Education Week - October 23, 2013 - (Page 4)

NEWS INBRIEF Quick Timeline Planned To Vet Standards Materials The Business Roundtable plans to convene a panel of experts to judge alignment of common-core instructional materials in less than a year. The group of corporate executives is in discussions with representatives from the Gates and Hewlett foundations, Achieve, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and America Achieves to draft a business plan within six months. Formal criteria haven't been set for panelists, but those who served on the standards-writing teams would be likely candidates. Others could be content-area experts. No one who represents vendors of instructional materials will be allowed to serve. Establishing such a panel is considered politically risky. -CATHERINE GEWERTZ Phila. Schools to Receive Withheld State Funds Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced last week that he would release $45 million to the Philadelphia school district. That money will allow the district to rehire some 400 staff members, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The school system was in such dire financial straits at the end of the summer that it came close to not opening on time. The $45 million had been withheld until the district made some changes, including getting concessions from its union. Charles Zogby, the state's budget secretary, said the district had made sufficient progress toward improving its academic performance and finances. The district is still seeking more than $100 million in concessions from its unions. -JACLYN ZUBRZYCKI SHOWING THE COLORS Tyler Pacheco, a 9th grader at the North Valley Military Institute, carries the flag for his division during the morning assembly to start the school day. North Valley is the first military charter school in Los Angeles. MOOC Targets Needs Of K-12 Teachers, Students Texas Axes Teacher Merit-Pay Plan The once-vaunted teacher merit-pay plan in Texas will be converted this fall into a state grant program that pays for innovative education initiatives in a few dozen poor schools. Nearly half of Texas teachers-about 180,000-received bonuses under the plan two years ago for higher test scores and student achievement. That was slashed by 90 percent after legislators made unprecedented funding cuts in education to ease a budget crunch. The merit-pay program was kept alive the past two years in hopes that it could be resurrected when the state's revenue situation improved. But the legislature passed a measure this year to virtually kill it. The remaining funding, down to $24 million from a high of $392 million in the 2010-11 state budget, will be shifted into the new grant program. GOP Gov. Rick Perry, who led the original drive to implement merit pay, signed the bill into law this summer with little fanfare. The last bonus checks under the program were distributed to teachers this fall. Roughly 18,000 educators qualified. An independent study of the program found that students in schools with merit pay had greater test-score gains than those in schools without merit pay. The schools also had less teacher turnover. Bonuses were based primarily on student test scores. But each district developed its own criteria for distributing the money using state guidelines. In some cases, bonuses were given to deserving teachers across the district; in others, they were directed at a select group of schools. Replacing the program will be the Educator Excellence Innovation Program. It will be aimed at all teacher experience levels, including preparing new teachers to be successful in the classroom and providing veteran teachers with new career pathways. -McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE While massive open online courses, or moocs, may be the rage in higher education, the trend has been slow to make its way into the K-12 arena. But Michigan Virtual University and Kent State University are taking MOOCs in that direction, with plans to launch online courses this month aimed at high school students interested in becoming teachers, as well as for higher education students currently studying to be teachers, and for educators. The course, "K-12 Teaching in the 21st Century," delves into strategies for using technology in online and blended settings and covers how to use digital tools to enhance learning. Its sponsors want to see whether the format can be benefi- cial in the K-12 environment. More than 750 students have enrolled for the MOOC, which runs until Nov. 8. -MICHELLE R. DAVIS State Board Places Floor On Falling School Grades The state board of education in Florida voted last week to extend for two years the so-called "safety net" that prevents public school letter grades from dropping by more than one grade as the state phases in more rigorous teaching and testing standards. For example, a school that slipped from a C to an F under the existing standards will fall no lower than a D on the statewide report card. School administrators warned that without state intervention, grades would plummet with the introduction of the Common Core Mass. Ends Letter Policy On Student Weight Massachusetts schools will no longer send letters to parents about their children's weight after publichealth officials decided last week to end the practice, citing concerns about privacy and bullying. Health officials said there was evidence that informing parents of their child's weight status had no effect on pediatric obesity. They also said some information may not have been safeguarded, prompting worries that the information could lead to bullying. Schools must still collect the data, and parents will be allowed to request the information.-ASSOCIATED PRESS ON-THE-GROUND LEARNING With desks already filled in their crowded classroom, Pakistani schoolchildren displaced because of fighting between the Taliban and the army sit on the ground during class at their makeshift school on the outskirts of Islamabad last week. State Standards and the tests that will measure student performance against them. -McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | October 23, 2013 | Muhammed Muheisen/AP Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/MCT

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 23, 2013

Education Week - October 23, 2013
Colorado Tax Boosting K-12 Up to Voters
Paddling Persists in U.S. Schools
Health-Care Law Raises Questions For Districts
K12 Inc. Learning Difficult Lessons This School Year
News in Brief
Report Roundup
New Student Majority in South and West: Poor Children
School Poverty Said to Hurt College Access
Media Group Calls on Companies To Protect Students’ Personal Data
D.C. Teachers Improved After Overhaul Of Evaluations, Pay
Blogs of the Week
K-12 Advocates Remain Braced For Fiscal Fight
Illinois Among Outliers With No NCLB Waiver
Appeal Argued on Affirmative-Action Ban
The Public School Ownership Gap
We Need a National Monument to Teachers
Changing the World, One Student at a Time
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Common Core’s Power for Disadvantaged Students

Education Week - October 23, 2013