Education Week - March 25, 2015 - (Page 4)
NeWS IN BrieF
Atlanta Cheating Trial
Rests With Jury
Jurors in the Atlanta district's
test-cheating case have begun deliberations
in what is believed to be the
longest and most complex academicmisconduct
trial in U.S. history.
A dozen former Atlanta educators
are accused of conspiring to inflate
test scores to meet federal accountability
requirements by changing
answers or guiding students to fill in
the correct responses on a 2009 state
test. If convicted, the defendants
could each face up to 20 years in jail.
The trial began in August and
concluded last week. -COREY MITCHELL
Districts Can't Sue States
Over IDEA Procedures
School districts have no right to
sue their states in federal court in
disputes over the procedural requirements
of U.S. special education law, a
federal appeals court ruled last week.
In complaint-resolution proceedings
involving the Fairfield-Suisun
school district and the Yolo County
office of education, the California education
department issued written decisions
in favor of parents. The local
school agencies were dissatisfied and
said the state violated procedures in
the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act and its federal regulations.
While the idea provides for a losing
party in a due-process hearing to take
the matter to federal court, provisions
of the law on complaint-resolution proceedings
provide no such right, said a
panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco.
Governor Strips Ed. Agency
Of Power Over Reform Board
Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a
controversial executive order transferring
the state school reform office
from the Michigan education
department to a state office that is
directly under his control.
LEARNING BY DOING
Gary Papp, in white cap, teaches
cooking to students in
Georgetown, Del. The "Now
We're Cooking" program
teaches work skills to high
school students with learning
disabilities in a classroom with a
computer lab and a full-service
tendent, who is hired by an elected
school board. That board has a
strong Democratic majority, unlike
the gop-controlled legislature and
Ala. Governor Signs
Charter School Bill
Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican,
last week signed legislation allowing
charter schools to open in Alabama.
That action leaves only seven
The move affects 138 schools
whose academic performance has
them ranked in the bottom 5 percent
of all schools statewide. State
law requires them to develop improvement
plans, and the state
reform office monitors those plans
and holds the schools accountable.
The executive order is particularly
targeted at 54 schools that have operated
under an improvement plan
for more than three years.
Gov. Snyder has no direct control
over the education department,
which is run by the schools superinstates
that do not have laws permitting
The state chapter of the Black Alliance
for Educational Options has
been front and center in the most
recent push to establish charter
schools in Alabama. -ARIANNA PROTHERO
Lawmakers Try to Reverse
Gop lawmakers in both chambers
of the Minnesota legislature have
introduced companion bills that
would undo the state high school
league's new policy on transgender
Pearson, PARCC Knocked for Monitoring Students' Social Media
An attempt to monitor students' social-media use
to prevent the sharing of test information-initially
flagged by a school superintendent in New Jersey-
has generated a blast of criticism toward the parcc
assessment and at Pearson, the contractor hired to
The controversy emerged this month when Elizabeth
C. Jewett, the superintendent of the Watchung
Hills Regional Learning Community in New Jersey,
wrote a letter to other district leaders voicing surprise
about how information about a possible testing
breach had been relayed to her. She said that
she had received an alert from the state's education
department, which had in turn learned from Pearson
about a student supposedly sharing the content
of a test question via Twitter.
After investigating the issue, Ms. Jewett said
that the initial report was false. But in her letter,
she said the department told her that Pearson was
monitoring all social media during the administration
of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness
for College and Careers tests-a practice that the
superintendent said she found "a bit disturbing."
"If our parents were concerned before about a conspiracy
with all of the student data, I am sure I will
be receiving more letters of refusal [to take tests]
once this gets out," Ms. Jewett wrote.
Pearson, in a statement, said maintaining test security
is "critical to ensure fairness for all students
and teachers and to ensure that the results of any
assessment are trustworthy and valid."
"When test questions or elements of a test are
posted publicly to the Internet, including social
media, we are obligated to alert parcc states. Any
contact with students or decisions about student
consequences are handled at the local level."
Michael Yaple, the director of public information
and strategic partnerships for the New Jersey education
department, said in a statement there was
nothing new or unusual about the state's practices
for monitoring social media and other Internet content
generated by students to protect test security.
A parcc spokesman said in an email that using
social media to share images of test questions is
the "2015 equivalent of a student photocopying test
items and handing them out."
If passed, students would only
be allowed to participate on sports
teams that align with the gender
with which they were born. Under
the bill, public school restrooms,
locker rooms, changing rooms, and
shower rooms must all "be designated
for the exclusive use by
students of the male sex only or by
students of the female sex only."
In December, the Minnesota State
High School League approved the
policy that allows transgender student-athletes
to compete on sports
teams that align with their gender
identity, beginning in the 2015-16
Requirements Eased in Ark.
For State Schools Chief
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
plans to sign a bill to ease the requirements
for state education commissioner
so that a former state
senator can take the job.
House members voted last week
to advance the bill to Mr. Hutchinson,
a Republican, who endorsed
Johnny Key for the top K-12 spot.
The commissioner is required to
hold a master's degree, have 10 years'
experience as an educator-including
five as an administrator-and hold a
valid state teacher's license. Those requirements
would be removed so long
as the deputy commissioner meets
U.S. Educator Awarded
Global Teacher Prize
A language arts teacher from
Maine last week won the Global
Teacher Prize that comes with a
$1 million award.
A teacher for more than four decades,
Nancie Atwell founded and
teaches a reading and writing workshop
at the Center for Teaching and
Learning, a demonstration school
she founded in Edgecomb, Maine,
in 1990. Ms. Atwell has also been a
vocal advocate of the importance of
reading books in schools, and particularly
of the importance of giving
students the freedom and space to
engage deeply with books and de4
| EDUCATION WEEK | March 25, 2015 | www.edweek.org
velop a love of reading.
She was one of three U.S. teachers
in the top 10 finalists, out of 1,300
teachers from 127 countries who
applied for the Varkey Foundation
award. The foundation is the philanthropic
branch of Gems Education, a
Dubai-based company that works to
improve access to education across
California Schools 'Win'
$1 Million Lottery
The winner of the Powerball lottery
in California just happens to be
the state's public schools.
No one claimed a $1 million prize
by the deadline this month, so the
unclaimed winnings will be handed
over to California schools.
More than $20 million went unclaimed
during the 2013-14 fiscal
year, according to lottery officials.
Teacher of the Year Program
In Jeopardy in Kansas
Kansas lawmakers are considering
a proposal to replace the state
teacher-of-the-year program with a
The proposal would establish the
new program, which would dole out
thousands of dollars to chosen teachers,
and prohibit the Kansas education
department from running any similar
Teacher of the year winners are currently
selected by a large committee
composed of educators, administrators,
boards of education, parents, and
other education organization representatives.
proposed replacement would
see winners selected by a 13-member
committee made up of three administrators,
a superintendent, four business
representatives chosen by House
and Senate leaders, four members of
the legislature, and a previous winner.
Sandy Hook Families Sue
Estate of Gunman's Mother
Families of nine people killed in the
Newtown, Conn., elementary school
shooting have filed lawsuits against
the estate of the gunman's mother.
The suits contend Nancy Lanza
failed to properly secure her legally
owned Bushmaster ar-15 rifle, which
her troubled adult son, Adam Lanza,
used to kill 20 children and six educators
at Sandy Hook Elementary
School in December 2012.
Adam Lanza killed his mother at
their Newtown home before carrying
out the school shooting and committing
suicide as police arrived.
The lawsuits seek to collect on
Nancy Lanza's homeowner's insurance,
which is estimated to be worth
$1 million to $1.5 million.
Parents Call for Takeover
Of Buffalo District
Some Buffalo public school parents,
including the head of the
New York district's parent-advisory
group, are calling for a takeover of
the district by a special master or
Joe Lamberti/The Daily Times/AP
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 25, 2015
Education Week - March 25, 2015
Civics Tests for Diplomas Gain Traction
For Education Next, Views With An Edge
Employers Integral To Career Studies
Experience Seen as Boost For Teachers
Elite Private Schools Tackle Ed Tech
News in Brief
Eligibility Rules Fuel Growth Of Indiana’s Voucher Program
States Should Play Role in Fostering Engagement, Report Says
Teacher-Leadership Movement Gets Boost From Ed. Dept.
Blogs of the Week
Nonprofits Link Businesses To Career-Tech Programs
At Beaver Country Day, Investing In Innovation
Special Education Task Force Urges Overhaul for California
Gov. Cuomo’s Budget Sparks Backlash in N.Y.
Fight Looms on Kansas Plan To Fund K-12 Via Block Grants
Blogs of the Week
Why School Policies Need to Be Fine-Tuned
Which ‘Common Core’ Are We Talking About?
What Will Be the Impact of the Assessments?
More Educator Voices on Common-Core Implementation
Overcoming ‘Initiative Fatigue’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Breaking the Code of the Common Core
Education Week - March 25, 2015