April 24, 2013

April 24th, 2013

Category: News, Policy and Practice

Local News

The News Journal
Pencader and state remain at odds over possible rescue
The relationship between Pencader Charter School and the state Department of Education appears to be deteriorating. The two sides are still battling over who is responsible for filling a $350,000 hole in the school’s budget, with no resolution in sight. If that hole isn’t filled, Pencader officials say the school, scheduled to shutdown at the end of the year, might have to close earlier. Both state and Pencader officials say the other side isn’t communicating well. In an email sent to Pencader leaders on Monday, DOE Chief of Staff Mary Kate McLaughlin said the school wasn’t giving the state enough information to help find a solution. McLaughlin said in the letter that state financial staff had found “significant discrepancies” in correspondences from Pencader in explaining why the school needed the $350,000.

Bill would set higher teacher standard in Delaware
Aspiring public school teachers in Delaware will face new academic challenges if legislation proposed Thursday is successful. The bill is meant to improve the quality of educators in the state’s school system. It would set higher standards for being admitted to teacher-education programs within Delaware and introduce tests that graduates must pass to prove they are ready to teach. The changes would, for the first time, set a minimum grade point average requirement for those who wish to study education at a Delaware college, according to the governor’s office. It would also create a new test – similar to the bar exam for lawyers – that teachers must pass to become certified.

Cape Gazette
Cape school board focuses on racial imbalance in Milton
Cape Henlopen school board members all agree they need to fix racial imbalances at the two Milton elementary schools, but their solutions vary. “We don’t have a responsibility to racially balance our schools. We have to prevent our schools from being imbalanced by allowing school choice by race,” said board Vice President Spencer Brittingham. Meeting April 11, Cape school board specifically discussed the racial imbalance that exists between predominately white Milton Elementary and H.O. Brittingham Elementary, which serves mostly minority children. The two elementary schools lie less than a mile apart. “I’ve heard that people don’t want their kids to go to a Mexican or black school,” Brittingham said. Board member Sandi Minard said she has heard similar comments. “Kids are choiced out of HOB because they don’t want to be in a black school,” she said. One way to fix the racial imbalance would be to stop accepting school choice applications into Milton Elementary, Brittingham said. “That way no one can say I don’t want to go to HOB for this or that,” Brittingham said. “That in itself will address any racial imbalance.”

National News

Montgomery Advertiser
Alabama Senate kills Common Core standards bill
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said Tuesday that he would not allow bills that would repeal a controversial set of education standards already being implemented in Alabama schools to come to the floor of the Alabama Senate for debate this legislative session. “Anything with Common Core is off the table for this session,” Marsh, R-Anniston, said Tuesday. Marsh said he voted twice in committee to allow the bills repealing the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a national set of education standards in English and math established by the National Governors Association, to go before the full Senate for debate. But Marsh said he and other senators do not have the information they need on the issue and they do not need to rush to make a decision this late in the legislative session that could lead to future problems. “I truly have talked to educated people on both sides of this issue and I can’t tell who’s telling the truth,” he said. “ … I have talked to people on both sides of this issue who make sense.” Marsh said he is not “kicking the can down the road” and said this vital issue dealing with education could be a cornerstone of the next legislative session, if necessary.

Fordham’s Gadfly
Will the assessment consortia wither away?
Commentary By Chester E. Finn, Jr.
This prediction will puzzle, upset, and maybe infuriate a great many readers—and, of course, it could turn out to be wrong—but enough clues, tips, tidbits, and intuitions have converged in recent weeks that I feel obligated to make it: I expect that PARCC and Smarter Balanced (the two federally subsidized consortia of states that are developing new assessments meant to be aligned with Common Core standards) will fade away, eclipsed and supplanted by long-established yet fleet-footed testing firms that already possess the infrastructure, relationships, and durability that give them huge advantages in the competition for state and district business. In particular, I predict (as does Andy Smarick) that the new ACT-Aspire assessment system, which is supposed to be ready for use in 2014 (a full year earlier than either of the consortium products) and which some states are considering as their new assessment vehicle, will be joined by kindred products to be developed and marketed by the College Board. And the two of them will dominate the market for new Common Core assessments.

Juneau Empire
Alaska joins Student Assessment Consortium
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development announced that the state is joining a consortium developing tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which includes about half of all states as well as the United States Virgin Islands, aims to bring language arts and math curricula more in line with the new standards.

Inside Higher Ed
Credit without teaching
Earlier this year Capella University and the new College for America began enrolling hundreds of students in academic programs without courses, teaching professors, grades, deadlines, or credit hour requirements, but with a path to genuine college credit. The two institutions are among a growing number that are giving competency-based education a try. Other examples include Western Governors University.

San Antonia Express-News
Teacher groups fail bills tied to new evaluations
While many states in recent years have started to change the way they evaluate teachers, Texas has largely avoided that controversy. But that is changing as lawmakers prepare to debate S.B. 1403 and H.B. 2977, both of which would dramatically restructure the 15-year-old framework used by most school districts for teacher evaluations. (San Antonia Express-News

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