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Afternoon Announcements: August 15, 2011

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August 15, 2011 06:40 pm

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Happy Monday! Here are today’s headlines in education news:

Montana officials seem to have reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education on student proficiency targets that will allow the state to avoid losing federal funding for its school system, according to the Huffington Post. The dispute had been ongoing for months and arose after Montana’s Superintendent for Public Instruction decided to go against No Child Left Behind, which requires states to regularly increase their testing targets in an effort to reach 100 percent student proficiency in 2014.

The New York Times also reported on Montana’s deal with federal education officials, takinga deeper look into what this incident – in addition to the slew of states requesting NCLB waivers, such as Georgia – means for the future of federal involvement and regulation of public education.

Several reports on high schoolers being able to take courses online made the news today. The Tennessean reported on the state’s new Tennessee Virtual Academy, which is an entirely online school open to any student in the state. The “education experiment” combines home schooling, public school, and distance learning. It became possible after the state Legislature passed a law allowing this type of institution to form and allocated funding for it with state tax dollars. The Tennessean reports roughly 2,100 students have signed up for classes so far. Nebraska also has plans for a virtual high school. State officials announced last Friday they intend to build an online school that will give students across the state the chance to take Advanced Placement courses or catch up on required classes, according to the Omaha World Herald.

In an era where Americans and America as a country face a severe debt problem, Virginia is now requiring its high school students to take a one-credit course on economics and personal finance, USA Today reports. The requirements begin with incoming high school freshmen this fall.

Arizona is also trying something new this year — roughly a dozen of its public schools are allowing students to enroll in a more intense curriculum for the first two years of high school, the Arizona Republic reports. The initiative, entitled Move On When Ready, was approved by the state Legislature last year and allows students to take core curriculum courses early on. After two years they get the chance to take a test to prove they have mastered the subjects. If studetns pass, they have the option to graduate two years early and move on to community college. Proponents of the program say it could encourage students to graduate who may have otherwise dropped out while also helping students who want to go to a four-year university get core classes done early with more time for Advanced Placement classes later on.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan is launching a website today to show the public how effective high schools in the state are at preparing students for college. The site, www.mischooldata.org, will show information on how many students from each school go on to college, how many earn at least a year’s worth of college credit within two years of graduation, and how many have to take remedial courses in college.

Several state papers had stories today about their students’ performances on standardized tests. Minnesota reported that just half of its students passed state science exams this year, according to the Pioneer Press. The Anchorage Daily News reported only 46 percent of Alaska’s schools met yearly progress goals under No Child Left Behind, and the Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City reported that Utah doubled its number of low-income schools facing penalties under NCLB since last year.

KTSM news station in El Paso, Texas reported on the 6,400 borderland students who dropped out of high school last year, in addition to how the number could affect the area’s economy. The TV station interviewed Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance, about the ongoing issue of high-school dropouts. “For a student who’s thinking about dropping out in Texas, there’s almost $9,000 difference a year in income by staying in school, and then if they get a two-year degree, it doubles to over $18,000,” Wise said.

Check out the video clip here:

 

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