Leading the News
Washington State AG Gives Positive Report On ED Funding To Court.
The AP (7/28) reports that Senior Assistant Attorney General David Stolier presented a report to the Washington state Supreme Court on Monday listing “all the ways the Legislature has fulfilled the high court’s 2012 McCleary decision” through $4.8 billion in additional funds for education since 2012. Stolier also requested that the Court to “dissolve its contempt order,” writing that “Any sanction would be counterproductive.”
According to the Everett (WA) Herald (7/28, Cornfield), Stolier’s report argues that the state legislature is “on pace to ensure the state fully funds basic education for public school students by a 2018 deadline.” However, countering the state’s report was the attorney representing the state’s “parents and alliance of school organizations,” Thomas Ahearne, who also filed a brief on Monday, arguing that “lawmakers continue to procrastinate and urg[ing] justices to take action,” the Herald notes.
In a piece that also notes the opposing sides of the Court case, the Seattle Times (7/29, Higgins) reports that with regards to the question of whether the legislature had done enough in educational reforms, the state attorney “gave an unequivocal yes.” Meanwhile, Ahearne argued the state had not done enough an said the Court must “either stand up and enforce Washington schoolchildren’s positive constitutional right to an amply funded education, or sit down and confess it was only kidding when it assured Washington schoolchildren that this Court would vigilantly protect them from the government’s violation of their constitutional rights.”
State School Chief Rips Legislature For Doing Nothing. The KCPQ-TV Seattle (7/28, Douglas) website reported that Washington State schools chief Randy Dorn filed a report with the state Supreme Court his week, requesting that lawmakers be held in contempt because “They’ve done nothing.” According to the website, Dorn argued that the legislature “totally failed” to address mandates issued by the court, including “reducing the reliance on local levies; and approving a plan to solve all schools funding problems by 2018.”
In the Classroom
Lego Program Teachers Children, Parents, And Teachers About Robotics.
The Boston Globe (7/28, Hoban) reported an international program known as FIRST Lego League is teaching children, parents, and teachers how to build robots. The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center hosted a workshop sponsored by the program that “aims to familiarize parents and educators with concepts in computer programming.”
Black Girls Code Teaching Students How To Make Social Justice Apps.
The Huffington Post (7/28, Klein) reported the organization Black Girls Code is teaching black female students how to program. Some of the program’s students created apps “focused on social justice.” One team created an app to help students study together and another team created an app to help children who have been bullied.
New Career And Technical Education Center In Oregon Opening This Fall.
The Salem (OR) Statesman Journal (7/28, Johnson) reported the Career and Technical Education Center in Salem, Oregon will open this fall to teach high school juniors and seniors. The center will offer two courses this fall in residential construction and commercial manufacturing, and education officials hope to add more courses in the future. The center was created in partnership with the Salem-Keizer School District and the Mountain West Career Technical Institute.
FIU Study Finds Students Need Encouragement To Pursue Math Careers.
The Miami Herald (7/28, Lepri) reported a Florida International University study found that students need encouragement to pursue math-related careers. The study interviewed college math students and found that a large percentage of them were “acknowledged for their math skills or they found it fascinating.”
Girls Who Code Teaches Robotics Class To High School Students At Florida International University.
The Miami Herald (7/28, Lambert) reported Florida International University hosted a seven-week summer robotics class for female high school students. The class was taught by the national organization Girls Who Code, which aims to increase the number of women who pursue careers in technology.
LearnSphere Launches At Carnegie Mellon University.
The Ed Surge (7/28, Barshay) reported Carnegie Mellon University will be housing LearnSphere, a new federally funded project that aims to become “the biggest open repository of education data” in the world. The project leader Ken Koedinger acknowledged LearnSphere was similar to inBloom, a non-profit funded by the Gates Foundation that shut down in 2014 over concerns about violating students’ privacy. LearnSphere hopes to make it “easier and faster for researchers to analyze big datasets” to improve student learning.
Minority Male Makers Program Teaches Minority Middle School Students STEM, Business Skills.
The Baltimore Sun (7/28, Jedra) reported Morgan State University in Baltimore hosted the Minority Male Makers program that “gives middle school boys from minority groups free, hands-on experience” with STEM projects. The program teaches participants STEM and business skills. The end of the program requires participants to pitch projects to their peers. Minority Male Makers is funded by the Verizon Foundation and hosted at four historically black universities like Morgan State University.
Two Rural Colorado Districts Have Highest Opt-Out Rates.
Education Week (7/28, Mader) reported two rural Colorado school districts, Manchos and Buffalo, had the highest percentage of students opting out of state standardized testing.
GWU Drops Admissions Requirement For SAT Or ACT.
USA Today (7/28, Samuels) reports that George Washington University has eliminated the requirement that applicants for admission take the SAT or ACT standardized tests. The decision was made after the school’s Task Force on Access and Success found that “predicted success at the university can be found in a student’s high school GPA or high school records.” Applicants are free to send test scores, but will not be required to. There are exceptions as applicants who are homeschooled or whose high schools offer only “narrative evaluation of students, college athletes and students applying for the seven-year program leading to a combined bachelor’s/medical degree” all must send standardized test scores.
The Washington Times (7/29, Ernst) cites the National Center for Fair and Open Testing as identifying “125 private colleges and universities” with similar policies.
The Christian Science Monitor (7/28, Gitau) reports that Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton explained that one reason for the change in policy was that “below-average standardized test scores were leading some otherwise strong students to not apply to the school.”
On the Job
White House Honors Virginia Environmental Science Teacher.
The Washington Post (7/29, Balingit) profiles Liam McGranaghan, and environmental science teacher at Loudoun Valley High School in Loudoun County, Virginia, who “gets his teen students into the wild as much as possible.” The piece notes that McGranaghan is among the winners of the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. The piece describes McGranaghan’s efforts to make his students aware of their surroundings while teaching them about local plants and animals.
Fund For Teachers Gives Grants To Fund Educators Learning New Skills Over The Summer.
The Washington Post (7/29, Chandler) reports the Fund for Teachers awards grants to teachers to “pay for their professional development plans.” Summer is a time when many teachers embark on personal courses of study to improve their teaching abilities. Teachers can conduct research at home, travel abroad, or engage in other activities to improve their teaching. The grants can be as high as $5,000 for individual teachers or $10,000 for groups of teachers. The fund has given out $23.5 million to teachers since its founding in 2001.
Large Colorado Districts Seeking To Reform Performance-Based Pay For Teachers.
The Denver Post (7/29, Robles) reports Colorado’s largest school districts in Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties are seeking to reform the way that teacher evaluations are tied to teacher pay. The article details different approaches that are being explored by the school districts to reform teacher pay.
Georgia Reduces State Testing Tied To Teacher Compensation.
The Augusta (GA) Chronicle (7/28, Shearer) reported Georgia state superintendent Richard Woods is reducing the number of “Student Learning Objectives” (SLOs) tests administered to students. SLOs are “supposed to measure how much progress students make during the course of a school year, and according to state law, count for half of a teacher’s job performance assessment.” Woods said reducing the number of SLOs will give “teachers more time for instruction and help our students focus on learning instead of testing.”
Study: Teachers Hired During Recessions Are Better.
The Washington Post (7/29, Brown) reports the National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper this week showing that teachers hired during recessions are “significantly more effective, as judged by their students’ performance on standardized tests, than teachers hired during better economic times.” The study suggests that “school districts could attract higher-quality teachers by paying new teachers more.”
Law & Policy
Alexander, Murray Focused On Compromise In ESEA Rewrite.
The Washington Post (7/29, Layton) reports that when Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking Democrat Patty Murray first began discussing a bill to replace No Child Left Behind, Alexander presented a draft bill, but Murray “bluntly told Alexander that his way wouldn’t work.” Murray said that starting with a Republican draft would lead to “another partisan logjam,” and the two leaders “made an old-school deal — they would find common ground and together write a bipartisan bill.” The article notes that both brought reputations for reaching across the aisle with them, and characterizes the resulting legislation as “remarkable” for the ease with which it sailed through the Senate.
Seattle Paper Calls For Preserved Accountability Under ESEA Rewrite. As Congress works on replacing NCLB, an editorial in the Seattle Times (7/29) calls for preserving the law’s “emphasis on holding schools accountable for the academic achievement of all students.” The piece calls efforts to water down these requirements “a long step backward for the nation’s education system.” The piece praises Murray for breaking ranks with Democrats “who cater to teachers unions and some Republicans who favor local control” as she pushes for federal accountability.
Representative Takano Sounds off On ESEA Rewrite. Lauren Camera writes at the Education Week (7/29) “Politics K-12” blog that Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), who taught middle and high school for over 20 years, recently sat down for an interview “about his experiences in the classroom” and about current efforts to reauthorize ESEA. She writes that Takano “favors grade-span testing, supports the federal mandate that states and schools test 95% of students, and thinks accountability should be entirely left up to states.” A partial transcript of their conversation follows.
New York City Education Officials Say Principal Admitted Cheating Before Suicide.
The Washington Post (7/29, Bever) reports in continuing coverage that New York City Education Department officials say that Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, the principal of Harlem’s Teachers College Community School, “said she had falsified some of third-graders’ state English exams” before committing suicide in April. The piece notes that Worrell-Breeden said she falsified the Common Core-aligned tests of a number of students because they “had not finished in time.” The city Education Department released a memo to this effect on Monday.
The AP (7/29, Peltz) reports that Worrell-Breeden “had what she called a dream job” at the school’s helm, noting that “authorities learned of the cheating allegations the same day she made her fatal leap.” The piece notes that the scandal has tarnished Worrell-Breeden’s reputation, and has cast a shadow over the school. The events unfolded amid strident debate over standardized testing and the Common Core in New York.
Maryland Officials: PARCC Tests Saved State $2.5 Million.
The Baltimore Sun (7/28) reports that Maryland education officials released data on Tuesday indicating that the state saved $2.5 million last year by switching to PARCC exams, noting that while critics say the tests “take too long and dominates school schedules,” the report, delivered to the state BOE from the office of Superintendent Lillian M. Lowery, said that PARCC “set a ‘higher bar’ for preparing students for higher education or a career than the previous Maryland High School Assessments.”
Arkansas Lieutenant Governor: State Should Adjust Common Core To Meet State Needs.
The AP (7/28) reports that Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said that the state should make changes to the Common Core Standards “where necessary and rename the controversial education standards to more closely reflect the states needs,” but stop short of calling for the standards to be jettisoned. The piece notes that Griffin is heading up a task force established by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to look into the state’s involvement with the standards, and said that Arkansas shouldn’t view them as “all or nothing.”
Studies Are Conflicted About Connections Between Special Education And Race.
The Huffington Post (7/28, Greenhouse) reported the American Educational Research Association released a study last month that found “minority students are underrepresented in special educations services.” This study conflicts with previous studies that found minority students were more likely to be labeled disabled. HuffPost Live had an expert panel last week that concluded “while minorities may be underrepresented in some categories of special education, they’ve overrepresented in the most ‘stigmatizing’ groups.”
Study: Misbehaving Students Treated Differently Based On Race.
The Huffington Post (7/29) reports the journal Sociology of Education released a study last week that showed educators respond differently to students of different races misbehaving in school. The study showed that white students who misbehaved were more likely to be referred to special education or medical services, while black students who misbehaved were more likely to be disciplined at school or referred to the criminal justice system.
Researchers Disagree About Why Autism Is Becoming More Prevalent.
Education Week (7/27, Samuels) reported researchers are struggling to explain the large increase in children diagnosed with autism over the past 15 years. Some researchers attribute the increase to a change in how psychiatrists diagnose the same behavior, rather than a change in how many children actually have the underlying condition. Others see evidence of an actual increase in the underlying condition that cannot be explained by “relabeling” or “diagnostic substitution” as the former theory is sometimes called. Researchers are also still looking for explanations of what causes autism.
Gary Community School Selects Financial Expert To Manage Debt Crisis.
The Times of Northwest Indiana (7/29, McCollum) reports that on Tuesday night, the Gary Community School Corp. selected Jack Martin of Michigan-based Martin, Arrington, Desai and Meyers to act as the “financial expert” whose job will be to “eliminate a $23.7 million deficit and a total debt of nearly $92 million.” The Times notes that Martin’s firm “has provided financial restructuring services” to various school districts and the US Department of Education.
Tuesday's Lead Stories
• NYC DOE: Dead Harlem Principal Acknowledged Cheating On Exams.
• Colorado Testing Rates Fall, Below Federal Requirement In Many Districts.
• Texas School District Could Get Up To $2 Million To Fund STEM Teacher Training.
• Judge Hears Arguments In North Dakota SBAC Lawsuit.
• ED Gives North Dakota Group $200,000 Grant For Special Education Services.
• Schools Working To Cope With Students’ Self-Harming Behaviors.
• Washington AG Report Outlines State’s Efforts To Improve Education Funding.