[ECP] Educational CyberPlayGround: K12 Newsletters Headlines and Resources

If colleges want more of their students to be ready for the academic challenges of higher education, those institutions have to take a more direct role in elementary and secondary education, recommends a new report from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Education policy advocates is urging the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen graduation-rate accountability in states that have earned waivers under NCLB.
Seattle will join a dozen other U.S. cities that train some of its teachers similar to the way hospitals teach medical residents, with significant on-the-job learning alongside experienced mentors.
California education officials have stripped 23 schools of a key state ranking for cheating, other misconduct, or mistakes in administering the standardized tests given last spring.
Education schools within the Minnesota State Colleges and University system must comply with an open-records request and allow an outside research and advocacy organization to copy course syllabi, a district court judge has ruled.
U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., still at the helm of the House education committee shares vision for the next two years
Californina will avoid deep spending cuts in educationProp 30 wins Prop 38 flames out
In general, results demonstrate an appetite for moderate school choice but distaste for laws that dramatically change how teachers are hired and fired. The limits of national reform groups that funnel money into state races were also apparent.
NYT Pew Internet Project and Common Sense Media Nearly 90 percent of 2,462 respondents in the Pew survey said that digital technologies were creating “an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” Similarly, of the 685 teachers surveyed in the Common Sense project, 71 percent thought technology was hurting attention spans “somewhat” or “a lot.” About 60 percent said it hindered students’ ability to write and communicate face-to-face, and almost half said it hurt critical thinking and ability to do homework. There was little difference in perception between younger and older teachers. While the Pew research explored how technology affects attention span, it also examined how it has changed student research habits. The Common Sense survey focused largely on how teachers saw the impact of technology on a range of classroom skills.
The study finds that over 80 percent of juveniles who enter the criminal justice system early in life have at some point belonged to a gang. At any given time, 20 percent of the juveniles in the study have been incarcerated. Seventy-one percent of men and 59 percent of women are without jobs as adults. Of the 1,829 youths originally enrolled in the study, 119 have died, most from violence, a death rate three to five times as high as that for Cook County men in the same age group and four times as high for women. The study seeks to determine what factors allow some youths to succeed in life despite considerable obstacles. In the view of one study subject, transformations have little to do with policies or cyclical crackdowns by law enforcement. Instead, they are prompted by less tangible forces: the support of a parent, the insistence of a girlfriend, the encouragement of a priest or pastor, the mobilization of a community, or the birth of a child.
National Association of Gifted Children offers recommendations regarding how to better serve low-income, high-ability learners.  Detailing educational best practices and identifying research and public policy gaps that, if filled, could achieve significant results for the future. The report calls on educators and policy makers to expect more than proficiency from many more students through policies, funding, and practices that consistently support high expectations and high achievement. They must also implement multiple strategies to support student achievement at the highest levels, and expand access to rigorous curricula and supplemental services and programs. Pre-service and in-service teacher training must be expanded for identifying and serving high-ability, low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse students. Emergent talent must be identified as early as possible, and communities must be engaged to support in-school learning and to supplement curriculum with outside-of-school opportunities. Finally, policy barriers that impede participation and access must be removed. A student’s zip code and socioeconomic status must no longer be determining factors in receiving a rigorous, high quality education.
ASCD looks at actions that educators and policymakers at all levels can undertake to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) successfully that include transforming principals into instructional leaders, consulting educators about professional learning needs, aligning initiatives into comprehensive reforms, ensuring educators deeply understand the CCSS and what instructional shifts will be required, and vetting instructional resources for quality and alignment with the CCSS. It further recommends engaging higher-education partners, and understanding and planning for the coming CCSS-related assessments. Technology should be adopted with the priority of meeting teaching and learning needs, but also with an eye toward working with the new common assessments. The report’s authors stress that the 2012–13 school year is a pivotal time for implementing the CCSS, as a critical mass of teachers begin to integrate the standards into their classrooms. This is an unprecedented opportunity for professional learning and collaboration.
Alliance for Excellent Education discusses challenges that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) may present for English Language learners (ELLs) and their teachers. The number of school-aged children speaking another language at home more than doubled between 1980 and 2009, from 4.7 million (10 percent) to 11.2 million (20 percent). According to the 2011 NAEP twelfth-grade reading scores, 77 percent of ELLs performed below the basic level, compared to 27 percent of their non-ELL peers; only 3 percent of ELLs scored at or above proficient, and results are similarly discouraging at the state level. Helping ELLs meet the higher expectations of the CCSS, which spells out sophisticated language competencies that students must perform in respective academic subject areas, will place new demands on teachers. Specifically, teachers must develop a deep knowledge of the vocabulary and language functions of their content area, then structure multiple opportunities in the classroom for students to use language, focusing on discipline-specific concepts rather than overemphasizing syntax and grammar. The burden will be particularly heavy for high school teachers, who sometimes struggle to use a range of proven reading and writing strategies within their content areas. To help all teachers make this transition, the report lists ten key strategies for language and content learning that all teachers must understand, given the growing number of ELLs.
Some other results with implications
Results from new state tests in Kentucky — the first in the nation explicitly tied to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) — show that the share of students scoring “proficient” or better in reading and math dropped by roughly a third in both elementary and middle school, reports Andrew Ujifusa in Education Week. Since Kentucky in 2010 was the first state to adopt the CCSS, its assessment results for 2011-12 are under scrutiny nationwide for what they may reveal about how the CCSS will affect student achievement. The biggest drop came at the elementary level. On the K-PREP test in 2010-11, 76 percent of elementary students scored proficient or higher in reading; that fell to 48 percent in 2011-12. The same year, 73 percent of elementary students were proficient or better in math, but that fell to 40.4 percent. Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said, however, that students in 2011-12 beat the state’s predictions: It had anticipated a 36 percentage-point drop in elementary reading scores in 2011-12, instead of the actual 28-point drop. Earlier exposure to the common standards, Holliday suggested, would help younger students at first. “It’s going to take longer to see middle and high school growth on these tests,” he said, about five years for overall growth at all levels.
Read more: http://tinyurl.com/age4e4f
Perhaps they should improve their oversight
An independent audit of the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) in the U.S. Department of Education criticizes it for failing to monitor how states spend hundreds of millions of dollars in charter-school funding, the Associated Press reports. The report from WestEd also singled out state education departments in California, Florida, and Arizona as lax. The OII spent $940 million from 2008 to 2011, administered through competitive grants, to help launch new charters and replicate successful charter models. According to the audit, OII did not give guidance to states on monitoring use of the money, and lacks policies to ensure that states corrected deficiencies when found. Additionally, the audit found the office did not review expenditures to ensure they met with federal disbursement requirements. In California, which has received nearly $182 million in federal charter grants, auditors found ‘‘significant weaknesses” in charter oversight, such as school reviewers unqualified to conduct on-site school visits. In Florida, which received $67.6 million, state officials had no records of which schools got federal grant money, nor which had on-site monitoring and audits. And in Arizona, which received $26 million, reviewers lacked a monitoring checklist and collected inconsistent data when visiting schools.
Read more: http://tinyurl.com/d7fcpbq