SchoolWorld Launches A New WebModule

FAIRPORT, New York — SchoolWorld, a leading provider of award-winning Web solutions for the K-12 education industry, today officially launched a new WebModule called the Lesson Planner™ Module. The Lesson Planner Module provides schools and districts a robust set of tools to comprehensively manage and execute lesson planning activities with teachers and administrators. From setting up state education standards and performance indicators to managing lesson plans with calendars and homework assignments, the Lesson Planner Module is a secure, Web-based tool for teachers and administrators to better track, plan, and manage lesson plans. “We have nurtured the Lesson Planner Module in a select beta group for the last couple months with great success. We are excited to release a robust, comprehensive tool that will revolutionize the way K-12 district and school administrators track and manage curriculum state standards—as well as allow teachers a quick and easy way to input and plan current and future classroom lessons, activities, and assessments,” said Mike Ramsager, vice president, Internet Applications at SchoolWorld.

The Lesson Planner Module gives administrators the power to define critical metrics for successful lesson planning including education standards, performance indicators, assessment tools, and learning activities. An easy-to-use reporting feature helps schools keep track of lesson plan submissions. Reviewers can be assigned to each teacher to ensure state and district guidelines are being adhered to. Other impressive features include:

-Set district or school-wide standards, indicators, assessments, activities
-Create standard lesson plan templates for all teachers to leverage and share
-Provides reliable and comprehensive reporting capabilities for districts and schools
-Assign administrators and reviewers to teachers for lesson plan approval
-Utilizes the same interface as SchoolWorld’s SchoolSites™ and TeacherSites™
-Fully integrated into TeacherSites, SchoolWorld’s classroom website solution

In addition to tracking, planning, and managing lesson plans, the Lesson Planner Module enables teachers to quickly and easily share lesson plans with fellow teachers throughout the district. "Having SchoolWorld’s Lesson Planner Module incorporated into our SchoolWorld TeacherSites made things much easier for our teachers,” said Jason Frazier, management information systems coordinator at Berkeley County School District. “A great benefit is that teachers don’t have to remember multiple logins for TeacherSites and Lesson Planner—they can update their classroom website and weekly lesson plans all in one location. In addition, having the ability to link our state standards to the lesson plans helps our teachers ensure they are covering the required material."

The Lesson Planner Module is offered alongside a family of feature-rich WebModules SchoolWorld provides to the K-12 education market to enhance school and district website functionality both internally and externally. The Module integrates seamlessly into SchoolWorld’s SchoolSites and TeacherSites solutions. Lesson Planner is competitively priced to meet the budgetary needs of districts and schools—user training is also included in the cost.
 

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Funds For Learning Offers Free Trial of E-rate Manager for Applicants during USAC Web site Outage

EDMOND, OKLA. (August 26, 2009) – The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is in the process of improving its Schools and Libraries Division information technology systems.  As part of this effort, several features on the organization’s Web site will be unavailable from Wednesday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 13.  To help applicants manage the E-rate process during this downtime, Funds For Learning, the nation’s leading E-rate funding compliance services firm, is offering a free trial of E-rate Manager for Applicants during the month of September.
 
According to USAC, the interactive areas of their Web site, in which applicants file forms and conduct searches, will be unavailable during the site maintenance.  With E-rate Manager for Applicants, users will have the ability to quickly find the information that will be unavailable through the USAC Web site, including:

–Status and details about funding requests and commitments

 

–Dates and amounts of authorized reimbursements

 

–Copies of Form 470 and 471 paperwork as it appears on the USAC Web site

 

–SPIN contact information

 

–Billed entity numbers

 

E-rate Manager for Applicants allows schools and libraries to easily track their E-rate funding information, quickly create payment paperwork forms, and safely store documents throughout the entire E-rate application process, even during the downtime of the USAC Web site.

Applicants can take advantage of this free offer by visiting www.eratemanager.com/activate.

At the end of the free access period, users will be offered an annual subscription for E-rate Manager for Applicants at an affordable price, which starts at $249 per user.

About Funds For Learning
Funds For Learning, LLC, is an E-rate compliance firm specializing in guiding E-rate applicants and service providers through the complex and ever-changing E-rate regulatory process.  With more than 10 years of experience in providing professional advice and assistance relating to the E-rate program, Funds For Learning exists to provide high-quality solutions for the needs of E-rate stakeholders.  The company was established in 1997 and is headquartered in Edmond, Okla.  For more information, visit www.FundsForLearning.com or phone 405-341-4140.

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For more information, contact:
–Scott Weston, Funds For Learning, LLC, 405-471-0953 or sweston@fundsforlearning.com
–Emily Embury, C. Blohm & Associates, Inc., 608-839-9806 or emily@cblohm.com

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Essential Tools for Managing Classroom Technology Now Available Online to All Schools Worldwide at No Charge

CHICAGO – Aug. 26, 2009 –Today Netop, the world’s largest provider of classroom management software, made the essential tools for teaching with technology available to all teachers around the world with the introduction of MyVision. An innovative classroom management solution, MyVision offers teachers a personalized approach to classroom management that is easy to use and accessible over the Internet.

 

Two versions are planned: MyVision Free, which enables teachers to supervise student computer use and will be available for free download, and the affordable MyVision Basic, which features the essential tools for guiding student learning on computers. Using MyVision Basic, teachers can supervise student computer use, blank student screens, project demonstrations and turn Internet access on or off with the click of a button. To ensure that all teachers can take advantage of this new breakthrough technology, MyVision supports both PCs and Macs.

 

“At Netop, we want teachers to have access to the great tools for teaching with technology, regardless of budget constraints,” said Kurt Bager, CEO, Netop. “Now with MyVision, teachers will have the essential tools for teaching with technology over the Internet at a very affordable price.”

 

 

Bager continued, “Furthering our commitment to the value of using technology to support teaching and learning, we also developed a free online set of classroom management software tools, MyVision Free, which any educator can download and use at no cost.”

 

MyVision is the first in a series of next-generation products to be offered by Netop’s Education Solutions team, which was formed when Netop acquired GenevaLogic in July 2008. GenevaLogic developed Vision6 classroom management software, a full-featured solution that provides the easiest and most effective way to teach with computers. Netop is known as an expert in remote-control solutions and offers Netop School software, which provides the highest performance solution for classroom management. Netop will continue to offer both Vision6 and Netop School for those educators who want to take their classroom management tools to the next level.

 

“To ensure that all schools maximize their investment in technology to support teaching and learning, it is important that educators and schools have a wide range of classroom management solutions to choose from – in terms of features, capabilities and affordability,” said Bager. “Netop’s long-term goal is to offer a continuum of classroom management software solutions that will let schools mix and match feature sets to meet their varying needs and budgets.”

 

Free trials of the beta version of MyVision Basic are now available for download at www.netop.com/myvisionbeta and include a free subscription valid through December 2009. A one-year subscription for MyVision Basic will be available in the United States in late 2009.

 

 

About Netop Solutions A/S

 

Netop develops and sells software solutions that enable swift, secure and seamless transfer of video, screens, sounds and data between two or more computers over the Internet. The company has three business areas: Administration, Education and Communication.

 

Netop’s unique and cost-saving Administration solutions make life easier for IT professionals with Remote Control and IT Asset Management. With the market-leading solutions for Education classroom management and corporate e-learning, Netop helps students and teachers to achieve optimum results through virtual education. Netop Communication solutions, including unified communications, let customers, partners and colleagues meet easily and safely in the virtual space via video conferencing, instant messaging, voice and file sharing over the Internet.

 

Netop employs 152 people and has subsidiaries in the United States, Great Britain, China, Romania and Switzerland. The company sells its solutions to public and private clients in more than 80 countries. Netop Solutions A/S shares are listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange and are part of the SmallCap+ index. In 2008 Netop Solutions had a total revenue of DKK 92.1m. Read more at: www.netop.com.

 

Press contacts:

Wendy Lienhart, L. Wolfe Communications, 630-920-0182, wlienhart@lwolfe.com

Lisa Wolfe, L. Wolfe Communications, 773-227-1049, lwolfe@lwolfe.com

 

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Pearson Test of English Now Recognized By University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Graduate College

LAS VEGAS and NEW YORK – Aug. 26, 2009 – The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), announced today that its Graduate College will recognize Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), the company’s computer-based English language test that measures the English language proficiency of candidates for admission who are non-native English speakers.

 

In its 50-year history, UNLV has grown from a small branch college into a thriving urban research institution of 28,000 students and 3,300 faculty and staff. UNLV’s Graduate College offers nearly 120 graduate degree programs, including 36 doctoral and professional degrees, to its more than 6,000 graduate and professional students. Classified as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, UNLV’s Graduate College strives to advance the university’s reputation as a premier metropolitan research university.

 

“As UNLV’s Graduate College continues to grow and advance the university’s academic and research missions, we are committed to providing our international students with the highest quality academic experience,” said Rob Sheinkopf, Director of Graduate Admissions and Records, UNLV. “Recognizing PTE Academic as a measure of English language ability will help us enhance and grow our overall international student enrollment.”

 

PTE Academic is endorsed by the prestigious Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®), owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®). PTE Academic launches internationally from October 2009.

 

“We are honored to count UNLV among the growing list of colleges and universities around the world recognizing PTE Academic,” said Mark Anderson, President, Pearson Language Tests. “We know that our state-of-the-art measure of English language abilities will help the Graduate College ensure that the international students it admits are prepared to be successful in an English-speaking academic environment.”

 

Pearson combined the power of international test development, in-depth research and proven, proprietary automated scoring technologies to develop PTE Academic. The test will fill a critical need by accurately measuring the English language Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing abilities of non-native speakers. PTE Academic will deliver real-life measures of test takers’ language proficiency to universities, higher education institutions, government departments and other organizations requiring academic-level English.

 

For more information, contact usreco@pearson.com or visit www.pearsonpte.com

 

About Pearson Language Tests

Pearson Language Tests (PLT) is part of Pearson plc. PLT is developing PTE Academic in collaboration with the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

 

About Pearson

Pearson (NYSE:PSO), the global leader in education and education technology, reaches and engages today’s digital natives with effective and personalized learning, as well as dedicated professional development for their teachers. This commitment is demonstrated in the company’s investment in innovative print and digital education materials for preK through college, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. The company’s respected brands include Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Addison Wesley, Benjamin Cummings, PEMSolutions, Stanford 10, SuccessNet, MyLabs, PowerSchool, SuccessMaker and many others. Pearson’s comprehensive offerings help inform targeted instruction and intervention so that success is within reach of every student at every level of education. Pearson’s commitment to education for all is supported by the global philanthropic initiatives of the Pearson Foundation. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information, visit www.pearson.com

 

For more information, press only:

Wendy Lienhart, L. Wolfe Communications, 630-920-0182, wlienhart@lwolfe.com

Rod Granger, Pearson, 800-745-8489, rod.granger@pearson.com

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Essential Tools for Managing Classroom Technology Now Available Online to All Schools Nationwide at No Charge

CHICAGO – Aug. 26, 2009 –Today Netop, the world’s largest provider of classroom management software, made the essential tools for teaching with technology available to all teachers around the world with the introduction of MyVision. An innovative classroom management solution, MyVision offers teachers a personalized approach to classroom management that is easy to use and accessible over the Internet.

Two versions are planned: MyVision Free, which enables teachers to supervise student computer use and will be available for free download, and the affordable MyVision Basic, which features the essential tools for guiding student learning on computers. Using MyVision Basic, teachers can supervise student computer use, blank student screens, project demonstrations and turn Internet access on or off with the click of a button. To ensure that all teachers can take advantage of this new breakthrough technology, MyVision supports both PCs and Macs.

"At Netop, we want teachers to have access to the great tools for teaching with technology, regardless of budget constraints," said Kurt Bager, CEO, Netop. "Now with MyVision, teachers will have the essential tools for teaching with technology over the Internet at a very affordable price."

Bager continued, "Furthering our commitment to the value of using technology to support teaching and learning, we also developed a free online set of classroom management software tools, MyVision Free, which any educator can download and use at no cost."

MyVision is the first in a series of next-generation products to be offered by Netop’s Education Solutions team, which was formed when Netop acquired GenevaLogic in July 2008. GenevaLogic developed Vision6 classroom management software, a full-featured solution that provides the easiest and most effective way to teach with computers. Netop is known as an expert in remote-control solutions and offers Netop School software, which provides the highest performance solution for classroom management. Netop will continue to offer both Vision6 and Netop School for those educators who want to take their classroom management tools to the next level.

"To ensure that all schools maximize their investment in technology to support teaching and learning, it is important that educators and schools have a wide range of classroom management solutions to choose from – in terms of features, capabilities and affordability," said Bager. "Netop’s long-term goal is to offer a continuum of classroom management software solutions that will let schools mix and match feature sets to meet their varying needs and budgets."

Free trials of the beta version of MyVision Basic are now available for download at www.netop.com/myvisionbeta and include a free subscription valid through December 2009. A one-year subscription for MyVision Basic will be available in the United States in late 2009. 

About Netop Solutions A/S 

Netop develops and sells software solutions that enable swift, secure and seamless transfer of video, screens, sounds and data between two or more computers over the Internet. The company has three business areas: Administration, Education and Communication.

Netop’s unique and cost-saving Administration solutions make life easier for IT professionals with Remote Control and IT Asset Management. With the market-leading solutions for Education classroom management and corporate e-learning, Netop helps students and teachers to achieve optimum results through virtual education. Netop Communication solutions, including unified communications, let customers, partners and colleagues meet easily and safely in the virtual space via video conferencing, instant messaging, voice and file sharing over the Internet.

Netop employs 152 people and has subsidiaries in the United States, Great Britain, China, Romania and Switzerland. The company sells its solutions to public and private clients in more than 80 countries. Netop Solutions A/S shares are listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange and are part of the SmallCap+ index. In 2008 Netop Solutions had a total revenue of DKK 92.1m. Read more at: www.netop.com.

 

Press contacts:

Wendy Lienhart, L. Wolfe Communications, 630-920-0182, wlienhart@lwolfe.com

Lisa Wolfe, L. Wolfe Communications, 773-227-1049, lwolfe@lwolfe.com

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Poll: Americans favor Obama’s school reforms

Most Americans want to change No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and they favor several education reforms backed by the Obama administration, such as charter schools and teacher merit pay, a new survey finds.

Every year since 1969, Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International, a global association of education professionals, and Gallup have created a poll to examine how the country views its educational system. This year, because of the economic downturn, the election of President Obama, and Democratic control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the poll has blended its customary questions with questions surrounding current issues, such as the stimulus legislation and its impact on local schools.

“Like it or not, all of these events affect our everyday lives. And with these major changes come changes in public attitudes about a variety of issues–including education,” says the report, titled “Americans Speak Out: Are Educators and Policy Makers Listening?”

The topics for this year’s poll were created by a bipartisan group of education experts in February. More than 1,000 randomly sampled and diverse households were polled via telephone, with an oversample of parents with school-aged children. The poll was conducted between June 2 and June 24.

Grading schools, NCLB, and charter schools

In every PDK/Gallup poll conducted since its inception, the first question asked is to describe the “biggest problem facing public schools” in the community. With no prompts provided, respondents have cited funding as the biggest problem since 2000. This year, 32 percent of respondents said funding–the highest number ever recorded.

And while more than 50 percent of Americans gave the schools in their community either an A or a B when asked to grade their schools on an A to F scale, grades given to the nation’s schools as a whole were significantly lower, with fewer than 20 percent giving schools nationwide an A or B.

“This continues a long-standing difference, suggesting that Americans like the schools they know but are much less positive about public education in general,” says the report. “Public school reformers fear that the results show that Americans are overly satisfied with the schools in their community and, consequently, less open to reform efforts.”

“The reasons for this disconnect are simple,” says Gerald Bracey, a PDK columnist and author of Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality. “Americans never hear anything positive about the nation’s schools and haven’t since the years just before Sputnik in 1957.”

Bracey says the news media, many education advocacy groups, and even President Obama offer negative views about the current state of American education, which influence public opinion. “On the other hand,” says Bracey, “parents use other sources and resources for information about their local schools: teachers, administrators, friends, neighbors, newsletters, PTAs, and their kids themselves; and they’re in a much better position to observe what’s actually happening in American schools.”

Byron Garrett, chief executive officer of the National PTA, believes the disconnect can be solved if the nation adopts Common Core Standards and parents and educators partner “to provide a low-cost, high-impact solution to improve student success.” That way, every school can be held to the same standard, he says.

According to the poll, common standards might be a good idea, because Americans support testing via a single national test, rather than letting each state use its own test–an opinion held by Republicans and Democrats alike.

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Judge: District’s visitor ID system is OK

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Judge rules Texas school district's use of an electronic background-check system constitutional.

A federal judge ruled Aug. 18 that a computerized background-check system made by Raptor Technologies does not violate the constitutional rights of parents and other school visitors who undergo the checks.

Visitors to schools in the Lake Travis Independent School District (LTISD) in Texas are required to produce government-issued identification that is scanned and, through Raptor’s V-soft visitor management technology, screened for possible sex-offender status, custody disputes, restraining orders, and trespassing orders.

Yvonne and Larry Meadows, the parents of three LTISD elementary school students, had sued the district last year, arguing that providing that information was a violation of a number of constitutional rights, including freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and the right to privacy, according to court documents.

LTISD brought V-soft into its schools in response to an incident during the 2004-05 school year, in which an unidentified man entered the campus of an elementary school and exposed himself to fifth-grade students, according to court documents.  Raptor’s V-soft now not only electronically checks all school visitors against registered sex-offender databases, but also replaces the paper sign-in sheets and allows schools to make and issue photograph visitor badges and electronically monitor volunteer hours.

In an interview with eSchool News, Yvonne Meadows said she and her husband, who is a lawyer, had not yet decided if they would file an appeal–though she said there were issues that she did not feel were addressed in the case.

Yvonne Meadows insisted that she did not have a problem with the schools checking the sex-offender registry. The issue for her is the fact that her license is scanned, verified via the internet, and permanently stored in the Raptor technology. The school district did not provide her with a valid reason the V-soft has to be used, she said.

“They’re using the scanning of the driver’s license not so much for sex-offender verification,” she said. “They are deceiving parents. I was told that they have to scan it to produce the visitor sticker with a picture. That doesn’t provide any better safety for my children. They’re abusing the technology. They’re abusing the parents. And they’re lying to parents.”

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled that “schools have a compelling interest in the safety of their students. Therefore, requiring production of a driver’s license in order to verify the identity and sex-offender status of a visitor is a reasonable action.” Sparks found that LTISD’s use of V-soft did not violate any constitutional rights.

“This is a victory for schools, and Lake Travis ISD should be applauded for taking a stand on this issue,” said E. Allan Measom, president and chief executive officer of Raptor Technologies. “Schools nationwide can take a deep breath with this assurance that the laws of this nation protect our fundamental rights to keep our children safe while they’re in school. This ruling should raise the national conscience on this issues, and every parent should ask how their child’s school is managing campus visitors.”

In the fall of 2006, Yvonne Meadows visited the school on a few occasions, and when asked for her driver’s license–or to provide identifying information such as her date of birth–she refused to give school officials her information. In November 2006, the Meadows parents removed their children from LTISD and are now home-schooling them, court documents show.

Yvonne Meadows filed a grievance that fall and, after being denied, appealed it through the three levels of the school district’s grievance process. She then filed suit against the Texas Education Agency and the commissioner of education in state court in March 2009, as well as filing against LTISD in federal court in September 2008.

In his opinion, Sparks wrote that both parties had fault in the case.

“Neither party in this case has acted like mature adults should act. Nor is either party in this case blameless for turning this into a federal case when it never should have been litigated in the first place,” he said, adding that it was not his role to determine the steps that are taken to keep students safe.

“In the educational world following the Columbine school shooting and the increased visibility and sensitivity to sex offenders, schools have not only an interest but a duty to take appropriate steps to protect our children while they are at school,” he said.

More than 6,000 campuses in 40 states reportedly use Raptor’s V-soft technology, and company officials say the system identified more than 1,700 sex offenders entering schools during the 2008-09 school year.

“More than 50 million U.S. students are returning to school at more than 120,000 campuses this month. Only a fraction of those schools have effective visitor-management policies, and most still use the honor system and clipboards for visitors who find time to check in at the front office,” Measom said.

Links:

Lake Travis Independent School District

Raptor Technologies

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TPACK explores effective ed-tech integration

As technology becomes an increasingly important tool for teaching and learning, a relatively new concept–focusing on how educators can effectively and effortlessly tailor technology to their instructional practices–is making its way into pre-service and in-service teacher education programs.

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, or TPACK, is the work of Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler, both associate professors of educational technology in the College of Education at Michigan State University.

At the center of the concept is how those three knowledge areas–technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge–interact with one another.

TPACK is achieved when those three forms of knowledge intersect, and Mishra and Koehler believe that true technology integration occurs when educators can understand and use those relationships fully.

The concept is built on Lee Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge, which examines the relationship between what an educator knows, and how he or she then transfers that knowledge to students–using different teaching approaches when necessary–in ways the students will understand, even if the subject matter is quite complicated.

Instead of emphasizing either teacher subject knowledge or pedagogy in isolation, Pedagogical Content Knowledge recognizes that the intersection between the two is important. When examined, that relationship can reveal which teaching methods are most appropriate for the content–and how the content can be restructured for better transfer of information.

TPACK takes this concept of Pedagogical Content Knowledge one step further, blending technological knowledge into the mix.

During a November 2008 webinar with the International Society for Technology in Education’s Special Interest Group for Teacher Educators (SIGTE), Mishra and Koehler described the potential for technology’s impact in the classroom.

“Technology is often seen as a solution to all kinds of problems, and it’s sometimes not quite clear what the problems actually are,” Mishra said.

Simply including technology in a classroom doesn’t mean student learning will improve, he said. That depends on the teaching approaches used, in most cases. The technology employed and the way it’s used to teach must be linked.

Given the rapid rate of technological change, teachers can find it hard to keep up. Mishra and Koehler suggest that, rather than focusing on particular technologies, it’s more important for educators to focus on ways of thinking about how best to integrate technology.

Technology comes in many forms–some simple, like a compass, and some more advanced, like a GPS system. But both are examples of technology, Mishra said, because technology is something that makes it easier to complete a given task.

“Users often redefine technology,” Mishra said. “Technology isn’t something that will be used in just one way.”

For instance, he continued, eMail was not originally meant for people to send eMail messages to themselves, but many people now send eMail files, reminders, and quick notes to their own eMail addresses.

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SAT scores dip for high school class of 2009

Average scores on the SAT college entrance exam dipped slightly for the high school class of 2009, while gender, race, and income gaps widened, according to figures released Aug. 25 by the College Board.

The average SAT score dipped from 502 last year to 501 on the critical reading section of the test. Math scores held steady at 515, and writing fell from 494 to 493. Each section has a maximum score of 800.

More than 1.5 million members of the class of 2009 took the exam, which remains the most widely used college entrance exam despite recent gains by another test, the ACT. The SAT tries to measure basic college-readiness skills, while the ACT is more focused on what students have learned in the classroom.

Average SAT scores were stable or rising most years from 1994 to 2004, but they have been trending downward since. That’s likely due in part to the widening pool of test-takers. That’s a positive sign that more students are aspiring to college, but it also tends to weigh down average scores.

Forty percent of students in this year’s pool were minorities, and more than one-third reported their parents had never attended college. More than a quarter reported English was not their first language at home.

However, the scores also indicate a widening of the gaps that have made the test a target for critics of standardized testing. On the three combined sections, men scored 27 points higher on average than women, compared with 24 points higher last year. That gap is mostly attributable to men’s higher math scores.

Average combined scores for white students declined two points, but scores for black students fell four points, widening the racial gap. Average scores for two of the three categories the College Board uses for identifying Hispanics also declined.

Meanwhile, average combined scores by students reporting their families earned over $200,000 surged 26 points, to 1702, an increase that could fuel further criticism the test is too coachable and favors students who can afford expensive test-prep tutoring.

The College Board, the not-for-profit organization that administers the exam, strongly discourages comparing and ranking states and districts based on SAT results. The test-taking population can vary considerably, and the College Board argues rankings may discourage schools from pushing students to apply for college.

Link:

College Board

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Trend Shows K-12 School Districts Embracing Solution to Gain Better Control of Textbooks

MCHENRY, Ill., Aug. 25, 2009 – School districts across the country that have implemented new tools and processes for textbook management are now recognizing savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as ensuring students have immediate access to textbooks when they need them.

With K-12 districts seeking to gain greater accountability and control over one of their largest and most important annual investments, there is growing momentum to adopt Follett Software Company’s Destiny Textbook Manager – a centralized, browser-based system.  Destiny Textbook Manager is now in more than 11,000 schools (800 districts) nationwide, a marked increase from just four years ago when the product was in 2,000 schools.  A total of 37 of the country’s 100 largest school districts have chosen to partner with Follett Software Co., while 700 new schools signed up in March of this year alone.

“Some districts are deferring textbook purchases and looking for ways to stretch their current textbook materials for a longer period of time, while others are looking to protect any textbook investment they are making with the federal stimulus funds they are receiving,” said Tom Schenck, president, Follett Software Co.  “We especially pride ourselves on being able to offer districts a complete solution, well beyond our market-leading software product.”

In Plainfield, Ill., officials at Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 offer “conservative estimates” that Destiny Textbook Manager has saved them at least $500,000 since investing in the product.

“This will allow the district to ensure that students will have access to the textbooks they need, when they need them, while at the same time saving our taxpayers a tremendous amount of money,” Linda Casey, the district’s director of instructional technology and media, told The Plainfield Sun (7/10/09) in a recently published story.  “The system helps to eliminate over-ordering and stockpiling of books and resource materials.  It also reduces replacement costs by being able to transfer textbooks from one campus to another.”

Other school districts that have recognized considerable savings and reduced textbook losses with Destiny Textbook Manager include two California schools: Riverside (Calif.) Unified School District ($300,000 in savings) and Pomona (Calif.) Unified School District (reduced textbook losses by 25 percent and reduced duplicate orders by 70 percent).  The management of textbooks is destined to become even more crucial in California where a provision in the state’s new budget agreement would suspend the adoption of textbooks for five years.

Destiny Textbook Manager success stories can be found coast to coast, from Escambia County School District in Pensacola, Fla. ($200,000-plus savings in first two years) to Higley Unified School District in Gilbert, Ariz.  The Higley district typically spends nearly $2 million a year on textbook purchases, and are predicting annual savings of some $200,000 a year with Destiny Textbook Manager, officials reported recently.

“We’re shifting resources as opposed to buying resources,” Joyce Lewis, Higley’s supervisor of instructional technology, told the East Valley Tribune (6/2/09).  “We’re also selling off obsolete and excess textbooks.”

Schenck said his company’s product helps districts:

·   Eliminate over-ordering and stockpiling of books

·   Effectively monitor and track textbook transfers across multiple locations

·   Ensure that students have the right textbooks when they need them

·   Improve their ability to collect fines for lost and damaged materials

Accountability is one more pivotal asset of the program since staff, students and parents assume increased responsibility for textbooks assigned to them.  And Florida districts have taken keen interest in legislation passed earlier this year that requires public school students who lose or damage textbooks to pay 100 percent of replacement costs instead of 50 to 75 percent under the previous law.

In South Carolina, meanwhile, the Department of Education – with 86 districts, 1,150 schools and 676,000 students – implemented Destiny Textbook Manager on a statewide basis in 2007.  Follett Software Company has entered into a new contract with the state this year to develop additional enhancements for the system.  Bottom line, according to state officials, is that its chief goal of ensuring that “textbooks are available and in the hands of each and every student” has been reached.

“Although some schools had very good inventory systems in place, others didn’t,” said Dr. Jim White, the state’s manager of instructional materials.  “Our new system will help all schools and districts keep better track of materials and recover fees when they’re due.  We are now able to clearly identify where our losses are occurring and take action to reduce them.”

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