Education News Roundup: Oct. 29, 2014

2014_FingertipFacts_Page_01Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


SAGE test results follow up continues. (SLT)

and (SGS)

and (DCC)

and (KUTV)

There’s also follow up to Education First and Prosperity 2020’s event on Utah education. (DN)

and (OSE)

and (KSL)

If the GOP takes over the Senate (the one in D.C.), will Utah Sen. Lee be pushing education reform? (Politico)

BYU poli-sci professors Adam Brown and Mike Barber break down what Utah voters want from the Legislature. Some key points for education:

                * Increased education funding is third on the list of wants behind reducing corruption among elected officials and improving air quality

                * Reforming Common Core standards ranks ninth; however, among GOP voters it’s number four, but it doesn’t even break into the top 10 among Democrats, which makes it the 10th most divisive issue among voters.

                * Transferring federal land — an issue that could result in increased funding for schools — is THE most divisive issue. (Utah Data Points blog)

Keeping with Common Core for a moment: A new national poll by Gallup finds GOP parents now oppose Common Core while a plurality of Democratic parents (48 percent) view it favorably. (Politico)

and (Utah Policy)

or a copy of the poll (Gallup)

In for a penny in for a pound on Common Core: Another new national poll finds teachers are divided on Common Core, unless the standards have been fully implemented in the state. In those states, 61 percent of teachers favor the standards. (Ed Week)

or a copy of the poll (Gallup)

American Legislative Exchange Council issues its annual rankings of state education policies. (Indy Star)

or a copy of the report (ALEC)

Ed Week pokes around at the intersection of personalized learning and student privacy. (Ed Week)











Why do Utah kids stumble in sixth grade, high school math?

SAGE tests » The drop in 6th grade is tied to more difficult coursework.


State releases SAGE test results


Lower district scores still top state averages


Lone Peak outperforms state on SAGE test


Group outlines long-term plan to bolster education and economy


Conservatives ready to give leaders hell


A Public Lands Controversy In The Great American West A big debate in the West over transferring Federal public lands to states.  We’ll hear from both sides.


Alta View Elementary School to be rebuilt


Newcomers race for school board seat


Walking in their shoes: InTech Collegiate High School principal spends a week as a freshman


STEM Expo in Layton expected to attract 800 students


Orem sixth grader enters contest to make over school cafeteria


Eureka student taken into custody for bringing gun to school


Instagram threats spur investigation


Sex abuse claims against Utah educator who committed suicide were false, parents say


Students pick pumpkins grown by inmates


School Improvement Network Named Among Top 100 Utah Companies for Fastest Growth Education Company Awarded a Spot in 2014 Utah 100 by MountainWest Capital Network






SAGE advice — Act now on poor results to enhance education


What Utah voters want from their Legislature


Common Core standards better for education’s users — the students


Lack of information


School board elections do matter


We need change in Ogden School Board


Jenkins right for board


Why would you vote “No” on rebuilding schools?


Civil Rights at School

The Department of Education Offers States Guidance on Equality


Toward Better Teachers


Dealing with Online Bullies Outside the Classroom


Blueprint for College Readiness

A 50-state Policy Analysis






GOP parents turn on Common Core


Teachers on the Common Core: Familiarity Breeds Approval


Jeb Bush talks presidential run, Common Core in Nashville


What makes a good Common Core math question?

Hint: It should contain many ways to get to the right answer


Education and the 2014 Election: A Guide to Key Races


Conservative ALEC: Indiana’s education policy nation’s best


Personalized Learning Pits Data Innovators Against Privacy Advocates New uses of data to personalize learning are bumping up against worries about the safety and security of sensitive student information


ACLU Calls Schools’ Policy to Search Devices and ‘Approve’ Kids’ Web Posts Unconstitutional


State Initiatives Widen Reach of ACT, SAT Tests


Another College Expense: Preparing for the SAT and ACT


NASA rocket explosion destroys N.J. children’s science experiment


Zions Bank Launches STEM Education Challenge








Why do Utah kids stumble in sixth grade, high school math?

SAGE tests » The drop in 6th grade is tied to more difficult coursework.


Utah’s math scores drop in the transition from elementary school to middle school, and largely get worse as students get older.

Students in grades three through 11 take the state’s new SAGE tests. Overall, the percentage of students who earned a passing score last year hovered in the mid-40s until fifth grade.

In sixth grade, the proficiency rate dropped to 35.2 percent. Then it immediately bounced back to 43.1 percent in seventh grade.

It’s a significant dip that stands out in the comparatively linear SAGE trends, according to data released Monday by the Utah State Office of Education.

“Seventh grade towers over sixth grade,” Albion Middle School teacher Hannah Kaier said. “I’m quite shocked because I think the sixth grade teachers worked their butts off.”

The sixth-grade dip may be due to the new, more difficult math standards the SAGE test is based on, said Barbara Kuehl, a former math teacher who now works as director of academic services in Salt Lake City School District. (SLT)





State releases SAGE test results


ST. GEORGE – The Utah State Office of Education released the Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence test results Monday, indicating that less than half of the average students in Utah are college and career ready, but noted the data is difficult to compare with past test scores.

The results stem from the SAGE tests that were taken by third- through 11th-grade students at the end of the last school year – the first time the more rigorous Utah Core Standards in language arts and math have been assessed.

Washington County School District students scored higher than the state average with 46 percent proficiency in language arts, 41 percent in math and 51 percent in science, which compares to the state average of 42 percent in language arts, 39 percent for math and 44 percent in science, according to the USOE. (SGS)





Lower district scores still top state averages


FARMINGTON — Forty-six percent is not a proficiency score Davis County educators are used to hearing.

But even though the recently announced SAGE score for language arts is low, it puts the district above the state average.

This is the first year for the new Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence tests, which are computer based and get more difficult with every question answered correctly. (DCC)




Lone Peak outperforms state on SAGE test


Many schools were not happy with their SAGE test scores, but one school ended up with the highest results in Utah County.

Lone Peak High School received a 59 percent rating for student proficiency in language arts, almost 20 percent higher than the statewide average. (KUTV)




Group outlines long-term plan to bolster education and economy


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah will implement a strategy designed to strengthen the state’s economy for decades to come through education under a new plan.

The plan is a collaborative effort of Utah groups Education First and Prosperity 2020 — the business-led movement aimed at enhancing education statewide.

On Tuesday, about 300 business, civic and education leaders, unveiled the proposed five-year plan for innovation, investment and accountability in education. The long-term objective is to elevate Utah into the top 10 in U.S. educational systems, explained Richard Kendell with Prosperity 2020. (DN) (OSE) (KSL)





Conservatives ready to give leaders hell


Conservatives in Congress are drawing up their wish list for a Republican Senate, including “pure” bills, like a full repeal of Obamacare, border security and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — unlikely to win over many Democrats and sure to torment GOP leaders looking to prove they can govern.

Interviews with more than a dozen conservative lawmakers and senior aides found a consensus among the right wing of the Republican Party: If Republicans take the Senate, they want to push an agenda they believe was hamstrung by the Democratic-controlled chamber, even if their bills end up getting vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Their vision could create problems for congressional leaders who want to show they aren’t just the party of “hell no.” And while conservatives say they agree with that goal, their early priorities will test how well John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can keep the party united.

It’s an ad hoc effort as of now, but staffers said members like Republican Reps. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Tom Graves of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee have discussed ways to highlight a more conservative agenda during the next Congress, which begins in January.

In the Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, along with likely presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, intend to use a small Republican majority to push for a series of hard-line conservative bills to be sent to the president.

Lee spokesman Brian Phillips said the most important issue Republicans could implement would be to take up and pass appropriations bills that reflect Republican principles and send them to the president’s desk.

“The solution to avoiding cliffs is not to force people to support omnibuses. That is not a solution,” Phillips said. “The solution is to get back to regular order of the appropriations process.”

Lee, the incoming Senate Steering Committee chairman, has also been in touch with GOP leadership and his allies in discussion about the Republican agenda. The Utah Republican wants to use his position to advocate forcefully for conservative policies on issues like education reform. (Politico)





A Public Lands Controversy In The Great American West A big debate in the West over transferring Federal public lands to states.  We’ll hear from both sides.


If you saw Cliven Bundy and his armed supporters on horseback this spring in Nevada, you saw one face of a movement to get the federal government’s hand off of vast lands in the American West.  The suit-and-tie version of that movement wants control handed over to the states.  And we’re talking a lot of land.  Eighty-one percent of Nevada – federal-controlled.  Sixty-seven percent of Utah.  Forty-eight percent of California, Wyoming.  Critics say the new Sagebrush Rebellion is about oil and gas and development.  Supporters say “states’ rights.”  This hour On Point:  Who will control all Americans’ western lands? (NPR On Point)




Alta View Elementary School to be rebuilt


WHITE CITY — The Canyons Board of Education has unanimously voted to rebuild Alta View Elementary School with proceeds from the $250 million bond voters approved in June 2010. (DN)





Newcomers race for school board seat


ST. GEORGE – Two newcomers are vying for the District 5 seat in the Washington County School Board in the Nov. 4 elections.

Both Eileen McKell and David. B. Stirland voice a love of education and plan to support those involved in education if elected. (SGS)




Walking in their shoes: InTech Collegiate High School principal spends a week as a freshman


The freshman class of InTech Collegiate High School got a new member when principal Jason Stanger spent the week as a student to gain a better perspective on their experiences. (LHJ)




STEM Expo in Layton expected to attract 800 students


LAYTON – More than 800 high school students from 18 area high schools and four school districts will converge on the Davis Conference Center in Layton Monday, Nov. 3 for a day totally dedicated to everything STEM. (OSE)





Orem sixth grader enters contest to make over school cafeteria


OREM — With the help of a cooking contest, Northridge Elementary sixth grader Clairie Gomez could be the reason her school’s cafeteria receives a $30,000 makeover.

The Orem 11-year-old loves to cook and recently entered Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest, a Mars Food US-sponsored program designed to encourage children to make healthier choices by getting them interested in cooking at an early age.

To participate in the contest, parents with children in kindergarten through eighth grade were asked to submit a home video that showed the family in the kitchen preparing a rice-based recipe. With the elementary-aged student as the focal point, families were asked to discuss the recipe and show which ingredients were required to make it. (PDH)





Eureka student taken into custody for bringing gun to school


EUREKA, Juab County — Less than a week after a deadly shooting at a Washington state high school, a high school student in Utah was taken into custody after bringing a handgun to school.

Tintic High School in Eureka was on lockdown Monday afternoon after a student told the school secretary that he knew of a student who had a gun in a backpack.

The principal put the school on lockdown and confiscated the handgun along with two clips of ammunition in the backpack.

“No threats were made,” said Kodey Hughes, superintendent of schools for the Tintic School District. “The firearm was not brandished to anybody in the public or anybody in the school.”

While no threats were made, bringing the gun to the campus is a violation of the school’s safe schools policy. (KSL) (KUTV) (DN) (KNRS) (Newsy via AOL)




Instagram threats spur investigation


ST. GEORGE – A St. George Police Department school resource officer is working closely with Washington County School District after Fossil Ridge Intermediate School students reported seeing threatening comments posted on Instagram.

The threats originated from an account called Fossil.Ridge.Cuties and were confirmed by the officer, according to court documents filed subpoenaing Instagram Inc. for information on the account holder.

“We don’t feel anybody is in immediate danger,” said Sgt. Sam Despain, SGPD public information officer. (SGS)





Sex abuse claims against Utah educator who committed suicide were false, parents say


SALT LAKE CITY — The parents of a Uintah County educator who committed suicide in 2013 after being accused of child sex abuse have filed a federal lawsuit against the police detective and the DCFS caseworker who investigated the case.

Michael and Catherine Papadakos claim in court papers that former Vernal police detective Vance Norton and former Division of Child and Family Services caseworker Lisa Jorgensen “fabricated” the case against their son, David Alan Papadakos.

“(Norton and Jorgensen) controlled, manipulated and/or coerced (the accuser) into telling a story that David had sexually abused him,” the civil rights lawsuit states.

David Papadakos was working as the assistant principal at Vernal Middle School when he was charged in October 2012 with two counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child, a first-degree felony, and 10 counts of forcible sex abuse, a second-degree felony. (DN) (KSL) (Vernal Express)





Students pick pumpkins grown by inmates


Jordan Valley School students got into the spirit of fall Tuesday by picking pumpkins — which were grown and decorated by inmates at the Utah State Prison. Students with disabilities at the Canyons District school will participate in the annual tradition, which involves teachers and parent volunteers in the pumpkin-plucking event. (DN)





School Improvement Network Named Among Top 100 Utah Companies for Fastest Growth Education Company Awarded a Spot in 2014 Utah 100 by MountainWest Capital Network


SALT LAKE CITY – School Improvement Network, the leader in educator effectiveness resources, today announced the company was awarded a spot in the 2014 Utah 100, an annual honor awarded by MountainWest Capital Network to the fastest growing companies in the state. School Improvement Network placed 34th in the ranking, marking the third consecutive year the company has placed in the top 100. (PRWeb)












SAGE advice — Act now on poor results to enhance education Deseret News editorial


State education officials have been quick to note that the generally poor scores in the Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence tests, known by the acronym SAGE, do not indicate that Utah students somehow have regressed since taking other standardized tests. The difference is that SAGE tests are more demanding.

They also are quick to call this year’s results a benchmark by which future progress may be measured. This is true, just as the figure an obese person gets the first time he or she steps on a scale is a benchmark. Either way, it isn’t good news unless proper corrective action is taken.

The SAGE scores, revealed Monday, were not encouraging. About 42 percent of Utah students are proficient in language arts, while 39 percent are proficient in math and 44 percent in science. “Proficient” in this case is a measurement of readiness for college and careers. These standards are considered more difficult than previous standards, which makes us wonder exactly what it was that Utah public schools were preparing students for in the past. If not college and career, then what?

Perhaps most troubling, but not surprising, is the disparity in proficiency among districts. The Ogden School District’s proficiency scores were in the 20th percentile range, while the Cache County School District’s were in the high 50s.




What Utah voters want from their Legislature Utah Data Points analysis by Adam Brown and Mike Barber, assistant professors of Political Science at Brigham Young University


The Utah Legislature considered 784 bills during its 2014 General Session and passed 484 of them. If the past is any guide, we can expect a similarly massive number of bills in 2015. Though it is never easy to predict which bills will arise in any given year, we polled Utah voters about 23 issues spanning the ideological spectrum. The questions were embedded in the October 2014 wave of our recurring Utah Voter Poll, fielded regularly by BYU’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. You will find details about survey methodology and question wording in the poll’s topline report.

We’ll begin by simply presenting the 23 policy options we asked about, ranked from greatest to least support. These options appeared below the following prompt: Should the Utah Legislature prioritize working on the following issues in the next year? Respondents chose “yes” or “no” for each issue.





Common Core standards better for education’s users — the students (St. George) Spectrum commentary by columnist David Paystrup


Steve Eves picks up his iPad, gesturing to it.

Eves teaches fifth grade at Crimson View Elementary in St. George. Crimson View is a STEM-oriented and 1:1 technology school, meaning they put emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills and each student has access to an iPad for learning. The technology is just one tool in the way students learn.

Using a reference to that technology, he explains to me why people are resistant to the idea of Common Core standards.

Let me explain Common Core this way, he says.

“I’m into technology,” he says. “The iPad came out about five years ago or so. About 5 ½ to six years ago, Steve Jobs came out and said Flash is dead, HTML5 is the new video source. Everyone was ‘You’re out of your mind!” because Flash was so huge at the time.”

Steve Jobs was proposing that new standard in technology was being created.

“If you’ve noticed almost all the devices now, do they run flash?” he asked rhetorically. “No, it’s HTML5.”

Eves likes to point out what shifted was there was a common standard. Common Core is just a common standard in which teachers across the country can find unity and common ground.




Lack of information

Deseret News letter from Vickie Stewart


I’m trying hard to be an informed voter this year. Several of the “big-ticket” races have been debated on the news and most of the candidates have fancy Web pages detailing their opinion on issues. Some of them explain in detail what they hope to accomplish if they make it into office.

Not so with the school board candidates. There is no information on them whatsoever. Half of them haven’t even submitted a photo of themselves.

There is the thought that schools would be better if their control was returned to the state. But if the state had that control, what would they do with it?




School board elections do matter

Uintah Basin Standard letter from JoAnn Cowan


Many times people don’t think their vote matters. In the election this week and next Tuesday your vote really matters and you can make a difference in our community.

For the first time we have four open School Board seats. Who wins these four elections matters. Those people will spend the biggest part of your property taxes, a $70 million budget.

They will make decisions about your children’s and grandchildren’s education, class books, buildings, buses and safety. They are responsible for the education of over 8,000 children. They will make decisions about building new schools for the 300 new students a year moving into our community.





We need change in Ogden School Board

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner letter from Karen Robinson


Three districts in Ogden City have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in races for the Ogden school board. In the article, “Curriculum concerns school board candidates” in the Sunday edition of Oct. 26, the six candidates were asked to give their feelings about what changes should be made in the Ogden School District. I noted that the three candidates running against the incumbents, Douglas Barker-2, Dori Mosher-4, and Aaron Garza-7, seem truly interested in making some needed changes.





Jenkins right for board

(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Garrick Hall


I am writing in support of Jon Jenkins for Cache County Board of Education.




Why would you vote “No” on rebuilding schools?

(Provo) Daily Herald letter from Daniel Doxey


I respect your right to vote “no.” Before you vote, please consider what your “no” vote means.

To me, a “no” vote means an extra $9.24 per month (or $110.88 per year) in your pocket is more important than Provo children’s life-safety, security, health at school and improved learning environment.

Help me understand you.





Civil Rights at School

The Department of Education Offers States Guidance on Equality New York Times editorial


Earlier this month, Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, sent what he described as “guidance” to states and school districts reminding them of their obligation to provide schoolchildren with equal resources regardless of race. The guidance, in the form of a “Dear Colleague” letter, invoked the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision in warning that school districts that shunted minority kids to inferior schools could be held accountable under federal civil rights law.

He had numbers to back up the threat. The letter noted, for example, that schools serving the most students of color were less likely to have high-level courses and that nearly one in five black high school students attend high schools that do not offer Advanced Placement courses — a higher proportion than any other racial group. Only two-thirds of black students attend a high school that offers calculus, compared with 81 percent of white students and 87 percent of Asian students. Students of color are also more likely to attend schools with lower-quality facilities, like temporary classrooms.





Toward Better Teachers

New York Times commentary by columnist Frank Bruni


More than halfway through Joel Klein’s forthcoming book on his time as the chancellor of New York City’s public schools, he zeros in on what he calls “the biggest factor in the education equation.”

It’s not classroom size, school choice or the Common Core.

It’s “teacher quality,” he writes, adding that “a great teacher can rescue a child from a life of struggle.”

We keep coming back to this. As we wrestle with the urgent, dire need to improve education — for the sake of social mobility, for the sake of our economic standing in the world — the performance of teachers inevitably draws increased scrutiny. But it remains one of the trickiest subjects to broach, a minefield of hurt feelings and vested interests.





Dealing with Online Bullies Outside the Classroom New York Times readers commentary


More and more schools across the country are trying to address the issue of bullying. But bullying’s presence online has grown considerably. What happens when it occurs outside of school walls? Should schools regulate the off-campus, online behavior of their students?




Blueprint for College Readiness

A 50-state Policy Analysis

Education Commission of the States analysis


The Education Commission of the States launched the Blueprint for College Readiness initiative to provide guidance and support to the growing number of states working to improve student success and transition from high school into postsecondary. Designed by state leaders for state leaders, the Blueprint features a menu of 10 critical policies promoting college readiness and success. The following 50-state analysis explores the extent to which states are pursuing these policies. The accompanying resources, technical assistance and online database are designed to respond to the unique needs of states.

The Blueprint is designed to serve as a framework to help K-12 and higher education leaders conceptualize the multitude of education reform efforts underway in their states. It’s based on the premise that K-12 and postsecondary collaboration is essential to building an aligned education pipeline and improving student outcomes.

The framework unites two driving forces in state and federal policymaking: 1) to improve the college and career readiness of graduating high school students and 2) to decrease remedial education and improve the rate of students who earn a degree or credential.











GOP parents turn on Common Core



Parents are sharply divided over Common Core education standards, with support from Republicans plummeting in recent months, according to a new Gallup poll.

Fifty-eight percent of GOP parents now hold a negative view of Common Core, compared with 42 percent in April, the poll found. Only 19 percent of Republicans view the standards positively.

A plurality of Democrats with kids, on the other hand, support Common Core, with 48 percent viewing Common Core positively and 23 percent viewing it negatively. The support is up three percent from April.

Overall, 35 percent of parents view Common Core negatively, while 33 percent have a positive opinion. Thirty-two percent aren’t familiar with the standards or don’t have an opinion. The results are a slight change from April when 28 percent of parents had an unfavorable view of the standards.

Gallup said the findings suggest an “increase in awareness has led to an increase in negativity…” (Utah Policy)


A copy of the poll (Gallup)





Teachers on the Common Core: Familiarity Breeds Approval Education Week


Public school teachers are divided on the merits of the Common Core State Standards, with 44 percent having a negative opinion of the shared academic goals and another 40 percent of teachers favoring it, according to a new poll released by Gallup this morning.

Even more enlightening are the reasons undergirding those reactions: The more implementation experience teachers had with the standards, the better they appeared to like them. Fully 61 percent of teachers who reported working in schools where the standards were fully implemented have a positive opinion of them. That number was far lower in states where the standards were only partly implemented and dropped to just 26 percent for teachers in non-common core states.


A copy of the poll (Gallup)




Jeb Bush talks presidential run, Common Core in Nashville Nashville Tennessean


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaking in Nashville on Tuesday as he weighs a run for president, discussed his positions on Common Core and immigration, two stances that might complicate his candidacy in a GOP primary.

He also took on the question of the Oval Office itself, setting a deadline by the end of the year to decide whether he’ll seek to be the third Bush to capture the presidency.

He plans to spend the next few months pondering the decision with his family before ultimately choosing “what’s in my heart.”

It was a relaxed affair Tuesday, and Jeb Bush often threw in a joke. He also was peppered with questions ranging from the United States response to Ebola, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, immigration and Common Core.

Bush, who has taken heat from the right over the latter two, said that the conversation on Common Core across communities “has gotten way off track.”

In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam, who has supported higher standards, last week called for a formal public review as part of a “full vetting” of Common Core.

Bush pointed to his reasons for the backlash nationally: Common Core got confused as curriculum instead of standards; the president began to “take credit for it”; Obama tied Race to the Top waivers to its implementation and the issue of over-testing.

“A lot of moms concerned about their children expressed those concerns, and they’re doing it today,” Bush said. “But the shame is is that no accountability and low standards and no assessment of how those kids are (performing) will doom those kids. That’s the tragedy.”





What makes a good Common Core math question?

Hint: It should contain many ways to get to the right answer Hechinger Report


Both the math and English Common Core standards have their share of critics but it’s math that gets special condemnation, as the new problem worksheets land on kitchen tables across the country.

Parents are taking to the Internet to air their frustrations by posting puzzling problems from the new standards. And even writers of the Common Core – a set of standards in math and English adopted by over 40 states – have agreed some of the questions were a bit bizarre and say teachers should also send home traditional problems.

So the question on the minds of many of the educators who gathered for the 25th annual conference of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey was, what does a good common core question look like? The answer, according to many presenters, is to pose them with enough ambiguity to require students to think creatively to problem solve.

“Students should grapple with language,” said David Wees, who designs Common Core aligned math questions at New Visions for Public Schools. “You have to choose the right level of ambiguity, enough language so that students know what to do without making it obvious what they need to do.”




Education and the 2014 Election: A Guide to Key Races Education Week


Education is front and center in dozens of federal, state, and local contests in this pivotal midterm election year, with issues such as K-12 funding, teacher collective bargaining rights, and the growing role of the charter sector roiling the campaign landscape. In all, 36 governorships are up for grabs, along with control of 46 state legislatures, seven state schools chiefs’ spots, and nine state school boards. And with control of the U.S. Senate hinging on the outcome in a few key showdowns—including North Carolina’s expensive battle, where education is a marquee topic—the Nov. 4 results could set the policy template for years to come. Here’s a selection of key contests to watch election night.




Conservative ALEC: Indiana’s education policy nation’s best Indianapolis (IN) Star


Guess which state ranks best in the nation for education policy according to the right-leaning American Legislative Exchange Council?

And guess which governor penned the introduction to the report by the aforementioned conservative group?

That’s right: It’s Indiana and its Republican Gov. Mike Pence.

In his foreword for ALEC’s “Report Card on American Education,” released Wednesday, Pence touted Indiana’s growing voucher system for tens of thousands of students to use public dollars to attend private schools. He cites the even larger number of students who choose charter schools. He also includes a plug for two of his past pet legislative projects: a focus on career and technical education, and a statewide pilot program to provide pre-Kindergarten vouchers to low-income students.

Indiana aced the measures of education policy that Republicans tend to favor: ample room for homeschooling, strong charter school laws and strong voucher or “choice” programs.

But it received a C- for state academic standards, a B- for teacher quality and policies and a C for digital learning.


A copy of the report (ALEC)






Personalized Learning Pits Data Innovators Against Privacy Advocates New uses of data to personalize learning are bumping up against worries about the safety and security of sensitive student information Education Week


How long should vendors be allowed to maintain and use the information they collect about school children?

The question cuts to the heart of the tensions that define the digital learning revolution now underway, said Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at England’s Oxford University.

“Big” educational data, new technologies, and learner profiles have the potential to help personalize learning in previously unimaginable ways, Mr. Mayer-Schönberger wrote in his 2014 e-book Learning With Big Data: The Future of Education. Still, he wrote that they also threaten to “shackle us to our past, denying us due credit for our ability to evolve, grow, and change.”

Not surprisingly, privacy advocates and ed-tech industry leaders see the issue very differently.





ACLU Calls Schools’ Policy to Search Devices and ‘Approve’ Kids’ Web Posts Unconstitutional Wired


A school board in Tennessee is being accused of violating the constitutional rights of students over a policy that allows school officials to search any electronic devices students bring to campus and to monitor and control what students post on social media sites.

The broadly written policy also allows schools to monitor any communications sent through or stored on school networks, which would essentially allow the school to read the content of stored and transmitted email.

The policy is intended to “protect students and adults from obscene information,” “restrict access to materials that are harmful to minors” and help secure the school’s network from malware.

But parts of the policy are so broadly written, they constitute clear violations of the First and Fourth Amendments, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They say the policy oversteps the school’s authority and exhibits “a fundamental misunderstanding of the constitutional rights” of students.





State Initiatives Widen Reach of ACT, SAT Tests Education Week


Nevada and Missouri next spring will join a rapidly growing number of states that are shelling out money for every 11th grader in public high school to take the ACT or SAT college-entrance exams.

Nearly half of states—and individual school districts in most others—have contracted with the nation’s two biggest college-testing programs for some form of wide-scale administration in high school so that no student will have an excuse for passing up the opportunity to take one of the tests.

But the growth in statewide college-admissions testing also comes at a time when the testing landscape in high schools is uncertain and increasingly crowded. Separate K-12 assessments tied to the Common Core State Standards in reading and mathematics are coming on line in the spring, and some states are mulling which testing route to take with their older students: Should the college-admissions tests be another layer of testing, or could they do double duty for accountability purposes?




Another College Expense: Preparing for the SAT and ACT New York Times


With all the hand-wringing over the price of higher education and the growing burden of student debt, it’s easy to overlook the substantial cost of simply preparing to apply to college.

The expenses start piling up well before students ever set foot on campus, in the form of commercial test preparation classes and tutoring for the SAT and the ACT, the two main admissions tests colleges use to evaluate applicants. Some in-person or one-on-one online tutoring packages can cost thousands of dollars.

The higher cost is in part because of the demand for individual tutoring. Group classes, offered by companies like Princeton Review and Kaplan Test Prep, are still popular and relatively affordable. Thirty hours of group preparation with Princeton Review, for example, costs $1,000 to $1,600, depending on the size of the class.

Individual tutoring, however — whether online, in person or a combination — is all the rage, and it usually comes with a steep price tag.





NASA rocket explosion destroys N.J. children’s science experiment Newark (NJ) Star Ledger


Zachary FitzGerald, 11, had waited months for the sight of NASA’s Antares rocket sitting on the launch pad in Wallops Island, Va., the countdown ticking down to zero.

Deep in the payload of the Orb-3 spacecraft atop the rocket was an experiment he and his sixth grade buddies had designed themselves.

At 6:22 Tuesday evening, the Long Branch sixth grader and his mother watched live video of the countdown on their computer then ran down the street to the beach where other onlookers had gathered to see the rocket soar out over the Atlantic. Minutes passed. And nothing.

“We didn’t see it go up,” he said Tuesday night. “People told us it exploded.”

NASA officials said the rocket, carrying a satellite, experiments and supplies bound for the International Space Station, exploded seconds after takeoff.

The rocket was built by a private company, Orbital Sciences Corp., but the launch from the Wallops Island, Va., facility was being facilitated by the space agency. No one was injured. (AP)





Zions Bank Launches STEM Education Challenge Twin Falls (ID) Times-News


TWIN FALLS • Zions Bank has paid teens who earn “A” grades for more than a decade through its Pays for A’s Program.

Now students have the chance to win $1,000 for their school’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers, too.

The contest challenges students in seventh through 12th grades in the school districts of Twin Falls and Cassia and Blaine counties to take advantage of Pays for A’s.









USOE Calendar



UEN News



October 29:

Education Task Force

1 p.m., 210 Senate Building



November 4:

Election Day

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.



November 7:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



November 13:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



November 18:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

1 p.m., 210 Senate Building



November 19:

Education Interim Committee meeting

2:30 p.m., 30 House Building


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