April 2010 Archives

Science Panel Lends Bipartisan Support to 'COMPETES' Bill

The House science committee yesterday gave bipartisan approval to a bill to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, which includes an emphasis on improving STEM education.


State-by-State Flashcards on the Common Standards

I don't know about you, but I've still got a student living under my roof, so I see flashcards in use from time to time at my kitchen table. (Yes, even in this tech-heavy age, even at the high school level, some of her teachers suggest that students memorize certain things by making flashcards.) Those of you following the common standards now have your own set of flashcards to use. (You don't have to make these yourselves. The Alliance for Excellent Education already did that for you.) These flashcards are electronic. You can go online and get the lay of ...


House Panel Considers America COMPETES Act Renewal

The House science committee today is taking up legislation aimed in part at improving STEM education.


The Financial Ripple Effect of Common Standards

We've talked before about the effect that common standards and assessments could have on the publishing industry (see a blog post here and a story here). Today we have one more peek into those possibilities. In a conference call yesterday to discuss first-quarter earnings for this year, McGraw-Hill executives discussed the impact of states' ordering decisions. To be sure, the tough economy had a lot to do with decisions to downsize or delay. (Company execs also talked about large orders they received from several states.) But common-core considerations are in the mix, in ways that are both potentially disappointing and ...


Articles Examine Links Between Science Ed. and Literacy

The latest issue of the journal Science features a set of articles that explores the link between science learning and language skills.


The Voting Begins on (That Other) Race to Top Competition

Voting is under way on the six finalists for the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.


Should All Students Take Algebra 2? Who Should Decide?

If all students shouldn't be required to take Algebra 2, who will decide for them, and what will those implications be?


Common Standards: The Writers Speak

The lead writers of the common core standards take the microphone at a public forum to discuss the key ideas that inform those documents.


House Approves P.E. Bill With New Reporting Mandates

The FIT Kids Act would include a host of new public-reporting requirements for school districts related to physical education.


At Earth Day Rally, Duncan to Plug 'Green Economy' Summit

At an Earth Day ceremony at the National Mall this afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will announce a September summit on education for a green economy.


Hitting a High Note: String and Orchestra Ed. On the Rise

More school districts are offering programs that teach children how to play stringed instruments.


Common Standards: Moving Toward a Final Version

The final version of the common standards is expected in late spring. Standards-watchers can see two of the lead writers discuss the process online on April 22.


Historians Criticize Draft Texas Standards, Seek Delay in Vote

Hundreds of historians are criticizing the latest draft of social studies standards in Texas, and urging the board to delay a final vote on the package.


Some Sobering News on Math Education

Two new studies focus on the preparation and ongoing professional development of math teachers.


Diverging Views on Common Standards

A sample of the divergent views on common standards for you this morning. Ed Miller of the Alliance for Childhood notes the split in two pieces that ran recently in The Boston Globe and The Washington Post. In the Globe op-ed, Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Diane Levin argue that the standards won't close the achievement gap because they will do nothing to address the inequities in the education system that cause it. They say the standards will impose more rote learning on young children and drive play further from school curricula. (Carlsson-Paige, a professor of early childhood education at Lesley University ...


Union Details Teacher Influence on Common Standards

When the common standards initiative first got off the ground, one of the things that created tumult in some quarters was the relative absence of teachers on the panels created to write and review the documents. One of the results of the too-few-teachers complaint was that the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which co-lead the common standards work, reached out to the national teachers' unions to help work teachers into the process. More teachers were placed on the panels, and teams from around the country also did periodic reviews of the drafts as they ...


Step Aside Olympians, the Robotics Competition Is Upon Us

More than 10,000 students are gathering at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to compete in an annual robotics competition.


In Their Own Words: Revised Draft of Texas Standards Online

The latest draft of revised social studies standards for Texas is finally online.


Maine's Schools Chief Steps Down to Lead Test Consortium

Just minutes ago, we were telling you about how those assessment consortia are evolving in their bids for Race to the Top money. Now comes the news that Susan Gendron, Maine's commissioner of education, is leaving her job to help lead one of those consortia. The news left one state lawmaker lamenting that Gendron wouldn't be around to help the state win money in the second round of the main (no pun intended) Race to the Top competition. She's also led a move there to consolidate school districts, and some lawmakers said they hated to see her leave that work ...


Race to Top Assessment Consortia: Comparability Is Key

The leaders of the common standards initiative are pushing to make different common assessments comparable across states.


Bucketloads of Comments on the Common Standards

A quickie for you: the public comment period on the draft common standards drew more than 10,000 comments. Organizers of the Common Core State Standards Initiative are working on summarizing the comments (my sympathies to the pour soul who has to summarize those babies.). No word yet on when they will post. And no relenting, despite my urgings, on their decision to summarize the comments instead of just posting them for all of us to see....


Six Finalists Named for Race to Top (the Other Race)

The Obama administration has identified six finalists for the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, with the winning school to host President Obama at its graduation ceremony.


Writing Can Improve Reading Skill, Study Finds

Key strategies to build students' writing skills can enhance their reading comprehension, a new report says.


Thousands of Mass. Seniors Have Yet to Pass Science Exam

About six percent of high school seniors in Massachusetts have yet to pass a science exam required to earn a diploma.


How Much Do Career- and College-Readiness Overlap?

It's a hot topic now: It's no longer enough to just graduate from high school. Students have to be sure that their high school education actually prepares them for college or good jobs. (If you thought that was obvious, you were ahead of a lot of folks, who, um, didn't.) It's popular to say everyone needs to be college- or career- ready. But the trick is, not everyone agrees on what that means. (We've written tons about this, but one recent overview is from our Diplomas Count report.) Into that fray wades the Association for Career and Technical Education, which ...


Chinese Sponsorship of Language Classes Sparks Debate

The issue of the Chinese government paying for Chinese language instruction in public schools is sparking debate in a California community.


Conn. Lawmakers Debate Allowing Alternatives to Dissections

Debate is heating up in Connecticut over legislation that would require public schools to allow students to opt out of dissecting animals.


Tackling Boys' Reading Difficulties

The education gaps between boys and girls have long drawn attention. For a while, the focus was on girls lagging behind boys in math and science. More lately, attention has been focusing on how boys trail behind girls in reading. A new report by the Center on Education Policy examines this issue. (See my colleague Erik Robelen's story about the report, as well.) The center's president, Jack Jennings, offers an overview in a commentary newly posted on edweek.org, and argues for systematic strategies to address the boy-girl reading gap. When I reported the most recent NAEP reading scores recently, ...


Duncan: Well-Rounded Education a Necessity, Not a Luxury

In a speech this afternoon, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will highlight the importance of a "well-rounded" education.


District Survey Shows Cuts in Textbooks, Electives, Field Trips

A new survey of school district officials suggests that cuts are on the rise for academic interventions, electives, textbooks, and field trips.


Earth Day Turns 40, Offering Teachable Moment

With the 40th anniversary of Earth Day just two weeks away, a variety of organizations are providing materials online to help make it a teachable moment.


One Math Professor's Take on the Common Standards

To carry on in the spirit of a couple recent blog posts (here and here), where I've linked to reactions from a variety of folks to the common standards, here are some thoughts from Bert Fristedt, a math professor at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and former member of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Fristedt did not submit these thoughts to the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers during their public-comment period on the common standards. But he is circulating them by e-mail to interested colleagues and others (with a copy to U.S. Ed. Sec. ...


Race to Top Assessment Competition Seeks New Direction

What's the RTT assessment competition about, and what do some folks have to say about it? Read our story....


Wis. Prosecutor Sends Ominous Message on Sex Ed. Law

A local district attorney in Wisconsin says teachers could face criminal charges if they follow a new state law that allows them to instruct students about proper contraceptive use.


Competition Narrowing in 'Race to the Common Test'

Race to the Top assessment consortia merge into three groups.


Study Finds Key Cost Savings for Performance Assessments

A new study finds key costs savings for assessment systems that tilt more toward essays and performance-based items.


Opinion Piece Ponders the Impact of Digital Textbooks

A new EdWeek commentary explores what the advent of digital textbooks and related media likely will mean for districts and schools, with some cautions about getting caught up in the e-hype. "What the shift to electronic readers and e-texts portends needs close inspection, with an eye to the impact on teaching and learning, not dreaming or even optimism," writes Gilbert Sewall, the director of the American Textbook Council. On one hand, he says: "[D]igital textbooks offer teachers and districts the chance to break out of standard lessons and use something better. Increased competition and open-source instructional material challenge the ...


$350 Million 'Race to the Common Test' Starts Now

By guest blogger Michele McNeil, cross-posted from the Politics K-12 blog: The U.S. Department of Education has given the green light to the $350 million Race to the Top assessment competition, which will award grants to groups of states to create rigorous common tests to complement the common standards effort already underway. The $350 million is part of the larger $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund grant program. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced in June 2009 he wanted to peel off $350 million to help states create the "next generation of assessments." According to the final ...


Colorado to Host Summit on Student Financial Literacy

Colorado is hosting a summit this week on improving students' personal financial literacy.


Nevada District Removes History Textbooks, Seeks Refund

School officials in Elko County, Nev., are trying to get a refund for state history textbooks, amid concern with grammatical problems and complaints that the books are racist.


More Feedback on Common Standards Math Section

The public-comment period for the proposed common standards has closed. At some point soon, we will get a summary of the 5,000-plus comments the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association received on the K-12 standards. In the meantime, as a continuation of my blog entry from last week, I'm posting a couple more examples of feedback submitted on the math portion of the common standards: Here is what the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago submitted, and here is what the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math submitted....


Math and Science Efforts Win U.S. Teacher-Quality Grants

New teacher-quality grants will help expand the UTeach program to Cleveland State University and support a math initiative in the South Bronx.


More States Leaning Toward Online Assessments, Study Finds

A new study finds that more states are using online state assessments already, or plan to be doing so in the near future. The study also found that state education leaders are really interested in open-source platforms for state accountability testing. Researchers for the study interviewed officials in educational assessment and technology offices in 27 states, as well as "opinion leaders" from the public and private sector. They found that 23 of the 27 states were already conducting state assessments online, or will soon be doing so. Educators cited easier logistics, quicker data turnaround, and the option of more customizable ...


Feedback on Common Core English/Language Arts Standards

In the same spirit as my post yesterday, which offers up at least a teensy slice of the feedback on the math portion of the common standards, here are some responses to the English/language arts section. Some of these have been formally submitted on the initiative's website as feedback during the public comment period (which ends today). Others have been issued by their organizations to contribute to a public dialog, but have not been officially submitted as common-core feedback. Keep in mind that many organizations are not submitting feedback online during the public-comment period because they already shared their ...


Death of Famed Math Teacher Sparks Reflections

As the obituaries and tributes pouring out make plain, Jaime Escalante made a big mark in education.


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