Education Week - January 22, 2014 - (Page 5)
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own money upfront if they want
health insurance in retirement, a
Michigan appeals court ruled last
The 3-0 ruling rejects unions' arguments
that the 2012 law is unconstitutional.
The appellate judges said the law
does nothing to diminish workers'
vested pension benefits because
only future benefits are implicated.
They also ruled that it is legal to
have school employees contribute
3 percent of their salary for retiree
health care because the contributions
Bill Dispute Leads City
To Shut Off School Water
Schools are closed in a Texas
town after the city shut off their
water amid a dispute over the
The city of La Villa shut off
water and sewer service to the La
Villa district in December, shortly
after students started their holiday
break. The city had increased
a water surcharge, and the district
has refused to pay the higher
The 625 students were supposed
to return to classes last week,
but instead found a message on
the district's website that schools
would be closed until further
In a letter to the Texas Education
Agency in December, Mayor Hector
Elizondo wrote that the rate
hike was "absolutely necessary" to
upgrade aging utility systems and
meet state quality standards.
California Districts Build
Tests for Common Core
The breakaway group of Califor-
nia districts known as CORE-for
California Office to Reform Education-has
assessments for the common-core
standards that they've now posted
online for anyone to review or use.
The assessments, which were piloted
in classrooms last school year
with more than 15,000 students, are
intended to be complex, nuanced
gauges of how students are doing
as they learn, and to serve simultaneously
as instructionally valuable
exercises. Teachers in the 10 districts
worked together to create the
60 performance tasks, according to
CORE, which says they can be used
as formative resources or "mini summative"
The U.S. Department of Educa-
tion granted eight of the CORE districts
a waiver from the No Child Left
Behind Act that essentially allows
the group to set up its own accountability
Novel Reading Could Be
Good for Brain, Study Says
A new study out of Emory University
offers evidence that reading
novels is more than just high-level
entertainment. It also appears to
be good for the brain.
The study, published in the jour-
nal Brain Connectivity, involved
giving regular MRI brain scans to
college students who were in the
midst of reading Pompeii, a thriller
by Robert Harris.
The results showed heightened
connectivity (compared with baseline
scans) in the areas of the brain
associated with language receptivity
and representative understanding-that
is, grasping or sensing
things the reader isn't literally
The heightened activity in those
areas of the brain was apparent
even days after the students had
been actively reading the book,
suggesting that something akin to
muscle memory was activated.
"Detailed Data on Pass Rates, Race,
and Gender for 2013"
In Mississippi and Montana, no female,
African-American, or Hispanic students took
the Advanced Placement exam for computer
science in 2013, finds a new analysis of testtaking
In fact, no African-American students took
the exam in a total of 11 states, and no Hispanic
students took it in eight states, according
to state comparisons of College Board data
compiled by Barbara Ericson, the director of
computing outreach and a senior research scientist
at Georgia Tech.
The College Board, which oversees the AP,
notes on its website that in 2013 about 30,000
students took the AP exam for computer science,
a course in which students learn to design
and create computer programs. Less than
20 percent of those students were female,
about 3 percent were African-American, and 8
percent were Hispanic.
The breakdown of the test-takers comes at a
time when the College Board has stepped up
its focus on seeing that traditionally underrepresented
groups of students have access to AP
courses and tests.
"Commercialism in U.S. Elementary and
Secondary School Nutrition Environments"
Students at all grade levels continue to face a
massive, $149 million-a-year marketing blitz from
food vendors at school, finds a new study.
Nearly 70 percent of high schools and nearly
half of middle schools have exclusive drink contracts
with companies. Ten percent of elementary
and 30 percent of high schools serve branded food
Incentive coupon programs, such as the "Limeades
for Learning" program by Sonic restaurants,
have become the most common type of marketing,
seen in nearly two-thirds of elementary schools.
"All too often school officials believe that corporate
support provides an acceptable solution to address budget
shortfalls," wrote Jennifer L. Harris, the director of
marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy
and Obesity at Yale University, and Tracy Fox, a health
policy consultant, in an editorial accompanying the study
in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.
"However, this short-term solution comes with the
potential for long-term detriment to students' health and
-SARAH D. SPARKS
"National Civics Teacher Survey: Information Literacy
in High School Civics "
A new survey finds fewer than half of civics teachers
devote at least one unit to teaching students how
to critically analyze news.
The Center for Information and Research on Civic
Learning and Engagement asked 720 high school
civics and American government teachers how much
time they devoted to news analysis in fall 2012.
While nearly all reported they thought students
"should know what is credible in a sea of information"
and devoted at least one class period to the
topic, little more than half said they had devoted at
least one unit to critical analysis. About the same
percentage said they incorporated current news
events into their daily classes.
Students play in a schoolyard as Mount Sinabung erupts in Indonesia
last week. More than 20,000 people have been evacuated from villages
around the crater of Mount Sinabung and sent to temporary shelters
since authorities raised the alert status for the rumbling volcano to
the highest level in November.
"Student Drug Testing and Positive School Climates:
Testing the Relation Between Two School Characteristics
and Drug Use Behavior in a Longitudinal Study"
School-based drug testing doesn't cut the likelihood
that students will try marijuana, but students
attending schools where they feel respected are less
Study: Early-College Schools
"Early College, Continued Success: Early-College
High School Initiative Impact"
New research confirms that getting a head start
earning college credit in high school pays off.
A multiyear study analyzing schools in the EarlyCollege
High School Initiative-funded by the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation-found students in such
high schools were much more likely to enroll and
complete college than matched peers who had applied
for the schools' admission lotteries but attended
traditional high schools. (The Gates foundation also
supports coverage of the education industry and K-12
innovation in Education Week.)
Nearly 25 percent of graduates from early-college
high schools earned a college degree (typically an associate
degree) two years after graduation, compared
with 5 percent of their peers in other high schools, according
to a report issued last week by the Washington-based
American Institutes for Research. Overall,
AIR has reported that 81 percent of early-college high
school students enrolled in college, compared with 72
percent of students attending traditional schools. The
schools did not have a significantly higher impact on
attending a four-year college than students attending
other high schools during the study period.
In the early-college model, students can earn up
to two years of college credit or an associate degree
through partnerships with nearby colleges and universities.
The initiative, which now includes 240 early
colleges, started in 2002. This latest report updates
findings from last June and is based on an additional
year of postsecondary data for students who were in
9th grade during the academic years 2005-06 through
2008-09. Earlier evaluations only looked at students
one year past high school graduation. The overall study
sample included 2,458 students, who were followed up
to four years after high school, through the summer of
-CARALEE J. ADAMS
likely to try drugs, finds a new study.
Researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Cen-
ter of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
tracked 361 high school students over a year,
finding that school drug testing had no effect on
their likelihood of smoking cigarettes or marijuana.
However, the study found students who initially reported
their school climate as "positive," with clear
rules and a respectful environment, were 20 percent
less likely to smoke marijuana and 15 percent
less likely to smoke cigarettes. The research was
published in the January issue of The Journal of
Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
"Multisensory Temporal Integration in Autism
Students with autism spectrum disorders may
have difficulty processing sights and sounds simultaneously,
according to a new study in the January
issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
Vanderbilt University researchers compared 32
typically developing students ages 6 to 18 with 32
high-functioning children with autism who had
been matched by IQ and other background characteristics.
As the students worked through a series
of computer-based tasks, researchers tested
their responses to simple and complex flashes,
beeps, speech, and environmental actions, such as
a hammer hitting a nail. They found students with
autism had more trouble connecting sights and
sounds that happened together.
"It is like they are watching a foreign movie that
was badly dubbed; the auditory and visual signals do
not match in their brains," said co-author Stephen Camarata,
a Vanderbilt professor of hearing and speech
sciences, in a statement.
EDUCATION WEEK | January 22, 2014 | www.edweek.org | 5
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 22, 2014
Education Week - January 22, 2014
50 Years Later, Verdicts Are Mixed On the Nation’s War on Poverty
A K-12 Titan in Congress to Move On
Fla. Pushes Longer Day With More Reading In Struggling Schools
Personal Danger of Data Breaches Prompts Action
News in Brief
Funds to End For Little Rock Desegregation
Union, District Clash in Pittsburgh Over Teacher Evaluation
Revised GED Ushers in New Era With More Testing Competition
In Five States, Districts Bail Out on Race to the Top Grants
K-12 Publishing, Ed-Tech Markets Experiencing Rising Revenues
Blogs of the Week
Still Segregated After 50 Years: A Visit To Cincinnati’s West End
Among States, Spending Gaps Have Widened
Spending Plan Aims to Relieve Some K-12 ‘Sequester’ Pain
Calif. Transgender Law Takes Effect In Schools, Amid Efforts to Repeal It
State of the States
Wash. Governor Pledges School Aid Boost
BRUCE FULLER: Is Small Beautiful? New York’s tiny high schools lift kids, harden segregation
RUFINA HERNÁNDEZ: A Common Cause for the Common Core
JEFFREY D. WILHELM & MICHAEL W. SMITH: Don’t Underestimate the Power of Pleasure Reading
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
XU ZHAO, HELEN HASTE, & ROBERT L. SELMAN: Questionable Lessons From China’s Recent History of Education Reform
Education Week - January 22, 2014