Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quick Hits

National health care law could affect student achievement
The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act could help bridge achievement gaps among students, according to health experts who have studied the issue. "The reasons students drop out of school are complex, and health can be integrally related to many of these reasons, including barriers to learning such as hunger and poor nutrition and even fear for safety at school," wrote the authors, led by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher Diane Allensworth.

Report: Improve working conditions to keep top teachers
Schools interested in retaining top teachers should focus on the culture and working conditions, according to a recent report from The Education Trust. In this blog post, education writer Maureen Downey says Richard Ingersoll, a national expert on teacher turnover and retention, revealed as much to her years ago. "Look, I am a former high-school teacher. I would still be doing it, even with the low pay. But it was all the other stuff -- the discipline problems, the lack of support and the lack of say -- that made me leave," he said. Get Schooled blog, Inside School Research blog

Survey: Students prefer technology-based lessons to lectures
A recent survey of students, faculty and IT staff finds that high-school and college students want more technology-driven lessons and fewer lectures. Students also reported wanting more hands-on projects, independent study, virtual learning and one-on-one tutoring. However, a shift to such instructional methods could be prevented because of a lack of resources, professional development and access to technology, the survey found. Digital Education blog

What role does social media play in cyberbullying?
This article includes data about the prevalence of cyberbullying -- increasingly made easier by social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter. The article also points out the inherent dangers of such bullying, which can have real-world consequences. However, the recent bullying of a bus monitor, captured on video, went viral and resulted in an outpouring of support for the victim. Mashable

Calif. seeks to align ELL standards with common core
In California -- where about 25% of the student population are English-language learners -- officials are working to align their English-language development standards with the Common Core State Standards. The state recently released standards by grade level, and officials hope to have them approved by the end of the summer, following a period for public comment. Learning the Language blog

Some public schools choose single-sex classes
About 500 public schools in the U.S. split up boys and girls by offering single-sex classes. Opponents include the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued to end some classes, arguing they violate Title IX's ban on sex discrimination in education. Proponents cite research that they say shows single-gender classes improve boys' reading skills. The Huffington Post

Study: Pittsburgh principals act as instructional leaders
A study of Pittsburgh's principal-incentive program finds that school principals are spending more time in the classroom and have embraced their roles as instructional leaders. The program offers performance-based pay and professional development for school principals. "Principals are clearly aware they have a major responsibility for promoting student learning in their schools and are making that a focus of their work," said Laura Hamilton, a senior behavioral scientist at Rand, which conducted the study. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Why taped lectures might be less effective
Arthur Camins, director of the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in this blog post writes about the difference between in-person lectures and those that are taped and viewed online. Camins writes about his own experience with lectures that inspired him, saying they relied heavily upon in-person dynamics and storytelling. He questions whether such lectures would be as effective if they were viewed online. The Answer Sheet blog  

Ohio to adopt exams that measure college, career-readiness
Beginning in the 2014-15 academic year, Ohio plans to replace its current high-school exams with more rigorous tests that measure college- and career-readiness. Officials say the new exams likely will help align expectations held by institutions of higher education with standards in high schools statewide. However, it is still unclear whether students' scores on the exams will be tied to graduation. The Cincinnati Enquirer

Study: Children getting first cellphone at a younger age
A recent study finds that more children are getting cellphones, and they are getting them at a younger age. The Pew ­Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that in 2010, the average person received a cellphone at about age 12 or 13 -- down from age 16 in 2004. However, the findings have raised questions about the appropriate age for children to have cellphones and what parents and others should do to control how the technology is used. The Boston Globe  

Research suggests timed tests lead to math anxiety
Low math achievement in some cases stems from anxiety, fueled by the increased focus on timed math tests, says Jo Boaler, a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University. In this article, Boaler writes that students who have math stress are less likely to correctly answer problems. However, Boaler writes that it appears the Common Core State Standards favors such tests. Education Week

Initiative aims to link, store student-achievement data
School systems have access to all sorts of student data stored in all sorts of places -- in instructional and assessment software, grade books and learning management systems, technology analyst Frank Catalano writes in this blog post. Accessing that data and combining it with data from other programs can be difficult. However, a new initiative seeks to develop a place in the cloud, where states can store and link student achievement data and connect it to instructional applications and Web resources. The Shared Learning Infrastructure (SLI) plans a final release in December 2012 -- if technology, privacy and other issues can be resolved. Mind/Shift blog   

DOE warns Georgia about teacher-evaluation plan
The U.S. Department of Education told Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in a letter this week that unless the state can effectively address the department's concerns about its proposed teacher-evaluation system, it risks losing $33 million of its $400 million Race to the Top funding. Among the concerns, Alyson Klein writes in this blog post, are several amendments Georgia has requested that the department fears could result in a big shift from its original teacher-evaluation plan. Politics K-12 blog  

Will school funding shift create a new political dynamic?
According to the Public Education Finances report recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 local funding for public education surpassed state funding by $3 billion. That shift in funding distribution could have political consequences if local districts begin to demand a voice in state-level policy decisions as well, education policy writer Andrew Ujifusa writes in this blog post. The report also found that U.S. per-pupil spending more than doubled between 1992 and 2010. State EdWatch blog  

Delaware Senate moves to protect students' social media privacy
Lawmakers in Delaware moved one step closer to prohibiting public and private schools from monitoring students' social media activity, after state senators voted in favor of the measure. "Since schools generally do not have a duty to monitor their students' off campus activities in the real world, they shouldn't have a duty to monitor their students' off campus digital activities," said Bradley Shear, a social media attorney. Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal

N.Y. to implement response-to-intervention reading model
All elementary-school teachers in New York state will begin using the response-to-intervention (RtI) reading model this year in the wake of a state Department of Education mandate. The agency hopes implementing the RtI system will provide early intervention for at-risk students, as well as reduce special-education referrals. Some teachers and administrators are concerned, however, because no funds were provided for training teachers on how to implement the program. SchoolBook blog   

Ohio school opts for iPads over laptops
A school in Ohio will distribute iPad devices to students as part of an effort to improve the quality of instruction, reduce paper and make lessons more engaging. "We thought about giving the students laptops or tablets and decided on a tablet," said Brian Shaver, school and parish director. "We saw laptops as just a portable word processor, but the tablets have more technology-based opportunities for learning." Fostoria Review Times

Are standardized tests cost-effective?
University of Georgia professor Peter Smagorinsky in this blog post explores the cost-effectiveness of standardized testing, concluding that the estimated $20 billion spend annually on testing in the U.S. is a poor use of tax dollars. He proposes spending the money on programs that will help students learn and using project-based assessments to measure their learning. "Standardized tests are a really stupid way to measure learning," Smagorinsky writes. The Answer Sheet blog

Will Md. school superintendent's philosophies produce results?
Joshua Starr, school superintendent in Montgomery County, Md., says he isn't a fan of education-reform initiatives that focus on tests identifying what's wrong with education. He says he believes in encouraging educators to look for their own solutions to problems, rather than dictate solutions to them. Many parents applaud his approach to leadership, while others question whether it can produce the kind of academic results they expect from their schools. The Washington Post 

Can online programs prepare teachers to interact with students?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the top six degree-granting institutions for bachelor's and master's in education in 2010 were partly or entirely online programs. Proponents of online teacher-training programs say graduates are as well-prepared as teacher candidates from on-campus programs. Critics wonder, however, whether a profession so dependent on face-to-face contact can be properly trained in a system that offers so little personal contact. The Hechinger Report 

More than one-fourth of Ind. students awarded "waiver diplomas"
The high-school graduation rate in Indianapolis public schools has increased to 64.6% from 48% in just two years. In 2011, however, more than one-fourth of those students -- 26.7% -- received "waiver diplomas," meaning they were allowed to graduate despite failing the state's required end-of-study exams. Some students say one exam shouldn't determine whether they graduate, but school officials say they plan on making waiver diplomas harder to obtain next year. The Indianapolis Star 

Oregon approves new teacher-evaluation guidelines
The Oregon Board of Education has approved new guidelines for teacher evaluations in accordance with a bill passed last year by the state legislature that requires the creation of statewide teaching standards. Under the guidelines, teachers will be evaluated in three general areas -- professional practice, professional responsibility, and student learning and growth. Teacher evaluations, according to the board, will not be made public.  The Register-Guard   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So wonder if Supreme Court would also consider Fed's taking back race to the top funds from Georgia as a tax. What in the world does the federal government have any business, much less jurisdiction trying to tell states how to evaluate their teachers? How ironic that the money people make is taken from them via federal tax then thes states have to prostitute themselves to compete again one another to regain their citizens money in order to institute a federal agenda which Washington has no Constitutional power to over see. Why don't they go pick on the lawyers and say all bar exams have to be the same based upon a common law core?