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Archive for the ‘curriculum’ Category

Major changes to state education policies have been recommended by the newly formed Digital Learning Council. Some of the ideas include abolishing seat-time requirements, linking teacher pay to student success, and overhauling public school funding models, Education News reports.

The council–headed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise and includes about 100 leaders across government, education, business, technology, and research–also suggests that, not only should all students have access to digital learning opportunities in the form of online or blended courses, but they should have choices between providers and methods of access.

The recommendations are part of the council’s 10 policy suggestions in a report issued Wednesday for states to use digital learning as a catalyst for education reform.

Read more on Edweek.org

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Florida Virtual Schools President and CEO Julie Young talks about how to create virtual courses that play to students’ interests while also maintaining academic standards. (Source: Education Week)

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On Tuesday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan released the U.S. Department of Education’s plan for transforming American education through technology, a process that would create state-of-the-art, cradle-to-college school system nationwide.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to reform our schools,” Duncan said during the State Educational Technology Directors Association Education Forum. “With this technology plan, we have laid out a comprehensive vision for how teachers working with technology can transform student learning in classrooms across America. We must dramatically improve teaching and learning, personalize instruction and ensure that the educational environments we offer to all students keep pace with the 21st century.”

The final version of The National Education Technology Plan (NETP), written and refined over 18 months by leading education researchers, also pledges to finance development of open-source educational resources and launch an initiative dedicated to defining and increasing educational productivity, Education Week reported. The Department of Education sees this plan as a crucial component of the administration’s effort to have America lead the world in college completion by 2020 and help close the achievement gap so that all students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers.

The plan, titled “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology,” presents a model with key goals in five areas: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure and productivity. Each core section outlines concepts for using technology to holistically transform education, with the aim to achieve each goal by 2015.

  • Learning: Change the learning process so it’s more engaging and tailored to students’ needs and interests.
  • Assessment: Measure student progress on the full range of college and career ready standards and use real time data for continuous improvement.
  • Teaching: Connect teachers to the tools, resources, experts and peers they need to be highly effective and supported.
  • Infrastructure: Provide broadband connectivity for all students, everywhere—in schools, throughout communities and in students’ homes.
  • Productivity: Use technology to help schools become more productive and accelerate student achievement while managing costs.

Overall, the plan addresses technology trends that could transform education, such as mobility and accessibility, the rise of digital content, and the rise of online social networks for information, collaboration and learning. Importantly, it stresses that technology in the classroom only works when paired with effective teaching.

“Technology will never replace good teachers,” Duncan said. “We all know that the most important factor in a student’s success is the teacher leading the class. That will not change.”

To read the finalized NETP, “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology,” visit http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010.

Sources: The Department of Education and Education Week

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Craig Barrett, chairman of Irish Technology Leadership Group, talks about the U.S. educational system, corporate outsourcing and tax rates. Barrett, the former chief executive officer of Intel Corp., speaks with Margaret Brennan on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness.”  (Source: Bloomberg)

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Economists might have said that the “Great Recession” officially ended last year. But school district budgets are not expected to regain their pre-recession (2008) funding levels until late in the decade, according to a new report.

Across the country, school districts are still making deep cuts in their budgets by laying off teachers, cutting instructional programs, and eliminating student activities, the Center for Public Education concluded in their report.

Just how bad is it you ask? In 2010, every state—with the exception of Montana and North Dakota—faced budget shortfalls totaling $200 billion, or about 30 percent of state budgeted general expenditures—the largest gap on record. This is very significant since most districts receive nearly half of its funding from state budgets.

The report cited that for the 2011 school year, 33 states, including the District of Columbia, cut essential K-12 funding areas to help balance the budget. On average cuts were made to:

  • General funds to districts
  • Funding for books and classroom supplies
  • Programs for gifted and talented
  • Pre-K and after-school programs
  • Funds for teacher preparation and training
  • Aid for school construction
  • Allocations for administration staff
  • Aid targeted to charter schools

“Some districts have managed to trim personnel costs while minimizing teacher layoffs by instituting furlough days, freezing salaries and reducing health and retirement costs,” the report states. “But the financial handwriting is on the wall: In upcoming years, more cuts will be necessary.”

Sources: The Center for Public Education and Education Week

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About 1.5 million American children were home-schooled in 2007, representing 2.9 percent of the school-age population, according to a study released by the National Center of Education Statistics. The number of home-school children increased by 74 percent since 1999.

MSNBC recently published two articles on this trend. The first story, “Curriculum or not? Plenty of options for home schooling,” gives parents new to home education tips on were to begin the process in their state and how to select the right curriculum to fit their child’s needs.

“There should never be a set curriculum,” Janice Hedin, a parent who home-schools her children, told MSNBC. “Every child is so unique. Our goal as parents is to custom design the education that fits our children.”

The second article, “As home-schooling moves to mainstream, stigma fades,” shows how diverse home-schooling households have become. While most say faith is their primary motivation, others choose this path for a variety of reasons that include dissatisfaction with the local school system, caring for special-needs kids, safety concerns, flexibility to travel and the chance to spend more time with their children, MSNBC reports.

“There are 50 different laws in 50 different states, and because of this diversity, it’s impossible to have a national blanket statement about the status of home-schoolers,” Milton Gaither, author of ‘Homeschool: An American History’, told MSNBC. “For some states, even if they have good policies, there’s so little money in the budgets that home-schoolers are not a priority.”

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According to edutopia, combining academic subjects produces deeper learning and a better understanding of the interrelationships between them. Integrated studies, sometimes called interdisciplinary studies, brings together diverse disciplines in a comprehensive manner, enabling students to develop a meaningful understanding of the complex associations and influences within a topic.

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