Education Week - April 1, 2015 - (Page 4)

NeWs IN bRIeF Most Districts Unprepared For Online Testing Fewer than 30 percent of K-12 school technology leaders believe their districts are ready for online assessments, according to an annual survey by the Consortium for School Networking. That's potentially a big worry, given that versions of online exams aligned to the Common Core State Standards are already being administered in some states. In other findings from the survey, 84 percent of respondents said they expect instructional materials in their districts to be at least 50 percent digital within the next three years, and more than half reported not having enough staff to effectively integrate new technology into the classroom. -BENJAMIN HEROLD Court Upholds District's Rejection of Religious Ad A federal appeals court has upheld a Texas school district's refusal to air a "Jesus Tattoo" ad on the video scoreboard of its high school football stadium. A private religious group sought to run the ad featuring a shirtless, heavily tattooed Jesus Christ during football games in the Lubbock district as "a new way to share the Bible's teachings through contemporary marketing methods," as the group said in its lawsuit. But the Lubbock district rejected the ad in 2013, saying the district would appear to be endorsing the ad's religious message, which the court agreed with. -MARK WALSH Districts Need Not Transport Ind. Students, Court Rules School districts aren't required under the state constitution to provide bus transportation for students, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled last week. The Franklin Township district was sued after it cut free bus service for the 2011-12 school year. The 9,000-student district turned to a private contractor and required parents to pay for their children to ride, after voters rejected a referendum to raise property taxes to help SAVING THE DAY Dressed in superhero capes, Girl Scouts, from left, Alicia Cutter, Addy O'Neal, Emery Dodson, Karissa Cheng, and Emily Bergenroth of Tulsa, Okla., meet with President Barack Obama before showing him their project at the White House Science Fair last week. With Lego pieces, the girls designed a battery-powered page turner to help people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. Tell us about your science experiments at sciencefair. close an $8 million budget shortfall. A state appeals court found the district violated the constitution when it stopped providing transportation to and from school. But the Supreme Court rejected that, ruling that while the constitution refers to a free public education, "the framers did not intend for every aspect of public education to be free." -ASSOCIATED PRESS Businesses, Groups Seek School Library Funding A coalition of more than 20 education businesses, associations, and media groups are calling on Congress to support dedicated school library funding in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The coalition, which includes Scholastic Inc., ebsco Information Services Inc., and the Association of American Publishers, sent a letter last month to Bill Would Tie Kansas School Funding to Post-Graduation Success A proposal for a new school finance formula in Kansas would link school funding to the success of students after graduation. The legislation, Senate Bill 294, would tie part of districts' funding to the number of graduates enrolled in college or working in jobs where they earn an income above a certain threshold. Districts would receive success ratings based on the number of graduates who had earned an industry certification, completed basic military training, enrolled in a third consecutive semester at a college, or worked at a job earning an income of at least 250 percent of the poverty level. That would be $29,425 now. Sen. Steve Abrams, who chairs the Senate education committee and previously served on the state board of education, said the bill he introduced would link educational funding to real-world outcomes. "State assessments, which now are used to measure educational success, are not as effective a measurement as real-world outcomes, he said. "Well, when's the last time you guys applied for a job and the employer said, 'What'd you do on the state assessment?' " he asked. Districts' success ratings would also be weighted against their poverty rate and enrollment. That means, for example, that the Kansas City, Kan., district, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the state, could receive $32 million in success aid compared with $14 million for the Blue Valley district, which has a higher success rate but one of the lowest poverty rates in the state, according to the Kansas Association of School Boards. -McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate education committee, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the committee's ranking member, seeking greater federal investment in school libraries. Federal data indicate that about 8,830 public schools in the United States do not have a school library. And nearly 17,000 schools lack a fullor part-time state-certified librarian, according to the American Library Association. -MICHELE MOLNAR Delays Plague New Tests In Montana and Wisconsin Wisconsin announced that it planned to delay the start of the Smarter Balanced exams in grades 3-8 by two weeks, after technical problems arose with the test's online delivery platform. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported last week that the tests will now be given between April 13 and May 22, instead of between March 30 and May 22 as originally planned. In addition, Montana postponed the start of its own Smarter Balanced exam. An official with the state Office of Public Instruction said last week the state was still working with its vendor to identify a new start date, according to the Associated Press. The department's chief of staff, Madalyn Quinlan, said Nevada and North Dakota are also delaying their exams-the three states share a testing vendor, Measured Progress. -ANDREW UJIFUSA Suspensions, Expulsions Reduced in Chicago Chicago school officials report a 60 percent reduction in student suspensions and 38 percent fewer 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | April 1, 2015 | Idaho Found to Waste Money on Software State auditors say Idaho wasted $61 million on a software system to track and improve student performance that doesn't work for most districts. In a report released last week, the office of performance evaluations found that the department gave all districts access to Schoolnet but did not provide enough financial support or technical training. The department then minimized the problems. The report also found that the department was overly ambitious in the software it selected, which was not designed to serve as a statewide platform. And the department lacked any oversight to evaluate if the software was beneficial to schools. -AP N.Y.C. to Adapt Strategy Used by Police to Schools Under pressure to reverse the fortunes of New York City's 94 worst schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio is creating a "war room" at the education department to adapt the statistics-andaccountability program pioneered by his police commissioner and credited with sharply reducing crime. A mayoral spokesman said the expulsions across all grades at the mid-school-year point. The reductions follow revisions to the district's code of conduct. Officials say it provides a more equitable approach to discipline. The program began in January 2014 and brought teachers, principals, and school officials together to devise support programs and alternatives to kicking students out of school. -AP Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 1, 2015

K-12 Law’s Legacy Blend of Idealism, Policy Tensions
Testing Security Prompts Scrutiny Of Social Media
Virtual Spec. Ed. Is Evolving Option
Turnover at Top Can Leave Funders Wary
Education Week - April 1, 2015
News in Brief
Report Roundup
New Studies Affirm Impact of Board-Certified Teachers
Blogs of the Week
Honored Educator Decries Current Climate for Teaching
‘Opt-Out’ Push Sparks Queries For Guidance
Texas Lawmakers Wrangle A Herd of Education Measures
A View From the Top As the Policy Clock Ticks
Blogs of the Week
TYRONE HOWARD: Decriminalizing School Discipline: Why Black Males Matter
THE ESEA AT 50: Perspectives From the Archives
REBECCA GIVENS ROLLAND: The Ticking Clock of American Education
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
MARILYN BURNS: What Reading Instruction Can Teach Us About Math Instruction

Education Week - April 1, 2015