Education Week - January 13, 2016 - (Page 4)

NEWS IN BRIEF Baltimore Gets Federal Grant To Help Student Recovery Courtney Sacco/Corpus Christi Caller-Times/AP The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the Baltimore district a nearly $300,000 grant to aid with its ongoing efforts to help students and schools recover from unrest following the death of a man in police custody last year. Protests over the death of Freddie Gray turned into a night of fires and looting in April. Some students walked out of school that day, and the district cancelled classes the day after the peak of the unrest. The grant will help underwrite such measures as hiring additional full-time social workers and psychologists to support the schools in restoring the learning environment. -EVIE BLAD U.S. Closes Investigation Of Voucher Program The U.S. Department of Justice has closed a long-running investigation into whether the Milwaukee private school voucher program discriminates against students with disabilities, with no apparent findings of major wrongdoing. The Justice Department informed the Wisconsin education department late last month that no further action is warranted beyond the materials it reviewed, meetings it conducted, and changes it requested the department make to its administration of the voucher program two years ago-directives the state department largely could not act on under state law. The Justice Department left the door open to investigating future complaints. -TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE enrolls fewer than 1,000 students in its three schools. But Burns is only about 30 miles from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where armed anti-government activists took control of at least one government building in protest of federal control of public land. Several high-profile and unusual school closures ended 2015, but the Burns district's decision to close is unusual because it was made relatively early, more than a week in advance. -E.B. Oregon District Near Protest Cancels Week of Classes Pa. Schools to Get Funds After Six-Month Impasse Schools in rural Burns, Ore., were closed last week out of concerns for student safety as armed protesters occupied a nearby federal wildlife refuge. Harney County School District #3 State and federal tax money was expected to start flowing last week to cash-strapped school districts, along with other agencies, that suffered the brunt of the six-month budget fight between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republicancontrolled legislature in Pennsylvania. Districts will receive about six months' worth of 2015-16 funding as a result of the partial vetoes Wolf instituted Dec. 29 after the legislature backtracked on a costlier budget compromise. The single biggest cut Wolf made in the budget occurred at the education department. He slashed the state's per-pupil subsidy by 55 percent, to about $2.5 billion, which is why districts are only getting part of what they are owed. -TNS ELL Graduation Rates Up, But Still Lag Behind The graduation rate for the nation's English-language learners in the class of 2014 rose to 62.6 percent, a slight increase over the previous Superintendents Think Parents Just Don't Understand, Poll Finds A nationwide Gallup poll released last week found that fewer than a third of school superintendents surveyed believe that parents in their districts have a solid understanding of their schools' academic model and curriculum. Just 16 percent of the superintendents think that parents understand how the state accountability system evaluates their schools, while roughly 70 percent say parents need more information to understand how states assess school performance. The poll results show that parents aren't the only group that superintendents think need a K-12 education primer. Respondents gave the federal government less-than-stellar marks on how it handled K-12 policy in the past five years. Eighty-nine percent rated the federal government's job as "only fair" or "poor." The poll did not ask about specific concerns with federal education policy so "it is unclear if superintendents disagree with specific policy actions the Obama administration and Congress have taken, or if superintendents are expressing a more general attitude that education policy is best determined at the 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | January 13, 2016 | local level," an accompanying report says. In conducting the survey, Gallup queried 11,750 superintendents online in November. The roughly 1,300 superintendents who took part are nationally representative. The district leaders also offered opinions on how to best evaluate public school systems: 83 percent ranked high school graduation rates, student engagement, and student optimism as very important factors. When measuring effectiveness, the superintendents believe that what happens during school is more important than what happens when students go on to college, trade school, or find a job immediately after high school. Still, many respondents reported that their schools are expanding their course offerings to help students succeed after graduation, with roughly 80 percent offering foreign-language courses, opportunities for dual enrollment to earn college credit, or career and technical education. About 60 percent say their districts offer Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses and SAT or ACT preparation. -COREY MITCHELL 'MAKE ME FEEL LIKE DANCING' Jacob Fuentes dances at the Special Hearts prom at Moody High School, in Corpus Christi, Texas, last week. Students with special needs got their hair and makeup done, wore their tuxes and dresses, and were joined by teachers and family for the annual event. Parents, teachers, and students plan the affair, and students throughout the school are selected to escort the honorees and celebrate with them. REPORT ROUNDUP EARLY CHILDHOOD "Is Kindergarten the New 1st Grade?" The modern kindergarten classroom looks more like 1st grade did 15 years ago, according to a longitudinal study in the online journal AERA Open. University of Virginia researchers compared more than 5,000 nationally representative public school kindergarten classrooms in the federal Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. In an expanded version of an earlier working paper on the topic, they compared reports by kindergarten teachers in 2010 to those of both kindergarten teachers in 1998 and 1st grade teachers in 1999. Kindergarten teachers in 2010 reported spending significantly less class time on art, music, science, and free play than did teachers in 1998. Modern teachers also reported higher academic expectations for their students in both literacy and math than kindergarten teachers of prior years; their expectations more closely matched those of 1st grade teachers in 1999. The percentage of teachers who expected their students to leave kindergarten able to read, for instance, rose from 31 percent in 1998 to 80 percent in 2010. -SARAH D. SPARKS EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT "Rural America at a Glance 2015" The percentage of rural residents who have completed high school and some college increased between 2000 and 2014, although educational attainment levels remain lower for rural minority residents, according to a recent report. The report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture examines rates of rural employment, poverty, and education levels. Between 2000 and 2014, the percentage of rural adults with a four-year college degree increased by 4 percentage points, to 25 percent, while the percentage of rural residents without a high school diploma or its equivalent decreased by 9 percentage points, to 15 percent. Although this rate is still higher than the rate for urban areas (13 percent), the report notes that the percentage of rural adults who have an associate degree or have completed some college (30 percent) is now greater than that in urban areas (29 percent). The report notes, however, that

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