Education Week - April 20, 2016 - (Page 10)

Ind. Scholarship Law Aims to Entice Top Students Into Teaching 'Pipeline' issues raising concerns By Elisha McNeil Indiana this month became the latest state to seek to curb persistent teacher shortages by offering college-tuition dollars to students who go into teaching. On April 7, Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, signed a new law that provides more than $10 million to create the Next Generation Hoosier Scholarship fund, designed to entice high-performing students into K-12 education. "This bipartisan initiative encourages our best and brightest students to consider teaching in Indiana classrooms as a lifelong career," Gov. Pence said. Starting in the fall of 2017, up to 200 college students who commit to teaching in Indiana for at least five consecutive years after graduation can receive up to $7,500 per year (no more than $30,000 in total) to cover tuition as they pursue their degrees. To be eligible, students must have graduated in the top 20 percent of their high school classes or scored in the top 20th percentile on their ACT or SAT exams. After receiving the scholarship, the students are required to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students who fail to meet the terms of the scholarship, including by not remaining in teaching for five years, would have to repay all or some of the money, depending on the circumstances. Application and other program details are being ironed out by the state's Commission for Higher Education. Teacher-Prep Declines Indiana is one of a number of states that have been struggling with well-publicized teacher shortages, particularly in hard-to-staff subjects and geographic areas, as well as declining enrollments in teacher-preparation programs. In Indiana's case, problems in the new-teacher pipeline appear to be particularly dramatic. According to federal data, the number of students enrolled in teacher-prep programs in the state dropped from 15,115 in 2009-10 to 7,222 in 2013-14. In the same period, program completions dropped from 4,339 to 3,510. According to the Indiana education department, the state has seen a drop of more than 30 percent in new-teacher licensures issued over the past six years. Last fall, state Superintendent for Public Instruction Glenda Ritz created a special commission to develop recommendations "to systematically address Indiana's teacher shortage." BLOGS In January, the group-known as the Blue Ribbon Teacher Commission-issued a report urging policymakers (among other initiatives) to provide for more "professionally competitive" salary scales for educators, de-emphasize the use of standardized tests in teacher evaluations, and "offset the costs of teacher preparation" for students, with an emphasis on teacher-candidates from underrepresented groups. recommendations from the commission" and that Ritz would continue to concentrate on pushing through the strategies outlined by the group's. Tuition Assistance But Indiana lawmakers' move to focus on providing college-tuition money to entice students into teaching echoes initiatives put forth recently by other states. " Anytime we receive support from our legislators in order to support the outstanding profession of teaching is a positive step for our state." THOMAS A. OESTREICH Director of Human Resources, Metropolitan School District of Washington Township Also in January, Gov. Pence signed a bill to create a one-year reprieve of teacher-evaluation consequences tied to the state's standardized test. But that initiative appeared to be related less to teacher-recruitment issues than to concerns about schools' transition to a new testing regime. Samantha Hart, a press secretary for the state department of education, said in an email that the new scholarship program "was not based on Last year, Nevada lawmakers approved a measure to provide nearly $5 million in scholarships to students who enroll in teacherpreparation programs, starting with alternative-route offerings, at select state colleges. And both Illinois and Virginia have programs that provide tuition assistance to students who commit to teaching in designated "shortage areas" in the states. Legislators in South Carolina re- cently proposed an $8.2 million student-loan-forgiveness program for would-be teachers who agree to work in high-needs districts, according to the Associated Press. California lawmakers are considering a measure that would reinstate a similar loanforgiveness program that was cut several years ago because of budget constraints. Other states have smaller, more targeted loan-forgiveness measures for teachers on the books. Skeptics argue that, no matter how generous, tuition-assistance programs alone do little to resolve long-term teacher shortages because they fail to address structural problems within the profession itself. But some school recruiters see them as a step in the right direction. Thomas A. Oestreich, the human resources director for the Washington Township in Indianapolis, said that while much more needs to be done to support teachers in Indiana, the scholarship program helps raise the profession's profile. "Anytime we receive support from our legislators in order to support the outstanding profession of teaching is a positive step for our state," he said. "It is my hope that many young people in our high schools will look at the teaching profession in a positive light, and this scholarship fund may entice some of our top high school students to enter this noble profession." Districts Try to Simplify School Choice Process or 9th grade can choose among more than 40 schools during the 30-day window this month, according to the Detroit Free Press.  -SARAH TULLY | K-12 PARENTS AND THE PUBLIC | Two major urban areas are trying to make it easier for parents to choose and enroll their children in schools. But Los Angeles and Detroit district officials are taking opposite approaches. Los Angeles Unified wants to start a one-stop application for its specialized schools, such as magnets and dual-language programs. But the district plans to exclude charter schools. Detroit only has charter schools and one private campus in its new application system. No regular district schools are involved. Districts nationwide are increasingly trying to simplify the way parents apply for a myriad of public school choices and make the process more equitable. Single-enrollment systems, especially, have caught on in districts with many options, such as efforts started in 2012 with Denver and New Orleans. But the results have been mixed and have resulted in parent complaints, such as in Newark, N.J. Both Los Angeles and Detroit have neighborhood schools, along with charters and other options. The 640,000-student Los Angeles district recently started discussing a unified-enrollment process to help parents navigate the district's eight or so specialized programs, as well as its traditional district schools. Now, if parents want to leave their neighborhood schools, every program has a different application system. The enrollment process spreads over eight months, said Jesus Angulo, the director of academic and counseling services. The district wants to crunch down the window to about six weeks in the fall each year as a way to better "support communities and families so they can make important choices for their sons or daughters," he said. District officials in Detroit were initially part of the talks to join the common-enrollment system, but the 50,000-student school system decided to stay out for now. The district has been under state oversight and emergency managers since 2009. "Given the state of transition that currently exists in the district, we elected not to join in the pilot program," said Michelle Zdrodowski, a Detroit spokeswoman, in a statement. Meanwhile, Detroit families with children entering kindergarten How Student-Led Confabs Could Help Rural Schools 10 | EDUCATION WEEK | April 20, 2016 | | RURAL EDUCATION | Eight years ago, the rural Pittsfield, N.H., district had one of the state's lowest-performing schools. Parent involvement was low, with fewer than 20 percent showing up for parent-teacher conferences. Then, in 2012, the district received a $2 million grant to focus on student-centered learning, which gives students more choice over their learning and also increases the responsibility students have over their academics. As part of this model, the district adopted student-led conferences, which put students in charge of relaying their academic progress to parents. This model is examined in a recent story by The Hechinger Report, which suggests that those conferences could help rural schools deal with such chronic problems as low college-enrollment rates and a lack of parent participation. In Pittsfield, officials say the conferences are teaching students valuable lessons and skills. They must organize the conferences with school officials, invite their parents through a formal letter, and prepare a work portfolio. During the conferences, they present their work to their parents or guardians, as well as their progress toward various goals. District officials say the process is helping students set goals for their future, and parent participation has increased. Now, 90 percent of parents attend conferences. A key feature of the process is that the district accommodates parent schedules, which can be especially helpful in rural districts where there are few public-transportation options and work commutes can be lengthy. Some potential challenges have arisen, however, according to the story. School officials have seen parents and children disagree about long-term goals that are brought up during the conferences, such as attending college out of state. Parents of juniors and seniors also may start seeing the conferences as "familiar and even rote," after attending for several years, which means the content may need to change for older students. -JACKIE MADER

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 20, 2016

Education Week - April 20, 2016
Charters Help Alums Stick With College
Cruz’s K-12 Agenda: Pro-School Choice, Anti-Common Core
National Count of Special Education Students Shows Uptick
New Online Tool Expands Access To School Climate Measurements
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Caution Urged on Measuring Social-Emotional Skills
Studies Affirm Role of Emotions In Students’ Transitions
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Needs for ‘Resourcefulness,’ Equity Probed in Maker Ed.
Digital Divide Evolves in Fla. Schools, Study Finds
Ind. Scholarship Law Aims to Entice Top Students Into Teaching
Blogs of the Week
Testing Issues Generate Heat in Legislatures
Sparks Fly as Congress Reviews ESSA Rulemaking Process
MATT GANDAL: Are We Serious About the Goal Of College and Career Readiness for All?
ADAM LAATS & HARVEY SIEGEL: Teaching Evolution Is Not About Changing Beliefs
Q&A With StoryCorps’ Dave Isay
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
CHARLOTTE DANIELSON: It’s Time to Rethink Teacher Evaluation

Education Week - April 20, 2016