Category: Press Release

Statement of Lynette Guastaferro, Executive Director of Teaching Matters, Re: The State of the State

by Editorial Team

Wed, 08 Jan 2014:

We applaud the education priorities outlined by Governor Cuomo in his State of the State address. We are particularly heartened by the Teacher Excellence Fund, which would offer up to $20,000 additional money per year to eligible highly effective teachers. Teachers are the single most important school-related factor in the quality of a student’s education, and this reward is a positive step toward retaining the best educators. We are also in full support of the Governor’s early education initiatives.



Teaching Matters Awarded $120,000 to Begin “Early Reading Matters” Program

by Editorial Team

Mon, 09 Dec 2013:

For immediate release
Contact: Sharon Rubinstein, 212-870-3505, ext. 8, cell 703-901-7947, srubinstein@teachingmatters.org

Teaching Matters Awarded $120,000 to Begin “Early Reading Matters” Program (New York, NY) – December 9, 2013

The Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education has awarded Teaching Matters a $120,000 planning grant to develop a new K-3 early education component of its teacher effectiveness program.

Building upon our successful Teaching for Impact model that is already used in grades 3-8, Early Reading Matters will focus on improving literacy teaching and learning in these critical grades.

“It’s crucial to make sure students have a good foundation if we want to equip them for success, and that means we’ve got to give their earliest grade teachers the right tools from the start,” said Lynette Guastaferro, Teaching Matters’ Executive Director. “We’re very grateful to the Brooke Astor Fund for their support.”

Recognizing the array of early reading challenges faced by teachers in our city’s classrooms, this work will focus on deepening teachers’ knowledge of high impact reading strategies. The model will also include “Professional Learning Communities” – “PLC’s” – that bring these teachers together in school-based teams to share best practices, and look critically at student work together.

Teaching Matters is among 21 grantees in the first awards for the $42 million Brooke Astor Fund for New York Education, managed by the New York Community Trust. Approximately $9.2 million was given out this year. A distinguished advisory panel selected the grant recipients, selecting programs that are “using creative and promising approaches to helping children learn and improving their reading.”

“A child needs to know how to read well to succeed,” says Shawn Morehead, program officer for education at The Trust. “But the majority in New York haven’t learned the vocabulary and comprehension skills they need to succeed in later grades.”

“It’s a great honor to be among the first grantees of this fund,” said Guastaferro. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to apply what we’ve learned in our work to date to make a difference in the lives of the youngest New York City students.”



NYSED Comm. John King and AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten Find Common Cause at Teaching Matters’ Moderated Discussion

by Editorial Team

Wed, 23 Oct 2013:

For immediate release
Contact: Sharon Rubinstein, 212-870-3505, ext. 8, cell 703-901-7947, srubinstein@teachingmatters.org

NYSED Comm. John King and AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten Find
Common Cause at Teaching Matters’ Moderated Discussion

(New York, NY) – October 23, 2013

The head of New York’s education department and the leader of 1.5 million teacher union members
came together today at an event dedicated to “Finding Common Ground” – and did.

Teaching Matters’ Fifth Annual Champions of Education Luncheon featured a conversation with the
American Federation of Teachers’ President Randi Weingarten and New York State Commissioner of Education John King. The talk was moderated by Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Henig. About 200 people attended.

“This is a make or break moment in education,” said Lynette Guastaferro, Teaching Matters’ Executive Director. “It’s heartening that both Commissioner King and Ms. Weingarten stressed how important it is to come together around Common Core standards, and support schools to effectively implement them.”

Teaching Matters recognized Ms. Weingarten as a Champion of Education and Innovation at the event, citing her efforts to embrace teacher quality as a top priority for the union. Ms. Weingarten noted in her remarks that there had been a shift toward that value – and admitted that it had been a mistake previously to “fixate” more on fairness. Moving forward, she called for more listening by all to people on the ground in an effort to “reclaim public education.”

Commissioner King observed “there is tremendous consensus about Common Core,” though “implementation is always a challenge,” and that “it’s hard to convey nuance in the debate.” When asked about the timing of tests, he maintained they should continue, while stressing that they were not a major part of evaluation results. Ms. Weingarten has called for a moratorium.

A clear area of agreement: how essential supporting teachers is at this critical juncture. Guastaferro
noted that Teaching Matters’ professional development work is doing just that. Ms. Weingarten praised the organization, saying “The work that Teaching Matters is not the norm but the exception.”



AFT President Randi Weingarten and NYSED Commissioner John King to Exchange Ideas at Teaching Matters Annual Luncheon, Oct. 23

by Editorial Team

Tue, 15 Oct 2013:

For immediate release
Contact: Sharon Rubinstein, 212-870-3505, ext. 8, cell 703-901-7947, srubinstein@teachingmatters.org

AFT President Randi Weingarten and NYSED Commissioner John King to Exchange Ideas at Teaching Matters’
Annual Luncheon, Oct. 23

(New York, NY) – October 15th, 2013

What: Teaching Matters’ Champions of Education and Innovation luncheon will feature a moderated conversation between Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, and John King, New York State Commissioner of Education. Professor Jeffrey Henig, Chair of the Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis in the Politics & Education Program at Columbia University, will moderate.

Why: The theme of the event is finding “Common Ground” in moving the education reform conversation forward. Teaching Matters believes such engagement will promote the best teacher effectiveness policies and practices, and that the quality of teaching is the single most important school – related factor contributing to student success.

Who: Our event attracts over 200 prominent New Yorkers, including public officials, teachers and other K-12 education professionals, academics, members of the business community, and the general public. Each year, Teaching Matters provides professional development services to about 200 K-12 schools in the metropolitan New York area. In addition, we have been supporting a network of 24 New York City schools since July 1.

Where: The Harvard Club in New York City. Note that the club has strict guidelines for press activity; the media entrance is at 32 W. 45th St., and access is limited to the event itself. The Club name and logo are not to be used in any coverage.

When: 12 noon until 2 p.m.



Manhattan Principal Salvador Fernandez Wins 3rd Annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for Schools Where Teaching Matters; School Gets $15,000

by Editorial Team

Thu, 29 Aug 2013:

For immediate release
Contact: Sharon Rubinstein, 212-870-3505, ext. 8, cell 703-901-7947, srubinstein@teachingmatters.org

Manhattan Principal Salvador Fernandez Wins 3rd Annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for Schools Where Teaching Matters; School Gets $15,000

(New York, NY) – August 29th, 2013

Teaching Matters awarded its 3rd Annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for Schools Where Teaching Matters to Principal Salvador Fernandez at its 6th Principals’ Forum yesterday. He will take $15,000 back to his school, JHS 52 Inwood, in north Manhattan.

At the gathering of principals and other school leaders, Mr. Fernandez explained the philosophy of collaboration and teacher development that garnered him and his school the prize. He praised his staff, and he called the reflective process and cross-curricular sharing among them “empowering.”

Rose Kerr, previous Rohatyn winner, presented the award to Dr. Fernandez, singling out as an “exemplary practice” the educators’ portfolios instituted at the school. “We need to assess ourselves, professionally and pedagogically, to be truly effective,” she said.

The Rohatyn award is the culmination of a months-long winnowing process, with open nominations, a public vote to select five finalists, and then a winner chosen by a panel of independent judges. This year, those judges included:

Fred Frelow, Program Officer, The Ford Foundation
Geoffrey Gund, teacher at the Dalton School
Rose Kerr, NYC principal and 2012 Rohatyn Prize winner
Chad Vignola, Founding Director, the Literacy Design Collaborative
Pedro Silverio, former NYC student.

The Principals’ Forum also included a rousing speech by Professor Pedro Noguera, who addressed “Why Some Schools Make More Progress than Others – And What is the Principal’s Role in Making Progress Stick.”

For more about the prize, see https://www.teachingmatters.org/Rohatyn_Prize



Teaching Matters authors show how to use measurement in a helpful way when approaching Common Core

by Editorial Team

Wed, 21 Aug 2013:

For immediate release
Contact: Sharon Rubinstein, 212-870-3505, ext. 8, cell 703-901-7947, srubinstein@teachingmatters.org

Teaching Matters’ authors show how to use measurement in a helpful way when approaching Common Core

(New York, NY) – August 21st, 2013

Learning Forward’s Journal of Staff Development is featuring an article co-authored by members of Teaching
Matters’ staff and an independent researcher. The piece presents a systematic way to use assessments and serve student interests.

Well-designed and implemented assessments are feedback tools for teachers that let them know where their lessons are succeeding or not, and what might need to be modified in their instruction. Getting it right is a
critical component of responding effectively to Common Core challenges, and giving students the best learning opportunity.

An “assessment” does not necessarily mean a test. For example, teachers routinely assess homework and in-class performance. “Assessment is not the enemy,” said Lynette Guastaferro, Teaching Matters’ Executive Director. “The key is to make sure that teachers are doing it correctly, with support.”

Teaching Matters has experience on the ground showing the value of collaboration in effective assessment. Its Writing Matters program has employed a joint assessment methodology, and student performance has increased. The process involves scoring, “norming,” and “calibrating” student work, meaning that teachers make sure that their grading conforms to an agreed standard.

“When we introduced the coaching component and focused on helping teachers use an outside measure to inform practice, we saw student scores rise,” said Naomi Cooperman, Director of Program Design at Teaching Matters. “We are happy to share what we’ve learned, especially at this crucial time, and we’re honored by Learning Forward’s decision to feature our article in their Common Core issue.”

“Reading, Writing, and Rubrics,” authored by Naomi Cooperman, Senior Consultant Libby Baker, and independent researcher Barbara Storandt, is in this month’s issue of Learning Forward’s journal available at: http://www.learningforward.org/docs/default-source/jsd-august-2013/baker…



Teaching Matters Expands with Launch of a New York City Public School Network

by Editorial Team

Thu, 01 Aug 2013:

For immediate release
Contact: Sharon Rubinstein, 212-870-3505, ext. 8, cell 703-901-7947, srubinstein@teachingmatters.org

Teaching Matters Expands with Launch of a New York City Public School Network

(New York, NY) – July 31st, 2013

Teaching Matters, Inc., a non-profit with nearly twenty years of service in over half of New York City’s schools, is expanding its scope. The New York City Department of Education recently named Teaching Matters a Partnership Support Organization (PSO), and 24 schools are now within its network. The network launched on
Monday, July 1st.

“We are thrilled to be embarking on this venture,” said Lynette Guastaferro, Teaching Matters’ Executive Director and the current network leader. “It’s a great opportunity to gain insight from our new relationship with schools, share what we’ve learned over the years, and build a collaborative model that we believe will bring great returns to New York City educators and their students.”

Teaching Matters is one of nearly 60 networks, grouped in five clusters citywide. Network teams bring together experts who can help schools with a wide array of instructional and operational support.

The network will give Teaching Matters a platform for researching and disseminating best practices in teacher effectiveness, data-informed instructional techniques and strategies, and shared leadership and accountability.

At the same time, Teaching Matters will continue to operate its current successful and valued professional
development programs in New York City and elsewhere in the region. Schools are able to buy supportive services that run the gamut from short-term targeted consulting to our more comprehensive services called Teaching for Impact. Schools can also continue to purchase our other highly regarded offerings, such as Writing Matters and Voices & Choices.

“We believe that our continuing professional development services and our new network will be synergistic. We will be researching the impact of our programs on an ongoing basis, and modifying our practice in all schools to reflect what we learn,” said Guastaferro. “We couldn’t be more eager to grow as an organization.”



Teaching Matters Hosts Poetry Slam on 6/11 for 200+ Students, with Prominent Guest Poets

by Editorial Team

Mon, 10 Jun 2013:

For immediate release
Contact: Sharon Rubinstein, 212-870-3505, ext. 8, cell 703-901-7947, srubinstein@teachingmatters.org

Teaching Matters Hosts Poetry Slam on 6/11 for 200+ Students, with Prominent Guest Poets

(New York, NY) – June 10th, 2013

WHAT: The Spoken Word annual poetry event is the culminating activity for Teaching Matters’ writing curriculum, Writing Matters, which offers 5th through 9th grade teachers powerful new ways to approach writing instruction using 21st Century technology tools. Created by Teaching Matters, Writing Matters offers a private, safe, free e-Zine space for students to publish and share their work in progress. At the competition, 250 young people from New York City public schools perform their own original poetry to an audience of their peers and poets. The students are in breakout rooms throughout the morning, and finalists take the stage in the afternoon.

WHY: When an engaging curriculum is coupled with excellent teaching methods, the results can be exceptionally good. The Spoken Word Competition showcases students’ exciting creative output.

WHO: About 250 middle school students from M188, K397, M328, K347, Icahn Charter School 1, New World Preparatory, X368, K282, South Bronx Preparatory, K281, X022, Icahn Charter School 3, K228, and K722; parents and teachers; Teaching Matters’ staff; and the following guest poets:

Carlos Andrés Gómez: an award-winning poet, actor, and writer from New York City. He is the author of the coming-of-age memoir Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and named Artist of the Year at the 2009 Promoting Outstanding Writers Awards, he costarred in Spike Lee’s #1 movie Inside Man and appeared in the sixth season of HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry. He has headlined festivals all over the world. He is a former social worker and inner-city public school teacher.

Felice Belle: a poet, playwright and the former host of the Friday Night Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies including Roots and Culture, SLAM, DrumVoices Revue, Longshot, His Rib and Bum Rush the Page. Her playwriting credits include Joy in Repetition, Hip-Hop Theater Festival (2002), Tell the Truth Lying, ROAR Theater Festival (2003) and Definitely, Real Theatre Works Fresh Voices Festival. She is currently working on a book about the history of the poetry slam at the Nuyorican. For more information: verbsonasphalt.com.

WHEN: June 11, 2013, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: New York Law School, 185 West Broadway (in Tribeca), New York, NY 10013



New Teacher Evaluation System Must Be Thoughtfully Implemented and Coupled with Adequate Support for Teachers

by Editorial Team

Sun, 02 Jun 2013:

For immediate release
Contact: Sharon Rubinstein, 212-870-3505, ext. 8, cell 703-901-7947, srubinstein@teachingmatters.org

New Teacher Evaluation System Must Be Thoughtfully Implemented and Coupled with Adequate Support for Teachers

Statement of Lynette Guastaferro, Executive Director

(New York, NY) – June 2nd, 2013

Now that a new – and necessary – teacher evaluation system for New York City has been put into place, the next step is implementing it in a way that builds trust, respects teachers, and leads to better schools and education for students.

Many great teachers are feeling threatened by the changes to come – but the plan holds opportunities as well. We believe these are some of the important practices that should be followed:

  • Include content experts in observations
  • Ask the strongest teachers to volunteer first for feedback from peers
  • Limit the number of indicators assessed in each observation
  • Use evaluation results to help target the right professional support for teachers

Teacher evaluation needs to foster the strongest possible teacher corps – and be built for growth, not just compliance or to focus solely on struggling teachers. As Commissioner King said in his announcement of the plan, “New York is not going to fire its way to academic success. The key to this plan is the training, support and professional development that must be put in place to help teachers and principals improve their practice.”