Education News Roundup: Feb. 24, 2016

Utah students at the Capitol/Education News Roundup.

Utah public education students at the Capitol/Education News Roundup.

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:

 

House committee halts comprehensive sex education bill.

http://go.uen.org/6aH (SLT)

and http://go.uen.org/6aI (DN)

and http://go.uen.org/6bq (CVD)

and http://go.uen.org/6b6 (KUTV)

and http://go.uen.org/6b7 (KTVX)

and http://go.uen.org/6b9 (KSL)

and http://go.uen.org/6aJ (KSTU)

 

Rep. Poulson’s bill uncoupling test scores and teacher evaluation advances.

http://go.uen.org/6aM (SLT)

 

Gov. Herbert testifies on ESSA.

http://go.uen.org/6aP (Education Week)

or the Governor’s prepared remarks

http://go.uen.org/6ba (NGA)

or video of the hearing

http://go.uen.org/6aQ (Senate)

 

Study finds Maryland students who took the end-of year tests on paper did better than those who took the test on a computer.

http://go.uen.org/6aT (Baltimore Sun)

and http://go.uen.org/6bg (Ed Week)

 

ESSA puts a spotlight on universal design for learning.

http://go.uen.org/6aU (Ed Week)

 

Some symbolism here? New media pushing out old media? Amazon’s Kindle will become the presenting sponsor of Scripps National Spelling Bee. That would be Scripps of Scripps Howard newspaper (you’re all old enough to remember newspapers, right) fame.

http://go.uen.org/6bi (Seattle Times)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

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UTAH

 

Utah House panel defeats sex education bill, debates change in abuse prevention training Risky topic? » Debate over the role of parents and which information kids should receive ends in keeping the status quo.

 

House panel moves to remove SAGE scores from teacher evaluations Education » Results of students’ final tests would no longer affect teacher salaries.

 

Utah House approves bill limiting public access to school district records

 

Student immunizations bill heads to House floor

 

Teacher shortage affects nation, district

 

Tooele school superintendent says he did not lie about degree

 

Ogden School District shakes up some area school principal, admin positions

 

Freedom Preparatory Academy begins construction on third campus

 

Primer on public charter schools in Utah

 

Sterling Scholar finalists complete final round of interviews

 

PCHS student overcomes language barrier to find bright future After struggling in school as a child, Jairo Talavera accepted into University of Utah Honors College

 

‘Serious wonder:’ Hardware Ranch field trip teaches students about wildlife

 

Springdale Elementary students learn to ‘be a ninja,’ play outside

 

Park City mourns after death of 8-year-old Trailside student Teacher says death of Mackenzie Coyne leaves a ‘big hole’ that won’t be filled

 

Fire at Pine View Middle School considered ‘very suspicious’

 

Air cannon and fire tornado among demonstrations during Museum Advocacy Day

 

LPS board considers $1.8 million bid to amplify sound evenly in all classrooms

 

 


 

 

 

OPINION & COMMENTARY

 

A shortage of teachers and other public servants

 

Standardized testing is not the enemy

 

How Do You Fix Schools? Maybe Just Give Them More Money.

 

High education standards and the US military

 

Acting Ed. Secretary John B. King Jr.’s Confirmation: Four Things to Watch For

 

No High-Tech Shortcuts Can Replace Real Teaching

 

When You’re The Only Black Kid In Class During Black History Month “Can you believe that your entirely white class just turned to stare at you because your teacher brought up Harriet Tubman?”

 


 

 

NATION

 

Maryland students score better on tests taken on paper

 

ESSA Spotlights Strategy to Reach Diverse Learners

 

Military Career Testing Could Get ESSA Boost More state flexibility could free up time

 

Will the Common Core Step Up Schools’ Focus on Grammar?

 

State money helping wealthier Arizona kids go to private schools

 

Los Angeles’ bold move to reform special education

 

Ruling Raises Objections to Release of Personal Student Data

 

UBS, others reach $103 million muni bond rigging settlements

 

20 Puerto Rico teachers charged in nearly $1M fraud case

 

Money Schools Earn From Student Portraits Varies Widely

 

Can kids learn more when they exercise during lessons?

 

Amazon’s Kindle to sponsor national spelling bee The move should give Amazon’s line of e-readers a lot of visibility: more than 11 million students participate in the spelling contest every year.

 

 

 

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UTAH NEWS

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Utah House panel defeats sex education bill, debates change in abuse prevention training Risky topic? » Debate over the role of parents and which information kids should receive ends in keeping the status quo.

 

Utah’s sex education classes will remain abstinence-based after the House Education Committee on Tuesday voted against a bill to make the courses comprehensive.

The committee also adjourned before voting on a bill that would change the current option to excuse students from sexual-abuse prevention training to a requirement that parents give prior consent before their children participate.

In both cases, the debate centered on what information children should receive and the role of parents.

http://go.uen.org/6aH (SLT)

 

http://go.uen.org/6aI (DN)

 

http://go.uen.org/6bq (CVD)

 

http://go.uen.org/6b6 (KUTV)

 

http://go.uen.org/6b7 (KTVX)

 

http://go.uen.org/6b9 (KSL)

 

http://go.uen.org/6aJ (KSTU)

 


 

 

House panel moves to remove SAGE scores from teacher evaluations Education » Results of students’ final tests would no longer affect teacher salaries.

 

A student’s performance on year-end tests would no longer impact teacher evaluations and salaries under a bill approved by the House Education Committee on Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Salt Lake City, would prohibit the use of scores from SAGE, Utah’s statewide testing system, when evaluating a teacher’s job performance and merit-based salary increases.

Poulson, a former educator, said the reliability of SAGE data is undermined by contradictory state laws. While SAGE is used as a measuring stick for schools and teachers, parents can excuse their children from testing and educators are prohibited from offering incentives to test takers or including SAGE scores in course grades.

She said that leads to children who either opt out of taking the SAGE test or who make little effort to achieve a high score.

http://go.uen.org/6aM (SLT)

 


 

 

Utah House approves bill limiting public access to school district records

 

Members of the Utah House approved a bill on Tuesday that would exclude some school district records from the state’s open records law.

Sponsored by West Valley City Republican Rep. Craig Hall, the bill clarifies that records governed by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, are exempt from GRAMA, Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act.

Hall said the bill is a response to a 2012 decision by the State Records Committee that granted The Salt Lake Tribune access to witness statements collected during an investigation of an alleged inappropriate relationship between a Cottonwood High School teacher and a student.

The records were redacted to protect the privacy of students, but Hall said the release of the records sets a precedent that could reduce the willingness of victims or witnesses to come forward in the future.

http://go.uen.org/6aL (SLT)

 


 

 

Student immunizations bill heads to House floor

 

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would require parents to watch an educational video before exempting their children from vaccinations passed a House committee on its third try.

HB221, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on a 7-3 vote Monday, goes to the House floor next.

The bill underwent several changes after being held twice in committee.

http://go.uen.org/6aO (DN)

 


 

 

Accountability Grabs the Spotlight at Senate ESSA Oversight Hearing

 

Washington — State officials, union leaders, and others testifying Tuesday before the Senate education committee’s oversight hearing on the Every Student Succeeds Act largely agreed on one point: The new flexibility for states and districts could lead to real progress.

But there was less agreement about the extent to which that new latitude could be challenging for schools—or even detrimental to students, particularly historically disadvantaged ones.

Senators quizzed those testifying about how they were rethinking school accountability under ESSA, whether they felt like they will have enough time to create and finalize their plans in order to receive federal funds, and whether the U.S. Department of Education should use a light touch or be aggressive when regulating under the new law.

And it’s a safe bet that many of these same questions will come up in the Senate education committee on Thursday, when its members hold a confirmation hearing for acting Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate education committee, said in his opening remarks that ESSA represents a major and appropriate shift in control over education policy to the states, and an example of Washington actually working well. But those two things alone, he stressed, won’t necessarily mean the law would be carried out as he and other champions of ESSA intend: “A law that is not properly implemented is not worth the paper it’s printed on.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the committee’s ranking Democrat, stressed that ESSA contains important “guardrails” that are important for the Education Department to keep in mind as it develops regulations for the law. She also said civil rights groups and other like-minded stakeholders should be included in discussions and considerations about the law’s impact.

In prepared testimony, Wisconsin Superintendent Tony Evers (who might have received the most attention and questions from lawmakers) stressed the importance for balance under ESSA. He said that while he did not want “top-down mandates” and over-regulation from Washington, guidance provided by the Education Department on key issues has proven helpful to his state.

And Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah, chairman of the National Governors Association (which heartily endorsed ESSA before it was signed), made a similar point, saying that “state solutions” would work best in order to leverage education as a tool for lifting children out of poverty. “Governors see ESSA as an opportunity to set high, but realistic, expectations for schools,” he said.

http://go.uen.org/6aP (Education Week)

 

The Governor’s prepared remarks

http://go.uen.org/6ba (NGA)

 

Video of the hearing

http://go.uen.org/6aQ (Senate)

 


 

 

Teacher shortage affects nation, district

 

FARMINGTON—It’s a demanding job, with high expectations and ever-changing requirements often accompanied by negative political rhetoric. And the pay is low.

But the world needs teachers – and good ones.

Davis School District, like other districts across the country, is hoping more people will decide that teaching is the right profession for them, and is trying new ways to find and hire those teachers.

A nation-wide teacher shortage is impacting the ability of districts to find enough teachers to fill classrooms.

According to Craig Poll, assistant superintendent in Davis School District, the district hired 181 elementary teachers, 148 secondary teachers and 70 special education teachers last year alone.

Last month, the district held its first ever Student Teaching Celebration Day to welcome and encourage the 50-plus student teachers now in classes in the district.

http://go.uen.org/6bv (DCC)

 


 

 

Tooele school superintendent says he did not lie about degree

 

Tooele School superintendent Dr. Scott Rogers shows he has a doctorate degree in Philosophy from Rochville University, but research suggests that Rochville may be a diploma mill, and has been cited by several states including Texas, and Oregon as a “fake” university.

According to legal documents obtained by 2News, the Employment Relations Board of the State of Oregon says “Rochville University is a mail-order degree mill operating outside of the United States, that offers requested degrees to applicants in exchange for a one-time payment.

It provides no physical or virtual education, no testing, and no skill or knowledge evaluation.”

Rochville is not accredited and has never been legally authorized to issue degrees in the United States. Since at least 2011, the Oregon office of degree authorization website has identified Rochville as a “fake” institution.

http://go.uen.org/6b5 (KUTV)

 


 

 

Ogden School District shakes up some area school principal, admin positions

 

OGDEN — Administrative changes were announced at the most recent Ogden School Board meeting, shaking things up at several secondary and elementary schools.

Ogden School District Superintendent Sandy Coroles read a list of appointments during the meeting held Thursday, Feb. 18, which were approved by the Board of Education. Most of the administrative changes are for the 2016-17 school year, but a couple of appointees started their new jobs on Feb. 22.

The two changes effective that went into effect Monday — installing a new principal at Mound Fort Junior High and shifting the current principal to a different position at Mount Ogden Junior High — are related to Mound Fort Junior High’s status as a Focus School, according to district spokesman Zac Williams. The quick change is to ensure a smooth transition into the next year without a leadership gap. Under its ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Flexibility Waiver, Utah was required to identify the lowest performing 5 percent of Title I schools as Priority Schools, and the next lowest 10 percent as Focus Schools, and start an improvement process for those schools.

http://go.uen.org/6b1 (OSE)

 


 

 

Freedom Preparatory Academy begins construction on third campus

 

Freedom Preparatory Academy’s first campus was in a warehouse in the East Bay section of Provo.

But with a third campus currently under construction and others planned, it’s come a long way since those early days.

“It was an eye opener, but it helped us realize that anything is possible when people with like minds and like hearts and like goals work together,” said Lynne Herring, executive director of Freedom Preparatory Academy.

The third campus, an elementary school at the corner of Main Street and Vineyard Road in Vineyard, will be completed this August. A lottery to select its students will take place at the end of February.

http://go.uen.org/6b2 (PDH)

 


 

 

Primer on public charter schools in Utah

 

  1. GEORGE — In a recent press conference, Gov. Gary Herbert stated that his No. 1 focus going into this session of the Utah Legislature was going to be education and the funding of education. With the introduction of SB 38 to enact School Funding Amendments, a measure which would rectify the underfunding of charter schools as reported by a task force created by the Legislature last year, charter schools are in the spotlight. The bill has been approved by the Senate and passed to the House for consideration.

However, given the relatively young charter school movement in the state, the topic has never been far from the minds of Utah educators and parents alike. For many Utahns, there is still confusion regarding exactly how charter schools function in relation to public schools. One of the biggest misconceptions is that charter schools somehow operate outside of the laws and regulations to which public schools are subjected. However, according to information provided on the Utah State Office of Education website, this is not the case.

Charter schools are public schools open to all resident students. Tuition is not charged, and charter schools receive the majority of their funding from the state. Each charter school is an independent Local Education Agency, or LEA, — similar to a school district — which provides additional education choices to Utah students.

http://go.uen.org/6bp (SGN)

 


 

 

Sterling Scholar finalists complete final round of interviews

 

DRAPER — Michael Xiao first began researching cancer in the basement of his home with the help of a few science books.

He was in eighth grade at the time.

“After a while, I didn’t have enough materials to continue my experiments,” Xiao said.

Xiao is now a seasoned cancer researcher, who with an invitation from a professor has used BYU’s facilities and worked alongside its scientists to study the disease throughout high school.

On Tuesday, the Lone Peak High School senior was one of several accomplished students from throughout the Wasatch Front to vie for another crowning academic honor — Sterling Scholar.

http://go.uen.org/6aZ (DN)

 


 

 

PCHS student overcomes language barrier to find bright future After struggling in school as a child, Jairo Talavera accepted into University of Utah Honors College

 

Among those who know him, there is no debate about this: Jairo Talavera is on the precipice of a boundless future. A senior at Park City High School, he recently gained admission into the Honors College at the University of Utah. He harbors dreams of becoming an immigration lawyer because he wants to change people’s lives.

But sitting in the office of a school counselor on a recent weekday, it is clear that the past is still with him. He is pulled back to experiences that few can understand without having gone through them. In an instant, the jovial demeanor and bubbly personality are replaced by the painful memories. He recounts them aloud.

http://go.uen.org/6bt (PR)

 


 

 

‘Serious wonder:’ Hardware Ranch field trip teaches students about wildlife

 

BLACKSMITH FORK CANYON — Third-graders from Lincoln Elementary took a horse-drawn wagon ride through Hardware Ranch on Monday to learn about the elk population maintained there by the Division of Wildlife Resources.

http://go.uen.org/6b3 (LHJ)

 


 

Springdale Elementary students learn to ‘be a ninja,’ play outside

 

SPRINGDALE — You would need proof to find a school with better views than Springdale Elementary.

“This place is amazing,” said Nicolas Coolridge. “You can’t really take a bad picture here. This is beautiful.”

But for those who grow up here it’s easy to take for granted — especially with so many distractions inside.

Coolridge, also known as “Modern Tarzan,” and Travis Brewer are ninjas on the television show “American Ninja Warrior.” They visited students at Springdale Elementary to encourage them to get outside and play.

http://go.uen.org/6b8 (KSL)

 


 

 

Park City mourns after death of 8-year-old Trailside student Teacher says death of Mackenzie Coyne leaves a ‘big hole’ that won’t be filled

 

On Mackenzie Coyne’s final day of school, she was elated to collect her 10th star from her second-grade teacher. The day was already shaping up to be great. It was her eighth birthday, and a party with friends was planned for later — but this would make it even better.

The special 10th star — the form of reward currency in Heidi Kaiserman’s class at Trailside Elementary School — meant Coyne could pick from a list of prizes. She didn’t hesitate: She wanted to eat lunch with Kaiserman.

Less than two weeks after Coyne’s sudden death from complications related to influenza, Kaiserman said it was an experience she’ll never forget.

http://go.uen.org/6bu (PR)

 


 

 

Fire at Pine View Middle School considered ‘very suspicious’

 

  1. GEORGE – Fire crews responded to a shed engulfed in flames at Pine View Middle School Tuesday night that investigators at the scene declared suspicious.

At least three firetrucks and their crews from the St. George Fire Department were dispatched to the fire at the middle school at 2145 E. 130 N. around 8:15 p.m. The first crew arrived on scene within five minutes of the alert and found the shed by the school’s shop building ablaze.

“The shed was fully engulfed,” St. George Battalion Chief Darren Imlay said. “(We) extinguished the fire pretty quickly (and) the shed was pretty much burned down to the ground at that point.”

The fire caused some minor damage to the exterior of the shop building as the heat caused some windows to break. The fire itself did not extend into the building, Imlay said.

http://go.uen.org/6b4 (SGN)

 


 

 

Air cannon and fire tornado among demonstrations during Museum Advocacy Day

 

Jeff Powell from the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City demonstrates an air cannon to students from Mount Jordan Middle School as they tour museum demonstrations in the rotunda of the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016.

The demonstrations were to help legislators understand the impact these types of institutions have on the local community.

http://go.uen.org/6b0 (DN)

 


 

 

LPS board considers $1.8 million bid to amplify sound evenly in all classrooms

 

The Lincoln Board of Education on Tuesday considered a $1.8 million contract with a Utah firm to buy sound systems to amplify teachers’ voices evenly throughout all the district’s classrooms.

The board will vote on the contract with Audio Enhancement of Bluffdale, Utah, at its March 22 meeting.

In the amplified rooms, teachers wear small microphones around their necks — as do students who are speaking — and the sound is evenly distributed to every corner of the classroom.

The contract will allow LPS to buy the audio systems for 2,250 classrooms — those LPS classrooms that don’t already have the systems.

http://go.uen.org/6bs (Lincoln [NE] Journal Star)

 

 

 

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY

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A shortage of teachers and other public servants Deseret News op-ed by David Banner, a firefighter/paramedic with the Unified Fire Authority

 

On Feb. 11, 2016, the Deseret News published an article written by Dan Liljenquist regarding the shortage of public safety applicants and our local government agencies’ inability to retain public safety officers. He noted that there are 200 unfilled police officer positions across the state due to a lack of qualified applicants. What he did not mention is that there is also a shortage of teachers and other public servants as well.

In regards to Utah public safety agencies’ inability to attract and retain police officers, Mr. Liljenquist stated, “The biggest issue by far is that we don’t pay our new officers nearly enough to attract them into a career in law enforcement.” While this is true, it certainly does not tell the whole story. Mr. Liljenquist mentions the actions (that he spearheaded in the 2010 Legislature) that dramatically slashed pension benefits to all state employees. He represents that those action were designed to help public employees. It is safe to say that the wage increases that were supposed to come from these actions never materialized, and now new police, teachers and firefighters have drastically less attractive pension vehicles for retirement, as well as low pay. Pension cuts have never increased employee pay, as something else has always been seen as more important at the time.

http://go.uen.org/6aN

 


 

 

Standardized testing is not the enemy

Boston Globe op-ed by Yana Weinstein, assistant professor in the Psychology department at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Megan Smith, assistant professor in the Psychology department at Rhode Island College

 

When cognitive psychologists talk about testing, and when the rest of the population uses that word, they mean different things. For educators and parents, testing means standardized testing: a tool wielded by politicians and administrators to terrify children and teachers. When cognitive psychologists hear the word testing, they think immediately of “the testing effect” — one of the best learning strategies. This may seem like semantics, but it’s a problem.

The testing effect is the idea that trying to remember something leads to greater learning than just re-reading information. In one famous experiment, participants tried to learn information from a textbook either by repeatedly re-reading, or repeatedly writing out everything they could remember after reading the information only once. The strategy of writing from memory led to 60 percent correct recall of the material one week later, compared to only 40 percent in the repeated reading condition.

But despite its effectiveness as a learning strategy, the testing effect had to be rebranded to the less scary/more fun-sounding “quizzing” and we have had to come up with more and more subtle ways to produce the effect without students realizing that they are being tested — somewhat akin to hiding broccoli in brownies.

http://go.uen.org/6aR

 


 

 

How Do You Fix Schools? Maybe Just Give Them More Money.

Slate commentary by columnist Jordan Weissmann

 

Modern education reformers often repeat the idea that simply throwing more money at public schools isn’t enough to improve them. As Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution who’s done a great deal of academic writing on the subject, puts it, “We know that there’s not much relationship between spending and performance.” Rather than funnel more dollars to public education, the thinking goes, we need to change how funding gets used (which, in the minds of many, means strict standards enforced by a boatload of testing, plus weaker teachers unions).

But what if simply throwing more money at schools actually is a reasonable approach? A couple of interesting recent studies suggest it might be. Both look at what’s happened to school districts following court decisions that forced states to increase their funding. The most recent, a working paper from economists at the University of California–Berkeley and Northwestern University, finds that in the wake of such judicial decisions, test scores gradually improved for pupils in low-income districts, both in absolute terms and relative to their peers in wealthier districts. The improvements in student achievement were fairly large and, according to some of their calculations, pretty cost-effective.

“Our results thus show that money can and does matter in education,” authors Julien Lafortune, Jesse Rothstein, and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach write. “School finance reforms are blunt tools, and some critics … have argued that they will be offset by changes in district or voter choices over tax rates or that funds will be spent so inefficiently as to be wasted. Our results do not support these claims. Courts and legislatures can evidently force improvements in school quality for students in low-income districts.”

http://go.uen.org/6bl

 

Copies of the papers

http://go.uen.org/6bm (National Bureau of Economic Research $)

 

http://go.uen.org/6bn (Quarterly Journal of Economics $)

 


 

 

High education standards and the US military (Washington, DC) The Hill op-ed by Jim Cowen, director of military affairs for the Collaborative for Student Success, and Marcus Lingenfelter, vice president of state and federal programs at the National Math + Science Initiative

 

The news is filled with stories about how U.S. children are slipping way behind other countries when it comes to key educational benchmarks. But the corollary is that these children grow up — and as a result of the poor or inconsistent education standards in their younger years, many Americans don’t have the grounding to be successful in higher education without remedial classes.

Federal statistics show 19 to 26 percent of all college freshmen are identified as needing remedial courses. That figure typically is lower on four-year campuses and climbs to 60 percent for some two-year schools, according to a recent report from state governors.

The stats are alarming because these are students who have received high school diplomas and thus have been certified as having attained basic educational proficiency.

As a microcosm of the U.S. at large, the military experiences a similar problem with would-be enlistees. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says that of the 21 million Americans aged 17 to 21, “we estimate that only about half are able to meet our high-quality standards on our entry exam – only about half. And when you factor in our standards for physical fitness and for character, only about a third are actually eligible to join the military.”

It is an appalling state of affairs when so few young Americans meet the educational threshold to serve. While symptomatic of a nationwide problem that portends a raft of problems for American economic competitiveness, it also has stark ramifications for our national security if we don’t, or can’t, reverse it.

http://go.uen.org/6bk

 


 

 

Acting Ed. Secretary John B. King Jr.’s Confirmation: Four Things to Watch For Education Week commentary by columnist Alyson Klein

 

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., should start researching the lunch options in House and Senate cafeterias—he’s going to be on Capitol Hill quite a bit this week. He’ll kick things off with a House education committee hearing on the budget Wednesday, plus another on the president’s latest budget request for fiscal year 2017 on Thursday morning.

But the highlight may come Thursday afternoon, with his confirmation hearing. King’s predecessor, Arne Duncan, sailed through his confirmation hearing in early 2009, with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., now the committee chairman, calling him Obama’s best cabinet pick.

Alexander promised President Barack Obama that if he nominated King, the former New York state schools chief would get a fair hearing. But that doesn’t mean his confirmation hearing will be quite the love feast that Duncan’s was, in part because relations between Capitol Hill Republicans (and some Democrats) and the Education Department have become strained over the past seven years.

King, who arrived at the department early last year, wasn’t around to help make many of the decisions that GOP lawmakers have criticized as federal overreach (like pushing teacher evaluation through test scores, and Common Core State Standards adoption through waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act).  But he could still take questions on those issues Thursday.

Here are four things that will almost surely come up in the confirmation hearing and, possibly, King’s other appearances this week:

http://go.uen.org/6bf

 

 


 

 

No High-Tech Shortcuts Can Replace Real Teaching Hartford (CT) Courant op-ed by BEN FINK, ROBIN BROWN, authors of book “The Problem With Education Technology (Hint: It’s Not the Technology),” which was just released by Utah State University Press

 

Here we go again. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed major cuts to Connecticut’s public colleges and universities — now under consideration by the General Assembly — and schools are scrambling. Faculty, staff, even entire campuses may be at risk — tuition hikes notwithstanding. As UConn President Susan Herbst recently said: “It’s grim.”

We have no easy answers. Only a warning. Sometime soon, we’ll hear about a new, exciting technology that promises to solve everything. It may be an automated essay grader, a new and improved online learning platform or an opportunity to take Massive Open Online Courses, known as a MOOCs, with world-class professors. Beware. It won’t work. It will widen the achievement gap. And it might even perpetuate the illusion that this gap is natural — that the rich are rich because they’ve earned it, and the poor are poor because they deserve it.

How do we know all this? Because it happens every time. An education tech company will hawk a new product that promises to eliminate some of the labor-intensive work of teaching. Administrators will tout it as a win-win, a chance to offer a cutting-edge education despite the cuts. Teachers and their unions will immediately oppose it; they know labor-saving devices lead to staff reductions and increased workloads.

Do the technologies work? In a word: no.

To be clear, we mean specifically the technologies we hear about when budgets get tight, those meant not to supplement the labor of teachers but to replace it. Technologies from smart boards to LCD projectors to blogs and wikis have done wonders to enhance teaching. We use them all the time.

But as for technologies designed to reduce labor costs, just look at the schools that use them.

http://go.uen.org/6br

 


 

 

When You’re The Only Black Kid In Class During Black History Month “Can you believe that your entirely white class just turned to stare at you because your teacher brought up Harriet Tubman?”

Huffington Post commentary by columnist Taryn Finley

 

Being the only black kid in a class full of white faces is not fun, especially during Black History Month. In a new video, YouTube personality Akilah Hughes highlights the five stages black students go through in February when they have to celebrate black history around people who don’t share their racial background.

“Can you believe that your entirely white class just turned to stare at you because your teacher brought up Harriet Tubman?” Hughes asked, introducing the first stage: denial. Not to mention your classmates asking why there isn’t a white history month. This can’t be real life.

The other stages include: anger over historical black achievements being reduced to only a few events, bargaining with God that you’ll complain less if John just stops comparing the slave trade to the Holocaust and facing a slightly depressing state of victim-blaming your own race.

But these feelings are only temporary.

http://go.uen.org/6bj

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NATIONAL NEWS

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Maryland students score better on tests taken on paper Baltimore Sun

 

Maryland students who took the new statewide standardized tests on paper last spring did better than those who took the tests on a computer, according to a state analysis.

The differences in the results were most marked on the English test, but also were seen in eighth-grade math, and on the Algebra I and Algebra II portion of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, or PARCC. The tests were given for the first time last year in the third through eighth grades and to some high school students.

State officials said more high-performing students took the test on paper than online — skewing the results. About 80 percent of Maryland students took the test online, but all students in Harford County took the test on paper because of a lack of computers. Harford students have generally scored above the state average on the tests in the past.

But the Harford effect accounted for only 40 percent of the difference between online and paper results, according to the state analysis. The rest, state officials said, is not clearly understood.

http://go.uen.org/6aT

 

http://go.uen.org/6bg (Ed Week)

 


 

 

ESSA Spotlights Strategy to Reach Diverse Learners Education Week

 

Sprinkled throughout the newly reauthorized version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act are references to an instructional strategy that supporters think has enormous potential for reaching learners with diverse needs.

The next thing to do, those proponents say, is getting more educators to understand just what it means.

Called universal design for learning, or UDL for short, the strategy encompasses a wide set of teaching techniques, allowing multiple ways for teachers to present information and for students to engage in lessons and demonstrate what they know.

A universally designed lesson, for example, might include audiovisual components, illustrations, traditional lectures, enlarged print, or glossaries so that students can have easy access to unfamiliar terms. Universal design for learning also encourages students to use a variety of techniques, such as group projects, multimedia presentations, drawings, or music.

Within the Every Student Succeeds Act, the latest update of the ESEA, Congress said that states should adhere to principles of universal design for learning as they develop student assessments. The law also calls for states to create plans for comprehensive literacy instruction and to incorporate universal design for learning principles in those plans.

ESSA also says that federal money can be used for technology that supports the strategy.

http://go.uen.org/6aU

 


 

 

Military Career Testing Could Get ESSA Boost More state flexibility could free up time Education Week

 

As the state testing landscape changes in the wake of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the U.S. military hopes there may be an opening to expand its optional aptitude exam and career-exploration program in high schools.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, known in military and counselor circles as ASVAB, was administered in 48 percent of high schools nationwide last year, with about 650,000 students taking the exam, according to Shannon Salyer, the national program manager for the ASVAB Career Exploration Program, which is under the U.S. Department of Defense.

Participation fluctuates with unemployment, with more students typically taking the ASVAB when the jobless rate is high. But the military test was crowded out in some schools after the No Child Left Behind Act ushered in more standardized testing, although the number of high schools offering it increased in the past five years, Salyer said.

“One of the biggest problems we have when we go into schools is they say, ‘We love this program’ or ‘We want to do this program … but because we have this state-mandated testing, all our testing days are taken,’ ” she said. “With the rollback of some of that pressure on the schools, I think we’ll have some return schools and maybe some new schools that really understand the benefits of the program.”

http://go.uen.org/6aV

 

 


 

 

Will the Common Core Step Up Schools’ Focus on Grammar?

Education Week

 

Grammar instruction may have waned in some classrooms starting in the early 2000s, largely because the high-stakes tests required by the No Child Left Behind law didn’t assess grammar specifically.

But with most states now using the Common Core State Standards, there’s some thought that grammar is making a comeback—along with perennial debates about how best to teach it.

“We are asking kids to dive into complex texts and understand them, so we need to teach them how to read complex sentences,” said Chris Hayes, a veteran elementary teacher in Washoe County, Nev. And that requires deep knowledge of grammar.

If it’s true that grammar instruction dropped off but is now enjoying a resurgence—and even that is tough to track with certainty—then determining the best approach for teaching syntax and semantics is now once again a critical conversation topic.

http://go.uen.org/6aW

 


 

 

State money helping wealthier Arizona kids go to private schools

(Phoenix) Arizona Republic

 

Two years after state lawmakers granted children from poor-performing schools the right to attend private schools at taxpayer expense, most children using the program are leaving high-performing public schools in wealthy districts, an analysis by The Arizona Republic has found.

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts allow parents to take tax money that would otherwise go directly to their local public schools and put it toward private-school tuition. Passed in 2011 as a program only for disabled children, the Legislature has continued to expand it, including to children in failing schools and others.

Lawmakers are now considering allowing all public-school students to use ESAs by 2020.

The Senate voted 17-13 Monday to expand the program to all public-school students. The House of Representatives was scheduled to debate on the bill Wednesday morning but held it, a sign that it might not have the votes needed to advance.

The Republic found that during the 2015-16 school year, the program accounted for $20.6 million being taken out of public schools that were rated A or B. Only $6.3 million was taken from schools rated C or D by the Arizona Department of Education, far less than the share of C and D schools statewide.

http://go.uen.org/6aX

 


 

 

Los Angeles’ bold move to reform special education NewsHour

 

Public schools in Los Angeles have experienced rapid change in the last decade, and graduation rates for the city’s 80,000 special needs students have nearly doubled since 2003. But greater transitions lie ahead: the district plans to transfer these students from special education centers to neighborhood schools.

http://go.uen.org/6bh

 


 

Ruling Raises Objections to Release of Personal Student Data Associated Press

 

LOS ANGELES — A recent federal court ruling ordering the release of personal data on more than 10 million California students highlights the growing amount of information schools now collect – and the loopholes that allow it to be released.

The order involves a lawsuit filed in 2011 in which plaintiffs are requesting data kept by the California Department of Education to determine whether the state is fulfilling its federal obligations for disabled students.

Judge Kimberly Mueller issued the order in late January directing state officials to release student information stored in Department of Education databases. The data includes everything from grades, test scores and specialized education plans for disabled students to more personal information such as names, Social Security numbers, addresses, and health records.

The data can only be viewed by the plaintiffs and must be destroyed or returned at the end of the lawsuit. Nonetheless, parents across the state are expressing concern and filing objections to stop their child’s information from being released.

http://go.uen.org/6be

 


 

 

UBS, others reach $103 million muni bond rigging settlements Reuters

 

NEW YORK | UBS AG and five other banks and brokerages agreed to pay roughly $103 million to settle claims that they conspired to rig prices for U.S. municipal securities.

Wednesday’s accords include payments of $100.5 million to investors. Two of the defendants, France’s Natixis SA and Societe Generale, also agreed to pay $2.8 million to resolve related claims by 21 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

If approved by a federal judge, the private settlements would end nearly eight years of class action litigation, and result in more than $226 million of payouts from 11 defendants, led by $44.6 million from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Several banks have during that time also agreed to pay more than $740 million, led by JPMorgan’s $228 million, to resolve related probes by the U.S. Department of Justice and state regulators. At least 17 people were convicted or pleaded guilty, the Justice Department has said.

The investor plaintiffs, including the City of Baltimore and the Central Bucks School District in Pennsylvania, accused banks of conspiring to fix prices for municipal derivatives, causing them to receive lower interest rates than they would have gotten in a competitive marketplace.

Municipalities and school districts that sell bonds often invest proceeds they do not need to spend immediately elsewhere, or enter contracts to hedge interest rate risks, and hire banks and brokers to seek out competitive bids.

http://go.uen.org/6bd

 


 

 

20 Puerto Rico teachers charged in nearly $1M fraud case Associated Press via Yahoo News

 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — FBI agents in Puerto Rico have arrested 20 teachers charged in a nearly $1 million fraud case involving federal funds for special education.

FBI spokesman Carlos Osorio told The Associated Press that the teachers face charges including theft of government money and property and aggravated identity theft.

The teachers work for a U.S. company called Rocket Learning LLC that provides tutoring services at public schools in Puerto Rico. Federal authorities last year charged 31 directors and program managers from that company in the same case.

http://go.uen.org/6aS

 


 

 

Money Schools Earn From Student Portraits Varies Widely (Washington, DC) WRC

 

The amounts of money local schools earn through the sale of student portraits varies widely, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team.

Similar-sized schools, often within the same school district, are cutting demonstratively different contracts with photography vendors, causing disparities and potentially burdensome work for school principals.

The I-Team, through a review of school photography contacts in Virginia and Maryland, found some school principals cutting more lucrative deals than others. Some secured signing bonuses, while others negotiated more generous commissions. The I-Team found local school districts, which use school portraits as a fundraising tool for individual schools, allow individual school principals to make contract agreements with portrait photographers. Even within the same school district, those principals hire a series of a different photography companies, and are permitted to set their own prices for the pictures.

http://go.uen.org/6bo

 


 

 

Can kids learn more when they exercise during lessons?

Reuters

 

Building exercise into lessons might help kids get better grades, especially when the task at hand requires memorization, a small Dutch study suggests.

Researchers worked with 500 children in second and third grade, giving half of them traditional lessons while the rest got instruction supplemented with physical activity designed to reinforce math and language lessons.

After two years, children who got the physically active lessons had significantly higher scores in math and spelling than their peers who didn’t exercise during class.

“Previous research showed effects of recess and physical activity breaks,” said lead study author Marijke Mullender-Wijnsma of the University of Gronigen in The Netherlands.

“However, we think that the integration of physical activity into academic lessons will result in bigger effects on academic achievement,” Mullender-Wijnsma added by email.

http://go.uen.org/6bb

 

A copy of the study

http://go.uen.org/6bc (Pediatrics)

 


 

 

Amazon’s Kindle to sponsor national spelling bee The move should give Amazon’s line of e-readers a lot of visibility: more than 11 million students participate in the spelling contest every year.

Seattle Times

 

Amazon’s Kindle will become the presenting sponsor of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The Seattle tech giant’s electronic reading business will help organize the so-called “Bee Week,” launch new spelling-related initiatives before the contest, and provide the technology for study materials developed by Spelling Bee.

http://go.uen.org/6bi

 

 

 

 

 

————————————————————

CALENDAR

————————————————————

 

USOE Calendar

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

 

 

UEN News

http://www.uen.org

 

 

February 24:

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee meeting

8 a.m., 250 Senate Building

http://le.utah.gov/~2016/agenda/SREV0224.ag.htm

 

Senate Retirement and Independent Entities Committee meeting

12:45 p.m., 250 Senate Building

http://le.utah.gov/~2016/agenda/SRIE0224.ag.htm

 

Senate Education Committee meeting

4 p.m., 210 Senate Building

http://le.utah.gov/~2016/agenda/SEDU0224.ag.htm

 

House Political Subdivisions Committee meeting

4:10 p.m., 450 State Capitol

http://le.utah.gov/~2016/agenda/HPOL0224.ag.htm

 

 

February 25:

House Education Committee meeting

8 a.m., 30 House Building

http://le.utah.gov/~2016/agenda/HEDU0225.ag.htm

 

Utah State Board of Education legislative meeting

Noon, 210 Senate Building

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

 

 

March 10:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

http://go.uen.org/62M

 

 

March 17:

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

 

 

March 18:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City

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

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