Education News Roundup: May 13, 2015

Graduate wearing cap and gown in front of a university building.

Samford and Becca/Tyrannosaurus Becs/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

 

D-News follows up on yesterday’s Grad Nation report and the good news about Utah’s high school graduation rate.

http://go.uen.org/3Dq (DN)

or a copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/3CY (Grad Nation)

 

Sen. Hatch reintroduces a bill on student data privacy.

http://go.uen.org/3Ds (The Hill)

 

Minnesota reports problems with cyberattacks on its end-of-year tests.

http://go.uen.org/3DN (Star-Tribune)

and http://go.uen.org/3DO (AP)

 

And if you’re feeling a little too smart and are in need of humility, go ahead, try to answer some of the National Geography Bee questions.

http://go.uen.org/3DJ (WaPo)

and http://go.uen.org/3DK (USAT)

and http://go.uen.org/3DL (Reuters)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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UTAH

 

Report: Utah leads nation in high school graduation gains for minorities

 

Senators unveil student data privacy bill

 

2 top Utah school officials fired by Brad Smith

 

Students join fray over solar net metering

 

Utahns can tap into world’s autism expertise at meeting in Salt Lake City

 

Ben Gowans state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching

 

Child nutrition program soars; educators earn state recognition

 

Tooele County School District names top administrator

 

South Summit junior wins $2,500 scholarship Abigail Edmunds was awarded by Utah 1033 Foundation

 

Pleasant Grove teen won’t let cancer keep her from enjoying Prom

 

Utah Jazz Bear escorts elementary students to school

 

Lehi students learn leadership at Disney resort

 

The best states for preschool

 

 


 

 

 

OPINION & COMMENTARY

 

Educated populace the best thing for our future

 

Dear Class of 2015, You’re in Big Trouble Facing unemployment, loan debt, expensive retiree payouts and more problems, young people need a lobby.

 

 

 


 

 

NATION

 

Teachers Call For Less Testing

 

State suspends testing after more MCA problems

 

Roughly 1 in 7 Portland Public Schools juniors skip Common Core tests

 

Unfinished Business: Addressing Unequal Opportunities in Education

 

A Key Researcher Says ‘Grit’ Isn’t Ready For High-Stakes Measures

 

Brains, Schools and a Vicious Cycle of Poverty Research spotlights the grim effect of poverty on education

 

Grade levels could be a thing of the past in schools focused on competency

 

Here’s Where You’re Going to Find the Best Schools in the World Schools in Asia outperform those everywhere else

 

Oklahoma allows designated school staff to carry guns

 

5th-grade Student Takes School Guard’s Gun from Holster

 

Quiz: Do you know enough to win the National Geography Bee?

 

 

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Report: Utah leads nation in high school graduation gains for minorities

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is leading the nation in closing the gap in high school graduation rates between white students and minority students, according to a national report released Tuesday.

Utah’s graduation rate for Hispanic and Latino students was higher than that of any other state, going up 13 percent between 2011 and 2013, according to the report by Civics Enterprises. Utah closed the gap between white and Hispanic graduation rates by more than 7 percent during that time.

The 7 percent increase in Utah’s overall graduation rate during the same time was the fourth-largest in the nation. Currently, Utah’s graduation rate of 83 percent is almost 2 percentage points higher than the national average.

But the United States is well on its way to having a 90 percent graduation rate by the year 2020, the report states.

http://go.uen.org/3Dq (DN)

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/3CY (Grad Nation)

 

 


 

 

 

Senators unveil student data privacy bill

 

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) reintroduced a bill on Wednesday to restrict education companies from selling or using student data to target ads.

The measure would also require private companies to meet certain data security requirements when handling student information.

“This legislation establishes security safeguards to ensure greater transparency and access to stored information for students and parents,” said Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.

The bill, first introduced last year, joins a similar bipartisan House measure from Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Luke Messer (R-Ind.).

http://go.uen.org/3Ds (The Hill)

 

 


 

 

 

2 top Utah school officials fired by Brad Smith

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Changes at the Utah State Office of Education continue as two more top education managers have been fired.

Associate State Superintendents Bruce Williams and Judy Park, who oversee financial reporting and testing for Utah’s public education system, will be removed from their positions, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Williams will be replaced by Scott Jones, current interim director of the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, effective immediately. Park will remain in her position until summer.

After Park is replaced, the top five posts in Utah’s public education system will have turned over in the course of one year.

http://go.uen.org/3DA (OSE)

 

http://go.uen.org/3DB (PDH)

 

http://go.uen.org/3DH (MUR)

 

 


 

 

Students join fray over solar net metering

 

SALT LAKE CITY — A couple hundred Salt Lake area students jumped into Utah’s fray over a proposed net metering fee for residential solar customers, urging the Public Service Commission to chose a “cleaner and more sustainable” future for the state.

The students from Rowland Hall, an independent PreK-12 school, put their names on a petition to the commission, which held one of four study meetings on Tuesday as the utility regulator begins crafting the framework for a cost-benefit analysis on rooftop solar.

“My generation wants a cleaner future,” said Claire Wang, a senior at Rowland Hall who led the petition effort.

Wang was one of several speakers at a press conference Tuesday in front of the school, staged to coincide with the study session being held at commission’s offices.

http://go.uen.org/3Dw (DN)

 

 


 

 

 

Utahns can tap into world’s autism expertise at meeting in Salt Lake City

 

People with autism often suffer from anxiety.

Understanding the brain mechanisms behind that anxiety could lead to better treatments, says Brigham Young University psychology professor Mikle South.

South’s research will be among dozens of projects shared during the next three days with 1,700 of the world’s top autism researchers meeting in Salt Lake City.

At pre-conference workshops Wednesday at the Grand America Hotel, more than 300 parents, advocates, teachers and doctors from Utah and surrounding states tapped into some of that expertise.

http://go.uen.org/3DX (SLT)

 

 


 

 

Ben Gowans state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching

 

Ben Gowans, a fourth-grade teacher at Park View Elementary in Nebo School District in Payson, was recognized as a state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching.

http://go.uen.org/3Dy (DN)

 

 


 

 

 

Child nutrition program soars; educators earn state recognition

 

Student wellness and nutritious options are key words used by nutrition employee Colleen Dietz and nutrition director Jenilee McComb in the Provo City School District. They both received national recognition by the School Nutrition Association for their efforts.

McComb, child nutrition director for 10 years, feels her biggest accomplishment in the child nutrition program is “returning to fresh as much as possible.”

http://go.uen.org/3DD (PDH)

 

 


 

 

 

Tooele County School District names top administrator

 

WENDOVER — The Tooele County School District has named Clint Spindler 2015 Administrator of the Year.

Spindler has been with the district for 28 years and is currently in his first year as principal at Wendover High.

http://go.uen.org/3Dz (DN)

 

 


 

 

 

South Summit junior wins $2,500 scholarship Abigail Edmunds was awarded by Utah 1033 Foundation

 

When Abigail Edmunds was notified she had won a $2,500 scholarship through the Utah 1033 Foundation, she thought it was a prank.

“I thought my older sister would have gotten it before me and when my parents told me I had won, I honestly thought they were joking,” Edmunds said. “I was really shocked and really happy at the same time.”

The South Summit High School junior and daughter of former Sheriff Dave Edmunds was presented the scholarship May 5 at a special ceremony in Salt Lake City.

http://go.uen.org/3DY (PR)

 

 


 

 

Pleasant Grove teen won’t let cancer keep her from enjoying Prom

 

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah – Take one look at smiling 18-year-old Sarah Hicken and you wouldn’t have guessed that earlier in the week she was dealing with chemo and blood transfusions.

In February, Hicken was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She is captain of the softball team and has a scholarship with Colorado’s Northwestern Community College to play softball. Those who know her say she is an amazing girl with a great attitude and they wanted to make sure she had a prom night to remember.

From a free dress, to a surprise carriage ride and photo shoot, Hicken said she was definitely surprised.

http://go.uen.org/3DE (KTVX)

 

 


 

 

 

Utah Jazz Bear escorts elementary students to school

 

RIVERTON, Utah – Local elementary school students made a brand new furry friend, Wednesday, when the Utah Jazz Bear walked them to school.

A group of kids from Southland Elementary met at their classmate’s home and anxiously awaited his arrival.  Sure enough, the Jazz Bear showed up in style, blasting loud music and spraying silly string at everyone.

For six weeks, students across the state have reaped all the benefits of walking to school as part of The Utah Department of Transportation’s Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP).  The campaign encourages kids to walk to and from school, using UDot’s “Walking School Bus” app, which helps parents form groups and coordinate adult chaperones.

http://go.uen.org/3DZ (KTVX)

 

 


 

 

Lehi students learn leadership at Disney resort

 

Members of Lehi High School Orchestra made Disneyland their classroom on two days in April when they participated in an education series sponsored by the resort. During Disney’s Approach to Leadership & Teamwork, students practiced overcoming obstacles by working as a team and thinking creatively to develop solutions, according to a news release.

http://go.uen.org/3DC (PDH)

 

 


 

 

The best states for preschool

 

Preschool education might not be for everyone.

http://go.uen.org/3Dx (DN)

 

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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Educated populace the best thing for our future

(Logan) Herald Journal commentary by columnist Thad Box

 

I’m a graduation junkie. For me, graduation is one of the happiest times of the year. The colors and robes, the ritual marches, the celebration of accomplishment are only part of the reason for happiness. It is a season of hope, a commencement of new opportunities akin to a religious conversion. Joy in faces of graduates and of those who love them is a living statement of struggle, success and redemption. I started the spring 2015 graduation season at USU on May 2. I’ll end it with the high school graduation of one of my grandsons in Austin, Texas. I hope I can squeeze in some others.

Sixty-nine years ago I became the first person in my family to receive a high school diploma. There were 14 people in my graduation class, seven boys and seven girls. There were only four teachers in our high school. One was the principal; two of them had not finished college. Our little school was not as good as today’s average junior high. But just being a high school graduate meant we were expected to tackle big problems, to do important things.

http://go.uen.org/3DW

 

 


 

 

Dear Class of 2015, You’re in Big Trouble Facing unemployment, loan debt, expensive retiree payouts and more problems, young people need a lobby.

Wall Street Journal op-ed by DIANA FURCHTGOTT-ROTH And  JARED MEYER, authors of “Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young”

 

Over the next few weeks 3.5 million of you will graduate and try to find jobs. We’re sorry to tell you that achieving success will be more difficult than it was for your parents or grandparents. Not because you’re less intelligent, or lazier or less deserving of realizing the American dream. The primary reason why today’s graduates face a daunting future: Government is making life more difficult for you.

The youth unemployment rate for those between ages 20 and 24 is 9.6%, compared with 4.5% for those 25 and over. But America’s double-cross doesn’t start when you receive your diploma. It has been going on since elementary school, with too many American children badly educated at schools where ill-qualified teachers are protected by unions.

As a result, the U.S. has steadily dropped in international education rankings—to an estimated 27th in mathematics in 2012 among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, down from 23rd in 2003. For those of you who majored in education, guess what? When bad teachers can’t be fired, there are fewer job openings for you.

http://go.uen.org/3Dr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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Teachers Call For Less Testing

Hartford (CT) Courant

 

Chanting “Put the test to rest!” and “Less testing, more learning,” about 400 teachers rallied on the north side of the Capitol on Tuesday, urging legislators to reduce testing in public schools.

“We know that learning matters, we know that classroom time is precious, and we want legislators to know that testing is not learning,” said Sheila Cohen, president of the Connecticut Education Association, which organized the event.

Originally, the CEA had sought to phase out the state’s new computerized standardized test produced by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and replace it with shorter periodic progress tests.

But Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the CEA, said that proposal proved to be “too heavy a lift” for this session, and so instead the union is advocating to amend a bill to create a task force that that will examine testing in Connecticut.

http://go.uen.org/3Dv

 

 


 

 

State suspends testing after more MCA problems Minneapolis (MN) Star-Tribune

 

The Minnesota Department of Education has once again temporarily suspended Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment testing after schools across the state reported students were experiencing computer problems while taking state science exams.

Pearson, the company that administers the MCA’s, reported that its system had experienced an outside cyber attack.

That same kind of disruption occurred in April and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius expressed doubts Wednesday that the company had done enough to resolve the problem.

“It is simply unacceptable and unfair to subject students and teachers to this kind of uncertainty in a high-stakes testing environment,” said Cassellius. “After the April 21 suspension, Pearson added additional security measures to prevent this type of disruption. Given the need to suspend testing today, I have questions about Pearson’s ability to follow through on their assurances.”

Wednesday’s computer problems marked the fourth time that Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments tests have been disrupted. Pearson, the company that administers the tests in Minnesota, reported that students were having difficulty logging on, that it was taking a long time for the tests to be electronically submitted and that overall system was slow.

http://go.uen.org/3DN

 

http://go.uen.org/3DO (AP)

 

 


 

 

 

Roughly 1 in 7 Portland Public Schools juniors skip Common Core tests

(Portland) Oregonian

 

The percentage of Portland Public Schools students opting out of new Smarter Balanced tests has risen by three percentage points since last month, according to new data from the district.

As of Friday about 8 percent of the district’s test takers are exempted, compared to 5 percent in early April. Numbers for high school students have also increased, with about one in seven juniors skipping the test.

The new Smarter Balanced assessments are being administered for the first time this spring to students in grades three to eight and 11. The language arts and math tests will measure how well schools are teaching to demanding Common Core State Standards, adopted by Oregon in 2010.

http://go.uen.org/3DS

 

 


 

 

Unfinished Business: Addressing Unequal Opportunities in Education The State Education Standard

 

Student achievement gaps in the United States have persisted, though not at static levels, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And while the degree to which any particular factor gets blame or credit for widening or narrowing the gaps is debatable, the authors in this issue of The State Education Standard agree that differences in educational opportunity play a key role. Schools and state policymakers, they say, can control and address many of these variances head on: teacher distribution, funding, and access to early education, for example.

http://go.uen.org/3Dt

 

 


 

 

 

A Key Researcher Says ‘Grit’ Isn’t Ready For High-Stakes Measures NPR

 

If you’ve followed education in the news or at the book store in the past couple of years, chances are you’ve heard of “grit.” It’s often defined as the ability to persevere when times get tough, or to delay gratification in pursuit of a goal.

Alongside growth mindset and self-control, grit is on a short list of not-strictly-academic skills, habits and qualities that researchers have deemed essential.

And that research has quickly made its way into the hands of educational leaders eager to impose accountability measures that can go farther than standardized math and reading tests. They want to capture how schools are doing in cultivating the full range of qualities necessary for students to succeed.

But now Angela Duckworth, the scientist most closely associated with the concept of “grit,” is trying to put on the brakes. In a new paper published in the journal Educational Researcher, the University of Pennsylvania psychologist, and her colleague David Scott Yeager at the University of Texas at Austin, argue that grit isn’t ready for prime time, if prime time means high-stakes tests.

“I feel like the enthusiasm is getting ahead of the science,” Duckworth said in an interview. “I’m hearing about school district superintendents getting very interested in things like character and grit, and wanting to evaluate teachers based on them.” That, she says, would be gravely premature.

Here’s the problem. Much of grit research is based on self-reporting.

http://go.uen.org/3DF

 

http://go.uen.org/3DI (WaPo)

 

http://go.uen.org/3DQ (Ed Week)

 

A copy of the study

http://go.uen.org/3DG (American Educational Research Association)

 

 


 

 

 

Brains, Schools and a Vicious Cycle of Poverty Research spotlights the grim effect of poverty on education Wall Street Journal

 

A fifth or more of American children grow up in poverty, with the situation worsening since 2000, according to census data. At the same time, as education researcher Sean Reardon has pointed out, an “income achievement gap” is widening: Low-income children do much worse in school than higher-income children.

Since education plays an ever bigger role in how much we earn, a cycle of poverty is trapping more American children. It’s hard to think of a more important project than understanding how this cycle works and trying to end it.

Neuroscience can contribute to this project. In a new study in Psychological Science, John Gabrieli at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues used imaging techniques to measure the brains of 58 14-year-old public school students. Twenty-three of the children qualified for free or reduced-price lunch; the other 35 were middle-class.

The scientists found consistent brain differences between the two groups. The researchers measured the thickness of the cortex—the brain’s outer layer—in different brain areas. The low-income children had developed thinner cortices than the high-income children.

http://go.uen.org/3DV

 

 


 

 

Grade levels could be a thing of the past in schools focused on competency NewsHour

 

In a suburb just outside of Denver, Principal Sarah Gould stands outside a fifth-grade classroom at Hodgkins Elementary School watching students work. This classroom, she explains, is for students working roughly at grade level. Down the hall, there are two other fifth-grade classrooms. One is labeled “Level 2 and 3,” for students who are working at the second and third-grade levels. The other is for students who are working at a middle-school level.

But some of these students won’t necessarily stay in these classrooms for the whole school year. The students will move to new classrooms when they’ve mastered everything they were asked to learn in their first class. This can happen at any time during the year.

“We have kids move every day. It’s just based on when they’re ready,” Gould said.

http://go.uen.org/3DR

 

 


 

 

 

Here’s Where You’re Going to Find the Best Schools in the World Schools in Asia outperform those everywhere else Time

 

Asian countries claimed the top five spots in a global math-and-science-education ranking administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) while the U.S. placed 28th, below much poorer countries such as the Czech Republic and Vietnam.

Singapore ranked best in the world, with Hong Kong placing second and South Korea, Japan and Taiwan rounding out top five, reports the BBC.

At sixth, Finland is the first non-Asian country to appear in the rankings; Ghana came in last place.

“The idea is to give more countries, rich and poor, access to comparing themselves against the world’s education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them,” said OECD education director Andreas Schleicher.

The new rankings are different the more well-known PISA scores, which traditionally focuses on affluent nations. The latest version, based on tests taken in different regions worldwide, includes 76 countries of varying economic status.

http://go.uen.org/3DT

 

http://go.uen.org/3DU (USN&WR)

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/3Du (OECD)

 

 


 

 

Oklahoma allows designated school staff to carry guns Reuters

 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma school districts can designate trained staff members to carry guns on school property under a bill signed into law this week by Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican.

The law authorizes school boards to choose school employees to be trained as armed security guards or reserve peace officers. The training would be paid for by school districts and would allow designated employees to carry handguns on school grounds.

Oklahoma school resource officers can carry firearms already, but the new bill expands the right to additional school staff.

http://go.uen.org/3DM

 

 


 

 

 

5th-grade Student Takes School Guard’s Gun from Holster Associated Press

 

ANDERSON, S.C. — A South Carolina school district has asked a private security guard not to return after a fifth-grader was able to pull the officer’s gun out of its holster.

Anderson School District 5 spokesman Kyle Newton told media outlets that the guard was sitting on a bench Monday with a student on either side at Varennes Elementary School when one of the students was able to take the gun out of the officer’s holster.

Authorities say the gun was not fired and was only free for about 10 seconds.

The guard worked for Defender Services, a private company that helps provide security officers for schools.

http://go.uen.org/3DP

 

 


 

 

Quiz: Do you know enough to win the National Geography Bee?

Washington Post

 

A 14-year-old New Jersey student won the National Geography Bee on Wednesday, besting more than 50 other finalists to win a $50,000 college scholarship and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Galapagos Islands.

“I’m on top of the world right now,” Karan Menon, an eighth grader at John Adams Middle School in Edison, N.J., told National Geographic.

On his route to victory, Menon displayed an impressive level of knowledge about the world’s cities, countries, waterways and landforms, proving that not all Americans live up to our nation’s reputation for geographic illiteracy.

In the championship round, Menon faced off against Shriya Yarlagadda, 11, of Michigan. Bee host Soledad O’Brien asked a series of seven questions, and the contestants had just 12 seconds — 12! — to write down each of their answers.

Menon answered all seven correctly, narrowly defeating Yarlagadda, who missed just one.

The Bee’s final rounds were taped to air on television on Friday, May 15, at 8 p.m., on National Geographic Channel and on Wednesday, May 20 at 7 p.m. on Nat Geo WILD.

So how might you have fared in the Geography Bee big leagues?

http://go.uen.org/3DJ

 

http://go.uen.org/3DK (USAT)

 

http://go.uen.org/3DL (Reuters)

 

 

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CALENDAR

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USOE Calendar

http://www.schools.utah.gov/main/CALENDAR.aspx

 

 

UEN News

http://www.uen.org

 

 

May 13:

Middle School Science Standards Public Meeting

7 p.m., Cache County School District, 2063 N 1200 East, North Logan

http://schools.utah.gov/main/CALENDAR.aspx

 

 

May 19:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol

http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2015&com=APPEXE

 

Middle School Science Standards Public Meeting

7 p.m., Salt Lake Center for Science Education, 1400 Goodwin Ave., Salt Lake City

http://schools.utah.gov/main/CALENDAR.aspx

 

 

May 20:

Education Interim Committee meeting

9 a.m., 30 House Building

http://le.utah.gov/Interim/2015/html/00002324.htm

 

 

May 21:

Instructional Material Commission meeting

9:30 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://schools.utah.gov/CURR/imc/News-and-Information/History.aspx

 

 

June 18-19:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

 

 

July 9:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://go.uen.org/1pn

 

 

 

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