Archive for the ‘American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009’ Category

Laura Tyson and Glenn Hubbard, former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisors under U.S.Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush respectively, debate about the need for a second stimulus. What do you think? (Source: Reuters)

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A wiki document, recently released by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), calls to attention the virtual learning items in all 19 finalists’ applications of the Race to the Top grant competition, Education Week reported. It revealed that the 10 winning states had strong online learn proposals and were ready to use Race to the Top funds to offer more online opportunities.

Here’s a highlight of some proposals:

  • Massachusetts’ application featured already-existing efforts to direct federal stimulus funds toward creating competency-based online and blended learning courses that mix face-to-face and virtual lessons for alternative school students.
  • New York is noted in the iNACOL report for the statewide technology plan it adopted in January that calls for exposing all students to online and blended learning opportunities.
  • Georgia’s plan indicated an interest in completely replacing seat-time standards, both in online and traditional classes. Rhode Island’s pointed to a similar, already-established system.
  • In Ohio’s application, the state’s Credit Flexibility Plan, which is being extended to all the state’s schools for the first time this fall, allows students to gain high school credit through alternative experiences that include online learning, internships, educational travel, or dual enrollment in a college course.

Read the entire article.

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Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the winners of the second round of the Race to the Top competition.

The 10 winning Phase 2 applications are: the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

During the second phase of the competition, 35 states and the District of Columbia applied for a portion of the $3.4 billion remaining funds. That list dwindled down to 19 finalists last month. The 10 winners were decided based on the scores they received from peer-review panels. All the winners received a score of more than 440 out of a possible 500. In the first phase of the competition, only the two winners, Delaware and Tennessee scored above 440.

The 10 winning applicants have adopted rigorous common, college- and career-ready standards in reading and math, created pipelines and incentives to put the most effective teachers in high-need schools, and all have alternative pathways to teacher and principal certification.

The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund includes $4 billion for statewide reform grants and $350 million to support states working together to improve the quality of their assessments, which the Department plans to award in September.

Sources: ABC News and the Department of Education

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With the Obama administration sharply increasing federal financing to $3.5 billion this year to turnaround failing schools, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pushing to overhaul 5,000 of the nation’s 100,000 public schools in the next few years, scores of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money, the New York Times reports.

For example: a corporation, which has run into trouble with parents and authorities in several states for its charter school management business, has now opened a school-turnaround subsidiary, and a husband-and-wife team, which specializes in teaching communication skills but never led a single school overhaul, is seeking contracts in Ohio and Virginia.

Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington told the New York Times that many of the new companies seem unprepared for the challenge of making over a public school, yet neither the federal government nor many state governments are organized to offer effective oversight. Read the entire article.

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Are educators against Obama’s school plan? The answer is yes according to a New York Times article.

In California for instance, lawmakers, teacher unions and educators have clashed so much over the changes to the Race to the Top program in the past few months that state officials doubt they have a chance of receiving the much needed money from Washington.  At the center of the debate is Carlos Garcia, the superintendent for San Francisco schools. He believes that the standards are too stringent and the plan is nothing more than a “strong-armed approach” to the Bush administration’s NCLB.  Read more.

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The U.S. Department of Education has produced a series of videos that claim to demonstrate how several school districts have turned around low-performing schools by using the four models recommended by the U.S Department of Education’s $4 billion Title I School Improvement Grant program. The videos consist of interviews with school administrators, parents, teachers, and students discussing the dramatic changes in student achievement and overall school improvements. The five schools that the Department highlights in the videos are George Hall Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama, Pickett Middle School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hamilton County School District, Locke Senior High School in Los Angeles, California, Harvard School of Excellence and James Johnson Public School in Chicago, Illinois.

Funds for these school improvements are available through the Title I School Improvement Grant Program. Local school districts compete for the funds while classifying what they want to change, and then determining which of four models is most appropriate for their particular needs:

  • Transformation Model: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.
  • Turnaround Model: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.
  • Restart Model: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.
  • School Model: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.

In total, 19 states have received School Improvement Grant funds in efforts to turnaround their lowest-performing schools. In spring 2010, $3.5 billion will be made available to states for school turnarounds. This is available through the Department of Education’s 2009 budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Watch the Title I School Improvement Grant videos and let NSSEA know your thoughts and for more information about the Title I School Improvement Grant Program, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html.

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