Study: Legislators only care about white students

Legislators are more likely to enact education reforms when white students, as opposed to black students, are failing, a recently released study suggests, the Huffington Post reports. The research, titled “The Political Foundations of the Black-White Education Achievement Gap,” found that state legislators rarely enact reforms when white students are achieving, even if black students are not; it is only when white students begin failing that legislative action is taken. In this case, the achievement gap is defined as the persistent discrepancies in measures of school performance between black and white students, whereby white students attain more educational success…

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America’s most challenging high schools

According to the Washington Post, America’s Most Challenging High Schools ranks schools through an index formula that’s a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. A ratio of 1.000 means the school had as many tests as graduates…

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Iris scans are the new school IDs

Kids lose their school IDs but they don’t often lose their eyeballs. That’s one of the reasons why a growing number of schools are replacing traditional identification cards with iris scanners, CNN Money reports. By the fall, several schools — ranging from elementary schools to colleges — will be rolling out various iris scanning security methods. Winthrop University in South Carolina is testing out iris scanning technology during freshman orientation this summer. Students had their eyes scanned as they received their ID cards in June…

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The latest innovation in bulletproof school gear

A Marion, Ohio, man has designed what he believes is a desk uniquely suited to protect students from intruders, the Huffington Post report. Dave Hollenbach, a graphic artist, says he may have the first patent pending for a bulletproof desk that could grow with students throughout the years. The desk is adjustable by height, so that students can take it with them from kindergarten through commencement, WBNS-TV reports. The model protects students from the ground up, and it can double as a bunker if used with bigger desks, according to the outlet. The desk can can withstand up to 30 rounds of shots from a handgun and an assault rifle and could cost up to $700…

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Six ed-tech tips for district CIOs

These six tips might be helpful for district CIOs.

Technology is essential for today’s students to succeed in a mobile world—few, if any, would argue that. But how can school administrators, and district CIOs in particular, adapt to ed-tech’s fast pace while still maintaining a secure and productive district networking environment?

Here, Gregory Smith, ASCD’s new and first-ever chief technology officer, talks to eSchool News about six essential things district CIOs must consider as they move to develop and implement innovative ed-tech solutions. In addition to his new role at ASCD, Smith just released a new book, Straight to the Top: CIO Leadership in a Mobile, Social, and Cloud-based World.

1. The world is going mobile.
CIOs must change their approach for dealing with ed-tech applications and network access through mobile devices. That may require purchasing solutions and/or developing applications that are mobile in nature. Content has to be formatted and delivered to myriad different devices that are not necessarily under a school district’s control, such as smart phones and tablets with different operating systems and platforms. At the end of the day, those are the devices that people communicate with and access systems with. School districts must develop a mobile strategy, and before they implement it, they must make sure they have the right architecture to support such an ed-tech initiative.

(Next page: Five more tips)

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Grants of $5K or more for grades 6-12

Wanted: Classroom Innovators! Toshiba America Foundation accepts applications from teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students. 6-12 Grant requests for $5,000 or less are accepted on a rolling basis, throughout the calendar year. 6-12 Grant requests for $5,000 or more are accepted and reviewed twice a year – August 1 and February 1 each year.

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Apple found to have conspired to raise eBook prices

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Apple conspired to raise the prices of eBooks. The eBook publishers at issue — CBS’s Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Pearson’s Penguin Group, Macmillan and News Corp.’s HarperCollins — settled and didn’t go to trial. Apple held out, and the U.S. Department of Justice brought a civil antitrust suit against the company in 2012. The DOJ alleged that Apple and the publishers engaged in a “conspiracy” to team up against Amazon and fix the price of eBooks — and Apple was the ringleader of the deal…

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Are kids who make their own video games better prepared for the digital future?

It is easier than you might think for kids to make their own video games, Forbes reports. Gamestar Mechanic is a great web based place for younger children to start.  Kodu, Gamemaker, and Scratch all offer simple interfaces for more experienced kids. When kids design their own video games, they are engaged in “learning-by-making.” Project based learning is a constructive experience. It is active rather than passive. It involves creation rather than consumption. Coding, video game making, and interactive expression will be central to education’s future–not only because these activities encourage the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills involved in digital content creation, but also because game creation nurtures the kind of humanistic personal skills that we expect from successful contributors to society…

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It’s test score season, but some states don’t release test scores

The Albert Shanker Institute blog reports that we’ve entered the time of year during which states and districts release their testing results. It’s fair to say that the two districts that get the most attention for their results are New York City and the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), due in no small part to the fact that both enacted significant, high-profile policy changes over the past 5-10 years. The manner in which both districts present annual test results is often misleading. Many of the issues, such as misinterpreting changes in proficiency rates as “test score growth” and chalking up all “gains” to recent policy changes, are quite common across the nation. These two districts are just among the more aggressive in doing so. That said, however, there’s one big difference between the test results they put out every year, and although I’ve noted it a few times before, I’d like to point it out once more: Unlike New York City/State, DCPS does not actually release test scores…

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For algebra, spreadsheets beat newer teaching tools

If you do a search on “from arithmetic to algebra” as a verbatim phrase, you’ll get about 600 hits, with the ones from Google Books reaching back into the nineteenth century, InformationWeek reports. About three out of every four will be about helping students make the transition from arithmetic to algebra — it has been known for a very long time that that’s where we lose many people who are never able to advance much further in math. As I noted before, 25 years ago RAND surveyed the then-nascent field of educational software and found many effective arithmetic teaching programs and practically nothing that taught any of the important aspects of algebra (abstract relations, strategy, fundamental concepts and so on)…

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