Education Week - February 14, 2018 - 5
BLOG OF THE WEEK
help well-connected parents land their children
spots in coveted schools.
Education Dept. Tardy on Issuing Study
Of 'Homework Gap,' Advocacy Groups Say
A coalition of 20 education advocacy groups
are upset that the federal Institute of Education
Sciences hasn't produced a legally mandated report on students' access to digital learning outside of school.
The findings are urgently needed now, the group
says, because of the Federal Communications Commission's current efforts to weaken the Lifeline program, which proponents say is crucial to closing the
"homework gap" between students who do and do not
have high-speed internet access at home.
The study was supposed to be released by last
June. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of
Education, in which IES is housed, said the report
is currently undergoing scientific review and will be
released in March or April.
At issue is a provision of the federal Every Student
Succeeds Act, signed into law in December 2015,
that directs IES to produce a report on "student
home access to digital learning" within 18 months.
For years, education-focused advocacy groups have
lamented the "homework gap." Most schools now
regularly assign online homework, their argument
goes, but many students still lack the home internet
access they need to complete it.
CDC Urges Schools to Take Action
To Lessen the Outbreak of Flu
The country is on track to have one of its worst flu
seasons in years, with high rates of hospitalizations
for influenza and doctors reporting higher-thanusual numbers of patients with flu-like symptoms,
federal officials say.
That won't be a surprise for many school administrators, who've seen soaring absences as the spread
of the virus intensified. Some have even opted to
close entire schools and districts to slow transmission and clean buildings.
Prevention is crucial to slowing the spread of the
flu. In its guidance to schools, the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention recommends
they use educational posters and social-media
campaigns to urge proper hand washing; encourage students, teachers, and staff to stay home for
24 hours after they quit showing signs of a fever;
tion students. First-generation students
were less likely to choose an "academically
focused curriculum," too, which NCES defines as four years of English, two credits
of the same foreign language, three years of
math including a course higher than Algebra 2, three years of science including one
class higher than general biology, and three
years of social studies including U.S. history
or world history.
"Passing Notes: Learning From Efforts to
Share Instructional Practices Across
As the charter sector matures, more charter schools are collaborating with neighborhood district schools to identify effective
education practices. But what works in a
charter school may not translate easily to
those schools, finds a new report by the Cen-
consider relaxing rules for things like perfect-attendance awards that may discourage ill students
from staying home; teach students how to cover
their mouths when they cough; and follow federal
guidance for disinfecting and cleaning buildings
to slow the spread of illness.
North Carolina Teachers Must Repay;
Bonuses Paid to Them in Error
More than 100 North Carolina teachers who received bonuses have been told they must pay the
money back because it was a mistake.
One hundred twenty-four teachers in the Wake
County public school system mistakenly received
the bonus because of a clerical error. State law
requires the teachers to return the money, and
district officials have begun contacting affected
They can return the money either by writing a
check to the district or by paying it back in installments over time. The money for elementary and
middle school teachers averaged $3,000. High school
teachers received a range of cash from $25 to $3,500.
The bonuses were intended for teachers who
are considered to be in the top 25 percent for
effectiveness, which is determined by student
Punished Student Retweets Snoop Dogg;
Claims Retaliation in Suit Against District
A California high school student is suing her district, claiming that she was harassed by a school
employee and cut from the basketball team over her
personal social-media activity-including a retweet
of celebrity musician Snoop Dogg.
The vice principal and girls' basketball coach at
Sierra High School in Fresno, Calif., allegedly targeted senior Racquel Alec in order to "intentionally
humiliate her, discriminate against her, or keep her
from playing on the girls' basketball team for the
2016-2017 season," according to the suit.
At issue: Alec's "likes" and retweets of "photographs of musical artists or celebrities on her private
social-media page, such as Snoop Dog [sic] holding,
what appeared to be, a marijuana joint in his hand."
An investigation conducted by the 1,300-student
Sierra Unified district last spring cleared the vice
principal/coach of wrongdoing.
Snoop Dogg weighed in on Instagram last week:
"Have her lawyers hit my team this is nonsense." -B.H.
ter for Reinventing Public Education.
The group studied 25 communities in which
district and charter schools have signed formal compacts to work with each other to improve equity for all students.
It found schools have increased their partnerships around teacher professional development, but they can run into challenges
when schools attempt to implement pieces
of a comprehensive schoolwide program.
CRPE also found that several professional
development initiatives relied on volunteer
"early adopter" teachers, and had difficulty
expanding beyond those first participants.
-SARAH D. SPARKS
"State-by-State Student-to-Counselor Ratio
Report: 10-Year Trends"
The heavy caseloads of school counselors
haven't gotten much lighter in the past de-
cade, even as schools are under pressure to
deliver quality advice and guidance on a
growing range of issues.
A report issued last week by the National
Association for College Admission
Counseling and the American School
Counselor Association conducted the study,
drawing from federal data, shows that the
national average student-counselor ratio
was 482 to 1 in 2014-15, the most recent
year for which data are available. The most
recent numbers represent an improvement
over the previous year: In 2013-14, there
were 491 students for every counselor, the
highest ratio in the 10-year period that's the
focus of the report. In 2004-05, the average
ratio was 479 to 1.
The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of no more than 250
students for each counselor, but only three
states-New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wyoming-reported that level of staffing in the
Tax Break Covers
Costco and Cokes
In a push to promote the new federal
tax code's benefits, Speaker of the
House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., highlighted
how a public high school secretary in
Pennsylvania is now taking home an
extra $1.50 per week. That sum will
"more than cover" the "pleasantly
surprised" secretary's annual
membership fee at Costco, he tweeted
out Feb. 3. But Ryan deleted it later after
getting a lot of pushback on social media.
The Associated Press story cited by
Ryan quoted Julie Ketchum, a secretary at
Hempfield High in the Hempfield district.
Ketchum said she was amused that Ryan
highlighted her as an example of how
the tax code would help workers. She
isn't listed on a website listing Hempfield
personnel and their salaries.
Nonetheless, we got to thinking: How
much do school secretaries typically make,
and what would a salary increase of $1.50
a week mean for them?
The average school secretary's
base pay is $34,450, according to
Glassdoor, a job and employerreview site.
However, Payscale, an
employment research firm, recently
reported that the median salary for
school secretaries is $28,567, based
on a survey of 1,030 secretaries. And
SimplyHired, which helps employees and
employers calculate compensation, reported
an average salary of $31,568.
These sorts of stats should be taken with
a grain of salt, in part because they are
based on online submissions. For example,
Glassdoor separately lists the average base
pay of elementary school secretaries at
$46,010 a year, based on more than 7,500
salary figures submitted to Glassdoor.
The website doesn't cite a reason for the
discrepancy between elementary school
secretaries and the more general figure.
It's worth noting that the mean
average wage for secretaries
and administrative assistants
for various employers in
Pennsylvania was $34,930 in
2016, according to the Bureau of
Ketchum said the extra salary
means $78 more a year for her,
although that's based on getting
$1.50 more over 52 weeks, and many
school employees do not get paid during
the summer break. That salary bump does
indeed cover an individual's annual Costco
"Gold Star" membership of $60, plus $18,
enough for 12 hot dogs and 12 sodas at
Ultimately, $78 per year extra represents
a pay increase of about 0.23 percent for the
average school secretary. That's if we take
Glassdoor's annual average base pay of
$34,450 for secretaries, which is close to the
mean average wage figures from BLS cited