Afternoon Announcements: What a Government Shutdown Would Mean for Schools

RSS feed

September 30, 2013 04:36 pm

Morning_Announcements4 (1)

The U.S. Department of Education released its shutdown contingency plan online Friday afternoon. Check it out here. Cliff Notes version: More than 90 percent of department employees would be furloughed during the first week of a shutdown. The department has roughly $22 billion in key K-12 formula funding through state Title I, special education and career and technical education grants to give out during the first week of October. Those dollars would still go out, even if there’s a shutdown. If the shutdown goes on for more than a week, some additional employees could be called back to work. But it would be a very small number, no more than 6 percent of total staff, at any given time. Politics K-12

Half the principals in the District’s traditional public schools were deemed “developing” — one rung above “ineffective” — on newly revised evaluations that for the first time sorted administrators by their performance. The Washington Post

It’s not just K-12 teachers who are being asked to adjust their teaching styles and curricula to ensure students learn the Common Core standards. The people who teach the teachers are also under the gun. The Hechinger Report

California is on a collision course with the U.S. Department of Education over its plans to suspend standardized tests this school year – a move that Education Secretary Arne Duncan says is wrong-headed. The Washington Post

At least 71 iPads, including 69 from a single campus, went missing last year as the Los Angeles Unified School District tested a program intended to equip every student with one of the Apple tablets, officials said. Los Angeles Daily News

Nebraska students are showing progress on statewide reading, math and science tests. New results released Friday show that more than 77 percent of students were at or above proficiency levels in reading this year, compared with 74 percent in 2012 and 72 percent in 2011. Education Week


Afternoon Announcements: Georgia School District Partners with Local Factory to Reduce High School Dropout Rate

RSS feed

September 27, 2013 04:28 pm


Nine months after the U.S. Department of Education named 16 winners to share $400 million in the first Race to the Top for districts, change orders already are being approved. The 16 winners have pitched ambitious plans to dramatically improve their districts, with a focus on personalized learning (a top priority of the department’s). Politics K-12

Scores on the SAT college entrance exam dipped three points for Montgomery County students who graduated in the spring, according to figures released Thursday, but Montgomery’s performance remains well above the state and national averages. The Washington Post

An electric wire factory in western Georgia is staffed almost entirely by teenagers. They are there because of a partnership between a local company, Southwire, and the Carroll County school system. They teamed up six years ago to try to reduce the high school dropout rate. NPR

Houston has long been a darling of education reformers with its extensive and deeply rooted charter school network and experimentation with controversial ideas like merit pay for teachers. Still, the city’s efforts to shake up its education system tend to get less notice than places like New Orleans or Washington, D.C., where reforms have led to heated and sometimes vitriolic debates about the role of teachers unions, charter schools and accountability for teachers. Hechinger Ed


MOOC-Eds Bring Professional Development Into the 21st Century

RSS feed

September 27, 2013 12:28 pm

huffpo bob

“MOOC” is one of the biggest buzzwords in education right now. Massive Open Online Courses have garnered attention and debate for their effectiveness on student learning and outcomes. Increasing numbers of schools – from high schools to colleges – are offering credits for the online classes. But what about their potential use for professional development for educators and district leaders?

In his newest column in the Huffington Post, Bob Wise – president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia – makes the case that MOOC-Eds, as they’re dubbed, are an effective, economical way to improve professional development (PD) opportunities for teachers. The Alliance offered the first ever MOOC-Ed in conjunction with the Institute Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University. The results were more than we could have predicted: with over 2500 participants and positive feedback, it’s clear that MOOC-Eds have a place in the future of PD. Teachers appreciated being able to take the course at their own speed, customizing it to their interests and schedules. The Alliance will offer a second MOOC-Ed starting on September 30. The course is free, and registration is open now.

In a time of financial cutbacks, schools and districts have slashed professional development budgets at an alarming rate despite new education standards and assessments and increased demands on teachers and students. Instead of waiting with crossed fingers for a full economic recovery that will restore budgets, innovators in the education field are exploring new ways to meet the professional development needs of teachers in an economical way. Enter the Massive Open Online Course for Educators, or MOOC-Ed. The MOOC-Ed is an online course for educators that provides personalized, scalable, and flexible learning to improve teaching and student outcomes.

Read the full column, “MOOC-Eds Bring Professional Development Into the 21st Century,” online here.



Afternon Announcements: LAUSD Halts Home Use of iPads After Being Hacked

RSS feed

September 26, 2013 04:35 pm

Virginia students received their highest scores ever on the modern SAT college admission test this year, and scores also rose in the District even as national averages remained unchanged. Maryland’s scores dropped for the third straight year, according to data for the Class of 2013 released Thursday. The Washington Post

The most improved urban school district in the nation was announced Wednesday as the recipient of the prestigious Broad Prize. The finalist announced Wednesday was Houston Independent School District (HISD), the largest public school system in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States. NBC 7 San Diego

The group that administers the SAT has begun a nationwide outreach program to try to persuade more low-income high school seniors who scored high on standardized tests to apply to select colleges. The College Board, is sending a package of information on top colleges to every senior who has an SAT or Preliminary SAT score in the top 15 percent of test takers and whose family is in the bottom quarter of income distribution. The package, which includes application fee waivers to six colleges of the student’s choice, will be sent to roughly 28,000 seniors. The New York Times

Following news that students at a Los Angeles high school had hacked district-issued iPads and were using them for personal use, district officials have halted home use of the Apple tablets until further notice. Los Angeles Times


A Lot Can Happen in Six Months

RSS feed

September 26, 2013 08:28 am


It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time to talk digital learning! Today’s post comes from Terri Schwartzbeck, Senior Digital Outreach Associate at the Alliance. 

A lot can happen in six months. It’s been an epic half-year for digital learning.

On February 6, 2013, 25,000 teachers, leaders, parents, and librarians joined us for the second Digital Learning Day. We saw 12,000 tweets on our #DLDay hashtag. All across the nation and the globe, students saw expanded opportunities to learn.

Six months ago, driven by the need to support districts in planning for the digital transition, we launched Project 24. We gathered 17 teachers, media specialists, chief technology officers, principals, and superintendents to serve as our Team of Experts. In the past six months, we’ve hosted eight webinars to explore the Project 24 planning framework, with a total audience of over two thousand registrants.

We hosted our first ever Massive Open Online Course for Educators (MOOC-Ed) for over 2600 participants who received guided instruction in creating a comprehensive strategic plan for career and college readiness powered by digital learning. Next week, we’ll launch it again with another cohort of leaders.

Meanwhile, in Congress, Representative George Miller proposed the Transforming Education through Technology Act, which would provide states, school districts and schools with resources and support to expand the availability of digital learning.

In June, President Obama visited Mooresville, North Carolina, one of the very first districts we highlighted in the original Digital Learning Day, and put forth a bold proposal: that 99 percent of schools be connected to high-speed internet within five years. He directed the Federal Communications Commission to leverage the existing E-rate program, which provides discounts on internet and telephone service to schools and libraries.

In July, the Senate commerce committee held a hearing on the topic, which featured the members of the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission, who presented their framework for digital learning. A few days later, the FCC published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking outlining an initial framework for modernizing the E-Rate program.

The momentum is building and it’s not slowing down. Every day, thousands of teachers discover tools like Pinterest or Twitter, or some of the amazing online resources that are getting more robust by the minute. Every day, more students have access to more personalized, real-world learning when they connect to an expert around the globe, watch a video that brings an abstract concept to life, or find a new more powerful voice in writing through blogging or by connecting to a community that reaches far beyond their neighborhood.

What will happen in the next six months? Six months from now is the third Digital Learning Day. This year, we’ll be focusing on the student perspective and bringing teachers more ideas and tools than ever. In the next six months, the FCC will process the comments on the NPRM, and perhaps issue an additional proposed rule for reaction and input from the public. This public process is essential to getting this new, upgrade E-rate right so that it can serve schools and libraries in a rapidly changing digital world.

In the next six months, more schools and districts will work towards implementing college and career-ready standards, and Congress will probably fail to pass another budget. State legislatures around the nation will make more hard decisions about school funding. Superintendents and principals will hire and fire teachers, and make tough choices about how to handle the increasingly uncertain world of accountability, while trying to prepare students for jobs that don’t yet have titles.

Now, more than ever, in the next six months, we have the power to improve education for every child. But the path will not be easy. We need to spread the word about the power of digital learning, not just for the sake of shiny new technology, but for the power it has to bring deeper learning, 21st century skills, personalized learning, learning that is linked to real jobs and real careers, to every student. We need to tell the policy makers – your members of Congress, your state legislators, your local school board, and even the FCC – how important this is for our future.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Plan to participate in Digital Learning Day by trying something new, showcasing your success, and spreading the word about the power of digital learning.
  2. Urge your district to participate in Project 24 by taking the free self-assessment and making sure that a strategic, comprehensive plan is in place.
  3. Join the 99in5 campaign by visiting and signing our petition and sharing your stories.

We are on the brink of an educational revolution that can strengthen the future for our students and for our whole nation. The last six months have been transformational. Let’s make sure that in the next six months, we fulfill that promise.

Terri Schwartzbeck is a Senior Digital Outreach Associate at the Alliance. 



How National Board Certified Teachers Can Stay Ahead of the Digital Curve

RSS feed

September 25, 2013 05:30 pm


Note: This blog post is cross-posted from The Standard, the official blog of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and is by Rebecca McLelland-Crawley, one of the Project 24 Team of Experts and the K-12 Science Supervisor at West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in New Jersey. 

With great powers, comes great responsibility. As National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs,) our superpowers are fueled by our students. We have heard the call to action and responded by taking whatever steps necessary to be at the top of our game. We have demonstrated our accomplished practices and with our certificate in hand are charged with serving as the leaders among our profession.

Our responsibility is to learn and share our ongoing skills with a greater community of teachers. Others in our profession look to us as having demonstrated our accomplished teaching status and we must continue to serve in this role to promote our profession. We must be leading the charge as connected educational leaders, helping our colleagues, districts and states move forward into the new, and ever-changing, digital reality.

I cannot remember a time in education when being connected to other dedicated professionals has been more important. As a National Board Certified Teacher, I aim to reach every child through my commitment to the Five Core Propositions. fivecore

I also just went through the renewal process and reflected on my growth as an educator. One area the National Board focuses on during renewal is our “acquisition and/or effective and appropriate use of technology.”

How can we stay ahead of the digital curve as NBCTs?

We become connected educators.

It is abundantly clear to me that this is a non-negotiable for NBCTs. We are, after all, at the top of our game. Being at the top means finding ways to make multiple meaningful connections to learn, share and grow! We know that digital tools can help motivate students, provide them with opportunities to articulate their mastery of content and skills, and connect them to a world of experts to enhance the learning experience.

Where can an NBCT find exceptional resources on how to help lead the learning in their schools with respect to effective use of technology?

A quick click on the Alliance For Excellent Education’s Project 24 website opens a world of possibilities with access to expert blogs, curriculum ideas, and tangible suggestions.

One of the greatest tools available is access to the free massive online open course for educators: Digital Learning Transition: Massive Open Online Course for Educators (MOOC-Ed). There are many open courses available online, but this MOOC-Ed explores a specific model designed to provide K–12 educators with self-directed, supported, flexible, yet structured learning opportunities. You will have access to experts who have successfully implemented digital learning initiatives in their schools and will be able to call on their guidance and support.

The eight week course begins September 30 and will help you:

  • Understand the potential of digital learning in K-12 schools;
  • Assess progress and set future goals for your school or district; and
  • Plan to achieve those goals.

Why not sign up for the MOOC-ed with a team of teachers, and administrators, and be a part of a learning community of thousands of educators learning and leading the way to help your school district plan effectively implement digital tools? Did I mention it’s free?

You are a teacher leader; come join a community where other teacher leaders use technology to improve education.


Rebecca McLelland-Crawley has been a science educator for 15 years and is a member of the Project 24 Team of Experts. She is currently the Science Supervisor for the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District. In 2005, Rebecca was recognized as Teacher of the Year for Perth Amboy High School and named the New Jersey Phi Delta Kappa/Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year. You can follow her on Twitter at @WWPscience.  




Afternoon Announcements: Fairfax County Schools Projects a $156 Million Deficit

RSS feed

September 25, 2013 12:40 pm


Administrators for Fairfax County public schools are projecting a $156 million deficit for next year’s budget as the school system seeks to provide teachers and staff with significant raises after years of stagnant compensation. “It’s not good news,” Susan Quinn, Fairfax schools’ chief financial officer, told board members during a meeting Monday. “We have huge challenges ahead of us.” The Washington Post

The Obama administration and a growing number of states have embraced the idea that graduates’ earnings in the years after graduation can measure the quality of a college or major. Systems to display wages by college and program are gaining steam and growing in sophistication. They could transform how Americans evaluate the value of a college education — and, eventually, whether state and federal governments will pay for it. Politico ProEducation

A Lancaster County, Pennsylvania representative has introduced a bill that seeks to make online courses a staple in the learning opportunities offered at more public schools. The Patriot-News

In the ongoing quest to save money on public schools, and improve teaching and learning, some school districts across the country have come up with a new idea: The four-day school week. A few hundred school districts, in 17 states, have switched to four-day schedules for students, according to a report on

Starting in January, students who have graduated from a Florida high school in recent years can skip non-credit remedial classes, even if tests show they may not be ready to perform at a college level. The impact could be huge. About 62 percent of high school graduates entering Broward College and 68 percent entering Palm Beach State College were forced to take non-credit remedial classes, due to poor scores on a placement test. Huffington Post Miami


Afternoon Announcements: Common Core Standards Transforming Curriculum in Connecticut

RSS feed

September 24, 2013 01:52 pm


In what was billed as a major policy address, U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the House Majority Leader, said in Philadelphia Monday that he would “leave no stone unturned in holding [U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder] accountable” for the Obama administration’s push to stop Louisiana from implementing a voucher program that allows low-income children to attend private schools on the public dime. Politics K-12

After seven decades, Louisiana is preparing to replace the GED test, an alternative credential to a high school diploma. Starting in January, Louisiana students will take a different high school equivalency test on English, math, science, and other areas. Education Week

A sweeping change now underway quietly in Connecticut is transforming school curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade with the aim of raising achievement and ensuring that all students are ready for college and career. The new Common Core State Standards — a set of academic goals that were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers — are driving the changes. The Courant

Consumer demand for digital learning games and simulations is steadily increasing and expected to rise, a recent report concludes. But that level of interest in using games and simulations does not appear to be as evident in K-12 schools, according to the lead researcher for the study. Education Week


Afternoon Announcements: Achievement Gap Persists on Ohio Standardized Tests

RSS feed

September 23, 2013 04:12 pm


The TODAY show featured Jim Ziolkowski, CEO and Founder of buildOn, along with buildOn students from Banana Kelly high school in the South Bronx to show how the organization is working to break the cycle of illiteracy, poverty and low expectations through service and education. Education Nation

At least 36 public schools in Northern Virginia fell short of full state accreditation this year, up from 14 last year, a consequence of tougher academic standards and state tests that have been introduced in recent years. The Washington Post

The gap between black and white students’ scores on Ohio’s standardized exams persists even when economic advantages are considered, according to a data analysis by The Columbus Dispatch. Education Week

After struggling to attract students when it first launched in 1998, Ossining High School in suburban new york had a science research program that was thriving by 2001. Last year, the Intel Corporation chose the program out of 18 national finalists to receive the top prize in a contest celebrating excellence in science instruction. The Hechinger Report


CAEP Adopts Next Generation Accreditation Standards for Teacher Preparation

RSS feed

September 19, 2013 04:06 pm

teacher prep

Encouraged by the agreement on a common core of content for students’ learning in mathematics and English language arts, states are poised to take on major initiatives to improve the educator workforce. On August 29, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) formally adopted the next generation of accreditation standards for educator preparation. These standards were unanimously recommended by the CAEP Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting that insist that preparation be judged by outcomes and the impact on P-12 student learning and development. The approved standards are posted online and will be required for all educator preparation providers with self-study reports due in 2016. Providers have the option to seek accreditation under the new standards sooner. Further guidance will be available in January 2014.

Read Entire Post