Education Week - January 23, 2013 - (Page 5)

EDUCATION WEEK REPORTto these reports, go to For links ROUNDUP the higher education sector to negative across the board, saying even prestigious, top-tier research universities are now under threat from declining enrollment, government spending cuts, and growing public doubts over the value of a college degree. Previously, its outlook had been stable for those better-positioned institutions, and negative for the rest. The report explaining the decision outlines a range of financial challenges now burdening virtually all institutions. They include stagnant family income that limits pricing power, substantial state funding cuts, a demographic dip in the population of new high school graduates, and a federal budget standoff that almost certainly threatens the flow of dollars for research and student-aid programs like Pell Grants. And despite the obvious pressure, Moody’s says too many college leaders still haven’t made the bold choices required to survive and thrive.–AP Teacher Claims Bias Over Fear of Children A former teacher is suing the Cincinnati school district, saying administrators discriminated against her because she has a rare phobia: a fear of young children. Maria Waltherr-Willard, 61, had been teaching Spanish and French to teenagers in Ohio since 1976. Ms. Waltherr-Willard, who does not have children, was transferred to another school in the 33,700-student Cincinnati district with younger students in 2009. She says the younger students triggered her phobia, caused her blood pressure to soar, and forced her to retire. Her lawsuit says her fear of young children falls under the federal American with Disabilities Act and that the district violated it by transferring her and not letting her go back to her former school. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages. Gary Winters, the school district’s attorney, said the teacher was transferred because the French program at her school was being turned into an online offering and the other school needed a Spanish teacher. The lawsuit said Ms. WaltherrWillard has been treated for her phobia since 1991.–AP Sweeping Ed. Reform Approved in Mexico A plan to overhaul Mexico’s public education system has been ratified by 18 of the country’s 31 states, allowing it to be enacted by President Enrique Peña Nieto. The law, which is backed by Mr. Peña Nieto and was approved by Congress in December, calls for creation of a professional system for hiring, evaluating, and promoting teachers without the “discretionary criteria” currently used in a system where teaching positions are often bought or inherited. The plan, which has multiparty support, will move much of the control of the public education system to the federal government from the 1.5 million-member National Union of Education Workers, led for 23 years by Elba Esther Gordillo. Under the old law, she hires and fires teachers, and she has been accused of using union funds as her personal pocketbook. The overhaul was Mr. Peña Nieto’s first major proposal since taking office Dec. 1 and is considered a political blow to Ms. Gordillo, who has played the role of kingmaker for many Mexican politicians. She was conspicuously absent from the announcement.–AP Head Start Grantees Must Recompete NEUROSCIENCE OF MATH “Why Mental Arithmetic Counts” High school students who struggle on college-readiness tests solve the simplest arithmetic problems as quickly as higherachieving students, but they use very different brain processes to do so, according to new research. For a study published in the January issue of Journal of Neuroscience, researchers asked 43 high school seniors to perform single-digit arithmetic while their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging and compared the results with students’ Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test scores. Students who performed well on the math section of the psat showed more activity in brain areas linked to memory of math facts. Those with lower math psat scores had less brain activity in those areas and more in areas associated with processing number quantities. The findings suggest that the high-achieving students knew the answers by memory, while lowerperforming students were calculating even low-level problems.  The federal government has told 122 recipients of Head Start funds that they must recompete for their grants, a process created to improve the quality of the preschool program offered to low-income children. They include some Head Start programs that are under the auspices of school districts, such as the Morgan County district program in Fort Morgan, Colo.; the program run by the Recovery School District in Louisiana; and Mercer County Head Start in Ohio, run by Celina city schools. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the $8 billion Head Start program, said those organizations were selected because they’ve had their licenses revoked, have had fiscal or management issues, or have had deficiencies discovered in their on-site federal monitoring review. This is the second group of Head Start recipients to be told that they need to recompete for their funds. In December 2011, 132 programs were selected for “designation renewal,” as the government calls the competition process. The results of that competition were to be released this past December, but with no explanation, the federal government delayed that announcement until the spring. –C.A.S. CLARIFICATION A quote highlighted in the Mike Rose Commentary in the June 16, 2013, issue of Education Week did not represent the broader point of Mr. Rose’s essay that the “full meaning of cognition is robust and intellectual.” —SARAH D. SPARKS MICHIGAN CHARTERS “Charter School Performance in Michigan” The average charter school student in Michigan is showing more academic growth than demographically similar students in regular public schools, according to a report released last week. The study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University examines the amount of improvement that students in 273 charter elementary and middle schools showed on state exams over a six-year period and compared that growth with students in regular public schools at those grade levels. The report says charter students, on average, gain an additional two months of learning in reading and math. It also shows a majority of charters in the state are low-achieving. In reading, for instance, the report identifies 80 percent of the charter in the study sample as lowachieving. —ASSOCIATED PRESS CHILDREN’S FITNESS “Can E-Gaming Be Useful for Achieving Recommended Levels of Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Intensity in Inner-City Children?” Among elementary school children, active video games, or “e-games,” can have benefits similar to traditional physical education, suggests a study published >> For links to these reports, go to n JANUARY 23, 2013 online last week in the journal Games for Health. Researchers studied 104 students in grades 3-8 from a District of Columbia school to see if active video games could help inner-city children meet the federally recommended level of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. The students wore an accelerometer to gauge their energy expenditure as they completed three 20-minute sessions of physical activities: a traditional physical education class and two e-games. Overall, students expended significantly more energy during traditional physical education than they did with video games. But students in grades 3-5 expended enough energy when performing all three activities to meet the guidelines. In grades 6-8, boys’ energy expenditure from the video games was “modest,” but girls barely exerted enough energy in any activity to meet that —BRYAN TOPOREK benchmark. RURAL COLLEGE-GOING “The Missing ‘One-Offs’: The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students” High-achieving, low-income students who don’t live in major metropolitan areas are less likely to end up in highly selective colleges, according to a working paper from the Cambridge, Mass.-based National Bureau of Economic Research. n 5 The study says many lowincome, high-achieving students don’t apply to colleges like Stanford or Harvard because they lack the information or the encouragement that their higherincome counterparts have. The researchers said most highachieving, low-income students enrolled in such colleges come from just 15 major metropolitan areas, and they’re more likely to attend magnet or selective high schools with a “critical mass” of high achievers. In nonmetro areas, such students tend to be more isolated from other high achievers.  —DIETTE COURRÉGÉ CASEY STUDENT DEMOGRAPHICS “Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates” A new report projects that by 2019-20, 45 percent of public high school graduates in the United States will be nonwhite, up by more than 7 percent over the class of 2009 and driven by a rapid increase in the number of Hispanic students completing high school. The report from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, in Denver, also anticipates a decline in the overall number of high school graduates. That number topped 3.4 million in 2010-11, after growing for 15 years, then began a decline that is expected to stabilize in 2013-14 at 3.2 to 3.3 million graduates.  —CARALEE ADAMS Common-Core Tests Dig Deep To Assess Learning, Study Says “On the Road to Assessing Deeper Learning: The Status of Smarter Balanced and PARCC Assessment Consortia” Tests now being designed for the common standards are likely to gauge deeper levels of learning and have a major impact on classroom instruction, according to a study of the common assessments released last week. The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards & Student Testing, or cresst, at the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed the work done so far by the two consortia of states designing the tests. The center concludes that the assessments hold much promise for improving teacher practice and student learning but cautions that key financial, technical, and political challenges lie ahead. Co-authors Joan Herman and Robert Linn relied on Norman Webb’s “depth of knowledge” classification system to explore the extent to which the common assessments will gauge students’ “deeper learning.” That system assigns four levels to learning, from Level 1, which features basic comprehension and recall of facts and terms, to Level 4, which involves extended analysis, investigation, or synthesis. Their study was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which also provides support for Education Week’s coverage of deeper learning. It concludes that the work so far of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or parcc, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is “moving testing practice forward substantially in representing deeper learning, but the nature of available data make it difficult to determine precisely the extent of the change.” The remaining challenges cited by the study include: • Maintaining performance tasks in the face of cost and time concerns from states. • Making automated scoring possible for constructed-response items and performance tasks to keep costs down. • Ensuring the comparability of with-accommodations and without-accommodations versions of the tests.  —CATHERINE GEWERTZ

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 23, 2013

Education Week - January 23, 2013
Nation, Districts Step Up Safety
Colleges Overproducing Elementary-Level Teachers
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Calif. Districts Link To Push Shared Goals
Loss of Veterans Doesn’t Hurt Scores
News in Brief
Report Roundup
FOCUS ON: CHARTER SCHOOLS: Charters Prepare for the Challenges Of Common Core
Civil Rights Groups: Discipline Excessive In Miss. Schools
Children Still Prefer Print Books to E-Books
Mainstream Video Games Move Into Ed.
Blogs of the Week
Obama Presses School Safety, Mental-Health Efforts
State Data: Use With Caution
State Finance Lawsuits Still Roiling Landscape
Stretched Schools Push to Extend Lifespan Of Books
Policy Brief
STATE OF THE STATES: Vt. Governor Launches Four-Point Education Initiative
State of the States
MARTIN CARNOY & RICHARD ROTHSTEIN: International Tests Reveal Surprises at Home and Abroad
DAVID T. CONLEY: What’s in a Name
ALAN C. JONES: Schools for Other People’s Children
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
PETER GIBBON: A Timeless View of Education From 1899

Education Week - January 23, 2013