No education agenda left behind becomes Obama hurdle as congress deadlocks

When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he pledged to “fix” the No Child Left Behind federal education law and to promote rigorous standards, merit pay and policies that made it easier to remove low-performing teachers, Bloomberg reports. As Obama–who sold himself as a politician who could forge bipartisan compromise–seeks re-election next year, Congressional gridlock has halted his plan to change No Child Left Behind. While more than 40 states have signed onto parts of the rest of his agenda, state budget cuts threaten to undermine districts’ efforts to carry it out…

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Coming soon to the internet: The .whatever address

A quarter-century after the creation of “.com,” the agency that assigns internet addresses is loosening its rules and allowing suffixes named after brands, hobbies, political causes and just about anything else, the Associated Press reports. Under guidelines approved Monday, Apple could register addresses ending in “.ipad,” Citi and Chase could share “.bank” and environmental groups could go after “.eco.” Japan could have “.com” in Japanese…

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New project could improve results from school web searches

The Learning Resource Metadata initiative aims to help students by returning more relevant internet search results.

A new partnership between the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) and Creative Commons aims to improve internet search results for teachers and students by creating a metadata framework designed specifically for learning resources.

The organizations announced the partnership at the 2011 Content in Context conference in early June.

“Educators and students miss out on education resources available online because it is takes too long or is too hard to find appropriate content,” said Catherine Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons. “A common metadata schema will make this search more efficient and effective so educators can quickly discover the educational resources they want, including those they can reuse under Creative Commons licenses.”

Several other leading organizations, including Curriki, Pearson, Promethean, and the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, have voiced support for the Learning Resource Metadata initiative and have agreed to help develop the specifications.

The Learning Resource Metadata initiative will work with Schema.org, a web metadata framework. Major search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Bing recently announced the Schema.org project, which will create a universal framework for tagging web-based content to make internet searches faster. Google Shopping and Google Recipes are prototype examples of how metadata can improve search results and presentation.

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British Library, Google in deal to digitize books

The deal will make the full texts of 250,000 books from the British Library available to researchers online.

A treatise on the hippopotamus and a description of the first engine-driven submarine are among 250,000 books to be made available online in a deal between Google and the British Library.

The agreement, announced June 20, will let internet users read, search, download, and copy thousands of texts published between 1700 and 1870.

It is a small step toward the library’s goal of making the bulk of its 14 million books and 1 million periodicals available in digital form by 2020.

“So far we have only been able to digitize quite a small fraction of the global collection,” said the library’s chief executive, Lynne Brindley. “There is a long way to go.”

The deal with Google, which will see 40 million pages digitized over the next three years, will offer online researchers a selection of rarely seen works from an era of social, political, scientific, and technological change that spanned the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the American war of independence.

The books range from Georges Louis Leclerc’s “Natural History of the Hippopotamus, or River-Horse” to the 1858 work “A Scheme for Underwater Seafaring,” describing the first combustion engine-driven submarine.

The books are more than scholarly curiosities. British Library curator Kristian Jensen said an 18th-century guide to the English language for Danish mariners shows “how English began to emerge from being the language spoken by people over there on that island” to become the world’s dominant tongue.

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Up to $600,000 for training multicultural scholars

The purpose of the Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program is to provide scholarships to support recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training committed, eligible multicultural scholars, resulting in either baccalaureate degrees within the food and agricultural sciences disciplines or the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree. The scholarships are intended to encourage outstanding students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented and underserved in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) specifically for the USDA mission sciences, to pursue and complete baccalaureate degrees in food and agricultural sciences, or achieve a D.V.M. that would lead to a diverse and highly skilled work force. Applications are sought for student education that will: (i)prepare graduates to meet the demand for highly qualified personnel entering the STEM workforce within the food and agricultural sciences domain; (ii)pipeline more undergraduates into graduate education in USDA mission sciences; (iii)contribute to the reduction of the disparity among underrepresented and underserved populations entering graduate schools to reflect the demographics of this country and enable the American system of higher education to remain globally competitive; (iv)promote student success within food, agricultural and related science disciplines at the undergraduate/D.V.M. level; and (v)focus on student learning, academic preparation, social support structure, and professional mentoring to ensure entry into food and agricultural sciences areas and completion of graduate education or high level of competitiveness for the workforce.

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Up to $100,000 for building learning labs in libraries

These grants will support the planning and designing of up to 30 Learning Labs in libraries and museums throughout the country. The Labs are intended to engage middle- and high-school youth in mentor-led, interest-based, youth-centered, collaborative learning using digital and traditional media. Grantees will be required to participate, in-person and online, in a community of practice that will provide technical assistance, networking, and cross-project learning. Projects are expected to provide prototypes for the field and be based on current research about digital media and youth learning. There will be two project deadlines for this grant program, with the second deadline planned for spring 2012.

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$4,000 for Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program

The Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange Program Provides Opportunities For Teachers To Participate In Direct Exchanges Of Positions With Colleagues From Other Countries For A Semester Or A Year. By Living And Working Abroad, Exchange Teachers Gain An Understanding And Appreciation Of Different Educational Systems And Cultures, And Enrich Their Schools And Communities By Providing Students With New Perspectives About The World In Which They Live.

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$2,000 for women building community power

Open Meadows Foundation Is A Grant-making Organization For Projects That Are Led By And Benefit Women And Girls, Particularly Those From Vulnerable Communities. Open Meadows Foundation Funds Projects That Do Not Discriminate On The Basis Of Race, Religion, National Origin, Gender Identity And Expression, Sexual Identity And Expression, Age Or Ability. It Offers Grants Up To $2000 To Projects That:

* Are Designed And Implemented By Women And Girls;
* Reflect The Diversity Of The Community Served By The Project In Both Its Leadership And Organization;
* Promote Building Community Power;
* Promote Gender, Racial, Social, Economic And/or Environmental Justice; And
* Have Limited Financial Access Or Have Encountered Obstacles In Their Search For Funding. 

All Of The Above Guidelines Are Applied In Considering Funding.

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Troubles with quantity estimation linked to math learning disability

Math researchers discovered new evidence about math learning disabilities.

Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered that the innate ability to estimate quantities is impaired in children who have a math learning disability.

The link between difficulty estimating quantities and math difficulties was seen only in children who had a math learning disability, and not in those who did poorly in math but were not considered to be learning disabled.

“The findings suggest that students may struggle with math for very different reasons,” said Kathy Mann Koepke, Ph.D., director of the Mathematics and Science Cognition and Learning program at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study. “Research to identify these reasons may lead to new ways of identifying those at risk, and developing the means to help them.”

Math learning disability is also referred to as dyscalculia.

The study was published in Child Development and was conducted by Michele Mazzocco, Ph.D., at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and her colleagues, Lisa Feigenson, Ph.D., and Justin Halberda, Ph.D., also at Johns Hopkins.

In earlier research, Feigenson and Halberda have shown that the innate ability to estimate and compare quantities is present in infancy and improves with age.

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Virtual network promotes sharing of learning content across state lines

The virtual network will allow educators to post and download learning resources in an open-source format.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York are joining forces to fund an open-source technology network that would give teachers access to a huge repository of learning resources across state lines.

Such a network is now possible because of the Common Core State Standards, which replace the current patchwork of individual state standards with a set of common standards. The Common Core standards have been approved by more than 40 states and play a critical role in the development of a national exam, planned for 2014.

For more on the Common Core standards, see:

Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics

Gates gives $20 million for digital learning, Common Core curriculum

Maine leads once again with Common Core pilot

The Gates Foundation said it has committed as much as $100 million to the development of the virtual teaching and learning network, although an actual dollar amount has not yet been released.

“Right now, states all have individual systems—some of them are older, some are newer with different capacities, and they’re not able to speak to each other,” said Debbie Robinson, chief communications officer for the Gates Foundation. In contrast, the new Gates-funded virtual network will be “an open-source system, so that any state or school district or contract developer could use [learning content] and tailor it to whatever their needs are. You’re not locked into having to do it a certain way, but you get the benefits of being able to share information across states [and] with other school districts.”

Illinois, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts will be piloting the program, which should be available in fall 2012. The Council of Chief State School Officers chose the five states, according to foundation officials.

Once the network has been created, educators will be able to post content and download lesson plans or other learning resources that fit their classroom needs.

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