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Afternoon Announcements: August 10, 2011

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August 10, 2011 08:31 pm

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Here are today’s afternoon announcements!

Two Democratic Senators, Mary L. Landrieu and Patty Murray, write in the Wall Street Journal about the widening “skills gap” in America that they say is hindering millions of people from finding work. Citing low literacy skills and falling graduation rates, the authors say companies are having a difficult time finding candidates with the right credentials for open jobs. “We believe that the skills gap is a consequence of our failure to seriously invest in the education of America’s work force. Without an educated pool of workers from which to hire, small businesses are bearing the financial burden of teaching these skills,” they wrote.

The Huffington Post reports on the vastly different definitions of “proficient” on standardized tests throughout the country, making it difficult to compare student performance in different states. A new report written by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics found that a student in one state who is deemed proficient may not be in others.

The U.S. Department of Education reported that the $144 million of federal bailout money intended to go to South Carolina’s public schools will be given to others states after the governor refused to apply for the funds, saying he opposed federal bailouts and federal intrusion into state education, according to the Associated Press.

Several newspapers wrote about new developments in digital education today. The Associated Press reported on South Korea’s campaign to phase out all textbooks in favor of going all digital in addition to how the Asian country believes it has advantages over other countries that are also trying to digitize. Meanwhile, the Associated Press also reported on America is also making some efforts in digital education – this time, with kindergarteners. Two new cyber-charter schools in Michigan are offering classes for children as young as five. Idaho’s Board of Education has set seven public hearings to hear comments on a proposal to require high schoolers to take two online courses in order to graduate, the Spokesman Review reported.

The Baltimore Sun ran an article on teachers in the state training on new national curriculum, learning words such as common core, strands, clusters, standards or mathematical practice, and Maryland framework.

Eric Schwarz and Fred Frelow write in Education Week about a group of schools across the country that are expanding the school day –  or “learning time” – to narrow the achievement gap. Twenty-two schools met in Boston in July at the inaugural Expanded Learning Time summit to discuss best practices, such as how to pay for the extended learning and how to ensure teachers won’t get burned out.

News of Education Secretary Arne Duncan giving waivers to states regarding No Child Left Behind continued to be in the news today. John Merrow, author of the book “The Influence of Teachers,” wrote about the topic in the Huffington Post, discussing whether the waivers will be “anything more than a Band-Aid.” Meanwhile, a slew of states have weighed in on whether they plan to waive NCLB, including New Jersey, reports the Press of Atlantic City.

The Huffington Post had an interesting article on Arlington High School in Indianapolis joining hundreds of other co-ed school that are splitting classes by gender in hopes of improving academic performance.

Education Week reports that California will need to return the $6 million State Longitudinal Data Systems grant after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed spending $2.1 million in federal funds to help build a data system for teacher information. In other California news, California Watch reported that State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Torlakson says now is the time to invest in the public school system.

Education Daily reported on the Alliance’s recent brief on deeper learning which calls on the federal government to implement policies that will ensure next generation assessment systems measure skills such as higher-order thinking, multiple methods of communication, and analysis.

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