Friday, September 27, 2013

Education News

You may recall my update on Common Core?  I left out the biggest news which is the looming showdown between California Governor Jerry Brown and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  The fight is over - what else? - testing

From EdSource:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday defended the state’s decision to suspend state standardized tests this year and instead offer students a practice test in the Common Core standards that’s now being developed. And he gave no sign of steering away from a collision with the federal government over this issue.

The governor wants to pilot CC assessments for schools that have the necessary equipment.  The issue is that a new California law says this:

By requiring that every district capable of administering a computer-based test give students a Common Core field or practice test next spring, the bill will put California out of compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind law. 

And that's because California - like most states - does not have enough computers or infrastructure to give computerized tests to all children 3-8 and grade 11 as required under NCLB.

The field test will not produce results for federal accountability. Its purpose is to help the test developers create a valid assessment on the new standards in 2015, when California and other states would formally introduce it.

And Arne Duncan?

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, an advocate of the Common Core standards, has acknowledged the usefulness of the field test and said he would exempt schools, comprising up to 20 percent of a state’s enrollment, from also taking their state tests.

But California will be pressing the issue by seeking a waiver for most districts from state tests in those grades. Those districts without the technology to administer the computer-based field test would give neither the old test under state standards nor the Common Core test – one reason for Duncan’s opposition.

He threatened to levy a fine or withheld Title One funds on California but has now softened his stance somewhat.  Duncan is allowing states to try the new test on 20% of students but the other 80% have to take the old one.  (The 20% would not count towards a state's rating under NCLB.)

Also in California a new law to help kids "salvage" their reputations before it's too late.  From Ed Week:

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation designed to give teenagers a little more control over their online identities. The law requires Internet firms, effective in 2015, to remove online material posted by a minor when he or she so requests.  In theory, that means kids in California can get a potentially job- or college admissions-saving do-over. 

There are some "holes" - the student has to do this while still underage (no presidential candidates trying to clean up their past), it only applies to things the student put up about him/herself (not what other teens put up) and, while it might be deleted from a page, it may still be on a server.  

California seems to be a hotbed of news.  This story is about a district that is going to "eavesdrop" on student social media, to look for cyber-bullying and possible suicides. 

The social media "eavesdropping" program started last year as a pilot project in three schools in the Glendale Unified School District.

District Superintendent Dr. Richard Sheehan said it worked so well, it’s now expanding to all middle and high schools in the district.

he Glendale Unified School Board approved spending $40,000 to hire the Hermosa Beach company Geo Listening to monitor students’ public posts on websites like Twitter and Instagram. 

 Samsung has a technology lesson plan competition for teachers - five from each state will win - to promote STEM learning.   (One interesting FAQ - charters can apply but at least 50% of their operating funds have to come from public sources.)  To view Samsung Solve for Tomorrow 2013 winners' videos, click here.

OSPI has this initiative starting for schools- the National SchoolSpeedTest for the month of October.  

80% of schools in the United States have insufficient bandwidth to meet the demand for teaching and learning. These issues are well known to teachers and staff but there is no cohesive data that defines the dynamics of connectivity at the school level. The National SchoolSpeedTest will identify thousands of schools that need better, faster infrastructure for educational activities enriched by online content and activities.
  • Bulletin 047-13 explains how the SchoolSpeedTest will work here in Washington.
Test the Internet Connection at Your School
Educators and students can take the SchoolSpeedTest for Washington State October 1 through October 31.

No comments: