Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quick Hits

Elementary school applies standards instead of grades: Teachers at a Kentucky elementary school have developed a standards-based assessment of student performance, to be implemented this year. Instead of grades, students will be gauged on their mastery of key skills. "We can really identify where a student is having trouble, why he is having that trouble and work to fix it rather than just assigning a letter to say he either did good or bad," said Miles Elementary Principal Bryant Gillis. (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Aspiring Principals Program produces student results: Elementary- and middle-school students in New York City showed more rapid gains in English-language arts at schools where principals completed the 14-month Aspiring Principals Program, according to research findings. About 15% of the city's school leaders have completed the program, which teaches turnaround strategies and steers graduates to helm low-performing schools. (Education Week)

Following exams, N.C. releases some standardized tests on the Net: In an effort to improve transparency about student testing, North Carolina has posted copies of last year's end-of-course and end-of-year exams on the Internet for public viewing. (The News & Observer)

Academy gives high-school students a head start on college: A new academic program will allow gifted high-school juniors and seniors from the Miami-Dade school district to take classes at Florida International University. The Academy for Advanced Academics will offer a mix of high-school and college curricula; students may graduate with up to two years of college credit. "It's impossible to really experience college unless you are actually there -- and we will be there," said a student. (The Miami Herald)

School district bars teachers from flunking some students: Memphis, Tenn., officials have made it more difficult for teachers to hold back students for poor performance, banning the practice in pre-kindergarten through third grade and allowing students in fourth through eighth grades to be held back only once. Also under the new policy, elementary-school teachers will not use letter grades but instead will create spreadsheets of attendance and performance data for all students to ensure they are at grade level or receiving the help they need. (The Commercial Appeal)

Mississippi schools to roll out civil rights curriculum: Mississippi education officials have announced a plan to test a civil rights curriculum in K-12 instruction and make the instruction mandatory in the future. Four school systems have requested to participate in a pilot program, and the state Department of Education will name the selected schools in September. Mississippi, the setting for many pivotal events of the civil rights movement, may be the first state to offer specific instruction on the topic. (WJZ-TV (Baltimore)

Duncan says Biggest innovation grants will go to proven programs: A track record of success will be needed for states, districts and schools to gain the bulk of the $650 million in federal Investing in Innovation grants, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday. Duncan listed three levels of criteria for funding: Grants of up to $50 million will be used to expand proven programs; grants of up to $30 million will go to programs with potential in pilot form; and grants of up to $5 million will implement new programs. (Education Week)

Parents take issue with homework standards in Florida district: New maximum daily homework guidelines in the Palm Beach, Fla., district call for an hour of work for third-graders and 90 minutes for fourth- and fifth-graders. But parents want that to be eased, arguing that the allotment exceeds the commonly accepted guideline of 10 minutes per grade per day. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Reform takes root for Chicago schools in turnaround program: Two Chicago high schools targeted for turnaround have shown signs of improvement. Although test scores are not yet available and experts say more time is needed for a full assessment, there has been a decrease in violence and anecdotal student experiences are positive. This school year, a third school is being added to the experimental program, which replaces an underperforming school's staff and curriculum and adds money and increased security. (Chicago Tribune)

Debate on social studies curriculum in Texas has larger implications: A debate by Texas educators concerning which U.S. historical figures to include -- and what import to give them -- as the K-12 social studies curriculum is revamped could have broad implications. Changes to Texas and California curricula have a national effect because publishers of textbooks cater to large markets. The Texas State Board of Education will hear public testimony on the curriculum in September. (Education Week)

Rhode Island charter school opens with extended year, hours: A new Rhode Island charter middle school is applying a combination of strategies in the hopes of improving student achievement. Classes began two weeks early, and teachers, who are paid slightly more than starting public-school teachers, are expected to work 11 months of the year. The school days are also longer, with most teachers expected to put in 10 hours. (The Providence Journal)

Experience was overlooked in New Orleans hirings, teachers say: Some New Orleans-area educators contend veteran teachers are not being rehired in favor of Teach for America candidates. "People who are proven are being bumped for people who are cheap," said one laid-off teacher. School officials claim the charge is unfair. They say experienced teachers are preferred and statistics do not show a bias. (The Times-Picayune)

Wisconsin considers linking teacher pay to student performance: Wisconsin lawmakers are mulling plans to financially reward teachers based on student achievement and graduation rates. "There should be incentives for teachers to get together, roll their sleeves up and have some reward for it," said state Sen. Alberta Darling. The president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council said the union is open to modernizing teacher pay, but prefers rewarding teachers for developing advanced skills over tying pay to test results. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Memphis Public Schools.... The question will always remain: Do teachers flunk students or do the students flunk themseleves? Today, with homework counting for as much as fify percent of a student's grade, it seems almost impossible to fail. Students who are failing are doing absolutely nothing.

Bu not allowing students to fail, the school district is creating a group of young people who know that the burden will be placed on teachers to pass them along. Smart teachers will simply give failing students a "D" and be done with the whole business. Grade inflation will prevail.