Education Week - March 27, 2013 - (Page 14)

EDUCATION WEEK n MARCH 27, 2013 BLOGS of the WEEK | NEWS | Rules for Engagement Newtown Commission Issues School Safety Report Improving the design of schools with an eye on safety is a key recommendation from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, put together by Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The group of teachers, safety experts, and state and city officials—convened in response to the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.— released an interim report last week. While state regulations already set school design standards for lighting and air quality, the commission’s report notes, “no standard exists for the baseline of safe school design.” But there should be at least minimum safety standards for K-12 schools, day-care centers, and colleges and universities, the commission says, acknowledging that cost will factor into schools’ ability to improve security. “As precious seconds matter in an episode like the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” the commission says, the state should consider requiring that all classrooms in K-12 schools have doors that can be locked from the inside by the classroom teacher, and requiring that all exterior doors in these schools have hardware capable of implementing a fullperimeter lockdown. All schools should develop emergency plans that say how information about emergencies will be shared and how, if necessary, children will be reunited with their parents. Sandy Hook Elementary parents gathered at a nearby firehouse, waiting for hours for information about their children after news of the shootings spread. Specifically for cases involving an active shooter, the commission says that local police, fire, and other emergency-response agencies should have up-to-date copies of school building floor plans, maps of the surrounding areas, evacuation routes, shelter sites, and established procedures for addressing medical needs, transportation, and parent notification. Schools should evaluate cellphone coverage across their campuses and be encouraged to use surveillance cameras that can send images via the Internet—not just be viewed by someone monitoring cameras at the schools. The commission wants the state to go beyond its recommendations and create another group that would come up with more-specific ideas for improving school building safety, especially measures for retrofitting existing buildings with additional security features. The Sandy Hook Commission also recommended a host of new regulations about guns, including permits, the size of magazines, and background checks. In the coming months, it will shift its focus to learning more about what changes are needed in the state’s mental-health—NIRVI SHAH care system. | NEWS | Digital Education MOOC Technology Training Offered for Educators A new, free online course is aimed at giving thousands of district administrators around the country help in using technology to meet their schools’ needs. The project—dubbed a “mooc-Ed,” or a massively open online course for educators—is the work of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington-based advocacy organization that has been heavily involved in promoting n digital education, and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, at North Carolina State University’s college of education. The course is to be the first of several massive, open online courses focused on education organized by the Friday Institute. It’s a seven-week class that will run from April 8 through May 24 and is specifically designed for school and district leaders, including superintendents, principals, curriculum directors, tech directors, finance officials, lead teachers, and others responsible for planning the use of technology in K-12. District administrators and others taking part need to commit between two and four hours a week to the class. Participants in the administrators’ mooc will receive information on broad themes, such as how technology is changing the way students learn. They will also focus on how school leaders can set meaningful goals for digital learning based on student academic outcomes and other measures. The alliance and the university say the course will integrate “crowdsourcing” or activities that allow participants to share ideas and resources and give feedback. The course is a part of an effort called Project 24, which is aimed at helping districts plan and use technology effectively. —SEAN CAVANAGH | NEWS | Curriculum Matters Testing Group Reorganizes For Long-Term Survival The two big groups of states that are designing tests for the Common Core State Standards have a lot more on their minds than the thorny work of test design. They’re trying to figure out how they can survive once their federal funding runs out in the fall of 2014, before the tests are even administered. One sign of this focus cropped up when parcc (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) announced that it had reorganized itself as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. This move facilitates the receipt of foundation funding, among other things, something that has been under consideration as a mode of survival once the group runs out of federal money. Parcc and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have teamed up to do some thinking about sustainability. They’ve got a heavy-hitting consulting firm working on sustainability plans, and the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers—the folks who spearheaded the common-standards drive four years ago—are playing roles as well. The governing states of Smarter Balanced are scheduled to vote on their plan when they meet in the Washington area this week. parcc states will soon do likewise. The sustainability question is key to the long-term work of the consortia. No one really knows who will update the tests, for instance, as secure item pools dwindle. The research agenda is in question, too. Without a multiyear inquiry into how students at various cut scores perform in college, it’s tough to validate the test as being a proxy of college readiness. There is a bottom-line question of sustainability as well. The groups are mindful that in order to protect the $360 million in federal funding they won, they each need to have at least 15 member states. With 24 in sbac and 22 in parcc right now, that doesn’t seem to be a looming issue. But if enough states get skittish and drop out, federal officials could— according to their own regulations—cut off the funding that is meant to carry the consortia’s work through the fall of 2014. The sensitivity to preserving membership showed up not long ago in parcc’s contracting scuffle with act, as you might recall. —CATHERINE GEWERTZ >> To see all Education Week blogs, go to INDUSTRY & INNOVATION > Tracking business trends and emerging models in K-12 New York State Takes Unconventional Route In Buying Curricula CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 pressure changes in the education landscape, and torque the tensions involved in a deep reworking of curriculum and instruction. What happens in the publishing world, for instance, when a state demands total ownership over the curriculum materials it purchases so they can be available to all for free? And what happens when pivotal stakeholder groups disagree about the pace of change that best serves schoolchildren? Those questions sparked the two waves of concern that have arisen from New York’s curriculum procurement and its assessment timeline. The first came from the publishing world, whose biggest players snubbed the competitive procurement process because of unusual FREE MATERIALS New York state’s contracts for common-core curricula require that the materials be free of licensing and other restrictions that would impede the state from making them available for free online. Four vendors won contracts to develop curriculum and accompanying professional development for the state. Their materials are being posted on New York’s common-core website,, as they are developed, with the full set scheduled to be complete by December 2014. ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS PreK-2 Core Knowledge Foundation Grades 3-5 requirements that the materials be free of licensing restrictions that would interfere with New York’s desire to make them available for free online. The second and current wave arises from the state teachers’ union, which welcomes the curriculum itself, but believes that it’s too soon to test students— and evaluate teachers—on it. Many pieces of the curriculum are posted on the state’s common-core website,, but it won’t be complete until December 2014. “We’re giving the test before teaching the curriculum. That’s not what you should do,” said Maria Neira, the vice president for research and educational services for New York State United Teachers. “We’re rushing to do it, instead of doing it right.” Merryl H. Tisch, the chairwoman of the state board of regents, counters that the state’s timeline for common-core implementation has been clear for more than two years, and that schools and districts would have to have been “living under a rock” to be surprised now. “There is an enormous pushback against us because we are rolling out the common-core assessment, and some think we should have waited a year,” she said. “But as youngsters graduate high school right now, they’ve already hit a wall. Their reality is right now. We feel this is such an urgent issue, we have to roll it out now.” Wading Into Content New York state had never created curriculum before, preferring to leave that job to districts. But in the common core, officials saw the opportunity to create materials— and accompanying professional development—marked by “a real devotion to the higher bar that the standards demand,” according to Expeditionary Learning Grades 6-8 MATHEMATICS Expeditionary Learning, under subcontract to Public Consulting Group PreK-12 Common Core Inc. Grades 9-12 Public Consulting Group Total cost of P-12 curriculum in both subjects: $28,335,642 SOURCE: New York State Education Department iStockphoto/Patrick Ellis 14

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 27, 2013

Education Week - March 27, 2013
N.Y.C. System School-Match Gaps Tracked
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Educators Questioning Timing of
Resident Teachers Are Getting More ‘Practice’
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Race to Top Districts ‘Personalize’ Plans
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study Finds Gaps in ‘College Ready’ Math Offerings
Early-Algebra Push Found to Yield No NAEP Boost
Math Teachers Break Down Standards For At-Risk Students
More Teachers Group Students by Ability
San Diego Superintendent Pick Has Deep Parental Ties
Partnership Combines Science Instruction and English Learning
States’ Score Cards Pinpoint Problems Of School Climate
Experts: Later School Start Helps Sleep-Deprived Teens
Blogs of the Week
Project Aims to Expand Web Access
New NAEP Demands Application of Knowledge
Elementary Students Tackling Windmills
Policy Brief
'Parent Trigger’ Laws Catching Fresh Wave
School Angles Seen in Same-Sex-Marriage Cases
‘Sequester’ Cuts Still in Place Amid Budget Wrangling
Political Storm Rages as Acting N.M. Chief Presses on With Job
Congress Eyes Pre-K
REGIS ANNE SHIELDS & KAREN HAWLEY MILES: Want Effective Teachers? Think About Your Value Proposition
ALISON CROWLEY: Getting Rid of the GPS: Teaching the Common Standards in Math
STEPHEN R. HERR: Celebrating Without Accomplishing
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment
AMANDA GARDNER: The Many Keys To Radical Classroom Change

Education Week - March 27, 2013