Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ryan Has An Education Record That Suggests Compromise.

Education Week (10/27, Ujifusa) reviews the track record of the next Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan, on education issues. The article suggests that Ryan will be willing to compromise on education issues with the Obama Administration and highlights Ryan’s past support for school choice and student loan reform.

Common Core News of the Day

Poll: More New York Voters Oppose Common Core Than Support It.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle (10/26, Spector) reports a Siena College poll found that more New York voters believe that Common Core has worsened public education in the state rather than improved it. The poll found that 40% of voters believed the standards were bad for schools, while only 21% believed they were good for schools, with the rest being unsure. Voters in New York City were more supportive of Common Core, while voters in the city’s suburbs and upstate New York were more opposed to it. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state DOE previously announced they would review the standards.

Study: NAEP And Common Core Have “Overlap”, But Gaps Remain.

Education Week (10/27, Heitin) reports a study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Validity Studies Panel found that the NAEP test had “reasonable” overlap with Common Core standards, but the test failed to measure some of the standards in the Common Core curriculum. For example, 87% of the NAEP’s eighth grade math test questions “matched material from the common-core standards”, but only 58% of the Common Core standards were tested on the NAEP.

Missouri Panel Submits Proposed New Standards To Replace Common Core.

The AP (10/27, Ballentine) reports a panel of Missouri education experts, teachers, and parents presented their recommendations to the state BOE after working for a year to develop new academic standards to replace Common Core as well as for social science and science. The panel was created in 2014 by the state legislature in response to criticism of Common Core. The new recommendations from the panel have been criticized for challenging Common Core and also for being too similar to Common Core. One panel member said the sixth to twelfth grade English standards work group said many of the new standards are “exactly” the same as the old standards.

Segregation Of Latino Students Is A Growing Problem That Needs Attention.

The Huffington Post (10/27, Klein) highlights the ongoing problem of school segregation in the US with special attention paid to the segregation of Latino students from their peers. The article illustrates the disparity between the quality of education received by Latino students in California versus their non-Latino peers. The article also quotes several school segregation experts who decry the lack of research on how school segregation affects Latino students compared to the large amount of research on how it affects black students, but some also predict that a growing Latino population will shift the focus of those working for school integration away from the black-white divided towards the Latino-white divide. Some educators are hopeful that John King, who is scheduled to replace Education Secretary Arne Duncan later this year, will place more emphasis on stopping school segregation. King said, “Schools that are integrated better reflect our values as a country.”

Migration Policy Institute Report Recommends Teachers Do More To Adapt To Culture Of English Language Learners.

Education Week (10/27, Mitchell) reports the Migration Policy Institute released a report recommending that educators do more to adapt their teaching to the culture of foreign students learning English to facilitate their education. The new report was based in part on a two-year ethnographic study that followed 19 Somali Bantu refugees attending an elementary school in Chicago. The ethnographers’ concluded that educators’ insistence that the refugees follow all the classroom rules created lots of “avoidable problems and conflicts.”

Montgomery County Teachers Don’t Want To Get Rid Of Final Exams.

The Washington Post (10/27, St. George) reports that a “large number” of Montgomery County high school teachers said that eliminating final exams “could have a negative effect on how well students are prepared for what they will face in college,” according to a survey from the county teachers union. The “strong voice of support for exams” comes a month after the school board first addressed the question and two weeks prior to the board voting on policy revisions that reflect the change. The board decided to get rid of final exams “amid concerns about overtesting and lost instructional time.”

More Educators And Parents Reducing Or Eliminating Homework.

The AP (10/27, Boccella) reports there is a growing movement to end homework in US schools. The article shares the story of a parent in Ardmore, Pennsylvania who requested her daughter’s first grade teacher stop giving her child homework, and the teacher complied. More school districts and educators have begun reducing or eliminating homework because of concerns that too much can affect children’s health and well being by causing stress or sleep deprivation.

New York City Will Make SAT Free For Juniors.

The New York Times (10/27, Harris, Subscription Publication) reports New York City will begin offering the SAT free to all public school juniors. The test will be administered during the school day, instead of on aSaturday, which is the current practice. The change takes effect in the spring of 2016-17, and New York joins “several statewide efforts to increase the number of students taking college entrance exams.” According to the Education Department, only 56 percent of the city’s class of 2015 took the SAT at least once.
        Chalkbeat New York (10/26) adds that the initiative will cost the city about $1.8 million per year. It is part of a “number of new efforts of Mayor Bill de Blasio to help more city graduates reach college.” Chancellor Carmen FariƱa said Monday, “This is saying, we believe in you, we know you are ready to go to college.” She added that the initiative will be “paired with new teacher training, classroom materials, and parent workshops that focus on preparing students for college.”

Obama Makes Case For “Smarter” Standardized Testing.

In a Huffington Post (10/26, Obama) op-ed titled “An Open Letter To America’s Parents And Teachers: Let’s Make Our Testing Smarter,” President Obama yesterday called for limits on standardized testing in schools, arguing that he has “heard from parents who worry that too much testing is keeping their kids from learning some of life’s most important lessons,” and from teachers “who feel so much pressure to teach to a test that it takes the joy out of teaching and learning, both for them and for the students.” The President went on to outline the Administration’s Testing Action Plan, noting that kids “should only take tests that are worth taking,” tests “shouldn’t occupy too much classroom time, or crowd out teaching and learning,” and tests “should be just one source of information.”
        Chris Jansing reported on NBC Nightly News (10/26, story 7, 2:15, Holt) that in “a major reversal,” the Administration “is saying enough, calling on schools to cut back testing to no more than two percent of class time.” Under the White House plan, “annual standardized testing will stay as an assessment tool, but fewer overall tests with more local control.” NBC News (10/26) also carries a report online.
        The Atlantic (10/26) reported on its website that the Administration’s “high-profile pitch to reduce testing” comes in reaction to an analysis by the Council of Great City Schools, which “offers an unprecedented look at the testing load in large urban districts across the nation, finding considerable redundancy and a lack of coordination among the exams.” According to the analysis, “on average, students take over 110 federally, state, or locally mandated assessments between kindergarten and 12th grade,” and at “the eighth-grade level, where the testing load is the highest, test-taking accounts for 2.34 percent of the student’s instructional time.”
        Obama, Duncan, King Meet With Educators On Testing. The Washington Post (10/27, Brown) reports that the President met with two teachers “along with a cadre of federal, state and city education officials” at the White Houseon Monday. Several people in attendance “said the president made it clear that some minimum amount of standardized testing is needed to hold schools accountable for educating all children, especially those from groups that have been historically underserved.” The Post adds that he “mused that one solution could be to give a short assessment at the beginning of the school year to establish a baseline and a brief test at the end to measure student growth.”
        Testing Time Cap Sparks Controversy. US News & World Report (10/26) reports that the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools are taking issue with “the administration’s recommendation that schools cap the amount of time students spend taking tests at 2 percent” saying it could drive districts to cut tests “blindly” irrespective of their value. The article quotes Council of Great City Schools Executive Director Michael Casserly saying, “It’s not clear to me that a one-size-fits-all cap is the solution. It will reduce time, but the issue of quality won’t be addressed.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Kids In Foster Care More Likely To Have AD/HD Diagnosis, CDC Study Suggests.

TIME (10/24, Brown) reports that a study due to be presented Oct. 26 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics and conducted by the CDC “has found that rates of children in foster care diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) towered above rates of children not in foster care.” After reviewing “Medicaid claims from 2011,” researchers found that “children (ages 2-17) in foster care were three times more likely than children not in foster care to have a diagnosis of AD/HD.”
        According to HealthDay (10/24, Preidt), “about half” of the youngsters with AD/HD “in foster care also had some other psychological disorder, such as depression, anxiety or oppositional defiant disorder.” The study revealed some “good news,” however. “All children with AD/HD, regardless of their home situation, were equally likely to be treated with AD/HD medication,” researchers found. Medical Daily (10/24, Scutti) also covered the story.

Experts Recommend Early Intervention To Help Children With Selective Mutism.

HealthDay (10/24, Willingham) reported on a condition called “selective mutism,” a “little-known anxiety disorder that renders one in every 150 children speechless in certain situations.” Kids with the condition “may be able to speak easily at home, but in other situations will become silent and even appear ‘frozen’ when expected to talk.” Symptoms “usually” appear before a child’s fifth birthday and kids with the condition “don’t just grow out of it.” Experts recommend “early intervention” to avoid social, psychological, or educational disadvantages.

Common Core

Debate Surrounding PARCC Assessment Continues In Massachusetts.

The Worcester (MA) Telegram & Gazette (10/23, O'Connell) reported that Commissioner Mitchell Chester introduced the concept for a standardized test at last Monday’s board of education meeting which combines elements from both the previous MCAS assessment and the recently adopted PARCC, which is more closely aligned with the standards established by Common Core. However, despite the compromise, supporters of the PARCC have reportedly been steadfast in their support for the assessment, maintaining that PARCC represents a significant improvement over the previous exam and provides educators and employers with a better metric to measure students’ abilities. Opponents of the PARCC exam, however, voiced there concern that that assessment’s standards actually fell below those previously established by the state, and argued that, with the adoption of PARCC, Massachusetts could lose control over the standards of state education.

Maine Adopts SAT As 11th Grade Assessment Replacing Common Core’s Smarter Balanced Test.

The Portland (ME) Press Herald (10/20) reports the Maine DOE announced they would use the SAT as their 11th grade assessment test, and use a New Hampshire company, Measured Progress Inc., to provide their third through eighth grade assessments. The SAT will replace the Smarter Balanced test, which was widely criticized for being difficult to administer and take.

Governor Jindal Appeals Court Ruling Against His Common Core Lawsuit.

The AP (10/23) reported that Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration has filed an appeal at the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals contesting a previous ruling rejecting his lawsuit against the US Department of Education alleging that states were illegally coerced to adopt Common Core standards. In that ruling, Judge Shelly Dick argued that Gov. Jindal had provided “no evidence” supporting his allegations.

Teachers Benefit From Good Training.

NPR (10/24, Hulett) writes on its Education Blog about Deborah Ball, Dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Education, who is “trying to model...a system where future teachers have to model they can do some core things” before being allowed to teach. The article summarizes her view as: “Good teachers aren’t born, they’re trained,” which it says has made Ball a “kind of a rock star in the field of teacher education.”

TechBoston Connects Local Schools With Nonprofit To Teach Math In An Interactive Way.

The Boston Globe (10/26, Fox) reports eight Boston schools are participating in TechBoston, a joint venture with “EdVestors, a nonprofit group that connects local schools with funders seeking to improve public education.” The program allows students at participating schools to solve math problems on computers and receive instant feedback.

Nonprofit Working To Close Gender Gaps In STEM.

The Houston Chronicle (10/26, Radcliffe) reports on the efforts of Girlstart, an Austin-based nonprofit focused on closing gender gaps in STEM fields. The article says that “it takes more than painting a robot pink” to get some girls to think of becoming engineers. The article says the girls need to be shown that STEM jobs can improve the world. The article says that cultural change is needed to assure girls that engineers are “builders and problem-solvers” rather than “nerds.”