Education News Roundup: Dec. 21

Students from Franklin Elementary visited the Governor's Mansion.

Education News Roundup/Students from Franklin Elementary visited the Governor’s Mansion.

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

 

Senate President Niederhauser previews the upcoming legislative session with a big nod toward the Essential Elements education technology plan (http://www.uen.org/digital-learning/).

http://go.uen.org/5wM (PDH)

 

Herald Journal looks at teacher retention up north.

http://go.uen.org/5wP (LHJ)

 

Superintendent Smith and School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration Director Carter discuss Sen. Hatch’s test and training range bill.

http://go.uen.org/5wN (SLT)

 

How quickly are states moving to take advantage of new flexibility in the ESSA?

http://go.uen.org/5wZ (USN&WR)

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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Senate president: Budget, infrastructure key issues in next legislative session

 

Educator, YMCA have one wish from Legislature: Fund preschool

 

‘One of the challenges:’ Retention critical for school districts

 

Overstock’s Jonathan Johnson tours Utah, hoping to upset Herbert

 

Layton Elementary gets funding to help students with dyslexia

 

Alcohol, cigarette use among teens reaches historical lows, study says

 

Provo Board of Education waiting for sale of Provo High School

 

Provo High School is top education story of the year

 

New school of thought: Mindfulness works — even in Utah classroom

Education » Private- and public-school educators are bringing meditation and visualization techniques into classrooms for their therapeutic benefit.

 

Trespassers set fire in Layton Elementary computer lab, police say

 

Officials probe charter school company’s campaign donation

 

Clearfield High School raises $44,000 for Ronald McDonald House

 

Utah Students put African students back in school with funds raised for water wells

 

Davis School Board considers new calendar

 

Driver turns bus into a magical ride for students

 

WSU offers holiday science lectures Monday and Tuesday

 

December 2015 Students of the Month Honored by St. George Exchange Club

 


 

 

OPINION & COMMENTARY

 

Utah needs more brain power to compete

 

Don’t treat parents like children — especially after a threat

 

Concurrent enrollment program is a win for DSU

Washington County students would be wise to take advantage of opportunities to earn college credits

 

Hatch’s test-range bill is a win for Utah schoolchildren

 

Help Navajos before refugees

 

ACT tests make colleges lazy

 

Snow days

 

Taught in schools

 

Appreciate athletes and artists

 

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act at Fifty: Aspirations, Effects, and Limitations

 

What Happened to the Common Core Debate?

Several Republican presidential candidates have backed away from the term, but not the standards. Why?

 

Differing Effects from Diverse Charter Schools

Uneven Student Selection and Achievement Growth in Los Angeles

 


 

 

NATION

 

States Eager to Shirk Obama-Era Education Policies

Already New York and Oklahoma have OK’d changes to their teacher evaluation systems.

 

ESSA’s Flexibility on Assessment Elicits Qualms From Testing Experts

 

Agreeing at Last: Congress Sends Tax, Spending Bill to Obama

 

Education, Transportation Highlight 2015 in Congress

 

This superintendent has figured out how to make school work for poor kids

 

Alabama showcases the perils of abstinence-only sex education

Al Jazeera looks at why 37 states teach abstinence despite evidence it doesn’t work

 

Transgender Oregon student wages lonely battle to use boys’ locker room

 

Facebook ‘Selfie’ Provokes Debate On Online Civility, Teacher Diversity

 

In at least one huge deal in L.A., Trump got schooled

 

NC Common Core school standards revamp stumbles

 

Threats cause N.H. schools to close Monday

 

LAUSD threats investigation centers on 21-year-old Maine man in Romania

 

Mother of Sikh Student Asks Bomb Threat Charges be Dropped

 

Thousands of Central American Kids Are Back at Our Border. Here’s What You Need to Know.

 

AP Builds New Multi-format Team for Education News Coverage

 

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Senate president: Budget, infrastructure key issues in next legislative session

 

The usual suspects will take center stage when the Utah State Legislature convenes next month for its 2016 session.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, spoke Friday with the Daily Herald in advance of the six-week legislative session that is scheduled to begin Jan. 25 on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City.

The state budget, infrastructure needs related to transportation and water, and education are some of the key areas where Niederhauser expects both the Senate and the House to focus their energies in 2016.

Niederhauser shared a story about a work colleague’s city council experience to illustrate how Utah residents need to recognize the budget as a “proper priority.” During the council’s budget discussions, only three people were in the audience. However, when the council met to discuss dog leash laws, the chambers were overflowing with concerned residents.

While the state budget’s tentacles are sure to reach into several different areas, Niederhauser expects to see any surplus funneled toward education — in both the K-12 and higher education sectors.

“Education’s going to get the lion’s share, the super majority, of that money,” he said. “And that’s the right place to put it, in my opinion.”

While discussing education, Niederhauser also made reference to a push by late House Speaker Becky Lockhart to introduce new technology initiatives in Utah’s K-12 schools.

“I believe that she was spot on in the idea of dealing with technology,” Niederhauser said, stressing that the focus shouldn’t be just on the devices delivering the tech, but on teacher development as well.

“We want to be careful that we’re not just throwing money at technology, but that teachers are trained to use it.”

http://go.uen.org/5wM (PDH)

 


 

 

Educator, YMCA have one wish from Legislature: Fund preschool

 

OGDEN — At James Madison Elementary School in inner-city Ogden, Heather Shaffer’s preschool class is being read a story. As the kids, 3 to 5 years old, listen intently, concepts are repeated. The students seem to love it. The only damper to the scene is the sparse size of the class.

Vincent Ardizzone, principal at James Madison, is from Belgium. In Europe, he said, school starts at age 3. When James Madison Elementary was approached as a site for preschool classes, he said, “Absolutely, I would love it.” James Madison has two half-day classes.

There’s a key reason for Ardizzone’s and others’ enthusiasm. Eighty percent of students who have attended preschool have attained the skills — academic and social — for kindergarten. Without preschool, that number dips to the 10-15 percent level.

They learn calendars, counting, the ABCs and they do a pretend play. All of this prepares the kids academically for kindergarten, explained Ardizzone.

“The social and emotional behavior … of being in school” is also a big benefit, said Stella Patiño, early childhood director for YMCA of Northern Utah.

The Ogden School District partners with the YMCA to provide preschool at several schools, including the district office. Some classes are larger than others. A reason for the smaller classes, said Ann Nelson, YMCA regional director of Northern Utah, is that it costs money to attend preschool. That can be a hindrance to lower-income families, but there is assistance available. Nelson urged those who need help to contact their school or the YMCA offices.

http://go.uen.org/5xc (OSE)

 


 

 

‘One of the challenges:’ Retention critical for school districts

 

While hiring quality teachers is a priority within school districts, retaining those teachers is equally important, as Logan City School District is working to keep more teachers longer.

In the Logan District, the largest source of new hires each year are graduates from Utah State University.

“We successfully recruit many USU graduates when they complete their practicum or student teaching experiences in our district,” said Susanne Kuresa, the director of human resources at the district.

When it comes to retaining those teachers, the district works to provide support for the new teachers with their assignments and responsibilities. This support includes mentoring and an induction program for their first three years at the district. Ongoing support is provided, in one way, through training and assistance from district teacher specialists and building level instructional coaches, she added.

How does Logan District compare?

The turnover rate at the Logan District for licensed personnel last year was 13 percent, which has been fairly consistent over the past decade. Two years ago, when turnover was 17 percent, the retirement package was changed, which led to more retirees than usual.

In contrast, the turnover rate for the Cache County School District is between 7 and 10 percent, though those figures are anecdotal and not statistical. The state’s overall average turnover rate is around 30 percent.

http://go.uen.org/5wP (LHJ)

 


 

 

Overstock’s Jonathan Johnson tours Utah, hoping to upset Herbert

 

Jonathan Johnson, chairman of the board of Overstock.com, is crisscrossing the state. Last week he was in Davis County, conducting town halls in homes, meeting elected officials and talking with the media.

It’s part of his campaign, announced last summer at the Utah Republican Party state convention, to replace Gary Herbert as the Republican governor of Utah. He’s a longshot to topple the popular Herbert, who enjoys high approval ratings. But there’s no Don Quixote in Johnson; he’s assembled a serious campaign, headed by former Republican state chair Dave Hansen, who guided Orrin Hatch and Mia Love through tough campaigns. As he moves through the state, he’s sought a debate with Herbert, but the governor said no, leaving Johnson to settle for highly publicized verbal duels with Democratic State Sen. James Dabakis.

States’ rights, an issue that unites many of Utah’s more conservative pols, is also an issue where Johnson claims disagreement with Herbert. He supports efforts to transfer control of federal lands to Utah. On education, he’s opposed to Common Core and dislikes the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act, touted by supporters as a sensible alternative to No Child Left Behind.

“To me, it (ESSA) feels like the federal government saying you can go to the ice cream shop and get everything you like, as long as it’s strawberry,” he said. The feds don’t encourage variety or innovation. That’s best left closer to home, he added.

http://go.uen.org/5xI (OSE)

 


 

 

Layton Elementary gets funding to help students with dyslexia

 

LAYTON — Learning to read can be a difficult task for any child, but it’s an even bigger challenge for students who struggle because of dyslexia.

However, a grant recently awarded to several area schools could boost local educators’ ability to identify and help local kids living with the disorder.

Grant money awarded to Layton Elementary, as well as Cache County, Box Elder, Provo City and Tooele school districts, will fund professional development for educators, tools to help identify reading difficulties earlier and programs focused on intervention that catches the problem before it gets more pronounced.

The money was made available through Senate Bill 117, which was passed in 2015 and created the “Intervention for Reading Pilot Program.” Cache County will be awarded $115,000, and Box Elder, Provo and Tooele will each get $60,000. Layton Elementary — the only individual school awarded — will be given $30,000.

http://go.uen.org/5xa (OSE)

 


 

 

Alcohol, cigarette use among teens reaches historical lows, study says

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Parents, educators and counselors can take comfort in the newest data on drug use among teens: Use of substances like alcohol, cigarettes and inhalants are at all-time lows.

“We thought we’d see a plateau for a lot of these substances, and we’re thrilled to still see change going down,” said Susannah Burt, a program manager at the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Trends in Utah, she said, reflected those nationwide: drug use is down.

Paul Edmunds, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools coordinator at Granite School District, attributed the decline to a change in prevention strategy.

http://go.uen.org/5×2 (DN)

 

A copy of the report

http://go.uen.org/5×3 (Monitoring the Future)

 


 

 

Provo Board of Education waiting for sale of Provo High School

 

There is no final word on the status of the sale of the current Provo High School property on University Avenue, because the issue is still ongoing with the Provo City School District.

We are still working on it,” Board of Education President Julie Rash said. “A real estate transaction of this magnitude takes time. To rush it would negatively impact the sale.

“We are working with multiple buyers. We will analyze and do what is in favor of the district.”

http://go.uen.org/5xf (PDH)

 


 

Provo High School is top education story of the year

 

The most talked-about story in Utah County related to education in 2015 was the decision by the Provo City School District Board of Education to move Provo High School to a location on the west side of the city and declare the current site of the school as surplus.

It wasn’t until December when the board made the final decision to move the school to the west side of the city. A previous bond issue had included approximately $55 million to reconstruct the high school at its current location on University Avenue. Plans were to use temporary classrooms while certain wings were rebuilt, and rotate the classes in the temporary facilities while the new rooms were built.

But a prospective buyer came forward and expressed interest in purchasing the property of the current school. Members of the school board did research and determined it was in the best interests of the district to move the school.

District officials anticipate the new Provo High School will be open for students in the fall of 2018.

http://go.uen.org/5xe (PDH)

 


 

 

New school of thought: Mindfulness works — even in Utah classroom

Education » Private- and public-school educators are bringing meditation and visualization techniques into classrooms for their therapeutic benefit.

 

Sandy • Soft sunlight fills the classroom as a mood rarely seen among middle-school students slowly settles in:

Quiet. Calm. Reflective.

Their teacher leads them into part of a new homeroom routine this semester. Bouncy rows of kids fall silent as all relax and start to notice their breathing.

A gentle female voice guides them to invite ease and stillness into their minds and bodies, using a meditation-derived teaching tool called mindfulness that is gaining footholds in Utah classrooms.

Let go of tension, the voice tells students. Be calmed and cleansed with each exhale. As thoughts arise, watch them like kernels of popcorn. Label them as they pop up, then let them go and return to the breath.

The youngsters rest in this way for several minutes before a chime sounds. Eyes open. It’s still a Monday at The Waterford School in Sandy.

http://go.uen.org/5xH (SLT)

 


 

 

Trespassers set fire in Layton Elementary computer lab, police say

 

Fire officials say two people intentionally set a fire at a Layton Elementary school.

According to Douglas Bitton from Layton City Fire Department, police and fire crews responded to a fire alarm at Layton Elementary School around 3:42 a.m. and arrived to find portable building on fire, with smoke venting from an open window.

“Investigators have indicated that this fire is suspicious and appears to be an intentionally set fire,” said Bitton.

http://go.uen.org/5xj (KUTV)

 

http://go.uen.org/5xl (KTVX)

 

http://go.uen.org/5xm (KSL)

 

http://go.uen.org/5xJ (OSE)

 


 

 

Officials probe charter school company’s campaign donation

 

SALT LAKE CITY— The state elections office is looking into whether the company running a public charter school system used private dollars to donate to a Utah senate campaign.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports Republican delegates recently chose businessman Lincoln Fillmore to replace an outgoing senator. American Preparatory Schools is a private company that manages public charter schools and donated $1,000 for Fillmore’s campaign.

Fillmore says similar to his own company Charter Solutions, the donation is from a private entity rather than the schools themselves.

http://go.uen.org/5xg (PDH)

 

http://go.uen.org/5xK (Ed Week)

 


 

 

Clearfield High School raises $44,000 for Ronald McDonald House

 

Student body officers from Clearfield High School presented a $44,000 check to the Ronald McDonald House today.

Students at the school collected the money during the past week at dances, school sporting events, and a talent show.

http://go.uen.org/5xi (KUTV)

 


 

 

Utah Students put African students back in school with funds raised for water wells

 

Riverton, Utah — Riverton Middle School is helping kids in Africa by getting them water closer to home. The project started with one seventh grade teacher inspired by a book called, “It’s a Long Walk to Water.” It also involves the brains of some BYU engineering students. That lead to the entire student body at Oquirrh Hills Middle School to raise $28,975.

http://go.uen.org/5xk (KUTV)

 


 

 

Davis School Board considers new calendar

 

FARMINGTON — After receiving nearly 1,850 comments, the Davis Board of Education has given preliminary approval to the proposed 2016-17 school calendar.

http://go.uen.org/5×4 (DN)

 

 

Driver turns bus into a magical ride for students

 

HIGHLAND — The young passengers of Richard Gray’s school bus boarded “The Polar Express” this week, ringing bells and proclaiming “I believe!” before departing their magical ride.

Gray has driven a school bus for five years and recognizes that kids can get stressed. To create some fun for the kids, he adorns his bus with festive decorations in line with different occasions.

Just after Thanksgiving, snowflakes hung from the ceiling of the large yellow vehicle and a snowman rode on the front. As the month progressed, so did the decorations, and the “star bus” eventually became “The Polar Express.”

http://go.uen.org/5xn (KSL)

 


 

 

WSU offers holiday science lectures Monday and Tuesday

 

OGDEN — Weber State University continues its tradition of giving the gift of festive science lectures for Christmas.

This year’s first Faraday Lecture starts at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21, in rooms 125 and 126 of the Lind Lecture Hall, on campus at 3848 Harrison Blvd., in Ogden. The lecture will be repeated at 7 p.m. on Dec. 22.

http://go.uen.org/5×9 (OSE)

 


 

 

December 2015 Students of the Month Honored by St. George Exchange Club

 

St. George, Utah, — The December Students of the Month recipients were recently honored by the St. George Exchange Club. The St. George Exchange Club sponsors the Student of the Month Program, which honors one student from the area high schools each month. This program recognizes the students’ accomplishments in academics, service and leadership in their respective schools.

http://go.uen.org/5xo (KCSG)

 

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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Utah needs more brain power to compete

Salt Lake Tribune editorial

 

Utah has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation. Blessed with hard-working people and cheap energy, the state is attracting new companies as it grows existing ones. We are indeed the envy of many states.

But a new report from the Utah Foundation sees a crack in that armor, and it’s one that threatens to keep us from sustained prosperity.

Turning the state’s pioneer slogan on its head, the report is titled “Is This the Place?” and it is a revealing look at what Utah employers think about Utah workers. Foundation researchers surveyed 151 of them on the business and labor environment here.

The good news is that we work hard. When compared to their workers in other states, 60 percent of the employers said their Utah workers were more industrious, while only 6 percent said they were less so.

The bad news? We’re not skilled enough. Almost three-fourths (71 percent) of the employers say they struggle to find enough skilled workers in Utah. In a world where even manufacturing jobs are high-tech, software-driven positions, this is not minor.

We can outwork the others, but can we outthink them?

http://go.uen.org/5wO

 


 

 

Don’t treat parents like children — especially after a threat

(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

 

No parent wants to find out about a bomb threat at her child’s school via the newspaper.

But Tarissa Hendricks did.

Other parents didn’t hear about it from the school, either. No one did.

Because administrators didn’t tell anyone what happened Dec. 9 at T.H Bell Junior High School in Washington Terrace. Neither did the Weber School District.

That was a mistake.

http://go.uen.org/5xd

 


 

 

Concurrent enrollment program is a win for DSU

Washington County students would be wise to take advantage of opportunities to earn college credits

(St. George) Spectrum editorial

 

Only time will tell if Dixie State University does right by its new athletics nickname and mascot.

We do know, however, one thing that the St. George university got right: Its’ concurrent enrollment program.

Designed to support high school juniors and seniors who are interested in earning college credits before graduation, DSU’s concurrent enrollment program also provides a tremendous option for savings and advancement. And, best of all, the program works for all students who intend to go to college following high school.

Students who plan to stay in Utah for their college years would be wise to take advantage of this program for several reasons.

http://go.uen.org/5xh

 


 

 

Hatch’s test-range bill is a win for Utah schoolchildren

Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Utah Superintendent of Public Instruction Brad C. Smith and Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration Director Kevin S. Carter

 

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s proposal to expand the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) will not only assist our military in testing new generations of aircraft and weapons systems. It will also create revenue for Utah’s public school endowment through the consolidation of school trust lands located within the UTTR.

About 80,000 acres of school trust lands are now inside the UTTR expansion area. Like other state school trust lands, these parcels are managed by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) to generate funds for the Permanent School Fund, a perpetual endowment that provides annual dividends to every K-12 public and charter school in Utah.

School trust dividends, $45.8 million this year, are allocated each year at the school level by councils of parents and teachers for each school’s particular academic needs.

http://go.uen.org/5wN

 


 

 

Help Navajos before refugees

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Allen Sacharov

 

I read with great interest and sadness the recent article reporting the terrible roads that Navajo children must traverse just to get to school, and the days they miss because they are impassable.

Perhaps Navajo women should start weaving headscarves instead of rugs. The federal government seems to have a spare billion or so to help potential and actual Muslim terrorists settle in this country instead of helping our own people who are in need.

http://go.uen.org/5×0

 


 

 

ACT tests make colleges lazy

Salt Lake Tribune letter from Landon Myers

 

High school students in Utah are required to take the ACT at least once. However, if they are smart, they will take it multiple times in order to raise their scores. The ACT is huge for high school students. It is what defines whether they get into college and/or how much scholarship money they get. Higher score equals more money.

Here’s the problem: the ACT isn’t a good predictor of college success. The only thing the ACT tests is how well you test, and that has no bearing on how smart you are or how hard you work.

http://go.uen.org/5×1

 


 

 

Snow days

Deseret News letter from Harley Hurd

 

This is one of the worst winter storms we have had in years. The snow started coming down and so did the parents’ complaints. Parents have felt that with the harsh conditions of the snow that it is unsafe for their students to go to school. But Utah schools came out and said they are not going to have a “snow day.” The schools want to stay open to provide services that the students need.

Utah school districts are being very lenient with students being late and having late starts. I think it is good that the schools are being helpful to students. They are providing the services that some students need and also being helpful and caring about students’ safety.

http://go.uen.org/5×8

 


 

 

Taught in schools

Deseret News letter from Austin Guymon

 

When we graduate from high school, we, as students, should be able to go out into the real world and support ourselves with the newfound knowledge that we have obtained. Instead, we leave our home with the knowledge of how to solve a triangle equation or that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

Why don’t we leave high school knowing how to fill out a W-2 or how to file our taxes? Sure, in Utah, it is required to take a financial literacy class in order to graduate, but do our legislators know what is actually being taught in those classes?

When I took financial literacy last year as a junior, the things that stick out in my mind the most is a whole bunch of speeches given by Dave Ramsey … and that’s about it.

http://go.uen.org/5×6

 


 

 

Appreciate athletes and artists

Deseret News letter from Hailey Tueller

 

I’m a senior at Bingham High School and a member of the drill team. Sports are a major part of our lives here at Bingham. We work hard to reach our goals as individuals and as teams. The support that we receive from our school is incredible and much appreciated. However, the other groups and clubs often get overlooked. We truly have amazing talent here at Bingham when it comes to art and literature. One of the best things about high school is the diversity that we are exposed to. We need to appreciate the many different talents and unique skills of all our peers. Let us remember to appreciate the athletes and the artists. Both have a vital role in our school.

http://go.uen.org/5×7

 


 

 

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act at Fifty: Aspirations, Effects, and Limitations

Russell Sage Foundation Journal of Social Sciences analysis by David A. Gamson, Pennsylvania State Univerity, Kathryn A. McDermott, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Douglas S. Reed, Georgetown University

 

The most important piece of education legislation in U.S. history, which had its fiftieth anniversary on April 11, 2015, is a law most people have never heard of. Parents do not discuss it on the sidelines of children’s sports events. Teachers do not hear about it in professional development sessions. Only a few highly specialized education policy bloggers ever mention it. Despite this relative obscurity, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 has—over the course of its fifty years—changed the course of U.S. public education.

ESEA’s low profile stems, in part, from the contemporary fashion of giving legislation catchy titles. Indeed, when ESEA came due for reauthorization in 2001, Congress renamed it the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)—a legislative title that has far greater brand recognition.1 The recent rebranding of ESEA, however, could only address name recognition; it did little to advance public understanding of how the legislation works or its effects. That is, in part, the goal of this issue of RSF.

The challenge for scholars and policy officials seeking to explain ESEA is the law’s place in the complex mix of federal, state, and local authority over U.S. public schools. In many ways, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is like the framing inside the walls of a house. This framing gives the structure its overall shape and footprint, but the original design and materials are obscured because so much has been built around it. The framing suddenly becomes important, however, when the walls need repair, or when we need to identify the load-bearing sections in order to put on an addition or reconfigure existing spaces.

http://go.uen.org/5wR

 


 

 

What Happened to the Common Core Debate?

Several Republican presidential candidates have backed away from the term, but not the standards. Why?

Atlantic commentary by columnist PRISCILLA ALVAREZ

 

The Common Core was expected to be a ubiquitous subject on the campaign trail in 2016. The education standards had, over time, become a political football as conservatives condemned them as federal overreach.

It’s so far hardly been the case. Governors in the race, like Jeb Bush, have backed away from using the term because of its negative connotation among the electorate, even if he still stands by the standards. Should he gain traction moving into the presidential primary it might become more relevant as early-voting states—and other governors, like Chris Christie—grapple with the standards.

http://go.uen.org/5xD

 


 

 

Differing Effects from Diverse Charter Schools

Uneven Student Selection and Achievement Growth in Los Angeles

University of California, Berkeley analysis

 

Disparate findings on whether students attending charter schools outperform peers enrolled in traditional public schools (TPS) may stem from mixing different types of charters or insufficiently accounting for variation in pupil background. To gauge so-called heterogeneous effects we distinguish between conversion and start-up charter schools, along with a third site-run model operating in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

After tracking 66,000 students over four years, 2007-2011, we find that TPS campuses that converted to charter status (conversions) attracted more experienced and consistently credentialed teachers, and served relatively advantaged families, compared with newly created charter schools (start-ups). Charter schools overall attracted pupils achieving at higher levels as they began a grade cycle (at baseline), relative to students attending traditional schools.

After taking into account these differences in prior achievement and family background, students attending charter elementary or middle schools outperformed TPS peers over the four-year period, estimated with alternative statistical techniques. The benefits of attending a charter middle school appear to be consistent across subgroups and moderate in magnitude, especially for students in start-ups. Most other charter advantages remain small in magnitude or statistically insignificant. We detected no achievement differences between pupils attending charter versus TPS high schools.

http://go.uen.org/5xG

 

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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States Eager to Shirk Obama-Era Education Policies

Already New York and Oklahoma have OK’d changes to their teacher evaluation systems.

U.S. News & World Report

 

One of the biggest questions that loomed after President Barack Obama signed new federal K-12 education legislation into law last week was how long it would take before states began altering their education systems using their newfound freedom to change the way they test students, evaluate teachers or improve their worst schools.

The answer came just four days later when the New York Board of Regents voted Dec. 14 to delay for four years the use of student test scores in their teacher evaluation system.

That policy is at the heart of the Obama administration’s education agenda and was a requirement for state participation in its most signature programs, including the Race to the Top competition and waivers, under which more than 40 states and the District of Columbia are currently operating.

But the new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, shrinks the role of the federal government and hands states and school districts control over things like accountability, standards and teacher evaluations.

And New York, which already had an advisory board assessing and rethinking its standards, tests and teacher evaluations, wasted no time dismantling what outgoing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the administration spent so much political capital laying the ground work for.

http://go.uen.org/5wZ

 


 

 

ESSA’s Flexibility on Assessment Elicits Qualms From Testing Experts

Education Week

 

The Every Student Succeeds Act invites states and districts to use interim assessments in a new way: by combining their results into one summative score for federal accountability.

But testing experts say it can be difficult to produce valid scores that way, and warn that the approach can limit teachers’ curricular choices.

The No Child Left Behind Act required states to give “high-quality, annual tests” that measure students’ year-to-year progress in math and English/language arts. ESSA, the latest revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, signed into law Dec. 10, says that “at the state’s discretion,” student achievement and growth can be measured “through a single summative assessment” or “through multiple, statewide interim assessments during the course of the academic year that result in a single summative score.”

Summative tests are typically measurements of learning taken when instruction is complete, while interim tests more often measure students’ progress toward learning goals, after specific sections of instruction.

No one knows yet whether states will use the new option in the law, but it has the potential to make a big market bigger.

http://go.uen.org/5wY

 


 

 

Agreeing at Last: Congress Sends Tax, Spending Bill to Obama

Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON — Congress ended its chaotic year on a surprising note of bipartisan unity and productivity Friday, overwhelmingly approving a massive 2016 tax and spending package and sending it to President Barack Obama, who promptly signed it.

Obama welcomed the sprawling legislation, a rare compromise product of the divided government. It includes something for nearly everyone, from parents and teachers to Big Oil and small business, from 9/11 first responders to cybersecurity hawks and more.

“There’s some things in there that I don’t like, but that’s the nature of legislation and compromise, and I think the system worked,” the president said at his year-end news conference at the White House before traveling with his family on their annual vacation to Hawaii. “It was a good win.”

The legislation pairs two enormous bills: a $1.14 trillion government-wide spending measure to fund every Cabinet agency through next September, and a $680 billion tax package extending dozens of breaks touching all sectors of the economy, making several of them permanent and tossing the entire cost onto the deficit.

http://go.uen.org/5xs

 


 

 

Education, Transportation Highlight 2015 in Congress

Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON — In a chaotic year, when Republicans in the House unseated a speaker, Congress produced a significant amount of bipartisan legislation that affects every American.

It enacted laws recasting federal education policy, restricting government access to bulk phone records, renewing highway and transit programs and even resolving a longstanding problem of how Medicare reimburses doctors. Before leaving town for the year, it sent President Barack Obama bipartisan legislation Friday financing government agencies in 2016 and cutting taxes, mostly by extending dozens of expiring levies.

Here are highlights of an eventful year in Congress:

BUDGET DEAL

EDUCATION

Obama signed a sweeping overhaul of the No Child Left Behind education law, the biggest education reform since 2002. The bipartisan law ushers in a new approach to accountability, teacher evaluations and the way the most poorly performing schools are pushed to improve. Students will still take federally required statewide reading and math exams, but the law encourages states to limit time spent on testing and diminishes the stakes for underperforming schools.

http://go.uen.org/5xt

 


 

 

This superintendent has figured out how to make school work for poor kids

Washington Post

 

JENNINGS, Mo. — School districts don’t usually operate homeless shelters for their students. Nor do they often run food banks for have a system in place to provide whatever clothes kids need. Few offer regular access to pediatricians and mental health counselors or make washers and dryers available to families desperate to get clean.

But the Jennings School District — serving about 3,000 students in a low-income, predominantly African American jurisdiction just north of St. Louis — does all of these things and more. When Superintendent Tiffany Anderson arrived here 3-1/2 years ago, she was determined to clear the barriers that so often keep poor kids from learning. And her approach has helped fuel a dramatic turnaround in Jennings, which has long been among the lowest-performing school districts in Missouri.

http://go.uen.org/5xp

 


 

 

Alabama showcases the perils of abstinence-only sex education

Al Jazeera looks at why 37 states teach abstinence despite evidence it doesn’t work

Al Jazeera America

 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Lacey Kennedy, who graduated from a high school in northern Alabama in 2010, remembered students being told to sign an abstinence pledge and to fold the pledge down to the size of a condom wrapper and keep it in their wallet.

“The idea was when you open your wallet to reach for a condom, instead you find this conveniently condom-wrapper-size abstinence pledge,” Kennedy said, “and that was supposed to be useful to us.”

According to the most recent National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50 percent of high school students in Alabama have had sex, and nearly half have had sex without condoms. Between 2004 and 2011, according to the Alabama Department of Health, people ages 13 to 24 were the only age group in the state to experience an increase in new HIV diagnoses. In 2013 they accounted for almost half of new HIV infections in the state.

Alabama has high rates of STD infections. Data from the CDC in 2013 show that the state capital, Montgomery, had the highest STD rate in the nation. That year the state ranked third in the U.S. in numbers of chlamydial and gonorrheal infections, and the infection rate skyrockets in young adults 15 to 24 years old.

The CDC issued a report in December of last year criticizing middle school and high school sex education programs across the U.S. for not teaching all the recommended sexual health topics. The least covered topic, the report noted, was how to get and use condoms.

http://go.uen.org/5wS

 


 

 

Transgender Oregon student wages lonely battle to use boys’ locker room

(Portland) Oregonian

 

No one testified at the Dallas School Board meeting in November. People in this working class Oregon town tend to trust their elected officials. But the chairs filled so fast at December’s meeting volunteers had to bring in dozens of extras.

Most in the crowd of 75 didn’t look up when Elliot Yoder slipped in five minutes late, red hair peeking out from beneath an Oakland Raiders cap. The 14-year-old leaned against the wall, and his 5-foot-1-inch frame suddenly seemed even smaller. His eyes widened behind black plastic frame glasses.

He was the reason they were all there.

This fall, Dallas School District officials sent a letter to the 67 students in Yoder’s gym class announcing they would allow an unnamed transgender student to use the boys locker room, the facility that matched his gender identity but not his anatomy.

Many school districts are seeing students come out for the first time, sometimes as early as elementary school. Rural and urban districts alike are struggling to decide which locker and bathrooms those students should use.

The U.S. Department of Education ruled in early November that an Illinois school district violated federal Title IX regulations when administrators prevented a transgender female from using the girls’ facilities. The federal ruling applied only to one student, but school districts across the country have paid attention, believing that a precedent was set.

http://go.uen.org/5wT

 


 

 

Facebook ‘Selfie’ Provokes Debate On Online Civility, Teacher Diversity

Hartford (CT) Courant

 

HARTFORD — Teacher Heather Zottola was at a training session for city educators on the evening of Sept. 2, hearing about ways they can better serve students of color — the bulk of Hartford’s students — when she noticed one of the attendees angling a cellphone camera in her direction.

“I remember thinking, at first, ‘Oh, she’s taking a selfie.’ Then I was like, ‘Oh, look it, I’m in her picture,'” Zottola recalled this month. The woman, city board of education member Shelley Best, was seated only a few feet away in a downtown banquet room.

“What I should have said to her that night, what I thought to say to her, was, ‘How did our selfie come out?’ And just kind of get a feel for why she was taking it,” said Zottola, 45, who did not know or recognize Best, an A.M.E. Zion minister, a social justice commentator, and one of two African Americans on Hartford’s nine-member school board.

Back home that night, Zottola mentioned to her husband that a woman attending the dinner presentation had taken selfies — photos of herself — but that she seemed to intentionally include Zottola in the frame, “and I wonder why.”

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Best’s social media network had already learned the reason in real time as Best raised a blunt question about who was in the room that evening.

The head of the Hartford teachers’ union, Andrea Johnson, would later say that she was “appalled” when she saw the Facebook post that would trigger pained conversations over teacher diversity and online civility.

http://go.uen.org/5wX

 


 

 

In at least one huge deal in L.A., Trump got schooled

Los Angeles Times

 

On one side was the alpha male of New York developers who burst into town with pockets full of money, a legion of lobbyists and lawyers and an audacious plan to build the nation’s tallest building.

Opposing was a tag team Donald Trump would have little reason to fear: Jackie Goldberg and Jeff Horton, two rumpled progressives on the Los Angeles Board of Education.

Long before his run for president and his reality TV career as the ruthless boss, Trump fought an ugly decade-long battle over a Los Angeles landmark.

It’s not an exploit he’s bragging about on the campaign trail.

The prize was the Ambassador Hotel. A legendary Hollywood celebrity hangout and the site of the 1968 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, it had endured a long downward spiral before closing in 1989.

The 23.5-acre property, much of it open space, became a rare object of desire in a densely built part of the city.

The Board of Education already had its eye on the property for a badly needed high school when a Trump syndicate swooped it up for $64 million in 1989 and announced plans to erect a 125-story office tower.

The school board countered with a 7-0 vote to take the property from Trump via eminent domain.

Usually that would start a process in which the parties and their appraisers, or a court, would settle on a price.

But not when one of the parties was Trump.

http://go.uen.org/5wQ

 


 

 

NC Common Core school standards revamp stumbles

Associated Press via Winston-Salem (NC) Journal

 

A commission created by North Carolina’s opponents of the Common Core education standards has failed to recommend concrete examples of what should replace it.

The Academic Standards Review Commission on Friday couldn’t agree on proposals to scrap the way math instruction was changed after the Common Core started to show up in classrooms three years ago. Recommendations for how to teach reading and writing say standards should be revised so course work better fits the age of the students being taught.

Commission co-chair Tammy Covil says the panel’s recommendations after work of more than a year amounts to little more than a face lift of the criticized Common Core.

http://go.uen.org/5wU

 


 

 

Threats cause N.H. schools to close Monday

USA Today

 

Schools in Nashua, N.H., will be closed Monday after police there said they had received a report of violent threats aimed at the city’s high schools.

A police investigation was ongoing late Sunday, but the district, one of New Hampshire’s largest with about 11,500 students, didn’t plan to reopen schools until Tuesday, Superintendent Mark Conrad said.

“We have received a detailed threat of violence to harm students and staff at both high schools,” Conrad said in a statement released on the district’s website. He said the threat was “specific to tomorrow,” but that school officials were still working with police to determine its credibility.

“Because the threat is specific and extends to several schools,” he said, “we will be cautious and close all of our public schools.”

http://go.uen.org/5wV

 

http://go.uen.org/5wW  (Boston Globe)

 

http://go.uen.org/5xx (CSM)

 

http://go.uen.org/5xq (Reuters)

 

http://go.uen.org/5xu (AP)

 


 

 

LAUSD threats investigation centers on 21-year-old Maine man in Romania

Los Angeles Daily News

 

A 21-year-old man in Romania has become a key figure in the investigation into emailed threats that led to the daylong closure of the Los Angeles Unified School District, but he said Friday he was surprised the email sent by an unknown person led to widespread school closures.

Vincent Canfield told CBS News he is from Augusta, Maine, but has been in Romania for about a week and a half. On his Twitter account, Canfield posted a copy of a subpoena he received from police in New York City, where school officials received a threat similar to the one received Tuesday by LAUSD officials.

New York officials determined the email threatening violence was a hoax, but LAUSD campuses were closed and more than 1,500 school sites were meticulously searched.

Canfield runs an email server that includes a word that can be used as a pornographic reference to male genitalia. The threatening email was routed through that server and contained the pornographic reference in the address. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, said earlier this week that the word helped New York officials debunk the email as a hoax.

With the investigation continuing, Canfield told CBS the email server has been locked.

“The account can’t be logged into,” he said. “It means that the user can’t send email (and) can’t delete anything. So the account is pretty much just frozen at this point in time.”

Canfield’s Twitter page is filled with discussions about the school threats.

http://go.uen.org/5xA

 

http://go.uen.org/5xC (CBS)

 


 

 

Mother of Sikh Student Asks Bomb Threat Charges be Dropped

Associated Press

 

ARLINGTON, Texas — The mother of a Sikh middle school student accused of threatening to detonate a bomb at his Texas school is asking police to drop charges, saying that her son never made such a threat.

Armaan Singh, 12, was arrested Dec. 11 after Arlington police said he admitted to making the threat while they were questioning him without his parents present. He spent three days in juvenile detention before being released and placed under house arrest with ankle monitor. He also was suspended from school.

His mother, Gurdeep Kaur, said a classmate asked whether a battery in Armaan’s backpack was a bomb, and that he said it wasn’t, but the classmate told the teacher he said it was.

There was no bomb in the backpack.

Kaur said the family didn’t learn of Armaan’s arrest until hours after it happened.

http://go.uen.org/5xw

 


 

 

Thousands of Central American Kids Are Back at Our Border. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Mother Jones

 

Last month, while conservatives went into panic mode over those eight Syrians who crossed the US-Mexico border shortly after the Paris attacks, the feds were scrambling to keep up with a more familiar sight in South Texas: the arrival of unaccompanied children and families from Central America.

In October and November, nearly 10,600 kids traveling by themselves were apprehended at the border, more than twice as many as during the same period in 2014—and roughly the same number apprehended at the height of last year’s surge, in June 2014. Another 12,500 people traveling as families were caught, a 176 percent jump from October-November 2014. The vast majority came from Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—which continues to be the site of extreme violence, poverty, and, lately, drought.

The spike in apprehensions was surprising for a couple of reasons: First, the numbers of both unaccompanied children and family unit apprehensions have dropped steadily over the past year, and second, the fall and winter months are often quiet ones at the border.

http://go.uen.org/5xy

 


 

 

AP Builds New Multi-format Team for Education News Coverage

Associated Press

 

NEW YORK — A new national beat team has been established at The Associated Press to elevate coverage of issues in education, the news cooperative announced Monday.

The team will aim to generate more coverage off the news and explore trends affecting students of all ages, using text, video, photos and interactive multi-format storytelling about how trends in education are affecting children and families across America and around the world.

The team is comprised of experienced journalists who consistently break news and produce well-received enterprise on education trends and issues, including recent stories on racial tensions at college campuses after the University of Missouri protests and changes in high school and middle school sex education to address consent and sexual assault, not just pregnancy and disease.

http://go.uen.org/5xr

 

 

 

 

————————————————————

CALENDAR

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USOE Calendar

http://www.schools.utah.gov/main/CALENDAR.aspx

 

 

UEN News

http://www.uen.org

 

 

January 6:

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting

9 a.m., 445 State Capitol

http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2016&com=APPPED

 

Utah State Board of Education study session and committee meetings

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

 

 

January 7:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

 

 

January 13-14:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://go.uen.org/1pn

 

 

January 25:

Utah Legislature

First day of the 2016 general session

http://le.utah.gov/

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