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Morning Announcements: January 4, 2011

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January 04, 2011 03:48 pm

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The high school graduation rate is up in Utah — up to about 90 percent for last school year, according to the state Office of Education. However, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that rate could significantly drop this school year when Utah will be required to change the way it calculates graduation rates. “Starting with the Class of 2011, however, the rates are likely to change. The federal government will make all states use the same formula and rules to calculate graduation rates in an effort to make sure rates aren’t inflated and to make comparisons between states easier.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Illinois lawmakers are debating sweeping legislation that would change how teachers are evaluated, writing, “The fight in Illinois is a microcosm of the shifting sands in national education policy.” Here are a few of the components of the proposed measure:

  • Teachers would not earn tenure until they’ve been rated “proficient” or “excellent” by their principals for four years using the new evaluations. Now, public-school teachers in Illinois, like their colleagues across the U.S., get the job protection almost automatically after a few years.
  • Teacher performance—instead of seniority—would be the driving factor in school layoff decisions.
  • Teachers’ power to strike would be limited. Now, teachers can strike after negotiations fail. But the proposal would mandate that the two sides go before a mediation panel and give the local school board the final say on whether to accept the mediators’ proposal or to impose its own settlement.

Education columnist Jay Matthews of the Washington Post writes about the Success for All reading program, an initiative that was launched in 1987 and is now back in the forefront of school improvement thanks to a grant from the Obama administration.

Detroit Public Schools will spend $49 million in federal stimulus funds to push technology in the district, including distributing 40,000 new laptop computers to students in grades 6-12 for use in class, as well as more than 5,000 new desktop computers, the Detroit Free Press reports.

According to the News Journal, in the nine months since federal education officials named Delaware a winner of a $119 million Race to the Top grant, just under $2.5 million of the state’s grant has been spent. State officials say that the state is on track to spend less than anticipated in the first year because the speedy timeline in which schools were expected to create a four-year reform plan proved to be too quick a turnaround. They add that the slower pace will help make the reforms more thoughtful and collaborative.

The Detroit News editorial board calls for the new Governor of Michigan Rick Snyder to accelerate education reform.

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