NSBA, AASA to combine national conferences

AASA hopes to hold its 2013 conference in San Diego in conjunction with NSBA.

The National School Boards Association and the American Association of School Administrators will combine their annual conferences into a single event beginning in 2013, the two organizations announced during AASA’s National Conference on Education Feb. 17.

The move is expected to save money for the organizations and also for school systems, which won’t have two separate events for district leaders to attend.

With the hostile economy, it just wasn’t economically feasible for these shows to exist as standalone conferences any more, organizers said. Last fall, NSBA announced that its long-running Technology + Learning (T+L) conference no longer would exist as well.

Through their newly announced partnership, AASA and NSBA will combine forces to create a larger, more cost-efficient national conference, the two groups said.

For more education conference coverage, see:

Conference Information Center at eSN Online

The organizations will continue to serve their members’ and conference attendees’ interests, while at the same time featuring some overlapping content, officials said.

“A joint conference will realize significant savings for both organizations. Our intentions are to pursue separate tracks for superintendents and [school] board members, but a track common to both in areas like board/superintendent relations,” said Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA.


Urban students lag in science learning: study

Students in schools in the largest U.S. cities, many from low-income households, trail their peers elsewhere in the country in a test of science proficiency, according to a report released on Thursday, Reuters reports. Fourth- and eighth-graders in most of the 17 participating urban districts typically scored lower than the national average, the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress Science report showed.

“The results are shouting at us: Whatever we are doing in science education in these big city public schools, it isn’t working for the vast majority of our students,” said Alan Friedman, a member of the National Assessment Governing Board.

The analysis, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, Trial Urban District Assessment, tested between 900 and 2,200 students in each grade in school districts from San Diego to New York, including students in Atlanta and Boston public schools and the Los Angeles Unified School District…

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Leader of teachers’ union urges dismissal overhaul

Responding to criticism that tenure gives even poor teachers a job for life, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, announced a plan Thursday to overhaul how teachers are evaluated and dismissed, reports the New York Times. It would give tenured teachers who are rated unsatisfactory by their principals a maximum of one school year to improve. If they did not, they could be fired within 100 days. Teacher evaluations, long an obscure detail in an educator’s career, have moved front and center as school systems try to identify which teachers are best at improving student achievement, and to remove ineffective ones…

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Harvard, Princeton reinstate early admissions

Harvard and Princeton say they are restoring their undergraduate early admissions programs, the Associated Press reports. Harvard dropped its early admissions program four years ago, saying it wasn’t easy for disadvantaged students to access and contributed to high school student anxiety. Princeton followed suit, hoping other schools would join in, but the idea didn’t catch on. The two schools announced Thursday that they will restore their respective programs. Both also say students accepted early will have until the regular spring deadline to decide whether to attend…

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Providence faces shortfall, teachers to get dismissal notices

The school district plans to send out dismissal notices to every one of its 1,926 teachers, an unprecedented move that has union leaders up in arms, reports the Providence Journal. In a letter sent out to all teachers Tuesday, Supt. Tom Brady wrote that on Thursday the Providence School Board will vote on a resolution to dismiss every teacher, effective the last day of school. In an eMail sent to all teachers and School Department staff, Brady said, “We are forced to take this precautionary action by the March 1 deadline given the dire budget outline for the 2011-2012 school year in which we are projecting a near $40 million deficit for the district,” Brady wrote. “Since the full extent of the potential cuts to the school budget have yet to be determined, issuing a dismissal letter to all teachers was necessary to give the mayor, the School Board and the district maximum flexibility to consider every cost savings option, including reductions in staff.”

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Fixing higher ed: Lumina’s Jamie Merisotis

In a story that published Sunday in the Washington Post Magazine, I offer eight suggestions to “fix” higher education, says Daniel de Vise of the Washington Post. After reading the story, you can rank the ideas in a poll, which you will find farther down on this blog. For the story, I sought help from several great leaders and thinkers. Some submitted their own thoughts on how to improve higher education. I’m posting them this week. Here is the eighth, from Jamie Merisotis, CEO of the Lumina Foundation…

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Schools boost efforts to ID fake student addresses

Williams-Bolar says she's hoping for a pardon.

Kelley Williams-Bolar, alarmed after her home was broken into, yanked her two daughters out of their urban Akron, Ohio, schools and enrolled them in her father’s suburban school district nearby, using his address.

That way, said the single mom and teacher’s aide, they could come to a safer home after school.

Her peace of mind proved costly. Officials in the Copley-Fairlawn district challenged the residency of her girls in 2007, when they were 9 and 13 years old. Williams-Bolar was charged and convicted of felony records tampering.

Not only was she jailed last month for nine days, but the conviction threatens her efforts to earn a teacher’s license and could jeopardize her job as a teacher’s aide. She plans to appeal.

Her case has become a rallying point for advocates of school choice and it has outraged residents in her northeast Ohio community–some because of her dishonesty, others for the severity of her prosecution.

“My kids are not latchkey kids,” said Williams-Bolar, who had no choice but to re-enroll her daughters in Akron schools two years ago. “I am a mother, and I want to make sure my kids are safe, and I want to make sure that they’re educated.”

Read more Community news:

Principal shot, killed at Calif. elementary school

Readers sound off on value-added model, district efficiency

LA schools step up security after student shooting

Her prosecution and incarceration are a high-profile example of how schools are getting tougher on parents who sneak their children into other districts, usually better-funded and higher-performing schools. Districts are fighting back, having students followed by private investigators, fining or pressing criminal charges against their parents–even sending them to jail.

The cases raise questions about school funding disparities and pit parents’ pursuit of better academics or safer hallways against schools’ interests in protecting their funding and quality.

There’s little data that tracks how many parents register students using false addresses or those of relatives in violation of state, city or school regulations, but districts from New Hampshire to Texas to California report that it’s a problem. Jailing parents isn’t common.


Federal broadband service map reveals need for connectivity


Most schools have internet connections, but higher speeds are necessary for learning.


The National Broadband Map, released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on Feb. 17, reveals that while the majority of schools are connected to the internet, those connection speeds are not meeting the needs of students and teachers.

NTIA created the National Broadband Map in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), using data that each state, territory, and the District of Columbia (or their designees) collected from broadband service providers or other data sources.

“The National Broadband Map shows there are still too many people and community institutions lacking the level of broadband service needed to fully participate in the internet economy. We are pleased to see the increase in broadband adoption last year, particularly in light of the difficult economic environment, but a digital divide remains,” said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “Through NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, digital literacy activities, and other initiatives, including the tools we are releasing today, the Obama Administration is working to address these challenges.”

For more news on broadband service, see:

Stimulus funding brings broadband to rural homes, schools

Survey: Schools need faster broadband speeds

New devices allow for mobile wireless broadband

The website resulting from this federal-state partnership includes more than 25 million searchable records showing where broadband service is available, the technology used to provide the service, the maximum advertised speeds of the broadband service, and the names of the service providers. Users can search by address to find the broadband providers and services available in the corresponding census block or road segment, view the data on a map, or use other interactive tools to compare broadband service across various geographies, such as states, counties, or congressional districts.

The map shows that between 5 and 10 percent of Americans lack access to broadband at speeds that support a basic set of applications, including downloading web pages, photos and video, and using simple video conferencing. The FCC last July set a benchmark of 4 Mbps actual speed downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to support these applications.

NTIA collected data in ranges between 3-6 Mbps and 6-10 Mbps maximum advertised download speeds, which are the closest measurements to the speed benchmark for broadband that the FCC set.


New clicker technology allows a different look at student answers


Research shows clickers can improve student performance.


The anonymity of lecture hall response systems has taken the awkwardness out of sensitive questions in Timothy Loving’s Introduction to Family Relationships course, and a new clicker software will let the University of Texas associate professor have a more personal exchange with his students.

Loving will use the latest version of the i>clicker response system to analyze student answers by political affiliation, race, gender, and other demographics.

The new i>clicker version 6.0 will still allow for anonymous answers to faculty questions, but the data slicing and demographic polling features will provide a breakdown that could shed light on where students from different backgrounds stand on thorny social issues.

The newest version of i>clicker is in beta testing, company officials said, and the software will be released in the fall. The i>clicker was developed by Macmillan New Ventures. The technology is used at more than 900 U.S. colleges and universities.

Read the full story on eCampus News


Google versus Microsoft: The battle for the K-12 cloud contract

North versus South. Rural versus urban. Add to those delineations now, as schools and government agencies across the U.S. move to the cloud, Google versus Microsoft, reports ReadWriteWeb. On the surface, at least, it’s a public relations battle. Google announces one state or school district has adopted its cloud offerings; and then it’s Microsoft’s turn to respond with a new list of cloud clients. Google touts 10 million Apps for Education users. Microsoft touts 15 million for its Live@edu

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