Education News Roundup: July 6, 2016




Summer Meals Program event/ Education News Roundup

Summer Meals Program event/ Education News Roundup

Education News Roundup

Today’s Top Picks:


How much do we really know about closing the achievement gap? (DNews)


More follow-up on the survey regarding accommodations for transgender people. (DNews) (G4U) (KSL)


Summer Reading Tips To Prevent ‘Summer Brain Drain.’ (HuffPo)


U.S. Education Department releases proposed regulations to encourage better and fairer tests, reduce burden of testing. (USDoE)










Utah GOP and NAACP slam SLC schools over diversity-department move, but former superintendent says criticism is unfounded


How much do we really know about closing the achievement gap?


Poll: Utahns oppose public bathroom accommodations for transgender people


Lead continues to stir troubled drinking waters schools from coast to coast


Primary vote count update affects school board, Iron County Commission races


Utah youth suicide now leading cause of death for Utah kids ages 11 to 17


Herbert, Weinholtz promise to lift Utah schools


Mathnasium partners on STEM Initiative






Letter: Accommodating teachers


Column: College planning now may mean less stress for seniors come fall


Summer Reading Tips To Prevent ‘Summer Brain Drain’






Fact Sheet: Education Department Releases Proposed Regulations to Encourage Better and Fairer Tests, Reduce Burden of Testing


Teachers union cheers Clinton for stance on standardized testing and pay, but boos her embrace of charters


Interest in Teaching Continues to Drop Among High School Students


How one Mississippi community copes with influx of Hispanic students


Why Math Education Is Getting Better Despite All The Controversy


Texas Announces Hundreds of Schools Receiving Pre-K Grants







Utah GOP and NAACP slam SLC schools over diversity-department move, but former superintendent says criticism is unfounded Education » Some protest personnel change, but others say it has no bearing on district’s commitment to diversity.


The chairman of the Utah Republican Party joined the state NAACP leader and a prominent Latino advocate Tuesday in criticizing Salt Lake City schools for taking what they characterized as a misstep for civil rights.

The trio spoke against recent changes in district administration at the school board’s Tuesday evening meeting. But the district’s outgoing leader said their perspectives are misinformed.

Last week’s reassignment for the district’s main equity and diversity officer, Utah GOP Chairman James Evans said, demonstrates that the treatment of minority and low-income students is not a priority for district officials.

“This issue needs to be embraced and addressed,” Evans told the board as the first of three speakers, which included NAACP Salt Lake President Jeanetta Williams and Archie Archuleta, with Utah Coalition of La Raza.

As of last week, the district’s main equity officer reports to a member of the superintendent’s Cabinet, instead of working directly for the superintendent.

Evans, who previously served on an advisory panel over diversity in the district with a student body made up of about 60 percent minorities, says discussions among board members and others about treatment for minority children often hit “roadblocks.”

“It’s clear the board has been reluctant to embrace this issue around equity,” said Evans, the first black elected leader of the state GOP, after the meeting. “That’s my frustration.” (SLTrib)




How much do we really know about closing the achievement gap?


When kids struggle with poverty and neglect at home, can they get a boost at a boarding school? According to a new study of a prominent effort in the nation’s capital, the answer is … maybe not.

The SEED school of Washington, D.C., is a public charter with a twist. Beginning in 1998, the charter school has been teaching, housing and feeding middle schoolers and high schoolers five days a week, sending them home on weekends. Because it is a public school, it operates tuition free, funded by the District of Columbia and foundation support.

The theory of the boarding model is that intensive mentoring and a secure environment during the week would break cycles of poverty and unhealthy family and neighborhood pressures at home.

But a new study by MRDC, one of America’s most prestigious education research institutions, casts doubt on whether SEED works. The study suggests SEED may not raise test scores, increase high school graduation rates or enhance other life outcomes, such as a reduction in risky behavior. This disappointing finding comes after a 2014 study found significant positive test results, particularly in reading.

“If I were the SEED people, I’d be disappointed in the result,” said Martin West at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “But I wouldn’t conclude that we had failed and go home and drink whisky.” (DNews)




Poll: Utahns oppose public bathroom accommodations for transgender people


SALT LAKE CITY — A majority of Utahns oppose making accommodations in public bathrooms for transgender people, a new poll shows.

And the issue could come up when the Utah Legislature meets in general session next January.

The survey found 57 percent of residents are against people having the right to use public bathrooms based on the gender with which they identify, including 48 percent who say they are strongly opposed.

About one-third of Utahns — 34 percent — support public restroom accommodations for transgender people and 9 percent are undecided, according to the Dan Jones & Associates poll of 614 registered Utah voters June 8-17. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Rapid changes around LGBT issues frighten Utahns, and it will be difficult to change the minds of those who strongly oppose bathroom accommodations, Jones said.

“They’re going to change very, very slowly,” he said.

Troy Williams, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Equality Utah, said people fear what they don’t understand. Fifty years ago, white Utahns felt uncomfortable using bathrooms alongside black Utahns, he said. (DNews) (G4U) (KSL)




Lead continues to stir troubled drinking waters schools from coast to coast


From Baltimore and Newark to Chicago and Portland, Oregon, lead in school water is worrying parents and sparking testing initiatives. The bottled water industry isn’t hurting either.

“Cost is not an issue,” Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool told a gather of parents late last month. Money is an issue, of course, since CPS is essentially bankrupt, as the Chicago Tribune notes.

“We’ll spend whatever it takes to remove any devices or any piping that might pose lead hazard risk. Whatever that is, however much it costs, we will do it to make sure that our water pipes are safe and that our children, your children, are safe.”

The problem is not specific to schools, and it’s not a problem with the water sources. Rather, the trouble stems from aging pipe systems that were built before lead pipes and lead solder on piping were banned by the EPA in 1986.

The lead issue stormed onto the national consciousness in 2015, but the trouble began in 2013 when the city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water supply from lake water to the Flint River to save money, as NPR laid out in an overview of the crisis.

The river water had higher acidity, causing it to leach aging pipes that had been more stable with the less acidic lake water. (DNews)




Primary vote count update affects school board, Iron County Commission races


The dust is slowly settling on primary elections as ballots continue to trickle in for Washington and Iron counties.

The Republican candidates for the Washington County Commission seat, Dean Cox and Gil Almquist, still remain neck-and-neck in the race, gathering 7,212 and 7,078 votes, respectively.

Since the last week’s primary count update, the difference between the two candidates votes have slightly decreased, making the race even tighter as provisional, by-mail and absentee ballots have arrived.

For the Iron County Commissioner “C” seat, Sam Brower and Jody Edwards remain a step behind Alma Adams, who leads with 2,099 votes. Edwards, who was once leading Brower, garnered 1,531 votes, and Brower has gathered 1,613.

Michael Bleak continues to lead the race for the Iron County Commissioner “A” seat, triumphing Casey Anderson with 2,885 and 2,239 votes, respectively.

For the State School Board District 15, Michelle Boulter is holding a comfortable lead with 7,332 votes, some 2,000 more than her nearest opponent.

Becky Dunn and Richelle Nelson both hold strong leads for the Local School Board 1 race. If their leads hold, Dunn and Nelson will move on to November’s election. Dunn has gathered 1,059 votes, and Nelson has gathered 485. (TS)




Utah youth suicide now leading cause of death for Utah kids ages 11 to 17


(KUTV) Utah suicide rates are skyrocketing and are now the leading cause of death for Utah youth. The youth suicide rate has tripled in Utah since 2007 — jumping from three out of every 100,000 youth to 8.5, an alarming increase not seen anywhere else in the country.

There is no one cause or clear reason why the numbers are rising, though there are concerns specific to Utah that the State Health Department will focus on as they grapple with a way to save young lives.

The rate of suicide among Utah’s adults has been considered high for years but has not seen a sharp increase like Utah youth, ages 10 to 17.

“As of 2014, it is the leading cause of death over car accidents,” said Andrea Hood. Vehicles are the traditional risk for teens according to Hood, a state suicide prevention specialist.

The latest Utah data shows 86 Utah youth took their own lives from 2012 to 2014, a shock even to Hood who deals with the issue on a daily basis.

“It is definitely a Utah problem.”

Figuring out what’s behind the tragic trend is complicated according to Hood who has to look at known data.

“Utah and other western states have higher access to firearms which increases the chances someone will die in a suicide attempt.” (KUTV)




Herbert, Weinholtz promise to lift Utah schools


(KUTV) Gov. Gary Herbert said he will come up with a plan to make Utah’s schools number one in the nation. His Democrat opponent, Mike Weinholtz, promises to get Utah out of the cellar in education spending.

Rod Decker has the story. (KUTV)




Mathnasium Partners with National PTA on STEM Initiative


Mathnasium Learning Centers of Orem, Provo and Spanish Fork are part of 680 Mathnasium locations nationwide that have partnered with the National PTA on its nationwide science, technology, engineering and math education and family engagement initiative.

“We at Mathnasium of Orem, Provo, and Spanish Fork are enthusiastic supporters of community schools and parent leader organizations for the benefit of all students,” said Jim Moore, local Mathnasium owner. “Math is the foundation for all STEM fields, and we’re eager to explore all the possibilities this partnership offers in the way of making math come alive through inspiring and accessible STEM learning experiences in our Utah County community.”

Launched in 2015, National PTA’s initiative seeks to fill a critical gap in STEM education, increase access to STEM experiences for all students and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals. Its goal is to deliver 100,000 STEM experiences over the next three years in schools and at home. The effort will include a focus on urban areas and among girls and underrepresented youth. (DH)







Letter: Accommodating teachers

Deseret News letter by Donna Sweet


Having been a substitute teacher myself for a short time, I realize (to a lesser degree) the working conditions teachers deal with. I think Utah teachers are dropping out for a number of reasons. For one thing, they are underpaid for the workload they are given. For another, they are underappreciated by the administrative staff — I’m speaking of principals and others in the school districts. They think they can just arbitrarily switch teachers from one grade to another with no thought of how much time and effort goes into preparing for a whole different grade level. Many of these teachers have spent their hard-earned time and money on visual aids for a certain grade only to be told that they will now have to do the same thing for a whole different age and level of learning. That is extremely unfair and not very well thought for what should be a highly valued commodity. If we want to keep teachers in our classrooms, we must find ways to accommodate them, not make them accommodate us.



College planning now may mean less stress for seniors come fall PBS column from Shondra Carpenter


As the 2015-2016 school year came to a close, I couldn’t help but consider the relevance of Charles Dickens’ opening lines from “A Tale of Two Cities.” It was the best of times when I saw my students achieve their goal of high school graduation and watched them bask in completion of their AP & IB exams. It also felt like the worst of times when I thought of my rising seniors and the number of changes in the world of college admissions they will soon encounter this fall.

While change can be good, never before have I seen so many in the college application process implemented all at once. When I first became a high school counselor in 2002, students were likely to apply to no more than three schools on average, and the applications and recommendations were completed on paper. Yes, paper!

Students took the ACT or SAT, submitted the FAFSA in January, and waited until the spring for decisions to be made. With the ease of everything online now, I see a much larger number of schools that students are sending their applications to, upwards of 10 to even 15 or more. Our school record this year was 22 applications. With so many options available, it is important that I guide my students accurately and keep them informed throughout the entire process.




Summer Reading Tips To Prevent ‘Summer Brain Drain’

Huffington Post blog by Stephanie Dua and Keith Meacham


Summer’s here, and even though school is out, experts recommend that even the youngest children should practice their reading every day. According to the National Summer Learning Association, many children lose ground over the summer. The research shows that low-income students are at particular risk. While gaps in student achievement remain relatively constant during the school year between low and middle income students, those gaps widen significantly during the summer. Some children lose two-to-three months in reading.

As moms, educators and the creators of Learn With Homer, the #1 Learn to Read program, we spend our days thinking about how to make literacy learning fun and effective for young children. Here we’d like to offer a few simple tips to keep kids learning even in these lazy days of summer:

Read to your child!: Reading aloud to a child, even after he or she is a fluent reader, is one of the most important things any parent can do to cultivate a love of reading and encourage children to become lifelong readers.

Make a family scrapbook or journal: Take pictures of the whole family. Once or twice a week, get everyone together to write or dictate a caption under favorite photos. Then read through earlier entries. Leave the book out where anyone can browse through it and recall the best parts of the summer.







Fact Sheet: Education Department Releases Proposed Regulations to Encourage Better and Fairer Tests, Reduce Burden of Testing


One essential part of educating students successfully is assessing their progress. Done well and thoughtfully, assessments are tools for learning and promoting equity. They provide necessary information for educators, families, the public, and students themselves to measure progress and improve outcomes for all learners. Done poorly, in excess, or without clear purpose, however, they take valuable time away from teaching and learning, draining creative approaches from our classrooms.

Many states have done important work in recent years to improve and reduce testing, but in too many places, redundant or ineffective assessments still consume valuable instructional time without clear purpose or benefit.

In October, President Obama announced a Testing Action Plan, putting forward a set of principles and steps to restore balance to America’s classrooms, protecting the vital role that good assessments play in guiding progress for students while providing help in unwinding practices that have burdened classroom time or not served students, educators, or families well. That plan acknowledged the role that this Administration has, at times, had to play in the overuse of testing and set forth a new vision for the role assessments should play in schools.

Consistent with the President’s plan, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ensures annual information about students’ progress for parents, educators, and policymakers while helping states and districts improve and reduce testing. (USDoE)




Teachers union cheers Clinton for stance on standardized testing and pay, but boos her embrace of charters


Hillary Clinton delivered plenty of applause lines Tuesday in a speech to the nation’s largest teachers union at a gathering in Washington, calling for less standardized testing, more support for vulnerable children and more respect and pay for public school educators.

“I want to say, right at the outset, that I’m with you,” Clinton said to loud cheers from thousands of delegates to the National Education Association’s annual meeting. “If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House, and you’ll always have a seat at the table.”

But Clinton also signaled her willingness to challenge union orthodoxy on the lightning rod issue of charter schools, saying that there are some successful charter schools whose approaches should be studied and replicated.

“When schools get it right, whether they’re traditional public schools or public charter schools, let’s figure out what’s working and share it with schools across America,” she said to audible boos from the audience. “Rather than starting from ideology, let’s start from what’s best for our kids.”

Publicly funded but privately run and usually not unionized, charter schools have become a divisive issue within the Democratic party that Clinton — a longtime supporter of both charters and unions — has tried to bridge. (WaPo)




Interest in Teaching Continues to Drop Among High School Students


High school students are becoming less and less interested in becoming teachers, a trend that’s picking up speed at an “alarming” rate, the ACT said Wednesday.

An ACT survey of high school graduates who took its college-entrance exam shows that in the class of 2015, only 4 percent said they planned to become teachers, counselors, or administrators. In 2014, 5 percent said they had such plans, and in 2010, 7 percent did. Twenty years ago, 9 percent of high school students who took the ACT said they were planning education careers. (EdWeek)




How one Mississippi community copes with influx of Hispanic students


MORTON, Miss. — It’s Cinco de Mayo in Christy Crotwell’s class, and Luis Antonio Hernandez is reading the first-graders a story about the holiday’s origins. He reads each page twice — once in English, once in Spanish — and the students give him their full attention. One kid wears a large sombrero in honor of the occasion.

If only every moment at Morton Elementary School were so tranquil for Hernandez, the only full-time translator here and one of just two Spanish-speaking staffers in a school where nearly a third of the students speaks Spanish.                 He spends most days racing from class to class, helping out as needed. It’s a hectic job.

Like many schools across Mississippi, Morton is scrambling to adjust to an influx of Spanish-speaking students for which it was completely unprepared. In a state that ranks at or near the bottom in education spending nationwide, it can be a challenge just to maintain buildings and stock classrooms with basic supplies. It’s hard to find money to pay for teachers who specialize in helping kids who are learning English, known in academic circles as English Language Learners — ELLs for short.

The state doesn’t allocate money for ELL programs, and direct federal funding for ELL kids everywhere is sparse — just $230 a year per student. The federal money is restricted to districts with at least 76 ELL students. Schools that receive Title I funding — those with high numbers of low-income students — can use some of that money to support ELL, but it means taking it away from other areas of need, according to an ELL specialist at the Department of Education. (THR)




Why Math Education Is Getting Better Despite All The Controversy


Are students today getting a better math education than students twenty years ago? originally appeared on Quora: the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Sarah Lubienski, Mathematics Education Professor, University of Illinois, on Quora:

According to scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), students are getting a better math education than they were twenty years ago, at least within the United States.

NAEP is considered our “Nation’s Report Card,” as it tracks U.S. achievement with very large, representative samples. There are actually 2 NAEP math assessments – the Main NAEP and the Long-Term-Trend NAEP.

Main NAEP scores at grades 4 and 8 have increased substantially (arguably 1-2 grade levels) since 1990, and have only recently plateaued. Grade 12 NAEP trends are more difficult to track, given mid-stream changes in the test.

However, not everyone agrees that the Main NAEP test is a true measure of a quality mathematics education. The test reflects a broader curriculum than the Long-Term-Trend test, which focuses more on arithmetic and algebraic symbol manipulation, assessing the same, traditional content that it has since 1973.

When it was designed in 1990, the Main NAEP began to include statistics, probability, and a greater emphasis on mathematical reasoning, in accordance with reforms promoted by the National Countil of Teachers of Mathematics. The increasing NAEP scores seem to provide evidence that those reforms have improved mathematics education for U.S. students. (Forbes)




Texas Announces Hundreds of Schools Receiving Pre-K Grants


Texas will divvy up more than $116 million among 578 school districts and charter schools to bolster high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced Tuesday.

State lawmakers approved the grant program during last year’s legislative session after Gov. Greg Abbott named early education as his top legislative priority, though some pre-K advocates argued that the grants didn’t go far enough.

The funding will reach nearly half of the state’s more than 1,200 school districts and charters. Qualifying districts can receive up to $1,500 per student under the program, but received $734 per student. Grant awards ranged from $3,600 for smaller school districts to $9.2 million for the Houston school district, the state’s largest. The awards will be paid out in two installments: the first one coming immediately and another this fall.

“Implementation of this important grant program, which remains a priority of Gov. Abbott, provides important educational support to our youngest Texans,” Morath said in a statement. “By working to ensure and expand high quality prekindergarten programs across our state, we take an important step toward ensuring every child is prepared for the classroom from the very first day.” (TTT)







USOE Calendar



UEN News




July 12:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting

2 p.m., 445 State Capitol



July 13:

Education Interim Committee meeting

1:15 p.m., 30 House Building



July 14:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



August 11:

Utah State Board of Education study session, USDB and committee meetings

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City



August 12:

Utah State Board of Education meeting

250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City


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