Report: Half of schools fail to meet federal standards

At least 39 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have said they will file waivers.

Nearly half of America’s public schools didn’t meet federal achievement standards this year, marking the largest failure rate since the much-criticized No Child Left Behind law took effect a decade ago, according to a national report released Dec. 15.

The Center on Education Policy report shows more than 43,000 schools—or 48 percent—did not make “adequate yearly progress” this year. The failure rates range from a low of 11 percent in Wisconsin to a high of 89 percent in Florida.

The findings are far below the 82 percent failure rate that Education Secretary Arne Duncan predicted earlier this year but still indicate an alarming trend that Duncan hopes to address by granting states relief from the federal law. The law requires states to have every student performing at grade level in math and reading by 2014, which most educators agree is an impossible goal.

“Whether it’s 50 percent, 80 percent, or 100 percent of schools being incorrectly labeled as failing, one thing is clear: No Child Left Behind is broken,” Duncan said in a statement Dec. 14. “That’s why we’re moving forward with giving states flexibility from the law in exchange for reforms that protect children and drive student success.”

Read more NCLB news:

“NCLB waivers require big changes, fast.”

State’s scores varied wildly. For example, in Georgia, 27 percent of schools did not meet targets, compared to 81 percent in Massachusetts and 16 percent in Kansas.

That’s because some states have harder tests or have high numbers of immigrant and low-income children, center officials said. It’s also because the law requires states to raise the bar each year for how many children must pass the test, and some states put off the largest increase until this year to avoid sanctions.


How much should teachers be paid?

"Without our teachers, where would we be?" asked one reader.

With U.S. schools facing enormous pressure to improve, even as state and local budgets continue to evaporate, teacher compensation is the latest flashpoint in debates about education reform.

Though some critics argue that teachers are overpaid (see “Hey teachers: The Heritage Foundation thinks you’re overpaid”), many believe it’s just the opposite (see “Four fallacies of the ‘teachers are overpaid’ argument” and “Teachers facing low salaries opt to moonlight”).

To get our readers’ perspective, we recently asked: “What do you think teachers should be paid?” Here are some of the most thought-provoking responses (edited for brevity).

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

At least enough to make a living

“Really a tough question—in as much that (a) budgets are really tight these days and (b) so many systems are locked in via union contracts to pay increases based upon degree status and time on the job. So let’s start there: Increases should not be controlled in any way by time on the job—even if it is easy to determine. I believe teachers really can and ought to be made to provide a self-assessment of their efforts and the progress of their students, including their discussion of contributing circumstances associated with those efforts and progress made—with sample ‘data’ used in the assessment and with proposed individual changes believed to address needed improvement. That’s what professionals are expected to do, and teaching is and should be considered a profession.

“With that as input …, teacher base salaries should be comparable to that of other professionals such as engineers, accountants, speech/physical therapists, etc. I’m thinking about $60K in the northeast USA where I live. More importantly, there should be a significant merit pool (consistent with funds availability) … I really think, if asked, most good teachers would want a livable salary (no requirement for finding supplemental income) and then support to facilitate an enriching and challenging educational experience for their students—more than large salary increases. Good teachers, I believe, are intrinsically motivated far more than extrinsically motivated.” —John Bennett, Emeritus Professor / Associate Dean, University of Connecticut, Coventry, Conn.

Pay for the ‘overtime’

“An average work week for a teacher is around 55 hours. That is just for five days, not counting the weekend. … If an average teacher is being paid $35K for a 40-hour work week, who is paying the teacher to complete the extra [work from planning and grading] assignments? … [Also,] teachers have to pay for classes to stay current in teaching strategies and to keep their certificates. How many people have to pay for classes to keep a certificate?” —Jacki Kratz, classroom technology specialist, Sage Technology Solutions, Pa.


Six educators recognized for efforts in online and blended learning

The Online Learning Innovator Awards were presented by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) at the organization’s annual Virtual School Symposium (VSS), a three-day conference that brings nearly 2,000 educators, school administrators and education policy leaders together to highlight cutting-edge work in K-12 online education across the country. The iNACOL Online Learning Innovator Awards included the National Online Teacher of the Year Award, the Outstanding Individual Contribution to K-12 Online Learning Award, the Outstanding Online Learning Research Award, and the Innovative Online Learning Practice Awards.  Additionally, two members of iNACOL’s Board of Directors were presented with leadership awards for outstanding service.

To read more about the award, click here.


New Jersey teacher wins Great American Teach-Off

Terry Dougherty, a third grade teacher at Roland Rogers Elementary School in Galloway Township, New Jersey has won the Great American Teach-Off earning a $10,000 classroom grant. Hundreds of teachers nationwide were nominated and ten finalists were selected. Three years ago, Terry Dougherty began a free Military Child Tutoring program known as “They are Heroes Too!” As a military spouse for thirty years and as a mother, she understands the separation and transition issues that these kids face. Ms. Dougherty has said she will use the $10,000 grant to construct a mobile technology lab for the purposes of connecting kids with deployed parents and enhancing reading, math and science skills.

To read more about the award, click here.


SLCC Library Program wins technology award

Salt Lake Community College Electronic Library and Information Environment (ELIE) has received a technology innovation in education award from the Center for Digital Education. The College developed ELIE in August 2007, and increased online research sessions at the College by 33 percent, online library resource usage increased 1,300%, and research sessions using the program exceeded 1.5 million in the first two years of ELIE’s deployment. Over the past year, ELIE was accessed over 4.1 million times.

To read more about the award, click here.


HMH unveils winners of Global Education Challenge

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) announced the winners of its Global Education Challenge, which was launched earlier this year to identify innovative, game-changing ideas for improving K-12 student outcomes around the world. Challenge entrants were encouraged to submit ideas to foster positive change in the areas of student learning, family engagement, or teacher effectiveness. HMH is awarding a total of $250,000 in cash and prizes as part of the Challenge. Three winners were chosen from the ideas submitted through the Global Education Challenge’s online platform. The first prize winner will receive $100,000, as well as $25,000 worth of fiction, non-fiction and reference titles to the K-12 school of their choice. The second prize winner will receive $25,000 plus $20,000 worth of titles for a K-12 school, and the third prize winner will receive $15,000 and $15,000 worth of titles to a K-12 institution.

To read about the winners, click here. 


$25K and technology tools for outstanding educators

The Technology in Education grant giveaway program is designed to advance educational opportunities with technology across K-12 schools nationwide, the winning schools, individuals and “Best Teacher in America” will receive more than $150,000 in money and prizes.


Nominate anti-bullying programs for recognition

Do you know a community, school, or private anti bullying program or initiative doing extraordinary work to prevent bullying? Are you involved in or know of an anti-bullying effort that deserves national recognition? If you answer yes to either of these questions, nominate your program for the National Anti-Bullying Awards, sponsored by the School Safety Advocacy Council and presented at the 2012 National Conference on Bullying, February 15-17, 2012 at the DoubleTree Sea World Resort Orlando in Orlando.