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Afternoon Announcements: October 4, 2011

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October 04, 2011 06:00 pm


Education Week reports Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is the latest state leader to come forward with his own ambitious plan to change education policy, one that would make dramatic changes to how teachers advance in the field and are compensated for their work. The Republican governor, who returned to office last year after previously serving in the post from 1983 to 1999, unveiled a detailed proposal for a system to pay teachers on four tiers, and offer a bump in pay for beginning educators. The Des Moines Register reports that democrats seem to be on board with his plan.

Despite new momentum lately, it doesn’t look like Congress will get around to renewing the No Child Left Behind Act by the end of this year, according to Education Week. But it’s (almost) a sure bet that lawmakers will be looking to reshape the programs in the U.S. Department of Education, either by eliminating some, or by consolidating smaller programs into broader funding streams.

The Huffington Post reports that when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan presented the Obama administration’s reforms to teacher training programs before the D.C.-based think tank Education Sector last Friday, he was joined by an unlikely partner: Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association. The National Education Association, the largest teacher’s union in the country, has warred with the Obama administration in the past, going as far as adopting a resolution this summer that took on the title, “13 Things We Hate About Arne Duncan.”

Twenty-one high schools in four states are working this fall to restructure their academic programs into “lower division” and “upper division” courses that are aimed at readying all students for community college by the end of their sophomore year, according to the Associated Press. Students who pass a series of exams, at that point, could leave high school and enroll—without remedial courses—in a two-year college, or stay in high school to take additional technical coursework, or pursue studies that prepare them for a university.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Public Schools is hoping to secure $600,000 in private funding to launch a more rigorous Common Core curriculum at 60 schools this year. The schools will get an early start in preparing for testing that will begin in 2014-2015. Teachers at 35 schools will meet monthly and get ongoing professional development and full planning support. Another 25 schools will get to start early as well and get a chance to collaborate, but they will not receive full support from central office.

The Courier Journal reports Kentucky has received a $26.9 million federal grant to fund college readiness and outreach programs over the next six years, Gov. Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education announced Monday. The grant will support GEAR UP Kentucky 3.0, an effort to increase educational resources and accelerate college preparedness at about 30 schools.

The Associated Press reports demand for online distance-learning classes in Nebraska could grow beyond what officials anticipate as more schools turn to technology to help students, a state education official said Monday. Brian Halstead of the Nebraska Department of Education testified Monday that a distance-learning incentive program launched in 2006 has worked well. Halstead told the Legislature’s Education Committee that the program would require continued partnership among educational service units, school districts, teachers and higher education officials.

According to Education Week, the Obama administration’s four school turnaround models under the federal School Improvement Grant program remain controversial, but first year results from at least one high school in Kentucky are promising. The Academy@Shawnee—part of the 98,000-student Jefferson County school district, which includes the city of Louisville—made adequate yearly progress, or AYP, for the first time in its history, according to information released last week by the Kentucky Department of Education.


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