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Afternoon Announcements: September 16, 2011

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September 16, 2011 05:40 pm

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The White House will unveil plans Friday for a research center that aims to infuse more digital learning into the nation’s classrooms, according to USA Today. The center, dubbed “Digital Promise,” will aid the rapid development of new learning software, educational games and other technologies, in part through helping educators vet what works and what doesn’t. Among the new ideas: a “League of Innovative Schools” that will test-drive promising technologies and use its collective.

The Associated Press reports that students in Washington state’s third-largest school district are taking a fourth straight day off Friday as opposing sides in a teachers strike meet with a judge, after the instructors defied his order to return to the classroom. The Tacoma School District teachers walked out Tuesday over issues including pay, class size and how job transfers are handled.

The U.S. Department of Education today named 305 schools as 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools based on their overall academic excellence or for their success in closing achievement gaps. The Department will honor the entire 256 public and 49 private schools with their National Blue Ribbon School awards at a conference and awards ceremony Nov. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.

The New York Times featured a story today about more retirement-aged workers heading into the teaching profession after have already one or two career paths behind them. Once many of these baby boomers reach retirement age, some are heading to  community colleges or in state-approved or private programs to convert their professional expertise to the classroom. The Times reports that many come to teaching later in life because they want a challenge. Some want to do good or keep active. Others need an income or a supplement to retirement savings.

The Economist produced an interesting story on “flipping classrooms” through the use of digital education. The publication featured Egan Junior High in Los Altos as an example of what the future of learning may look like for our nation’s students. In a class in this school, students each use a MacBook to log on to KhanAcademy.org and begin doing math exercises. They have already viewed lectures at home the night before, so class time is used for individual exercises. The program also shows the teacher in real-time where her students are succeeding or struggling, and she is then able to tutor the struggling ones one-on-one.

The Associated Press reports that Texas school districts have shown little progress in the two years since the state started measuring them for academic performance and district spending, with only about 4 percent of the districts earning the top rating, according to a report released Thursday.

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