Daily News Roundup, November 29, 2012

Perspectives: News You Can Use
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Some of the News Fit to Print

ABOUT K-12

DUNCAN STRESSES TEACHER QUALITY
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan continued to lay out his priorities for the next four years in a speech today, emphasizing that he thinks teacher preparation is broken and that the best educators need to be teaching the highest-need children. In remarks at the two-day forum in Washington of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, run by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Duncan said he has an "ambitious" second-term agenda that includes holding the line on initiatives he started during his first four years. He cited specifically the tough road ahead for common standards, common tests, and teacher evaluations. "Do we have the courage to stay the course there?" he asked during his 30 minutes of remarks, which included a question-and-answer session. The post is from Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog.

MICHIGAN UNVEILS TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS RATINGS
A first look at how effective teachers are across the state provides a clear picture of just how far school districts must go to have strong evaluation systems in place that give teachers the kind of feedback they need to improve. The new state data find that about 97% of the state's 96,000 teachers were rated effective or highly effective during the 2011-12 school year—the first year districts had to assign one of four ratings to teachers. Those ratings were: highly effective, effective, minimally effective or ineffective. The article is in Education Week.

HIGH STANDARDS HELP STRUGGLING STUDENTS
In 2014, the United States will take a bold step toward improving the learning of all students: 46 states and the District of Columbia will begin to implement the Common Core State Standards, the rigorous new benchmarks aimed at raising achievement in English language arts and mathematics. While most scholars, policymakers, and educators embrace the higher standards and their commitment to deeper learning, many have also raised concerns about the fairness of raising the academic bar for students who are struggling to meet the standards that already exist. Because these students are often poor and attending subpar schools, it is reasonable to worry that they will suffer disproportionately when the new standards take effect. The analysis is from Education Sector.

ONLINE SCHOOLS SPEND MILLIONS TO ATTRACT STUDENTS
An analysis by USA TODAY finds that online charter schools have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising over the past five years, a trend that shows few signs of abating. The primary and high schools -- operated online by for-profit companies but with local taxpayer support -- are buying TV, radio, newspaper and Internet ads to attract students, even as brick-and-mortar public schools in the districts they serve face budget crunches. Virtual schools have become lightning rods for critics who say their operators are profiting from students' dissatisfaction with neighborhood schools, but don't produce better results. Supporters say the schools, operating in more than 30 states, are giving kids and families second chances.

ABOUT HIGHER ED

WHY MINORITY STUDENTS’ COMPLETION RATES LAG
College-completion rates for minority students tend to lag behind overall averages, and a report released on Wednesday by the American Council on Education examines why. The report—"The Education Gap: Understanding African-American and Hispanic Attainment Disparities in Higher Education," the first in a series on diversity and inclusion—explores some well-documented patterns, including in academic preparation, and points to entrenched discrepancies in access. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

WISCONSIN SYSTEM’S COMPETENCY-BASED DEGREES
The University of Wisconsin System on Wednesday released details about its new competency-based degree offerings, an effort the system first announced in July. Next year campuses will offer degree and certificate programs that are grounded in a series of assessments designed to test student mastery. And the UW Colleges, which are the system's two-year institutions, will offer general education courses in the new competency-based "UW Flexible Option" format. Students will be able to take assessments based not just on self-paced coursework, but on knowledge gained through military and on-the-job training as well as other learning experiences, including MOOCs, the system said.  The information is from Inside Higher Ed’s Quick Takes.
 

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