Daily News Roundup, September 27, 2011

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

John Merrow and Esther Wojcicki write for the Sacramento Bee: “Valid, reliable measures of accountability are essential. We need a high-stakes test, but it cannot be the whole ball of wax. Because testing kids in every subject – including art and music – just so their teachers can be rated is an idiotic notion, we recommend that the unit of measurement be the school, not individual teachers.” Merrow, a former scholar-in-residence at Carnegie, is education correspondent for the "PBS NewsHour" and president of Learning Matters. Wojcicki is a Palo Alto High School journalism teacher, chairwoman of the Learning Matters board, and a former Carnegie K-12 Scholar.

Authentic Education President Grant Wiggins writes in Education Week: "In my view, unlike the English/language arts standards, the mathematics components of the Common Core State Standards Initiative are a bitter disappointment. In terms of their limited vision of math education, the pedestrian framework chosen to organize the standards, and the incoherent nature of the standards for mathematical practice in particular, I don’t see how these take us forward in any way. They unwittingly reinforce the very errors in math curriculum, instruction, and assessment that produced the current crisis."

WASHINGTON – Community colleges are finally getting more than praise from the Obama Administration, with the announcement Monday of $500 million for job training grants from the Department of Labor. The grants, which range from $24 million to $2.5 million, will go to 49 community colleges, some of which are sharing the money for projects across consortiums. The big surprise to observers, however, was that community colleges in 10 states failed to receive a grant. Connecticut, Louisiana, Nevada and New Mexico were shut out. Florida, a presidential battleground state with several high-profile community colleges, only received a portion of a shared grant, as did Indiana and Iowa. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.

A report to be released today by a group seeking to raise college graduation rates shows that despite decades of steadily climbing enrollment rates, the percentage of students making it to the finish line is barely budging. The group, Complete College America, is a nonprofit founded two years ago with financing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lumina Foundation and others. Its report, which had the cooperation of 33 governors, showed how many of the students in states completed their degrees, broken down into different categories , including whether enrollment is full- or part-time, or at a two- or four-year institution.

The “flip model” of instruction has gotten national media attention lately, thanks to its promotion by Khan Academy, the high-profile nonprofit online-tutoring library created by Salman A. Khan, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate who was looking for a way to help his young relatives with their homework. The model—in which teachers introduce lectures online for students to access at home and then use class time for group practice and projects normally relegated to homework—is not unique to Khan Academy, however. Advocates of the approach say it allows students to work through meat-and-potatoes background on their own, giving teachers more time to go in depth through discussions, projects and other activities in class. The article is in Education Week.

A new teacher evaluation system, which will link job status in part to student achievement, will also be used by colleges and universities to rate their own teacher preparation programs. Jeanne Burns, associate commissioner for teacher and leadership initiatives for the Louisiana Board of Regents and George Noell, executive director of research for the state Department of Education, spelled out the plans to regents at the board’s monthly meeting. Starting in 2003, Louisiana was the first state to set up a system that rates teacher preparation programs by how their new graduates fared in their teaching jobs. But Burns said that system is being shelved in favor of one that Noell and others are putting together. The article is in the Advocate.


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