August 30, 2013
The News Journal
Charter task force leaders named
State Rep. Kim Williams and State Sen. Nicole Poore will be chairwomen of a task force that will look at charter school enrollment preferences, Gov. Jack Markell’s office says. The task force was created by a new law passed in this spring’s legislative session to look at what charters are allowed to ask students for in their applications.
New hires, new programs start off the school year
Milford School District welcomed 17 new hires this year, filling temporary positions or those left vacant through staff retirements. The hires include two kindergarten teachers, 10 elementary school positions and three high school positions, with six staff members coming in brand new to the profession. Additionally, Milford High School is now offering two dual enrollment classes for high school seniors thanks to additional grant funding and a partnership with Delaware Technical Community College.
Florida virtual school faces hard times
The Florida Virtual School—the largest state-sponsored online K-12 school in the country—is facing troubled times, a sign of major policy shifts now reshaping the world of online education. On the heels of new state legislation aimed at containing costs and promoting competition among providers offering individual online courses to students, Florida Virtual School officials expect to see a 20 percent drop in state revenue this school year and announced this month that they have shed one-third of their workforce. Experts in online education say the cuts reflect a national trend. “States are moving away from singularly funding a state virtual school,” said Susan D. Patrick, the president and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.
The Fordham Institute
By the company it keeps: Joanne Weiss
An opinion by Andy Smarick
I’m a big admirer of Joanne Weiss. She recently left the U.S. Department of Education after a tremendously consequential tenure. Working behind the scenes—never seeking the limelight for herself—she had a hand in the most important federal education decisions over the last five years. Joanne joined the Obama Administration’s Department of Education early and earned great respect for her expert management of the gigantic Race to the Top competition. Such were her accomplishments that Secretary Duncan elevated her to the most important—and underappreciated—staff position in the Department: chief of staff (COS).
Los Angeles Times
Academic performance drops statewide, but L.A. unified improves
California public schools lost ground this year in overall academic performance for the first time in a decade, but more than half met state goals for achievement on reading and math standardized tests, according to data released Thursday. Los Angeles Unified bucked the statewide decline, recording the second-highest gain in academic performance among the state’s 10 largest school systems. Among them, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino City school districts improved over last year, but the other seven slipped, reflecting a fall that officials attributed to severe budget cuts and to more demanding national learning standards being phased in.
Teachers face more rigorous annual evaluations
This school year, Connecticut will tie 45% of a teacher’s evaluation to student performance, with half of that based on state standardized test scores. But many districts will likely not use standardized test scores this year because the state is in the midst of shifting to a new computerized test and has requested a federal waiver that would permit districts to choose whether to include the scores.
Grades for Utah schools expected to stir controversy
Utah’s schools will receive their first report cards under a new grading system, and lawmakers and educators are bracing for the anticipated backlash. Schools will receive an overall letter grade based on student proficiency as well as their growth on end-of-level testing. The changes also require that 95% of students participate in end-of-level testing. Failing to do so results in an automatic F grade.
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