Education News Roundup 07-30-15

Today’s Top Picks:

KSL checks in on Native American students at summer school in Blanding.
http://go.uen.org/4hh (KSL)

Standard looks at House Bill 345 on educator misconduct.
http://go.uen.org/4hb (OSE)

Sen. Hatch co-sponsors a federal bill on teacher loan assistance.
http://go.uen.org/4hu (Ed Week)
or a copy of the bill
http://go.uen.org/4hv (Congress.gov)

EdSource offers up some interesting interactive graphics with longitudinal and state-comparative data on school finance, student demographics and achievement, and teacher pay.
http://go.uen.org/4h1 (EdSource)

Ninety percent of Colorado’s teachers are white, but only 57 percent of its students. How does the state go about increasing diversity in its teaching workforce?
http://go.uen.org/4h0 (Chalkbeat Colorado)

White House urges kids to bring a book to read at the barbershop while they’re waiting in line for a haircut.
http://go.uen.org/4hk (WaPo)
and http://go.uen.org/4hl (ED)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

Native American students embrace challenge of new summer school

Bill aimed to protect students from teacher misconduct

Bipartisan Bill Would Overhaul Teacher Loan Assistance Program

Springdale Elementary seeks new students

Qualifying families can sign up for free or reduced lunches at Utah schools

National report shows high overall quality in Utah schools

Survey aims to evaluate health, education needs of county residents

New Hillcrest Junior High hosting open house

ICSD gives update on North Elementary project

High school principal breaks collarbone on 1,700-mile bike ride

Utah boy who asked for ‘junk mail’ to read gets more than 500 book donations

‘On Dreams of Dixie’ honors Washington County School District’s centennial

‘Stuff the BUS’ school supply drive benefits students in need

Back to school fundraiser at The Gateway

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Same-sex marriage is legal. But as a gay teenager in Utah, I keep one foot in the closet.

Carrots, Sticks, and Sermons: How Policy Shapes Educational Entrepreneurship

When average isn’t good enough: Simpson’s paradox in education and earnings

NATION

States in Motion: Visualizing how education funding has changed over time

Arne Duncan on Accountability in ESEA Reauthorization

Conference Process to Rewrite ESEA Gets Underway

CU professor on teachers of color: “We’re bringing them in, but we’re losing them”

In a county that tried to amend U.S. history course, a lesson in politics

Freedom to Experiment Presents Challenges for School Innovation Networks

Old Hands, New Hurdles: State Chiefs Who Take the Local Reins

Autism costs could skyrocket, experts warn

Full-court press for Mississippi third graders in summer school has disappointing results After month of intense work with youngsters who twice failed state reading test, one Delta district sees scant progress

Music Class May Help Students’ Language Skills, Study Finds

Hedge fund mogul Paulson donates $8.5 million to NYC charter school

The unexpected place where the White House wants your kids to read

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UTAH NEWS
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Native American students embrace challenge of new summer school

BLANDING — When a bunch of seventh-graders watch basketball superstar Michael Jordan go in for a slam dunk on a big screen in their Blanding classroom, it’s not all for fun. It’s to learn.
An animated character on screen demonstrates principles of gravity, Jordan’s legendary hang time — and mathematics.
“How many of you thought about all the different mathematical principles that go into somebody being able to dunk a basketball?” asked teacher Nikki Tulley as the video ended.
For some of the kids, this new summer school is a big step into the modern world.
http://go.uen.org/4hh (KSL)

Bill aimed to protect students from teacher misconduct

SALT LAKE CITY – Lawmakers passed a bill during the 2015 legislative session to protect students against educators with previous sexual offenses.
House Bill 345 lists offenses that could bar the State Board of Education from issuing or reissuing and educator license. The majority of offenses listed ban teachers with convictions that are of a “sexual nature.”
Bill sponsor Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, explained the significance of the legislation. “You would think that much of this would be a no-brainer, but the need to spell it out became an important policy separation,” McCay said.
McCay felt the bill accomplished two significant changes. First it returned a balance to the state school board. “The crux of the bill is who holds the power to license,” he said.
He felt the unelected body of the Utah Professional Practice Advisor Committee (UPPAC) held too much “autonomous” power in the decision-making process, “with no consideration of the board.” The bill gives licensing power back to the board of education.
Second, the bill established a “basic common denominator.” McCay believes teachers, principals, and school districts are motivated by students’ interest. “I have seen sexual abuse occur in people’s lives, just watching the impact is shocking,” McCay said. He sees the bill as a way to ensure the teachers who do not meet the basic common denominator are not allowed back in the classroom.
http://go.uen.org/4hb (OSE)

Bipartisan Bill Would Overhaul Teacher Loan Assistance Program

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced a bill Thursday that would overhaul the federal loan-assistance program for teachers and provide them with incentives to enter and remain in the classroom, especially in low-income schools.
The proposal, titled the Teacher Loan Repayment Act, is backed by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Mark Warner, D-Va., and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and Richard Hanna, R-N.Y.
Specifically, the bill would eliminate the current patchwork of loan assistance programs for teachers, including TEACH grants, and replace them with one streamlined federal program that provides all eligible teachers with a monthly loan payment.
Under the proposal, the federal government would put $250 to $400 towards every eligible teacher’s loan payment each month up to a total of $23,400. If the monthly payment is less than the range of payments, the remaining money would go towards paying down the loan principal. The payments would be non-taxable.
In addition, teachers who work in Title I schools (those enrolling at least 40 percent of children from low-income families) would be eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years.
http://go.uen.org/4hu (Ed Week)

A copy of the bill
http://go.uen.org/4hv (Congress.gov)

Springdale Elementary seeks new students

Springdale Elementary School is hoping to boost student enrollment for the 2015-16 school year with a revamped curriculum.
School Principal Chris Snodgress said enrollment fell by 10 students since the last fall school year. She said in the past, total enrollment has averaged between 40 and 50 students but last year there were only 30 students.
Snodgress said some children transferred to Hurricane while others went to St. George. A new curriculum has been implemented in hopes of encouraging parents to enroll their students this year. Along with this curriculum, a plan outlining the new programs has been written and set in place as a guideline for the upcoming school year.
“We’re trying to increase our numbers, so we’ve come up with a plan that’s unique and different from the other schools,” Snodgress said. “We went toward project-based learning … (it’s) something that we think parents will like.”
The new curriculum is under Beyond Basics, which is a Schoolwide Enrichment Model. According to the school’s education plan, this curriculum mixes different grade levels while students learn science and social studies with the Utah State Core Curriculum as a reference. Under the Beyond Basics plan students will be involved in projects that will have them exhibit presentations on topics they have been researching with the help of their teachers and the latest technology.
http://go.uen.org/4he (SGS)

Qualifying families can sign up for free or reduced lunches at Utah schools

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Families who need financial help to feed their students during the school year can now apply for free or reduced price meals.
Students on summer break didn’t have to go without lunch, thanks to free meals provided by a state education program.
Abigail Woodward, an elementary student from Ogden, appreciated their generosity.
“It’s nice just to see a friendly face every day giving you delicious lunch,” Woodward said.
With school ramping back up, many families will need to continue taking advantage of this benefit. They may qualify under new guidelines announced by the Utah State Office of Education. The guidelines are rolled out every year and are based on inflation.
http://go.uen.org/4hr (KSTU)

National report shows high overall quality in Utah schools

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns aren’t strangers to statistics that show the state’s low per-student funding amount and an education system that’s about average compared with other states.
But when other factors are added to the mix, Utah’s schools may be well above average.
Utah’s education system ranked 14th best overall in a national report published this week by WalletHub, up from last year’s ranking of 21st. The report measured school quality based on 13 metrics, such as reading and math scores, graduation rates, college preparation and school safety.
http://go.uen.org/4gZ (DN)

Survey aims to evaluate health, education needs of county residents

By questioning community members about issues like income, housing and nutrition, several local health organizations hope a Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments (SEUALG) survey will help them better understand and evaluate Grand County’s health and education needs. In addition to compiling essential data about southeastern Utah’s four counties, the survey also begins the process of helping determine how funding from Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) monies, which the state receives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is allocated to the counties.
“It’s this big document that we’re going to piece together,” said Annalee Howland, the CSBG coordinator for SEUALG. “We take all the information from each county and from what people are saying in the communities and their different agencies. … The point is to move everyone in the right direction.”
The survey, which Howland is asking all Grand County residents to complete, asks questions related to nine different issues — income, education, employment, housing, nutrition, health, emergency and work supports, transportation, and other individually specific needs.
http://go.uen.org/4ht (Moab Times-Independent)

New Hillcrest Junior High hosting open house

MURRAY — An open house will be held at the new Hillcrest Junior High School.
http://go.uen.org/4ha (DN)

ICSD gives update on North Elementary project

Soil samples along the property of North Elementary came back with solid results and preliminary plans for a new building have been started, Iron County School District construction manager Hunter Shaheen said during the school board meeting Tuesday.
http://go.uen.org/4hd (SGS)

High school principal breaks collarbone on 1,700-mile bike ride

HURRICANE — A high school principal who has been riding his bike from Washington to California to teach his students about service broke his collarbone on the journey last week.
Jody Rich, Hurricane High School principal, rode from California to Florida with former Hurricane Middle School principal Roy Hoyt in 2013 to teach students they could do hard things. Ever since, that message has resonated with them, Rich said.
The first ride raised about $30,000 for school computers, but this year, Rich said he changed his focus to service and helping his students understand how it leads to a fulfilling life.
http://go.uen.org/4hi (KSL)

Utah boy who asked for ‘junk mail’ to read gets more than 500 book donations

SANDY, Utah – A Utah postal carrier says he recently had a “life-changing” encounter during a delivery route when he met a 12-year-old boy who was reading grocery store advertisements because he said he didn’t have any real books to read.
“I was putting mail in the individual boxes for the apartment residents last Thursday when I heard this kid reading through a grocery ad reading things like ‘Bananas, 66 cents,’ that kind of thing,” mailman Ron Lynch, who lives in Sandy, told ABC News. “He later came up and asked if I had any newspapers or junk mail or anything he could read.”
Lynch said he told the kid, whose name he learned was Mathew Flores, that he didn’t have any extra mail, but that he should try going to the library.
“He said he couldn’t afford the bus to the library, so he just walked off, and I thought wait, I got to do something to help this kid out,” Lynch said. “So I came over and talked to his mom, who mostly spoke Spanish, but Mathew helped translate. She gave me permission to use a photo of him, which I posted to Facebook along with a plea asking for book donations to his address.”
To both Lynch’s and Flores’ surprise, the post went viral and had over 8,000 likes and over 10,000 shares as of Wednesday afternoon.
http://go.uen.org/4hg (KTVX)

http://go.uen.org/4hy (ABC Radio)

‘On Dreams of Dixie’ honors Washington County School District’s centennial

Iron Spyke Pictures has signed a promotion and distribution agreement with Washington County School District for the new documentary film, “On Dreams of Dixie.” Iron Spyke Pictures is a southern Utah-based company dedicated to supporting independent filmmakers, cinematographers, and performance artists through representation, promotion, and distribution of documentary films.
http://go.uen.org/4hs (Southern Utah Independent)

‘Stuff the BUS’ school supply drive benefits students in need

ST. GEORGE — United Way Dixie is partnering with Allconnect for the first annual “Stuff the BUS” school supply drive, which will take place Thursday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. in the Allconnect parking lot, 1572 S. Dixie Drive in St. George.
http://go.uen.org/4hc (SGN)

http://go.uen.org/4hj (KCSG)

Back to school fundraiser at The Gateway

Believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about heading back to school. Classes start back up again in just a couple of weeks. In celebration of the new school year, The Gateway is holding a back to school fundraiser for kids in need.
http://go.uen.org/4hf (KTVX)

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Same-sex marriage is legal. But as a gay teenager in Utah, I keep one foot in the closet.
Vox commentary by William Wheeler, a high school student living in Salt Lake City with his family

I’m a teenager. Seventeen, a senior, class of 2016. I’m Hispanic, middle-class, a hard worker. I live in Utah. And I’m gay. That’s the part everyone pays attention to around here.
I didn’t always live out here. I was born in New York City. I grew up for a while in a series of identical tri-state suburbs. Then my father lost his job in the ’08 crash, and we lost all our money along with it.
The house went first, then the car. We lived in hotels and cabins half-abandoned in the woods. Our lives were held up by a string of good luck days. Once, the car broke down on the side of the road the night before Thanksgiving. An old couple happened by, complete strangers — they let us borrow their Mercedes. They had three. That kind of a good luck day.
In 2013 our savings ran dry. We couldn’t pay rent. We had family in Salt Lake City willing to finance our excursion and to let us stay with them for a while. My mother decided it was time to move west.
My friends told me it would be a culture shock; they worried I could get jumped, assaulted, or excluded because of my sexuality. I ignored them, chalking their fears up to too much media hype over the LGBTQ community’s fight for rights, some lazy stereotype about red states. I thought that no place in America could be that bad.
But I was wrong. I was spoiled by New York. Here’s what I’ve learned living as a gay teenager in Utah.

If you’re like me, unable to break the barriers of the gay clique at your local high school (assuming there even is one), you’re left with the internet. You can go to chat rooms and liberal havens like Tumblr in an attempt to feel included in some kind of community or support network, but that’s all.
I’ve never attended the GSA at my Utah school, but from secondhand accounts I know it’s pretty much a facade. The club consists mainly of straight “allies” (read: more pseudo-supporters, vain acceptors) who come to eat food and talk to friends and perhaps, once, mention an issue related to the LGBTQ community before returning to their snacks.
It’s not like they’ve had any backing from the school administration; the GSA isn’t listed on the official student handbook as a chartered student group, and it is for all intents and purposes banned from advertising events beyond word of mouth.
http://go.uen.org/4hw

Carrots, Sticks, and Sermons: How Policy Shapes Educational Entrepreneurship
Center on Reinventing Public Education commentary by research analyst Ashley Jochim

Public policy profoundly shapes the prospects for entrepreneurship in education. Not only does government inject billions of dollars into both public and private providers of educational services, but federal, state, and local entities regulate who can deliver services and how services can and cannot be provided.
Compared to recent history, the policy landscape has made education more open to entrepreneurs than ever before. Policy changes at the federal, state, and local level have expanded parents’ options and service providers’ freedom of action. At the same time, the evolution of test-based accountability and common standards has put new pressures on entrepreneurs working within and outside of the traditional public school system.
This essay begins by considering how different kinds of policy tools – “carrots, sticks, and sermons” – shape entrepreneurship. It then considers how changes to the post-No Child Left Behind policy landscape, including Common Core, charter schools, teacher evaluation, and test-based accountability, have influenced the opportunities and obstacles entrepreneurs face, including their access to resources, demand for their services, and oversight of their work. It concludes with recommendations about how public policy can more effectively encourage entrepreneurship in education.
http://go.uen.org/4h4

When average isn’t good enough: Simpson’s paradox in education and earnings
Brookings Institute commentary by Brad Hershbein, an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

In the early 1970s, the University of California, Berkeley was sued for gender discrimination over admission to graduate school. Of the 8,442 male applicants for the fall of 1973, 44 percent were admitted, but only 35 percent of the 4,351 female applicants were accepted. At first blush, and assuming the applicants’ qualifications were similar, this pattern indeed appeared consistent with gender discrimination. However, when researchers looked more closely within specific departments, this bias against women went away, and even reversed in several cases.
This apparent contradiction, in which the trend of the whole can be different from or the opposite of the trend of the constituent parts, is often called Simpson’s paradox, after British statistician Edward H. Simpson, who described the phenomenon in 1951. In the Berkeley case, the “paradox” occurred because women disproportionately applied to departments with low acceptance rates, as shown in the table above, while men disproportionately applied to departments with high acceptance rates. Examples of Simpson’s paradox have also been found in baseball batting averages, on-time flights of airlines, and even survival rates from the Titanic.
Why might the paradox matter for research or policy? Education is a case in point. According the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the only nationally-representative exam measuring student learning over the past few decades, math scores for all 17-year-olds barely budged between 1992 and 2012. In fact, the average score dipped by a point (see the navy blue line below):
But as the graph also shows, average test scores actually rose slightly for white students, black students, and Hispanic students. If each of these groups was performing better, how did the overall average go down? The answer is the composition of students changed. In 1992, 75 percent of students were white, 15 percent were black, and 7 percent was Hispanic. By 2012, 57 percent were white, 13 percent were black, and 22 percent were Hispanic. The modest progress in each ethnic group is not visible in the overall results, since black and Hispanic students have lower average scores.
http://go.uen.org/4hq

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NATIONAL NEWS
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States in Motion: Visualizing how education funding has changed over time
EdSource

After a complete redesign and the addition of new data, we’re excited to relaunch “States in Motion.”
The project explores numerous datasets through interactive charts for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The idea behind the project is to take a historical look at how the economic and social conditions have changed for each state over time, and how those changes have impacted investment in education and student achievement. Each section explores specific data in chart form and offers context in related text. There could be many stories in each chart; we’re telling just one of them.
The charts and context below are California-centric, meaning we mainly explored how California has changed compared with other states historically over numerous data metrics. Some of the questions going into the project include:
* How does California’s investment in public education compare with that of other states?
* How has that investment changed over the decades?
* What does spending look like when compared with datasets like a state’s per-capita personal income, proportion of students in poverty, and teacher salaries?
* And what’s the correlation, if any, between state spending on education and student test scores as well as between test scores and percentage of students in poverty?
http://go.uen.org/4h1

Arne Duncan on Accountability in ESEA Reauthorization
Education Week

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan may only have eighteen months left in office—but they’re critical months when it comes to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
The House and Senate each passed bills that take aim at the Obama administration’s K-12 priorities when it comes to teacher evaluation, standards, and more. While the Republican-backed House bill was somewhat of a lost cause, the administration couldn’t secure much of its ask-list in the Senate bill—particularly when it came to beefing up accountability—before it passed with big bipartisan support.
So what will be the administration be pushing for in conference? How far would the bills need to go on accountability to be acceptable to Duncan and the White House? I chatted briefly with Duncan on the phone for some answers. (The basic gist: If you thought Duncan was going to tip his hand on just how much of a rollback of the federal role in K-12 would be acceptable in a conference report, think again.)
Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation:
http://go.uen.org/4ho

Conference Process to Rewrite ESEA Gets Underway
Education Week

The conference process for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act began in earnest Thursday morning, as a bipartisan “Gang of Four” met to lay out the groundwork for brokering a proposal that can pass both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
All the expected characters were at the table: Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairman and ranking member of the Senate education committee who co-authored the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate with overwhelming support, and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., the chairman and the ranking member of the House education committee.
http://go.uen.org/4hp

CU professor on teachers of color: “We’re bringing them in, but we’re losing them”
Chalkbeat Colorado

In Colorado, close to 90 percent of teachers are white, compared to just 57 percent of the student population. While a handful of programs across the state have sprung up to address that discrepancy, one academic thinks more can and should be done.
Terrenda White, an assistant professor of education at the University of Colorado Boulder who has studied urban education and the teacher workforce, says that while recruiting a more diverse teaching force is an important goal, policymakers and school and district leaders also need to think about how to keep them in the classroom.
According to a Chalkbeat analysis of teacher turnover data, an increasing number of Colorado teachers are leaving their classrooms in Colorado, which is causing some school districts, including Denver Public Schools, to rethink how they recruit and retain teachers.
http://go.uen.org/4h0

In a county that tried to amend U.S. history course, a lesson in politics
Washington Post

Voters in Jefferson County, Colo., are petitioning to recall three conservative members of the local school board who caused a national stir last fall after criticizing the Advanced Placement U.S. History course for being insufficiently patriotic.
Residents collected more than twice the number of required signatures on a petition to recall the three conservative members of the five-member Jefferson County Board of Education.
Jeffco United for Action said it had more than 110,000 on petitions to recall board members John Newkirk, Ken Witt and Julie Williams. The group needs 15,000 valid signatures for each board member it wants to unseat in order to force a recall election.
The group had until September to collect 15,000 signatures for each; it turned in an estimated 36,000 to 37,000 for each.
Now, the Jefferson County clerk’s office has 15 business days to verify the signatures. Once verified, unless someone challenges the signatures, the recall could be held the same day as the Nov. 3 general election. The school district pays the cost of the recall election.
http://go.uen.org/4h7

Freedom to Experiment Presents Challenges for School Innovation Networks
Education Week

Frustrated by the lack of innovation in K-12 education, a growing number of district leaders are giving small networks of schools the freedom and resources to try new approaches with classroom technology.
But the approach can be rife with technical and logistical challenges, as can be seen in the experience of North Carolina’s 145,000-student Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.
There, after two years and nearly $3 million, a network of nine semi-autonomous schools known as Project LIFT has mostly ditched its own student-laptop initiative. Ironically, Project LIFT is now embracing closer coordination with the system-wide strategy of the very district to which it was supposed to be an alternative.
“There have been lessons learned,” said Denise Watts, the learning communities superintendent who oversees the network. “We do not function on an island.”
Even autonomous schools must often still rely on their host district’s central office for broadband and wireless infrastructure, technical assistance, and administrative support. Just introducing devices and software into classrooms in no way guarantees that instruction will change—or that schools’ manifold reporting and compliance obligations will be done more efficiently. And while big private donations may generate headlines, they don’t always result in what schools actually need.
Despite those common challenges, experts in the field say it would be wrong to view such experiments as failures.
http://go.uen.org/4h8

Old Hands, New Hurdles: State Chiefs Who Take the Local Reins
Education Week

When state school superintendents decide to leave their posts in favor of running districts, an outsider might see it as a step down the traditional K-12 career ladder.
But at a time of unusual stress and relatively high turnover among state chiefs, a few who have made the switch say there’s no state-level substitute for being more directly engaged with their own set of schools, students, and teachers.
Perhaps the most prominent recent example of such a switch is former Rhode Island chief Deborah A. Gist. She stepped down earlier this year to take over as the Tulsa, Okla., superintendent, following a period of uncertainty about her contract and her relationship with the Ocean State’s board.
The last two state chiefs in Iowa, meanwhile, have left to become local superintendents. Jason Glass left the state in 2013 to take over the Eagle County district in Colorado, while Brad Buck left earlier this year to take over the district in Cedar Rapids.
And after leaving New Jersey’s top K-12 job in early 2014, Christopher Cerf earlier this month agreed to become Newark’s superintendent until the district shifts from state to local control next year.
http://go.uen.org/4hn

Autism costs could skyrocket, experts warn
CBS

For the first time, health economists have projected the current and future costs of caring for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States. The prognosis: already astronomical costs will continue to rise unless things change.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis, Health System calculated costs for the current calendar year and projected where they’ll be 10 years from now if effective interventions and preventive treatments are not identified and made widely available.
They estimated that for medical, non-medical, and productivity losses associated with the disorder, autism will cost $268 billion for 2015 and $461 billion for 2025. But the researchers said these projections are conservative and if prevalence of autism continues to increase at current rates, the costs could reach $1 trillion in the next decade.
“The current costs of ASD are more than double the combined costs of stroke and hypertension and on a par with the costs of diabetes,” study senior author Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences and researcher with the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research at UC Davis, said in a statement. “There should be at least as much public, research and government attention to finding the causes and best treatments for ASD as there is for these other major diseases.”
http://go.uen.org/4h5

A copy of the study
http://go.uen.org/4h6 (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders)

Full-court press for Mississippi third graders in summer school has disappointing results
After month of intense work with youngsters who twice failed state reading test, one Delta district sees scant progress
Hechinger Report

INDIANOLA, Miss. — Early July in the Mississippi Delta and the East Sunflower Elementary School was bristling with nervous energy. If educators inside were perspiring, though, it wasn’t from the sweltering summer heat.
The school was just days away from final administration of the statewide third-grade reading test: the culmination of the Sunflower County school district’s intensive four-week summer school aimed at lifting the scores of students who had already twice failed the state test, and saving them from the humiliation of repeating third grade.
The effort would be the capstone of Mississippi’s controversial effort to improve early childhood literacy with the use of a high-stakes standardized test — a last chance to get enough passing scores to move the district to a respectable showing by pushing more than three dozen 9-year-olds to reading proficiency.
Ever since Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed legislation two years ago declaring that third-graders could not be promoted without passing a test to prove they are adequate readers, parents, educators and advocates have debated the appropriateness of high stakes testing for eight and nine-year-olds. Bryant has said students have little chance of academic success — and a much greater likelihood of dropping out — if they can’t read by fourth grade.
More than 20 percent of Sunflower County’s third-grade students failed the state’s third-grade reading promotion exam on the first try.
But many educators say retaining students often results in their dropping out later on, and some parents worry the governor’s program will punish nine-year-olds for the results of decades of funding shortfalls.
http://go.uen.org/4h9

Music Class May Help Students’ Language Skills, Study Finds
Education Week

Amid pressure to boost students’ performance on standardized tests, some schools, districts, and states have shifted their focus away from teaching topics like music and towards English/language arts, which is more often tested as part of accountability initiatives.
New research out of Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, however, has concluded that instruction in the former subject may improve performance in the latter.
The longitudinal study, published earlier this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at whether in-school music training had any effect on the brain and auditory system development of adolescents entering high school.
http://go.uen.org/4h2

A copy of the study
http://go.uen.org/4h3 (Northwestern University)

Hedge fund mogul Paulson donates $8.5 million to NYC charter school
Reuters

BOSTON | Billionaire investor John Paulson, who credits his success on Wall Street to a top education, is donating $8.5 million to New York City’s largest network of charter schools.
The gift to Success Academy marks the 59-year old hedge fund manager’s second multi-million dollar pledge to a school in two months, following a record $400 million donation to Harvard University in early June.
Success Academy teaches roughly 11,000 children in 32 schools in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Some of the money will be used in part to open two new middle schools next month, raising the total of schools run by the network to 34, Success Academy spokeswoman Ann Powell said.
http://go.uen.org/4hm

The unexpected place where the White House wants your kids to read
Washington Post

Head to almost any barbershop on a Saturday or Sunday, and you’re bound to see at least one kid waiting with an adult to get a haircut.
It’s down time that could easily become reading time, if only there were books around.
And so Obama administration officials partnered with nonprofit organizations to install a miniature library at Eddie’s Hair Design, a barbershop in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
“It’s something that we needed,” said Kofi Asante, who has owned Eddie’s for 24 years. “On a weekend a lot of kids come.”
Gene Pinkard is the former principal of Marie Reed Elementary, a school just a block from Eddie’s Hair Design. He used to get his haircut at Eddie’s, and he said kids often spend hours there with their parents. “It’s a nexus of community life,” said Pinkard, who now supervises principals for D.C. Public Schools. It makes sense, he said, to give them something age-appropriate to read instead of the Maxim magazines available for adult customers.
More than 20 barbers nationwide have been working with administration officials to come up with ways that they can help boost the skills and prospects of young people in their communities. Education Department officials are helping barbers figure out how they can tap into federal funds to support their efforts.
http://go.uen.org/4hk

http://go.uen.org/4hl (ED)

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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

August 6-7:
Utah State Board of Education meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

August 13:
Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://go.uen.org/1pn

August 18:
Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
2 p.m., 445 State Capitol
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2015&com=APPEXE

August 19:
Education Interim Committee meeting
8:30 a.m., 30 House Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2015&com=INTEDU

August 27:
Charter School Funding Task Force meeting
1 p.m., 210 Senate Building
http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2015&com=TSKCSF

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