Education Week - January 13, 2016 - (Page 10)

Education Week Launches Premium Site for K-12 Companies By Mark Walsh Education Week has launched a new online product aimed at providing more information to education companies about the needs of schools. EdWeek Market Brief is a membership service that will deliver exclusive data and analysis on the forces shaping school purchasing, especially on educational technology. "This is something we've been talking about doing for quite a while-to develop a product that helps the marketplace make better decisions about serving schools," said Kevin Bushweller, the executive editor of EdWeek Market Brief. For years, he said, vendors, particularly small- and medium-size ones, have lamented the complex financial, logistical, and bureaucratic landscape that some argue stifles the flow of new ed-tech products and innovative ideas into schools. The market for digital products in pre-K-12 education is estimated to be some $8 billion annually, with providers of curriculum, assessment, management systems, and other digital tools promoting products to schools. Bushweller said education leaders often don't know how to judge the many products marketed to them, while the business community often complains that school districts don't communicate well about what they need, and that procurement processes can be slow and cumbersome. EdWeek Market Brief, he said, will be more of a service than simply a Web publication, as BLOGS the site will offer data such as how the need for products related to the Common Core State Standards varies by region or district size, or where the demand for content to serve Englishlanguage learners is greatest. "This is original data analysis about subjects that players in the market care about," Bushweller said. The service-available at a collaboration between Education Week's editorial team and its research unit. Preliminary work on the service was supported, in part, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Among the initial content on the site is a report about how school districts are seeking more-customized professional-development offerings, by Contributing Writer Michelle R. Davis; an interview by Associate Editor Sean Cavanagh with two leaders of the District of Columbia school system about how companies can best pilot-test their products in schools; and a report by Staff Writer Michele Molnar on the business opportunities created by the billions of new dollars flowing into the federal E-rate program. The new service represents a move by Education Week "to dip its toe into the waters of premium products," Bushweller said. The charter membership fee is $795 a year per person, though discounts are available for multiple memberships in one organization. The service is the latest foray for Education Week into new arenas. In August, its the Bethesda, Md.-based nonprofit publisher, Editorial Projects in Education, acquired Learning Matters TV, the video-production company founded by longtime PBS correspondent John Merrow. The move has allowed Education Week to expand its video storytelling and move into broadcast-quality coverage of education, including producing segments for the "PBS NewsHour." A new service from Education Week includes an online portal to a range of news and analysis about the school market. Visit the EDUCATION AND THE MEDIA blog, which tracks news and trends on this issue. Utah Adds New Twist To Biliteracy Seal Facebook CEO: Tell Young Women To Be the Nerd, Not Date the Nerd | LEARNING THE LANGUAGE | Utah is the 15th state to adopt an official seal of biliteracy, an honor that promotes bilingualism among K-12 students by offering special recognition for graduates with fluency in two or more languages. But it may the first in one respect. Following the recommendation of the nation's leading bilingual education groups, Utah officials will establish a two-tier biliteracy seal to separately honor advanced and intermediate speakers. Using the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages' proficiency guidelines, the state will award platinum seals to students who reach an "Advanced Mid" level: speakers who "contribute to conversations on a variety of familiar topics, dealt with concretely, with much accuracy, clarity, and precision, and ... convey their intended message without misrepresentation or confusion. They are readily understood by native speakers unaccustomed to dealing with non-natives." Gold seals will go to students at the "Intermediate Mid" level: those who are "able to express personal meaning by creating with the language, in part by combining and recombining known elements and conversational input to produce responses typically consisting of sentences and strings of sentences. Their speech may contain pauses, reformulations, and self-corrections as they search for adequate vocabulary and appropriate language. ... In spite of the limitations in their vocabulary and/or pronunciation and/or grammar and/or syntax, ... speakers are generally understood by sympathetic interlocutors accustomed to dealing with non-natives." Utah will offer its biliteracy seals to students proficient in English and one or more world languages or the indigenous languages of Navajo or Ute. The honor is also available to English-language learners, starting with the class of 2017, said Gregg Roberts, a world-languages and dual-languageimmersion specialist with the state office of education. Other states that offer biliteracy seals have toyed with the idea of a two-tier system, but they face a quandary: Set the bar for proficiency too low, and the honor loses some luster because students aren't truly proficient in the language; or set the bar too high and make the seal nearly unattainable. "We want to make sure that students are truly achieving in that second language," Roberts said. -COREY MITCHELL | CURRICULUM MATTERS | Facebook commenters are praising Mark Zuckerberg for his punchy comeback to a post about a woman's advice to her granddaughters. Darlene Hackemer Loretto responded to Zuckerberg's New Year's status update saying she keeps telling her granddaughters to "date the nerd in school, he may turn out to be a Mark Zuckerberg!" The co-founder and CEO of Facebook wrote back: "Even better would be to encourage them to *be* the nerd in their school so they can be the next successful inventor!" BuzzFeed picked up on the string, and Loretto has since responded that she encourages her granddaughters to do well themselves, too. "I've done everything in my life MYSELF, my children's dad died at a very young age, and I did it all. Starting 2 businesses. I said it once to them in jest and NEVER did I think anyone would even see this, let alone get the attention it has gotten." -LIANA HEITIN 10 | EDUCATION WEEK | January 13, 2016 | New 'Star Wars' Character Based on Beloved Teacher | TEACHING NOW | Have you felt it? Not only has the Force awoken, it's knocked back a few espressos and powerlifted an Imperial cruiser. The latest episode in the "Star Wars" saga passed "Avatar" last week to become the highest-grossing movie at the domestic box office ever. One of the characters introduced in the movie is Maz Kanata, a bar matron voiced by the Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o. Kanata offers refuge and wisdom to the movie's other heroes, but her basis is rooted in this galaxy: the late California high school English teacher Rose Gilbert, who taught both "The Force Awakens" director J.J. Abrams and the movie's production designer, Rick Carter. "Early in the movie's development, Abrams and Carter discovered that they both had a mentor in the awardwinning and adored Palisades High School teacher," according to The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the movie's concept-design book. "In tribute to Gilbert, characterconcept artists were tasked with creating Maz, whom our heroes first encounter at an Exotic City bar that she runs." You can see the influence of Gilbert in Maz's short frame (Gilbert was 5 feet) and giant glasses. One would guess there's also a good deal of Gilbert's personality in there, too; she acts as a mix of sage and mentor. An alumna of the University of California, Los Angeles, Gilbert became a benefactor of the university, endowing several awards and scholarships. She taught for more than 50 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Abrams told California's Palisadian-Post that while Gilbert "was always at the center of the inspiration for Maz," they were unable to show their former teacher the character design before she died in 2013. -ROSS BRENNEMAN 'Child Genius' Is Back for Season 2 | EDUCATION AND THE MEDIA | A year ago, when the reality competition show "Child Genius" had its first season on the Lifetime channel, I called it a guilty pleasure that was, in effect, the "revenge of the reality-show producers." The producers shaped the stories around a group of oftenpushy parents and not-always-adorable 9- to 12-year-olds. In the end, the likable Vanya Vivashankar of Olathe, Kan., whose father was always beseeching her to stay hydrated ("drink some water!") won the $100,000 firstplace scholarship prize. Last week "Child Genius" returned to Lifetime for its second season, which will run 10 weeks. Once again, the students are drawn from public schools, private schools, and home schooling. One boy is a musical prodigy who has played piano at Carnegie Hall. And one 11-year-old girl has already written her first novel. The format of the show remains the same as the first season. The reality cameras follow the children and parents around their homes and in backstage moments at the competition site in Los Angeles. This footage is interspersed with carefully selected segments of the competition, which covers two subjects each week. Those include mathematics, spelling, geography, current events, literature and the arts, Earth science, and astronomy and space. The first episode of second season, which tested math and memory, seemed to have more of a high-pressure effect on some of the contestants than any episode in the first season. At least a couple appeared to suffer panic attacks, with one hiding under a table rather than take the stage. So, one does have pause about enjoying the show, on a straightforward or guilty-pleasure level. But hey-school, reality TV, and life are full of high-pressure tests, right? And no one pushed these young people to participate in "Child Genius." -MARK WALSH

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 13, 2016

Education Week - January 13, 2016
Education Still Struggling for Traction as Campaign Issue
School Revenue Squeezed in Oil, Coal States
Feds to K-12: Ensure Safety For Muslims
Report Roundup
News in Brief
Political Winds Buffet Tenn.’s Achievement School District
Charter Sector to Get $1 Billion Boost From Walton
In the ‘Chess Capital’ of St. Louis, Game Takes Root in Poor Districts
Blogs of the Week
Education Week Launches Premium Site for K-12 Companies
The Slowest Internet in Mississippi
Rural Schools, Telecoms Battle Over Internet Pricing
‘Washington Gave Us Leverage’
Amid Its Own Changes, Research Office Gears Up for New ESSA Duties
Education Department Begins to Scope Out ESSA-Era Role
Blogs of the Week
Own the ‘Messy Dress’ of Scholarship
Stick to the Truth
Embrace the ‘Hurly Burly’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Edu-Scholars and the Public Square: What Is Our Responsibility?

Education Week - January 13, 2016