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. -MARK WALSH 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 commercial kitchen. tendent, who is hired by an elected school board. That board has a strong Democratic majority, unlike the gop-controlled legislature and governor's office. -McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE 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 charter schools. 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 Transgender-Athletes Policy 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 administer it. 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." -SEAN CAVANAGH student-athletes. 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 school year. -BRYAN TOPOREK 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 the qualifications. -ASSOCIATED PRESS 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 | 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 the globe. -JORDAN MOENY 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. -MCT 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 cash-awards system. 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 awards program. 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. The 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. -AP 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. -AP 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
Report Roundup
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