July 21, 2010 05:25 pm
Common standards are all the buzz today with New York Times reporter Tamar Lewin recapping state progress in adopting. The New York Times also hosted a discussion on the pros and cons of mandating what American school children should know. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a report this morning that determined the common core standards are clearer and more rigorous than the English standards in 37 states and the math standards in 39 states. According to the study, nearly a dozen other states have English or math standards that are “in the same league” as the common core. Lastly, the Washington Post ran a story about the school boards in DC and Massachusetts being on the verge of adopting the standards and then the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that the board had indeed voted 8-0 to adopt the standards and cited the increased academic rigor and stronger expectation in their decision making process.
July 20, 2010 09:23 pm
The funding cliff is the steep drop in revenue that states and school districts expect to face when funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—the federal “stimulus package”—expires at the end of September. School Districts’ Perspectives on the Economic Stimulus Package, a new report from the Center on Education Policy shows just how steep the plunge will be: 75 percent of districts expect to cut teachers’ jobs in the 2010-11 school year.
The report, based on a survey of district leaders, found that the stimulus did what it was expected to do. Less than half of districts reduced teaching jobs last year, because federal funds were able to make up some, though not all, of the shortfalls in state revenues. But the vast majority of districts have already spent their ARRA funds, and cuts in state funds are expected to continue.
What can districts do? It is clear that business as usual is not an option. There other possibilities, though. As a recent Alliance report notes, technology offers one solution. Through online learning, states and districts can expand learning opportunities in less costly ways. Online learning can also help alleviate the anticipated retirement wave among teachers, and help raise the level of student achievement and attainment to reach President Obama’s goal of making the U.S. first in the world in college graduation rates by 2020.
Rural districts, which have long faced limits in funding and the availability of highly qualified teachers, can show the way. In Humboldt, Iowa, for example, the local high school is able to offer—through online learning—a wide range of coursework that might not be possible if the school had to find capable teachers to teach the classes. But working in partnership with the University of Iowa and other state colleges, the school can bring in experts and offer students college-level classes—such as Advanced Placement History and Calculus II. A few members of the Alliance staff, as well as a small film crew, recently visited Humboldt High School to see these initiatives in action. To see video from this trip, click the image below.
The funding cliff will be painful for many school districts. But it also provides an opportunity to think about new ways of doing business to produce even better results for all students.
July 20, 2010 04:45 pm
Improving the quality of public high schools through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is a voting issue for over eight in ten voters, according to a new national poll released July 14 by the Alliance for Excellent Education.
Additionally, over half of voters say that their decision to vote for a current elected official in the 2010 congressional elections will be affected if Congress takes no action to reform the law currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act.
July 20, 2010 02:31 pm
A U.S. House of Representative panel decides to extend the Race to Top program for an additional year. Education Week reports, “Although the subcommittee’s move is an important first step, it is unclear whether the Race to the Top extension will make it into the final spending bill.”
Illinois education officials cancel state writing test for elementary and junior high students at a chance to save $3.5 million this year.
July 19, 2010 04:20 pm
Georgia and Connecticut adopt the common core standards. And Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester believes that the common core state standards are as good as, and in some cases better than, those of Massachusetts, according to The Boston Globe.
July 14, 2010 03:03 pm
July 13, 2010 07:15 pm
How concerned are Americans about the state of the nation’s high schools? How important is it for voters that their congressional representatives act this year to reform the nation’s high schools? To find out the answers to these questions and more, sign-up to watch the Alliance’s Webinar tomorrow. This live discussion will examine the results of a bipartisan poll on education reform commissioned by the Alliance for Excellent Education.