Afternoon Announcements: June 7, 2012
Today's announcements focus on (1) the economic impact of one high school class in Florida; (2) end-of-course exams in Houston; (3) a new summer online learning program in Florida that costs the same as the old program, but provides access to 50,000 more students than the old model; (4) the pros and cons of "flipping" a classroom; and (5) lessons that the U.S. could learn from the best-performing nations on preparing teachers to teach in the twenty-first century. Enjoy!
Citing data from the Alliance for Excellent Education's economic model, the Gulf Breeze News writes that the 360 graduates from the Gulf Breeze High School Class of 2012 are expected to earn as much as $4.3 million more in an average year compared to their likely earnings had they not earned a high school diploma. The spending and investments made by these graduates, combined, will likely be enough to support as many as 30 new jobs in the state and increase the gross regional product by as much as $4.5 million by the time they reach their career midpoints.
The Houston Chronicle examines Texas’s new end-of-course exams and discovers that high school students can pass most of these exams by answering fewer than half of the questions correctly. In the article, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said the decision was made to phase in the standards, starting low and increasing them through 2016 because students need time to adjust to the much more difficult questions. Houston Independent School District Superintendent Terry Grier, who is also a prominent business leader, disagreed with the approach and said the lower bar would give students, teachers and the public a skewed picture of schools’ performance.
The Miami Herald reports on a new program in Florida that will use technology and digital learning to expand access to a summer learning program while keeping the costs frozen. The program, Summer Waves of Learning Initiative, will allow students from pre-kindergarten to postsecondary to take summer classes through technology and web-based courses. The program will target three distinct groups of students: (1) Those who need remediation or need to recover credits in subjects like reading and algebra; (2) Students who want to continue learning skills and compensate for the time away from school during the summer months; and (3) Students who want access to summer school through technology. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the Miami Herald that the cost for the program—$9 million from federal grants and state funds—is the same as the previous budget. However, thanks to technology that will allow students to access digital learning at home or on computers at public libraries, neighborhood resource centers, county and municipal parks and recreational centers, the new program will allow 70,000 students to participate, a big increase compared to the 18,500 seats that were available previously.
Staying on the subject of technology, Valerie Strauss, writing in the Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, examines the pros and cons of “flipping” a classroom, a technique in which students watch video lectures at home and work on homework in the classroom, getting help from teachers and classmates. She discusses a new book on the flipped classroom from Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams and includes some excerpts of an interview she conducted with Bergmann. If you’d like to hear more from Bergmann, check out the webinar the Alliance held on May 24 that featured Bergmann, the 2012 Online Teacher of the Year, and other education experts on how to use time more effectively to improve student outcomes.
Finally, writing on The Huffington Post, C.M. Rubin shares an interview with Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD’s Secretary-General, on what the United States can learn from countries around the world on preparing teachers to teach in twenty-first century classrooms. Schleicher notes that the most advanced systems have made teaching a profession of high-level knowledge workers, and that, not higher salaries, is what makes teaching so attractive in countries as different as Finland, Japan or Singapore. “You therefore see a very different work organization in high-performing systems, with the status, professional autonomy, and the high-quality education that go with professional work, with effective systems of teacher evaluation and with differentiated career paths for teachers,” Schleicher says. “That is perhaps the biggest challenge for the U.S..”