Education Week - September 18, 2013 - (Page 1)

EDUCATIONWEEK VOL. 33, NO. 4 • SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 AMERICAN EDUCATION’S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD • © 2013 Editorial Projects in Education • $4 BREAKING NEWS DAILY Calif. Testing Move Hits Federal Nerve Freeze on Exams Draws Rebuke By Catherine Gewertz California’s move to suspend most of its accountability testing for one year—and the sharp rebuke and threat it’s drawn from the U.S. Department of Education—illustrate the complications some states could face next spring when they juggle their own assessments with field tests of new common-core tests. In an unusually stern statement Sept. 9, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that California’s plan “is not something we could approve in good conscience.” If the state proceeds with the plan anyway, “the department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state,” he said. While he applauded the state’s commitment to implement the Common Core State Standards, Mr. Duncan said that “letting an entire school year pass for millions of stuPAGE 25 > POETRY FOR THE EAR: Spoken-word poets Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye pose at the High Line, a park built on what was once an elevated railroad in New York City. The pair travel to K-12 schools and universities across the country to promote their art form. PAGE 8 Teacher-Review Tool: Classroom Portfolios TFA Educators Found to Boost Math Learning Secondary Level Affected By Stephen Sawchuk Even as evidence builds that Teach For America produces capable secondary math teachers, the question about which parts of the program are most effective in preparing them for the classroom continues to deepen. That’s the implication of a rigorous federally financed study released last week that examines the impact of TFA and a second popular program, both of which quickly train and place top college graduates and career-changers in underresourced classrooms. Secondary math teachers who enter the profession through TFA helped their students learn more in mathematics than colleagues who entered teaching through a less-selective fast-track program or a traditional, university-based program. They also outperformed experienced teachers in that subject—a finding contradicting critics who argue that TFA teachers’ relative inexperience harms learning. Teachers trained through another selective alternative route, Teaching Fellows, were indistinguishable overall from teachers trained in other ways. Researchers found few relationPAGE 14 > INDUSTRY & INNOVATION Ed. Companies Nurturing Startups By Sean Cavanagh New York This fourth-floor office space bears all the signs of a startup company’s habitat—young professionals clustered around tables or sprawled out on the floor, typing on laptops, sketching on whiteboards—except for the name of the organization overseeing it all. The activity underway here is being hosted by Kaplan Inc., one of the most widely recognized company names in education, as part of a program designed by the test-preparation and college-course provider to give fledging education technology startups the tools to make it in the complex K-12 market, one that for many entrepreneurs often seems impenetrable. Kaplan’s business “accelerator” effort, launched this year, is one of a handful of ventures created recently or being planned by major education companies—including Pearson and McGraw-Hill Education—that provide direct financial or operational support or guidance to school-focused startups. Backers of the companies’ involvement in accelerator programs say those efforts can take advantage of the reach and influence of big companies to bring new sources of innovation to schools. For the startups, the opportunity to connect with big players such as Kaplan offers many advantages, from receiving informed advice about an opaque market to securing access to the larger company’s resources. For companies like Kaplan, there are also advantages, most notably exposure to PAGE 18 > By Erik W. Robelen Video footage of students sight-reading a musical score, or reciting a speech from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” Digital photos of students’ self-portraits. Samples of student-penned research papers and other assignments. Those are the types of documentation hundreds of arts educators in Tennessee recently assembled as evidence of their impact on student learning. The state this year is ramping up an alternative component to its teacher-evaluation system for the arts that tackles a thorny question many states are grappling with: how to evaluate teachers on student growth when standardized-test scores are not available. The answer in this Tennessee enterprise is PAGE 20 > Assessment Group Sets Accommodations Policy By Christina A. Samuels & Lesli A. Maxwell PARENT ENGAGEMENT: Familyengagement coach Jeannette Diaz hugs Jesus Haghighi, 7, at Public School 85 in New York City. The school partners with Mercy College to increase parent involvement. PAGE 8 Native-language translations of test directions and math items, as well as a read-aloud option for middle and high school students, are among the accommodations that will be allowed on a limited basis under a policy adopted last week by a group crafting commoncore-aligned tests in reading and math for 24 states. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consor- tium’s governing board voted unanimously on “usability, accessibility, and accommodations” guidelines that outline the kinds of testing supports and tools that will be made available to all students, and particularly those with disabilities and English-language learners. The issue of reading text passages PAGE 16 > ▲ Melanie Burford/Prime for Education Week Melanie Burford/Education Week

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 18, 2013

Education Week - September 18, 2013
Calif. Testing Move Hits Federal Nerve
Teacher-Review Tool: Classroom Portfolios
TFA Educators Found to Boost Math Learning
Assessment Group Sets Accommodations Policy
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Spoken-Word Poets Bring Words to Life for Students
Partnership in Bronx Aims to Build Skills On Behalf of Parents
National-Board Certification to Be Cheaper, Smoother
Iowa District Reimagines the Five-Day School Week
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Consumer Demand for Digital Ed. Games Seen Rising
Blogs of the Week
Ed. Dept., Arizona in Clash Over Waiver
Congress Gears Up for Higher Ed. Law Renewal
Policy Brief
Louisiana Vouchers, Desegregation Case Prove Volatile Mix
House Panelists Question Relevancy of Education Dept. Research
Why the New Teacher Ed. Standards Matter
Unfairly Fired Teachers Deserve Court Protection
A Sandy Hook Parent’s Letter to Teachers
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Encouraging Courage

Education Week - September 18, 2013