Education Week - April 3, 2013 - (Page 5)

EDUCATION WEEK REPORTto these reports, go to For links ROUNDUP High Court to Hear Arguments In Affirmative-Action Case The U.S. Supreme Court decided last week to take up another case involving affirmative action in higher education. It agreed to review a federal appeals court ruling that struck down a 2006 Michigan ballot initiative that barring the use of racial preferences at state colleges and universities. The court is still weighing whether race-conscious admissions policies at the University of Texas at Austin violate the equalprotection clause of the U.S. Constitution. It heard arguments in that case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, last October, and a decision could come at any time. The new case is Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (Case No. 12-682). Last November, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, voted 8-7 to invalidate Michigan’s Proposal 2 as it applies to state colleges and universities. Proposal 2 also bars school districts from discriminating or granting preferential treatment on the basis of race (in addition to sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin), but the challenge decided by the 6th Circuit deals only with the measure’s operation in higher education in the state. There was immediate speculation about the Supreme Court’s reasons for granting review of the Michigan case while the Texas affirmative-action case is pending. Normally, an appeal raising similar issues to that of a case already under review is held until the decision in the pending case is released. It’s possible the justices think the issues raised in the Michigan case are sufficiently distinct from those in the Texas case. The justices also could be torn over the disposition of the Michigan case and could order reargument. Arguments in the Michigan case will take place in the court’s —MARK WALSH next term. TESTING COSTS States can afford higher-quality assessments by reallocating the money they currently spend on tests, according to a new report. It argues that states can replace as many as half the multiple-choice items on their current tests with essays and performance items without spending more than they currently do on testing, and they’d get assessments that offer good learning experiences for students and valuable feedback for teachers. In the new study, co-authors Linda Darling-Hammond and Frank Adamson of Stanford University detail several kinds of cost savings that could be mined to support an assessment system that leans more heavily on performance tasks. One would be efficiencies realized through state collaborations like the two consortia that are developing tests for the common standards. Another would be computer delivery and scoring. DRUG TESTING —MICHELE McNEIL NewsBlast Publication Relaunched, Renamed The pen NewsBlast e-newsletter that covered local education reform issues until its parent organization closed its doors late last year will continue publishing with new foundation funding. The Public Education Network, which published the newsletter for about eight years as a news resource for members at local education foundations, closed its national office in December, citing economic challenges. The Barr Foundation provided funding for the renamed Public Education NewsBlast, and the Los Angeles Education Partnership, an original member of the pen network, will continue to produce the newsletter, the group announced last week. —KATHLEEN KENNEDY MANZO Texas Senate to Decide On ‘Parent Trigger’ Bill A measure making it easier for parents to urge their school boards to close failing schools or convert them into charters was sent last week to the full Texas Senate for consideration, but with changes to ensure such efforts aren’t led by outside groups. The proposal is meant to shorten the time it takes before “parent triggers” can be enacted. Currently, schools rated “academically unacceptable” for two straight years are subject to state intervention. If performance doesn’t improve for three additional years, a majority of parents can petition a school board for closure, staff changes, or conversion to a charter. The proposal would now allow parents to seek school board action one year after state intervention. The measure has been cheered by conservatives as ensuring parents can hold schools accountable. But teachers’ groups worry it will allow more traditional public schools to fall under the control of charter operators. —ASSOCIATED PRESS CORRECTIONS: A story in the March 27, 2013, issue of Education Week about blending science learning and English proficiency misspelled the name of the schools superintendent in Sonoma, Calif. Her name is Louann Carlomagno. A story about engineering education in the same issue misspelled the name of Cary I. Sneider, a member of the sciencestandards writing team. APRIL 3, 2013 n 5 Teachers Near Top on Measures Of Quality of Life, Survey Says “Poll: Teachers Rank High on ‘Well-Being’ ” “Developing Assessments of Deeper Learning: The Costs and Benefits of Using Tests That Help Students Learn” —CATHERINE GEWERTZ department choose the strongest preapplications. Those applicants will then go on to submit full applications and compete in the main contest later this spring. n “Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey Study on the Effect of Suspicionless Random Drug Testing in New Jersey Middle Schools” Teachers top all other professionals except physicians in overall wellbeing, according to the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The results are based on interviews conducted with 170,000 adults, including 9,467 K-12 teachers, last year. Participants responded to 55 items concerning their physical, emotional, and financial health. Teachers also rank second, again below physicians, in emotional health, life evaluations, and basic access (including to food, housing, and health care)—three of the six components of well-being as measured by the survey. Within emotional health, teachers were more likely than any other occupational group to say they had “smiled or laughed a lot yesterday,” with 88 percent indicating they had done so. However, teachers were also second only to physicians in stress levels; 47 percent reported they experience stress daily. In the areas of healthy behaviors and physical health, teachers scored fairly high, ranking third and fifth, respectively, out of the 14 professions listed. But in the area of “work environment,” teachers ranked eighth out of 14 professions, below “farming, fishing, or forestry,” “construction or mining,” and nursing. Fifty-eight percent of teachers said their supervisor treats them as a partner, placing them below five other occupations on the measure. And teachers ranked last among the 14 professions in indicating their “supervisor always creates an environment that is trusting and open.” Gallup released the findings in a series of articles on its website. In a blog post, Gallup’s senior scientist Shane Lopez and content manager Preety Sidhu point out that “it is unclear whether the relatively higher scores of teachers on several measures of well-being are because working in that profession enhances one’s well-being, or if people who have higher well-being in general seek out teaching professions.” According to the recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 82 percent of teachers said they are either somewhat or very satisfied with their work, though the percentage of very satisfied teachers has been on the decline in recent years. —LIANA HEITIN ceived and actual use of alcohol— but not drugs—year to year,” the study says. —NIRVI SHAH EARLY LEARNING EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY In 1998, New Jersey mandated universal early-childhood education starting at age 3 for all children in 31 of the state’s urban districts. A recent report found the effects of this early education to be lasting. The children followed in the study by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., were beneficiaries of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s rulings in Abbott v. Burke, which found the state’s previous school funding law unconstitutional when applied to students in the state’s poorer urban districts. For the students, now in 4th and 5th grades, the study found that the Abbott preschool programs increased achievement in language arts and literacy, math, and science. The effects were greater for students who attended two years of preschool versus those who only attended one year. For pupils enrolled for one year, the test-score gains counted for closing the achievement gap between minority and white students over a year of learning by approximately 10 percent to 20 percent. Those gains doubled to 20 percent to 40 percent for the youngsters enrolled in two years of preschool. —ALYSSA MORONES Students randomly tested for alcohol in middle school seem less likely to drink and use drugs during those middle grades, and they are less likely to drink when they get older, a six-year study of New Jersey students finds. Researchers, however, caution that random drug testing isn’t a panacea for drug- and alcohol-use prevention. The study tracked about 3,500 middle school students from the 2006-07 school year into this school year. Researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Teaneck, N.J., and from the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey found that middle school students who had been tested at any point in grades 6-8 for drug and alcohol use didn’t follow the typical pattern of most high school students. Those who had been tested did not show a spike in alcohol use during their junior year in high school, when they have access to jobs, cars, and money and are exposed to older individuals who are more likely to use alcohol and drugs. The effect of the testing on drug use wasn’t the same. “Students who had been tested showed much smaller increases in per- Although only six states— Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Utah, and Virginia— earned an A or B on the 2012 edition of the Digital Learning Report Card, digital learning continues to be a hot topic in legislatures across the country, says the ed-tech advocacy group Digital Learning Now!, which wrote the report. States were graded based on 39 measures that correlate to the organization’s 10 essential elements for high-quality digital learning. Those elements were crafted during a meeting in 2010 of a digital learning council cochaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, which led to the formation of Digital Learning Now!. In 2012, more than 700 bills related to digital learning were debated in state legislatures, according to the report. Of those, 152 were signed into law, allowing students to take classes online, equipping students and teachers with mobile devices, and providing schools the flexibility to embrace blended learning models. —KATIE ASH >> For links to these reports, go to “2012 Digital Learning Report Card” “Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study”

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 3, 2013

Education Week - April 3, 2013
Test Rules Differ Between Groups for Special Ed.
Consortia Struggle With ELL Provisions
FOCUS ON: ASSOCIATIONS: Leadership Shifts in Changing Field
Safety Plan for Schools: No Guns
Access to Common Exams Probed
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Gaps Found in Access to Qualified Math Teachers
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: 3-D Printing Classes In a Virginia School Attract Global Visitors
Arizona Weighing ‘Performance Funding’ For Schools
L.A. ‘Incubator School’ to Teach Startup Tactics
Blogs of the Week
Cantor Raises Profile on Schooling Issues
Calif. Districts’ Waiver Bid Heads to Review Phase
Policy Brief
Congress Tweaks Special Education Funding Mandates
Marriage Arguments Hit Children’s Issues
ROBIN LAKE & ALEX MEDLER: Do Charter Schools Serve Special-Needs Students? The Answer Is Complicated
ARTHUR H. CAMINS: Assessing the Impact Of New Science Standards
LAURIE BARNOSKI: School Leaders: Make Sure Your Teachers Don’t Lose Heart
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment
DAVID BERNSTEIN: It’s Time to Mainstream Progressive Education

Education Week - April 3, 2013