Education News Roundup: Oct. 23, 2015

Photo by Evelyn Giggles

Photo by Evelyn Giggles

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


There’s lots of follow up on Prosperity 2020’s plan for education in Utah. (KUER)

and (SLT)

and (DN)

and (Utah Business) or a copy of the plan (SL Chamber)


Sen. Dabakis discusses suicide among LGBT youth in Utah. (UPC)


New national survey finds high school kids are stressed, tired, and bored. (USAT)












Prosperity 2020, Education First Offer Plans to Improve Utah Education


Lawmaker: LGBT Youth Need Help to Avoid Suicide, Utah Law Prevents Outreach


Progress being made on Logan High remodel


St. George student creates new app


Aided by $353K federal grant, Utah launches center to cultivate gifted readers in poor schools


Parents arrested after 3rd-grader brings meth pipe to school Grandmother allegedly tells deputies the pipe may have accidentally fallen into child’s book bag.


12-year-old flown to hospital after getting hit by work truck


11-year-old hit by car near Three Falls Elementary


Teachers in West Jordan are credited for saving a student’s life Teachers had received CPR training 10 days prior to the incident


Utah Teacher Who Came Under Fire for Posting Body Building Bikini Shots: ‘It’s a Little Awkward at School Now’


Utah Food Bank brings fight against childhood hunger to Wasatch Front schools


Pupils pick prison pumpkins


Inside our schools






Planning a school shooting isn’t child’s play


Capitol gains — How serving in the Utah Legislature can pay off later


Herbert Flummoxed by Medicaid Expansion Failure


Charter schools won’t solve Utah’s education problem


Teach nutrition in schools


No sympathy here for sleepy MSHS students


It’s Time to Restructure Teacher Professional Development


When Teachers Fear the Students They Must Protect The dilemma educators are facing now that school shootings appear to be happening more frequently in the U.S.


I Hated Math! But Should I Have Dropped It When I Was 15?






Our high school kids: tired, stressed and bored


Meet the teacher lobby behind Hillary Clinton that’s not the teachers union


Parents and teachers meet the ‘Wild West’ when they try to find quality education technology Many programs and apps claim they can improve literacy skills. How can parents and teachers find what works best?


Test Scores Decline as New Jersey Aligns Exams With Common Core


Common Core tests: About 1/3 of Louisiana pupils make ‘mastery’


Developers to Compete for $225K in Prizes for Best Mobile Vocational Advice App


The rise of the ‘zombie’ earmark

Lawmakers find stealthier ways to get around ban on pet Pentagon projects.


Ex-US ED Secretary Spellings to Lead NC University System


Swedish police say sword-wielding killer sought victims by skin color








Prosperity 2020, Education First Offer Plans to Improve Utah Education


Optional full-day Kindergarten, more counseling for students and more money for Utah’s Regents’ scholarship fund are all ways to bring the state’s education system into the top ten in the nation. That’s according to Utah business and community leaders.

Last year, Roy High School Principal Gina Butters was surprised when Prosperity 2020 Chair Alan Hall approached her with an idea to save her struggling school. He asked her what she needed, and then found the money to make it a reality.

“Teachers, educators, principals, administrators, and councilors, all had a say in what areas we need to hit hard in order to make a difference,” Butters says. “And I’m really proud that it wasn’t a plan that imposed on us, it was one that we created.”

Hall sent $250,000 of his own money to schools in the district. The legislature matched his contribution. With that money, Butters says schools added optional full-day Kindergarten, hired a new counselor and amplified teacher training and support. In a year’s time, she says truancy fell, 3rd grade reading improved and graduation rates jumped to 95 percent.

But Hall is worried he can’t continue to fund the program.

“We can’t drop that program and go back to the way it was, we’ve got to keep it going,” Hall says. “So I think we can prove to the legislature for a few dollars you can move the needle.”

The business-lead Prosperity 2020 and citizen-lead political action committee Education First are calling on state lawmakers to help underachieving schools implement the same kinds of changes Roy High School was able to make. (KUER) (SLT) (DN) (Utah Business)


A copy of the plan (SL Chamber)





Lawmaker: LGBT Youth Need Help to Avoid Suicide, Utah Law Prevents Outreach


On Wednesday, lawmakers in the Education Interim Meeting tackled the very serious issue of suicide in the state of Utah. Though the overall trend in suicides per yer is leveling off, Senator Jim Dabakis (Democrat – Salt Lake City) expressed deep concern over the apparent glossing over of LGBT youth suicide rates in a recent report from the Health and Human Services titled Suicide Prevention Programs.

“This is a subject very close to my heart,” Debakis began, “over the last year or so I have been to three funerals: One in Weber County, one in West Valley, and one in Utah County. And to watch those children – one of the kids was 13 years old in that casket.”

“I want to call [The Utah Department of Human Services] to task to some extent because I don’t think you, I don’t think the state, I don’t think the legislature is saying the ‘gay’ word.” Dabakis continued before punctuating his comments by telling the committee of a story he heard from a West Valley City principal who had to turn away a student from receiving help because the student happened to mention that he was gay.

“You’ve got to be bold, you’ve got to be strong, you’ve got to tell the truth. You don’t have to make it up, but you can’t shy away from the fact that a lot of these kids are gay and they are not getting the help [they need]. It is illegal for them to get the help they need,” Dabakis added. (UPC)




Progress being made on Logan High remodel


Progress is coming along with the remodel of Logan High School as the school continues to see structures being added. Representatives of MHTN Architects and Hughes Construction met with the Logan City School District Board of Education and Superintendent Frank Schofield, as well as former superintendent Marshal Garrett, on Wednesday evening to review what progress is being made and discuss the color palettes that will be in the school when it is finished.

Garrett, who retired in June, stayed on as a paid consultant on the high school remodel for the district, receiving $32.30 an hour for up to 12 hours a week. A district representative explained Thursday he typically works between six and eight hours a week. (LHJ)





St. George student creates new app


A Dixie High School junior is making her mark in the world of technology by developing a new app.

Kelsea Barker, 16, created Hue!, a free game app, after deciding to accomplish a goal she had set when she was 11.

Barker had the app fully developed and approved to be released in the app store on Monday, when she was still 15 years old.

She began learning how to use the app software around May and began development at the beginning of June.

“I always knew I would do something like this at some point,” Barker said. “A lot of my friends who’ve never been interested in these kinds of things have begun asking questions about it.”

The game has players drag a ball around the screen avoiding obstacles that might destroy it. (SGS)





Aided by $353K federal grant, Utah launches center to cultivate gifted readers in poor schools


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah officials are launching a program aimed at finding gifted readers and helping them thrive in low-income schools.

The Utah State Office of Education announced Friday that it was creating the Utah Center for the Advancement of Reading Excellence, also known as UCARE.

The center will focus on 60 traditional, charter and private Title 1 schools throughout Utah. Those schools will get training on how to identify gifted readers and how to help them reach their full potential.

The center will also offer an interactive website to provide teachers with additional resources. (Associated Press via [Franklin, IN] Daily Journal)





Parents arrested after 3rd-grader brings meth pipe to school Grandmother allegedly tells deputies the pipe may have accidentally fallen into child’s book bag.


Two Washington Terrace parents were arrested after an 8-year-old from their home showed up at school with a meth pipe.

A Roosevelt Elementary School teacher reported finding the pipe in a plastic bag with a book reader that a 3rd grader had turned in, according to a Weber County Sheriff’s Office news release.

When a deputy went to the child’s nearby home, he learned that the parents and grandmother who lived there were all allegedly using drugs. Some of the drug use allegedly occurred in the presence of three young children, according to the release.

Officers searched the home and allegedly found drug paraphernalia, some of which was in the same area as toys and children’s books. One item was allegedly found under a pillow on a child’s bed, the release adds. (SLT) (DN) (OSE) (KUTV) (KTVX) (KSL) (KSTU)





12-year-old flown to hospital after getting hit by work truck


A child is in the hospital with serious injuries after being hit by a car in West Valley City Thursday morning.

The crash happened near Gearld L. Wright Elementary School at 6800 W. 3100 South around 7:15 a.m.

Police say the 12-year-old boy was crossing the street, on his way to catch a bus to Brockbank Junior High School in Magna, when the car hit him. An ambulance responded and took the boy to Jordan Valley Medical Center. A medical helicopter flew the boy from Jordan Valley to Primary Children’s Hospital. (KUTV) (KSL) (KSTU)




11-year-old hit by car near Three Falls Elementary


HURRICANE – A driver was cited for striking an 11-year-old boy with her car near Three Falls Elementary School in Hurricane Thursday afternoon.

Just after 3 p.m., the boy was walking his bicycle at the intersection of 650 South and 700 West.

A 31-year-old woman in a 2008 Toyota Prius was stopped at the intersection, and as she turned right onto 700 West, she struck the boy as he was crossing the street with his bicycle, knocking him to the ground, Hurricane City Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said. (SGN)





Teachers in West Jordan are credited for saving a student’s life Teachers had received CPR training 10 days prior to the incident


WEST JORDAN, Utah – Teachers and administrators at West Jordan Middle School are being praised for saving the life of one of their students and the entire thing was caught on surveillance video.

It happened last Wednesday.  The morning started off like any other morning.  14 year-old Skyler Nelson was warming up along with the rest of his 1st period gym class.   Resting high above the gym a surveillance camera captures Skyler coming around for his fourth lap, moments later he slows down, appears fatigued, takes a few steps and collapses to the ground, around 8:07 a.m..

“He was gone, for the most part what we saw, he was gone,” said Assistant Principal Eric Price.

After Skyler collapsed many students weren’t sure what exactly had happened.  Skyler, a known jokester, most students assumed he was playing around but it quickly occurred to them something was wrong as his physical education teacher, Mr. Nakagama, went over to check on him.  One student can be seen in the surveillance video rush out of the gym and head for the main office to notify the principal.

The principal who was told a “student had fallen,” assumed it was just a sprained ankle but when she arrived in the gym she immediately realized the situation was so much worse and radioed for someone to call 911.  That is when Assistant Principal Eric Price heard the call over the radio and rushed over to help. (KTVX) (CBS)





Utah Teacher Who Came Under Fire for Posting Body Building Bikini Shots: ‘It’s a Little Awkward at School Now’


A Utah school teacher who is a bikini model and body building competitor, says she walked into her classroom with her head held high on Wednesday, one day after school district officials apologized for mandating that she remove bikini posts from her social media pages or risk being fired.

“This is the first time I’ve ever stood up for myself and it feels great,” Mindi Jensen, 37, a single mom of four and a detention teacher at North Sanpete Middle School in Moroni, Utah, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “It’s a little awkward at school now, but I am who I am, and I’m not going to change. If it means that an employer will think twice about doing this to somebody else, then it’s worth it.”

Jensen, who lives in Mount Pleasant, Utah, where she accepted the middle school teaching job in May, was afraid she would be fired this week after parents complained that pictures she’d posted after a third-place win at a recent body building competition were immodest and pornographic. (People) ([Washington, DC] Daily Caller) (New York Daily News) ( (AOL News) (Ask Men) ([London] Daily Mail) ([London] The Sun)




Utah Food Bank brings fight against childhood hunger to Wasatch Front schools


Wasatch Front schools still teach the three R’s — reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic — but dozens now offer a fourth: relief.

Thanks to the Utah Food Bank’s Mobile School Pantry, needy students and their families are picking up food supplies at 33 campuses this school year.

On Thursday, Food Bank staffers and Fidelity Investments volunteers handed out goods at Jackson Elementary in west Salt Lake City. (SLT) (DN)




Pupils pick prison pumpkins


The fruits of inmates’ labor are now festive canvases for special-needs students. About three dozen participants of the Green Thumb program at the Utah State Prison worked at the facility’s gardens and greenhouses to grow pumpkins, which corrections officers on Thursday delivered to Kauri Sue Hamilton School for pupils’ picking. (SLT) (DN)





Inside our schools


Arrowhead Elementary

George Washington Academy

Heritage Elementary

Lava Ridge Intermediate

Millcreek High

Riverside Elementary

Utah Online High

Valley Academy Charter

Gateway Preparatory Academy

Three Peaks Elementary

Canyon View Middle











Planning a school shooting isn’t child’s play

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial


Take a gun to school, get a misdemeanor.

That’s the law in Utah, and it needs to change. Because after what happened this week in Marriott-Slaterville, students need to understand there’s a price to pay for threatening the lives of others.

A serious price to pay.

Sheriff’s investigators say three 15-year-olds planned a drive-by shooting at Venture Academy, where about 500 students attend high school. Another student heard about the plot and informed school officials, who detained the boys.

When deputies arrived at Venture, they found the boys with a loaded ammunition clip, a box of .22-caliber bullets, a large folding knife and razor blades.

All they needed was a gun.

Administrators suspended the students while officers continued their investigation. But even if they’re charged and convicted, they face little more than a stern lecture from a judge.




Capitol gains — How serving in the Utah Legislature can pay off later Salt Lake Tribune commentary by columnist PAUL ROLLY


The announcement by Gov. Gary Herbert this week that former state lawmaker Dave Ure, a dairy farmer by trade, is the new director of the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration is the latest in a trend.

Serving in the Legislature can win you a good job later on.

Ure has been out of the Legislature for a number of years and since then has served on the Summit County Council.

In addition to state jobs, former state Sen. Greg Bell became lieutenant governor and now heads the Utah Hospital Association; former state Rep. Scott Wyatt is now president of Southern Utah University; former state Rep. Kory Holdaway became government-relations director for the Utah Education Association, a job he no longer holds; and Sen. Wayne Harper is economic-development director for Taylorsville.

Being in the Legislature can be beneficial in other ways.

A few years ago, state Rep. Mel Brown and some lobbyists put together a deal with SITLA made possible by legislation Brown had sponsored. Brown and his team formed a company that bought property in Tooele County from SITLA, then turned around and sold it to a waste-management operation for a landfill, piling up a tidy little profit.

Talk about confusion • The Utah lawmaker most adamant about requiring public school students to pass a citizenship test before they can graduate may have trouble with the test himself — if past examples are any indication.

Lawmakers created a conundrum last session when — in their frenzy to protect parents from government intrusion while intruding themselves on the practices of public schools — they passed two conflicting laws.

Largely because of right-wing conspiracy theories over Common Core standards adopted by most states, the Legislature adopted a bill allowing parents to opt out their students from federal- or state-mandated tests.

But, also acting on right-wing criticisms that schools don’t adequately teach U.S. government principles or history, the Legislature embraced another bill requiring students to pass a citizenship test to graduate.

The Utah School Board recently addressed the conflict by ruling that students can opt out of the citizenship test — as allowed by the one law. But then they won’t graduate — as required by the other law.

The required citizenship test’s most avid proponent was Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, a longtime critic of public schools and their teaching of American principles and history.

During his weekly Red Meat Radio program, Stephenson once agreed with his co-host, now-House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, that Thomas Jefferson was the second U.S. president (apologies to John Adams).





Herbert Flummoxed by Medicaid Expansion Failure Utah Policy commentary by columnist Bob Bernick


— Finally Utah’s two Rainy Day Funds – in the General Fund and the Education Fund – total more than $528 million, the highest ever.

Still, Herbert signed several tax-hike bills in the 2015 Legislature.

And no doubt Johnson will be talking about that in his 2016 campaign.




Charter schools won’t solve Utah’s education problem Salt Lake Tribune letter from Gordon LaFleur


Cynthia Phillips ravages the Utah State Office of Education for requiring pedological classes that she asserts are taught by mediocre teachers; therefore, the classes must be mediocre in content and usefulness! Such a scurrilous attack without a single peer-reviewed study for support suggests that Phillips is neither interested in facts or fairness.

As an alternative, Phillips supports significantly underpaying teachers for the first two years of their teaching experience while they are mentored by master teachers. Then, according to her master plan, the schools they work for could fire them at any time after that, thus assuring that the schools can rather dubiously claim they “have some of the best teachers in the state.” Does she really want us to believe that lack of job security will inexorably lead to superior job performance?

Railing about the state’s lack of review for licensing, she posits the position that life work experience automatically makes one qualified as a teacher! As an educator with over 30 years experience, I can tell you that teaching is equal parts content and art, and that content knowledge alone does not ensure teaching competency.





Teach nutrition in schools

Salt Lake Tribune letter from MacKenzie Garrison


Michelle Obama’s healthy eating campaign “Let’s Move” has been forcing schools to re-evaluate their meal plans by switching to healthier ingredients and forcing students to take a fruit with their lunch.

If high schoolers are forced to eat healthy, they will resist by throwing food away and seeking unhealthier options. Instead of forcing students to take food that they will throw away, I believe schools should focus more on educating students about the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

I am a senior in high school, and I never was taught about how food affects my body. Never did my health class mention how to distinguish health foods from junk foods. I am 18 years old, yet I still cannot understand the nutritional labels on food items.




No sympathy here for sleepy MSHS students

(Logan) Herald Journal letter from Russ Larsen


To the “whiney” school kids who wrote in about starting school classes an hour later so they can sleep in. Flash! Shut off the Internet, cell phones, and your inter-games at the 10 p.m. hour. Problem solved. Watch the late hour news. That will put you to sleep forthwith.

Do the math. If you can’t, I’ll do it for you. 10:30 p.m. through 6:30 a.m., Voila! Eight hours sleep.





It’s Time to Restructure Teacher Professional Development Education Week op-ed by Mike Schmoker, author of FOCUS: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning


For those interested in better schools, another bomb dropped in August—though I’m not sure many of us heard it. TNTP, a teacher-training and advocacy group, published a report called “The Mirage,” a damning assessment of teacher professional development. Despite being an $18 billion industry, with costs for services of up to $18,000 per year, per teacher, professional development doesn’t appear to have much effect on teaching quality. As Education Week reported, TNTP found that “PD doesn’t seem to factor into why some teachers get better at their jobs and others don’t.” Said one observer quoted: “It just doesn’t look like we have any purchase on what works.”

But what if, in fact, we do know “what works”—but haven’t acted on it? If this were the case, the TNTP report might be the catalyst for a transformation in teacher preparation, training, and student outcomes that was not unlike the one undergone in medical training after the 1910 study known as the Flexner Report. That similarly damning assessment from the last century led to changes that, according to the historian Page Smith, may have saved more lives than any event in the history of medicine.

To achieve a similar transformation in teacher education, critics and reformers will have to review the full scope of professional development (including training, workshops, teacher collaboration, and instructional coaching) with two vital questions in mind:

1.) Are we training teachers in methods that are among the very best practices that exist today—those with the strongest, most enduring evidence base and pedigree?

2.) Are we observing those principles most essential to effective training—in particular, for example, that even rough mastery requires a sustained focus on a severely limited number of practices, with multiple opportunities for frequent monitoring, feedback, and follow-up training?





When Teachers Fear the Students They Must Protect The dilemma educators are facing now that school shootings appear to be happening more frequently in the U.S.

Atlantic commentary by LARA N. DOTSON-RENTA , author of Immigration, Popular Culture, and the Re-routing of European Muslim Identity


I had turned 18 years old two weeks prior to April 20, 1999. I was looking ahead to starting college, to setting out on my own, and to buying a prom dress—to living. While I vaguely understood that mass shootings took place, I was detached from them as a real possibility. Then the Columbine shooting occurred at a high school in Littleton, Colorado, taking away the lives of 13 innocent people. That day, the realization sunk in that death could come not despite being in school, but because of it.

Eight years and numerous mass shootings later, the Virginia Tech massacre again shook me out of complacency. On that April morning in 2007, 32 people were killed on campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, in what remains the deadliest shooting rampage by a single gunman in U.S. history. As the coverage unfolded and the cellphones of the dead infamously continued to buzz, I—a graduate student instructor in Philadelphia still new to the job—prepared to teach my own class of freshmen and sophomores, 18- and 19-year-olds who were confronting the same reality that I had faced at their age: that schools and universities, places of growth and possibility, had become fair game.

As I readied my lesson on masculine and feminine pronouns for that mid-level Spanish class, I wondered if I should start by teaching them muerte (death), as I imagined what they were thinking anyway—that death could, in theory, find us here, now. I thought about the fact that even if the students and I were killed in some freak disaster or horrific massacre, there would still be fewer bodies than had been recovered at Virginia Tech the day before. I worried that no matter what I would do to try to protect them, it most likely wouldn’t be enough, and that only a “lucky” few of them might live to remember watching their classmates and teacher die.

Despite being just 5 or 6 years older than my students, I felt responsible for them, protective, aware of the incredible weight carried by teachers. I also recognized the probability that, should an intruder walk into the classroom, these students would quickly and inevitably look over to me for what to do. And chances are, I wouldn’t have any answers.




I Hated Math! But Should I Have Dropped It When I Was 15?



When I was 15, I hated math.

I still remember the day my 7th grade teacher called me up to the front of the entire class to solve an equation. She drew a huge triangle on the blackboard and wrote an “X” on the left side and “Y” on its base. She then looked at me sternly and said, “Miss Mistry, I want you to find X for me and you better make this quick.”

I never really understood the obsession with finding these letters — as if they were playing hide and seek. My tiny hands trembled as I approached the blackboard with a white piece of chalk. I circled X and told her, “Ma’am, the X is right above the Y, what more should I find?”

Her eyes popped out and her cheeks became red. I surely knew I had done something wrong but didn’t know how to solve that triangle on the board.

So I figured out my answer to future problems like this: I subtracted math from my schedule. Where I grew up, in India, a ninth grader in an all-girls school, like the one I attended, must choose what to study, and it’s a decision that cannot be reversed.

To drop math means you won’t have a career as a doctor or an engineer, which my family pleaded with me to remember. The day after I made my choice, eight relatives arrived at my home. One of them looked at me with pained eyes as if I were ruining her future. “Why are you doing this to us?” she asked. “Do you know your cousins have done science and engineering? How will it reflect on your parents if you take up liberal arts? What will they tell everyone?”










Our high school kids: tired, stressed and bored USA Today


When they’re at school, the kids are decidedly not all right.

New survey findings suggest that when asked how they feel during the school day, USA high school students consistently invoke three key feelings: “tired,” “stressed” and “bored.”

The researcher who led the study warns that such negative feelings can influence young people’s attention, memory, decision making, school performance and social lives.

“It’s hard to concentrate and it’s hard to do well in school if your brain is constantly having to respond to stress,” said Marc Brackett, a researcher in the Yale University Department of Psychology and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

The new findings, out Friday, are from a survey conducted in collaboration with the Born This Way Foundation, the charitable organization founded by the singer Lady Gaga. The survey was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (USAT)




Meet the teacher lobby behind Hillary Clinton that’s not the teachers union Los Angeles Times


These two teachers want to influence education policy, and they want Hillary Clinton to hear from more than just unions or reformers.

Naveed Amalfard and Luke Villalobos were in Los Angeles on Wednesday to jump-start efforts around a political action committee, a group that can raise money on behalf of candidates. They call themselves America’s Teachers.

Until now, most lobbying efforts around education have come from two sides: teachers unions and the so-called reformers who oppose them.

The new group wants to unite the Democratic base and avoid the issues at the center of the party’s education split.

The PAC strategy is similar to how education reformers have influenced public policy toward their pet subject. But instead of harping on limiting teacher tenure and rating teachers in accordance with standardized test scores, they’re focusing on friendlier, softer issues: expanding preschool, making college more affordable, and the DREAM Act, which would qualify immigrants in the country illegally for in-state tuition at universities. They have raised only $1,500, but want to raise $50,000 to create videos and rally volunteers.




Parents and teachers meet the ‘Wild West’ when they try to find quality education technology Many programs and apps claim they can improve literacy skills. How can parents and teachers find what works best?

Hechinger Report


Parents and teachers who tap into apps find a virtual smorgasbord of “educational” programs that promise to radically improve literacy skills.

How can adults be sure they are making the right choices?

A new book, Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens, offers research-based advice, explaining how early reading and writing development intersects with our current technology-rich world. And it comes at the right moment. The American Academy of Pediatrics is preparing an update to its advice about the acceptable amount of screen time for young children.

The Hechinger Report spoke with the book’s co-authors, Lisa Guernsey, director of New America’s early education initiative and of its learning technologies project, and Michael H. Levine, founding director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, a nonprofit literacy and digital media research organization based at Sesame Workshop. Here are edited excerpts from that conversation.




Test Scores Decline as New Jersey Aligns Exams With Common Core New York Times


New Jersey schools gave a new set of harder tests aligned to the Common Core standards last school year and, when the state released the results on Tuesday, they were unsurprising: Fewer students passed.

The tests were given to students statewide in third through 11th grades in English, and to roughly the same group in math, with math exams after eighth grade given by subject, like Algebra I and Geometry. Less than half of the students scored as proficient at every level on the math tests; in English, the highest passing rate was 52 percent, in seventh and eighth grades. In most other grades, less than half of the students scored as proficient.

“This first year’s results show there is still much work to be done in ensuring all of our students are fully prepared for the 21st­century demands of college and career,” David C. Hespe, the state education commissioner, said in a statement.





Common Core tests: About 1/3 of Louisiana pupils make ‘mastery’

New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune


Depending on the grade level, 22 percent to 40 percent of Louisiana’s public elementary school students scored at the mastery level or higher on new Common Core tests in English and mathematics administered last spring, according to data released Thursday (Oct. 22) by the state Department of Education. The tests were given in third through eighth grades, with “mastery” meant to indicate students have the skills they need ultimately to be prepared for college.

The Zachary school system in East Baton Rouge Parish, a regular at the top of Louisiana’s education rankings, had the highest scores, with 59 percent of its students reaching mastery. The small Orleans Parish system, not including Louisiana Recovery School District schools in New Orleans, ranked second with 52 percent of students achieving mastery. Assumption Parish, Vermilion Parish and Iberia Parish schools saw the biggest gains in rankings among school systems.

These was the first and perhaps last year for the tests, which were developed by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Months before the scores came out, Louisiana lawmakers decided the state would not use the complete partnership exam in 2016.

The exams tested students on national Common Core education standards, which Louisiana adopted years ago. They were entirely different from the old LEAP and iLEAP that Louisiana used, and were considered much harder. The results released Thursday are the first thorough school-by-school and system-by-system look at how students scored.





Developers to Compete for $225K in Prizes for Best Mobile Vocational Advice App Education Week


The Department of Education and Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative have partnered in launching a competition to find the most effective mobile app in providing students with personalized information about vocational skill programs and career outlooks.

Speaking to a Champion of Change Event in June, Michelle Obama challenged educators, philanthropists and industry executives with a call to action: “I want you to help our students see which jobs are in high demand in their communities. I want you to help them see which programs give them the skills that they need.  And I also want you to help them figure out how much all of this costs and what their future earning power might be in that given field.”

A growing consensus of experts agree with the First Lady, as many have pushed for a stronger emphasis on vocational education in response to the realities of today’s economy.

However, a public high school system largely designed to serve as a conduit to traditional four-year colleges, and what some see as a residual prejudice against blue-collar work has led to a lack of participation in career and technical education programs by young people who would likely be best served such options. The high national ratio of students to guidance counselors of 477:1, has compounded the problem by limiting the flow of information to students about local vocational training programs.

The deadline for the first round of submissions is December 7, at which point a panel of judges will select five finalists who will each receive $25,000 in prize money.




The rise of the ‘zombie’ earmark

Lawmakers find stealthier ways to get around ban on pet Pentagon projects.



When Congress banned earmarks in 2011, House Speaker John Boehner said stripping lawmakers’ ability to direct federal dollars to their pet projects was a “critical step to restore public trust.”

But nearly five years later, members of Congress have found stealthy ways to load up defense spending bills with scores of provisions propping up programs the military didn’t request and doesn’t want — while also allowing some earmarks from decades past to live on.

Such “zombie” earmarks, as Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper dubbed them, illustrate not just how the ban has failed to disrupt pork-barrel politics. They also show how lawmakers are increasingly using deceptive tactics to make it more difficult to track who is responsible and judge whether taxpayers are being fleeced.

In some cases, lawmakers pepper bills with provisions that mention no companies or programs by name but are written in specific ways to nudge agencies toward the intended recipients or shut out potential competitors. One provision appears to benefit the New Jersey district of House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, who is the chief sponsor of the House defense spending bill, encouraging the Navy to buy Army munitions technology. In another case, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) got $80 million added to the House appropriations bill for body armor that would likely assist the company 3M, based in her district.

Meanwhile, a favorite earmark of former Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who left the Senate in January but retains clout on the committee, has survived repeated attempts by the Obama administration to kill it, arguing it’s a waste of money. Starbase, a program that brings fifth-graders to military bases for science instruction, was first championed by Levin in 1992. It now costs taxpayers $25 million a year.





Ex-US ED Secretary Spellings to Lead NC University System Associated Press


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina’s public university board has picked former U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to head the 17-campus system.

Spellings was selected Friday by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. She is a nonacademic and protege of former President George W. Bush. Her experience running an education bureaucracy and credentials in Republican politics could encourage budget-writers in the GOP-dominated legislature.

Spellings will replace Tom Ross, a Democrat who was lavishly praised but pushed out by the Republican-dominated governing board after members said they wanted a change they were unable to define.




Swedish police say sword-wielding killer sought victims by skin color Reuters


STOCKHOLM | A masked swordsman who killed a teaching assistant and a boy and wounded two others sought out his victims, all with immigrant backgrounds, by skin color in an attack that has fueled fears that a big refugee influx is polarizing Swedish public opinion.

The 21-year-old assailant strode on Thursday through a school in Trollhattan, an industrial town in western Sweden with a large immigrant population, stabbing his victims with the sword before being shot dead by police.

Security footage from the school showed the killer marching through school corridors and stopping to talk to light-skinned students, police said.

“Everything points to this being a hate crime,” lead investigator Thord Haraldsson told a news conference. “He selected his victims and attacked the dark-skinned ones and left the light-skinned ones alone.”











USOE Calendar



UEN News



October 29:

Education Interim Committee meeting

8:30 a.m., 30 House Building


Charter School Funding Task Force

1 p.m.,  445 State Capitol



November 5:

Utah State Board of Education study session and committee meetings

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



November 6:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



November 12:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



November 17:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



November 18:

Education Interim Committee meeting

8:30 a.m., 30 House Building

Related posts:

Comments are closed.