Under the Obama administration, the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, which targets the nation’s lowest-performing schools, has allocated up to $2 million per school at more than 1,300 schools, approximately 40 percent of which are high schools. The data released on Nov. 19th by the U.S. Department of Education provides the first overview of performance for the first group of schools after one year of implementing the SIG program. While acknowledging that it is too soon to establish a clear connection between School Improvement Grants (SIG) and school performance, the data shows “positive momentum and progress” in many schools that received funds through the SIG program.
Although President Obama was unable to shepherd a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act through the U.S. Congress during his first term, he did encourage states to enact education reforms through the Race to the Top competition and provide additional flexibility under NCLB through waivers. However, even though Obama also made investments in education one of the key prongs of his economic plan, the percentage of Americans who believe he can improve education during his second term dropped slightly—from 71 percent in 2008 to 68 percent in 2012—according to a post-election poll by USA Today and Gallup.
Read our full e-newsletter, “Straight A’s,” here. To receive our bi-weekly newsletter in your inbox, email JAmos@all4ed.org. Read Entire Post
The following blog post comes from Robyn Young, the school librarian at Avon High School and the Avon Advanced Learning Center in Avon, Indiana. She is a former Media Specialist of the Year in the State of Indiana.My cell phone died. OK – it didn’t die…I killed it. It fell off of my counter and landed right in the middle of my dog’s water bowl. The bowl is only 6 inches in circumference and about one inch deep, but that didn’t matter. I snatched the phone out of the water as fast as I could, but it was too late. It was dead. And I didn’t back up the data on it.
The really bad part is that I’ve always kind of made fun of the people who don’t back up the data on their phones or who aren’t more careful with them, but now that it has happened to me, I guess that it’s really not that funny. Sure, my contacts and calendar are backed up automatically in iCloud, but my very favorite app - that has all of my school and personal notes in it - wasn’t backed up. Not only that, but I was left without a phone at all for three days while I figured out if mine could be fixed.
I was bereft without my cell phone. My entire life was in it: appointments, contacts for school, school passwords for online database administration, pictures of my family, pictures of things I wanted for school, my grocery list…everything! When I found out that none of it could be recovered, I’ll admit, I shed some tears, but I moved on and got another phone. I have spent hours trying to put the apps and data that I had in my original phone on the new one.
So that brings me to the point of this conversation: I thought about our students and how we ask them to unplug, turn off, or disconnect every single day. After personally being forced to “disconnect” for three days without a phone, I don’t know how students do it each day, and I understand completely why they sneak their phones out during class. I’m not necessarily “addicted” to my phone, as some may argue; it has become entrenched in my everyday life. Our students are the same way. A cell phone is so much a part of their daily routines, that it seems strange to be asked to put it away and not used at all.
Most schools still have policies about not using cell phones during the school day, and I understand the reasons for them. I’m even guilty of walking into my library and seeing students with cell phones and telling them to put them away before asking how they were using their phones. That’s the problem with phones: even if you are using them for a school-related purpose, it appears that you aren’t doing anything but playing on your phone.
I think it’s important for teachers to start changing their mind-sets about phones. Students having phones out doesn’t necessarily mean that they are texting or using them for evil. It could mean that they are putting a reminder for homework on their calendar, listening to music, using an app as a graphing calculator (I love that one!), using an online database app for research, or one of a hundred other apps that really is school related. Cell phones can do just about everything that a laptop can do, and we should start using and embracing this technology in schools. Read Entire Post
T-2 days until Turkey day! The Alliance will be taking a blogging break starting tomorrow, November 21st, to celebrate the holiday. We'll be back with our daily #ednews roundup and our other content on Monday, November 26th. We wish you all safe travels and a happy Thanksgiving!
Indiana University released a new report this week with interesting findings: there is a positive correlation between the amount of time students spend working on their homework and their performances on standardized tests. Perhaps more interestingly, there is little correlation between homework time and better grades in math and science. Washington Post
It’s well-known that with the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will come higher academic benchmarks for students. For students who struggle under the current system, it’s easy to think they will lag further behind under the more rigorous standards. But an Education Sector study shows that, on the contrary, there is “no evidence that high standards have hurt low-achieving students.” It’s possible they’ve even helped. Education Sector
A couple of educators are determined to find new, innovative ways to reach black and Latino students. The two men have come together to launch a small pilot program that aims to use hip-hop to teach students science. They believe that connecting with students on an interactive level they enjoy and can understand will make the difficult principles easier to understand. New York Times
In Idaho, digital learning has sparked immense debate, resulting in a repeal of a graduation requirement in which students took two online courses. Opponents of the policy believed teachers would be exchanged for virtual courses. The Board’s decision was 7-1. The policy would have eventually provided a laptop to every high school teacher and student and a renewed focus on online learning. Huffington Post
The following blog post comes from Dr. Michael J. Martirano, superintendent of St. Mary's County Public Schools in Leonardtown, Maryland.
In September 2012, I challenged every educational leader and teacher in America to examine programmatic offerings and interventions that are being implemented in their respective school districts for the purpose of ensuring that every young person is on a positive trajectory to achieve the goal of graduating from high school with the skills that will allow him/her to be ready to attend college and enter the workforce.
As this school year has progressed and the first marking quarter has come to a close in most school districts, we are examining our performance data to ensure that students are making the incremental progress needed to ensure that mastery of content is occurring and that students are on pace to graduate from high school, on-time. Like many of my colleagues, I am never fully satisfied when I learn that some of our young people are falling behind and not staying on track to graduate in four years.
When this occurs, we have trained our teachers and staff to ask the one clarifying question that determines our theory of action: “What will we do when are students are not achieving?” This question focuses on the need for urgency, the need to respond in a manner that will make a difference, and the need to get young people assigned to interventions that will get them back on track. If we do not respond appropriately, the cumulative results could have devastating affects and lead a young person to drop out of school.
We must fully accept and realize that our students learn differently than students ten, twenty or thirty years ago. We must acknowledge that our students stay connected via social networks, spending endless hours accessing and analyzing information via a multitude of technological devices.We must transform our classrooms to reflect 21st century learning.
This blog is a guest post from Dana Novotny and Flo Falatko, educators at Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet School of Technology in Towson, Maryland. It is part of our Digital Learning Day series. You can read all the posts in our ongoing series here.
All students at Cromwell Valley Elementary Regional Magnet School of Technology (CVE) participate in a rigorous technology magnet program. This program reflects our belief that in order to be successful and productive in the 21st century, students need to use technology as a tool to enhance their knowledge base and communication skills.
As you walk through the halls of CVE you see students and teachers seamlessly integrating technology. The school day at CVE starts with our tech-based Morning Announcements, produced by and starring CVE students. Classes view these announcements through Safari Montage® on their interactive whiteboards. All students participate in this activity throughout the year.
As you continue through an average day at CVE, you might visit a classroom and see the teacher and students utilizing the interactive whiteboards, electronic every pupil response systems, document cameras, and/or digital cameras. Students use productivity software and the Internet to conduct research and create collaborative products that communicate ideas.
Some classes may be engaged in a Skype session with a partner school from another state or country. Every class works with a partner class somewhere within the United States. Classes communicate using Web 2.0 tools such as Skype®, Edmodo, Voicethread®, and Kidsblog. Projects span from learning about each other’s state and culture, partnered research projects, to collaborative writing projects.Read Entire Post
A new Alliance report calls for district and state leaders to create a systematic, strategic plan for integrating technology into schools within the next two years. Ed Week
Education is one area in which republicans and democrats can, on occasion, agree. It shows in the polls. A recent Gallup poll shows that 68 percent of Americans believe Obama will improve education in his second term. Will we see reform, or will he stay the course on policies already put in place? The Week
In Michigan, K-12 students may not be tied to schools in their districts for much longer. A proposed bill would “remove district ownership of students.” They would have increased flexibility in choosing which schools to attend. Michigan Live
What if educators could sit down with President Obama and help influence his education policy? Teachers spoke out about what they would say. Ed Week
It looks as though Arne Duncan will stay on as Obama’s Education Secretary for his second term. “Let me, first, sketch the outlines, or provide a mini-preview, of a second-term education agenda,” Duncan said recently to state education leaders at the Council of Chief State School Officers conference in Atlanta. Huffington Post
The federal School Improvement Grant program (SIG) aims to improve educational outcomes at traditionally underperforming schools by granting them funds. The Department of Education released data showing that one quarter of schools in the program have seen gains after receiving the SIG funding. Ed WeekRead Entire Post
If Congress can’t work together to agree on a budget to avert a quickly approaching debt crisis, sequestration – automatic budget cuts, will go into affect next year. That will include extreme cuts to many education programs. New York Times
A new report finds that utilizing data is critical for ensuring students are college- and career-ready. “Looking ahead, states’ work entails continuing ot support systems and policies to promote effective data use while expanding their focus to include the people side of the data equation.” The report, “Focus on people to change data culture,” is put out by the Data Quality Campaign .
Last night, the DC council hearing room was packed – with parents, educators and activists, all up in arms over Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s plan to close 20 under-enrolled public schools. Washington Post
Oregon is seeing a decline in the number of homeless students. Though that’s a good sign, they’re still experiencing large numbers of homelessness in their student population since the start of the recession. Ed Week
A new Alliance report identifies four key challenges that district leaders face in the next two years to ensure digital technology is viable in their K-11 classrooms. The increased standards that come with implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are driving this urgent need for systematic plans for technology integration. Huffington Post
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This blog post is a summary of the post, "Creating a Space for Inquiry" on the blog Inquirying Minds. It's written by Kenneth Olson, Dean of Students at Plymouth High in Plymouth, Indiana. Read his post here.
Integrating technology into the classroom is about more than providing students internet-accessible devices. It can mean transforming the physical space in which students learn. Kenneth Olson, Dean of Students at Plymouth High School in Plymouth, Indiana, has taken great care to ensure that the design of his programs encourage creativity, collaboration and inquiry.
Plymouth High School’s School of Inquiry, recently named the “Weidner School of Inquiry at PHS,” is a space designed to encourage digital learning in an advanced way. The space is designed with the idea of collaboration in mind. Inside, you’ll find solid, large tables – this encourages students to see each other around the table to exchange opinions and ideas, as well as present projects. Detachable white boards dot the walls. Students use these in class and in Skype sessions with experts who are not in town.
Every chair in the School of Inquiry swivels, rocks and easily moves so that “active students could have some motion even while working at a table with peers.”Read Entire Post
It’s well-known that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will raise the academic bar in all 46 states and the District of Columbia that have adopted them. But how exactly? In literacy, students will be expected to read at higher levels and read more informational texts and less fiction. The Alliance’s Bob Rothman said the standards aren’t meant to be rigid and that teachers will still choose the literature they teach. Kansas City Star
This election cycle, students were encouraged to get involved and voice their opinions through the #myparty12project. The project spanned “several weeks” and involved more than 15 schools across the nation. Students engaged in a debate on Google Hangout, during which the Alliance president, Bob Wise, asked questions on education. Huffington Post
The University of Minnesota recently released a report that reveals percentages of students who repeat grades, broken down by state. “Between three and four percent of public school first grade students were held back after the 2008-2009 academic year – an average of about one per classroom in the U.S.” The report is published in Educational Researcher. University of Minnesota News
Another university report – this time from Michigan State University – details the role principals play in why teachers quit. The report finds something you may have guessed – that principals who serve as strong, supportive leaders in their schools see higher retention rates among their teachers. Michigan State University News
The Race to the Top-District Competition (RTT-D) received 371 applications, despite the delays and problems caused by Superstorm Sandy. The Department expects there to be between 15-25 winners and will award the money by the end of the calendar year. Politics K-12
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That was the message that Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, delivered to school and district leaders this morning with the release of the Alliance’s new report, The Nation’s Schools Are Stepping Up to Higher Standards. The report identifies four key challenges that public school district leaders must systemically address in the next two years and outlines the essential elements for developing a comprehensive digital strategy.
The four key challenges identified in the report include: 1) graduating all students college and career ready; (2) managing shrinking budgets; (3) training and supporting teachers; and (4) dealing with the growing technology needs of society and individual students, especially low-income students and students of color who are most at-risk of being left behind.
Many schools and districts have already stepped up to address these challenges by developing comprehensive plans for digital learning strategies. These districts will serve as leaders and examples to others in the next two years – including the many districts that have not begun planning.
Why the sudden, urgent need for change? The driving force behind the Alliance’s report and the need for change that incorporates 21st-century, digital learning is the move by all states to raise academic expectations by requiring students to graduate form high school ready for college and a career. To achieve that goal, 46 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In addition to raising the academic bar, these standards will also require technology use to prepare students for computer-administered tests in the 2014-15 school year.
If you still have questions, are curious for more information or just want to hear what’s being said on the new report and integrating digital learning into districts over the next two years, join the Alliance’s free webinar today, Thursday, November 15 and 2:00pm. The webinar will feature early digital learning adopters.
“The next two years will see unprecedented developments in K–12 public education as states set fundamentally higher-than-ever standards for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Wise. “Technology can play a vital role in supporting teachers and helping public schools and districts meet these challenges.”
You can read the full report at http://www.all4ed.org/files/SteppingUp.pdf and register for today’s webinar at http://media.all4ed.org/registration-nov-15-2012.
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