Friday, September 17, 2010

Quick Hits

District's online portal allows parents to be more involved: A Tennessee school district is using the online Parent Portal to provide information about students' grades, attendance and assignments. Educators say the $18,000 program -- paid for this year with federal stimulus money -- will give parents the opportunity to be more "involved in their child's education," an official said. (The Tennessean)

SAT scores remain flat for the class of 2010: Scores on the SAT exam remained relatively flat in 2010 compared with 2009, according to a report released Monday. Scores for the graduating class of 2010 were up in math -- from 515 to 516 -- but held steady at 501 in reading and fell from 493 to 492 in writing, the report said. Notable gains were made by Asian-American students, however, who outscored all other student groups. They gained six points in writing, four points in math and three points in reading. (The Wall Street Journal), (USA TODAY), (Education Week)

A look at the turnaround process in Connecticut's Hartford schools: A look at the transformation process under way at schools in urban Hartford, Conn., provides insight into the realities of school-turnaround efforts. Under the leadership of district schools chief Steven Adamowski and his team of educators, the underperforming Hartford Public High School has been reorganized as three themed academies, and students are now making impressive gains on state tests. Such changes have been implemented at other struggling schools, as well, with school leaders hoping the positive results will continue for the long term. (Harvard Education Letter)

Charter school finds success with cradle-to-college approach: A hands-on approach to learning and a "cradle-to-college pipeline" has helped Atlanta's Charles Drew Charter School boost student achievement among its students in pre-K to eighth grade and propel many of them out of poverty and on to college. The school provides a haven for its former students as they go through high school, offering them ongoing access to computers, teachers and tutoring. "People were constantly pushing me and making me think about my future," one former student said. "They were invested in me." (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

College can't keep students off social networks: A Pennsylvania college's attempt to keep its students off social-media sites for a week to prompt a discussion about social media's place in modern life appears to have fallen flat. Social-media sites have been blocked from campus networks, but students are using smartphones or the free wireless in a nearby hotel lobby to get around the ban. School officials say they still consider the experiment a success. "This extreme media coverage in and of itself is forcing more focus on social media. That was the whole point of this in the first place," says Provost Eric Darr. (

Obama, CEOs launch initiative to boost STEM education: President Barack Obama is enlisting the help of the CEOs of 100 top companies such as Xerox and Facebook in a nonprofit initiative to promote science, technology, engineering and math education. The Change the Equation initiative will work to expand privately funded STEM programs and create a system to help states improve STEM education and teacher training. "Our success as a nation depends on strengthening America's role as the world's engine of discovery and innovation," Obama said. (The Christian Science Monitor)

4 traits of inspirational leaders: An inspirational leader is someone who inspires you to great heights, as opposed to someone who doesn't value excellence, Andy Liu writes. Among his four signs of an inspired leader: 1. Inspirational leaders do not sell you short. 2. Inspirational leaders gets rid of people quickly. 3. Inspirational leaders do not lead through fear. 4. Inspirational leaders know how to live it out. How does your favorite inspirational leader score?(

California state school board takes on teacher-evaluation policies: Members of California's state education board voted to create an online database to provide the public with information on efforts to determine teacher effectiveness. The board also sought input from three school districts -- Los Angeles, Fresno and Long Beach -- to determine how the state can help districts develop teacher-evaluation systems. "We are beginning to set the stage for change," one board member said. (Los Angeles Times)

Teacher's YouTube math lessons let students work at their own pace: A California high-school math teacher is hoping to reach additional students by posting more than 500 of his videotaped classroom lessons on YouTube. Robb also gives his students the opportunity to preview his lessons on YouTube through computers or iPod Touch devices in the classroom. "You can go at your own pace," one student said. "If he is teaching too fast or too slow, you can rewind the video or go forward." (Visalia Times-Delta)

Are school-choice policies working the way they should?: Policies meant to increase school choice and improve diversity in school districts across the country are having a number of unintended consequences, veteran educator Walt Gardner writes in this blog post. Many of the policies are seen by parents as overly complicated and sometimes serve to exclude students from their neighborhood schools. The only way to remedy this, Gardner writes, is to work to improve all schools. (Reality Check)

Teachers find class wikis are beneficial for organization, communication: More high-school teachers are using wikis for classroom organization, communication and collaboration. One computer-science teacher says her students access Google Calendar, which has class assignments and other relevant information on a wiki. Before setting up a wiki, one teacher suggests taking time to plan and organize the initial design. (T.H.E. Journal)

What do students need to be successful when taking online assessments?: Online testing will be adopted as part of the national core academic standards and will require many educators to change the way they are teaching to adequately prepare students. To be successful, schools also will have to improve the availability of technology, and students will need to use technology regularly for classroom assignments, this article asserts. (T.H.E. Journal)

High-poverty Texas school finds formula for success: More than 90% of students at the high-poverty John Haley Elementary School in Irving, Texas, achieved proficiency on state tests and earned their school an "exemplary" rating. School principal Robyn Bowling -- who has been at the school for 15 years -- credits parent-education programs, after-school activities and hard work by teachers as factors responsible for the success of the students, the majority of whom are economically disadvantaged and English-language learners. (The Dallas Morning News)

Survey shows Americans' support for teacher merit pay: A recent survey shows that 70% of Americans support merit pay for teachers but differ on the best method for evaluating teachers. The survey conducted by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup found that there is growing support for tying student scores to teacher pay in some way, but few believe student achievement should be "very closely tied" to teachers' performance assessments. The poll also found that 71% of those surveyed believe in and trust classroom teachers. (Teacher Magazine)

L.A. teachers rally outside newspaper offices: Hundreds of Los Angeles teachers attended a rally outside the offices of the Los Angeles Times newspaper to protest the paper's publishing of its own value-added rankings of 6,000 district educators. The demonstration was sponsored by the United Teachers Los Angeles union, which also opposes the district's move to include student test scores in a new teacher-evaluation system. "Teachers are more than a test score," union President A.J. Duffy said. (Los Angeles Times)

Houston officials reach out to dropouts: Education leaders and elected officials conducted their annual outreach program for dropouts in Houston on Saturday -- visiting the homes of more than 1,000 students who did not return to school this year. They were able to re-enroll 75 students through the Grads Within Reach program, which is in place in 22 Texas districts and in other states. "It's progress, but it's not nearly enough progress," Houston Superintendent Terry Grier said. (Houston Chronicle), (The Christian Science Monitor)

Rhode Island considers holding charter schools to tougher standards: With a cap on charter schools lifted in the spring, efforts are under way in Rhode Island to implement more rigorous standards for the schools. State officials are considering higher expectations for charters than other public schools and may move to close those that are not boosting student achievement. However, some charter-school officials are concerned that the achievement levels sought may be too ambitious. (The Providence Journal)

No comments: