Education News Roundup: April 25, 2012

First grade reading - small group breakout

First grade reading - small group breakout/woodleywonderworks/CC/flickr

Today’s Top Picks:

New DIBELS literacy testing software in elementary schools speeds the process of assessment. (SLT)
and (KSL)

Ogden Districts shakes up administration. (OSE)

Is math teaching matching math standards? (Ed Week)
or a copy of the research



New testing system could mean more time for instruction Schools » Program tests literacy in early grades.

Ogden schools to reshuffle leadership and hire new administrative positions

Students celebrate SUCCESS at graduation

Jordan buses now sporting advertising

Huntsman Award gives school’s music volunteer a sing-along shock

Second Cottonwood Coach In Trouble With Law

Kaysville students learn to paint and draw like the masters

Farmington students brave new world – the stage – in Disney’s ‘Aladdin, Jr.’

American Heritage School offering family storytime on Friday


Canning incumbents

Corporate-controlled ALEC now in Utah Legislature

Assessment Consortia Offer Technology-Purchasing Guidelines

The Digital Education Revolution, Cont’d: Meet TED-Ed’s New Online Learning Platform TED’s new tool lets teachers create customized lessons that revolve around web video.

Education Reform for the Digital Era


Math Teaching Often Doesn’t Fit With New Standards

New Jersey Autistic Boy Records Teachers’ Alleged Abuse

Parents To Help Pick New Principals

New grant offered free ACT testing across the state

Experts: Schools often win dress code cases, but must reasonably forecast disruption

Hitler’s Mein Kampf may return to Bavarian schools


New testing system could mean more time for instruction Schools » Program tests literacy in early grades.

Teacher Heather Musser sat directly across from first-grader Benjamin Blake as he read a story about hats Tuesday.
But she wasn’t just listening.
She followed along on an iPad as he read, marking mistakes. When he finished, she asked him to describe what he had read, and again, marked his responses on the device. Instantly, scores describing Benjamin’s fluency, accuracy and comprehension popped up on her screen.
“It’s just a much better way to test,” said the teacher at Roosevelt Elementary in Salt Lake City. “It would take three times as long to do it the old way as it does the new way. … We can now spend a lot more time teaching rather than testing.”
The new testing technology is now being used by more than half the state’s school districts and 22 charter schools thanks to a $3 million bill passed by lawmakers in 2011. Some criticized HB302 at the time, partly for putting money toward a new program in a time of budget woes. But on Tuesday state leaders gathered at Roosevelt to praise the software and what it’s meant for Utah classrooms.
Sherrie Kendall, a Roosevelt literacy coach, called the new program a “tremendous time-saver,” saying it reduced the time teachers must spend testing young kids’ literacy at Roosevelt by as much as two hours a week. (SLT) (KSL)

Ogden schools to reshuffle leadership and hire new administrative positions

OGDEN — Superintendent Brad Smith is reorganizing the Ogden School District, turning it on its side in hopes of giving students a better kindergarten-through-graduation educational flow.
“The primary change is a shift from a horizontal orientation to a vertical one,” said Smith, whose reorganization is supported by the Ogden School Board. “Responsibilities will completely shift.”
At present, the district has one executive director over elementary schools, a second over secondary schools and a third over curriculum and professional development.
The new organization will feature two executive directors who oversee the district’s two large high schools, Ben Lomond High and Ogden High, with each taking responsibility for all the junior highs and elementary schools that feed into their assigned high schools.
George Washington High School, the district’s smaller alternative high school, will be overseen by the person hired as executive director for the Ben Lomond High group, which has one fewer feeder school. (OSE)

Students celebrate SUCCESS at graduation

CEDAR CITY – The Southern Utah Center for Computer, Engineering and Science Students honored the graduating class of 2012 Tuesday night for its accomplishments in the Hunter Conference Center on the Southern Utah University campus.
The ceremony was titled “Night of Excellence.”
The SUCCESS Academy operates on the SUU campus and takes students from Iron County high schools who are interested in pursuing math, technology and the sciences to participate in advanced studies by simultaneously working on their associate’s degrees while earning high school diplomas. (SGS)

Jordan buses now sporting advertising

Jordan School District buses are in the process of becoming rolling advertisements.
On Tuesday, the district began applying ads to several buses, a move intended to help raise money for transportation, including gases and vehicles. So far, Jordan is the only Utah district to allow ads on school buses after Utah lawmakers passed a law in 2011 to allow them with certain restrictions.
The law, sponsored by West Jordan Republican Jim Bird, limits ads to the sides of buses. They can cover only 35 percent of the exterior and may not contain sexual material; activities and substances that are illegal for minors, such as tobacco and alcohol; political parties, candidates or issues; and graphics that resemble traffic-control devices.
When Jordan’s Board of Education approved the new strategy, they also decided that any ads must “support and reflect the values of Jordan School District” and can’t extol any religious organization or other school districts, charter schools or private schools.
Among the ads placed on buses Tuesday was one from Parents Empowered that focused on the danger of underage drinking. (SLT) (KUTV) (KTVX) (KSL) (KSTU) (MUR)

Huntsman Award gives school’s music volunteer a sing-along shock

OGDEN — It seemed just like any other Tuesday afternoon school sing-along at Dee Elementary.
Longtime music volunteer Phyllis Savage, her shoulders square and her expression resolute, stood and played piano accompaniment for “God Bless America” for her usual, spirited crowd of students.
Then someone passed between Savage’s piano and audience. She looked up and saw Noel Zabriskie, retired Ogden School District superintendent, walk by toward a line of chairs set up in the middle of the room.
Karen Huntsman, wife of philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., walked by, followed by current Superintendent Brad Smith, then Dee Elementary Principal Sondra Jolovich-Motes and several other school and district officials. All sat, facing a three-quarter circle formed by Dee Elementary’s 449 kindergarten through sixth-grade students.
Savage’s eyes softened and her shoulders rounded. She put her hand to her chest and adjusted her breathing to hold back tears. This was not going to be like any other school sing-along.
Savage, who has volunteered an estimated 8,000 hours at Dee Elementary in the past 13 years since she retired after 45 years of teaching, has won the 2012 Huntsman Award for educational volunteering. (OSE)

Second Cottonwood Coach In Trouble With Law

Another Cottonwood High School coach is in trouble with the law.
30-year-old Eric C. Eyre, the teacher and assistant football coach at Cottonwood High School is charged with aggravated assault.
He was charged last week in connection with an incident on March 24th when he allegedly punched a man in the head 10 times. (KUTV)

Kaysville students learn to paint and draw like the masters

KAYSVILLE — First-grader Maxwell Parkinson knows exactly how to paint and draw using the styles of Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Claude Monet, having learned about them from his Burton Elementary School teacher, Dennise LeBaron.
Each month, LeBaron teaches her students about a different artist and they try to duplicate the style.
The kids have recreated Picasso’s style by drawing pictures of their faces, cutting them up and then repositioning the pieces.
They also have learned about Van Gogh’s swoopy brush strokes and used syrupy paint to create the swirling movement in their pictures, imitating his “Starry Night” piece.
The students also recently finished some water lily pictures using tissue paper in an effort to replicate Monet’s “Water Lilies” paintings. (OSE)

Farmington students brave new world – the stage – in Disney’s ‘Aladdin, Jr.’

FARMINGTON — In the ancient city of Agrabah, Princess Jasmine’s father, the Sultan, tells Jasmine she must choose a husband.
The stage at Eagle Bay Elementary has been transformed into that ancient city, where 70 students in the school’s drama club performed the Disney musical “Aladdin, Jr.” against a backdrop of the Royal Palace in the desert. (OSE)

American Heritage School offering family storytime on Friday

It’s only fitting that American Heritage School should teach about the heritage of America. This year, the school has added a different dimension to that teaching — that of telling stories about the country’s heritage, particularly about the Civil War, during the sesquicentennial year of the conflict. The telling of those stories is focused not just on the students, but also on their families.
Jenet and Michael Erickson have been coordinating the effort, which began in the fall.
“We’ve had it four times during the school year,” Jenet Erickson said. “We just wanted it to be an experience where families could come and hear stories so they would come to know and love our American heritage.”
“One of the focuses of this school is providential history, showing the hand of God in history,” she said. “We’ve never done a specific family hour of stories.”
The public is invited to the last of the story hours of the year. It will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the school, 736 N. 1100 East. There is no charge for admission. (PDH)


Canning incumbents
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Sarah Meier

The State School Board nominating committee, appointed by the governor and not accountable to voters, has been systematically eliminating incumbents who do not echo the education philosophy of a small minority of citizens who have been manipulating this system.
By Utah law, this committee “shall select a broad variety of candidates who possess outstanding professional qualifications relating to the powers and duties of the State Board of Education.”
According to committee chairman Tom Bingham, “These people line up best with the interests that I have and the philosophy that I’m looking at.” (“Four incumbents, so far, survive Utah state school board process,” Tribune, April 17).
The Utah Code does not talk about selecting board members by “philosophy.”

Corporate-controlled ALEC now in Utah Legislature
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Paul and Sandy Krueger

Remember when we laughed at Hillary Clinton when she said there is a “vast right-wing conspiracy?” We’re not laughing any more, Here’s ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). ALEC is a national organization sponsored and funded by big corporations such as Koch Industries, BP, Exxon-Mobil and Shell Oil just to name a few. They recruit state-elected representatives around the U.S. as members. For a $50 a year membership they can attend an ALEC training/meeting conference, held at a nice vacation spot. Then the members/legislatures dutifully return back to their state to do the bidding of ALEC. A few of the most recent laws ALEC is behind are the voter ID laws, union busting laws, “stand your ground,” laws and laws to teach children there is no man-made cause to climate change.
Their new project is to force the federal government to cede public lands to the states or face lawsuits. Good ole’ Governor Herbert just signed the ALEC public lands law demanding that Congress give the state 30 million acres of land by 2015 or be sued. His own Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel told him it would not stand up to Constitutional challenge. ALEC has similar bills planned for other western states. If you need a right wing, corporate- friendly law, just ask ALEC; it will write one for you. Didn’t know you needed one? Doesn’t matter, ALEC will tell you why you need it.

Assessment Consortia Offer Technology-Purchasing Guidelines Education Week commentary by columnist Catherine Gewertz

The new tests for the common standards aren’t expected to be fully operational for three more years, but schools are already wondering what they’ll need to do, technologically speaking, to be ready for the new assessments.
The answer is rolling out in stages, but one stage rolled out today: The two consortia of states that are designing the tests issued joint technology-purchasing guidelines to help schools and districts as they buy technology now. The outline helps them decide on hardware and operating systems that lend themselves to the new tests.

The Digital Education Revolution, Cont’d: Meet TED-Ed’s New Online Learning Platform TED’s new tool lets teachers create customized lessons that revolve around web video.
The Atlantic commentary by columnist Megan Garber

The iconic image of high school education, forged for most of us through personal experience and viewings of Dead Poets Society, is this: a teacher, standing in front of his or her class, lecturing. There are exceptions, definitely: the class discussion, the interactive lab experiment, the game, the field trip. For the most part, though, despite years of education reform, we tend of think of education as a highly vertical experience, one of active teachers and passive students, one in which knowledge radiates out from a single speaker to a roomful of silent listeners.
That model is changing, though, and quickly. Increasingly, education — in college, definitely, but in high school and elementary school, too — is becoming more horizontally integrated, guided by conversation and interaction and the productive chaos of student curiosity. The latest evidence of that comes courtesy of TED, the group of conference and web video fame. Back in March, TED, after realizing that teachers had begun using its iconic videos as instructional aides, launched a YouTube channel dedicated to educational videos.
Today, it’s going a step further: TED-Ed is launching a suite of tools that allow teachers to design their own web-assisted curricula, complete with videos, comprehension-testing questions, and conversational tools. TED-Ed provides a template — think Power Point slides, with populate-able fields — that teachers can fill in with customized content: lesson titles, lesson links, student names, embedded video, test questions, and the like. Once saved, a lesson generates a unique URL, which allows teachers to track which students have watched assigned videos, how they’ve responded to follow-up questions, and, in general, how they’ve interacted with the lesson itself.
Most intriguing: Teachers can customize the lessons they create on a student-by-student basis, using the TED-Ed platform both to track individual student progress and to tailor questions to student interests and skill levels. The site offers real-time feedback to students, letting them know when they get answers right and providing hints when they get answers wrong.

Education Reform for the Digital Era
Thomas Fordham Institute analysis by Bryan C. Hassel , Emily Ayscue Hassel , Frederick M. Hess , Tamara Butler Battaglino , Matt Haldeman , Eleanor Laurans , Paul T. Hill , John E. Chubb

Will the digital-learning movement repeat the mistakes of the charter-school movement? How much more successful might today’s charter universe look if yesterday’s proponents had focused on the policies and practices needed to ensure its quality, freedom, and resources over the long term? What mistakes might have been avoided? Damaging scandals forestalled? Missed opportunities seized?
Can we be smarter about taking high-quality online and blended schools to scale—and to educational success? Yes, says this volume, as it addresses such thorny policy issues as quality control, staffing, funding, and governance for the digital sector. In these pages, the authors show how current arrangements need to change—often radically—if instructional technology is to realize its potential.


Math Teaching Often Doesn’t Fit With New Standards Education Week

Atlanta – Many mathematics teachers are teaching topics at higher or lower grade levels—and for more years—than the Common Core State Standards call for, according to preliminary results from new research.
That finding suggests that when the new standards are fully implemented, many math teachers could face significant shifts in what they will teach.
The information is part of a research effort led by William H. Schmidt, a Michigan State University professor who is widely known for an influential 1996 study that found the typical course of study in U.S. math was “a mile wide and an inch deep.”
His new research, which does not yet have a release date, examines a nationally representative group of more than 13,000 K-12 math teachers and 600 district curriculum directors in more than 40 states. It seeks to gauge their readiness to put the common standards in math, which have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, into practice. Early results were presented at a conference of the Council of Chief State School Officers here last week.

A copy of the research

New Jersey Autistic Boy Records Teachers’ Alleged Abuse ABC Good Morning America

A New Jersey dad who suspected something was “horrifyingly wrong” at school when his autistic son began acting violently had the boy wear a digital recorder and discovered teachers verbally abusing him.
Stuart Chaifetz, 44, described his 10-year-old son Akian as a “sweet and gentle child” with a penchant for acrobatics and a deep bond with his three dogs.
So Chaifetz said it was totally out of character when he began receiving reports from Horace Mann Elementary School that Akian was hitting his teacher and a teacher’s aide.
“The thing that said to me that something horrifyingly wrong was going on was that he was hitting the teacher and the aide. I have never seen him hit anyone. He’s just not a violent kid,” Chaifetz told
Akian spent six months working with behaviorists and other specialists who were trying to find the problem. Finally, Akian was put in a controlled scenario that pushed him to his limits and, still, he did not lash out violently.
“I realized that there was something terrible going on in that classroom and I needed to know what it was,” Chaifetz said.
Chaifetz put a digital recorder in Akian’s pocket on a February school day. Akian is in a self-contained autism class with five other students and the device recorded six-and-a-half hours of audio.

Parents To Help Pick New Principals
New Haven (CT) Independent

In what may become a universal practice, parents from Edgewood Magnet School will have a seat at the interview table as the school district looks for a replacement for a longtime principal.
Cyra Levenson is one of three parents chosen to interview potential replacements at the popular K-8 magnet school, where Bonnie Pachesa is retiring after 10 years as principal.

New grant offered free ACT testing across the state Great Falls (MT) Tribune

More than 3,100 high school juniors across Montana had the opportunity to take the ACT Plus Writing test Tuesday at no cost, thanks to a new partnership between the Office of Public Instruction and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.
In 2011, Montana GEAR UP — Gain Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program — located within the commissioner’s office received a seven-year $28 million GEAR UP grant. A portion of that grant will cover the cost of every public high school junior in Montana having access to the ACT Plus Writing test, according to OPI.

Experts: Schools often win dress code cases, but must reasonably forecast disruption Jackson (TN) Sun

Gibson County High School senior Texanna Edwards is the latest in a long line of American students who have clashed with school officials over a controversial garment or symbol on a piece of clothing. According to some legal experts, the Confederate flag has been at the center of many cases involving purses, T-shirts, jewelry and at least one other prom dress.
Edwards, 18, said she was banned from attending her senior prom last Saturday because of her dress, which resembles the Confederate battle flag. She has said she would look into pursuing legal action.
David Hudson Jr., a First Amendment scholar with the First Amendment Center in Nashville, has written several articles and books on the topic of student speech. He said there have been several court cases dealing with students being punished by their schools for what was ruled as inappropriate clothing. Specifically, Hudson said there have been many cases involving the Confederate flag.
In cases debating a student’s freedom to wear Confederate-themed clothing, courts generally apply the Tinker standard — which was the established after a 1969 case where students were suspended for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. The court held that public school students had the right to wear the armbands because the school system had no proof they alone could cause a disruption. That has become the standard in future cases involving similar situations, Hudson said.

Hitler’s Mein Kampf may return to Bavarian schools Reuters

BERLIN – The German state of Bavaria is considering publishing a book with excerpts from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” for use in schools after its legal power to ban the book expires in 2016.
The Bavarian state finance ministry in southern Germany owns the copyright to the book, which sets out the Nazi vision of Aryan racial supremacy, and has long threatened legal action against anybody who tries to publish it.
But the copyright expires on December 31, 2015, forcing Bavaria, where Hitler first shot to national prominence with a failed coup attempt in 1923, to wrestle with how to handle the publication of a book that remains highly sensitive in Germany.

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