Education Week - April 24, 2013 - (Page 5)

EDUCATION WEEK n APRIL 24, 2013 TEACHER QUALITY REPORTto these reports, go to For links ROUNDUP Memphis Suburbs Moving Closer to Avoiding Merger EXPANDED LEARNING TIME Tennessee’s state legislature has passed two bills that would allow six of Memphis’ suburban cities to create their own districts. Those cities, all in Shelby County, intend to have new systems up and running by the start of the 2014-15 school year—and in doing so, evade a merger with the Memphis district. Earlier this year, a judge had ruled that the suburban cities’ efforts to create their own districts were unconstitutional, though they had already passed referendums and begun creating local school boards. The new bills were written in response to the judge’s ruling and override laws that prohibited the creation of new school districts in the state and limited the number of districts per county. The changes mean that suburban cities near other urban centers in Tennessee could also create their own districts. Suburban leaders have said they fear the merger will affect the stability of their own school systems. But the new law raises concerns about the financial stability of the merged district, which could end up serving only students from the city of Memphis and unincorporated areas of Shelby County. The suburban cities have been collecting extra sales taxes in order to fund the new school systems. As of press time, Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, had not yet signed the bills into law, but has stated his intention to. Legal and civil rights challenges are still a possibility: Lawmakers who oppose the measure expressed concerns that it will result in moresegregated and less equitably funded districts. —JACLYN ZUBRZYCKI ations and pay raises to student test scores. The action marks a key victory for the state in its quest to keep its Race to the Top funding, which has been in jeopardy ever since the U.S. Department of Education put its $75 million grant on “high risk” status in 2011. The contract calls for new teacher evaluations tied to test scores starting in 2015. It also calls for the state and teachers’ union to review the results of the pilot and decide on changes. —MICHELE McNEIL LAUSD to Streamline Teacher Investigations With 278 educators sitting in “teacher jail,” the school board for the Los Angeles Unified School District voted last week to streamline the investigations of those accused of serious physical abuse or sexual misconduct. Passed without discussion, the resolution directs administrators to craft a plan for hiring professional investigators to look into abuse claims, and tightens the timeline for handling the cases. Teachers will also have to be told why they’re being pulled from their classrooms—which doesn’t happen now—unless doing so would compromise a police investigation. Under the system that many educators call “teacher jail,” those accused of misconduct are housed in district offices while administrators investigate misconduct allegations and decide their fate. The process typically drags on for months, with teachers collecting their full pay— an average of $6,000 a month, plus benefits—until they’re returned to work or fired. —McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE “More and Better Learning: Year One Report on ExpandED Learning” A longer school day may help students’ math performance, concludes an evaluation of Baltimore, New Orleans, and New York City schools with expanded learning time, after one year of operation. The 11 elementary and middle schools evaluated were part of the Expanded pilot project of The After-School Corp., or tasc, which redesigned the school day with three additional hours of time. Community partners—such as AmeriCorps members, coaches, and artists—filled additional time at some of the schools, as did using targeted, extra time for academics to improve student performance in weaker subjects. The evaluation found students’ math scores, attendance, and general attitudes improved in comparison with those of their peers at local schools that did not expand learning time. Tasc, based in New York, received funding for the pilot from the Wallace Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. (Wallace also underwrites coverage of expanded learning in Education Week.) —NORA FLEMING K-12 Financial Literacy Is Goal of Standards The Council on Economic Education released financial-literacy standards for K-12 last week. Developed by economists, education specialists at Federal Reserve banks, and financial-education researchers, the benchmarks are intended to provide a framework of essential knowledge that 4th, 8th, and 12th graders should master to be savvy financial consumers. The National Standards for Financial Literacy for K-12 covers six topics: earning and income; buying goods and services; using credit; saving; financial investing; and protecting and insuring. Each standard is an overarching statement of content, accompanied by age-appropriate benchmarks and material that is designed to apply to all socioeconomic groups. —CARALEE ADAMS CORRECTIONS: A story in the April 17, 2013, issue of Education Week about open-meetings and -records laws misspelled the name of the executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. Her name is Gwyneth Doland. A Commentary about educational technology advertising by Larry Cuban in the same issue included an incorrect title for his latest book. It is Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice: Change Without Reform in American Education. EDUCATIONAL EQUITY “Reversing the Rising Tide of Inequality: Educational Equity for Each and Every Child” Forty years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez that state funding formulas for public schools based on local property taxes are not unconstitutional, a report says it’s time to push for new efforts to address decades-long disparities in how resources are parceled out to public schools. The report, released last week by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, outlines a dozen or more “action steps” for federal, state, and local governments to ensure educational equity. Among those measures is a call for the U.S. Department of Education to design a Race to the Top competition to reward states that overhaul funding formulas to distribute money based on the actual needs of students and not where their schools are located. The report also recommends pushing for more federal civil rights investigations and compliance reviews of states and school districts where disparities in per-pupil spending, as well as in distribution of resources such as access to college-preparatory courses and effective teachers, have been persistent. For links to these reports, go to Middle school Teach For America teachers in Texas seem to be holding their own in the classroom, outperforming other novice teachers in math, according to a study from the San Antonio-based Edvance, an independent evaluation firm. Tfa alumni also did better than other veteran teachers in that subject, the study found. The study draws on a sample of more than 1,500 tfa teachers and alumni, nearly 500 schools, and more than 11,000 students in each subject area of reading and math. For middle school students, defined in the study as grades 6-8, the researchers found that those taught by tfa novices did better than their peers, with a positive effect size of .19 for novice tfa teachers, or about half a year of learning. The effects seemed to compound over time: T fa alumni had an effect size of .27, compared with non- tfa teachers with experience, in math. That amount, the study says, corresponds to nearly an additional year of learning for students of tfa alumni. Reading gains for students of tfa alumni were positive but somewhat weaker, with 5 an effect size of .11. (There was no effect for tfa novices.) “Evaluation of Teach For America in Texas Schools” —STEPHEN SAWCHUK STUDENT RESILIENCE “What Role Does Grit Play in the Academic Success of Black Male Collegians at Predominantly White Institutions?” Talent and strong high school achievement can propel young black men to college, but a new study finds their grit—the determination and ability to handle setbacks—is nearly as critical to their success at majority-white campuses. Released this month in an online preview for the Journal of African American Studies, the study by Terrell L. Strayhorn, an associate professor of education at Ohio State University, found that grit was nearly as predictive as act college-entrance-exam scores of the college success of young black men who attended mostly white universities. Mr. Strayhorn tracked 140 mostly first-generation college students at a large public university. He found that those who scored higher on an eight-item measure of grit earned higher course grades after taking into account prior achievement, age, transfer status, and school engagement, among other factors. —SARAH D. SPARKS K-12 Educators, College Teachers Far Apart on College Readiness “ACT National Curriculum Survey” High school teachers think their students are ready for college, but college professors beg to differ. A survey by act Inc. finds that 89 percent of high school teachers report their students are “well” or “very well” prepared for collegelevel work in the subjects they teach, while just 26 percent of college instructors say incoming students are “well” or “very well” prepared for entry-level courses. Those percentages from the 2012 act National Curriculum Survey results, released last week by the Iowa City, Iowa-based assessment company, are basically unchanged from when the question was asked in 2009. Considering that the Common Core State Standards represent a big change in expectations for what students need to know and be able to do before high school graduation, it is notable that twothirds of educators surveyed who said they were aware of the standards anticipate they will need to change their curricula no more than slightly in response to the standards, according to the report. The research suggests that state and local efforts to bring high schools up to new college- and career-readiness standards have a long way to go, and that familiarity with the changes ahead varies widely among educators. To bridge the divide, act recommends greater collaboration between K-12 and postsecondary educators on curriculum and academic expectations. The survey also points to the need for better computer technology in classrooms to be able to use digital assessments aligned with higher standards. “Wherever possible, states and schools may need to consider channeling limited resources toward ensuring students efficient access to computer technology to prepare for the types of innovative assessments that are likely to accompany implementation of college-and career-ready standards,” the report says. The study results are based on a national sample of 9,937 participants, including elementary, middle, junior high, and high school teachers, and college instructors in English, math, reading, science, and writing. —CARALEE ADAMS —LESLI A. MAXWELL >> n

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 24, 2013

Education Week - April 24, 2013
Union Sues Over Basis of Appraisal
In San Antonio, Pre-K Initiative Sets Steep Goals
New Teachers Search for Place in New Orleans
FOCUS ON: CAREER READINESS: States Seek High School Pathways Weaving Academic, Career Options
News in Brief
Report Roundup
PARCC Proposes Common-Core Test Accommodations
Some States Seek GED Alternative as Test Price Spikes
Blogs of the Week
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Online Socialization Is Hot Topic Among Researchers
Overhaul of the E-Rate Seen as a High Priority by FCC Commissioner
Comments Weighed on Vending Machine, ‘A La Carte’ Proposals
Corralling Local Support Still a Challenge
FOCUS ON: CAREER READINESS: Swiss Academic, Career Paths Designed to Cross
Obama’s Proposed Fix on Student Loans Ruffles Allies
Head Start Officials Tight-Lipped on Which Centers to Lose Aid
Policy Brief
Legislative Briefs
School Safety Legislation: A Tally by State
LAUREN BLAIR ARONSON: Advice to TFA From a Former Insider
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace

Education Week - April 24, 2013