Education News Roundup: April 9, 2013

Digital Tour at Stansbury Elementary School

Digital Tour at Stansbury Elementary School

Today’s Top Picks:

Cache County school bond will go out for a vote in June.
http://goo.gl/NiuEG (LHJ)
and http://goo.gl/hqTfQ (CVD)

Sen. Stephenson discusses Utah’s A grade in Digital Learning Now’s review of state tech policies.
http://goo.gl/nXBVL (Utah Taxpayers Association)

In the same newsletter, Stan Lockhart discusses Utah’s new STEM center.
http://goo.gl/nXBVL (Utah Taxpayers Association)

ENR generally doesn’t turn philosophical, but doesn’t this describe a means-ends problem waiting to happen?
“It’s Big Brother, sort of, but with a good intent,” said Tracy Hurley, the dean of the school of business.
The article, by the way, is about e-readers that track whether students are actually reading the assigned homework.
http://goo.gl/Fwn4U (NYT)

Isn’t it already hard enough to spell something like “mellifluous” without having to know what it means? Not according to this year’s Spelling Bee.
http://goo.gl/MA0hd (Reuters)
and http://goo.gl/yvBF8 (USAT)

What are NSBA and NASBE (the district and state boards of education associations, respectively) doing to stay relevant?
http://goo.gl/JVbU0 (Ed Week)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Cache County residents to vote on $124M school bond this June

Allegations of financial misconduct, verbal abuse led to Bingham coach resignation

Vernal hockey team raffle for an assault rifle strikes nerve Guns » Critics lash at the idea; organizers say guns are a way of life in the rural community.

Orem school librarian wins state award

New Olympus High welcomes students back from break

Most power restored after outages caused by Utah’s wild, windy weather Power outages » Gusts over 60 mph topple electrical lines, leave thousands in dark.

New research says the push to have students take algebra by 8th grade has hurt, not helped, students

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Utah Receives the Only “A” Grade on Digital Learning Now Report Card Despite Opposition from “Big Education”

The STEM Action Center: Getting the Private Sector Involved in Their Future Workforce

Common Core criticism

Historic documents written in cursive

It’s Not the Test That Made Them Cheat

Assessment for Learning: What Policymakers Should Know About Formative Assessment

NATION

Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-Reading

U.S. National Spelling Bee adds vocabulary test to title format

Core Controversy: The Political Debate Over Classroom Standards

Math ‘Publishers’ Criteria’ Aim to Guide Common-Core Materials

Leadership Shifts at Top of Education Associations Education groups rethinking strategy to stay relevant

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UTAH NEWS
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Cache County residents to vote on $124M school bond this June

The Cache County School District Board of Education approved a resolution Monday evening to hold a special election in June for a $124,000,000 facilities bond.
With a 5-1 vote, only boardmember Jonathan Jenkins voted against the resolution. Boardmember Garrick Hall was not at the meeting and did not vote.
This was the second vote in two weeks for the bond election resolution that, if approved by voters June 25, will pay for several new schools and renovations throughout the district.
The first vote, March 27, failed to secure the needed two-thirds vote with Jenkins, Garrick and board president Bart Baird voting against the resolution.
Boardmembers approved a slightly different resolution Monday night than the one they voted on in March.
http://goo.gl/NiuEG (LHJ)

http://goo.gl/hqTfQ (CVD)

Allegations of financial misconduct, verbal abuse led to Bingham coach resignation

SOUTH JORDAN — The resignation of another successful high school coach is linked to allegations of financial improprieties and verbal abuse of players, the Deseret News has learned.
Bingham High boys basketball coach Mark Dubach recently ended his 22-year coaching career, then days later resigned from his teaching position mid-quarter. Dubach’s resignation as a teacher occurred after school and district officials opened an investigation into whether checks written by parents for a gym rental were cashed into an account that isn’t affiliated with the school.
South Jordan police confirmed they are also investigating the case. Dubach, however, says the incident is all a misunderstanding and he simply resigned to give the program a “fresh start.”
Dubach is the fourth high-profile high school coach to resign after allegations of financial missteps were discovered or reported.
http://goo.gl/ykY65 (DN)

http://goo.gl/QlQ0n (KSL)

Vernal hockey team raffle for an assault rifle strikes nerve Guns » Critics lash at the idea; organizers say guns are a way of life in the rural community.

Aiming to raise $30,000 to compete in a national tournament in Florida, the Uintah Ute Hockey Team this month raffled off an assault rifle similar to the semi-automatic weapon reportedly used in the Sandy Hook school massacre.
Sponsored by Vernal sporting goods store Basin Sports, the raffle was publicized with an image of the AR-15 .223-caliber gun. Tickets for the April 4 drawing cost $10.
“People are wanting [the rifle] because we live in a rural community where hunting and shooting is a way of life,” said Shirley Slaugh, whose son is the goalie for the team. She added: “Whoever wins does not have to take the rifle,” noting the winner received a gift certificate for the value of the gun, around $700.
The team hit their fundraising goal and attended the USA Hockey High School National Championships in Coral Springs, Fla., on March 20-24.
http://goo.gl/8PIwn (SLT)

http://goo.gl/zuoLv (KSL)

Orem school librarian wins state award

OREM — The Utah Educational Library Media Association last month awarded Keely Giles the Library Paraprofessional of the Year for the state of Utah.
Giles has been the media specialist at Vineyard Elementary School for the past 13 years, and she incorporates a new theme for the library each year. This year’s theme is “The Sweet Reads Book Shop.” Candy and sweets litter the library, and every piece ties to books.
Giles has been involved with the School Community Council and served as the PTA Box Top coordinator and school building representative. She also started a summer library program at the school.
http://goo.gl/hv5yV (DN)

New Olympus High welcomes students back from break

HOLLADAY — Students at Olympus High School returned from spring break Monday to a brand new facility still showing signs of a hasty transition.
Vending machines and trophy cases stood empty along the wide, spotless hallways with high ceilings, and empty cardboard moving boxes sat in the corners of classrooms filled with a lingering new-school scent.
http://goo.gl/lxptg (DN)

http://goo.gl/7jFPX (KUTV)

http://goo.gl/4HWnp (KSL)

http://goo.gl/dtRwL (KSTU)

Most power restored after outages caused by Utah’s wild, windy weather Power outages » Gusts over 60 mph topple electrical lines, leave thousands in dark.

Tuesday dawned windy and cold throughout Utah, but gusts near hurricane force along mountain ridge tops were expected to diminish to a more spring-like breeze by Wednesday.
Winds topping 60 mph whipped heavy snowfall in some mountain locations, prompting the closure Tuesday of all schools in northern Utah’s Rich County.
http://goo.gl/fZ6VL (SLT)

New research says the push to have students take algebra by 8th grade has hurt, not helped, students

A new study from the Brookings Institution questioned the national push toward algebra-for-all by eighth grade, and found that the equation is a simple one: teaching algebra and other advanced math courses earlier than the ninth grade does not equal improved achievement.
http://goo.gl/k6m01 (DN)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Utah Receives the Only “A” Grade on Digital Learning Now Report Card Despite Opposition from “Big Education”
Utah Taxpayers Association commentary by Sen. Howard Stephenson

Utah is the only state to receive an “A” on the newly released report card from Digital Learning Now! (DLN). The report card measures each of the nation’s 50 states against the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning as it relates to K-12 education. State policy plays a central role in either accelerating or constraining the scaling of next generation models of learning. With an overall score of 92%, Utah beat out Florida, Minnesota, Georgia, Virginia and Kansas, who were the next highest scoring and the only states to secure a “B”. All other 44 states received a “C” grade or lower.
Since education improvement is critical to achieving an educated workforce and since Utah spends more on education than any other part of the state budget, this achievement should be important to all taxpayers. It represents real efficiency and effectiveness in the use of education tax dollars.
http://goo.gl/nXBVL

The STEM Action Center: Getting the Private Sector Involved in Their Future Workforce
Utah Taxpayers Association commentary by Stan Lockhart

In the 117 year history of Utah, there has never been a more important time to increase student proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Facing us is a serious talent shortage with thousands of high-paying jobs waiting to be filled. At the same time, there are over 600,000 school-aged Utah children who could be prepared to fill these jobs.
With strong backing from Governor Herbert, the Utah Legislature unanimously endorsed a bold, innovative plan using widely-used best practices that have proven successful around the world. Utah created a STEM Action Center with $10 million to get started and close two glaring achievement gaps; Jr.
High School Math proficiency and college Math readiness.
The most compelling argument for the STEM Action Center was the overwhelming outcry from industry that Utah must have better prepared graduates.
http://goo.gl/nXBVL

Common Core criticism
Deseret News letter from Larry Smith

In her letter about public education standards, Deborah Henrie takes issue with the claim that the new Common Core State Standards is a state-led initiative by citing the involvement of the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (“Common Core troubling,” April 8). If they aren’t representatives of the states then I’m not sure who is.
But more important than who drafted the standards is what they contain. The new core standards are not perfect, but they are so much better than the previous Utah standards that they should be enthusiastically endorsed. If teachers receive proper training, then the Utah Core Standards will help them more effectively prepare our students to be college and career ready. I invite people to actually read the new standards before criticizing them.
http://goo.gl/ewsD1

Historic documents written in cursive
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Kati Barker

I am so glad that the Utah School Board of Education voted unanimously to recommend that handwriting and cursive be taught (April 7, “Utah school board wants to preserve cursive”). I feel that it should be included in the curriculum. It has so many uses and purposes in today’s world.
Not to mention that if cursive is no longer taught a very important thing will be lost.
http://goo.gl/6hJbH

It’s Not the Test That Made Them Cheat
Education Week op-ed by Michael J. Feuer, professor of education policy, the dean of the graduate school of education and human development at the George Washington University

News came down, or up, earlier this month about the indictment of the former Atlanta schools chief Beverly Hall and 35 other current and former officials for their alleged roles in a massive cheating scandal that has rocked the city for the past three years.
The best coverage of this story is by Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Heather Vogell and her colleagues, whose fine journalism uncovered the muck.
There is nothing good to say about cheating on tests, which, in this extraordinary case, involves allegations of tampering with student answers, racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy, and making false statements. It’s wrong, period, and if Ms. Hall et al. are found guilty, they will hopefully use their time in jail to think about the damage they have caused to the kids, to the system, and to the public’s trust in schools and in the measures we use to gauge their quality.
Still, some of the reactions to the scandal have been surprising, if not scandalous in their own right. The most troubling response comes from people opposed to standardized testing generally and to current federal policy specifically.
http://goo.gl/995AV

Assessment for Learning: What Policymakers Should Know About Formative Assessment
WestEd analysis by Martin Orland and Janice Anderson

Forty-five states across the United States, along with Washington, D.C., and a number of U.S. territories, have committed to revamping their education system through reforms designed to better prepare American students for meaningful participation in postsecondary education and the world of work (Common Core State Standards Initiative). Serving as a keystone for their efforts are challenging new standards — starting with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS, 2012) and including the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards — that demand more-effective teaching and learning in U.S. classrooms, including interactions around subject matter that delve deeper, that are more focused, that encourage students to define and argue their own conclusions, and that support application of, and generalization beyond, concepts (Moschkovich, 2012; Bunch, Kibler, & Pimentel, 2012). As state prepare to implement the new standards and grapple with how to create new assessment systems aligned with them, a window of opportunity to revisit the role of assessment in student learning has opened.
http://goo.gl/9uJ0m

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NATIONAL NEWS
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Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-Reading
New York Times

SAN ANTONIO — Several Texas A&M professors know something that generations of teachers could only hope to guess: whether students are reading their textbooks.
They know when students are skipping pages, failing to highlight significant passages, not bothering to take notes — or simply not opening the book at all.
“It’s Big Brother, sort of, but with a good intent,” said Tracy Hurley, the dean of the school of business.
The faculty members here are neither clairvoyant nor peering over shoulders. They, along with colleagues at eight other colleges, are testing technology from a Silicon Valley start-up, CourseSmart, that allows them to track their students’ progress with digital textbooks.
Major publishers in higher education have already been collecting data from millions of students who use their digital materials. But CourseSmart goes further by individually packaging for each professor information on all the students in a class — a bold effort that is already beginning to affect how teachers present material and how students respond to it, even as critics question how well it measures learning. The plan is to introduce the program broadly this fall.
http://goo.gl/Fwn4U

U.S. National Spelling Bee adds vocabulary test to title format
Reuters

WASHINGTON – Young contestants at the Scripps National Spelling Bee will face a new challenge this year – not only having to spell obscure words, but also to know what they mean.
For the first time since it started in 1927, the contest will require contestants in preliminary and semifinal rounds to take a vocabulary test.
“This is a significant change in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but also a natural one,” Paige Kimble, the contest’s director, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“It represents a deepening of the Bee’s commitment to its purpose: to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.”
http://goo.gl/MA0hd

http://goo.gl/yvBF8 (USAT)

Core Controversy: The Political Debate Over Classroom Standards
Southern Education Desk

Throughout the South and the nation, schools are adopting new math and language arts standards known as the “Common Core State Standards.” They’re meant to raise rigor and establish consistency across the country. Forty-five states have adopted them, but there’s growing backlash from conservative activists who claim the federal government is taking over schools, and from classroom teachers who say the standards won’t help the students who are furthest behind. In this three-part series, the Southern Education Desk takes a deeper look into the criticism leveled at the Common Core and the reality in the classroom.
http://goo.gl/5B0gz

Math ‘Publishers’ Criteria’ Aim to Guide Common-Core Materials
Education Week

With educators on the lookout for instructional materials that fit with the content and vision of the common-core standards, a new set of “publishers’ criteria” aim to influence decisions by both the developers and purchasers of such offerings for high school mathematics.
Crafted by the lead writers of the math common core, the 20-page document issued today seeks to “sharpen the alignment question” and make “more clearly visible” whether materials faithfully reflect both the letter and spirit of the math standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
In addition, a revised set of K-8 criteria were released today, with a variety of changes to the version first put out last summer based on feedback from the field (including districts that started to use them). One notable deletion was the explicit call for elementary math textbooks to not exceed 200 pages in length (and for middle and high school texts not to exceed 500 pages).
http://goo.gl/U3S01

High school math criteria
http://goo.gl/vTKlt (Corestandards.org)

K-8 math criteria
http://goo.gl/GXO8M (Corestandards.org)

Leadership Shifts at Top of Education Associations
Education groups rethinking strategy to stay relevant
Education Week

As groups representing local and state education players struggle to remain relevant in a policy conversation often dominated by foundations, think tanks, new advocacy groups, and political and business figures, a shift in leadership has been under way at major associations.
Most of the changes have come as part of the natural churn; former directors retire or move on. But at the National School Boards Association and the National Association of State Boards of Education, the shifts have come hand in hand with changes in organizational goals.
The NSBA is focusing on increasing the impact of its advocacy work, while NASBE hopes to find a leader who is more connected to state school boards to succeed one whose expertise was at the federal level.
For both the NSBA and NASBE, the challenge is “maintaining connections with the mainstream education groups while beginning to carve out independence and a middle ground for laymen,” or board members who are not necessarily part of an education establishment, said Michael D. Usdan, a senior fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership, in Washington.
http://goo.gl/JVbU0

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CALENDAR
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USOE Calendar
http://tinyurl.com/5x9oh9

UEN News
http://www.uen.org

April 11:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://goo.gl/Mu36l

May 2:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspxpr

May 14:
Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
1 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2013&Com=APPEXE

May 15:
Education Interim Committee meeting
9 a.m., TBD
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?Year=2013&Com=INTEDU

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