From the NY Times, an article about the popularity of buying iPads for use in schools. Fad or not? If this is of great use, wouldn't a smart phone do the same thing but more cheaply?
As part of a pilot program, Roslyn High School on Long Island handed out 47 iPads on Dec. 20 to the students and teachers in two humanities classes. The school district hopes to provide iPads eventually to all 1,100 of its students.
The iPads cost $750 apiece, and they are to be used in class and at home during the school year to replace textbooks, allow students to correspond with teachers and turn in papers and homework assignments, and preserve a record of student work in digital portfolios.Pro and Con:
“There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better by using these machines,” said Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, who believes that the money would be better spent to recruit, train and retain teachers. “IPads are marvelous tools to engage kids, but then the novelty wears off and you get into hard-core issues of teaching and learning.”
“I think this could very well be the biggest thing to hit school technology since the overhead projector,” Mr. Wolfe said.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which developed the iPad algebra program in California, said it planned to compare the test scores of students using a textbook in digital and traditional book formats. The iPad version offers video of the author solving equations, and individualized assessments and practice problems.
Educators also laud the iPad’s physical attributes, including its large touch screen (about 9.7 inches) and flat design, which allows students to maintain eye contact with their teachers. And students like its light weight, which offers a relief from the heavy books that weigh down their backpacks.Where are these districts finding the money? Race to the Top funds paid for them in Durham, N.C. for two low-performing schools.
About 5,400 educational applications are available specifically for the iPad, of which nearly 1,000 can be downloaded free.
There was also an article in the NY Times about the possibility of cutting back of HOPE scholarships in Georgia.
The largest merit-based college scholarship program in the United States it offers any Georgia high school student with a B-average four years of free college tuition.
When it was begun in 1993, the program was covered easily by Georgia’s state lottery. Politicians enjoyed how happy it made middle-class constituents. Educators praised the way it improved SAT scores and lifted Georgia from the backwaters of higher education.
This is to attend any Georgia university or technical school and covers tuition, some books and fees but not housing costs.
It is funded by their state lottery money (which also funds a free pre-kindergarten program). But naturally the money is running short because of the economy. However, it would mean not funding 100% and maybe just 80%.
I remember reading about this years back and thinking what a good idea. Can you imagine our state funding even 80% of the costs to go to one of our state schools? I still don't even know for sure how much money education ever got from our state lottery and where it went.
Another interesting thread from The Answer Sheet, this time from a high school principal in Ohio about standardized testing. Speaking of the Secretary of Education:
The secretary goes on to promise that new consortiums working on assessments will produce “a new test” he claims will “measure what children know across the full range of college and career-ready standards, and measures other skills, such as critical-thinking ability.”
Allow me to express a bit of doubt. For starters, I hope he doesn’t define “new test” as “one test” because that will never accomplish what he claims he wants: an assessment that measures a broad spectrum of student abilities. Further, unless these new tests are uncoupled from the high stakes they currently invoke—such as punishments for schools and teachers—they will be just another standardized, easily scored exam that tell us little about what is really going on in our classrooms.
I liked this line (bold mine):
Duncan applauds No Child Left Behind for disaggregating data—but bad data disaggregated is still bad data.
And let’s be honest. All this so-called “data-driven decision-making” talk should really be called what it is: test-driven decision making. Ohio’s school report cards consist of 26 “data” points, and 24 of them—92%--are test scores.
From USA Today, a story about Pittsburgh's version of the HOPE scholarship.
Like Davis, more than 300 adults give their time to kids through a 2-year-old mentoring program — one of many ways in which residents have rallied around the belief that education is the key to Pittsburgh's future.
It centers on the Pittsburgh Promise, a 3-year-old scholarship — worth up to $40,000 over four years — for public school graduates. Students can use the scholarship at just about any college or trade school in the state. Their only requirements: attend class regularly and maintain a 2.5 grade point average.
However, there was no lottery money. Here's what the University of Pittsburgh medical center did:
The center gave $10 million upfront, and said it would match donations up to $90 million over nine years toward a $250 million permanent endowment. For every $3 citizens raised, the center said it would chip in $2.
Residents sprang into action. A group participating in the Pittsburgh Marathon raised about $20,000. Students are coordinating a springtime Promise Week, including fundraisers and service projects. A parents' letter-writing campaign brought in $5,800. Other parents sponsored a luncheon last year, raising more than $5,000.
Before- and after-school programs aim to complement classroom activities. Every ninth-grader gets invited to Heinz Field for a pep talk by Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. And because ninth grade is a make-or-break point for many students, a Promise Readiness Corps meets daily to make sure no one falls through the cracks.
What I really liked what the goals in Pittsburgh schools; something about the phrasing strikes a chord with me (bold mine):
Goals are threefold: to ensure that students master academics, develop behaviors and habits that are consistent with success in college or a career, and explore ambitions and dreams.