[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround K12 Newsletters Headlines and Resources

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[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround K-12 Newsletter

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Kohl's Corporation: Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program
Every year, Kohl's recognizes and rewards young volunteers across the country for their amazing contributions to their communities. Maximum award: $10,000. Eligibility: legal U.S. residents of a state in which a Kohl's store is located, between the ages of 6 and 18 and not yet a high school graduate as of March 15, 2012. Deadline: March 15, 2012.

McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation: Teacher Development Grants
McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation Teacher Development Grants provide funding to individuals or small teams of teachers in the formation and implementation of groundbreaking K-12 classroom instruction. The grants provide opportunities for teachers to integrate fresh strategies that encourage critical inquiry and to observe their effects on students. Teachers have the opportunity to reflect and write about their projects, as well as to share their results with other teachers. Maximum award: $10,000 for three years. Eligibility: licensed K-12 teachers employed in public or private schools. Deadline: April 15, 2012.

Humane Society of the United States: Education Mini-grant
The Humane Society of the United States is now accepting applications for the 2012 Humane Education Mini-Grant, designed to fund innovative humane education opportunities in K-12 classrooms. Maximum award: $1,000. Eligibility: all certified K-12 teachers in the U.S. Deadline: November 30, 2012.

The key reform: civic investment
Too much of the public is missing from American public education, writes Wendy D. Puriefoy in an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun. As a country, we recognize the economic value of education, but under-invest in our schools financially and in terms of civic capital. We must therefore "drastically ramp up" civic investment in public education, Puriefoy says. Our public school system is not just a service for the public to consume, but "a lifelong compact among Americans to continually renew our nation's future, to be actively supported by all citizens, whether or not they have children of school age." Citizens must learn what contributes to, and what hinders, a high-quality public education. They should carefully scrutinize candidates and education ballot initiatives, and vote for those that support and promote quality public schools. They should attend school board meetings and education budget hearings, and ask officials key questions: How do you plan to provide adequate funding for public schools? How do you support the goal of college- and career-readiness for every student? What do you think are the best ways to evaluate school and student performance? Civic investment exists in some communities, but in a nation with more than 50 million K-12 students and 14,000 school districts, it is essential for every community.

Where's Sputnik when you need it?
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has released a new evaluation of science standards from every state and the District of Columbia, finding the majority earn Ds or Fs, with only a handful receiving As. In particular, the analysis found state standards vague, overemphasizing inquiry-based learning without clearly conveying a connection between math and science. (The authors note that the treatment of evolution has improved since Fordham's last assessment in 2005, but many states still fall short.) A majority of states' standards were deemed "mediocre to awful," with the average grade across all states a low C. In 27 jurisdictions, science standards earn a D or below. Only two jurisdictions, California and the District of Columbia, have standards strong enough to earn straight As. Four other states -- Indiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Virginia -- earn A minuses, as does the NAEP assessment framework, and seven states earn grades in the B range. Of the 44 jurisdictions that have revised or replaced their science standards since the 2005 analysis, 11 showed improvement, in some cases dramatic. Kansas, for example, moved from an F to a B, and Arkansas moved from a D to a B. The District of Columbia rose from a C to an A. The authors recommend a purposeful focus on improving or replacing today's standards as a key part of a comprehensive effort to boost science performance nationally. See the report: http://www.edexcellence.net/publications/the-state-of-state-science-standards-2012.html Related: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2012/02/president_obama_hosted_his_sec.html

The problem with 'accountability'
Misguided approaches to school accountability are a major factor in the high turnover rate of urban superintendents, writes Thomas Payzant in The Huffington Post. High-stakes "accountability" systems isolate superintendents, rather than helping them nurture ties to the broader community, which is vital to aiding troubled schools and students. The problem, in Payzant's view, is the mistaken idea that assessment drives results. Viable accountability systems must first build capacity to improve teacher and school-leader effectiveness. Lack of alignment between standards and tests exacerbates the problem. In the rush to assess and evaluate, we have developed cheap, easy-to-administer tests that tell teachers little and the rest of us less. These tests are also prone to system-gaming, and result in students who are proficient test-takers but know little about subject matter or about thinking deeply or creatively. Despite the demand for college and career readiness -- which would require strong social and behavioral skills -- we continue to stress basic quantitative metrics. Broader measures of student well-being, including knowledge of history, the arts, foreign languages, science, health, and civic engagement would paint a fuller picture of how prepared our students are for the world in which they live. Rethinking how we hold schools, including leaders, accountable would also represent a good first step toward recruiting the strong superintendents we want. Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-thomas-w-payzant/school-testing_b_1248319.html

Better tests will mean better education
Parents and teachers want timely, actionable assessments that monitor individual student performance and progress across a range of subjects and skills to help improve teaching and learning. Large majorities of parents and educators say it is also important to measure higher-order thinking skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, creativity, innovation, and collaboration.
: http://www.nwea.org/every-child-multiple-measures

Teaching to the Test
If the test makers create tests that are too easy they lose money. Failure drivers their business.

Who is Smarter Chinese Children of American Children? Find out why The Chinese don't produce someone like Steve Jobs.
The Common Core State Standards focus on core conceptual understandings and procedures

Those Tennessee evaluations, up close
Tennessee is at the forefront of a sea change in public education across the country, writes Sarah Garland in The Hechinger Report. Under a law passed last spring, Tennessee's teachers must be observed at least four times a year, six if novice. Observation scores are supplemented by a value-added rating, but because these don't come out until after the school year is over, and because most teachers don't teach subjects with annual standardized tests, revamped observations have become central. They are prompting questions: Are observations accurately identifying struggling teachers? Are teachers learning from the feedback they receive? Are they finding resources to help themselves improve? And are students performing better as a result? For veteran teachers, principals must conduct four 15-minute observations over the course of the school year, though it has been found principals are actually spending an average of 29 minutes on each observation. Observers grade teachers on four different "domains," and each domain includes a list of indicators, such as using strategies to promote higher-level thinking skills or creating a respectful classroom culture, that teachers at all grade levels, in all subjects, are expected to meet. During post-observation conferences, teachers receive a score on a five-point scale. Evaluators are supposed to point out areas in which teachers can improve and suggest how they might reach the next level. Reaction to the new evaluation protocol has been mixed. Garland writes that it's likely both sets of teachers, those identified as high- and low-performers, must buy into the new model for it to translate into better student achievement.


Where does it end?
Maryland school officials are concerned that in school year 2013-2014, students could take as many as five state-mandated tests, The Baltimore Sun reports. These tests would come on top of teachers' occasional quizzes and the tests given several times each year by local school systems. While the Maryland School Assessment will be phased out, it will still overlap with four new assessments, created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, to be field-tested in Maryland and 23 other states. Those tests, to be given online in grades three through 11, will be compatible with the Common Core standards and curriculum and will allow Maryland students to be compared with 25 million others around the country. Maryland is one of the first states to question the timeline that a dozen states committed to last year when they won Race to the Top grants, according to Jack Jennings of the Center for Education Reform. "It is one thing to build a new accountability system. It is another thing to implement it," he says, particularly while trying to put a new teacher-evaluation system in place. Jennings believes that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan should consider waiving federal testing requirements for a year while the new assessments are phased in, or the new assessments should be slowed down.

K12 Department of Education administrators Are accountable.
School "Reform" Rhetoric: Intellectual Dishonesty and political Liars

A view of the gap from those who actually live it
For an article in Kappan magazine, Tracey and Abby Sparrow spoke with a number of black males ages 13 to 22 in Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee, Wisconsin to learn what they felt stands in their way of success. The authors found the young men rarely talked about schools or teachers as the cause of the achievement gap, but instead attributed it to cultural, family, and community factors. All wanted and understood the importance of a good education. They also talked about the importance of cohesive families, attentive parents, and positive male role models, as well as the dangers of the rap culture, poverty, and low expectations. The Sparrows note that the interviews don't reveal anything that most people who work with black males in urban areas don't already know. But they do reveal that the men interviewed are clear that the challenge of educating black males is much bigger than the schoolhouse. As one interviewee remarked, "success 'starts at home. We don't even need better parenting, we just need adequate parenting.' Many black kids don't have a sense of belonging, and 'the streets accept anyone.'" Another observed that, "life outside of schools is your main life, and you adapt to that. All you see is all you know."

K12 Education Prison Industrial Complex Supply Chain Business
HIGH SCHOOL DROP OUT RATES The Prison Industrial Complex: Putting Inmates to Work: 1930s - the 2010's Factories with Fences |Slave Labor that produces products. The U.S. Government and private companies. Warren Burger's 17 year tenure as Chief Justice of the United States and his commitment to factories with fences have left a lasting imprint. In recognition of his vision, contributions and dedication to prison reform and prison industries programs, we proudly recognize and thank him, wholeheartedly."It makes no sense to put people in prison and not train them to do something constructive."— Chief Justice Warren E. Burger

Building blocks for leadership
Researchers are finding that behaviors like embracing novel experiences and supporting peers can predict whether a child will emerge as a leader in adulthood, writes Laura Pappano in The Harvard Education Letter. The research may also help educators encourage leadership if teachers know what behaviors to look for and support. The new studies use longitudinal data to test hypotheses about the relative importance of factors such as the role of parents, inner motivational drive, intelligence, childhood social skills, and personality traits like extroversion in shaping future leaders. Researchers also found that children who placed the most demands on teachers and parents to join or do activities were more likely to be leaders as adults. More critical than the type of activity they lobbied for was the emergence of a quest to acquire new skills and knowledge. It also mattered that a child invested in and committed to the new activity if permitted to pursue it. Equally important was an adult's support in fostering new passions and interests. While researchers found "a little overlap" between those with the strongest inner motivation and those with top IQ scores, the data showed that stronger motivation trumped higher IQ.

K12playground: Creativity is the least important, most important attribute and totally absent in the U.S. Federal Department of Education. ~ Karen Ellis
The Secret To Learning is Motivation
Learn the secret ways to motivate students.
Make it fun and they will come.

Leadership is overrated: "The First Follower: Linchpin to Creative Leadership" Leadership Lessons and making a movement - watch it happen in under 3 minutes.

Trust has little to do with it, perhaps
A new review from the National Education Policy Center looks at a report from Public Agenda that offers recommendations for building community support for federal school turnaround approaches, particularly in communities that oppose these approaches. The reviewer was extremely skeptical of the report, finding that it diverts attention from real issues and does not address the body of research that shows school turnarounds are generally unsuccessful. Though parents in the study raise concerns that their schools are under-resourced and face significant social problems, the reviewer feels the report does not address these matters, but instead supplies a strategy that is in reality "a mechanism for advancing public acceptance of turnaround policies." The reviewer also judges that the report was "not intended to be useful for developing substantive public policy," "holds little promise for actually improving education," and "could prove harmful." In the view of the reviewer, the report "embraces an unstated assumption that the community members' knowledge of their school is somehow incorrect and uninformed and therefore must be reformed by the missionary efforts of an external communications strategy." As such, the reviewer feels the report cannot be considered as a research document in any conventional use of the term.

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