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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nashua...from the inside

New book helps districts recognize quality teachers

A local educator has penned a book that makes the case for National Board Certification as a way to recognize and reward exceptional teaching.

Last month, David Lustick, a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Graduate School of Education, released his book, “Certifiable: Teaching, Learning, and National Board Certification.” The book was published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Lustick, a National Board Certification recipient, argues that as school districts search for ways to differentiate among quality teachers, those who have gone through the National Board Certification process have shown they are typically above average.

Over a two-year period, Lustick interviewed 142 science teachers from 42 states who had gone through the process. For the most part, teachers found that it rejuvenated their practice, he said.

“What we found was that teachers learned a lot about scientific inquiry and learned about assessment of student learning,” he said. “Overall, 50 percent of the population showed dramatic improvements in knowledge and skills in teaching science.”

National Board Certification describes itself as an “advanced teaching credential.” It is meant to complement, not replace, a state’s teacher license. Certification is valid for 10 years. As part of the certification process, candidates complete 10 assessments, which are reviewed by teachers in their certification area. The assessments include portfolios of teaching practices and constructed response exercises to assess content knowledge.

Lustick said National Board Certification is not as common in the Northeast as it is in the south and west.

“It’s a valuable tool for districts and states to help differentiate qualities of teaching, especially when it comes to teaching leadership,” he said.

One of the biggest problems with education is that most teachers, regardless of quality of instruction and craft, are paid equally. That type of pay model often means instruction regresses toward the mean, he said.

“It doesn’t provide any encouragement for them to do the kind of work that will inspire students and develop deep understanding,” Lustick said.

No more fees for art students

School officials are putting the brakes on collecting fees from high school students taking art classes.

Before this year, both high schools had been charging fees to students enrolled in art classes to pay for the materials. Superintendent Mark Conrad told school board members at a recent curriculum committee meeting that doing so went against the principle of a free public education. In no other classes are students charged for something they aren’t able to keep, he said.

“I had concerns about charging a fee for what I see as part of our academic program,” Conrad said.

The fees were stopped this year. The total amount collected from the fees in the past was $10,155. Fees were being charged to students in regular art classes, as well as advanced art, AP studio art, photographer, pottery and crafts. Following the recommendation of Conrad, committee members approved removing the fees. As Conrad pointed out after the vote, the board never approved them in the first place.

Public meetings

Following are the public meetings scheduled for the week.

MONDAY

Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Committee, City Hall Room 208, 4:30 p.m.

Capital Improvements Committee, City Hall Room 208, 6 p.m.

Board of Education Organizational Meeting, Nashua High School North boardroom, 7 p.m.

TUESDAY

Hunt Building Board of Trustees, Hunt Building, 4 p.m.

Nashua Proposed Acquisition of Pennichuck Corp. public information meeting, Pittsfield Town Hall, 5:30 p.m.

School Policy Committee, Nashua High School North boardroom, 6:30 p.m.

Conservation Commission, City Hall Room 208, 7 p.m.

Library Board of Trustees, Public Library, Hunt Room, 7 p.m.

Planning & Economic Development Committee, City Hall Auditorium, 7 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

Nashua Proposed Acquisition of Pennichuck Corp. public information meeting, Milford Town Office, 5 p.m.

Board of Education Budget Committee, Nashua High School North boardroom, 7 p.m.

Finance Committee, Aldermanic Chamber, 7 p.m.

THURSDAY

Board of Assessors, City Hall Room 208, 8:15 a.m.

Board of Education Revenue Advisory Committee, School Administration Building, 5:30 p.m,

School Human Resources Committee, School Administration Building, 6:30 p.m.

Pennichuck Water Special Committee, Aldermanic Chamber, 6:30 p.m.

Special Board of Aldermen, Public Hearing, R-10-82 - Authorizing the Mayor and City Treasurer to Issue Bonds or Notes not in excess of $220,000,000.00 to Pay All Costs of Acquiring the Stock and/or Assets of the Pennichuck Corporation (Budget Review Committee immediately follows), Aldermanic Chamber, 7 p.m.

Nashua City Planning Board, City Hall Auditorium, 7 p.m.

FRIDAY

Services Advisory Committee a/k/a BID, City Hall Room 208, 7:45 a.m.

Nashua...From the Inside was compiled by staff writers Michael Brindley and Patrick Meighan.