February 1, 2013
The News Journal
Report praises Delaware’s education reform efforts
Education reform in Delaware funded by $119 million in federal grant money was praised by the U.S. Department of Education in a report issued Friday. Among the challenges cited by the federal government were high staff turnover rates in the Delaware Department of Education and a delay in one part of the new teacher evaluation system. Most of the report was released Friday. Administration officials noted that Delaware was among the states that they believe are performing well. In a statement, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Delaware has made “encouraging progress.”
Getting a look from the inside
As they settled into their chairs for a lesson about French artist Henri Matisse, the new face in the class introduced himself as Laurel School District Superintendent John D. Ewald. “Just treat me like another sixth- grader … I’m just a little taller,” Ewald told the students. As part of his introduction to the school district, Ewald has spent a full day in every school, which total six, shadowing a student. Today, he wraps up his tour with a visit to the high school.
Delaware’s progress on Race to the Top
Delaware is making “encouraging progress” on its Race to the Top education reform, according to a US Department of Education report released today. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says, “Delaware has made encouraging progress toward implementing its plan, and we want to see that growth accelerate in the second half of the grant.” Duncan added, “We will continue to work closely with Delaware to ensure they are enacting reforms that will improve student achievement and empower teachers to prepare all students for college and careers.”
In the midst of its third year of Race to the Top education reform, Delaware received some validation of its work to date from the U.S. Department of Education in its report on the grant program’s second year. The report acknowledged Delaware as a top performer among the 12 states participating in Race to the Top, a voluntary initiative meant to kick start education reform. “It’s not really reporting on anything new,” said Sara Kerr, chief performance officer for the Race to the Top Delivery Unit at Delaware Department of Education. She noted that national level observers that don’t have every day knowledge of RTTT programs might find the report more interesting. Still, she welcomes the feedback. “This has been a huge investment and it is a journey. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s kind of hard to see the forest for the trees. This is kind of a reminder of the scale of work that states like Delaware have undertaken and a reminder of both the work that has been accomplished and the work that lies ahead,” said Kerr while conceding it’s not “the most timely report.” ”It’s a nice document to use as validation as well as to underscore the importance of staying the course despite the ongoing challenges.”
The Sussex Countian
Georgetown boasts one of the highest concentrations of school choice options in the state with no less than six public, private, charter, magnet and religious schools in the immediate area. The county seat also boasts one of the highest concentrations of school choice options in the state. The largest public school district in the state by geographic area, Indian River operates 15 schools. “What we offer that is unique from the other schools in the area is diversity,” Superintendent Susan Bunting said. “We address the needs of all of our students and our district’s reputation of academic superiority is renowned throughout the state, including North Georgetown Elementary, which has been named a national Blue Ribbon School.
Can big data save American schools? Bill Gates is betting on yes
He also took aim at the federal government, which he said should spend more money on research and development on innovative policy reforms, particularly in public education. One of Gates’ most controversial priorities has been his attempt to encourage school districts and states to tie teacher evaluation and pay to evidence of student learning. Through the federal Race to the Top education grant competition, the Obama administration adopted this agenda, and now 33 states have passed laws overhauling the way public school teachers are evaluated.
STEM interest on rise among high schoolers, report finds
High school students are increasingly interested in pursuing STEM majors and careers, a new report finds, with about 1 in 4 now stating such an inclination. But a longstanding gender gap is widening, with fewer females than males signaling STEM interest. Overall, STEM interest has climbed by 21% among high schoolers when comparing the class of 2004 with the class of 2013.
Hawaii principals to be evaluated on student growth
Hawaii has announced that half of a principal’s evaluation will be based on growth in student performance. The other half will be based on principal leadership practice, which consists of professional growth and learning, school planning and progress, school culture, professional qualities and instructional leadership, and stakeholder support and engagement.
At the midway point of the federal Race to the Top program, the list of accomplishments for the 11 winning states and the District of Columbia is getting longer, but the challenges are getting more formidable as the time frame gets shorter, according to a progress report issued by the U.S. Department of Education today. Education Department officials say they are most worried about three recipients for which second-year performance took a nose dive: the District of Columbia, Georgia, and Maryland.
By the time schools chief Lillian Lowery got her Race to the Top team in Maryland assembled in October, the state was 6 to 10 months behind schedule. “We had to take a plan that was conceptual and put it in high gear to get it on track,” she said in an interview. She willingly acknowledged that the federal department’s concerns are valid, noting that when she arrived last summer—more than two years into the Race to the Top implementation—there wasn’t even an approved teacher-evaluation plan. Now, the state is working quickly to field test its teacher evaluation plan, and get outside experts on board to help evaluate how it’s working.
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