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Archive for the ‘education reform’ Category

Low-performing public schools—both charter and traditional district schools—are stubbornly resistant to significant change, according to a new study released this week by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Reviewing 10 states over five years, analysts found the vast majority of such schools remained open and low-performing. The charter sector did slightly better at closing
down weak schools, but neither sector has cause for celebration.

Are Bad Schools Immortal? The Scarcity of Turnarounds and Shutdowns in Both Charter and District Sectors, identified some 2,025 low-performing charter and district schools across 10 states and tracked them from 2003-04 through 2008-09 to determine how many were turned around, shut down, or remained low-performing. Results were dismal. Seventy-two percent of the original low-performing charter schools remained in operation—and remained low-performing—five years later, as did 80
percent of district schools.

Across all 10 states, the charter sector does a bit better than the district sector at closing bad schools: 19 percent of low-performing charters identified in 2003-04 had closed by 2008-09, vs. 11 percent in the district sector. But this isn‘t great news—and it challenges the belief that charters‘ special governance and accountability arrangements ensure that bad ones don‘t linger.

However, among both sectors, real transformation is rare. Few low-performing schools—barely one percent—managed to dramatically improve their proficiency rates over this five-year period. And fewer than 10 percent made even moderate improvements over that time.  Results varied by state. For instance, in Arizona, Florida, and California, the charter sectors did
notably better than districts at closing schools. And Ohio was notably more successful in closing low-performing schools in both sectors than the other nine states in the study. By contrast, Minnesota‘s charter and district sectors displayed both the highest rates of persistent low performance and the lowest rates of closure among the 10 states.

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A new report, released by ACT, is aimed at assisting states as they begin implementing the Common Core State Standards.

This first-of-its-kind research report, entitled A First Look at the Common Core and College and Career Readiness, provides an estimate of current student performance on the Common Core State Standards using ACT college- and career-readiness data as well as provides recommendations for local educators and state and federal policymakers that will be particularly helpful to the 44 states that are moving from adoption to implementation of the common standards.

States adopting the Common Core State Standards will have work to do to bring their students up to college- and career- readiness levels on the standards, according to the report’s findings.

The report analyzed the test results of more than 250,000 11th-grade students in several states who were administered select forms of the ACT Plus Writing exam in spring 2010 as part of their states’ annual testing programs. The students represented in this report are unique in that they are not self-selected as many college admissions examinees are, span a range of abilities and college aspirations, are from a variety of communities and schools, and include those tested under standard conditions and under accommodations. In essence, the students represented in this report are a typical representation of students in high schools around the country.

While the report is not intended to focus on student performance relative to current state standards, it does shed light on areas states will need to focus on in their move from current state standards to the Common Core State Standards. Some of the report’s key findings reveal that across all Common Core domains, strands, and clusters, only one-third to one-half of 11th-grade students are reaching a college and career readiness level of achievement. In addition, the percentages of Caucasian students who met or exceeded college and career readiness were uniformly higher than those of African American, Hispanic, and other underserved students.

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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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View the entire video.

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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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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American students are losing ground in education attainment compared to countries from Korea to Estonia. In a recent edition of @Brookings, a weekly podcast by the Brookings Institute, expert Grover “Russ” Whitehurst poses provocative solutions for students from kindergarten through college.

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What’s more important—the edujobs bill or the Race to the Top competition? Michele McNeil, a blogger for Education Week, proposed this question to her readers in a recent post. And according to McNeil, the answer depends on where you live.

By now, everyone knows that the Race to the Top funding is in jeopardy. Congress has proposed to use $500 million of the competition’s funds to save teacher jobs. States that have no chance of winning the competition will most likely favor the edujobs bill. States that ranked high in Round 1 of the Race to the Top most likely prefer the competition to the bill, McNeil explains.

Read more.

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