Education News Roundup: May 14, 2015

"Graduation Caps" by JMaz Photo/CC/flickr

“Graduation Caps” by JMaz Photo/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

 

Trib follows up on Grad Nation report on minority high school graduation rates in Utah.

http://go.uen.org/3E0 (SLT)

or a copy of the report

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

 

Achieve looks at the gaps in proficiency rates between what state tests say and what NAEP tests say. Utah is one of just six states called “truth tellers” for both fourth grade reading and eighth grade math.

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

or a copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/3Ej (Achieve)

or the website

http://www.honestygap.org/

 

Ed Week reports from the cutting edge of digital learning at a conference in Chicago.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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UTAH

 

Big gains in Latino graduation rates, but Utah still lags nation Education » Improvements mitigated by size of state’s minority graduation gap.

 

Local singer songwriter and anti-bullying advocate named Presidential Scholar

 

Logan City School District announces new Mount Logan Middle School principal, other changes

 

Charter school to open in Ephraim

 

GOP congressman wants DC school vouchers to continue

 

Motivational music is bringing positive messages to thousands of Utah students

 

Autism researchers from around the world in Salt Lake City for annual meeting

 

Testing opt out movement picks up steam as legislatures consider policy changes

 

Happier students tend to have higher GPAs

 

Should cellphones be banned in classrooms? New research suggests yes

 

 


 

 

 

OPINION & COMMENTARY

 

Answering questions about proposed drug testing

 

Head Start helped make me who I am

 

School names lack imagination

 

The Economic Importance of Teaching Coding to Teens “If employers don’t help nurture this group of students coming through school now, they’re not going to have future employees.”

 

 


 

 

 

NATION

 

Calif. Unions Appeal ‘Deeply Flawed’ Vergara Ruling

 

Is student privacy erased as classrooms turn digital?

Privacy researcher Elana Zeide says schools need more transparency about how student data is used by educational publishers and software companies.

 

Frontiers of Digital Learning Probed by Researchers

 

Common-Core Backers Hit States’ High Proficiency Rates

 

Under Common Core, Students Learn Words by Learning About the World

 

Vindication For Fidgeters: Movement May Help Students With ADHD Concentrate

 

Bill Cosby to Advocate for Education in Rural Alabama

 

Puerto Rico Closes Dozes of Schools as Economic Woes Deepen

 

Mexico Cracks Down on Junk Food in Schools Rising rate of childhood obesity spurs government to restrict high-calorie foods, but enforcement is a challenge

 

 

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Big gains in Latino graduation rates, but Utah still lags nation Education » Improvements mitigated by size of state’s minority graduation gap.

 

Utah can claim the biggest jump in graduation rates for Latino high school students, according to a national report released Tuesday.

But that No. 1 is all relative, considering how big the state’s minority student graduation gap was to begin with.

In essence, Utah has moved from low-performing to somewhere in the middle of the pack for the state’s overall graduation rate — from 32nd in the country to 24th in 2014.

That was enough to put the state in the Top Five for increasing its high school completion numbers.

“We’re making progress in all three of the areas [the report] talked about,” Ann White, director of federal programs for the Utah State Office of Education, said. “But none of us are satisfied with where we are.”

http://go.uen.org/3E0 (SLT)

 

A copy of the report

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

 

 


 

 

 

Local singer songwriter and anti-bullying advocate named Presidential Scholar

 

OREM — Brianna “Bri” Ray is truly a girl on fire.

Ray, a senior at Timpanogos High School in Orem was selected as a 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholar May 4. Joined by only 140 other students from the around the United States, Ray is in elite company.

http://go.uen.org/3E7 (PDH)

 

 


 

 

 

Logan City School District announces new Mount Logan Middle School principal, other changes

 

The Logan City School District announced new administrative appointments during its Board of Education meeting Tuesday. The appointments were announced by Frank Schofield, who will be the new superintendent of the district starting in July.

http://go.uen.org/3E8 (LHJ)

 

 


 

 

 

Charter school to open in Ephraim

 

EPHRAIM– A new charter school, Athenian eAcademy (AeA) has purchased property at 85 West 300 South, Ephraim. AeA is a public charter school serving students K-12 and is a unique ‘blended learning’ model.

Enrollment opened Aug. 1, 2014, with the windows closing Nov. 1, 2014. At that point, AeA was not filled to capacity so a first-come, first-serve basis was made for August 2015 enrollment. In Sept. 1, AeA will post the transfer policy to those seeking to enroll after the start of school or seeking to transfer to another school from AeA.

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

 

 


 

 

 

GOP congressman wants DC school vouchers to continue

 

WASHINGTON — A leading House Republican says a school voucher program for District of Columbia students is successful and should continue.

The District is the only jurisdiction in the nation where students get federal funds to pay private school tuition. City leaders oppose the program, saying Congress should invest instead in the city’s public and charter schools. Those schools receive funding equal to the voucher program.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, says 89 percent of voucher recipients graduated from high school last year, compared to 58 percent of District public school students. Chaffetz chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and held a hearing on the voucher program Thursday.

http://go.uen.org/3Eo (Associated Press via WaPo)

 

 


 

 

Motivational music is bringing positive messages to thousands of Utah students

 

By combining motivational speaking with the power of music, Steve James has been able to reach thousands of students each year.

James and his wife use their musical abilities to bring positive messages to students throughout Utah.

The program is called Something Good For Kids and is part of a curriculum created by the Utah State Office of Education called Prevention Dimension.

http://go.uen.org/3Ea (KUTV)

 

 


 

 

 

Autism researchers from around the world in Salt Lake City for annual meeting

 

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The world’s largest gathering of autism researchers is meeting in Salt Lake City this week to discuss and share their latest findings in autism research.

The International Meeting for Autism Research is hosted at a new location in the world each year, and this is the 14th year the conference is taking place. More than 1,700 researchers and specialists are gathering at the Grand America Hotel the next few days to discuss their discoveries.

http://go.uen.org/3Eb (KSTU)

 

 


 

 

Testing opt out movement picks up steam as legislatures consider policy changes

 

The Delaware House of Representatives last week overwhelmingly voted to support a testing opt out bill that is strongly opposed by the state’s governor, Delaware Online reports.

http://go.uen.org/3E4 (DN)

 

 


 

 

 

Happier students tend to have higher GPAs

 

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

And when deprived of his happiness, his grades are liable to suffer, according to new research from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

http://go.uen.org/3E5 (DN)

 

 


 

 

 

Should cellphones be banned in classrooms? New research suggests yes

 

Most of today’s youth don’t know what life is like without a cellphone.

http://go.uen.org/3E6 (DN)

 

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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Answering questions about proposed drug testing Moab Sun News commentary by Dr. Scott L. Crane, superintendent of the Grand County School District.

 

The following question and answer format was developed to help the community understand the tenets of the proposed random drug testing policy at Grand County High School.

  1. Is random drug testing of extracurricular activities legal?
  2. Is random drug testing of extracurricular activities an infringement on student rights?

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

 

 


 

 

Head Start helped make me who I am

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Rey Butcher

 

I grew up in a low-income neighborhood on the west side of Salt Lake City, raised by a single mother who worked two jobs just to make ends meet. She couldn’t afford pre-school and, after hearing about the local Salt Lake CAP Head Start, decided to enroll me — a decision that would lay the foundation for my future success, both in school and in life.

The special programs and learning resources offered by CAP Head Start prepared me to hit the ground running when I entered kindergarten. Despite my early developmental delays, I went on to excel in school and attend the University of Utah. Today I am grateful for my career as vice president of government relations for the Questar Corporation, headquartered here in Salt Lake City.

Head Start taught me to set high expectations for myself and instilled in me a confidence that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.

http://go.uen.org/3E3

 

 


 

 

 

School names lack imagination

(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Zachary Swensen

 

Millville High School: still a better name than those provided by the select committee.

I write concerning the recent article posted about the names submitted to the CCSD board over the new high school being built in Millville. The names as The Herald Journal posted, “Canyon River High School with the hawks, Ridgeline High School with the wolves and Riverside High School with either the badgers or the hawks,” lack any historical ties to this valley, and is really quite bland.

To these names I pose one question: Where is the originality?

http://go.uen.org/3E9

 

 


 

 

 

The Economic Importance of Teaching Coding to Teens “If employers don’t help nurture this group of students coming through school now, they’re not going to have future employees.”

Atlantic commentary by SONALI KOHLI, an editorial fellow with Quartz

 

In what looks like a small startup office in a New York financial-district building earlier this year, a roomful of teenagers examined lines of code projected on to a classroom wall. The code made up Beyonce’s Twitter page, and the teens were figuring out how to collect and organize it.

These high-school students gave up four hours each Saturday for three months this past winter to learn how to build web apps at the Flatiron School. Their parents shelled out $2,500 for 12 weeks of lessons. There’s a shortage of coders in the United States, and schools like this are trying to be the solution.

Information technology was one of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields with the most job postings in the U.S. in 2013, and job postings requiring coding skills stayed open longer than most. A national non-STEM job opening is filled in about 33 days, compared to 56 days for jobs that require programming skills and 65 days for mobile developing, according to Matt Sigelman, CEO of the career analytics firm Burning Glass.

Simply put, there would be more people to fill these jobs if there were more computer-science graduates, and there’d be more graduates if more people could start the subject in high school. And yet it’s difficult to find a high-quality computer science class in American high schools, let alone a programming one.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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Calif. Unions Appeal ‘Deeply Flawed’ Vergara Ruling Education Week

 

California’s teachers’ unions have filed their opening brief in their appeal of the ruling in Vergara v. California, launching the next salvo in the ongoing battle over teacher quality in the Golden State.

Last fall, a district court judge overturned sections of state law dealing with teacher tenure, due process, and layoffs, stating that they infringed on poor and minority students’ constitutional right to an equitable education. The action was subsequently stayed pending an appeal.

Now, we’re starting to see the outline of the legal strategy the unions wil be using to make their case.

In their filing, the unions argue that the judge’s 16-page decision was “perfunctory” and that the plaintiffs didn’t show that the statutes in question cause direct harm to students.

“There was no evidence that any of the challenged statutes, alone or in combination, was the direct and unattenuated cause of any particular student being assigned to any particular teacher, ‘grossly ineffective’ or otherwise,” according to the brief.

Most of the evidence brought by the plaintiffs was anecdotal, the unions argue. Finally, the laws don’t set out to discriminate against any particular class of students, since they apply uniformly to all, they contend.

http://go.uen.org/3E1

 

 


 

 

 

Is student privacy erased as classrooms turn digital?

Privacy researcher Elana Zeide says schools need more transparency about how student data is used by educational publishers and software companies.

Christian Science Monitor

 

When parents and school officials in New Jersey discovered that educational publisher Pearson recently monitored students’ Twitter accounts during standardized testing periods, an uproar ensued. Parents were alarmed and one superintendent called it “disturbing.”

But Pearson maintained it was doing what was necessary to make sure students weren’t cheating on the Common Core test it administers.

The debate highlights the evolving nature of student privacy in the Digital Age. As schools rely more apps and educational software inside and outside the classroom, massive amounts of data are being collected on students. More often than not, parents are in the dark about how this data is being used – and how their kids are being monitored – by schools and software companies.

I recently spoke with Elana Zeide, a privacy research fellow at New York University’s Information Law Institute, about privacy concerns in education. Edited excerpts follow.

http://go.uen.org/3E2

 

 


 

 

 

Frontiers of Digital Learning Probed by Researchers Education Week

 

Chicago – Academic researchers have begun formally examining the latest frontiers in educational technology use.

Their focus: studying how emerging technologies that facilitate new types of hands-on student learning impact teaching, learning, and classroom engagement. They’re also looking at tech-enabled instructional practices that provide new windows in children’s mental problem-solving processes.

“We are exploring new territory,” said Michael Tscholl, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He recently helped conduct a study of MEteor, a “whole-body, mixed-reality immersive simulation” funded by the National Science Foundation in the hope of improving students’ grasp of commonly misunderstood concepts in planetary physics.

Other research presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, held here April 16-20, examined “connected gardening,” the use of digital-tablet screen-casting technology to plumb students’ often-invisible strategies for solving math problems, and the push to get children creating their own digital learning games.

What follows are descriptions of four different researchers’ explorations of such new uses of ed tech, as presented at the AERA gathering.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Common-Core Backers Hit States’ High Proficiency Rates Education Week

 

It’s been five years since states began adopting the common core. But many faces have changed since then in the big chairs occupied by the governors, state commissioners, and state board members who gave it the green light. That’s why two Washington-based groups think it’s time for a refresher course.

The name of the course could be “Why State Test Results Don’t Tell the Real Story,” or even, “State Tests Lie.” Common-core backers have been trying to get this message across for years, using the proficiency gaps between NAEP and states’ own test scores as Exhibit A.

On Thursday, they released a report showing how most states produce much higher proficiency rates on their own tests than they do on NAEP, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as “the nation’s report card.” The report was issued by Achieve, which had a central role in organizing the initiative to write the common core, and the Collaborative for Student Success, a foundation-funded group that works to expand support for the standards.

The report separates states into categories according to the size of their gaps: “truth-tellers,” which have tests that produce proficiency rates closer to NAEP, and “biggest gaps,” which… well, speaks for itself. More than half the states have proficiency gaps of 30 points or more, according to the report.

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

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/3Ej (Achieve)

 

The website

http://www.honestygap.org/

 

 


 

 

Under Common Core, Students Learn Words by Learning About the World Education Week

 

Washington – As many educators and researchers will attest, there’s no exact science to choosing vocabulary words—no inherent reason the word “detest” is more important to teach than “despise,” or why “compassion” should be highlighted in a text before “sympathy.”

But some reading experts, including those who helped write the Common Core State Standards, are saying what’s critical about vocabulary instruction is how the words are introduced—and that context is key.

“We’ve known for a long, long time from research that giving students a list of words and asking them to look them up in the dictionary and write a sentence is not an effective way to teach vocabulary,” said Nell K. Duke, a professor of literacy, language, and culture at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

A better approach, some say, is to have students focus on a topic—anything from the musculatory system to the Great Depression to Greek myths.

“It turns out that learning about the world is a great way to build your vocabulary and knowledge,” said David Liben, a senior content specialist for the literacy team at the New York City-based Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit professional-development group founded by the lead writers of the common-core standards.

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

 

 


 

 

Vindication For Fidgeters: Movement May Help Students With ADHD Concentrate NPR

 

Are you a pen-clicker? A hair-twirler? A knee-bouncer? Did you ever get in trouble for fidgeting in class? Don’t hang your head in shame. All that movement may be helping you think.

A new study suggests that for children with attention disorders, hyperactive movements meant better performance on a task that requires concentration. The researchers gave a small group of boys, ages 8 to 12, a sequence of random letters and numbers. Their job: Repeat back the numbers in order, plus the last letter in the bunch. All the while, the kids were sitting in a swiveling chair.

For the subjects diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, moving and spinning in the chair were correlated with better performance. For typically developing kids, however, it was the opposite: The more they moved, the worse they did on the task.

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

 

A copy of the study

http://go.uen.org/3Ed (Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology)

 

 


 

 

 

Bill Cosby to Advocate for Education in Rural Alabama Associated Press

 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Embattled actor and comedian Bill Cosby will visit Alabama on Thursday and Friday for events aimed at highlighting schools in one of the poorest areas of the state.

Cosby, whose record of educational philanthropy has been overshadowed in recent months by sexual assault allegations from more than 25 women and two pending lawsuits, will speak in several cities across Alabama’s rural Black Belt. The region is named for its fertile black soil but stifled by low income and high unemployment.

Cosby will speak with high school students as part of the nonprofit Black Belt Community Foundation’s new campaign to improve education in the south-central part of the state.

Foundation president Felecia Lucky said Cosby is volunteering his time to bring exposure to schools in the area.

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

 

 


 

 

Puerto Rico Closes Dozes of Schools as Economic Woes Deepen Associated Press

 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Francisco Oller Elementary School once bustled with kids, but now birds nest in classrooms strewn with leaves and glass from shattered fluorescent lights. Long-discarded homework assignments paper the ground. Graffiti covers the walls.

Located in a city just outside San Juan, the school is among more than 150 shuttered in the last five years as a worsening economic crisis has prompted hundreds of thousands of people to move to the U.S. mainland over the past decade.

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

 

 


 

 

 

Mexico Cracks Down on Junk Food in Schools Rising rate of childhood obesity spurs government to restrict high-calorie foods, but enforcement is a challenge Wall Street Journal

 

Mexico has taken a page from the playbook of U.S. first lady Michelle Obama by restricting high-calorie foods in schools, as the country struggles to reverse a stubborn obesity trend.

Guidelines that took effect for the current school year heavily discourage salty and sweet processed products, forbid sugary drinks and require schools to serve fresh produce and plain drinking water. Headmasters who ignore the guidelines could face stiff fines or even the closure of their schools.

The crackdown is part of a multipronged government strategy to stem rising rates of chronic illnesses that threaten to inflate health-care costs and crimp Mexico’s productivity. It is also another blow for industry in the world’s ninth-biggest market for processed food.

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

 

 

 

 

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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 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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