Education Week - March 5, 2014 - (Page 1)

EDUCATIONWEEK VOL. 33, NO. 23 * MARCH 5, 2014 AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4 States Pitch Plans to Pay For College Free Community College, 'Pay It Forward' on Table By Caralee J. Adams Persistent worries about the cost of higher education are prompting state leaders to propose a new stream of plans to increase college affordability and expand access for their students. Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee drew national attention last month when he proposed providing two years of free community college to recent high school graduates. Also in February, the Mississippi House approved a similar two-year pilot program to cover gaps in community college tuition for students who have exhausted other aid. In Texas, the state's higher education coordinating board-responding to a challenge by Gov. Rick Perry to come up with a low-cost baccalaureate option-in January launched a competency-based bachelor's degree program. Officials estimate that a student could earn a degree in about three years for $15,000 or less. Elsewhere, states are freezing tu- ition or batting around the idea of not having students pay tuition until after they graduate. Bills to advance that "pay it forward" model have been introduced recently in at least 19 states, though no state has adopted such a system. The closest step came when the Oregon legislature last year approved a measure mandating a study of the idea's feasibility. And last week, the Oregon House followed the state Senate in approving a bill to study making community college free. Despite the activity across states, some of the proposals-whether giving a free ride in community college or the PAGE 14> DIGITAL DIRECTIONS U.S. Outlines Data-Privacy Guidelines 'Summit' Tackles Challenges By Benjamin Herold Washington Seeking to help schools protect students' privacy without inhibiting the use of digital technologies in the classroom, the U.S. Department of Education released new guidance last week on the proper use, storage, and security of the massive amounts of data being generated by new, online educational resources. "This can't be a choice between privacy and progress," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told a gathering of privacy advocates and ed-tech leaders who gathered for a "summit" on the hot-button issue. The guidance comes amid a flurry of activity around student-data privacy. Also in recent weeks, a leading technology trade group issued its own recommendations for protecting such data; major state legislation was proposed in California; U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., announced that he will soon introduce a federal bill; and the San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media hosted the highprofile "School Privacy Zone" summit here. James P. Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, said the confluence of efforts is a good sign. "I've never felt that industry self-regPAGE 13> Education Week's second annual report recognizing bold and innovative leaders: The report spotlights 16 district-level leaders from across the country who seized on creative but practical approaches to improving their school systems and put those ideas to work. The leaders were chosen from nominees submitted by readers, education reporters, school administrator groups, and experts in specific areas of education. See the pullout section, opposite Page 14. BREAKING NEWS DAILY Waiver Pitfalls On Full Display In Wash. State By Alyson Klein Research Questions Common-Core Claims by Publishers By Benjamin Herold & Michele Molnar Statements from publishers that traditional instructional materials are aligned with the Common Core State Standards are largely a "sham," according to a prominent researcher who conducted one of two forthcoming reviews of classroom textbooks. The jury is still out, though, on the new wave of digital curricula hitting the market. The findings highlight a new threat to the successful implementation of the common core, as well as a major challenge for districts in the 46 states and the District of Columbia that have adopted versions of the standards. The studies "reaffirmed what we had been hearing from our state [textbook] working group," especially in mathematics, said Carrie Heath Phillips, a program director for the Council of Chief State School Officers, in Washington, which has helped spearhead the new standards. Ms. Phillips downplayed the impact that misaligned textbooks will have on states' efforts to implement the new standards, but said the new studies "may be an eye-opener" for districts. "It's buyer beware," she said. 'Snake Oil Salesmen' Hoping to boost their share of a $9 billion annual market, many publishers now boast that their textbooks are "common-core aligned" and so can help spur the dramatic shifts in classroom instruction intended by the new stan- dards for English/language arts and math. But in a Feb. 21 presentation of his re- search at a seminar in Los Angeles hosted by the Education Writers Association, William Schmidt, a professor of statistics and education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, dismissed most purveyors of such claims as "snake oil salesmen" who have done little more than slap shiny new stickers on the same books they've been selling for years. Mr. Schmidt, who also co-directs the univer- sity's Education Policy Center, and his team recently analyzed about 700 textbooks from 35 textbook series for grades K-8 that are now being used by 60 percent of public school children in the United States. Of those that purported to be aligned with the new standards, PAGE 12> Washington state's struggle to hang on to newfound flexibility on the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act is just the latest example of the tightrope created by the Obama administration's waivers, particularly when it comes to the politically fraught issue of teacher evaluation. To keep their leeway on accountability for students and schools-and control over millions of federal dollars-states must draft proposals on teacher evaluation and other areas that will pass federal muster while satisfying diverse constituencies back home. The Evergreen State is one of four that have been put on notice by the U.S. Department of Education that their waivers could be yanked for failure to adhere to strict federal guidelines in a key area of accountability. If that happens, districts PAGE 19>

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Education Week - March 5, 2014