October 11, 2013
The News Journal
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell sits in on class
Gov. Jack Markell stayed on the ball in Kristen Low’s seventh-grade intensive learning center class during his tour of Millsboro Middle School on Thursday. Perched on a blue yoga ball between two groups of students debating the merits of social media, Markell watched the Common Core standards in action. “It takes our Delaware standards up to a whole new level,” Low said. “It’s very hands-on; we’re bringing everything back to a real life situation.” Forty-five states, including Delaware, have adopted the new standards, which teach critical reading and math skills for students in all grades.
Delaware State News
Seaford School District adopts paperless meeting technology
The Seaford School District is leveraging the power of the Internet to radically improve the governance process while saving time, taxpayer dollars and the environment. This new eGovernance initiative will replace the old and costly method of compiling, printing, binding and distributing paper agenda packets by hand. The remarkably powerful, easy-to-use solution will enable the organization to maximize the effectiveness of their board meetings with increased transparency, providing a basis for better and more open communication with the public, while dramatically increasing productivity and saving thousands of dollars annually.
Hockessin Community News
NCCo approves new elementary school, but not without vocal opposition
Plans to construct a new elementary school in the Red Clay School District were approved last night by a vote of 11-1. The new elementary school will be built on a 17-acre site at 2025 Graves Road, just off of Newport Gap Pike, near Grace Lutheran Church, and will have a capacity of 600 students in kindergarten to fifth grade. The 69,552-square-foot school will be named for William “Buzzy” Cooke Jr., a longtime administrator in the district who most recently served as president of Brandywine Springs School.
Economy and education draw attention in Gov. Markell’s final town hall
Education concerns popped up. One man asked Markell about charter school transparency, citing the failed Pencader Charter School that locked its doors earlier this year. He and Education Secretary Mark Murphy touted the somewhat contentious charter school reform bill approved in June designed to enforce those rules. “This is the first year where we are holding charter schools accountable against the charter school performance framework and it includes the organizational component, which now provides those schools with grades and it is now linked to their renewal process,” said Murphy.
iEducate Delaware 2013 Honoree video profiles:
- Tara Amsterdam, a teacher a Wilbur Elementary School in the Colonial School District, personalizes learning in her classroom to improve student learning and achievement.
- Tameca Beckett, a youth services librarian at Laurel Public Library, established the Get Your MESS (math, engineering, science, and social learning) On! program to encourage learning skills.
- Matt Farina, a teacher at Mount Pleasant Elementary School in the Brandywine School District, created fitness programs for the school and a Brandywine School District Elementary Fitness Festival, which was open to the local communities.
- Samuel Heed, the Senior Historian and Director of Education at the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, promotes the “Starting a Colony” lesson plan, helping bring local and national history alive for Delaware students.
- Jacqueline Lee, the principal at Gallaher Elementary School in the Christina School District, focuses on a whole-child wellness approach to help improve student learning and achievement.
Common Core rollout ripe for studying, experts say
The creators of the Common Core State Standards purposely set out what students should know in mathematics and reading without laying out how teachers should meet those requirements. That creates a rare opportunity—but also requires a massive lift—for K-12 education research to fill in the blanks. “Standards are necessary but they aren’t sufficient to improve student learning,” said Pascal D. “Pat” Forgione Jr., the executive director of the K-12 Center at the Educational Testing Service, during a meeting on research in the common core held here by the Center on Education Policy and George Washington University. “We need significant R&D work.”
Ambitious pre-K program launches in San Antonio
Just weeks after the city of San Antonio launched its innovative, $248 million Pre-K 4 SA program for preschoolers from poor and working-class families, administrators have already made adjustments both large and small to improve the system. The program is the brainchild of Mayor Julian Castro who pushed through a sales tax hike to finance the project.
In Texas, tutoring companies made a buck off NCLB
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 provided millions in federal funding to states to spend on struggling students from low-income families. Schools were mandated to provide tutoring to students who needed it most, and that order came with funding. Now that the program has been closed in Texas since the state has been granted a general waiver from NCLB, some disturbing data about the use of tutoring funds has arisen. The waiver from the 2001 law, among others things, gives districts more authority over underperforming schools, and the change will be “a blow against a once-bustling and virtually unchecked for-profit industry,” writes Morgan Smith in The Texas Tribune.
Most districts say they’re equipped and ready for new Common Core tests
A majority of the school districts and charter schools responding to a state survey indicated they’ve got the technology to offer computer-based testing for the new Common Core standards. But the one-third to 40 percent of districts that said they have only some or little confidence they can pull it off could signal trouble complying with a new state law requiring all districts to give the Common Core math or English language arts field test six months from now.