Education Week - June 11, 2014 - (Page 1)

Education WEEk Teacher, School Accountability Systems Shaken Up VOL. 33, NO. 35 * JUNE 11, 2014 AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4 BREAKING NEWS DAILY States move to delay, alter test-based rating systems, including 'A-F' approaches rolled out in recent years By Andrew Ujifusa Many states are moving to delay or alter test-based accountability for schools and teachers, as tests associated with the Common Core State Standards head for their debut nationwide in the coming school year. The changes-some proposed and some already in effect-are also taking place as states consider the status of their waivers from certain portions of the No Child Left Behind Act. Those waivers, in turn, have their own accountability requirements. Increasingly, a consensus has developed about what categories of data are to be used for accountability purposes. For example, in a report issued last month, the Education Commission of the States found that all 50 states and the District of Columbia measure student achievement; all 50 states and the district measure graduation rates; and 42 states and the district measure student growth. By contrast, the ecs reported that in 2002, the year the nclb law was signed, the number of states that measured those indicators in school accountability was 32, eight, and 21, respectively. But states still have to make their own sometimes-complicated decisions about where and when to give teachers and schools a reprieve from the ratings themselves, as well as when to impose consequences for performance that falls short. "Once you start pulling the thread about these assessments, it's no longer about assessments," said Elliott Asp, the special assistant to state schools chief Robert Hammond of Colorado, where lawmakers have approved measures to delay the impacts of new tests on schools and teachers under the state's accountPAGE 28 > Schools Brace for Start Of 'Smart Snack' Rules By Evie Blad Federal nutrition rules set to go into effect July 1 would force enticing items like cheesy pizza off the à la carte line at Township High School District 214 in Arlington Heights, Ill.-a change that school officials fear might motivate many students to leave campus during open lunch periods to seek unhealthy options at nearby fast-food restaurants. Rather than comply with the new rules for snacks and other foods, which apply to participants in the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, the 12,250-student district's school board voted to leave the federally subsidized meals programs altogether. Through the new "Smart Snacks in Schools" rules, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will, for the first time, set nutrition guidelines for every food that schools taking part in the programs offer during the entire school day, even items that aren't served as part of PAGE 21 > Volunteers Dina Lassow, second from left, and Annie Lipsitz, right, work with kindergartners Fabiola Lopez, 6, left, and Emerson Serrano, 6, at 826 DC, located in the back of the Museum of Unnatural History in Washington. Writing Centers Seek to Unlock Creativity By Liana Heitin The idea of going to an after-school tutoring center is undoubtedly groan-inducing for most students. But what if they could enter the workspace through a secret door? And what if that secret door were located in the back of a store that sold supplies for superheroes-capes, truth serum, photon shooters, and invisibility-detection goggles? A nonprofit organization called 826 National, cofounded by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, now has eight such tutoring centers in urban areas around the country, each with a unique retail U.S. Students Get Top Scores For Sleepiness storefront that supports the free programming and is designed to fire up students' imaginations. The centers- all focused on creative writing-offer workshops, oneon-one homework help, field trips, in-school support for teachers, and summer sessions. They're staffed mainly by community volunteers. The national network, which started with a single center at 826 Valencia Street in San Francisco 12 years ago, now reaches 30,000 students-a majority of whom are from underresourced communities. Partly because of the star power of Mr. Eggers, the author of the best-selling memPAGE 22 > By Holly Yettick While U.S. students often catch flak for their performance on largescale international assessments, they may be approaching world dominance on one such indicator: sleepiness. In both the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, the percentage of U.S. pupils enrolled in classrooms in which teachers report that student sleepiness limits instruction "some" or "a lot" in 4th grade reading and 4th and 8th grade math and science has consistently exceeded 70 percent. Internationally, overall averages for sleepiness range from 46 percent to 58 percent, depending on the grade level and the subject. (Eighth grade science classes were the "sleepiest.") What does this all mean? It is difficult to say. In 2011, the journal Sleep Medicine published a meta-analysis of 41 studies that found that, at least in adolesPAGE 20 > THE INNOVATION GAMBLE A city district rests its hopes on a tech-themed approach / Last of three parts Phila. Funding Crisis Threatens Experimentation By Benjamin Herold Philadelphia Nearly a year after Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. committed millions of dollars to expand Science Leadership Academy and two other pioneering district schools here, the investment in hands-on, technology-rich instructional models has stirred hope and experimentation across the city. But the tentative flourishing of innovation is at risk of being overwhelmed by a massive funding shortfall that has cast doubt on the superintendent's ability to safely open schools in September, let alone spread promising new models across the 131,000-student system. "It's frustrating as hell," Mr. Hite said in an interview last month. "We're trying to show that we know what works, and here we are a year later, still begging for the status quo." Fueled by strong parent demand, sla's new second campus is poised to double in size, to 250 students. Final preparations are also underway to bring three unconventional new high schools on line, and small bands of educators are soaking up the new ideas and bringing them back to their neighborhood schools. The positive momentum, however, has not persuaded state lawmakers or the city teachPAGE 16 > Navigating the Ed-Tech Marketplace This special report-the latest installment in an ongoing series about educational technology- shows what the fastgrowing K-12 ed-tech marketplace looks like, the challenges it faces in meeting the needs of schools, and the forces that are likely to shape it now and in the future. See the pullout section opposite Page 20.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 11, 2014


Education Week - June 11, 2014