Education Week - January 6, 2016 - (Page 4)

NEWS IN BRIEF The graduation rate for the nation's class of 2014 reached a record 82 percent, an increase of 1 percentage point from the previous year's rate, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education. Graduation rates for several student demographic groups rose, but not for American Indian and Alaskan Native students, for whom rates remained virtually flat. Significant gaps remain, particularly between black and Hispanic students and their white counterparts, although those gaps have shrunk recently. In a statement, GradNation-a coalition of groups pushing to increase the national graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020-praised the 82 percent rate, but noted that, if the rate increases at its current trajectory, the country will miss that goal, the first time the United States has gotten off track in four years. -ANDREW UJIFUSA N.Y.C. Elementary Schools Fail ADA Requirements Twenty-five years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, most New York City elementary schools are not fully accessible to children with physical disabilities, according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. In a Dec. 21 letter, Justice officials said 83 percent of public schools have such problems as inaccessible entrances, playgrounds that lack handrails or have steep ramps, or bathrooms that can only be reached by stairs. Six of the 32 elementary districts in the system don't have a single school that is ized exams during the past school year as resistance to testing gained momentum nationwide, new state data show. Despite the significant number of students who refused the exam or were listed as absent on test days, however, state data show most schools and districts saw nearly all their students take the English and math tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Some 44,000 missed the English/language arts component, and 42,000 didn't take the math segment, representing about 4 percent of the more than 1 million students who were tested. That compares with about 0.5 percent of students who didn't take state exams in 2014. -TNS fully accessible, impacting some 50,000 children. The problem is not limited to older schools. In one school, an elevator installed in 2000 did not meet federal standards for accessibility. In a statement to The New York Times, a district spokesman said officials are reviewing the letter.  -CHRISTINA A. SAMUELS Few Detroit Students Pass Tougher State Exam Just one 4th grader in Detroit schools run by the Education Achievement Authority-a district the state created to turn around the worst-performing schools in Michigan-passed the math portion of a tough new state exam, results released last month show. Overall, only 1.2 percent of EAA students passed math, and 5.6 percent passed English/language arts. In some grades and subjects, not one student passed. The EAA includes 15 schools, 12 of which are directly run by the district. Students at the three charters did better, with 6 percent passing math and 11.6 percent passing ELA. In the Detroit district, meanwhile, 7.9 percent of students passed math, while 14.6 percent passed English/ language arts. -TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE La. Seniors Must Apply For Financial Aid To graduate from high school, all seniors in Louisiana public schools will have to apply for college financial aid. The new policy-likely the first of its kind-begins with the class of 2018. It permits students to opt out of completing applications for financial aid by submitting a form signed by one of their parents. State schools Superintendent Austin District Hires Marketing Company Brian Davies/The Register-Guard/AP Graduation Rate Rises To All-Time High HOLD TIGHT, STAND STILL John Comey holds a chuckwalla lizard while Richard Ritchey places another one on his head at the Springfield Public Library in Springfield, Ore. Ritchey, known in the area as the "Reptile Man," brought his menagerie of snakes, lizards, and alligators for two shows that allowed children to get a close-up look at the world of reptiles. John White said that the students who are most in need of the money are the ones who fail to take steps to get it. Low application rates cost students opportunities, but they also cost colleges and universities tens of millions of dollars in support, he said. -CATHERINE GEWERTZ Tens of Thousands Skip State Tests in Illinois Tens of thousands of Illinois students-the most in recent history-sat out the state's standard- The Austin, Texas, school district has hired a marketing firm to help boost student enrollment. The school board approved a $350,000 contract with Sanders/ Wingo Advertising Inc. to serve as a marketing consultant for the district, which has seen enrollment dwindle by 3,000 students over the past three years. The 83,688-student district hopes to attract students who currently attend private and charter schools, as well as those who attend other districts.  -TNS Panel Urges State Monitor For Troubled N.Y. District A committee appointed to study a troubled New York school district is recommending that a state monitor with power to veto the school board's decisions be put in place-a plan unanimously approved by the The nation's two largest districts responded very differently to recent threats to their schools, raising questions about how school officials should handle such matters. Los Angeles Unified closed its 900 schools Dec. 15 after district leaders received an online threat to multiple sites. Police and district officials scoured every building for signs of explosives or danger. Classes resumed the next day after officials determined the threat was not credible. New York City schools received a similar threat that same day but opted to stay open after city police determined it was not credible, said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, who added at a press conference that he was concerned people were "overreacting." Perhaps responding to those statements, Los Angeles officials defended the decision to close schools, which was made by Superintendent Ramon Cortines. "We are not making a decision about the color of a car or what to eat for dinner," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said on the day of the closures. "This is about the safety of our children." In the days that followed, several other large districts, including Houston and Miami, reported they had received similar threats and decided to remain open. Some smaller districts, including Nashua, N.H., also closed in the weeks after Los Angeles' closures. Cortines said he had approached the message, sent from an IP address in Germany, with particular caution after recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif. But Bratton said there were signs the threat was not legitimate, including the way Allah was spelled with a lowercase "a." Los Angeles Unified's decision sent some families of its 640,000 students scrambling for child care. Principals waited at schools with children who'd walked there before hearing the closure message, and the city offered free bus rides to all students. -EVIE BLAD 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | January 6, 2016 | Damian Dovarganes/AP Los Angeles and New York Districts Choose Different Responses to Threats Students in the Los Angeles Unified district head back to school at the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center Dec. 16, the day after an emailed threat triggered a shutdown of the school system. The shutdown abruptly closed the district's 900 regular public schools and 187 charter schools.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 6, 2016

Education Week - January 6, 2016
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Wash. Ruling Could Inspire Charter Opponents Elsewhere
As New SAT Looms, Anxious Students Ramp Up Testing
Digital Directions: U.S. Ed-Tech Plan Calls Attention to ‘Digital-Use Divide’
Standards for Principals’ Bosses Sharpen Focus on Role
Blogs of the Week
Inside ESSA
High Stakes in Union-Fee Case Before Supreme Court
New K-12 Law Adds to Buzz as State Legislatures Set to Convene
Ed. Dept. Budget Sees Slight Boost In FY 2016 Deal
Blogs of the Week
Amanda VanDerHeyden, Matthew Burns, Rachel Brown, Mark R. Shinn, Stevan Kukic, Kim Gibbons, Ggeorge Batsche, & W. David Tilly: RTI Works (When It Is Implemented Correctly)
Ron Wolk: To Change Education, Change the Message
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Paul Herdman: As Feds Step Back, The First State Steps Up

Education Week - January 6, 2016