Saturday, April 09, 2011

Quick Hits

Ed. Dept. Proposes New Student Data Privacy Rules: In its effort to clarify student data privacy rules for researchers and education officials alike, the U.S. Department of Education proposed several changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, on Thursday and named its first chief privacy officer. "Data should only be shared with the right people for the right reasons," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement on the proposals. The department proposes: Tighter enforcement, Directory information protection, State representation, P-20 tra, The department launched a new Privacy Technical Assistance Center to answer states' questions on privacy issues.(Ed Week)

Teachers' scores rely on others in new evaluation system: More than two-thirds of the state's teachers will be graded at least in part on what children learned in someone else's classroom, officials said Wednesday. A new teacher evaluation system, which goes up for state school board approval next week, holds teachers accountable for student performance on statewide achievement tests. Teachers in some subjects, such as math and reading, will get scores based on how much their own students learned. But about 68 percent of educators won't have individual scores because state exams aren't given for the subjects they teach — topics such as art, foreign language, physical education and all subjects below third grade, when testing begins. (Tennessean)

Study Flags Drawbacks in Growth Models for AYP - Experts see disconnect between 'rhetoric' and pilot-program findings:
Amid battles over teacher quality and school restructuring, there’s one thing everyone seems to want in the next version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: an accountability system that measures student growth. Yet the results of the U.S. Department of Education’s growth-model pilot program, whose final evaluation Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader was released earlier this year, suggest lawmakers may have to do some heavy lifting to include growth in accountability. Not only do state growth models vary considerably, but they also play ou in ways that can run counter to the aims of providing greater transparency and better accountability for all students, not just those “on the bubble,” or just below passing rates for their state exams. (Education Week)

10 tips for using social media in the classroom: Teachers should use social media in classroom lessons, and banning such tools will stifle learning and lead students to questio teachers' relevance, university English professor Todd Finley writes in this blog post. Finley provides 10 guidelines for incorporating social media tools in the classroom. He offers several resources and suggests that teachers: create social media rules that are directive, but unrestricted; draw a distinction between academic and informal writing; and promote constructive online discussions. (Edutopia)

Environmental programs help engage students in science learning:
Environmental issues studied informally through clubs, su and after-school programs can help interest students in science, educators say. Projects and lessons related to air and water quality or the well-being of animals also can prompt students to take action or advocate eco-friendly policies. "There is no comparison to just being outside and in the midst of it," science teacher Susan Hilyer said. (Education Week)

What does the Black debacle say about school-reform efforts?: The resignation of New York City Schools Chancellor Cathleen Black Thursday after three months in the position demonstrates the importance of appointing school leaders with an education background, argues education writer Valerie Strauss. It also casts doubts about the effectiveness of granting mayoral control of schools, she writes. However, the greatest lesson to be learned from Black's tenure is that there is no quick fix to improving education in the country's urban schools. (The Answer Sheet)

Background of new NYC schools chief is vastly different from Black's:
Incoming New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has a background that is vastly different from that of outgoing schools chief C Black. Walcott attended New York City public schools, and spent 10 years as a kindergarten teacher in the system. With dual master's degrees in education and social work, Walcott has served as deputy mayor for education under Michael Bloomberg since 2002. "I think there is no better person qualified to step into the job as chancellor at this point," Bloomberg said. (DNAInfo)

State education leader to step down in New York: New York State Education Commissioner Dav Steiner announced his intention to resign his post by the end of the year. Steiner made the announcement just hours after New York City Schools Chief Cathleen Black resigned, which he said had "zero" effect on his decision to step down. Steiner has served in the post for two years, and granted the waiver needed by Black, who had no education experience, to become chief of the city's schools. (The Wall Street Journal)

Political, legal challenges target labor laws in Ohio, Wis.: New laws that limit collective bargaining rights for teachers and other public workers in Ohio and Wisconsin are the target of numerous legal and political challenges. Unions representing teachers and other workers, as well as political advocates, in Ohio are seeking a referendum to overturn the recently approved state law. In Wisconsin, the legality of the unusual procedures used by state legislators to approve the collective bargaining l there is being challenged. (Education Week)

Obama calls for renewed focus on equality in education: President Barack Obama called Wednesday for a renewed effort to promote educational equality and close the race-based achievement gap in U.S. schools. "Too many of our kids are dropping out of schools," Obama said. "That's not a white, black or brown problem. That's everybody's problem." (The New York Times)

Ariz. lawmakers move to expand private-school tax credits: Arizona's state Senate passed a bill to a program that provides tax credits to those who donate to a private-school voucher program, just one day after the program was declared legal by the U.S. Supreme Court. The new measure increases donation limits for individuals and couples who contribute to the program by 50% and removes caps for corporations and insurers. The bill was approved by the House last month and now goes to the governor. (The Arizona Republic)

Chicago charter to focus on soccer: A new K-8 charter school in Chicago will be focused on academics and soccer, the most popular sport in the Hispanic community. Development of the curriculum is under way as the sport is integrated into subjects such as math and social studies. Organizers hope the soccer focus will inspire at-risk students to stay in school -- and potentially earn college scholarships -- and help student athletes achieve better grades. (Chicago Tribune)

Addressing Bullying and the Bias That Fuels It: Presenter Amy Scharf, Groundspark’s national program director, explained ways educators can address the complex issues surrounding bullying. Scharf also offered these basic suggestions for preventing bias-motivated behavior:
  • Articulate your expectations and ask your students and colleagues to share their expectations.
  • Model the behavior you expect from students and colleagues.
  • Treat them with respect.
  • Stop it. Say something when you witness name-calling or bullying.
  • Name it. Identify the language or behavior specifically. For example, it is better to say, “‘That’s gay’ is not only disrespectful, but homophobic,” rather than to say, “Cut it out” alone.
  • Be consistent with class rules, school policies, and enforcement. Be even-handed in every class, on every part of campus, and apply rules and policies to all students equally.
  • Invest the time. Staff must have the opportunity to discuss and create strategies that are appropriate, and the time to evaluate the procedures' effectiveness.
  • Get current on language and its meaning. Recognize the ways the meaning and use of certain terms may change with different generations. Within a particular community, terms may also have a specific meaning and effect that is unique from when these terms are directed at or by someone in a different community. (ASCD)

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