Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quick Hits

...starting to get caught back up after last week's wedding.

Department of Education to request school salary data: The Department of Education is planning to require school districts receiving federal Title I stimulus money to report the salaries of teachers and staff. It is expected that the data will be used to compare salaries at schools that receive Title I funding for at-risk students with those that do not. The request is reportedly the first to look at such data, prompting speculation about possible changes to address disparities. (Education Week)

Wide variety of charter schools has mixed outcome in Arizona: In Arizona, which has the largest percentage of public-school students in the country enrolled in its 500 charter schools, Stanford University research shows that students who attended charter schools did not make as much academic progress as peers in the state's conventional public schools. Supporters of charter schools dispute the research but allow that there is variation in quality among charters. Skeptics say Arizona's wide-open school choice should serve as a warning to ensure quality over quantity when promoting charters. (The Washington Post)

Girls-only program targets gender gap in technology study: Voluntary girls-only technology classes are an attempt by New York's Fairport Central School District to interest more female students in the subject. Statistics show women make up more than half the workforce but only 28% of technology jobs. "What Fairport is doing makes sense, especially at a young age, when you see girls losing interest in math and sciences because they are not getting much encouragement about pursuing careers in those areas," said Margaret Bailey, a Rochester Institute of Technology professor. (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Indiana colleges take different approaches to training teachers: Indiana colleges that train new teachers have begun to rethink their methods. Some, such as Indiana's Marian University, are adopting popular fast-track alternative certifications such as The New Teacher Project. Meanwhile, educators at Indiana University are moving more slowly and basing their curriculum on established research. "I don't think it's a matter of one is better than the other," said one educator. "We need a lot of different ways to train people to be effective teachers." (The Indianapolis Star)

New plan would link N.Y. teacher certification to classroom performance: New York education officials approved a framework to tie teacher certification to classroom performance. Teacher candidates would be required to meet tougher initial standards but be offered financial incentives to teach math, science or special education in struggling schools. The proposal, aimed at helping the state qualify for federal Race to the Top money, is part of an overhaul to state teacher-education programs that includes an expansion of alternative certification offerings. (The Buffalo News)

BEE answers EduQuestions: What programs have been proven to increase student achievement? Johns Hopkins University's Best Evidence Encyclopedia (BEE) website helps educators answer that question with free, easy to read Consumer Reports®-style reviews of reading, math, ELL, and other programs for grades K-12. Visit the BEE now to find out what works in education. (Best Evidence Encyclopedia)

Online-learning programs are on the rise in U.S. schools: A survey shows that 26 states offer online learning options for K-12 students, up from 15 states in 2007, and enrollment in online-school initiatives has increased by at least 25% in 12 states. Many states face funding issues and other obstacles to starting or expanding virtual learning but are including it in education-reform strategies to enhance curriculum, increase access and provide relief from overcrowded schools and teacher shortages. (Education Week)

Research - Harlem Children's Zone closes black-white achievement gap: A new study shows that Harlem Children's Zone -- a New York City program in which charter schools are rounded out with community support services such as parenting workshops, early-childhood education and health initiatives -- effectively closed the achievement gap between black and white students in most categories that were looked at. The Obama administration has praised the initiative as a model for community schools, but some education experts warn the model does not provide a one-size-fits-all solution. (Education Week)

Storywalks are used to promote reading to preschoolers: A Pennsylvania elementary-school program used an "Everyday Heroes" theme to get preschoolers excited about reading and learning. As part of the Storywalk program, preschool-aged children toured classrooms staffed by a police officer, a school nurse and other "heroes" on hand to answer questions after children were read stories about their professions. Early-childhood education efforts like Storywalk are paying off, kindergarten teacher Betsey Wilson said. "Some kids are coming in here reading," she said. "It's unbelievable." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

NYC's School of One makes Time magazine's best inventions list: A pilot program to teach math to sixth-graders in New York City has been named one of Time magazine's 50 Best Inventions of 2009. The School of One provides students with a daily playlist of educational games, online tutoring and classroom instruction, all designed specifically to meet the individual learning style and pace of each student. (TIME)

Houston's KIPP wins $10 million Gates Foundation gift: Houston's largest charter-school group has been awarded $10 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help with its $100 million expansion plan. The Knowledge is Power Program wants to double enrollment to 21,000 students over the next 10 years. Charter programs in Houston such as KIPP have become popular because of their extended school days, weekend programs and their effectiveness in boosting college enrollment among low-income and minority students. (Houston Chronicle)

Race to the Top guidelines to include point system for states: The Obama administration is expected to announce a plan today to rate states' progress on education reforms -- rankings that will determine which states get a piece of $4.35 billion in federal Race to the Top stimulus funding. Improving teacher and principal effectiveness will carry the most weight in evaluating states' applications. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, criticized initial plans but is supportive of this final version, saying it will measure teacher effectiveness based on several criteria, not just student test scores. (The Washington Post)

Some N.J. high schools replace electives with test preparation: A growing number of New Jersey high schools are providing test-preparation courses during elective and study periods for struggling students at risk of failing a state graduation exam. While some parents have expressed concerns about the increased focus on testing, especially for younger students, educators say the new classes allow them to spend less time in subject classrooms discussing test preparation. "You don't want algebra class to be teaching to the test," said one teacher. "You want it to be teaching algebra." (The Record)

Ford Foundation pledges $100 million for urban-school reform: The Ford Foundation has pledged $100 million over seven years to fund reform efforts at urban high schools in seven cities: Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and Newark, N.J.. The initiative will focus on teacher quality, student assessment, funding and the amount of time students spend in school. Jeannie Oakes, a school-reform advocate who will lead the initiative, said it will not support any one political ideology. "We just want to cut through this and think about building an outstanding public-school system for the kids who are least likely to have one now," she said. (Los Angeles Times)

Georgia looks at authorizing new virtual charter schools: Georgia state education officials are considering a proposal to fund five new virtual charter schools. The would-be schools decided against seeking local funding, opting instead to make their case with the state. While supporters of online learning and expanded school choice were expected to stage a rally today outside the state capitol, members of the state school board are wrestling with policy questions including how the virtual schools should be funded and how to best meet the needs of struggling students at online schools. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

ACLU sues Florida over district's low graduation rates: The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a class-action lawsuit against Florida on behalf of students and parents in Palm Beach County, alleging the state has failed to provide a high-quality education to students in the district as required by the state constitution. In its suit, the ACLU is seeking oversight by the courts to ensure the district improves its high-school graduation rates, which currently hover around 75% overall and only about 60% for black students. (The Palm Beach Post)

No comments: