Some of the News Fit to Print
WILL NEW TEACHER EVALUATIONS HELP OR HURT CHICAGO SCHOOLS?
CHICAGO — Karen Boran reads and replies to about 200 emails a day. On a recent Thursday, her Google calendar shows not a single 15-minute interval free. The first meeting of the day for the petite 56-year-old principal of John Hancock College Prep High School is with a senior afraid she won’t graduate because her attendance is below 90 percent. Second, Boran has to call in a teacher who’s fallen behind on grade entries. Then comes the mother of a boy with special needs to discuss whether Hancock–a spunky neighborhood school in a yellow brick building that towers over the small square houses surrounding it–will still be the right placement for him as a fifth-year senior. Navigating her office to welcome visitors, Boran steps over piles of books displaced in a January storm that flooded 18 of 36 classrooms, requiring some to relocate to the auditorium.As of early April, Boran and two assistant principals had collectively done 98 observations using the city’s new teacher evaluation system. Boran’s assessments take her three hours apiece, from reviewing pre-observation lesson plans to a post-evaluation conference and data entry. “And I’m fast,” she said, typing furiously on her black wireless Dell laptop. The new evaluation system, designed to keep administrators and teachers focused on instruction, is unrolling amid a historic–and historically distracting–year in the nation’s third-largest school district. The article is from the Hechinger Report and also ran in The Atlantic.
VA GOVERNOR TO CREATE ‘TEACHER CABINET’
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced Wednesday that he will create a “Teacher Cabinet” of advisers to influence high-level decisions that affect public schools. The teachers who will comprise most of the cabinet will be charged with developing recommendations for new ways to engage parents and close achievement gaps, and they will work on methods for improving the collaboration between public schools, colleges and workplaces. The article is from The Washington Post.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
MOOC SKEPTICS AT THE TOP
It would be easy to think that the leaders of American higher education are all in when it comes to MOOCs. Dozens of colleges and universities -- many of them among the elites -- have rushed to offer massive open online courses. Top foundations back the effort. The American Council on Education has moved quickly to certify some of the courses as credit-worthy. Many other colleges are considering plans to award credit for MOOCs or to use them in instruction. But it turns out that -- when asked privately -- most presidents don't seem sure at all that MOOCs are going to transform student learning, or reduce costs to students -- two of the claims made by MOOC enthusiasts and an increasing number of politicians and pundits. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
FEDERAL RULES IMPEDE COMPETENCY-BASED LEARNING
Competency-based learning, which allows students to progress at their own pace after they’ve shown mastery of a subject, rather than by their age, is quickly gaining momentum. Already, a few states like New Hampshire, Maine, and Oregon are moving toward implmenting competenc-based learning models throughout the entire state. What's more, 40 states have at least districts experimenting with the model. But despite growth, proponents say federal policies for accountability and assessment are holding the movement back. The post is from KQED's Mind Shift blog.
THE SCIENCE OF COLLABORATION
In the face of rising global competition and increased funding for science, mathematics, engineering and technology, researchers across the spectrum need to develop interdisciplinary collaborations to tackle pressing societal challenges, a conglomerate of scientists declares in a new report. “What is both possible and necessary is a true conceptual leap from interdisciplinary collaboration to a powerful transdisciplinarity, sweeping together the physical sciences and engineering (PSE) and the life sciences and medicine (LSM),” the report reads. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
SAN JOSE STATE PROFS WON’T USE HARVARD MOOC
Professors in the philosophy department at San Jose State University are refusing to teach a philosophy course developed by edX, saying they do not want to enable what they see as a push to "replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities." The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.