Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quick Hits

Elimination of federal ed-tech grant program is criticized: Some education groups are criticizing a House bill introduced Friday that would end 43 education programs, including the federal Enhancing Education Through Technology program -- the only dedicated funding stream for education technology. "The elimination of the ed tech funds is a disappointment," ASCD Policy Director David Griffith said. "It is both shortsighted and contradictory to support increased student access to technologies, improved student proficiency with technologies, and teacher capacity to utilize technologies while eliminating the funding supporting these goals." (T.H.E. Journal)

Turnaround Bill Would Give Congress' Stamp of Approval: The administration's four school improvement models would stay pretty much intact—with some important tweaks—under a measure introduced last week by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. Hagan, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has been helping to chart a moderate Democratic course on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And her own state is home to the Charlotte-Mecklenberg school district, which is seen as a national leader in school turnaround, arguably the trickiest area of education policy. The four models outlined in regulations finalized by the administration back in late 2009 include some pretty dramatic options such as closing a school entirely, or reopening it with a charter or education management organization. (Politics K-12)

Groups begin work on guidelines for teaching social studies: More than a dozen social studies groups and specialists from nearly 20 states are working to develop broad guidelines and resources that states can share in teaching social studies to students. The goal is to re-establish a more prominent role for the subject and help states improve their own social-studies standards -- rather than create national standards -- which many say would be difficult, given the differing perspectives and priorities from state to state. (Education Week)

Teacher uses college materials to teach research, writing: A fourth-grade teacher in Louisiana developed a project to teach research and writing skills to her English-language learners, while helping them also get excited about going to college. Teacher Tobie Lynn Tranchina requested admissions information from numerous colleges, which the students used in several classroom lessons including one on persuasive writing. "They became the recruiter and they had to write a persuasive essay and tell the other students why they should come to their school," Tranchina said. (The Times-Picayune)

Denver teacher group makes recommendations on evaluation system:
A group of Denver-area educators called the New Millennium Initiative have released recommendations for improving teacher evaluations. Among their suggestions, the group is advocating for the development of pre- and post-tests to measure student achievement during one year, rather than comparing students' scores with those from past years. The teacher panel is sponsored by three education groups -- including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- and similar groups have been created nationwide. (The Denver Post)

Technologies to watch for in education: Cloud computing and mobile devices are the technologies expected to change education over the next year, according to an annual report by the New Media Consortium. The report, released Tuesday, named game-based learning and open content as technologies to watch over the next two to three years. Personal learning environments and learning analytics are expected to make a major impact on education in closer to four or five years. (Digital Education), (T.H.E. Journal)

What do struggling schools need in order to improve?:
Additional resources at struggling schools in Philadelphia did lead to improvements, according to research from the nonprofit Research for Action. However, the report finds the district's efforts to turn around poor-performing schools over the past year have been mixed. The environment is improved at many schools and student attendance overall is up, but lateness has increased and new teachers need additional support. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Survey: Common core standards to be slowly implemented: Few of the education reforms expected in response to the adoption of new common national education standards will be fully implemented before 2013, according to a new survey of states that have signed on to the initiative. Most states say their first step will be to train teachers how to teach the new standards. Changes in curriculum, assessment and other areas will take longer. Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, which conducted the survey, said that "it's going to be very complicated to make these standards mean anything." (Education Week)

15 school districts test standards: Fifteen school districts nationwide are testing the common core curriculum that has been adopted by 48 states nationwide. In one of those districts, Hillsborough County, Fla., educators say the national standards are the most important issue in education. The new standards, they say, will fundamentally change teaching, learning and assessments. (Tampa Tribune)

Plans for national assessments are taking shape: Officials in 24 states are working to develop standardized tests that are aligned with the common core standards. The current plan is for such assessments to be administered quarterly to provide feedback on students' progress. The assessments will measure whether students are on track, and high-school students will be tested on their college-readiness. (Hattiesburg American)

Florida begins to roll out end-of-course state exams: Florida's new Algebra I exams, being taken by 200,000 students this month, will be administered via computer and mark the first time students have taken standardized end-of-course exams. Educators say they expect scores to be low in the first year, but improve over time. This year, the algebra exams will count for 30% of course grades for high-school freshmen. In the future, the exams will be requirements for earning course credit and graduating. (Orlando Sentinel)

Union lawsuit is considered over N.Y. teacher evaluations: The umbrella organization of New York state's teachers unions is contemplating legal action over the teacher-evaluation system approved this week by the state's Board of Regents. The new evaluations would link up to 40% of teacher ratings to students' state test scores, rather than the 20% agreed to by the unions. "It's over-weighting something that all of the experts and researchers say should never be given the kind of weight that the Regents are asking to do," said Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers. (WNYC)

A guide to blended learning: Most blended-learning models fit into one of six categories, according to a recent report by the Innosight Institute. The report, which makes policy and funding recommendations for blended-learning programs, also aims to provide a working definition for programs that combine face-to-face and online instruction. (Education Week)

Should virtual learning be used to replace snow days?: More schools are considering virtual learning as an alternative to snow days that encroach on preparation for standardized tests in the spring or threaten to lengthen the school year. Some educators use Skype or YouTube to connect students with lessons when school is closed, while other options include assignments posted on teacher websites or directing students to activities on external sites. Despite the increasing use, concerns remain about equal access to computers and the Internet for poor students or those in rural areas. (Associated Press)

The science behind math anxiety: Students' fear of math can hinder their learning, according to one study that shows math creates a stress reaction in the brain for some students that could direct brainpower to worrying -- rather than math. Separate experiments show that such students might otherwise be enthusiastic about the subject. Researchers also have found that students' anxiety about math often starts at an early age and even can be passed down from their parents. (Education Week)

Former charter leader is appointed as N.Y.'s education commissioner: Members of New York's Board of Regents voted unanimously to appoint John B. King Jr., a former leader of charter schools in New York and Massachusetts, as the state's new education commissioner. He replaces outgoing commissioner David M. Steiner. King, 36, becomes one of the youngest education leaders in the country and the first person of black or Puerto Rican descent to hold the post in New York. (The New York Times)

Future of Ga. charter schools is uncertain after ruling: Georgia's Supreme Court has ruled that only local school boards can approve and finance charter schools -- not the Georgia Charter School Commission. It is unclear whether 17 authorized charter schools in the state -- eight of which were expected to open in the fall -- will continue to operate. Similar commissions are in place in six states and the District of Columbia, and four others are considering them, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. (The New York Times)

No comments: