Education News Roundup: July 10, 2015

"7/365: Cottonwood High Schoo" by Cliff Johnson/CC/Flickr

“7/365: Cottonwood High Schoo” by Cliff Johnson/CC/Flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Cottonwood and Cyprus highs move to four-year model. (DN)

and (KSL)


Trib follows up on yesterday’s federal release of school crime statistics. (SLT)

or a copy of the report (NCES)


Zions Bank Economic Advisor Randy Shumway discusses Utah education, Common Core, and the economic health of Utah. (UP)


WaPo looks at where the Title I money would go under proposed education budget changes. (WaPo)


Sen. Mike Lee supported a proposed amendment to the Senate version of ESEA that would have allowed states to opt out of federal accountability. The amendment failed. (Ed Week)















It’s official: Cyprus, Cottonwood high schools to include 9th grades


Q&A: National Education Association president on what really needs to change with No Child Left Behind


Utah kids fighting less, smoking pot at school more National safety report » Federal data on schoolkids show good and bad trends in Utah; increased bullying is among key concerns.


Altice sentenced to prison for sex with 3 teen boys


Vaccination advocate gets a shot in the arm


Packer legacy honored at Brigham City seminary








Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down


What’s in a name?


Economic Outlook: Good Education Needed to Maintain a Globally Competitive Workforce


House narrowly renews NCLB …


School Board gets an F’








Some states would lose big money with proposed education funding changes


What should replace No Child Left Behind?


Senate Rebuffs ESEA Amendment to Let States Opt Out of Federal Accountability


Five States Receive NCLB Waiver Renewals From the Education Department


Catch them before they fall: A summer math program aims to improve odds of success in algebra A California-based foundation developed a program designed to improve students’ skills before they fall behind


US Senate approves Pat Toomey effort to ban schools from recommending suspected abusers


As Latino population surges, gaps in income and education may shrink


Confederate Flag Debates Move To High School Sports


Plenty of State Talk, Some Action on Early Education


Teacher bonuses tied to tests — their own college entrance exams


Ron Wyden calls Oregon’s low graduation rate ‘one of the major economic challenges in my home state’


School to Pay $4.5M Settlement to Bullied Jewish Students


The Writing Assignment That Changes Lives










It’s official: Cyprus, Cottonwood high schools to include 9th grades


SALT LAKE CITY — The Granite School District Board of Education unanimously approved requests this week to reconfigure Cottonwood and Cyprus high schools as four-year schools.

Currently, the two schools include students in 10th through 12th grades, but starting in the 2016-17 school year, both will include ninth-graders. During the change, Cyprus is expected to take on an additional 300 students, and Cottonwood could receive between 400 and 500 additional students.

The change has been years in the making and has already happened at three other schools in the district. Granger High School switched to a 9-12 model in 2013, Kearns High School made the change in 2014, and Hunter High School will become a 9-12 school this fall. (DN) (KSL)






Q&A: National Education Association president on what really needs to change with No Child Left Behind


The long-awaited controversial revamping of the federal education law gained steam in Washington this week, as the House narrowly passed a revision of No Child Left Behind, while the Senate pressed forward with its own bipartisan legislation.

Lily Eskelsen García, who was Utah’s 1989 Teacher of the Year, became president of the 3 million strong National Education Association last September, just as momentum to change the 2002 No Child Left Behind law began to build. She has been outspoken in her opposition to high-stakes testing to evaluate either students or teachers.

García was in Salt Lake City for the National Network of State Teachers of the Year Conference this week, a small by-invitation conference for teachers who won the coveted award. The Deseret News sat down with her to talk about No Child Left Behind, high-stakes testing, Common Core,and teacher training. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. (DN)





Utah kids fighting less, smoking pot at school more National safety report » Federal data on schoolkids show good and bad trends in Utah; increased bullying is among key concerns.


The number of fistfights breaking out in Utah’s high school hallways seems to be declining.

Students reported fewer physical altercations in 2013 than they did in 2003, according to a national report on public school safety released Thursday.

The percentage of Utah teens who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon, or who carried a weapon on school property, also fell over the decade.

But bullying — both online and on campus — has gone up since 2009, despite new laws and state programs aimed at prevention.

And while Utah teenagers are far less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol than their peers across the country, the percentage of students using marijuana on school property is relatively high.

The annual survey, released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics, found both good and bad news for Utah educators. (SLT)


or a copy of the report (NCES)





Altice sentenced to prison for sex with 3 teen boys


FARMINGTON — The Brianne Altice saga is over, as the former Davis High English teacher was sentenced Thursday after admitting to having sexual intercourse with three former students.

Farmington 2nd District Court Judge Thomas L. Kay sentenced Altice to three prison terms of 1 to 15 years, with the first two terms running consecutively, and the last one concurrently.

“I have to say to society, when a female or a male teacher does this to children, this is what is going to happen,” Kay said of the sentences. (OSE) (SLT) (DN) (PDH) (SGS) (KUTV) (KTVX) (KSL) (KSTU) (Reuters) (AP) (Ed Week) (WaPo) (NY Daily News) (London Daily Mail)






Vaccination advocate gets a shot in the arm


With a resurgence of measles, mumps and other diseases, the topic of vaccines has been thrust into the public discourse.

Central Utah Public Health Department’s Alicia Beckstead was presented the Public Health Childhood Immunization Champion Award for the state of Utah June 8 for her efforts to educate people and encourage vaccinations. (Richfield Reaper)





Packer legacy honored at Brigham City seminary


BRIGHAM CITY — When seminary students here in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints return to campus this fall, they will walk past a pump organ that honors the late President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles Boyd K. Packer.

He was being laid to rest Friday, July 10.

A few weeks ago before he died, Packer donated the pump organ that had been used in the Brigham City seminary when he was a teacher there from 1949 to 1955.

A plaque now on the organ honors Packer for his many accomplishments. (OSE)










Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

(Provo) Daily Herald editorial


Thumbs up: Local libraries that offer free summer reading programs to kids, teens and adults are a great thing for their communities. Nothing helps contribute to summer learning quite like story times, arts and crafts, community field trips and fun reading incentives.





What’s in a name?

Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist Paul Rolly


While officials of Dixie State University, and most residents of St. George, steadfastly oppose calls to change the college’s name because of the slavery and Jim Crow past it represents, the Dixie community has no problem gutting the name of an icon whose name was to be forever attached to the high school’s baseball field.

Dixie State psychology professor Dannelle Larsen-Rife recently wrote a guest editorial for the Spectrum newspaper in St. George calling for the name change in the wake of the killing of nine black church-goers in South Carolina and that state’s subsequent move to remove the Confederate battle flag from its Capitol.

“This is not about political correctness. It’s about a public institution having a name associated with hate crimes,” Larsen-Rife wrote.

But Dixie officials said they have no plans to change the name, and a survey a few years ago showed the vast majority of St. George residents want to keep it.

Not so, though, for Don Lay, the late beloved coach at Dixie High School whose name was to cloak the school’s baseball field forever, according to a resolution announced by the school in 1987.

The sign over the baseball field for nearly 30 years has read: “Coach Don Lay’s Flyer Field.” According to the resolution, that name was to remain “as a perpetual designation of his contribution to the Gold, Blue and White of Dixie High School.”

But a new baseball field has been built and the Don Lay name will not be part of it. The new field is named, simply, “Flyer Field.”





Economic Outlook: Good Education Needed to Maintain a Globally Competitive Workforce Utah Policy op-ed by Randy Shumway, Zions Bank Economic Advisor


To build a family-sustaining career in the rapidly-changing global marketplace, our children will need vastly different skills than were required even just a decade ago.

One of the most effective ways to improve the relevance and depth of what our students know and what they are capable of doing is by implementing the Common Core State Standards. Developed by a broad, national coalition of higher education experts, business leaders, school administrators, and teachers, these standards encourage deeper, more effectual learning.  Specifically, instead of focusing on rote memorization of information, teachers build students’ abilities to analyze, think critically, and apply skills to real world problems.

The transition—as with any significant cultural change—has been difficult.  Inherent transitional challenges have been exacerbated by the simultaneous reduction in professional development budgets.  Teachers have been asked to fundamentally alter their teaching methods, but often have not been given the necessary training or tools to support such change.  Similarly, many parents feel lost helping their children complete assignments at home as concepts are being taught differently.

The Common Core State Standards have also been accompanied with more lengthy and difficult assessments.  Most states have experienced a temporary decrease in scores, to be expected with an increase in test complexity.

But the new assessments are more complex because they are designed to measure higher-level skills and to close the gap between state and international proficiency standards.  The assessments actually engage and teach students while simultaneously measuring their understanding.  In Kentucky, where assessment scores dropped in year one of Common Core implementation, students’ college readiness levels increased a whopping 15 percent by year three.






House narrowly renews NCLB …

KNRS commentary by Rod Arquette


The one thing that comes to mind when I see this headline is that scene from “Monty Python and The Holy Grail” about there being much rejoicing and a less then enthused hurray going up from the little paper puppets on the screen. Oh joy…look at that. They’ve had the courage to narrowly renew an increasingly unpopular educational program once again. Aren’t they brave examples of heroism and pinnacles of moral virtue we should look up to?

If there is a silver lining to this whole thing, it’s that we’re seeing an increasing divide over the issue, with many representatives now voting against the bill. And one amendment offered by Republicans was actually passed along with the bill, that allowed for parents to opt their child out of the constant testing that has forced teachers to teach towards testing, rather than actual learning.

So what does this mean for the future of education? And is there any way we can finally kill this thing?

Guest Alert: Christal Swasey with Utahns Against Common Core will be on the program today at 4:20 to discuss the passage of NCLB and what this means for the education of children here in Utah.





School Board gets an F’

(St. George) Spectrum letter from Mason Mertlich


My name is Mason Mertlich and I am stating my opinion on school districts taking away benefits from over 40 workers that have been working for many years at that school and that need those benefits. After taking those benefits, the school board voted to give themselves the same benefits that they took away from those workers. The school board is not a full-time job and they took benefits from hard workers with full-time jobs.

This subject is close to me because my mom works hard to feed our family and having those benefits that we needed taken away, forcing her to get a new job just to give the necessary things to her kids. It is not right.











Some states would lose big money with proposed education funding changes Washington Post


Congress’s debate about rewriting the nation’s main education law has featured high-profile disagreements over testing, vouchers and school accountability, but there is another issue that has just as much potential to derail the legislation: Money.

A forthcoming amendment from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) would change the formula used to allocate Title I funds, a move that would create big winners and losers among the states.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia would gain Title I dollars, which are meant to educate poor children. But that leaves 14 states that would see cuts, including big losers New York (whose districts would lose $310 million), Illinois ($188 million) and Pennsylvania ($120 million).






Senate Rebuffs ESEA Amendment to Let States Opt Out of Federal Accountability Education Week


Washington – Day Three of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization debate in the U.S. Senate opened and closed in the span of a few short hours Thursday, with the chamber passing 14 amendments and rejecting one that underscored the precarious path co-authors Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., must traverse to maintain the bipartisan nature of the bill.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., offered the highly contentious A PLUS Act amendment, which would have allowed states to opt out of federal accountability entirely and send funding under the current law back to states in the form of block grants.

“It will help expand local control of our schools and return federal education dollars where they belong, closer to the classroom,” Daines said. “States would be freed from Washington-knows-best requirements.”

And Sen. Mike Lee, R- Utah, chimed in, arguing that unless the amendment was adopted, the underlying bill would have “the same disappointing results of No Child Left Behind [the current iteration of ESEA].”

But Alexander slammed the proposal, knowing full well that if adopted it would sink his chances of getting the ESEA reauthorization across the finish line.





What should replace No Child Left Behind?



No Child Left Behind, an educational reform law with a controversial legacy, expired eight years ago and has yet to be replaced. This week, the Senate took up the first bipartisan effort to replace the law. Hari Sreenivasan talks to Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute and former Gov. Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education.





Five States Receive NCLB Waiver Renewals From the Education Department Education Week


The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that five states—Delaware, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina—had their waivers from provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act approved, along with Puerto Rico.

However, only Rhode Island and South Carolina received the three-year extension that other states have previously gotten. Delaware, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma received only one-year extensions. Puerto Rico’s waiver renewal is for three years. (ED)






Catch them before they fall: A summer math program aims to improve odds of success in algebra A California-based foundation developed a program designed to improve students’ skills before they fall behind Hechinger Report


Summer school might bring to mind the dreary punishment of repeating failed courses.

But a California math program uses the summer break to help students before they fall behind. The innovative summer school experience significantly boosted students’ chances of succeeding in eighth-grade algebra in the fall, according to new research. It’s not enough to ensure they will succeed in algebra – most students were still not completely prepared — but it was better than starting eighth grade in the fall without the intervention.

The 19-day course, known as Elevate [Math], is taught by specially trained, certified teachers who use group projects and online video to enhance lessons. They help students during the summer before they take algebra as eighth graders. Those who fail algebra often don’t catch up.

The students spend three hours a day in teacher-led instruction and small group projects, and an hour doing online work through the Khan Academy. And they get a taste of life on a college campus through a field trip. Students who completed the program were more likely to reach a test score that indicates they have what it takes to pass algebra, according to the study.


A copy of the study (NCES)





US Senate approves Pat Toomey effort to ban schools from recommending suspected abusers Allentown (PA) Morning Call


The U.S. Senate approved an amendment from Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey on Thursday that aims to prevent school employees from quietly taking a job in a new district after being suspected of sexually abusing a child.

The proposal is a scaled-back version of a bill that Toomey has sponsored with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. The Pennsylvania Republican has been persistently promoting that measure in Senate floor speeches and in TV ads purchased by his re-election team.

Toomey’s legislation attempted to do two things: require tougher, standardized background checks for school workers in every state, and prohibit school districts from assisting an employee suspected of sexual misconduct with a minor from taking a position in a new district.

The effort faced opposition from both sides of the aisle, with some teachers’ groups’ seeking exceptions to the background check rules. Some Republicans — including Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is shepherding the chamber’s education bill through debate — had concerns about imposing on the rights of state and local governments to regulate schools.

The compromise voted on Thursday would nix the background check provisions, advancing only the section intended to address a process that bill supporters describe as “passing the trash.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)






As Latino population surges, gaps in income and education may shrink Los Angeles Times


Yolanda Garcia’s grandparents migrated from Mexico and worked multiple jobs — in farm fields and school cafeterias — to save money to send all six children to college.

Garcia’s father attended Brown University and had five children. In turn, she graduated from UC Santa Cruz, worked as a teacher and now runs a gallery and boutique store in Whittier selling Latin American folklore art and other items.

Along the way, the family moved up the ladder, from South Los Angeles to the upscale Friendly Hills neighborhood of Whittier. They were the first Latinos in their immediate area. Now, there are four other Latino families there.

The Garcias’ story represents a common California immigrant dream. But it’s far from the reality for all Latinos, who the U.S. Census Bureau now says have surpassed non-Latino whites to become California’s largest ethnic group.

The milestone is a reminder of the huge strides Latinos have made, but also of the challenges they still face.

Overall, Latinos have lower incomes, education and job skills than the average white Californian.

The Latino plurality is just a preview of the demographic shifts ahead. Latinos make up half of all Californians younger than 18, numbering 4.7 million compared with 2.4 million whites, according to census data.

This younger generation has a chance to close many of these gaps, with many achieving more than their parents.

A study published last year found that second-generation Mexican Americans in California and Texas had achieved more education, higher earnings, less poverty, more white-collar jobs and greater rates of home ownership than their immigrant parents. Only about 21% of Mexican parents had completed high school, for instance, compared with 80% of their children by 2005.






Confederate Flag Debates Move To High School Sports Huffington Post


In the three weeks since nine black churchgoers were massacred in Charleston, South Carolina, a national debate has erupted over the place of the Confederate flag in public spaces.

But the argument isn’t confined to the South Carolina statehouse or the halls of Congress. Far from the spotlight, discussions about the appropriateness of Confederate symbolism are happening in another arena: High school athletics.

School districts and administrators have been dealing with the use of Confederate symbols in sports for years, and not just in the South. From New York and Massachusetts, to Texas and Florida, schools have disassociated themselves with nicknames like Rebels and logos that feature gray-clad Confederate soldiers and the battle flag itself.

Since the Charleston massacre, the debates have resumed in several school districts.





Plenty of State Talk, Some Action on Early Education Education Week


If all the legislative proposals to expand early-childhood-care and early-education programs in the states this winter and spring had passed, the nation would be entering a new era of near-universal, subsidized preschool for young children.

But the difference between what was proposed and what actually passed is vast.

A search in the National Conference of State Legislatures database for early-education legislation turned up 924 bills in 50 states as of June 29. Proposals ranged from increased state funding for home-visiting programs to universal preschool for 4-year-olds.

Most of the bills that had passed their respective legislatures as of late last month and earned their governors’ signatures, however, moved only incrementally toward increasing the size and scope of publicly financed early-care and early-education programs.





Teacher bonuses tied to tests — their own college entrance exams Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune


SARASOTA – Josh Mocherman, a nuclear science and chemistry teacher at Riverview High School, took the SAT 21 years ago.

He does not remember what he scored, but his performance on the test he took during his junior year of high school could affect his pay as a teacher next year.

The Florida Legislature this year approved another measure using test scores to reward teachers — but this time, the rewards will be based on the SAT and ACT scores teachers took as high schoolers.

The new Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarships could give teachers up to a $10,000 bonus if they scored at least a 26 out of 36 points on the ACT or at least a 1210 on the 1600-point SAT. They would also have to be rated as “highly effective” under the state’s new teacher evaluation guidelines.

The scholarships — which are not intended for teachers to further their education but are more like bonuses — will cost the state a projected $44 million. There are no solid estimates on how many teachers may qualify.

But test-makers, education advocates and teachers like Mocherman are questioning the idea.





Ron Wyden calls Oregon’s low graduation rate ‘one of the major economic challenges in my home state’

(Portland) Oregonian


Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday evening, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called Oregon’s low high school graduation rate “one of the major economic challenges in my home state.”

Wyden was making the case for a change in federal rules as Congress works to rewrite the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law. One provision of the bill, added at his request, would make more high schools eligible for federal turnaround grants.

His hope is that schools that serve a lot of low-income students could use that money to raise their graduation rates, Wyden told at least some of his colleagues. (By the end of his short speech, he noted that a quorum of senators was no longer present in the room.)

Wyden said graduation rates are a concern nationwide, but said they are particularly so in Oregon.

Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country. Recently departed Oregon schools chief Rob Saxton says that is partly because Oregon is more honest in its accounting of just how many students don’t earn diplomas in four years, while other states play loose with their definitions.

But he concedes that Oregon’s four-year graduation rate has remained stubbornly low, at about 72 percent.






School to Pay $4.5M Settlement to Bullied Jewish Students Associated Press


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A federal judge approved a $4.5 million settlement between an upstate New York school district and five Jewish students who say they endured years of abuse by classmates who made Holocaust jokes toward them and drew swastikas in hallways and lockers.

One of the five current and former students who testified at a hearing Thursday when the settlement was approved held back sobs as she described becoming suicidal after repeated acts of anti-Semitic bullying.

“I will never be able to get those years of my childhood back,” the 17-year-old said, according to the New York Times. “I used to be an outgoing kid who wasn’t afraid to talk to people and make new friends.”

The lawsuit accused Pine Bush Central School District officials of failing to take action to protect the students from anti-Semitic bullying for years. The students said they were subjected to racial epithets, Nazi salutes and other forms of intimidation. (NYT)





The Writing Assignment That Changes Lives NPR


Why do you do what you do? What is the engine that keeps you up late at night or gets you going in the morning? Where is your happy place? What stands between you and your ultimate dream?

Heavy questions. One researcher believes that writing down the answers can be decisive for students.

He co-authored a paper that demonstrates a startling effect: nearly erasing the gender and ethnic minority achievement gap for 700 students over the course of two years with a short written exercise in setting goals.

Jordan Peterson teaches in the department of psychology at the University of Toronto. For decades, he has been fascinated by the effects of writing on organizing thoughts and emotions.










USOE Calendar



UEN News



July 14:

Charter School Funding Task Force

8 a.m., 445 State Capitol


Senate Education Confirmation Committee meeting

1:30 p.m., 450 State Capitol


Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



July 15:

Education Interim Committee meeting

8:30 a.m., 30 House Building


Government Operations Interim Committee meeting

9:12 a.m., 20 House Building



August 6-7:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



August 13:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


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