Teays Valley Classroom Teachers Association


The Daily Update

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October 31, 2014

Leading the News

Administration Releases “Gainful Employment” Rule For Career Programs.

The New York Times (10/31, Pérez-Peña, Subscription Publication) reports on the “gainful employment” rule proposed by the Administration to govern post-secondary career programs. The rule is presented as an effort “to shut down career-training programs that leave students with low earnings and high debt,” and the Times says it “drew cries of foul,” from both the schools and their “harshest critics.” Officials said that over one-fourth of the “career programs” currently qualified for their students to receive Federal student aid, enrolling around 840,000 students, “would fail the new standard.” The schools will have “at least three more years” to reach the standard, but then may be “barred from federal student aid programs.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan is quoted saying, “While some are strong, today too many of these programs fail to provide students with the training they need,” adding, “Our primary goal in this effort is to make sure that all programs funded by taxpayers provide quality training to all students.”

        The AP (10/31, Hefling) says the rule means that career programs “will have to show that the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings.” The story quotes Duncan saying, “These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes.” It also quotes Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, saying that the rule is “nothing more than a bad-faith attempt to cut off access to education for millions of students who have been historically underserved by higher education.”

        Reuters (10/30, Ajmera, Jaisinghani) reports that the rule is a change from the current standard of 30 percent of discretionary, or 12 percent of total income. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) is quoted saying that the rule is only a beginning. It also quotes Duncan as in the AP.

        The Washington Post (10/29, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that the announcement is “the culmination of years of contentious debates.” The proposal is being criticized as “too lax” because it does not cover students who do not graduate. Duncan is quoted saying, “Career colleges must be a stepping stone to the middle class. But too many hard-working students find themselves buried in debt with little to show for it. That is simply unacceptable,” adding, “These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes.”

        The Washington Times (10/31, Chumley) reports in a story based on the WPost report above that the rules put the burden of “limiting the amount of debt that students take on” on the schools “rather than the students themselves.” It also carries Duncan’s quote from the Post.

        The Los Angeles Times (10/30, Kirkham) reports that the rules would “apply to each college’s specific programs, such as criminal justice or nursing, meaning some could be disqualified while others remain eligible.” Duncan is quoted saying, “The quality of these programs today varies tremendously,” adding, “While some are strong, today too many of these programs fail to provide the training (students) need, while burying them in debt they cannot repay.” The rules would also require disclosure of “information on graduation rates and loan debt to prospective students.”

        New Rules Drop Default Rates As Measure For Schools. The Chronicle of Higher Education (10/31, Field) reports that the new rule has “one last twist” in that it dropped “one of two metrics for judging career programs,” that is cohort default rates. That change is characterized as “a win for community colleges,” but critics said that it “weakens the rule.” The Chronicle adds that Duncan, among other Administration officials, said that the new rule “would still identify programs that were sticking students with unaffordable debt.” Critics are cited saying that the change “neutered” the rule.

In the Classroom

New Classes Lure Students To School’s Music Program.

KARE-TV Minneapolis (10/30) reports Burnsville High School in Minneapolis has expanded its music department to offer guitar and piano lessons as well as a History of Rock and Roll class to “draw new students into the department.” The initial investment of $30,000 in equipment paid off as “over 300 kids registered for...classes the first year.” Instructor Molly Holmes states there is an academic benefit to getting the students more involved with music. “It also improves test scores, math scores, their reading scores. It improves their self esteem, it improves their discipline, it improves their focus.”

Faculty Teaches Eureka Math to Parents Unfamiliar with Common Core.

The Alexandria (LA) Town Talk (10/30, Guidry) reports the faculty at J.I. Barron Sr. Elementary School in Louisiana has not had any “visceral reactions” to the new Common Core structure but is hearing complaints that parents “can’t help their students or can get the right answer but not with the intended method.” In response to such concerns the school is “hosting regular Eureka Math nights for different grade levels,” where teachers explain the new mathematical methods to parents. The faculty also noted difficulties with Euraka Math seemed to arise more in the higher grades because the curriculum “is intended to build upon itself each year.”

Preschool Teachers Set Record During Vocabulary Lesson.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10/31, Chute) reports preschool teachers and students in 37 cities “set a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest vocabulary lesson in multiple venues.” Since the event required the same lesson to be carried out at multiple locations, a lesson plan was developed beforehand that focused on the picture book “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild” by Peter Brown and training materials were handed out to teachers in advance. Teachers reported the children “had a lot of fun” and that “some were able to explain vocabulary words from the book.”

District Uses Mobile Classroom To Engage Students In Math And Science.

The Houston Chronicle (10/31, Peyton) reports the Klein Independent School District will introduce in early November the “STEAM Express – a trailer retrofitted into a mobile learning laboratory that will travel the district, offering lessons to appeal to all ages.” Director Cindy Doyle explained that the acronym “STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.” A full-time instructor will be assigned to the STEAM Express as it visits schools around the district. The project stemmed from the District’s successful Reading Express, a mobile book program that “offers summer reading opportunities to students who might not otherwise have access to a library.”

Instructors Use “Teacher Lab” To Observe Teachers In Action.

The Bowling Green (KY) Daily News (10/31) reports a “teacher lab” is being used at Greenwood High School in Kentucky “to provide professional development opportunities for the school’s teachers.” The Greenwood teacher lab allows participants to observe teachers actively teaching students. Paula Miller, a facilitator at the lab stated that teachers are often “isolated” and “don’t get to talk to each other,” but “with this, we get to talk about what we saw and what it means.” Greenwood High School has set aside faculty meeting times for teacher lab sessions, with a recent session showcasing a teacher using the “student-centered learning model”, a model in which “the teacher presented a short introduction and then allowed the students to work in groups to solve a problem the teacher posed.”

Virginia School Touts Teachers’ Use Of Data After Title I Honor.

The Pulaski (VA) Southwest Times (10/31, Pynn) reports that Pulaski Elementary School is “one of 40 Title I schools in Virginia honored for raising the academic achievements of economically disadvantaged students.” Pulaski Elementary Assistant Principal Kimberly Sink said, “We were ecstatic last year, but to get it two years in a row is great.” She said that the school succeeds because, “Our teachers are child focused,” adding, “They work with data, and then they adjust what they do according to the child’s needs.”

Ohio Honors Schools For Serving Lower-Income Students.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer (10/31, O'Donnell) reports that eight schools in Cuyahoga County, Ohio were honored for “exceptional work with lower-income students last year.” Four high schools were honored as “Schools of Promise,” while two Cleveland charters “were named High Performing Schools of Honor.” Also several elementary schools were named High Progress Schools of Honor. Statewide there were “98 Schools of Promise, 48 High Performing Schools of Honor and 27 High Progress Schools of Honor.”

New Mexico Report Identifies Characteristics Of Successful High-Poverty Schools.

The Albuquerque (NM) Journal (10/31, Swedien) reports that a study by New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee found that the state “needs to get better teachers in its high-poverty schools.” The report was based on a study of 15 high-poverty schools in order to “understand why many high-poverty schools struggle academically and why some perform better than others.” In general, those that did well “had a mix of veteran and beginning teachers, used test data to help inform instruction, were sensitive to the different cultures of their students, had high expectations, and provided ‘wraparound’ services.”

NAACP Branch Names ISD’s Perry Educator Of The Year.

The Irving (TX) Weekly (10/31) reports “the Irving-Carrollton Branch of the NAACP named Irving ISD’s Mary Perry as Educator of the Year.” Perry currently teaches kindergarten ESL and GT at Thomas Elementary School while mentoring new teachers at Thomas Haley. Perry says, “I became a teacher because I wanted to make a difference…I remain a teacher because I’m making a difference, one child at a time.”

On the Job

Minnesota Schools Use Mentors To Retain Young Teachers.

The AP (10/31, AP) reports several Minnesota school districts are working to raise their retention rate of young teachers, especially minority teachers (3.5% of the state’s teachers), by providing mentors. The state currently loses one third of new teachers within the first five years, though districts are “inconsistent” in their rollout of responses. The article references research showing mentors encourage retention and produce better classroom results. Schools in Moorhead, which hired three retired teachers this year to help young teachers, and Minneapolis are spearheading the effort.

Law & Policy

Center On Education Finds Teachers Are Key Source Of Common-Core Curricula.

Education Week (10/31, Gewertz) reports a new survey from the Center on Education Policy has found over two-thirds of districts report that Common Core curricula are being created locally by teachers, while half stated the district is creating it. Forty percent reported using materials developed instate with under 15% reporting curricular inspiration from out of state, though over 40% of districts reported collaborating with the state or districts in other states. The piece moves on to collaboration with for-profits and nonprofits before segueing into findings on professional development collaborations. The piece closes on plans to revise tests and requirements.

Survey Finds Districts Concerned About Common Core Linked Tests.

The Washington Post (10/31, Layton) reports on a Center on Education Policy survey of school districts, which found that leaders in districts which will be giving “one of two major new standardized tests next spring linked to the Common Core math and reading standards are worried they don’t have enough computers, bandwidth or personnel.” The survey covered 187 school districts, and found that 76 percent of respondents said that “they face either major or minor challenges, including a lack of computers with adequate processing speed, bandwidth, and personnel who can handle technical problems during testing.”

Connecticut Introduces New Pre-K Educational Standards.

The Bridgeport (CT) News (10/31, Gendron) reports Connecticut has rolled out a new “set of standards outlining developmentally appropriate guidelines for children from birth through preschool” statewide. The Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards, developed in large part to ensure children attain Common Core requirements in kindergarten, are summarized in a 71-page booklet that has been handed out to teachers. Michelle Levy, an education consultant in the state’s Office of Early Childhood, said “teachers and administrators have been ‘excited and receptive’ to the standards.” The booklet also includes a section on “expectations for parents and guardians,” as the state is committed to partnering with families in their children’s education.

Illinois Schools Report Features New Assessment Criteria.

The AP (10/31, Keyser) reports “the yearly report card on Illinois schools released Friday contains a host of new features and benchmarks, including one showing more than 70 percent of recent graduates enrolled in college even though fewer than half of ACT test takers were deemed ready for college coursework.” The report also included “other new assessment criteria,” including “the number of high school freshmen on track to graduate (87.4 percent) as well as rates of teacher retention (about 86 percent) and principal turnover at each school (a statewide average of about two within the past six years).”

        The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (10/31, Bock) reports that “in the past, school ratings in Illinois revolved largely around whether schools were showing ‘adequate yearly progress’ under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.” However, “as part of a federal waiver, Illinois no longer needs to track schools in that manner.”

        The Chicago Tribune (10/31) reports “the 2014 state report card depicts the broadest picture yet of how students perform as they move through and out of high school.” Christopher Koch, the state school Superintendent, “called the report card a ‘more holistic view of schools’ that replaces what many educators considered a punitive approach that focused on test scores and labeled schools failures if not enough students passed state exams.”

        Another Chicago Sun-Times (10/31, Lafferty) article reports that, as part of the new report card system, “every two years, school districts will anonymously survey staff, students and parents at each school to determine if the school has a supportive environment, good leadership, collaborative teachers, involved parents and engaging classes.”

Michigan Introduces Bills To Provide High School Students With STEM Certificates On Diplomas.

MLive (10/31) reports bills introduced into the Michigan Legislature last week could give high school students a STEM endorsement on their diplomas if the bills pass. Two bills were introduced in the state’s Senate with two mirroring bills to be introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives in November. The bills require high school students to take six credits of math and science in addition to the usual graduation requirements. The requirements still need to be approved by the Michigan Department of Education.

Special Needs

States Increasingly Focus On Dyslexia.

USA Today (10/30, Pieper) reports on dyslexia intervention programs, noting that Arkansas recently enacted a law to “require school districts to meet the needs of students with dyslexia,” while Connecticut, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia have enacted similar laws recently.

ED Grant To Cover Tuition And Stipends For Rehabilitation Students At Springfield College.

The Springfield (MA) Republican (10/31, Robbins) reports that ED’s Rehabilitation Services Administration has awarded a $997,500 five-year grant to Springfield College Rehabilitation and Disability Services Studies Department, “to boost and diversify its program.” Most of the money, 90 percent, will pay for “tuition and stipends for up to 12 full-time equivalent graduate students pursuing a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.”

Safety & Security

Federal Investigators Recommend Science Teachers Receive Safety Training Following Spat Of Fires.

The AP (10/31) reports that the US Chemical Safety Board recommended that science teachers receive more safety training before running “dazzling chemical experiments” that can result in fires after investigating three such incidents. The board found that the demonstrators lacked safety training and misused flammable chemicals while neglecting to put up barriers between the experiment and the audience. The article notes that Federal authorities are “not calling for criminal liability for negligent teachers, just better training.”


Oregon Suit Alleges Separated STEM Facility Harms Students.

The Oregonian (10/31) reports “a community advocacy group has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights” alleging that plans to rebuild a STEM facility at a Portland, Oregon high school are “inadequate.” The plan to divide the STEM area into two separate wings at the minority-majority school, the group argues, will put students “at an educational disadvantage” as they will be unable to collaborate easily.

Thursday's Lead Stories

 • Gallup Poll: Teachers Who Use Common Core Like Standards.
 • Common Core Emphasizes Focus On Math Strategies.
 • President To Hold Early Childhood Education Summit In December.
 • Gov. Cuomo Seeks to Bust Public School “Monopoly.”
 • Possible Maryland Law Could Shift Burden Of Proof In Special Education Hearings.
 • Expert Discusses Thinking On School Safety Measures.
 • Blog Post: States Should Reduce Prison Spending To Allocate More To Schools.

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The Teays Valley Classroom Teachers Association welcomes you to our little website. Your association only exists for the service of the members, and we hope that this website will fit that role. The goals here are to place news from each of the buildings, from the Association, and from the state and national affiliates.





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