Education News Roundup: Oct. 30, 2015

"Kindergarten Scout" by Mats Eriksson/CC/flickr

“Kindergarten Scout” by Mats Eriksson/CC/flickr

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


Is an expansion of full-day kindergarten in Utah’s future? (SLT)

and (DN)

and (KSL)

and (UPR)


Gov. Herbert talks about education funding. (DCC)


Governor’s Education Advisor Tami Pyfer discusses education narratives in Utah. (LHJ)


It looks like the Pell Grant program is expanding to high school students who want to take college courses in dual enrollment programs. (Ed Week)

or (ED)


Some big U.S. employers are making GED preparation and tests free for employees. (Inside Higher Ed)












Utah lawmakers signal intent to expand full-day kindergarten Education » It may come with a fee for those who can afford it.


Governor speaks on hot-button issues to full house in North Salt Lake


Gov.’s education adviser says narrative on education needs to change


Schools work to lessen wasting lunch food


Four Logan schools receive student leadership grant


Herriman High School students, staff mourn crash death of teen


Police investigate alleged hazing at Provo High wrestling practice


Inside our schools






Thumbs for Friday, October 30


School administrators should handle incidents differently


Where Are Black Children Safe?


What’s the role of a school resource officer? In my school, I’m part of the fabric


Why they keep smearing the Success Academy schools


International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy: A Review of the Critiques Brief highlights flaws in the use of international testing to drive educational policy


Bringing it back home

Why state comparisons are more useful than international comparisons for improving U.S. education policy






Pell Grants for High School Students? U.S. Dept. of Education is Going to Try It


School Choice Backers Lukewarm on Provision in ESEA Rewrite House ESEA rewrite contains provision


Data: Majority of Nevadans seeking school vouchers live in upscale suburbs


At a Success Academy Charter School, Singling Out Pupils Who Have ‘Got to Go’


Alabama Teacher of the Year who left Mountain Brook for Birmingham is resigning


Experts Discuss How to Handle Defiant High School Students


Free Employee GED Benefit








Utah lawmakers signal intent to expand full-day kindergarten Education » It may come with a fee for those who can afford it.


Optional full-day kindergarten could be expanded statewide next year, but some families would have to pay a fee to participate.

A bill by Santa Clara Republican Rep. Lowry Snow calls for an additional $10 million to provide full-day kindergarten funding for more than 7,000 at-risk students.

The state appropriates $7.5 million for full-day kindergarten, which serves roughly 5,400 Utah children.

“Almost without exception,” Snow said Thursday, “every [school] district has indicated a strong interest in participating in this.”

But higher-performing children, and those living in affluent homes, also may have the opportunity to attend full-day kindergarten — for a price.

A second bill by state Rep. Sandy Eliason, R-Sandy, would authorize school districts to create a fee schedule to make full-day kindergarten available to all students.

“This allows the district to come up with [its] own funding source,” Eliason said. “All children, regardless of their ability to pay, are eligible to participate if their families desire.”

Both bills were adopted unanimously by the education interim committee on Thursday. The support of the committee, which consists of lawmakers in both the Utah House and Senate, puts the proposals in a favorable position in the lead-up to the 2016 session, which begins in January. (SLT) (DN) (KSL) (UPR)





Governor speaks on hot-button issues to full house in North Salt Lake


NORTH SALT LAKE—Topics ranged from Medicaid expansion to education before a packed house at North Salt Lake City Hall last Thursday night for a town hall meeting hosted by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. Weiler’s invited guests included Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. All three officials took time to discuss hot-button issues impacting Utah and Davis County.

“We’ve got some unique challenges we’re facing,” said Cox, who spoke first while the governor was making his way to the meeting from another engagement. “We’re going to pass the 3 million mark in Utah. We’ll be at the 6 million mark by 2050. We’re really good at having kids – but that’s a good thing. With that though, comes challenges.”

Along with the growth and success of the state, Herbert acknowledged the ongoing problem of funding education. “We’ve worked very hard to have a great educational system,” he said. “We can’t have sustained economic growth without educated people. We’ve put a lot of money into education and we’ve even had to take money from some other pots. We’re on a healthy trajectory going forward.”

Herbert related an experience about a teacher who came into his office one day. “She was on the verge of weeping she was so distraught,” he said. “She said, ‘why do they hate us so much?’ And she pointed up at the Senate floor. I told her ‘they don’t hate you. We appreciate our teachers. They’re doing God’s work. There is no one with more important influence except parents.’”

The state needs to find a way to stop cutting funding for education, Herbert said. “This is our rising generation, our leaders for tomorrow. My concern is we’re attracting teachers pretty well but we’re not retaining them. How can we pay them more money? We need to add an attitude of gratitude to teachers to make sure they know they’re loved for what they do.”




Gov.’s education adviser says narrative on education needs to change


The public needs to change its narrative on education and how education in Utah is perceived, Gov. Gary Herbert’s education adviser told a crowd of public educators Wednesday night at Mount Logan Middle School.

Tami Pyfer, a former Logan Municipal councilwoman and former Utah State Board of Education member, spoke to educators in the Cache County School District and Logan City School District about the common narrative in education and the need for a change, as the narrative is “misguided, a false narrative; it’s not good for students,” she said.

“We have legitimate challenges,” Pyfer said. “Until we can identify what the challenge is, we can’t solve the problem.”

Pyfer said she frequently hears misconceptions such as, “People teach because they couldn’t get into another major,” or the contradiction of, “We need more highly skilled teachers, but we need to make it easier for people to become teachers.”

Pyfer said this needs to change, because data from Utah universities shows aspiring teachers in college education programs are among the best and brightest of college students. Pyfer contended that false narratives on teachers distract the community from the real problems the education system is facing, such as recruiting and retaining quality teachers. (LHJ)





Schools work to lessen wasting lunch food


Each school day, students in Alpine School District discard approximately $4,000 worth of fruits and vegetables.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.

A similar situation exists in other districts, not only in Utah County, but throughout the nation.

Recently enacted federal regulations known as the Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act require students eating school lunches to take a half-cup serving of either fruits or vegetables. While that sounds like a good idea to provide nutrition, it is not having that effect, as 73 percent of students nationally throw away their vegetables and 47 percent discard their fruit.

While it does not appear to be happening on quite the same scale in Utah, there is still a definite impact. (PDH)




Four Logan schools receive student leadership grant


Four elementary schools in the Logan City School District received student leadership grants at the beginning of the year to continue to implement the Leader in Me program. The principals from the four schools reported to the Board of Education on Tuesday about what they are doing with the funds.

The Leader in Me is a Franklin Covey program that introduces seven habits to children to help them learn how to be responsible, creative, communicative and adaptable, ultimately causing them to be leaders in the school and community. These habits include “sharpening the saw,” and “putting first things first.” (LHJ)




Herriman High School students, staff mourn crash death of teen


Grief counselors greeted Herriman High School students and faculty Friday, offering solace in their mourning for a sophomore girl who died in a crash with another vehicle that had run a red light.

Unified Police spokesman Ken Hansen confirmed that Caddee Conner, 16, was with two of her classmates in a pickup traveling east on Rosecrest Road (14400 South) toward the school just before 11:30 a.m. Thursday when they approached Mountain View Corridor (about 4600 West). That’s when a woman in her 20s driving a Mazda passenger car north on the corridor ran a red light and collided with the pickup.

The pickup rolled, and then both vehicles struck a dump truck.

Hansen said that two boys in the pickup with Conner were in serious and fair condition, respectively, as of Friday. The driver of the Mazda remained in serious condition, while her 3-month-old niece — who had been secured in a carseat — was in good condition.

Also on Friday, UPD said that because detectives had learned the Mazda’s driver is related to a UPD officer, Salt Lake City police will take over the accident investigation.

Jordan School District officials confirmed that grief counselors would be available Friday and into next week for students, parents and staff at Herriman High. (SLT) (DN) (KUTV) (KTVX) (KSL) (KSTU) (MUR)





Police investigate alleged hazing at Provo High wrestling practice


PROVO — An 18-year-old man has been arrested and two juveniles are being investigated in connection with an alleged hazing incident this week at a high school wrestling practice, school district officials said.

Luis Antonio Castellanos was booked into Utah County Jail on Tuesday for investigation of aggravated kidnapping, forcible sexual abuse and attempted forcible sexual abuse.

Police believe Castellanos was involved in a hazing incident Monday during a Provo High School wrestling practice, according to school district officials. Two juveniles at the practice are also being investigated in the incident, said Caleb Price, spokesman for the Provo City School District.

The school district has disciplined Castellanos and the two juveniles, Price said, though he didn’t specify how they were punished and said he didn’t know Wednesday whether they are students at Provo High. (DN) (PDH) (KUTV) (KTVX) (KNRS)





Inside our schools


East Elementary

Enoch Elementary

North Elementary

South Elementary

Snow Canyon High

Three Peaks Elementary

Canyon View Middle

Cedar Middle

Arrowhead Elementary

Heritage Elementary

Lava Ridge Intermediate

Riverside Elementary

Sunrise Ridge Intermediate

Valley Academy Charter (SGS)










Thumbs for Friday, October 30

(Provo) Daily Herald editorial


THUMBS UP: Provo High School coach Wendy Bills retired Thursday night after 31 years of coaching volleyball. She gave incalculable service to not only her own athletes, but hundreds of others throughout the Valley and the state, and has always had a deserved reputation as a player’s coach. The only thumbs down is that she will definitely be missed.

THUMBS UP: The Timpanogos and Maeser girls soccer teams both made it to the state title game in their respective classifications and ended up with the runner-up trophies. Congratulations on great seasons, ladies.

THUMBS DOWN: Schools should not be required to force kids to eat their veggies. We’re all for good nutrition, but it’s painful and costly to watch good food wasted every lunchtime at elementary schools throughout the valley.




School administrators should handle incidents differently Deseret News op-ed by Charlotte Woodward, an educator in the Salt Lake City School District


Spring Valley High School in South Carolina is getting a lot of attention for a recently released video. The video shows a school police officer assaulting a female student when she did not comply with instructions to leave the classroom and put away her cellphone.

Recently there was an article about the incident calling into question the role of a school resource officer, but I believe that question still misses the mark. It is obvious the police officer was out of line, and I’m glad the school district and police force recognize he acted inappropriately and fired him. However, why was the police officer called to the classroom in the first place?

The part of the incident that was just as troubling to me was that the teacher and an administrator felt they needed a police officer to deal with a student who was using her cellphone.





Where Are Black Children Safe?

New York Times op-ed by Roxane Gay, author of “An Untamed State” and “Bad Feminist”


BLACK children are not allowed to be children. They are not allowed to be safe, not at home, not at pool parties, not driving or sitting in cars listening to music, not walking down the street, not in school. For black children, for black people, to exist is to be endangered. Our bodies receive no sanctity or safe harbor.

We can never forget this truth. We are never allowed to forget this truth.

On Monday, in Columbia, S.C., Ben Fields, a sheriff’s deputy assigned to Spring Valley High School, was called to a classroom to exert control over an allegedly disobedient student — a black girl. She wouldn’t give up her cellphone to her teacher, an infraction wholly disproportionate to what came to pass. There are at least three videos of the incident. When Mr. Fields approaches the girl, she is sitting quietly. He quickly muscles her out of her seat and throws her across the room.

The video of this brutality is unbearable in its violence, in what it reminds us, once again, about the value of black life in America, and about the challenges black children, in particular, face.

Schools are not merely sites of education, they are sites of control. In fact, they are sites of control well before they are sites of education. And for certain populations — students of color, working­class students, anyone on the margins — the sites of control in the school system can be incredibly restrictive, suffocating, perilous.





What’s the role of a school resource officer? In my school, I’m part of the fabric NewsHour commentary by JUSTIN SCHLOTTMAN, school resource officer at Cedar Crest High School in Pennsylvania


When I think about the role of a school resource officer, what immediately comes to mind is last year’s graduation ceremony when the class president gave me a shout out during his commencement speech. All I had done was to help him get his keys out of his locked car. To me, it was such a small gesture, but for him it was an emergency. My helping him was so important that it became a highlight of his senior year.

Every student is fighting a daily battle that we know nothing about. We may think that student behavior at a given moment is driven by something trivial, but it often has much deeper roots than what’s visible on the surface. The key is to build relationships with students before problems arise.




Why they keep smearing the Success Academy schools New York Post editorial


The more critics attack the Success Academy charter-school network, the better it winds up looking.

A Thursday New York Times hit piece, for one, parroted teachers-union lies that Success weeds out “weak or difficult students” to boost its academic-performance numbers.

That followed a PBS segment claiming Success suspends young kids more than other schools, and for petty reasons. And last year, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña insisted charters like Success covertly work to recruit top kids at traditional schools.

None of the charges passes the sniff test.

Of 11,000 students at Success, the Times could cite just 16 problem kids whose names a principal wrote on a list labeled “Got to Go.” And that principal was reprimanded.




International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy: A Review of the Critiques Brief highlights flaws in the use of international testing to drive educational policy National Education Policy Center analysis


BOULDER, CO – For 15 years, journalists, advocates and policymakers have cited scores on international tests, such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), to conclude that American student achievement “lags woefully behind” other nations, threatening our future and suggesting an urgent need for education reform.

A brief published today by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder explores such policy analyses and claims around PISA as well as a second prominent international test, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

In International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy: A Review of the Critiques, Stanford education professor Martin Carnoy focuses on four main critiques of analyses that use average PISA scores as a comparative measure of student achievement.

The ranking is misleading, Carnoy asserts, because:

* Students in different countries have different levels of family—not just school—academic resources;

* The larger gains reported on the TIMSS, which is adjusted for different levels of family academic resources, raise questions about the validity of using PISA results for international comparisons.

* PISA test score error terms—the difference between measured achievement and actual achievement—are considerably larger than the testing agencies acknowledge, making the country rankings unstable.

* The Shanghai educational system is held up as a model for the rest of the world on the basis of data on a subset of students that is not representative of the Shanghai student population as a whole.

Professor Carnoy also assesses the underlying social meaning and education policy value of international comparisons. First, he describes problems with claims that average national math scores are accurate predictors of future economic growth. Second, he explains that using scoring data in this manner has limited use for establishing education policy, due to the lack of causal inference analysis. This is the well-known “correlation is not causation” problem.





Bringing it back home

Why state comparisons are more useful than international comparisons for improving U.S. education policy Economic Policy Institute analysis


Since its inception in 2000, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)—an international test of reading, math, and science—has shown that American 15-year-olds perform more poorly, on average, than 15-year-olds in many other developed countries. This finding is generally consistent with results from another international assessment of 8th graders, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

International test rankings have come to dominate how politicians and pundits judge the quality of countries’ education systems, including highly heterogeneous systems such as that of the United States. While international tests and international comparisons are not without merit, international test data are notoriously limited in their ability to shed light on why students in any country have higher or lower test scores than in another. Policy prescriptions based on these test results therefore risk being largely descriptive, based on correlational evidence that offers limited and less-than-convincing proof of the factors that actually drive student performance.

Indeed, from such tests, many policymakers and pundits have wrongly concluded that student achievement in the United States lags woefully behind that in many comparable industrialized nations, that this shortcoming threatens the nation’s economic future, and that these test results therefore demand radical school reform that includes importing features of schooling in higher-scoring countries.

This report challenges these conclusions.











Pell Grants for High School Students? U.S. Dept. of Education is Going to Try It Education Week


For years, Pell Grants have helped low-income college students cover part of the cost of post-secondary education. Now, the U.S. Department of Education is moving to expand the program to high school kids who want to take dual enrollment courses that can count for college credit.

The administration is planning to create a $20 million pilot program that would allow high schoolers to use Pell grants to pay for college courses. To put that in context, the Pell Grant program is about $67.1 billion total. So the pilot proposal is a pretty small drop in the Pell bucket. (The maximum Pell Grant for this school year is $5,775.) But if the program were expanded widely, it could be a real game changer. (ED)





School Choice Backers Lukewarm on Provision in ESEA Rewrite House ESEA rewrite contains provision Education Week


After years of success in statehouses from Florida to Nevada, supporters of educational choice might have seen this year’s push to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as a way to bolster K-12 choice options at the federal level.

What they got instead has failed to excite them—to the point where some would prefer to gamble on the election of a Republican president who could promote school choice more aggressively, rather than accepting the deal on the table.

The ESEA rewrite passed by the House of Representatives has a provision that would give states the option to have their Title I aid, which is earmarked for disadvantaged students, follow students to the public schools of their choice. That option is generally called Title I portability. (The bill also includes a provision that states would have to set aside 3 percent of their Title I aid for competitive grants that would allow districts to offer school choice or free tutoring services.)

Some observers believe Title I portability’s chances of survival are quite bleak. Yet, if it’s not included after ongoing negotiations between House and Senate lawmakers to craft a final ESEA bill, its absence might become one more reason for opposition from conservative House Republicans who want Title I aid extended to private schools.

Meanwhile, opponents of Title I portability, including the Obama administration, have consistently argued that the proposal would unfairly redirect federal money from high-poverty to low-poverty districts, ignoring the effects of concentrated poverty on students.




Data: Majority of Nevadans seeking school vouchers live in upscale suburbs Las Vegas (NV) Sun


This week, the Nevada State Treasurer’s Office released a trove of data regarding applications for Nevada’s education savings accounts.

It’s the first peek into who is applying for Nevada’s voucher-like program, the most sweeping of its kind in the entire country. The data dump included a breakdown of 3,067 applications by categories like the age of the student and economic status.

Some of the highlights: A majority of the applications come from Clark County, most were filed on behalf of kids ages 5 through 8, 650 applicants claimed to be within 185 percent of the federal poverty line and 207 involve a student with a disability, according to the treasurer’s office.

But the most interesting data came in the form of a breakdown of all the applications by ZIP code. And that data tells an interesting story:

A majority of applications come from the wealthier suburbs of Las Vegas.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise to many opponents of the quasi-voucher program, who tend to criticize the system as catering to wealthy families who want to get out of the public school system. Of the 10 ZIP codes with the most ESA applications, seven are in communities located outside of the 215 Beltway. The ZIP code with the most applications is 89052 in Henderson, which encompasses Henderson Executive Airport and the Anthem master-planned community. Of those same 10 ZIP codes, the least wealthy is 89117 — covering parts of the west valley including Peccole Ranch and the Lakes — with a median household income of around $54,000, which is still well above the state average. The top 10 ZIP codes account for a full third of all applications submitted for the ESA program.

Perhaps the most striking piece of data is the relatively low number of applications coming from the inner city of Las Vegas, the home of many low-income, minority and English-language learning students attending schools primarily in the Clark County School District. (LV Review Journal)





At a Success Academy Charter School, Singling Out Pupils Who Have ‘Got to Go’

New York Times


From the time Folake Ogundiran’s daughter started kindergarten at a Success Academy charter school in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the girl struggled to adjust to its strict rules.

She racked up demerits for not following directions or not keeping her hands folded in her lap. Sometimes, after being chastised, she threw tantrums. She was repeatedly suspended for screaming, throwing pencils, running away from school staff members or refusing to go to another classroom for a timeout.

One day last December, the school’s principal, Candido Brown, called Ms. Ogundiran and said her daughter, then 6, was having a bad day. Mr. Brown warned that if she continued to do things that were defiant and unsafe — including, he said, pushing or kicking, moving chairs or tables, or refusing to go to another classroom — he would have to call 911, Ms. Ogundiran recalled. Already feeling that her daughter was treated unfairly, she went to the school and withdrew her on the spot.

Success Academy, the high­performing charter school network in New York City, has long been dogged by accusations that its remarkable accomplishments are due, in part, to a practice of weeding out weak or difficult students. The network has always denied it. But documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with 10 current and former Success employees at five schools suggest that some administrators in the network have singled out children they would like to see leave.

At Success Academy Fort Greene, the same day that Ms. Ogundiran heard from the principal, her daughter’s name was one of 16 placed on a list drawn up at his direction and shared by school leaders.

The heading on the list was “Got to Go.”




Alabama Teacher of the Year who left Mountain Brook for Birmingham is resigning Birmingham (AL) News


Ann Marie Corgill, 2015 National Teacher of the Year finalist and 2014-2015 Alabama Teacher of the Year, has submitted a letter of resignation to Birmingham City Schools.

Corgill, a fifth-grade teacher at Oliver Elementary School, moved to the Birmingham school district after teaching at Cherokee Bend Elementary School for three years – a move widely considered a step in the right direction for the Birmingham City Schools.

But in the letter obtained by, she cited confusion about her certification after Birmingham and Alabama Department of Education officials recently informed her she was not qualified to teach fifth grade.

“After 21 years of teaching in grades 1-6, I have no answers as to why this is a problem now, so instead of paying more fees, taking more tests and proving once again that I am qualified to teach, I am resigning,” she wrote. (AP)





Experts Discuss How to Handle Defiant High School Students Associated Press


COLUMBIA, S.C. — How should adults respond when a teenager defies her teacher?

Disturbing videos showing a school resource officer flipping a girl from her desk and tossing her across the floor this week raised tough questions




Free Employee GED Benefit

Inside Higher Ed


Several large corporations have partnered with the GED Testing Service to allow their employees to pursue the credential — which is the equivalent of a high-school diploma — without having to pay any fees. The new GEDWorks program also includes free student supports, including online study materials, practice tests and access to GED advisers. Participating companies include Walmart, KFC, Taco Bell and Southeastern Grocers.

“Walmart believes that education is key to an associate’s personal and professional development,” Michelle Knight, vice president of talent development for Walmart U.S., said in a written statement. “The opportunity to earn a market-valued credential helps our people gain skills to advance their career. Achieving success with the GEDWorks program is a gateway to opportunity.”












USOE Calendar



UEN News



October 30:

Administrative Rules Committee meeting

9 a.m., 445 State Capitol



November 3:

Legislative Management Committee meeting

Noon, 450 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



November 23:

Charter School Funding Task Force

1 p.m.,  445 State Capitol

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