Leading the News
ED Grants Waiver Extensions To Five States.
Lauren Camera writes at the Education Week (8/1) “Politics K-12” blog that on Thursday afternoon, ED granted NCLB waiver extensions to Georgia, Delaware, Minnesota, New York and South Carolina, bringing the total number of extensions to 13. The article notes that Georgia’s extension comes with changes to “the exit criteria for priority and focus schools, the most chronically failing schools in the state,” and covers further details on individual states’ policies as they pertain to NCLB flexibility. Several media outlets cover the news from the point of view of the various states.
Minnesota Held Up As Waiver Model. The Minneapolis Star Tribune (8/1, Mcguire) reports that Minnesota’s extension “is not much of a surprise,” in that Federal education officials “have often touted Minnesota’s waiver to other states seeking to set up new school accountability systems and boost student achievement.” The article describes the state’s “Multiple Measurements Rating system” which was established under the waiver, noting that it “recognizes a student’s academic growth from year-to year, and how well a school is doing when it comes to closing the achievement gap between white and non-white students.” The AP (8/1) reports that Minnesota won’t have “to abide by proficiency goals and sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind law,” and notes that to obtain the extension, “Minnesota had to put forward a plan showing it had ways to measure student progress, reach achievement benchmarks, reward high-performing schools and intervene in those where children struggle the most.” KSJR-FM Collegeville, MN (7/31) also covers Minnesota’s extension online.
After ED Feedback, Idaho “Tweaking” Rating System. The Twin Falls (ID) Times-News (8/1) reports that Idaho “has been granted a one-year extension of its waiver,” which had been set to expire this summer. The piece notes that state education officials “plan to stick with a five-star rating system, but some tweaks are being made to the original plan.” The article reports that the state is adhering to ED’s “suggestions” made after Federal officials monitored the state’s waiver compliance.
ED: Georgia’s Waiver Facilitated Achievement Gains. The AP (8/1) reports that ED informed Georgia by letter that its NCLB waiver is being extended “because flexibility from some of the law’s provisions have helped the state execute student achievement reforms.” ED “cited the creation of statewide professional development programs, school accountability initiatives and platforms for student and teacher improvement as reforms that go beyond federal regulations.”
Indiana Waiver Still Up In Air. The Indianapolis Star (7/31) reports that Indiana was not among the states granted extensions to their NCLB waivers Thursday, noting that ED officials “appear to still be contemplating” whether to extend the waiver. The paper reports that without an extension, “school corporations lose flexibility in how to spend some of the $230 million annually in federal funding they receive and face strict education benchmarks for students and schools.” The paper continues to describe the current conflict between Gov. Mike Pence and Superintendent Glenda Ritz over the state’s waiver extension bid.
ED: New York Must Test Special Education Students At Grade Level. The Huffington Post (8/1, Resmovits) reports that ED announced on Thursday that New York special-needs students “will be held to the same academic standards and take the same standardized tests as other kids their age next school year,” despite state education officials attempts to change this standard. The piece notes that some special education advocates praised the decision, and reports that in announcing that New York will retain its NCLB waiver for another year, ED told state schools chief John King “the state ‘may continue to implement’ flexibility of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act though the 2014-15 school year, keeping state standards for students with disabilities the same as they had been.” The piece notes that this in effect refuses King’s proposal to allow “up to 2 percent of New York students with severe disabilities to be tested at their instructional ability – not their chronological grade year – up to two full grade levels below current grade level.”
In the Classroom
DC Students Make Marginal Improvement On Assessments.
The Washington Post (7/31, Chandler, Brown) reports that “average student proficiency rates” increased on the DC CAS proficiency tests given annually in Washington, DC rose 1.4% this year for math and “less than one percentage point in reading, results that city leaders called steady-if-slow progress in improving academic prospects for the District’s children.” The Post notes that there were some “troubling data points” in the results, and quotes DC Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson saying, “I have to be honest with you and say I’m disappointed. We need to pick up the work; we need to turn it up.” The Post contrasts this with last year, when “city leaders announced four-point gains in both subjects,” and notes that this is the last year the DC CAS will be given; next year the District will transition to the Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers tests. The AP (8/1) also covers this story, noting that “the system won’t include test scores in teacher evaluations during the upcoming school year” because of the transition to the Common Core-aligned PARCC.
More Louisiana Students Get Credit For AP Courses.
The Monroe (LA) News Star (7/31) reports that the Louisiana Department of Education says that “the number of college credits earned in 2014 by Louisiana students on Advanced Placement exams increased by more than 1,250 credits” over the past year, “the biggest jump in state history.” The article lays out how many hours were earned at various schools across the state, and reports that the state DOE said that “statewide gains in scores represent an annual increase of 24.6 percent.”
California High School Students Participate In Engineering Academy.
The McClatchy (7/30, Yawger, Subscription Publication) reports on 1168 ninth through 12th graders who are nonparticipating the Engineering Academy at Buhach Colony High School in Atwater, California. The academy began in 2010-11 and has grown into four courses and a dedicated engineering lab with 3-D printers. The academy offers courses in engineering design, principles of engineering, digital electronics, and computer-integrated manufacturing.
Indiana Schools Get IPads.
The Anderson (IN) Herald Bulletin (8/1, Hirsch) reports students in fourth and eighth grade in the Alexandria-Monroe Community Schools of Indiana will be receiving iPads this year in an effort to coordinate more technology into the classroom. The school district created a director of E-Learning in order to oversee the implementation of technology into the schools who is responsible for district-wide professional development.
Report Looks At Education Data Use Across States.
The Education Week (8/1, Sparks) “inside School Research” blog reports that despite most states having a longitudinal data system, “Few administrators and educators in the field have been trained how to use it responsible and effectively.” The information comes from the National Center for Education Statistics conference held this week. A recent study shows that there is “widely disparate requirements related to data use” across all 50 states. The article highlights several key facts from the report including that only eight states have a standard for data use. The national Data Forum is currently developing standards for training teachers and administrators, and are developing programs based on a set of standards.
San Antonio Pre-K Program Full In Second Year With 700 On Waiting List.
KENS-TV San Antonio (7/30, Munoz) reports that San Antonio’s pre-K program – known as Pre-K 4 SA – has full enrollment for its second academic year with 1,500 children registered and 700 more on a waiting list. The report says some 3,200 families applied to the program – twice the number who applied in its first year. Pre-K CEO Kathy Bruck “is thankful for a streamlined application and selection process” and “recalls using buckets for the lottery last year.”
On the Job
Strauss: Duncan, South Carolina Teacher Disagree On Reliability Of Value-Added.
Valerie Strauss writes at the Washington Post (7/31) “Answer Sheet” blog that Charleston, South Carolina teacher Patrick Hayes, director of the nonprofit education advocacy group EdFirstSC recently had the opportunity to ask a question of Education Secretary Arne Duncan at a recent video chat Duncan had with “hundreds of Charleston educators and administrators.” Strauss writes that Hayes asked Duncan about value-added models for using student test scores to evaluate teachers, and writes that while Hayes presented an argument that this paradigm is unreliable, Duncan “went on to defend value-added.”
Chicago Mayor Losing Deputy Education Chief To Foundation.
The Chicago Tribune (7/31, Ahmed-Ullah) reports that Beth Swanson, deputy chief of education for Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) and “point person on Chicago Public Schools” is leaving her city job to join the nonprofit Joyce Foundation dedicated to education reform. Swanson was part of the negotiating team during the 2012 strike by teachers and also helped Emanuel in his quest for “a longer school day.” Swanson will be vice president of strategy and programs for the foundation. There was no word on a replacement in her city job.
The Chicago Sun-Times (7/31, Spielman) reports that Swanson is leaving before Emanuel runs for re-election in a race it says might be school-focused if Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis decides to run.
Alaska Board Approves Online Study Program For School Superintendents.
The AP (8/1) reports that the Alaska Board of Education and Early Development approved an online program for school superintendents that will be offered by the University of Alaska Southeast. The program will offer study in the uses of technology, finance, program planning, and a leadership-focused internship.
Educators Attend Engineering Courses At Florida University.
The Daytona Beach (FL) News-Journal (7/30, Wyatt) reports 35 Florida teachers from across the state and country are taking engineering classes at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The initiative is part the Project Lead The Way program and is designed to educate teachers how to use STEM in the classroom.
Principals Increasingly Using Entrepreneurial Practices.
Education Week (7/31, Davis, Molnar) reports that a growing number of principals are using entrepreneurial practices such as forming lucrative corporate partnerships, aggressive branding and marketing, and “taking risks” in their management of their schools. The article reports that the trend is a response to increasingly “tight budgets, new technologies, and competition for students.” The article reports that National Association of Secondary School Principals spokesman Robert N. Farrace says that taking such risks “makes many school officials uneasy,” quoting him saying, “It has to be in an environment where that is supported and encouraged.”
Law & Policy
Retired Generals Tie Common Core, Teacher Quality To National Security.
The Tennessean (7/31) reports that the group Mission: Readiness, a group of “some 450 pro-Common Core retired US generals,” has released a new report praising Tennessee for improving teacher evaluations and teacher training, holding this up as an example of how to improve low military readiness among potential US recruits. The piece notes that the group “says 70 percent of American youth cannot serve in the military because of either poor academic marks or being overweight.”
South Carolina Panel To Consider Common Core When Crafting New Standards.
The AP (8/1, Adcox) reports that the South Carolina Department of Education announced Thursday that the panel of educators who will be tasked with crafting new standards in South Carolina to replace the Common Core will be able to consider the Common Core when devising its replacement. The article explains that Superintendent Mick Zais told the media last month that “he would direct the panels to ignore Common Core entirely and not even provide them a copy.” According to a DOE spokesperson, Zais had spoken “inartfully,” and had simply meant to “stress that the standards implemented in August 2015 won’t be a simple rebranding of Common Core.”
Georgia Panel On Common Core, Federal Education Role Holds First Meeting.
The Florida Times-Union (7/30) reports that a Georgia committee made up of legislators, educators, and parents are examining the “controversial Common Core multi-state education standards and federal funding,” noting that the committee was established to look “at Washington’s role in public education.” The piece reports that in the panel’s first meeting, Superintendent John Barge stressed the state-level origins of the standards, and notes that Deputy Superintendent Martha Reichrath “said there was no controversy in 2010 when the Georgia Board of Education adopted Common Core for math and English because about 85 percent came from Georgia’s existing standards.”
AIR Files Appeal In New Mexico Common Core Testing Clash.
The Santa Fe (NM) Reporter (8/1) reports that the American Institutes of Research filed an appeal of “New Mexico’s decision to award a lucrative standardized testing contract to for-profit education giant Pearson.” AIR is appealing “a decision by the state’s purchasing agent to greenlight a contract that will allow Pearson to write and administer the annual test for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC) consortium.” The piece notes that AIR “filed a protest over the contract even before it was awarded to Pearson,” alleging that “New Mexico’s bidding of the contract was rigged toward the education giant.”
Safety & Security
Texas Trains First Class Of School Marshals.
The Christian Science Monitor (7/31, Conrads) reports Texas just concluded the training of “its first class of armed school marshals, which aims to do for classrooms what the surge of sky marshals did for commercial airliners after the 9/11 attacks.” The Monitor notes that school marshals are “anonymous,” with their “identities known only to top school administrators and local police.” Each of the individuals are “school employees...trained and armed to respond to a life-threatening emergency on school grounds.” Texas state Rep. Jason Villalba said, “If we could afford to have a police officer in every school, that would be preferable, but that’s prohibitively expensive.”
Survey Shows Teachers May Stand In Way Of Reducing Out-Of-School Suspensions.
The Huffington Post (7/31) reports, “teachers may be standing in [superintendents’] way” of reducing the number of out-of-school suspensions (OSS) according to a survey from the School Superintendents Association. The survey showed that 72 percent of superintendent respondents said that they “would expect pushback from teachers” and 57 percent expected “opposition from principals” if they took official action to reduce OSS. The survey also said that most superintendents expected support from parents and students if they were to reduce OSS.
Maryland County Reduces High School Suspensions By 37 Percent.
The Washington Post (7/31, St. George) reports that newly released figures show that Montgomery County, Maryland reduced high school suspensions by 37 percent as the district has pursued alternative forms of punishment. The numbers show that suspensions of black and Hispanic students dropped by 600, but that they exceeded suspensions of white students. The district did not invoke a specific plan to reduce suspensions, but some high schools profiled focused on improving instruction, and focusing on changing the school climate.
School Safety Volunteers Won’t Be Armed.
The AP (8/1) reports Alabama’s Franklin County schools Superintendent Gary Williams told Al.com Thursday that the safety plan for the upcoming school year includes training volunteers, teachers and staff how to deal with “issues that could arise.” The training will not include teaching volunteers to handle firearms and will cost the school district $4,000 annually.
Task Force Makes Recommendations To Fix Chicago Elementary Absenteeism.
The Chicago Tribune (7/31) reports an Illinois task force made recommendations of “sweeping reforms” to address absenteeism in Chicago elementary schools. The task force recommended reinstating truancy officers, rewriting laws that change how schools report average daily attendance, and Chicago should upgrade its child-tracking data.
Colorado School Construction Starts To See Marijuana Revenues.
The Denver Post (7/31, Robles) reports that revenues from marijuana sales are slowly entering Colorado’s coffers, and that the state Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools Today school construction funding program is making payments to select districts for capital projects. When the agency made allotments in May, it had received some $1.1 million. The Post reports that the state expects to allocate some $2.5 million more to schools to hire healthcare professionals.
Pennsylvania Legislature Tables Cigarette Tax For Philadelphia Schools.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (8/1, Couloumbis, Woodall) reports that the Pennsylvania legislature “canceled a vote on a new cigarette tax for Philadelphia,” on Thursday, “casting doubt on whether the city’s schools would be able to safely open on time in September.” The article notes that the district faces an $81 million budget gap, and notes that legislators said “they will ask the Corbett administration to advance education money to the city’s schools.” The article reports that Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. called the move “devastating,” adding that he “said any advance from Harrisburg – especially if it was just money the schools were already allocated to receive – might not be enough to avert layoffs and open the schools on time.”
KYW-TV Philadelphia (7/31) reports that “Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania House this afternoon suddenly canceled a vote” on the proposal citing a lack of consensus, noting that the measure “was expected to provide about $45 million in funding for the School District of Philadelphia.”
Florida Group Pushes For More Early Childhood Investment.
The Orlando (FL) Sentinel (7/31, Santich) reports on the Children’s Movement of Florida, a coalition that wants the state to invest more “in the first five years of a child’s life.” The Sentinel says there are some 1 million poor children in Florida, and that makes early investment harder. Some 35,000 parents have their children on a waiting list for subsidized child care that includes developmental opportunities, while the state’s own pre-K program “fails to meet seven of 10 nationally recommended quality standards.”
Thursday's Lead Stories
• Louisiana BESE Votes To Join Common Core Lawsuit Against Governor.
• New York State DOE Posts Student Data “Parents’ Bill Of Rights.”
• Tulsa, Oklahoma Implements New Recruiting Strategies To Attract Teachers.
• Polls Across Past Few Decades Show General Support For National Standards, Curriculum.
• Special Education At Private Schools Uses Public Money.
• Survey Shows Superintendents Say State Laws Limit Discretion In Suspension Decisions.
• Baltimore Prepares For School By Renovating, Replacing Old Facilities.