Stats that Stick: August 31, 2011

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August 31, 2011 08:16 pm

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High school graduates who think their high school diploma is not enough to compete in today’s society: 90 percent
A new report shows that roughly 90 percent of 2010 high school graduates believe it’s not enough to be able to compete with a high school diploma, and they believe college is important. The report, released by the College Board – which administers the SAT and Advanced Placement exams – surveyed roughly 1,500 students who graduated in 2010 one year later. Three-fourths of students said they had a “good” or “great” 2010, and only 9 percent said they were dissatisfied with their high school experience. However, nearly half said they wish they had enrolled in different classes in high school, especially more difficult science, math, and writing courses.

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How Sydney Drives Twenty-First-Century Learning From a Nineteenth Century House

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August 31, 2011 06:21 pm

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A visit to the Sydney Distance Education High School (SDEHS) in the city’s Woolloomooloo section shows the evolution from distance learning to digital learning with new challenges emerging. SDEHS traces its roots back over a century when simply getting a textbook to much of the new South Wales remote population was a challenge. The school developed correspondence courses which, as technology developed, were incorporated into radio broadcast classes.

Today SDEHS combines its earlier practices with meeting modern students’ demand for digital learning. Many students still periodically come to the brick and mortar location to take exams and for special study days where they work directly with teachers. The student demand has changed somewhat from offering an entire course of study to 40 percent of students taking a course that is not available in their regular school. The school also serves a population that cannot be in traditional schools, whether because of vocational activities, illness, behavioral challenges, or other reasons.

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Morning Announcements: August 31, 2011

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August 31, 2011 03:26 pm

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Chicago Public Schools officials announced they have agreed with teachers union to implement Common Core State Standards into the city’s curriculum beginning in the 2012-2013 school year. The more rigorous standards have been adopted by forty-five states, including Illinois, but have not yet been enacted in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. The state standards curriculum is a national initiative to improve student performance in core subject areas such s math and reading by favoring comprehension and analysis over rote memorization.

President Barack Obama spoke about education issues in an interview on the nationally syndicated radio program the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Education Week reports some people in the education sector are hopeful Obama will include money to help avoid teacher layoffs and to revamp old schools in his job-creation package set to be unveiled in coming weeks.

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Going Digital in Alabama

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August 30, 2011 05:29 pm

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This past week I spent a few days with district teams in Florence, Alabama to learn about the state’s ACCESS (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide) Program and how it is changing high schools throughout Alabama. These dedicated state and local professionals are undertaking major transformation of middle and high schools in the face of declining fiscal revenues and concerns about improving student performance in the shadow of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Dr. Melinda Maddox, director of technology initiatives for the Alabama Department of Education, orchestrated a series of regional meetings with superintendents, principals, local board members, and information technology specialists to coordinate and support profound changes in the way secondary schools do business. It is becoming increasingly clear that effective classrooms in the twenty-first century will depend on engaging learners in acquiring, refining, and applying deep content knowledge to analyze and solve problems in a digital, connected world. By providing flexible time, pace, and place for instruction, educators can customize the educational environment so every student learns in his or her own style and at his or her own pace.

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Morning Announcements: August 30, 2011

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August 30, 2011 04:12 pm

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Nearly 600 school districts or other groups applied for this year’s Investing in Innovation grant competition awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, according to Education Week. The deadline for the grant, which is in its second round, was Aug. 2 and is worth $150 million this year. The Department of Education is now tasked with reviewing the applications and selecting the most promising education improvement ideas.

An all-time record number of high school students are playing sports, according to the Annual High School Athletics Participation Survey released yesterday. The National Federation of State High School Associations released the data showing that in total, nearly 7,668,000 students participated in high school sports during the 2010-11 school year, an increase of almost 40,000 over 2009-10. The survey also finds that 55.5 percent of students enrolled in high schools participated in athletics, with 11-player football at the top of the list, Education Week reports.

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Deeper Learning from “Down Under”

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August 29, 2011 06:51 pm

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Sometimes you find far more than you started out looking for. This has certainly been the case this week as I visited schools in Sydney, Australia to learn more about digital learning. I saw educational systems embracing both digital learning and deeper learning strategies emphasizing core content knowledge, creative and critical thinking, collaboration, communication and self-reflected learning.

This blog post from Australia will focus on deeper learning. Subsequent ones will discuss digital learning and efforts to make teaching a more collaborative process while raising the professional status of teachers.

My deeper learning encounters in Australia started on August 26 in the central office of the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, a system of almost 80 schools and 40,000 students. In Australia, the government provides a per student allocation and the Diocese attempts to take applicants regardless of income. What struck me is that this district is the size of many mid-size U.S. districts.

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Morning Announcements: August 29, 2011

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August 29, 2011 04:44 pm

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Here are your Monday morning announcements!

TIME Magazine released a “back-to-school” special with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The interview with Duncan includes topics on his plans to use waivers to No Child Left Behind, the next Race to the Top competition, and budget cuts schools are facing across the country.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune analyzed public records that show more than one third of black, Latino, and Native American students in the city’s public school system do not graduate from high school, even after nearly a decade with No Child Left Behind in place. Even though the federal education law called for a decreases in the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students, the newspaper reports that the gap on state test scores has widened as Minneapolis’ white students continue to outperform their peers around the state.

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Digital Learning Now! Highlights Element #5: Content

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August 29, 2011 03:07 pm

Alliance President Bob Wise and Open Education Solutions CEO Tom Vander Ark continue Digital Learning Now!’s (DLN) video series outlining the “10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning.”

Today’s video focuses on Element #5: “Content,” which says that digital content, instructional materials, and online and blended learning courses must be high quality. In the video below, Wise and Vander Ark explain that the dynamic nature of digital content and its varied uses requires a fresh and innovative approach to ensuring high quality content. Like print content, digital content should be aligned to state academic standards or common core standards for what students are expected to learn.

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Alliance President Heads “Down Under” to Study Australian Uses of Digital Learning

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August 26, 2011 07:13 pm

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Alliance President Bob Wise landed in Sydney, Australia yesterday for a week-long trip that includes visits to several schools investing in digital learning for students.

Today, Wise, former governor of West Virginia, went on his first visit to the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta. He toured both the elementary school and high school, where Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools for the Diocese of Parramatta, introduced some of the innovative ways their institutions are approaching teaching and learning challenges in the 21st Century.

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Report Round-Up: August 26, 2011

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August 26, 2011 06:58 pm

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Here is a round-up of this week’s education-related reports!

“Reaching the Goal” Education Policy Improvement Center
This study evaluated the applicability and importance of the Common Core State Standards –adopted by all but five states– to college and career readiness. Researchers surveyed entry-level college instructors at two- and four-year degree-granting institutions to see if they believed the common standards are good reflections of the skills students need to master in order to be successful in the postsecondary world. The report found that these instructors did indeed consider the standards in mathematics and English/language arts to be accurate representations of what students need to be successful post-high school.

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