cars, work with lightweight computers containing amazing power, and manage our lives on “smart” phones. As technology evolves, it has a powerful impact on us and our children.  Learning to read on an iPad or even playing fundamental learning games on the computer, make children very susceptible to new technology.

With that said, how are you implementing new technology in your classroom? Are you engaging your students to the best of their abilities? Are you being flexible and thinking of new ways to reach your students on their level?

Finding new and exciting ways to present your material can have a direct impact on how well your students will learn, and how they are able to retain the information.

Last June, an educational certification program for K-12 teachers called Teach Tech was held.  The program demonstrated how teachers can utilize YouTube and Flip Video cameras to help student engagement. reported, “Eighty-nine percent of teachers who attended the program last year said in a survey that the “new technologies enhanced the classroom experience.”

Your computer can do so much, not only for you, but for your students. Simply hooking up your computer to a projector, you can make your classroom come alive. Teaching about tsunamis? Go to YouTube and get examples from real life.

Even a simple PowerPoint presentation can make the curriculum more entertaining (if you have the right PowerPoint skills).

Google Calendar
If you aren’t familiar with Google apps such as Google Calendar, it’s worth checking out. By giving access to your students to view the calendar, they will have an online source for all major projects going on in the classroom. You can even set up alerts for your class which would be sent straight to the students’ cell phones.

As of this past Tuesday (March 29, 2011) Skype launched Skype in the Classroom. “Using the platform, teachers can create profiles that describe their classes and teaching interests. They can also search a directory of teachers from all over the world by student age range, language and subject,” reports Mashable.

Other Technologies
School districts across the globe are getting creative with technology.  Percy Centennial Public Schools in Warkworth, ON, have purchased iPods and iPads for their students. “The students love it, they think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread,” said school Principal John Goheen to the Northumberland News. Goheen goes on to say, “One of our Grade 1 students basically summed it all up … ‘It’s really easy to use because if you have a finger and you can point, you can work it’… the whole experience has been great.”

Have you used new technology in your classroom recently? Let us know about it in the comments below.

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Why Quantum Learning?


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Flexibility in Today’s Hectic World

Learning-FlexibilityHere at Quantum Learning, the 8 Keys of Excellence are at the core of everything we do.  Today, we are going to focus on Flexibility.  What does flexibility mean to you? How can being flexible help in the classroom, with co-workers, and in your personal life? We had our own discussion on Flexibility last week, and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

The Science
How do you feel when you get a right answer?  Do you feel excited? The answer is more than likely yes.  This is due to the fact that when we are right, our brain sends out dopamine.  This makes us feel happy, and a craving to feel that emotion again—so we want to be right as often as we can.  The more dopamine your brain sends out, the more you want to feel the emotion again.  In a sense, you get addicted. But can you get this “high” being flexible?

We define Flexibility as:
Be willing to do things differently. Recognize what’s not working and be willing to change what you’re doing to achieve your goal.

What Now?

  1. Take a Step Back
    Sometimes you just need to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation.  Does the situation mean more to the person you are arguing with than yourself? Take a step back and ask yourself, “Do I have to get my way?” If on a scale of 1-10 (10 being extremely important) if this situation is a 3 to you, and the person you are talking to feels it is a 10, then maybe they should get their way.
  2. Compromise
    We learn at a young age to play well with others. Are you doing this? We all know we can’t always get our own way, but this doesn’t mean you wouldn’t mind if you did. Compromising is a great way to practice flexibility, and help move everyone involved forward.
  3. Assessing the Situation
    The definition many use for insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  For example, if you set your alarm clock for the same time every morning but you still don’t get up—how can you be more flexible? How about moving your alarm clock to the other side of the room.  This will make you get up to turn the alarm off.

In the classroom, flexibility comes from both the teacher and students.  As the teacher, it’s important to be viewed as the authority figure, but building flexibility into your teaching strategy can lead to greater student engagement, better overall communication, and, ultimately, more flexibility on your students’ part as you model this very important Key each day.

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Federal Government Grants Historic No Child Left Behind Waiver

The U.S. Department of Education has granted the first broad-based school-district waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. This act was signed into law almost a decade ago by President George W. Bush and requires all government-run schools receiving federal funding to administer statewide standardized tests.

Randy Watson, the McPherson Unified School District superintendent, was informed last week that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan approved the waiver request from his school district. In partnership with Quantum Learning and ACT, Inc., McPherson USD developed the C³ – Citizenship, College and Career Readiness plan that contains measures in the three areas of emphasis.

Dr. Watson said that the U.S. Department of Education called the C³ initiative “bold, challenging and one of a kind in the United States.” He also indicated that his district was told by DOE officials that similar future waiver requests from other school districts will need to follow the McPherson model.

“Quantum Learning is thrilled to be part of this breakthrough initiative in McPherson,” said Bobbi DePorter, president of Quantum Learning Network, which integrates Quantum Learning teacher and student programs in school districts nationwide and has worked with McPherson USD for nearly 10 years.

Ms. DePorter went on to say that the opportunity to develop students who are better equipped for success in college, careers and life is consistent with Quantum Learning’s mission to transform education and the lives of young people through more effective teaching strategies and student engagement.

Standardized testing mandated by No Child Left Behind has come under significant scrutiny in recent months from many who believe the state standardized tests have too narrow an academic focus, are not an authentic measurement of a student’s learning, and create undue stress for students, teachers, administrators and parents.

Dr. Watson chose to partner with Quantum Learning on development of the Citizenship-Ready component of the C³ model. Quantum Learning’s 8 Keys of Excellence is McPherson USD’s foundation for teaching and assessing students in their citizenship readiness. The model also includes a partnership with ACT, which will supply multiple assessments for 6th–12th grade students based on a College Ready/Career Ready curriculum.

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