Education Week - May 6, 2015 - (Page 4)

NeWS IN BRIeF White House Announces Library, Digital Initiative President Barack Obama last week unveiled a pair of White House initiatives aimed at increasing students' access to public libraries and boosting the ability of low-income students to use the digital resources available in those facilities. The plan, supported by commercial publishers, would provide more than $250 million worth of free e-book content to students from low-income families, along with a second effort meant to give all students in 30 communities, and eventually nationwide, a library card. Both efforts are part of the Connected program, a White House plan launched in 2013 that has drawn financial support from numerous ed-tech providers and private organizations, with the goal of improving digital education and Web connectivity. -AUDREY ARMITAGE Nonprofit Starts Campaign To Push Education as Priority Common Sense Media, a national education and technology nonprofit group, launched a $20 million project last week aimed at prioritizing education issues through a range of legislative and political efforts. Common Sense Kids Action will focus on such areas as early-childhood education, teacher training and professional development, effective technology use in schools, career training and preparation for students, student-data privacy, and childhood poverty. The campaign will push policymakers in at least a dozen states to replicate data-privacy legislation similar to California's. It also will try to increase broadband access for students, schools, and lowincome families. -A.A. Little Rock Chief Resigns Amid Plagiarism Queries The head of Arkansas' largest school district has resigned following plagiarism questions involving his 2009 doctoral dissertation. The state education department said that Little Rock Superintendent Dexter Suggs was resigning immediately. Mr. Suggs has a doctorate from Indiana Wesleyan University. He told local media that he had permission to use a 2005 dissertation from the University of Oklahoma, and that he didn't think he intentionally committed plagiarism. -ASSOCIATED PRESS Illinois Board Member Quits, Citing Schools Chief's Hire A key member of the Illinois state board of education has resigned over concerns about the way new state Superintendent Tony Smith was hired. Board member James Baumann said there was no national search and only one candidate for the state's top schools position. Mr. Smith was appointed by the board of education last month and took over May 1. He is a former head of the Oakland, Calif., schools and has ties to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. At least two previous superintendents were hired after a national search. Students will be identified using -AP Groups Pledge Millions To Expand AP, IB Access Education, nonprofit, and business leaders are giving $100 million to identify and enroll 100,000 low-income students and students of color in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes over the next three years. The project is led by Equal Opportunity Schools, a Seattle-based nonprofit. Other donors and participants include the College Board, the International Baccalaureate organization, and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. (The foundation helps support Education Week's coverage of high-achieving lowincome students.) Nation's 8th Graders Flatline on NAEP in Social Studies Subjects The nation's 8th graders have made no improvement in their knowledge of U.S. history, geography, or civics since 2010, according to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress released last week. Fewer than one-third of students scored "proficient" or better on any of the tests, and only 3 percent or fewer scored at the "advanced" level in any of the three subjects. The tests were administered between January and March 2014 to a nationally representative sample of 29,000 8th graders at more than 1,300 schools across the country. Students were last tested in the subjects in 2010. The results raised concern among some experts about their implications for the future of the United States and its place in the world. Some experts believe social studies education has become an afterthought, taking a back seat to more talked-about subjects such as mathematics, English, and the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. One bright spot was the improvement in Hispanic students' performance. More Hispanic students are taking the test, and the group has made gains in U.S. history and geography since 2010. Their scores were flat in civics. White students' scores improved in U. S. history and civics and remained unchanged in geography. The scores of black and Asian/Pacific Islander students remained flat in all categories. Although Hispanic students' scores improved, achievement gaps still exist between white students and black or Hispanic students. -JESSICA BROWN "deep data," student grades, and surveys, in addition to test scores. -CARALEE J. ADAMS Three Ex-Atlanta Educators Get Sentences Reduced A judge last week sharply reduced the sentences for three former Atlanta educators who received the harshest prison terms in the city's test-cheating trial. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter reduced the sentences for Tamara Cotman, Sharon Davis-Williams, and Michael Pitts. Each was given three years in prison and seven on probation. They were also fined and sentenced to community service. Originally, each had been sentenced to seven years in prison and 13 on probation-or more than double what prosecutors had recommended. Each defendant also was given a $10,000 fine, compared with the original sentence of a $25,000 fine. -AP Training Program Offered To Local School Foundations A new program will offer the imprimatur of certification for leaders of local foundations created to help public and private P-12 schools, inviting leaders of those philanthropies to undergo training on effective management, networking, and fundraising. The certification program is being led by the National School Foundation Association, a Naperville, Ill.based organization that provides training and support for leaders of P-12 foundations. The program is not directed at big grantmaking foundations in education, but rather small foundations 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | May 6, 2015 | KEEPING PACE President Barack Obama walks along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington last week with 2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples. The 12-year veteran and instructional coach teaches English at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas. Most of the school's students graduate, despite widespread poverty. formed at the local level with the goal of helping school systems raise money, forge ties with the business community, and advocate on behalf of local schools. -SEAN CAVANAGH Washington State Holds Special Session on Funding The Washington state legislature began a special session last week that is expected to emphasize how to alter and increase funding for public schools. Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, called for the session, in which lawmakers are expected to debate proposals for reducing class sizes in K-3 and provide more money for instructional materials and operating costs. Last year, the state's supreme court held the state in contempt for its failure to adequately boost aid to public schools in light of a court ruling in 2012. The court has threatened penalties if lawmakers do not do so this year. -ANDREW UJIFUSA Miami-Dade Cuts Nearly All End-of-Course Exams The Miami-Dade County, Fla., district has decided to drop all but 10 of the 300 end-of-course exams that used to be a state requirement. Susan Walsh/AP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 6, 2015

Education Week - May 6, 2015
Some Balk as Testing Rolls Ahead
Nevada Exams Hit Tech Trouble
Science Standards Pop Up in Districts
Undocumented Students Strive to Adapt
State Takeover Gives Mass. District a Fresh Start
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Chicago Schools Probe Prompts AASA to End Alliance With Firm
Researchers Target Ways to Design Better Mathematics Text Materials
GED Revisions Spur Bumpy Year for Equivalency Exams
After Baltimore Unrest, Students and Educators Seek Understanding
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: New Research Probes Frontiers of Tech Learning
Blogs of the Week
Efforts to Change Federal Aid Formulas Prove Tricky
New Research Emerges On LGBT Parents
Advocates for Special Ed., Gifted Weigh Details in ESEA Rewrite Bill
Blogs of the Week
Marriage Issue Gets Full Airing at High Court
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace

Education Week - May 6, 2015