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Morning Announcements: September 13, 2011

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September 13, 2011 04:01 pm

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According to the Wall Street Journal, a new report shows that middle-class public schools –which educate the majority of U.S. students– pay lower teacher salaries, have larger class sizes and spend less per pupil than low-income and wealthy schools. The report, “Incomplete: How Middle-Class Schools Aren’t Making the Grade,” also shows middle-class schools’ national and international test scores are underachieving in addition to only 28 percent of their graduates earning a college degree by age 26, compared to 17 percent for lower-income students and 47 percent for upper-income students.

President Barack Obama released his American Jobs Act plan to Congress yesterday – and today, he is pushing for the bill at the Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School in Columbus, Ohio. There, according to Education Week, he will emphasize the importance of the bill’s $25 billion aimed at revamping school facilities, plus another $5 billion for retooling community colleges.

Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Erroll Davis announced the district will complete an outside audit of the system’s record-keeping related to graduation rates. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Davis ordered the audit after the district discovered 18 students incorrectly coded as graduates this year.

Education experts that met at the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education in Seattle agreed digital education can help close the achievement gap between children of different races and economic situations. The experts said this can be made possible through online learning because it can level the playing field by helping kids who need extra help to catch up at their own pace, according to the Associated Press.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the increasing emphasis on evaluating teachers based, in part, on results from their students’ performance on standardized tests. Under the most recent Race to the Top program, at least 26 states have agreed to put student performance as a part of teacher evaluations, creating a new pressure for educators.

The Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. reported on the limbo school districts are in as they wait for a federal response to their No Child Left Behind waiver requests. While school leaders across Minnesota were happy  to have a way out of the increasingly stringent penalties of the No Child Left Behind law, many districts are left in a limbo as they wait for the feds’ response. The newspaper reports officials are struggling with questions like: “Should the district give parents a heads-up that they might be able to switch schools or sign up for private tutoring later this school year—or would that be too confusing? If the answer to the waiver request is no, would the district find itself shuttling students between schools in the middle of the school year?”

Education Week put together a list of favorites and underdogs in this year’s Race to the Top competition, which focuses on early education. While in past years outside judges determined who won the grant money, it is now up to the Department of Education to choose.

Good news for Arkansas: The number of students in the state taking Advance Placements tests in math, science and English has risen 32 percent in the past five years and there has been a nearly 50 percent rise in the number of students receiving qualifying scores, according to the Arkansas News Bureau.

New Jersey school officials are looking to cut back on the number of standardized tests high school students have to take in an effort to streamline the state’s education system, Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said Monday, according to the Star-Ledger. The announcement came as an education task force released a report to Gov. Chris Christie that suggests eliminating about 45 regulations and making charter schools easier to open.

According to the Huffington Post, about 28,000 students will stay home from school today after teachers in Washington state’s third-largest school district voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike. Eighty-seven percent of the Tacoma Education Association’s total membership voted Monday evening to walk out, after weekend contract negotiations failed to result in an agreement, the Huffington Post reported.

The Michigan State Board of Education is expected to set tougher standards for what’s considered a passable score on the state’s standardized tests, according to the Associated Press. The board will consider the scores for the Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests taken by elementary and middle school students and the Michigan Merit Exam taken by high school students.

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