[ECP] K12 Newsletters Headlines and Resources

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  • Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2011 09:34:24 -0400

[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround K-12 Newsletter

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Dear K12 Newsletters

Hope you are enjoying August!

happy reading for today.


Innovation (i3) grant$ A$$e$$ed
Bellweather Education Partners assesses the initial effect of the first round of the U.S. Department of Education's (ED) Investing in Innovation (i3) grants on the "innovation ecosystem" in education, including innovators, philanthropic donors, and ED itself. While it's too soon to assess the effect of i3 on student achievement, the authors draw some early lessons, especially as the program's second round is launched. For the report, researchers surveyed i3 applicants, philanthropists, and stakeholders, as well as reviewing the extensive documents made publicly available about the process; they also examined the limited i3 analysis to date. Their assessment found progress in terms of: focusing national attention on the need for innovation in education; emphasis on scaling up successful programs; introduction of a graduated evidence framework that tied federal investments to impact; and steering and accelerating resources toward a specific set of investment priorities aligned with important emerging demand in the field. Areas for improvement included: narrow eligibility requirements that shut out new or early-stage organizations and nearly all for-profit providers; a limited definition of acceptable evidence that skewed and constrained the potential applicant pool; an over-simplified process for the complicated task of selecting emerging, promising, and proven innovations; and a timeline too short for meaningful diligence.

Atlanta school officials say 41 educators accused in the cheating scandal have resigned or retired.

Student Teachers aren't Trained.
A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has determined that fully three-fourths of student teaching programs, including top programs like those at Vanderbilt and New York Universities, are inadequate, reports Inside Higher Ed. The ratings are based in large part on the role of a program in selecting mentor teachers, something many programs prefer to do in partnership with a school rather than for it. The NCTQ believes colleges must manage this task directly, and four of five "critical" standards in the analysis relate directly to the qualities of the mentor teacher or to the role the college plays in selecting him or her. Two standards require that the 10-week student teaching experience includes at least five weeks at a single school site and represents a full-time commitment, and that the teacher preparation program must select the cooperating teacher for each student teacher placement. The final three standards state that the mentor teacher must have at least three years of teaching experience, the capacity to have a positive impact on student learning, and the capacity to mentor an adult, with skills in observation, providing feedback, holding professional conversations, and working collaboratively.
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Read Report: http://bre.ad/0df63a

Charters have High teacher turnover rates
"Earlier research shows that student achievement rests in part on strong, sustained relationships with teachers," study co-author Bruce Fuller said. "High teacher turnover rates, at the eye-opening levels we discovered, are worrisome." A new UC Berkeley study of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) charters serving middle and high school students finds they are losing approximately half their teachers every year, according to The Los Angeles Times. The rate of turnover is nearly three times that of other public schools, although these also are seeing high rates of departures. The study is based on data from LAUSD, and is broadly representative since nearly all charters report teacher data to the district or the state. In 2007-08, the most recent period for which data are available, 45% of charter secondary teachers had exited before the next school year. The range of annual departures was 41 to 55 % over the period studied; for other public schools, it was 14 to 23%. The California Charter Schools Association questioned whether the findings derive from a true cross-section of charters. LAUSD has more charter schools than any school district in the country, about 10 percent of total enrollment in the nation's second-largest school system.
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Policy Analysis Report: http://bre.ad/02co9p

U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, targeting school discipline policies
The Supportive School Discipline Initiative has four parts: building consensus for action among federal, state and local education and justice stakeholders; collaborating on research and data collection to shape policy; developing guidance to ensure discipline policies and practices are in line with federal civil rights laws; and promoting awareness and knowledge about evidence-based and promising policies and practices.

Bill Gates concedes the difficulty of improving public education, and that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which since 2000 has poured $5 billion into education grants and scholarships, has made some missteps. "But the overall impact of the intervention, particularly the measure we care most about -- whether you go to college -- it didn't move the needle much," Gates says. Now it's goal now is to leverage private money in a way that redirects how public education dollars are spent.

Review of foundation grantmaking in the 2000s.
A key finding is the magnitude of philanthropic investment in teacher quality: Between 2000 and 2008, $684 million was directed toward teachers and teaching. Half of this funding came from ten foundations, and 60 percent was directed to 20 organizations. It suggests that foundations examine their commitment of time to particular initiatives, the nature and scope of their collaborations, and their use of rigorous evaluation to assess their work.

Gov. Christie vs Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University gave starkly contrasting speeches. Christie alleged himself to be no enemy of public education, reminding the audience that he increased aid to schools by $850 million for next year (though declining to mention that more than half that amount was ordered by the state's Supreme Court, against his wishes). He promoted tenure reform, school choice, and charter schools, adding that charters may not be the answer in all school districts -- a clear response to suburban backlash in New Jersey. Darling-Hammond talked about the merits of professional development and collaboration among teachers, citing examples from high-performing countries like Finland and Singapore, where testing is less pervasive. While she is a proponent of national standards and helped build federal testing models, she said when it comes to the teaching profession, it's not about a single set of standards. "To get to high standards, [teacher training] actually needs to become less standardized, not more so," Darling-Hammond said. "We as teachers need to find kids where they are and help them improve."

Five-part series on NPR concerning the drop-out crisis, and a charter that deals exclusively with dropouts.

Center on Education Policy (CEP) reviews Voucher Rhetoric
The report also notes that much of the recent voucher research has been carried out or sponsored by pro-voucher organizations, and urges greater scrutiny to ensure future studies are not biased. A decade of voucher research, finding no clear positive impact on student academic achievement; it also finds mixed outcomes overall for students who attend private schools using vouchers. One significant finding is that rhetoric in support of voucher programs has shifted. In the past, proponents argued that vouchers would give low-income students a chance to attend a better school and achieve at higher levels. As evidence has accumulated that vouchers have little effect on achievement, proponents have highlighted research showing higher graduation rates among voucher students and greater satisfaction among parents, emphasizing the inherent value of parental choice. Opponents, meanwhile, continue to assert that voucher students do not come out ahead academically and that the practice drains public schools of much-needed resources while affecting only a small number of children. The report summarizes current publicly funded voucher programs, and reflects on voucher policies since 2000.

Of chimps and DNA
The Texas State Board of Education has delivered a blow to social conservatives, giving final approval to supplemental high school science materials that demonstrate the principles of evolution.
Jul 22, 5:54 PM EDT

Texas Ed Board compromises on evolution materials
The Texas State Board of Education delivered a blow to social conservatives Friday, giving final approval to supplemental high school science materials after a brief flare-up over some lessons teaching the principles of evolution. The lessons in question included a lab comparison on chimpanzee and human skulls, the fossil record and cell complexity. A board-appointed reviewer had called the lessons errors and recommended changes, but a group of scientists objected on Friday, threatening to re-ignite a fierce debate over teaching evolution in Texas public schools.

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