Education Week - June 4, 2014 - (Page Cover1)

Education WEEk VOL. 33, NO. 33 * JUNE 4, 2014 AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4 BREAKING NEWS DAILY Moore Middle School students Yesli Betancourt, left, and Tekira Barkley share a moment at the Georgia Aquarium's Ocean Voyager exhibit. The school in Lawrenceville, Ga., is one of the schools using money through Georgia's Innovation Fund, part of the state's $400 million Race to the Top federal grant. NEA Aims To Revive Organizing Push Comes as Membership In Union Has Dropped By Stephen Sawchuk The nation's largest teachers' union is attempting to revive a fundamental labor principle: organizing. With its membership down by more than 230,000 members over the past three years, the National Education Association is imploring local affiliates to better engage current and potential members. It has launched a Center for Organizing to provide tools and training, has put millions of dollars behind local affiliates' plans, and is pushing regional support staff to lead the charge. Georgia Battles to Beat Race to Top Head Winds Despite Setbacks Along the Way, Grant-Funded Initiatives Taking Root By Alyson Klein Nearly four years after Georgia pulled into the Race to the Top winner's circle, the state still has a rocky climb to the education redesign summit initially envisioned in its application for a share of the federal grant jackpot. The state's Race to the Top odyssey has been riddled with obstacles. They include fiscal woes, leadership turnover, resistance to the common standards and aligned tests that were a part of its plan, and enough setbacks for its teacher-evaluation system to make Georgia the only winner to have part of its grant put on hold. But there have also been plenty of high points. The state has forged a nationally envied longitudinal-data system, created a set of strong instructional materials to help districts move toward tougher standards, and launched a homegrown competitive-grant program that's helped jumpstart promising initiatives across the state. (See related story, Page 20.) "It's been an odd journey, really," said Kent Edwards, the superintendent of the nearly 5,000-student Carrollton city school system, one of the 26 districts-out of 180 statewide-taking part in Georgia's Race to the Top efforts. "While it's fallen short in terms of reaching its initial objectives, we would not be as far as we are-or as self-reflective as we are-if we had not been a Race to the Top district." He and other superintendents say that even the piece of the program that has bedeviled the state the most-educator evaluations-has ultimately been a major benefit. "We're going to have something that will be really useful going forward, no matter what happens when Race to the Top is over," said J. Alvin PAGE 20> Not since the 1970s, when its teachers helped win public-sector collective bargaining laws across the country, has organizing been such a priority for the 3 million-member nEa. What's more, the union is promoting membership as an avenue to better teaching and learning conditions, rather than relying on traditional recruitment drives. "I can stand here until you sign a PAGE 13> Spending Hikes Found to Benefit Poor Students DIGITAL DIRECTIONS Software Use Fuels Student-Login Chaos By Benjamin Herold In classrooms across the country, teachers hoping to use a dizzying array of educational software programs are hitting a frustratingly mundane speed bump. "Kids can't remember their usernames and passwords," said Kecia Ray, the executive director of learning technology for the 81,000-student Metro Nashville school system, which has approved more than 500 different software programs for purchase by schools. "As much as you would like to tattoo it on their arm, you can't." The result, say both educators and ed-tech vendors, is extensive loss of precious instructional time. The rapidly expanding universe of online educational resources, and all the usernames and passwords associated PAGE 16> INDUSTRY & INNOVATION Bringing Competency-Based Learning to Life By Samantha Stainburn Manchester, N.H. Nearly a decade ago, New Hampshire became the first state to mandate that high schools award credit for mastery of material, rather than having students complete a certain number of hours of classes. Now, one of the architects of the policy shift is back on the case, this time to help turn that idea for upending the Carnegie unit-and rethinking education-into a reality statewide. Entrepreneur Fred Bramante, a former chairman of the New Hampshire board of education and long an ambassador for competency-based learning, has a new initiative he hopes will help schools institutionalize real-world learning opportunities for students. Through the program, called 10,000 Mentors, Mr. Bramante and the organization he launched in 2013, the National Center for Competency-Based Learning, are offering to identify, recruit, and train local mentors for free for any New Hampshire school district that asks for its assistance. The program name signifies the number of connections Mr. Bramante hopes to make for schools across the state in five years. The doctors, lawyers, software develPAGE 14> Fred Bramante, a former chairman of the New Hampshire board of education, is trying to help institutionalize real-world learning at schools across the state. By Holly Yettick In districts that substantially increased their spending as the result of court-ordered changes in school finance, low-income children were significantly more likely to graduate from high school, earn livable wages, and avoid poverty in adulthood. So concludes a working paper published last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, or nbEr, a private, nonpartisan research organization with headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. The provocative results provide new fodder for long-running debates over whether more education spending translates into improved outcomes for children. They also delve into thorny methodological questions over how to best estimate the way in which statelevel school finance reforms have affected district-level spending. Between 1971 and 2010, the authors write, supreme courts in 28 states responded to large gaps between richer and poorer school districts by reforming PAGE 12> Joeff Davis for Education Week Andrea Morales for Education Week

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 4, 2014


Education Week - June 4, 2014