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Afternoon Announcements: October 11, 2011

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October 11, 2011 06:19 pm

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An early draft of a Senate committee’s sweeping rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act rolls back major accountability provisions of the law’s current form, known as No Child Left Behind. The bill would require states to develop their own standards for student performance with little federal oversight, according to language obtained by The Huffington Post.

Education Week reports Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., a former Denver schools chief, arrived in Congress hoping to bring his on-the-ground expertise working in a large school district to ESEA reauthorization. This week, he’ll have the chance when Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, introduces his ESEA reauthorization plan.

According to Education Week, Race to the Top, the competitive grant program first created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, would become an authorized part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, under a draft of Senate education leaders’ reauthorization proposal circulating around Washington. So far, states have split a total of $4 billion in Race to the Top grants, which further some of the Obama administration’s top school reform priorities The draft language would allow grants to go to high-need districts in addition to states, and also to groups of states, or groups of high-need districts.

Stateline reports Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is expected to announce his education reform policy today at a charter school in York, making him the latest Republican governor to push for major education changes in his state. Main flanks of the policy are expected to include more school choice, linking student performance to teacher evaluations and expanding a tax-credit program that encourages businesses to fund scholarships for private schools, according to The Associated Press.

It’s a startling statistic on the state of American schools: An estimated 280,000 teaching and other education jobs could be lost in the coming year, according to the White House. Education Week reports as the Senate prepares for a showdown vote on the jobs bill Tuesday, President Barack Obama is promising to not only save the education jobs at risk, but to support a total of 400,000 education jobs by actions such as rehiring teachers already laid off. In estimating the potential number of jobs that could be lost and how many his plan could save, the White House makes giant leaps. A look at the claims and how they compare with the facts.

The nearly 40 percent of college freshmen in Ohio who are not ready for college-level work will take most of their remedial courses at community colleges under a statewide plan that dramatically changes how four-year schools provide instruction to those needing extra help, according to Education Week. The changes come as colleges and universities across the state convert to a semester calendar, in part to ease the transfer of credits between schools.

The Huffington Post reports most states have cut state funding for schools this year, and a majority of states are funding K-12 education at levels lower than before the recession, after adjusting for inflation. A survey published Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities examined 46 states — where 95 percent of the country’s elementary and secondary students reside. Delaware, Idaho, Indiana and Washington were excluded because the way they report funding data makes historical comparisons difficult, the researchers note. Of the states studied, 37 have trimmed K-12 educational funding since last year, after adjusting for inflation — 19 of those states cut funding by more than 5 percent.

Becoming a school district’s top dog used to mean starting at the bottom of the education food chain. Not anymore, according to the Valley News-Dispatch. State leaders have made several changes to the Public School Code, among them waiving a requirement that superintendents be educators. Under Act 24, which Gov. Tom Corbett signed June 30, the state expanded its eligibility criteria to include candidates who haven’t taught but hold a graduate degree in business or finance.

The Des Moines Register reports Iowans raised questions about Gov. Terry Branstad’s proposals to take top teachers out of classrooms and end social promotion for third-graders during town hall meetings Thursday on education reform. Iowans told Branstad that they support longer school years and wanted to know how the blueprint for overhauling the state’s education system addresses weaknesses in special education. Additionally, parents wanted to know how the reforms would be different from previous ones that resulted in more

The Orlando Sentinel reports passing many of Florida’s crucial FCAT exams may soon be more difficult, and the percentage of students failing likely could zoom upward, under a proposed new scoring system being considered. The state’s new algebra exam for middle and high schoolers also would be graded by a tough standard that, if it had been in place this year, would have meant a failure rate of 45 percent.

The New York Times reports on a new challenge for students to get their science experiment run at the International Space station. YouTube and Lenovo, the computer manufacturer, announced on Monday a science contest called SpaceLab for students around the world ages 14 to 18. the students, who can enter individually or in teams of up to three, do not actually have to perform any experiments. Instead, they will make videos to pitch ideas for experiments that could be conducted in the zero-gravity environs of the space station.

Delaware Online reports the state Department of Education and the state’s largest union representative for teachers have come to an agreement on how to rate teachers for the current school year. For the first time, student test score data will be used as one measure for rating teachers in Delaware. This comes one year after the state rolled out a new computer-based assessment for students that helps measure test score growth by requiring students to take the exam several times during the school year. The test score data are part of a five-component ranking system that also takes into account other factors.

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