Education Week - November 6, 2013 - (Page 1)

EDUCATIONWEEK Gates Foundation Places Big Bet on Its Teacher Agenda VOL. 33, NO. 11 * NOVEMBER 6, 2013 AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2013 Editorial Projects in Education * $4 Critics Fear Outsized Influence of Philanthropy By Stephen Sawchuk When Harvard professor Thomas Kane co-wrote a paper in 2006 on teacher quality, he did not expect that it would carry an import far beyond the insular world of Washington policy wonks. Mr. Kane later got a big surprise: a summons to meet with one of the richest men in the world to talk about the paper, which showed that teachers' on-the-job performance varied widely and had little to do with their credentials. At that 2007 meeting in New York City's posh Pierre Hotel, he got still another surprise: Almost every inch of Bill Gates' copy was covered with handwritten notes. "Bill got really excited," Mr. Kane said. "He was really interested in figuring out what these great teachers were doing, and in the idea that one of the most powerful things he could do would be to provide school districts with better ways of identifying their best teachers." It would prove a decisive moment for the $38 billion private philanthropy that bears the Gates name. Six years later, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent nearly $700 million on its teacher-quality agenda, according to an Education Week analysis. The foundation is widely seen as the most influential independent actor in a period of nationwide-and deeply contested-experimentation with the fundamentals of the teaching profession. What its spending has wrought, however, and whether it will have the desired effect, remain the subject of heated debate. "It concerns me when one foundation has so much money," PAGE 16 > Since 2008, the philanthropy has spent $2 billion on education, including a large slice for teacher-related programs. BREAKING NEWS DAILY $696 million Teacher quality Common-Core Hurdle: Calming Jittery Districts By Andrew Ujifusa State education leaders are moving to calm political tempests over the Common Core State Standards by adopting or reaffirming policies aimed at asserting local control over data, curriculum, and materials. But the classroom-level impact of those moves could be negligible as states forge ahead on commoncore implementation. On the one hand, officials' actions in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Michigan highlight anxieties over the privacy of information about individual students and what some see as state and federal intrusion into classrooms. At the same time, the specific steps, all in states run by Republicans, largely emphasize existing policy or practice. "That might turn down the heat on a lot of these criticisms, ... but I don't think this stuff addresses the real issues with the implementation and actually making the common core work," said Michael Q. McShane, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who tracks PAGE 23 > Freshman Catherine Brakel, 18, studies nursing at the University of Alabama in Mobile on a full scholarship, but was homeless for much of her last two years of high school. Homeless Student Population Still Rising By Sarah D. Sparks In the year after Hurricane Katrina buffeted the Gulf Coast, Denise Riemer and Larissa Dickinson, both homeless education liaisons for their school district, saw more than 2,000 homeless students and their families in the public schools in Mobile, Ala. This year, in the wake of an ongoing and far broader economic storm, the two women have seen 5,302 homeless students in the 59,000-student district. "This is pretty amazing because we're not even halfway through the year and we're already up," Ms. Riemer said. "I can't believe the number of food-stamp applications I've processed so far for unaccompanied youth. We have new students we find out about every day." The Great Recession caused by the 2008 eco- nomic and housing crisis has technically ended, but the number of homeless students nationwide continues to swell, as school districts' capacity to help them shrinks. If added together, homeless students now would make up the largest school district in the country-at nearly 1.17 million, considerably more than the entire INDUSTRY & INNOVATION student population of New York City public schools. Their numbers have grown 24 percent in the last three years, and 10 percent in the last year alone, according to a new federal analysis released by the National Center for Homeless Education, part of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Forty states have seen a rise in their homeless-student populations in 201112, and 10 of those faced a jump of 20 percent or more. "It's not a surprise; we've been seeing these increases year after year," said Barbara Duffield, the policy director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth in Washington. "Homeless education has stopped being just a few programs in shelters and has become part of the fabric of school systems." No Shelter Federal law defines as homeless any child who doesn't have a "fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence." The number of children living in shelters has remained relatively flat, the study found, but the numbers doubling-up with friends or family, living in PAGE 14 > The Role of the >>A COMMENTARY SPECIAL SECTION K-12 PARENT This special Commentary section offers perspectives on the changing nature of parent empowerment and the role that family engagement can play in student achievement. See Pages 24-28, 32. MULTIMEDIA Tech Alliances Fuel Startups By Benjamin Herold Nearpod, an ed-tech startup that offers teachers a digital platform for designing interactive lessons and delivering them to students on their tablet computers, has generated 250,000 users in 18 months. Now, the Miami-based company hopes to serve entire schools rather than just their most tech-savvy teachers, and to actually turn a profit instead of burning through investor cash. Key to making that leap, said Emiliano Abramzon, Nearpod's co-founder, will be partnerships with publishers offering readyto-use lessons. "Type-A teachers are creating their own content, but the mainstream would like to get content created for them," Mr. Abramzon said. Nearpod's approach reflects an emerging trend: In the crowded field of ed-tech startups seeking to go to scale, companies with distribution platforms and those that develop instructional materials are joining forces. "There's a lot of great content PAGE 12 > ▲ Jeff and Meggan Haller/Keyhole for Education Week

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 6, 2013

Education Week - November 6, 2013
Gates Foundation Places Big Bet on Its Teacher Agenda
Homeless Students Still on the Rise
Common-Core Hurdle: Calming Jittery Districts
Tech Alliances Fuel Startups
News in Brief
Report Roundup
PARCC Field Tests to Lack Some Accommodations
Success for All Yields Early Gains in First I3 Evaluation
District Setbacks Shape Virtual-Ed. Discussion
Blogs of the Week
Startups Seek to Integrate With Inbloom
Ed. Department, Gates Plans for Teachers Converge
‘Effective Teaching’ Study Seen as Influential
Teacher ‘Voice’ Amplified by Series of Grants
Study Weighs Cost Landscape Facing Common-Core Tests
Blogs of the Week
Education Cuts Hang in Balance as Budget Haggling Begins
Gloria Romero
Karran Harper Royal
Steven Sheldon
Arnold F. Fege
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Anne T. Henderson

Education Week - November 6, 2013