Education Week - February 27, 2019 - 1

Education Week
VOL. 38, NO. 23 * FEBRUARY 27, 2019

AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2019 Editorial Projects in Education * $ 6 


K-12 Staff
Pared Down
At Ed. Dept.
Does Push for Efficiency
Leave States in the Lurch?
In an online video interview last year,
television personality John Stossel
drew U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy
DeVos' attention to rows of empty desks
as they walked through the Department of Education.
DeVos made it clear she sees a
streamlined staff as a feature of her
administration, not a bug. She's made
it clear to managers that, "If you're
going to make a case to hire more
people, you better have a really good
reason," she said.
That extends to the main office for
K-12 policy, charged with overseeing
billions in funding for K-12 schools,
most of it aimed at vulnerable children.
The office of elementary and secondary
education lost nearly 14 percent of its
staff between the end of the Obama administration in January 2017 and the
midpoint of the Trump administration
at the start of this year.
OESE has also gone through a topto-bottom reorganization that consolidated some smaller offices within the
agency and merged K-12 with the office
of innovation and improvement, which
oversaw charter school grants and other
programs. The goal, according to a department spokeswoman: to make OESE,
which is in charge of implementing the
Every Student Succeeds Act, more efficient and to enable its staffers to look at
the various grant programs it handles
more holistically.
For the Trump administration, a
streamlined department is a step toward shrinking the federal footprint
on K-12 and allowing states and disPAGE 19 >

AJ Mast for Education Week

By Alyson Klein

Teacher Samantha Griffith works with Kevin Vazquez at Christel House, a dropout-recovery charter school in Indianapolis.

In Many Charters, Graduation Odds Are Slim
By Arianna Prothero & Alex Harwin
At nearly 1,000 U.S. high schools, the chance
of students graduating on time is no better
than the flip of a coin. And charter schools-
which were born to create more options for
students-make up an outsized share of the
number of public schools persistently graduating less than half of their students.
An analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center identified 935
public high schools with four-year graduation
rates of less than 50 percent in 2016-17, the
most recent year available. Of those, 54 per-

cent are charter schools. That's one-quarter
of all U.S. charter high schools, and nearly 3
percent of all public high schools.
These numbers aren't just a one-time blip.
Many charter schools have suffered from
chronically low graduation rates of below 50
percent since 2010-11.
And the number of charters with low graduation rates could be even larger than the Education Week analysis reveals. That's because
some charter schools were excluded from the
federal data set due to student privacy concerns. For its analysis, the Education Week
Research Center also removed all schools la-

Automated Note-Taking Par for
Business, But What About K-12?

Governors Pitch
Pay Increases
For Teachers

my to-do list") and "trigger" words
("that's a good point") to highlight
what's most important.
In an interview, Voicea CEO Omar
Tawakol described the technology as
a way to help the masses employ the
same listening and learning skills as
top executives.
"Really good CEOs are 100 percent
focused on their conversations, not
looking at a screen," Tawakol said.
"Obviously, the same thing is true in
classrooms. You don't want people on
their phones or opening up their laptops pretending to take notes."
But for the time being, at least,

Against a backdrop
of strikes, public
sympathy for teachers,
and budget surpluses,
a growing list of
governors-many of
them Republicans-are
using their State of the
State addresses to call
for teacher pay boosts.
Here's a map and stateby-state roundup of the
proposals so far.

By Benjamin Herold
Artificially intelligent digital agents
are being marketed as a way to automate note-taking in the workplace,
raising a big question for K-12:
Are classrooms next?
Take, for example, EVA, a "digital
voice assistant" created by Silicon
Valley startup Voicea. The AI agent
can automatically read users' calendars, dial itself into their meetings,
and use natural-language processing
algorithms to create real-time transcripts of what's said. As a meeting
progresses, EVA can also respond to
voice commands ("EVA, add that to

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See story, Page 18.

beled as "alternative" in the federal data.
"The data undercuts the idea that charters
are a better option," said Robert Balfanz, a
Johns Hopkins University researcher who
is a national authority on graduation-rate
patterns. "If kids go to a charter high school
where the norm is not to graduate, it's not
delivering on the promise of creating better,
more successful schools for kids in need."
But some charter advocates and experts
argue that it's unfair to compare how charter high schools stack up against their
traditional school peers when it comes to
PAGE 12 >

Bug-in-Ear Tech Helps Teachers
By Madeline Will
Michael Young was working one-onone with a student when he heard a
voice: "Maybe pause a little bit longer
and wait for the student to respond."
It wasn't his internal monologue reminding him of something he learned
in training. The voice belonged to an
instructional coach 50 miles away, who
was watching what Young was doing
in the classroom through a livestream
and communicating via an earpiece.
"It was really nice to feel supported
and get direct feedback in the moment,
because as much as you can do that
through somebody being there and
watching you, they always do it afterwards or by interrupting [the lesson],"

said Young, who teaches special education at Elk Ridge Elementary School in
Buckley, Wash. "It was helpful information that changed the way I taught."
The practice is called bug-in-ear
coaching, and it has been around for
decades in different sectors in some
capacity. But in recent years, more
and more educators are beginning
to try it out.
The premise is simple: A teacher
wears an earpiece during a lesson,
which is being livestreamed for an
instructional coach who is somewhere else. Throughout the lesson,
the coach delivers in-the-moment
feedback to the teacher, who can add
something or switch gears based on
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - February 27, 2019