August 2010 Archives

21st-Century-Skills Group to Move In With the Chiefs

What does it mean that the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is moving in with the Council of Chief State School Officers? It's not entirely clear yet, but it's already sent folks in some quarters into alert mode. Let's take a second for a refresher on who's who. The partnership, known to many as P21, is an organization that advocates the infusion of a broad range of skills such as collaboration, global awareness, and self-direction into a strong academic core of knowledge. (See its framework here.) You might have heard debate about whether P21's approach cheats content in its focus ...

U.S. Army to End GED Program for Recruits

With the U.S. Army finding more success in its recruiting efforts, it's phasing out a pilot program to help new soldiers earn a GED.

Race to Top Winners: Implications for Assessment Contest

In all the analysis of yesterday's Race to the Top winners, not much has been said about what the results might mean for The Other Race to the Top competition. (Remember that $350 million hanging out there for new assessment systems?) Just as I was thinking that I was the only one odd enough to notice that the Round 2 winners tilted pretty darn heavily toward one assessment consortium, I saw that I wasn't alone. Blogger John Bailey over at the consulting outfit Whiteboard Advisors was noticing the same thing (hat tip to eduwonk for calling my attention to it). ...

STEM Education to Get Boost From Race to Top Winners

Virtually every winning state in the federal Race to the Top competition has plans for improving STEM education.

Federal-Intrusion Talk on Common Standards: A Win-Win?

If you've been following the common-standards initiative, you know that the "don't tread on me" spirit has proved to be one of the flashpoints in that work. And even now, with three-quarters of the states having already adopted the standards, we're still hearing states rattle their sabers at the feds over the common standards (headline version: "States to Feds: Stay the Hell Away From My Standards"). The federal-intrusion sentiment pre-existed Race to the Top, of course. That resentment was one of the ingredients in the implosion of earlier attempts at national standards. Keen awareness of that history shaped the name ...

STEM School Proving a Big Draw for Minnesota District

A new STEM-focused school in Minnesota appears to be drawing families back to the Richfield district.

Reading Roundup: Quality Assessments and More

Some thoughts worth a look this morning: • A new report from the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University's School of Education raises flags about using the SAT and ACT to size up high school student achievement. • An EdWeek commentary takes on some of the teaching complications prompted by the common standards' cross-disciplinary approach to English/language arts. • Another EdWeek commentary writer urges readers to fine-tune their "crap detectors" as they absorb the many claims of new systems to assess student learning....

Will the Common Standards Change Curriculum?

A wave of curricular responses to the common standards is building.

Common-Standards Watch: Delaware Pushes Total to 37

Delaware becomes the 37th state to adopt the common standards.

School District Turns Down Tea Party Offer of Free Copies of Constitution

School officials decline offer by local "tea party" to provide free copies of the U.S. Constitution to students.

A New Entry in Common-Standards Curriculum Work

The liberal-arts group Common Core releases free online "curriculum maps" for the common standards.

Wash. Math and Science Teachers Lag Peers in Pay

Washington State's math and science teachers are paid less than those teaching other subjects.

Idaho Institutes Mandate for Middle Schoolers to Advance

Idaho this year will require all middle schoolers to complete at least 80 percent of class credits to advance to the next grade level.

ACT Scores Deliver Good and Bad News

The latest round of ACT scores shows how far most students--especially black and Hispanic students---have to go to be college ready.

Common-Standards Watch: Vermont Makes 36

Vermont becomes the 36th state to adopt the common standards.

Reading Roundup: Standout High Schools and More

A few things to read on a slow August morning: • A new report from the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard. It profiles the leadership of 15 public high schools, tracking the things they did to make their schools standouts. • A recent survey by Achieve that finds broad support for the college and career-ready agenda. • Announcement of a plan by the Institute of Education Sciences to study ways to link NAEP results to international assessments. (NAGB, which oversees NAEP, mentioned a little something about this in the spring, as well.)...

Idaho to Abandon Science-Exam Graduation Requirement

Idaho officials are planning to scrap a requirement that students pass a high school science exam to earn a diploma.

Common Standards, Accountability, the Feds, and Texas

The common-standards initiative is in transition. For a while, it was all about development. The next wave was about state adoptions. Now states and districts are trying to figure out how to turn the standards into teachable stuff for kids. In that spirit, Kathleen Porter-Magee, over at the Fordham Institute's Flypaper blog, cautions the field not to take its eyes off the accountability ball while it obsesses about implementation. Without setting clear student achievement goals and holding people accountable for the outcomes, she says, it will be "easy to ignore good curriculum." We've talked a lot in this space about ...

Deadlines, Delaware, and the Common Standards

If you've been following the common-standards coverage in this blog, you know that Aug. 2 was a big-deal day, because states vying for Race to the Top money got maximum points if they had adopted the standards by then. When the RTT Round 2 finalists were announced, we noted that nearly all states that had won a grant (in Round 1) or were still in the running for one (Round 2) had adopted the standards. Then it came down to one: Delaware was the only one of the RTT winners or contenders that had not yet adopted the common standards. (It...

New Project to Develop Middle School Materials for Chemistry, Biochemistry

With support from a federal grant, a new initiative will develop classroom materials for middle school chemistry and biochemistry.

Ed. Dept. Unveils New Round of Teaching U.S. History Grants

More than a hundred school districts are getting federal aid to promote the teaching of American history.

NAGB: Wrestling With Common Standards, Testing Exclusions

Roberto J. Rodriguez, a key education adviser in the White House, told the National Assessment Governing Board that the administration is "thrilled" with states' progress in adopting the common standards. He appeared at NAGB's quarterly meeting here in Washington last Friday to reflect on the president's education policy agenda and on NAGB's work. (For those of you who might not know, NAGB sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.) There were no bombshells here; Rodriguez applauded, for instance, NAGB's focus on state-level data and its "continued focus" on subjects beyond math and reading. It got a tad more ...

Curriculum Really Does Matter, and Other Thoughts

A few assorted tidbits for you to get your week started: The Shanker blog reflects on the way too many people confuse standards with curriculum. (Hat tip to Joanne Jacobs.) Utah, which tentatively adopted the common standards way back in June, makes it final. The National Review revisits the testing mess in New York. (Refresher? Here is the New York Times story, with tons of reader comments.) Edutopia blogger Rebecca Alber writes about teaching literacy across all content areas, something emphasized both in the common standards and in a major report on adolescent literacy. The ETS reports that progress has ...

Common Assessments in High School: A Graphic Version

Not long ago, we told you that the Center for K-12 Assessment & Performance Management had created graphic depictions of the proposals submitted to the federal Ed Department under its Race to the Top program to create comprehensive assessment systems. We mentioned that the group was working on a similar graphic depiction of the RTT proposal to create a system of high school assessments. And now, it's done. You can see it on the Center's homepage. (Click on "the State Consortium on Board Examination Systems (SCOBES).") If you need a refresher course in what the Race to the Top assessment competition ...

Edujobs Bill Cuts $50 Million From Reading Program

A Senate bill approved yesterday that's designed to save education jobs would be paid for in part by cutting money from a federal reading program.

Female Astronaut's Academy Seeks to Spark Science Interest

Former astronaut Sally Ride is working to help teachers spark their students' interest in science.

Reading, STEM Ed. Are Big Winners in Federal 'i3' Contest

A striking number of proposals to improve instruction in reading and the STEM fields were among the winners of a federal grant competition to promote innovations in education.

Common Standards: Moving From Adoption to Implementation

We've been keeping you informed as states adopt the common standards. But even as that happens, a lot of discussion is swirling about how to put them into practice. It's been uttered so often that it's pretty much a new mantra: Standards alone won't make a difference. You also need good curriculum, instruction, professional development, and assessments that embody the standards. With that in mind, Achieve—which has been centrally involved in drafting the common standards—has put together an implementation guide that is designed to help states move the standards from state board offices to classrooms. The guide, "On...

Acquisition News in the World of Common Standards, Tests

Some players in the common-standards-and-assessments arena—folks you've been reading about here—have announced a business deal. Pearson PLC, the London-based education company, has agreed to buy America's Choice for $80 million. The agreement was announced yesterday. It still has to clear a federal antitrust review, but officials at the two companies say they expect it to close in about a month. You might recall that America's Choice was launched by the National Center on Education and the Economy, a Washington-based nonprofit school reform group, to implement the school improvement model it had developed. That model features standards-based instructional...

Draft Standards Unveiled for Teachers

Standards, standards, everywhere: The Council of Chief State School Officers, which teamed up with the National Governors Association to bring you the common standards (ever heard of them?), now delivers a draft set of professional teaching standards for teachers. Check out their paper on the policy implications of the standards, too....

Teach Science Concepts in Early Grades, Commentary Urges

A new commentary argues that schools should provide a far stronger emphasis on science in the elementary grades.

Common-Standards Watch: With Indiana, It's 35

Indiana adopted the common standards today, bringing the total number of adoptions to 35. The map is getting redder:...

The Common-Standards Alignment Rush

If you had any doubt that publishers would rush to claim that their materials are aligned to the common standards, let us offer you an announcement that is altogether predictable: "Carnegie Learning® Math Curricula Align with Common Core State Standards." This press release was carried nationwide yesterday by Business Wire. It wasn't the first, and most certainly won't be the last announcement of this type that rolls across the transom. This is just the sort of thing that common-standards advocates are grappling with as they look ahead to the shifts in the marketplace as more states adopt the standards. As ...

Lawmaker Offers Up Bill to Promote Computer-Science Ed.

A House bill introduced late last month aims to promote high-quality computer science education in schools.

Common-Standards Watch: California Makes 34

The common-standards movement lands another big one today: the California board of education voted unanimously to adopt the new set of academic expectations. Yes, yes, I know I just got finished telling you seconds ago that Colorado had adopted them today, too. But don't say we didn't warn you. We've been telling you until you are bored stiff that any state that won a Race to the Top grant—or is still in the running to get one—has to be mindful of the Aug. 2 deadline. As of late last week, we still had a few states that were...

Common-Standards Watch: With Colorado, It's 33

On a 4-3 vote today, Colorado became the 33rd state to adopt the common standards (unless we've missed something out there):...

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