Some of the News Fit to Print
WHAT SHOULD BE THE FEDERAL ROLE OF SCHOOL RESEARCH?
Sarah Sparks writes in Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog: Research experts and congressional lawmakers seemed to agree this morning that the U.S. Department of Education's research agency has become considerably more rigorous since the passage of the Education Sciences Reform Act in 2002. The question that concerned House Education and Workforce Committee members at a Hill hearing on reauthorizing the law is whether that more rigorous research is actually being used by anyone. "Relevance" was the word of the day, from the research experts called to testify and from the members themselves.
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING IN TEACHER EVALUATION
How can teacher evaluation systems help teachers develop students' social-emotional competencies? This paper from American Institutes for Research first identifies instructional practices that promote student social-emotional learning, which in turn promote student academic learning. The paper then shows how three popular teacher evaluation systems (the Danielson Framework for Teaching, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System observation instrument, and the Marzano observation protocol) feature practices that influence not only student academic learning but also student social and emotional competencies. This information is from Education Commission of the Sates.
CALIFORNIA IN TESTING SHOWDOWN WITH DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
California’s proposal to suspend most of its accountability testing for one year has drawn a sharp rebuke and a threat from the U.S. Department of Education, illustrating the complications some states could face next spring when they juggle their own assessments with field tests of new common-core tests. In an unusually stern statement late Monday night, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that California’s plan “is not something we could approve in good conscience.” If the state proceeds with the plan anyway, “the department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state,” he said. The article is in Education Week.
STUDY FINDS TFA RECRUITS BOOST STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN MATH
A rigorous new study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education finds that Teach for America recruits lead students in impoverished middle and high schools to higher achievement in math than teachers who have come through traditional training programs. The gains weren’t miraculous; students of TFA teachers moved up, on average, from the 27th to the 30th percentile on standardized math tests. And the researchers acknowledge they have no way of knowing whether the students made a full year’s progress in math during their year with a TFA teacher, or just advanced more than other kids in their generally low-performing schools. Still, the researchers found statistically significant gains, which they calculated as the equivalent of about two and a half extra months of learning for students of TFA recruits. The article is in Politico.
GEORGIA NINTH GRADERS WILL HAVE TO PICK CAREER PATHS
Hoping to boost graduation rates and prepare students for the workforce, Georgia is requiring 9th graders to pick one of 17 broad career "clusters." They can opt instead to take more college-prep courses, but officials hope college-bound students will voluntarily take career-specific classes as well. With the new mandatory clusters, Georgia is following a national trend to align coursework with the employers' needs. The article is in the Athens Banner-Herald.
TEACHER EVALUATION PILOT HINTS AT STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES
More than nine out of 10 of Colorado teachers evaluated during a pilot test of the state’s educator effectiveness were rated proficient or higher on the system’s five-step rating scale. But teachers performed less well on content knowledge and facilitating learning, the two professional standards most directing related to student achievement. On those standards, 87 percent of teachers were rated proficient or higher. And on one element of content knowledge, literacy development, only two-thirds of teachers received proficient ratings or better. The article is in EdNews Colorado.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
EdX, the online course provider created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, sees an open-source future for massive online courses. On Tuesday, the company announced it has found a like-minded partner in Google, which will work with edX to make its online course platform more accessible to aspiring developers. Together, edX and Google’s programmers will build Open edX, an open-source MOOC platform that will be made available on MOOC.org. The website, which will launch early next year, will enable anyone -- universities, corporations and individuals alike -- to create online courses. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
WOULD MAKING HIGHER EDUCATION FREE AVERT A MELTDOWN?
What will it take to fix higher education in the United States? Would making it free do the job? Would that even be possible? According to Vijay Govindarajan and Jatin Desai of the Harvard Business Review, advances in technology are bringing the dream of free higher education ever closer to reality – good news if there ever was some for families and future students facing tuition bills that are 400% higher than they were in 1980. The article is from EdNews.org.