April 11, 2013
The News Journal
Christina may turn back on $2.3 million
Christina School Board would like to award its teachers a bonus, but believes the right thing to do is to give about 260 instructors a $1,000 bump for one year. The board also made clear Tuesday night that it would rather walk away from its share of Delaware’s Race to the Top money — $2.3 million — than accept a new state evaluation system for teachers. That’s wrongheaded, Gov. Jack Markell insists. “The district is turning down additional salary bonuses to retain the best teachers in its highest need schools,” Markell said. “This is a tragic disservice to Christina’s students in high-needs schools, for whom a great teacher is the single most important school factor in their success.”
Delaware steps up efforts to recruit and retain qualified teachers
A major factor in school reform is getting teachers to the classes where they are needed most and like many states across the country, Delaware has faced challenges in making that happen. In the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Education, officials cited the need for Delaware schools to attract and retain talented staff as one of the challenges the state faced in the second year of federal Race to the Top education reform. Now halfway through year three of funding, Sara Kerr, chief performance officer of the Race to the Top Delivery Unit of the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE), said the department focused the last six to eight months on strategies including online recruitment and new professional development programs. The new online portal, which is yet to be named, is slated to launch by the end of this month, replacing the original teachdelaware.com, which was underutilized, said Christopher Ruszkowski, chief officer in the DDOE’s Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit.
Bangor Daily News
Maine Education Chief wants to make all districts responsible for Charter School funding
Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen presented a concept to lawmakers that would drastically change how charter schools are funded, spreading the financial responsibility to every district. Currently, charter schools receive tax dollars from their students’ sending districts, which are required to contribute a per-student amount to the charter based on the state’s funding formula.
Qualified Math teachers elusive for struggling students, studies find
In many schools in the United States, students struggling the most in mathematics at the start of high school have the worst odds of getting a qualified teacher in the subject, new research finds. Succeeding in freshman-level mathematics is critical for students to stay on track to high school graduation, with students who make poor grades in math in 8th and 9th grades more likely to leave school entirely. Yet two new studies presented at the Association for Education Finance and Policy meeting here last month suggest that students who enter high school performing below average in math have a lower chance of getting a teacher who is well-qualified to teach math than do higher-achieving students. The problem, the research concludes, exacerbates gaps in teacher access between schools with different performance and wealth levels.
Preschool network puts ‘innovation’ grant to test
The $650 million “i3” competitive-grant program awarded up to $50 million to 49 recipients in 2010. AppleTree’s program, the top-ranked proposal with an exclusive focus on early-childhood education, received one of the smaller “development” grants, for promising but relatively untested ideas, and is putting its money toward meeting the needs of its students, primarily minority and from low-income homes. The organization, with seven campuses in the District of Columbia, pledged to use its $5 million grant to take the program it calls Every Child Ready—a blend of early-learning academic content, professional development for teachers, and student-progress monitoring—and create a curriculum that can be used by other preschools around the country. The grant will also pay for a research evaluation of the program.
The New York Times
Texas considers backtracking on testing
In this state that spawned test-based accountability in public schools and spearheaded one of the nation’s toughest high school curriculums, lawmakers are now considering a reversal that would cut back both graduation requirements and standardized testing. The actions in Texas are being closely watched across the country as many states move to raise curriculum standards to meet the increasing demands of employers while grappling with critics who say testing has spun out of control. The Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill this month that would reduce the number of exams students must pass to earn a high school diploma to 5, from 15. Legislators also proposed a change that would reduce the required years of math and science to three, from four. The State Senate is expected to take up a similar bill as early as this week.
The Washington Post
Paying for preschool with a $1 a pack cigarette tax
President Obama’s plan to pay for universal preschool for 4-year-olds by doubling the federal tax on cigarettes was quickly attacked by tobacco companies, which argued Wednesday that it is unfair to saddle smokers with the costs. In discussing the administration’s proposed 2014 budget, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters that raising the federal tobacco tax by 94 cents would generate $75 billion over the next decade, enough to pay for federal subsidies to states to enroll all low-income and some moderate-income 4-year-olds in quality preschool. The president’s plan would expand such preschool services to 1.1 million additional four-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families, according to the Education Department. Duncan called the early childhood education plan “historic,” saying it marked the largest expansion of educational opportunity in generations.