Education News Roundup: Aug. 4, 2017

Today’s Top Picks:

State Board of Education looks at ninth and 10th grade year-end tests in Utah.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBI (SLT)

Board’s Law and Licensing Committee kills a proposal to amend its rule on the online educator license web site.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBJ (DN)

Provo Herald wonders why there are so few women in education leadership roles in Utah County.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBP (PDH)

Standard takes a look a student discipline in Ogden District.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBN (OSE)

Ed Week looks at testing flexibility in ESSA.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBX (Ed Week)

Cal State drops its requirements for placement exams, remedial classes in math and English for freshmen.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBZ (LAT)

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TODAY’S HEADLINES
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UTAH

State school board committee ‘begrudgingly’ recommends about-face on SAGE testing
Education * Board staff asked to draft new policies on opting out of statewide exams.

Committee defeats proposal to curb access to teacher reprimand letters

Boys club: Educational leadership in Utah County dominated by men
In Utah County, women in education leadership positions are scarce

Discipline in Ogden elementary schools: What does it mean and how is it tracked

Provo mourns teacher who died after minor surgery

3 struggles your student may experience in school

Backpacks, lunch and a haircut: Utah clinic preps kids for school

OPINION & COMMENTARY

Taking care of students and taxpayers at the same time

Thumbs up, thumbs down

Getting your child back-to-school ready

Will Betsy DeVos Set a High Bar for Approving ESSA Plans? Watch Michigan

The grades are in: Charter schools are boosting college success

NATION

ESSA’s New High School Testing Flexibility: What’s the Catch?

Performance Pay Law Not Paying Off for Top-Rated Teachers, According to Report

Congress Set to Decide if Children Can Be Locked Up for Skipping School

Cal State will no longer require placement exams and remedial classes for freshmen

Behind the Battle Over Mexican-American Studies in Public Schools
Tucson was forced to dismantle its popular program years ago. That hasn’t stopped districts nationwide from emulating it.

This LA-area high school stopped offering AP classes to only ‘the smartest kids.’ Here’s what happened next.

School blast investigators looking at gas meter work

Pearson cuts 3,000 jobs, slashes dividend in latest recovery push

Barnes & Noble Education Acquires Student Brands
Direct-to-Student Offering Expands BNED’s Digital Portfolio

 

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UTAH NEWS
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State school board committee ‘begrudgingly’ recommends about-face on SAGE testing
Education * Board staff asked to draft new policies on opting out of statewide exams.

A debate over standardized testing Thursday highlighted the frustrations members of the Utah Board of Education feel toward SAGE, the computer-based exam taken by public school students each year.
Board members searched for justifications to abandon the test in grades 9 and 10 – including reading from a non-binding legislative resolution on excessive testing – but were told any deviation would violate state law.
“We don’t have an option of not testing,” said Laura Belnap, chairwoman of the board’s Standards and Assessment Committee. “That would be a legislative change.”
The state school board signaled last year its intention to move away from SAGE testing for high school grades in lieu of a suite of exams administered by ACT.
Lawmakers approved a bill allowing high school juniors to take only the ACT, but school board staff alerted board members that adopting pre-ACT tests in grades 9 and 10 would conflict with Utah’s standards, school accountability programs and procurement laws that require a competitive bid process.
Committee members voted 3-1 to continue high school SAGE testing next spring while the board explores replacements for Utah’s testing system.
“Aye, begrudgingly,” board member Terryl Warner said while casting her vote Thursday.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBI (SLT)

 

Committee defeats proposal to curb access to teacher reprimand letters

SALT LAKE CITY – A state school board committee defeated a proposed policy change Thursday that would have limited public online access to information about letters of reprimand issued to teachers issued before Jan. 1, 2017.
The Law and Licensing Committee of the Utah State Board of Education in a split vote defeated the proposal, which one board member described as a “very limited change” because it would only apply to letters of reprimand. Information about other forms of discipline, up to revocation of a teacher’s license, remain available online.
Under the proposed change, the letters of reprimand could be obtained under the state Government Records Access and Management Act or GRAMA.
Board member Alisa Ellis spoke against the proposed change.
“Just as a citizen, it is very difficult to GRAMA things. You get huge fees attached to it so it does feel like they (records) are hidden on there. … I am for any ease of access we can do, so I can’t vote for these amendments,” Ellis said.
Board member Carol Lear, who supported the change, said the larger issue was “doing a disservice to our educators” who had entered stipulated agreements that did not include the possibility that the disciplinary actions taken against their licenses would be accessible on a website.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBJ (DN)

http://gousoe.uen.org/aC5 (USBE)

 

Boys club: Educational leadership in Utah County dominated by men
In Utah County, women in education leadership positions are scarce

When it comes to education leadership positions in Utah County, it’s strictly the boys’ club.
Men outnumber women as students at universities in Utah County, and that pattern extends to the schools’ administration as well.
There has never been a female president at Brigham Young University in Provo or at Utah Valley University in Orem, although UVU has had two female interim presidents who served a total of three times.
At UVU, two of six vice presidents are female and there isn’t one female dean out of eight of them. About a third of the members on the board of trustees are women.
At BYU, there are two female members of the Church Board of Education. Out of 17 administrative officers, two are women. There are three female deans.
There are far more female teachers in K-12 education than males in Utah County, yet the superintendents of all three Utah County school districts are male.
Several organizations are looking to change those numbers, including local universities.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBP (PDH)

 

Discipline in Ogden elementary schools: What does it mean and how is it tracked

OGDEN – Ogden Board of Education member Don Belnap was trying to point out the benefits of having smaller schools at a special board meeting in July when he referenced the challenges the district is facing because the population they serve is “low on the socioeconomic scale.”
He then pointed specifically to T.O. Smith Elementary School.
“It’s hard,” he said. “The kids are tough.”
Belnap and other school officials say poverty and other socioeconomic factors influence the problems they deal with at Ogden schools.
T.O. Smith reported 414 disciplinary incidents in the 2016-17 school year, according to data provided by spokesman Jer Bates. These incidents ranged from minor classroom disruptions, which are considered level 1, to the highest level of infraction, 5, which can include assault with a weapon.
Belnap also made a comment during the meeting about substitutes and the district’s music specialist not wanting to go to T.O. Smith, but in a follow-up interview he explained he misspoke and that claim was incorrect.
Belnap said what he meant was that places like T.O. Smith, James Madison and Bonneville elementary schools are “highly impacted.”
“They have their own set of unique challenges that are different than other parts of the district and state where they have both a mom and a dad at home,” he said. “They’re giving their kids breakfast in the morning. You’ve got some places in Ogden where you’re lucky if you have grandparents raising kids.”
Some studies support that a child’s behavior and academic success is tied to their family’s financial standing.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBN (OSE)

 

Provo mourns teacher who died after minor surgery

PROVO – A community is coping with a tough loss after a local elementary school teacher’s sudden death.
Christy Yardley was supposed to start teaching sixth grade on Aug. 15, but she died on last Friday following complications from a minor surgery, according to her family.
The 40-year-old educator had been a teacher around the world, including in Russia and Taiwan. Yardley had spent the last three years at Rock Canyon Elementary in Provo.
Yardley leaves behind a husband and four children.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBM (DN)

 

3 struggles your student may experience in school

Michelle Porcelli, a High School Counselor at Skyridge High School and founder of Top Utah Speakers joined GTU to talk about struggles students seem to have at the beginning of every year. She was also joined by Eric Aroca, a professional speaker and presenter for schools, business, and other events.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aC4 (KTVX)

 

Backpacks, lunch and a haircut: Utah clinic preps kids for school

MILLCREEK – Fishing a pink pencil holder from the bottom of his brand new backpack, Boston Cryer eagerly points out every single new item inside.
“I got a calculator, some scissors, some glue, a pencil sharpener, erasers, pencils and pens in this,” the 9-year-old said, shaking the bag to make sure he didn’t miss anything. “I got a ruler, some colored pencils and that’s all.”
His family joined hundreds of other parents and kids at a back-to-school barbecue sponsored by Valley Behavioral Health. The nonprofit mental health clinic provided lunch and free school supplies for at-risk families at Big Cottonwood Park in Millcreek on Thursday.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBL (DN)

 

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OPINION & COMMENTARY
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Taking care of students and taxpayers at the same time
(Ogden) Standard-Examiner editorial

The Weber School District Board of Education unanimously approved a $97 million bond initiative Wednesday. If voters approve it, this is what it will buy:

  • A new elementary school in Remuda, a northern area of Farr West ($22 million).
  • A new elementary school in Pleasant View ($22 million).
  • A 12-classroom addition at Fremont High School ($5 million).
  • Renovations at Roy Junior High School ($38 million).
  • An addition at Weber Innovation High School ($10 million).
  • And how much the five projects will raise taxes: $0.

That’s right. Not one penny.
In a county reeling from double-digit property tax increases, the Weber School District School Board is a model of sound fiscal management.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBO

 

Thumbs up, thumbs down
(Provo) Daily Herald editorial

Strong communities in Utah County have come together to support and assist families in need during some difficult and tragic situations these few weeks. Hundreds of people have turned out to help search for Paul Swenson, a missing American Fork man; Rock Canyon Elementary students and parents are rallying around the family of a teacher who passed away unexpectedly; and Eagle Mountain residents have come together to support the families affected after a 3-year-old died in an auto-pedestrian accident.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBQ

 

Getting your child back-to-school ready
KSL commentary by Nick Call, owner and therapist at Tree of Life Counseling Center in North Ogden

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s that time of year again when the stores fill with displays of school supplies and deals on kids’ clothing.
As parents, we check off the list of recommended school supplies, find ideas on creating quality lunches, and inventory our kids’ closets to send them back to school in style. This year, you may want to consider starting a new tradition to address any stress or anxiety your child may be experiencing.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBR

 

Will Betsy DeVos Set a High Bar for Approving ESSA Plans? Watch Michigan
Education Week analysis by columnist Alyson Klein

Want to know how high U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team will set the bar in approving Every Student Succeeds Act plans? How DeVos handles her home state may provide the answer.
Michigan’s ESSA plan was largely panned in a review by Bellwether Education Consultants and the Collaborative for Student Success. Another outside reviewer declined to rate it, citing incompleteness. The state’s GOP lieutenant governor worried about its impact on students with special needs. And Jason Botel, the acting assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, called the state to talk about some of the information missing in its plan.
That last move angered Brian Whiston, Michigan’s state chief, who said the feds were sending mixed messages when it comes to ESSA. DeVos, he said, stressed local control, and told state chiefs in a closed door meeting to hand in their plans even if they weren’t totally complete. But Botel, the acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, seemed to be working from a different playbook, Whiston said last month.
A lot seems to have changed since then. For one thing, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a DeVos ally, questioned whether Botel had read ESSA carefully. And DeVos and company changed the way they’ll be reviewing ESSA plans. Instead of just sending feedback letters and making them public, they’ll first chat with states over the phone. If the state can explain a potential hiccup to the feds’ satisfaction, the department might not mention the issue in an official feedback letter, which would be released after the phone call
Michigan had its call this week. Afterwards, Whiston put out a statement saying the state’s interaction with the feds had been “very positive.” He also said state would be submitting a revised plan, including some clarifications the department asked for.
And DeVos herself had kind words for her home state, telling local reporters earlier this week that she’s hopeful that Michigan “is going to be very bold and very creative in the way that they’re addressing the needs of students here in Michigan.”
But not everyone is optimistic about Michigan’s ESSA vision.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBW

 

The grades are in: Charter schools are boosting college success
(Washington, DC) The Hill op-ed by RICHARD WHITMIRE, author of “The Founders: Inside the revolution to invent (and reinvent) America’s best charter schools”

Most big changes in society take place slowly, and that’s probably for the best. But here’s a change that members of Congress should urge their state education leaders to act on quickly: Start collaborating with top charter networks on college success.
For years now traditional school districts and teachers unions offered up reasonable-sounding excuses for not reaching out to charter schools to share lessons on what works best in the classroom.
Maybe, the reasoning goes, the high performing charter school networks fared better with disadvantaged students because of “self selection,” where only the most motivated parents enter the charter school admission lotteries. Another rationale: Who cares if the charters produce better test scores? That’s probably a result of unhealthy test prep and matters little for the students’ futures.
Those excuses crumbled last week with the revelation that the major charter networks are achieving what has long been a holy grail in education: sharply boosting the college success rate for low-income, marginalized students – the very students this country has been failing for decades.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aC3

 

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NATIONAL NEWS
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ESSA’s New High School Testing Flexibility: What’s the Catch?
Education Week

When the Every Student Succeeds Act passed, one of the things that educators were most excited about was the chance to cut down on the number of tests kids have to take, Specifically, the law allows some districts to offer a nationally recognized college-entrance exam instead of the state test for accountability.
But that flexibility could be more complicated than it appears on paper.
Here’s a case in point: Oklahoma, which hasn’t finalized its ESSA application yet, has already gotten pushback from the feds for the way that it had planned to implement the locally selected high school test option in a draft ESSA plan posted on the state department’s website. In that plan, Oklahoma sought to offer its districts a choice of two nationally recognized tests, the ACT or the SAT. Importantly, the state’s draft plan didn’t endorse one test over the other-both were considered equally okay.
The department took a peak at Oklahoma’s draft, which was posted online, and called the Sooner State to tell them, essentially, that they would have to make a choice. The department told Oklahoma its pitch wasn’t compliant with the law, because neither the ACT or SAT was considered the official statewide high school assessment. At the time, Oklahoma told the department it would consider seeking a waiver from ESSA so it could move forward with the two-test system. About a month later, however, the state, which hasn’t yet finalized its ESSA plan, is still mulling its options. So a waiver ask may or may not be in the offing.
If Oklahoma does decide to pursue a waiver from ESSA, it won’t be the first state to ask for flexibility from the brand new law. New Jersey, Kentucky, and Florida are all mulling waivers, including when it comes to testing.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBX

 

Performance Pay Law Not Paying Off for Top-Rated Teachers, According to Report
Education Week

Florida lawmakers passed a pay-for-performance policy in 2011 requiring that the most effective teachers earn the biggest salary awards each year. But a recent report has found that many districts pay out more money for teachers who earn an advanced degree than they do for those earning top performance ratings.
In 16 of the 18 Florida districts studied, the route to higher pay is via higher education. A master’s degree merits teachers a salary bump four times greater on average than a “highly effective” rating, according to the report published on Wednesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based research and advocacy group.
In Brevard County Public Schools in the 2016-2017 school year, for instance, a teacher who scored a “highly effective” rating received an additional $445 after cost-of-living adjustments. But a teacher with a master’s degree earned a salary bump of more than six times that, an extra $2,868.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBK

 

Congress Set to Decide if Children Can Be Locked Up for Skipping School
Education Week

Legislation to overhaul juvenile-justice systems, including how they handle education, easily passed the Senate on Tuesday.
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act, which passed the chamber by a voice vote, would for the most part prevent juveniles from being incarcerated for “status offenses” such as skipping school in states getting federal formula grants. (The exception would be if the child is subject to a valid court order.) The bill also puts a greater emphasis on screening and treatment for those with mental health issues, retaining educational records of juveniles in detention centers, and ensuring that students in juvenile-justice centers get appropriate credit for academic work while they are in the juvenile-justice system.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., were the two primary authors of the Senate bill-Grassley is head of the Senate judiciary committee. Senators will now hold a conference with House lawmakers, who passed their own changes to the nation’s juvenile-justice law earlier this year, to hammer out final legislation.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBY

Cal State will no longer require placement exams and remedial classes for freshmen
Los Angeles Times

Cal State plans to drop placement exams in math and English as well as the noncredit remedial courses that more than 25,000 freshmen have been required to take each fall – a radical move away from the way public universities traditionally support students who come to college less prepared than their peers.
In an executive order issued late Wednesday, Chancellor Timothy P. White directed the nation’s largest public university system to revamp its approach to remedial education and assess new freshmen for college readiness and course placement by using high school grades, ACT and SAT scores, previous classroom performance and other measures that administrators say provide a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of students’ knowledge.
Cal State will no longer make those students who may need extra help take the standardized entry-level mathematics (ELM) exam and the English placement test (EPT).
The new protocol, which will go into effect in fall 2018, “facilitates equitable opportunity for first-year students to succeed through existing and redesigned education models,” White wrote in a memorandum to the system’s 23 campus presidents, who will be responsible for working with faculty to implement the changes. The hope is that these efforts will also help students obtain their degrees sooner – one of the public university system’s priorities. Cal State has committed to doubling its four-year graduation rate, from 19% to 40%, by 2025.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBZ

 

Behind the Battle Over Mexican-American Studies in Public Schools
Tucson was forced to dismantle its popular program years ago. That hasn’t stopped districts nationwide from emulating it.
Bloomberg

A federal judge is set to decide the fate of an Arizona state law that forced Tucson’s majority-Latino school district to shut down an influential Mexican-American studies program credited with boosting Latino students’ grades and graduation rates.
Judge Wallace Tashima is expected to rule in the coming weeks on whether the 2010 law, which let the state pull funding from any district that offered classes designed for students of a particular ethnic group, is discriminatory or violates students’ constitutional rights.
The legislation was drafted by Arizona’s then-schools chief, who had earlier called for ending Tucson’s program. He and his successor say it stoked racial resentment and showed negligible success in improving student achievement; the former students suing say studies have shown otherwise.
“The traditional way of doing things has failed our community for generations,” says Curtis Acosta, a former literature teacher in Tucson. “Maybe it’s time to try something else.”
In the 15 years since its inception, Tucson’s program has been used as a model by school districts in California and Texas, and Acosta has begun a company that works with school districts in other states seeking to replicate its success.
The popularity of the approach reflects growing national interest in what’s known as culturally responsive pedagogy, based on the idea that students learn best when they’re taught in a way that’s relevant to their own lives. Hip-hop lyrics, for instance, can prompt discussions of themes of “machismo, misogyny, and greed,” explains Acosta, and “then how those themes can also be found in great works of literature. We’re building a gateway, making sure students can see themselves in the curriculum.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/aC0

 

This LA-area high school stopped offering AP classes to only ‘the smartest kids.’ Here’s what happened next.
Los Angeles Daily News

Convincing Alhambra Unified School District parents and faculty it was a good idea to open its Advanced Placement program to all students was an intense battle for Gary Gonzales.
It was 2008 when Gonzales, then the district’s director of secondary education, first took up the cause.
“I’ve still got the scars to show it,” he said Monday.
But the fight was worth it – a report from the national nonprofit The Education Trust released last week highlighted two high schools that stood out for their unusually high rates of AP participation and success.
In both schools, typically underserved students – minorities and students from low-income families – had high rates of success.
Alhambra High School was one of those schools.
Ashley Griffin, one of the study’s researchers, said she landed on Alhambra after doing a statistical analysis of high schools throughout the country. Also featured in the study was Houston’s YES Prep Southwest. Griffin said she chose both schools because of their unique position of having both highly diverse and low-income populations, while also producing a large share of students who took and passed AP tests.
“When we think of traditionally high-performing schools, the things they put in place may not work for other schools because of challenges with the population, or challenges with resources,” she said. “But with the high numbers of students that live in poverty (in Alhambra), if you can provide high levels for success for these students, that’s a model that any school can follow.”
http://gousoe.uen.org/aC1

 

School blast investigators looking at gas meter work
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS – Workers may have been moving a gas meter when an explosion tore through a Minneapolis school building this week, killing two people and injuring at least nine others, according to federal investigators.
A team from the National Transportation Safety Board was in Minneapolis on Friday to start the painstaking task of determining what caused Wednesday’s natural gas explosion at Minnehaha Academy.
The bodies of two longtime school workers -receptionist Ruth Berg, 47, and custodian John Carlson, 82, – were found in the rubble. The medical examiner said Friday that both died from blunt force injuries sustained when part of a school building collapsed on them.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBV

 

Pearson cuts 3,000 jobs, slashes dividend in latest recovery push
Reuters

LONDON – British education group Pearson is cutting 3,000 jobs and slashing its dividend in its latest attempt to revive a business hit by the shift to digital from paper textbooks.
The job losses, accounting for almost 10 percent of the group total, are part of Chief Executive John Fallon’s third attempt since 2014 to reshape a company whose main U.S. college business has also been hit by a drop in student enrollments.
“The structural challenges in our biggest market, in higher education courseware, have been more challenging than any of us thought they would be three years ago,” he said on Friday.
“We are running the business that our biggest market will continue to decline by around 6 or 7 percent for each of the next two years.”
Pearson, the world’s largest educational publisher, sells everything from school textbooks to academic books and electronic tests. It competes with companies such as John Wiley & Sons (JWa.N) and public providers of education tests.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBU

http://gousoe.uen.org/aC2 (Bloomberg)

 

Barnes & Noble Education Acquires Student Brands
Direct-to-Student Offering Expands BNED’s Digital Portfolio
Business Wire

BASKING RIDGE, N.J.–Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. (NYSE: BNED) (“the Company” or “BNED”), a leading provider of educational products and services solutions for higher education and K-12 institutions, announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Student Brands, a leading direct-to-student subscription-based writing skills services business, for $58.5 million in cash.
Student Brands is an education technology company that operates multiple direct-to-student businesses focused on Study Tools, Writing Help, and Literary Research, all centered around assisting students with the writing process.
http://gousoe.uen.org/aBSĀ 

http://gousoe.uen.org/aBT (Reuters)

 

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CALENDAR
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UEN News
http://www.uen.org

August 4:

Utah State Board of Education meeting
8 a.m., 250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/usbe/Board.nsf/Public

August 11:

Utah State Charter School Board meeting
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.schools.utah.gov/charterschools/State-Board.aspx

August 22:

Executive Appropriations Committee meeting
2 p.m., 445 State Capitol
https://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPEXE

August 23:

Education Interim Committee meeting
8:30 a.m., 445 State Capitol
https://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=INTEDU

September 7:

Utah State Board of Education committee meetings
250 E 500 South, Salt Lake City
http://www.boarddocs.com/ut/usbe/Board.nsf/Public

September 19:

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting
8:30 a.m., 445 State Capitol
https://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp?year=2017&com=APPPED

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