Education Week - February 24, 2016 - (Page 4)

NEWS IN BRIEF Court Ruling Could Shake Up Philadelphia Schools Sandra J. Milburn/The Hutchinson News/AP The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, which runs the city's public schools, does not have the authority to cap charter school enrollment or cancel seniority provisions of the teachers' contract. The ruling could ultimately affect how the commission manages school closings, teacher contracts, and decisions on charter schools. Bill Green, a member of the commission, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the decision could "require reshuffling of all teachers in the district" midyear because the commission has routinely bypassed seniority when making personnel decisions. -COREY MITCHELL Maine Governor to Serve As Education Commissioner Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he plans to forgo the process of selecting a new commissioner for the state education department and will instead take on the role himself. The governor will retain acting Commissioner William Beardsley for the remainder of the governor's term in office, which ends in 2018. LePage told one schools superintendent that Beardsley will become a deputy commissioner after his six-month term as acting commissioner expires. LePage said earlier this month that he was temporarily withdrawing Beardsley's nomination before the legislature because he believed it was going to be defeated by Democratic lawmakers. -ASSOCIATED PRESS Zuckerberg and Jobs Invest In ELL-Focused Company HEART HEALTHY Plum Creek Elementary School 4th graders climb a rock wall during the Jump Rope for Heart event in Hutchinson, Kan. Students raised money for the American Heart Association. Last week, all of the elementary school students exercised through six stations, including the rock wall, standing jump, jumping with jump ropes, and running and jumping through squares on the ground. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and the widow of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs are among the investors providing $6.4 million to a company focused on building the skills of English-language learners. Ellevation, based in Boston, says it works with around 450 districts across the country and 1.2 million students. It raised the funding from investors that included Emerson Capital, led by Laurene Powell Jobs, and Zuckerberg Education Ventures, a venture fund established by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Launched in 2011, Ellevation describes itself as offering online management and instructional tools focused on building collaboration among educators and helping schools meet the evolving demand's of the nation's surging ELL population. -SEAN CAVANAGH Court Upholds Vouchers For Special-Needs Students The Oklahoma Supreme Court last week ruled that a scholarship program that allows public money to be used to send students with certain disabilities to private schools is constitutional. Opponents of the voucher program had argued that the law violates a constitutional prohibition on the use of public money to benefit any church or system of religion. Republican state Rep. Jason Nelson, who wrote the law, says at least 400 Oklahoma students have qualified for the program. -AP Curriculum-Review Group Dishes Out More Bad News, the group that bills itself as the Consumer Reports of common-core instructional materials, has released analyses of four more textbook series-and again, the results indicate publishers failed to meet the mark. Changes to Indiana State Testing Report Draw Ire | TRANSITIONS | A draft version of a purportedly independent report summarizing an investigation into Indiana's new state standardized tests showed signs of possible political interference, setting off a war of words among state education leaders. The changes, made to alter language that reflected poorly on Republicans' decision to replace an exam based on the Common Core State Standards with the locally developed iSTEP exam, were made by a state administrator hired by Gov. Mike Pence's state board of education. In response, John Zody, the chairman of Indiana's Democratic Party, called for the official, state board of education Executive Director John Snethen, to be fired. The changes were discovered by the Associated Press, which obtained through a public-records request a Microsoft Word file containing multiple edits and drafts of the report. The document shows Snethen helped shape the content through 92 deletions, revisions, and com- Stuart J. Udell has been named the CEO of the online education provider K12 Inc. He most recently served as the CEO of Catapult Learning Inc., a commercial provider of instructional services and professional development, and an operator of schools. He also served as the president of Kaplan K12 Learning Services and as the president of the School Renaissance Institute, a subsidiary of Renaissance Learning. 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | February 24, 2016 | ments, raising questions about how independent the investigation into the iSTEP program was. For example, he objected to strong language in an early version that stated: "It is safe to say that the 2015 iSTEP+ program is a work in progress, put in place quickly and without the usual procedures (e.g., field testing) used with most new assessment programs." "Why is it safe to say this?" Snethen asked in notes typed into the draft, adding: "This is an example of a statement that could raise concern." The phrase was not included in the final version of the report. The changes made by Snethen also suggest the Pence administration is cautious of possible backlash to the new academic standards, which were put in place after Indiana became the first state to withdraw from the common-core standards in 2014. A spokesman for the state board said that any changes were done for clarity. Overall, the report found that the test was still a "highly reliable" measure of students' abilities. -ASSOCIATED PRESS Most of the K-8 math series it reviewed last year were judged as failing to live up to claims that they were aligned to the Common Core State Standards. After coming under attack for its methodology, the group changed its process. The new review found that Connecting Math Concepts (grades K-5) by publisher McGraw-Hill; Glencoe (grades 6-8) also by McGraw-Hill; MathLinks (6-8) by the Center for Mathematics and Teaching; and Springboard (6-8) by the College Board did not fully meet its criteria for alignment to the standards. -LIANA HEITIN Some Teacher Misconduct In Iowa Goes Unreported At least 103 cases of teacher misconduct in Iowa have been omitted from a national database since 1990. An investigation by The Des Moines Register revealed errors in Iowa's information, leading state officials to order a full audit. The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification Clearinghouse was created to help prevent educators who were disciplined in one state from getting hired in another. But Iowa law limits the amount of information the state Board of Educational Examiners can share about teachers. -AP Amazon to Launch Website For Open Resources Amazon Education is working on a new platform that will allow schools to upload, manage, share, and discover open education resources from a home page that in some ways resembles the one shoppers are accustomed to accessing on the massive online retailer's website. The new platform, called Amazon Inspire, is in beta testing and is scheduled to be released within

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - February 24, 2016

Education Week - February 24, 2016
ESSA Spotlights Strategy to Reach Diverse Learners
Will the Common Core Step Up Schools’ Focus on Grammar?
Disparities in Test Accommodations Eyed
News in Brief
Report Roundup
S.D. May Restrict Restroom Use For Transgender Students
Conn. Seminars Tackle ‘Religious Illiteracy’ In Classrooms
Seven Studies Comparing Paper and Computer Test Scores
To Offset Poverty, Ed. Groups Urge ‘Whole-Child’ Approach
Research on Deafness Yields Broader Insights
Analysis: Ill. Pension Woes Destabilizing Teaching
Blogs of the Week
Military Eyes Wider Access for Career-Aptitude Test Under ESSA
Scalia’s Death Muddies Fate of Key Cases
Courts Push Lawmakers to the Wall Over K-12 Funding
Blogs of the Week
5 Key Takeaways on Education From White House Candidates
State of the States
Preschool Suspensions Do More Harm Than Good
Personalization Isn’t About Isolation
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Why Preschool Matters for Student Success

Education Week - February 24, 2016