Education Week - April 2, 2014 - (Page 1)

EDUCATIONWEEK VOL. 33, NO. 27 * APRIL 2, 2014 AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4 New State Laws Revive Focus On Child Abuse By Evie Blad An Illinois woman has turned the lessons she learned in her recovery from her own childhood sexual abuse into a nationwide push to pass state laws that require student lessons and teacher training about the issue in public schools. Starting in her home state in 2011, Erin Merryn has successfully pushed for passage of a so-called "Erin's Law" in 10 states, and she expects that number to grow as 26 have considered or are considering similar bills in their 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions. The bills, which vary state by state, generally require age-appropriate instruction for children as young as prekindergarten on preventing, recognizing, and reporting sexual abuse. They also either allow teachers to count training on sexual abuse toward continuing education requirements or mandate such training for all public school personnel. Schools are a natural place for young chil- dren to learn what sorts of behaviors by adults are appropriate, Ms. Merryn said. And teachers, who often form trusting relationships with students, will be better equipped to intervene in abuse situations if they recognize PAGE 12> DIGITAL DIRECTIONS By Sean Cavanagh Even though Massachusetts is one of the highest-flying states by academic reputation and test-score rankings, it needs to shake up how it operates and push ahead with a series of ambitious changes to its education system to avoid slipping into complacency, contends a new report released last week. Commissioned by a leading business organization in the state, the document offers the latest and one of the most elaborate arguments to date that education systems in the United States, even high-performing ones, need to judge themselves against academically stellar foreign nations, whose practices are examined throughout the report. The argument for educational changes comes from the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, which was a lead player in the state's efforts to establish strong academic standards and other policies in the early 1990s, steps that some argue helped pave the way for years of academic gains. One of the report's authors is Sir Michael PAGE 13> Local STEM Hubs Emerge to Bolster Math, Science Ed. By Liana Heitin For Emmely Briley, a high school chemistry and physics teacher, working in the rural logging community of Molalla, Ore., for the past 13 years has at times felt isolating. While students 30 miles north in Portland had access to STEM fairs and camps, Ms. Briley's students have historically had few such programs for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics closer to home. Although Ms. Briley would have liked to make her classes more authentic-by bringing in scientists as guest speakers or having her students conduct experiments in the community, for instance-she wasn't sure how to go about forging the connections to do so. "I've felt cut off from some opportunities," she said. "I always wanted somebody I could call up at Xerox and say, 'Hey, we want to take a tour,' but I didn't know how or who to call." Now, Ms. Briley says, that's changing. The 2,400-student Molalla River school system, where she works, is one of many districts across the state involved in a regional STEM hub-essentially a coalition of K-12 schools, universities, businesses, and community organizations, such as nonprofits and museums, that work together to improve education in the STEM fields. These sorts of coalitions are popping up in PAGE 20> Salman Khan, the founder and CEO of the Khan Academy, is pushing his nonprofit educational resource organization deeper into the K-12 mainstream by establishing stronger connections with new academic standards and college-readiness measures. Khan Academy Lessons Linked To Common-Core Standards Strategic Move Seen as Key Step for Field of Open Ed. Resources By Benjamin Herold Continuing its evolution from quirky disruptor of traditional classroom learning to mainstream player aligned with the education establishment, the nonprofit Khan Academy recently unveiled new online math resources tied to the Common Core State Standards. Observers say the materials-which feature interactive high-tech user interfaces and sophisticated back-end software that adapts to individual learners-represent a critical step for the field of free "open education resources," or OER. "I think those [features] are going to be the staple for anybody producing instructional materials in the future," said Barbara Chow, the education program di- rector for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which has donated heavily to support the creation of open education resources. "OER providers are starting to piece that together." (The foundation also supports Education Week's coverage of "deeper learning.") The common core is a major catalyst for that evolution, experts say: As all but a handful of states implement the new standards, thousands of educators are searching for relevant instructional resources, spurring competition among traditional educational publishers, other for-profit vendors, and OER providers (typically nonprofits, universities, or government agencies). While many digital learning proponents PAGE 14> BREAKING NEWS DAILY Mass. Advised To Establish Higher Goals Business Group Calls for State To Make Ambitious Changes INDUSTRY & INNOVATION K12 Inc. Building A New Brand For Some Services By Sean Cavanagh As education companies fight for space in the digital learning market, one of the biggest and most controversial players in the school industry is betting that a simple strategy- changing the name of a line of products and services-will give it an edge. K12 Inc., the publicly traded virtual education provider, says the rebranding move is meant to group a number of similar resources under a single, marketable banner, Fuel Education-and not to distance those offerings from a recent spate of critical news reports affecting the company as a whole. The Herndon, Va.-based company is probably best known as an operator of online schools. It manages schools and offers blended learning programs in more than 30 states and enrolls about 125,000 students. But it also sells numerous other online and blended learning curricular products and instructional services, and the company says the rebranding is bringing together a number of related offerings-collectively accounting for less than 10 percent of its busiPAGE 16> Ramin Rahimian for Education Week

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Education Week - April 2, 2014