The Near Future of Education
April 2013
In This Issue
Rubric for Rigor
Student Teacher Mentors?
Technology's Changes
Principals Canadian Program
Principals Managing the Future

Roadmap to rigor   
Roadmap to Rigor Rubric 
NAESP has developed a rubric that will help principals and teachers engage in discussions about rigor and plan for integrating greater rigor into instruction in their schools. While it can be used as an observation and feedback tool, many principals may find it easier to use this tool to help teachers become more aware of the components that facilitate greater rigor.


The rubric addresses higher-order thinking skills, deep understand-ing, problem solving, and metacognition. The roadmap also includes an appendix with an annotated bibliography and additional resources.

NAESP also offers Rigor Workshops that explore strategies and processes to help students move to deeper levels of understanding through metacognition, higher level expectations, and problem solving. Level I is basic. Level II provides guidance with use of the Rigor Roadmap.


If you are interested in reviewing the Rigor Roadmap and providing feedback to NAESP, or for more information on the workshops, please contact Dr. Christine Mason at


Are you  

currently mentoring a student teacher?



We are in need of your expertise in developing a new method for evaluating student teachers.  


Our study team is investigating an approach that requires cooperating teachers to set student learning objectives for a unit that student teachers implement and then rate the class's attainment of those objectives. We are looking for cooperating and student teacher pairs who will agree to participate in this study.



Cooperating teachers will be asked to:


1.    Participate in a half-hour online training

This training teaches you how to choose outcome goals and benchmarks for your students based on preexisting assessments. The training is followed by a brief online quiz.


2.    Set three separate classroom goals for your student teacher.



You select the goals and how to determine whether they have been met using assessments already in place in your classroom.


3.    Complete a brief (10 minute) survey.



The survey will ask you to reflect on the goal-setting process and also on your student teacher's performance.  


Participation in the study will take cooperating teachers approximately two hours.
They will receive a  $75 honorarium.

Student teachers will be asked to:  


1.   Complete a brief survey. This survey will ask for a brief self-evaluation of your student teaching experience and about your academic history.


Participation in the study should take student teachers about 10 minutes. They will be entered into a raffle to win an iPad.  


The data collected through this study will be kept confidential. Only the study team will have access to the data we collect, which will be maintained in a secure location.


We hope that you will consider enrolling in this study. To learn more, please contact us at or visit
-- Craig Waterman




Contact Us  

For more information on our services and modules or for a free 2-hour consultation, contact Dr. Christine Mason
toll-free 800-386-2377 
or 703-684-3345 


To help us meet your needs, please include in your email  the answers to the following questions:


1. Primary concern or need:

2. Proposed dates of service:  

3. # of teachers:____  

4. What you expect from CEI:  


Carolyn Lieberg, M.A.


Visit Our Websites 

The Newsletter Archive  page on CEI's website contains a library of previous Wow! Ed editions. 


Also visit the Publications page on the NAESP website to read additional publications designed to meet the needs of today's school leaders. 

Dear Educator,


While a lot can be said about the future of education, we have chosen to take a glimpse into the not-too-distant future.  The three articles in this issue of Wow! reference online learning, authentic learning, and how principals are addressing current trends. Principals today are wrapped up in the day-to-day realities of staying abreast of current demands, and considering what else they can do to prepare teachers for high academic standards and revisions to student testing. However school security, how to reach alienated youth, and how to prepare schools to take advantage of technological innovations all are impacting planning for next month and next year.

Societal trends have implications for principals, for their leadership, their teachers, and their students. In some cases, principals will be able to attend workshops, learn from a PLC, and take their learning back to their teachers and their schools. In other cases the future of schools will be shaped by the responses of districts and state departments of education to specific needs and concerns. In any event, some issues will need dialogue, reflection, and problem solving before the "best" approach can be determined.


Anticipating the Future of Online Education
By Joseph Jay Williams, Doctoral Candidate,  University of California at Berkeley, Director of the Learning Education and Research Network, and NAESP Research Assistant     


Online Education is at the forefront of public discussion, making waves with an explosion of new software and unprecedented financial investments. Where is it going? What do we do to prepare for and benefit from its rise?   


In ten years, will hindsight reveal the current plethora of "ed-tech" as an obviously transient fad? Skeptics who remember exaggerated claims about the revolutionary impact of computers in classrooms might well predict that little will be changed. It could be argued that online education is not inherently new-videos like those on Khan Academy are just digitized versions of the teaching that has been with us for decades.


On the other hand, current students are immersed in technology and the Internet to a degree that is hard to fully comprehend. Many U.S. elementary school students have never known a world without the Internet and smartphones. Will future generations opt to learn in virtual classrooms, meeting peers to solve problems on mobile devices we haven't imagined yet, asking questions to Google and Quora rather than teachers? New Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from MIT and Stanford have established the technology for offering undergraduate courses to tens of thousands, and online K-12 schools are increasing in number.   


Which of these are you placing your bets on?


To anticipate how online education will (or won't) change our schools, it helps to step back from the latest exciting technology or controversial news piece. What are the core, enduring differences between the physical spaces schools currently occupy, and the new digital medium of the Internet?


The prediction of this article is not radical disruption, but the potential for exciting and powerful improvements. Online education's largest impact will be brought about by the simple change in medium-the movement of educational resources from physical objects to digital versions. A paper textbook for each child can be converted to a series of online videos, chosen by their teacher. Paper and pencil homework becomes interactive exercises that adaptively guide and challenge students. This also includes online education for teachers themselves-professional development can expand beyond staff room conversations and scheduled visits to workshops, to on-demand webinars, emails and updates with practical tips and suggestions, and to regular collaborative discussion about teaching-when it's most convenient and most relevant to real-world challenges.


Surely such a simple change couldn't be very consequential? But it can be, for the same reason that it is only in the 21st century that the world's most comprehensive and up-to-date encyclopedia (Wikipedia) could be accessed for free, at a moment's notice, from anywhere and anything with a connection to the Internet. Sidestepping any debate or personal feelings on Wikipedia's pros and cons, let's consider three factors that allow it to cover more articles and be widely available than Britannica ever was-accessibility, improvability, and collaboration. These are the forces that are on the side of improving online educational resources.


Once educational resources are available in digital and online versions, they are widely accessible and can be easily modified through collaboration unlike their physical counterparts. A current (often justified) criticism of online educational resources is that they are immense in number but often of questionable quality. While not desirable, this notion is understandable because the greatest strengths of online education are only just beginning to work-more good resources like videos and homework assignments are available than ever before, and good and bad resources alike can be copied and improved easily, by a vast network of people with diverse expertise. In the same way, Wikipedia was a far more dubious resource than Microsoft Encarta when it first emerged, because its key strengths were only manifested over time. Its excellence emerged once people began to use it regularly and a diversity of people across the world repeatedly improved it.

                three using tech

For current educators and students, this suggests the importance of patience, but also of proactively seeking the benefits of access, improvability, and collaboration. Many teachers on Twitter's #edchat hashtag already share knowledge of good resources that are now available online, having searched for the diamonds in the rough. Using, supporting and creating websites and social media groups that do this curation is essential to reaping the benefits of online education. For example, What Works Clearinghouse is a government resource on evidence-based practice, EdSurge and Edudemic provide reviews of educational technology resources, Gooru learning is a search engine for online content, and Tioki is a new social network for educators.


To foster the constant evolution and improvement of educational resources, teachers can use websites that make it easy to edit and rearrange videos and assignments--like OER commons--and spread the word about software that makes it easy for teachers to construct their own materials by adapting, such as the Teachers pay Teachers and noRedInk websites. Taking the time to test out materials with their students and provide feedback online can also drive forward this development.

Finally, online education makes a wide range of new collaborations possible. Teacher professional development programs, such as those from the University of Virginia CASTL program, provide teachers with the latest research findings, allow ways to collaborate to evaluate educational materials like lesson plans, and let teachers video record and discuss lessons with other teachers and coaches. This can be done through a variety of channels--phone calls, online lessons and chats, or  email exchanges at their convenience. Moreover, these methods  facilitate a novel bridge between research and practice, a goal close to the heart of the Center for Educational Improvement.


In previous years, it has been arduous to connect researchers in education and psychology with students and teachers, so they can understand the practical problems faced and benefit from on-the-ground wisdom. This obstacle has also held back researchers from collecting data and evidence about what practices work best, or explaining how the latest research findings can be applied practically. By communicating through online networks--and working together on developing online educational resources--there isn't a need to rely on coincidental personal meetings or general press releases. Teachers and researchers anywhere can have direct conversations, find counterparts interested in collaborating, and make great progress in producing materials such as videos and homework assignments.  


It is hard to predict exactly what online education will bring. But there are many ways to ensure our schools and students benefit from it.


Meeting the Challenge: An Authentic Learning Program for School Administrators  

By Dr. Andy Scott and Dr. Joanne Robinson 


School administrators will not be surprised by the finding of a study by Grisson and Harrington (2010) that "not all modes of administrator professional development are equally effective at improving principal performance." The challenge for school administrators, given this reality, is to identify and engage in only the most highly effective professional learning opportunities­--leadership that is universal, as we understand from our international work. Indeed, it is this challenge that unites us beyond the school wall, beyond the district boundaries, and beyond national borders. 


Working in Ontario (Canada), Kuwait, Egypt, China, Peru, Chile, Abu Dhabi and other jurisdictions around the world, Education Leadership Canada ® (ELC) approaches the challenge in an intentional manner driven by the notion of authentic learning. It is a well known concept in terms of pedagogy but not so common in professional development circles. This approach has proven to be effective and holds great promise for addressing the challenge in the future.

     ELC meeting 3-2013

Mr.Ng (second left, Secretary of Education for Hong Kong) visits the Ontario Principals' Council in March, where he is briefed on the support services for promoting principals' leadership.


Authentic learning for school administrators focuses on solving real world problems through connecting with others, engaging in problem solving, role playing, discovering theories and alternative perspectives, and applying theory-to-practice. An authentic learning program, however, is more than a collection of authentic learning opportunities. It must be: (1) grounded in a compelling personal and organizational image of a highly effective school leader; (2) focused on aspects of the role that hold the greatest leverage in terms of student achievement; (3) determined by an analysis of collective and personal needs; (4) available on-demand, drawing on every available technology; (5) exploitive of lateral, vertical, regional, and international connections and expectations; and (6) infused with high quality authentic learning options. At Education Leadership Canada, a division of the Ontario Principals Council, we are guided by this vision and encourage practitioners to use the elements of this vision to meet the challenge.

Indeed, the elements of an authentic learning program may be transformed into key questions to guide a school administrator in the selection of professional learning opportunities: What is my image of an effective instructional leader? What are my professional growth needs? Are the learning experiences authentic? How are the learning experiences assessed? Let us explore these questions to better understand the nature of an authentic learning program.


What is my image of an effective instructional leader? An administrator's image of an effective instructional leader is pivotal to understanding one's professional learning needs. Clearly, individual images are influenced by prior experience and learning, as well as constructs presented by researchers, institutions and educational jurisdictions. These are often referred to as leadership frameworks, definitions, theories, concepts, or standards of practice. Administrators need to ensure their image is informed by these constructs and shifts over time with new evidence.


In our case, ELC sets out a rather compelling image of a school leader that draws upon current research and a framework advocated by the Ontario Ministry of Education. At the core of the image stands an unrelenting focus on improving student achievement. In fact, we cast aside the management/leadership dichotomy found in many frameworks and suggest that all actions impact student achievement. Our framework also establishes the notion of threshold competencies, without which individuals will not be successful in their improvement efforts. Is it a perfect image? No; however, it guides our actions, is based on current research and is subject to change over time.


What are my professional growth needs? Understanding your needs is simple in concept and more difficult in practice. ELC offers a variety of tools for administrators to probe their practice, both through self-reflection and sampling of school community members. The latter are broadly known as 360° instruments and offer an important perspective - that of the follower!   Administrators are encouraged to collect and analyse this information from the perspective of their image of an effective school leader.


Student achievement data are also important in developing an understanding of personal learning needs. In the process of moving from student achievement to a school improvement plan to a personal action plan, administrators will be able to identify their learning needs. This ensures the focus on students and their learning environments.


Administrators who have such a clear and substantiated understanding of their needs are better able to meet the challenge.


Are the Learning Experiences Authentic?


Lombardi (2007) reviews the literature and identifies ten characteristics of an authentic learning experience that can be used as a checklist by administrators: real-world relevance, ill-defined problem, sustained investigation, multiple sources/perspectives, collaboration, reflection, interdisciplinary perspective, integrated assessment, polished products and multiple interpretations and outcomes.


ELC uses these characteristics as guides in the development and delivery of professional development. For example, university courses are often criticized for not being relevant and research is rather mixed on the issue of whether university courses improve performance. Consequently, ELC has partnered with a university in the development and delivery of a Master of International Education - School Leadership. It stands as an excellent example of how authentic learning can be built into an academic program. Further, the ELC's MentoringCoaching® program directly reflects all of the characterostics. For example, by its nature,mentor-to-mentee conversations are about real-world problems and mentors are trained to ask the probing, coaching questions.  


Online learning may also be authentic in nature. ELC delivers both on-demand, asynchronous learning opportunities as well as synchronous workshops. Again, the ten characteristics stand as design guides, recognizing that the delivery method determines the extent to which each characteristic is achieved. For example, with on-demand, online workshops, it is difficult to achieve collaboration; however, being readily available 24/7 likely outweighs the limitation.


How are the Learning Experiences and Program Assessed?


Administrators need to think of this as a key question. The answer will reveal a great deal about the experience and the provider and, ultimately, assist in addressing the challenge.


For ELC, our assessment practices are guided by a perspective advocated for k - 12 student learning. Namely, we engage in assessment of, for, and as learning. Assessment of learning is summative in nature and is used to confirm what administrators know; assessment for learning is the process of gathering evidence about an administrator's learning, from a variety of sources, to determine next steps; and assessment as learning is a process of developing and supporting the metacognition of the administrator. Solid assessment foundations are the foundation for an authentic learning program.

In closing, the challenge for school administrators is to identify and engage in only the most highly effective professional development opportunities. We believe that four questions will assist administrators in meeting the challenge:


What is my image of an effective instructional leader?  

What are my professional growth needs?  

Are the learning experiences authentic?
How are the learning experiences and program assessed?


We also believe that these questions will drive providers to provide high impact learning opportunities and ensure direct connections to improved performance in the critical role of school administrator.


Grissom, J. A., & Harrington.J. R. (2010). Investing in administrator efficacy: An examination of professional development as a tool for enhancing principal effectiveness." American Journal of Education 116(4): 583-612. 


Lombardi, M. (2007). Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview. Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved

Dr. Andy Scott is an Educational Consultant with Education Leadership Canada-International.  Dr. Joanne Robinson is the Professional Learning Director for Education Leadership Canada. ELC is a division of the Ontario Principals Council.

Trends that Will Shape the Future of Education: Considerations for Principals 

By Carolyn Lieberg and Christine Mason 


While the future always contains some mystery, events of the recent--and even distant--past inevitably influence many planning decisions. Without question, some factors will play large roles, including: technology, STEM, the troubling ranking of US students on international exams, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), shifting demographics, mental and physical health, and the still floundering economy. Meanwhile, what some might term the school year's "outdated schedule" persists, despite the fact that children are no longer integral to farming our crops.  


Education today at all levels is influenced by shifts in the culture and by political decisions, from the federal level down to local school boards. Despite pressures from many fronts, principals who are at the forefront are considering the implications of these changes for their schools and their leadership.


Looking at Instruction


As principals well know, everyone expects them to have the answers. At a time when questions seem to be arising faster than they can be answered, the new goal will be to become even more skilled at managing the conversations and calming apprehensions.


From the national world of education, the CCSS are affecting both assessment and instruction. For the near future the Common Core will continue to be a foremost concern. Principals are stretched to prepare their schools for assessments that are still being designed. To facilitate implementation of the CCSS, the most effective principals are becoming more and more connected with networks of supports. They understand that states such as Kentucky are leading with the implementation and are looking to those leaders to understand ways to be more effective in the preparation that is occurring at their own schools.  


As administrators and teachers work together to blend the standards into the daily work of each classroom, some are considering other modifications that could improve multiple aspects of each student's day and learning opportunities. They are exploring data-drive instruction, and tools such as ASSISTments may be helpful. The value of ASSISTments is in the technology-based approach to monitoring student growth and guiding instructional practices.


In guiding the Common Core implementation, principals are searching for ways to accelerate student learning, They are looking for methods to teach students to access informational text, and to use source information to document conclusions they reach as they answer questions. In math, principals are turning to expanded use of inquiry-based instruction, shifting learning sequences, and turning to mathematical practices such as  those that are used with success in Singapore (Jackson, 2011) .


To accelerate learning, educational technologies are providing a plethora of alternatives to assist teachers, schools, and students to personalize instruction. Whether it be Edmodo and wikis for sharing work or universal design features to help students who are struggling, technological tools are becoming an integral part of classrooms. Smart boards, podcasts, and mobile apps are examples of technologies that will continue to become faster and smarter with ever-expanding capacities. Two critical questions for principals are 1) how can they keep up with the changes that are coming? and 2) how do they lead the use of instructional technologies in schools?


Technologies that are supplemental to many schools form the backbone of others, as more students continue to join the "virtual education" community and to be educated online from their own homes. This opens a multitude of questions about how to "teach" students virtually, how to observe and evaluate virtual teachers, and how to evaluate whether principals of hybrid and virtual schools are effective.  


Possibilities and Opportunities


As part of coming changes, we can expect more constraint in some areas. Just as airports have become much different institutions since 9/11/2001, the tragedy at Sandy Hook is altering customs and restraints in schools. Yet, the underlying goals remain the same: nurturing and educating young children.


As new policies are put into place, principals may look at the opportunities that can be initiated at the same time. The shell of the school may become more rigid and protective, but the principal and teachers have the ongoing task of maintaining interior workings that carry the goals of the school -- an education that combines instruction with caring and concern. While anti-bullying campaigns are useful, they only go so far as they really are "anti" campaigns that don't replace bullying with positive actions. As additional safeguards are installed and policies are enacted, principals at the forefront are establishing more positive emotional connections with the students who have been disenfranchised. In this post-Sandy Hook era, parents continue to need reassurance about security, while at the same time they want their children to feel secure and thrive. Working toward the "public good that shapes the future for all of us ... [ the goal is to  ]  create the schools that will undergird and catalyze our best values to regenerate and improve society. (Hargreaves, p. 61)"


In the future, principals may find that the pressures from outside the school inspire them to shift the balance of leadership methods within the school to include practices that conscientiously express traits that have fallen under the realm of social emotional learning.  Trickle-down leadership patterns provide a tone for the whole school that can contribute to students developing a positive sense of self, independence, and a path toward lifelong learning. Those outcomes would be positive under all circumstances.


How can Brain Research Help?


The future will inevitably lead to further understandings about the brain's development and the actions and reactions of chemicals. What concerns will this raise for principals? Many will probably seek professional development for advice on how the knowledge can best be used in the schools. As Richard Davidson (2008) and others have indicated, our knowledge of brain neuroplasticity is opening doors to strengthening cognition as well as social-emotional learning. Brain neuroplasticity can be enhanced through yoga, meditation, physical activities, and even breathing exercises.


Re: "Viewing" a Child's Landscape


The concentric circles of a child's world have become much more connected to other parts of society. Where home, neighborhood, school district, and city once defined the levels of concern that principals needed to focus on -- albeit with a range of demographics, socio-economic factors, and perhaps racial and religious divisions to deal with, the circles are now cylinders, thickened with increased complexities.  Students are connected with others around the world, not only through structured Internet activities at school but through web-based games and in forums where supervision is minimal and opportunities for exploitation are a concern.


Neighborhoods today are less likely to be isolated. Connections may be positive with economic renewals, garden projects from ambitious parent groups, music and geography projects that are linked to national competitions. But some of the broader connections, such as illegal immigration, foreclosures or other economic strife, gangs, and other issues that cause hardships to an area and the people who live and work there, are impacting students, their families, and their neighborhoods.


While change always gets credit for being inevitable, some changes are coming with certainty and can be used as beneficial opportunities.  As principals reach into the future, they should be encouraged, too, to tend to their own health and professional needs to provide the best possible leadership for their schools.


Davidson, R. & Lutz, A. (2008). Buddha's brain: Neuroplasticity and meditation. IEEE Signal Process Mag. 2008 January 1; 25(1): 166-174  


Hargreaves, A. & Shirley, D. (2008). Expecting excellent: The fourth way of change. Educational Leadership, 66, 2, 56-61. 


Jackson, B. (2013, Mar 1). Singapore Math - the most visual math?The Daily Riff. Retrieved from
Leading into the Future

What are you doing to prepare yourself and your schools for the near future?  To lead, by its very nature, calls for understanding of the potentials as well as the pitfalls.  As information continues to flood your inbox and more meetings are requested, are you making time to step back and create a platform for yourself? Leaders have the responsibility of blending the past with all that is constantly arriving in order to shape the best future for their schools. Add to that the need to communicate on reliable and frequent schedules with your teachers, parents and interested community members.


Emergencies of all types interrupt our days, but creating oases for planning, for discussions with a selected few, for processing feedback, and for communicating will strengthen your ability to lead. It is an effective way to lead our schools into the future.

 Chris signature  

Christine Mason

Director, Center for Educational Improvement

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