What is Obama’s K-12 education legacy?

Common Core, Race to the Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—just a few top-down, often-controversial, metrics-heavy K-12 reform initiatives favored by the Obama Administration that seemed to have a lot more traction during the President’s first-term with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the helm than during the second term.

“President Barack Obama will perhaps be best remembered for what many considered a top-down approach to education reform, and Arne Duncan was the architect of that strategy,” writes Tara Garcia Mathewson for EducationDIVE. From a strong support of Common Core to even the ESSA, “a strict emphasis on standards is one of the biggest marks of the administration.”

[For the higher education version of this story, click here.]…Read More

Report: Schools expect faster internet within 3 years

Seventy-two percent of E-rate applicants participating in a recent survey said wi-fi is critical to fulfilling their organization’s mission.

Twenty years after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 created E-rate funding, significant measures are underway to update the program that has become vital to schools and libraries across the United States.

The E-rate Trends Report from Funds For Learning aims to help policymakers, administrators and other stakeholders as they shape the future of the program.…Read More

6 tools for real formative assessment

Delivering formative assessments is made easier with classroom technology tools

As education policy moves away from the much-maligned No Child Left Behind and toward new legislation focusing on learning outcomes, technology-enabled formative assessments are moving to the foreground as a way to gauge student learning in real time.

Assessments have long presented a challenge for educators in their various forms and frequency. Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the summative assessment pressure of NCLB eases and formative assessments become more important.

Research indicates formative assessments still deliver needed data to educators, who, when equipped to properly interpret and use data, can adjust their instruction depending on students’ needs.…Read More

11 ed-tech buzzwords and phrases to think about

Do these “edubabble” terms have meaning or are they just empty rhetoric?

Get a group of educators together either online or in person and at times it can seem like they’re speaking a different dialect. Want to disrupt the fixed mindset and combat the device gap in the age of the digital native? Well, have you tried innovating your hidden curriculum? Just add more grit (or should that be rigor?). And do it all like a pirate. No, wait: a rockstar.

At best, ed-tech buzzwords can serve as a sort of shorthand when conversing with like minds to quickly touch on relevant, universally-understood phenomena, perhaps with an eye toward saving precious Twitter characters to add additional insight. At worst, as one blogger put it, edubabble is “an act of unconscionable self-indulgence.”

Moreover, in fitting with language’s protean nature, shiny new terms are likely to elude a single, fixed definition, making them even more incomprehensible to outsiders, or even other insiders. To educator Mark Johnson, in a recent blog post, it recalled the scene in Lewis Caroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” where Humpty Dumpty misuses the word “glory” in triumph at having successfully explained the concept of birthdays and un-birthdays to Alice.…Read More

How ESSA will boost ed-tech funding

The Every Student Succeeds Act includes block grants intended for technology, among other uses. It also opens the door to new state testing systems

essa-ed-techEight years after the No Child Left Behind Act was supposed to expire, Congress finally passed a bill to replace it—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—that gives states more latitude in deciding how to close achievement gaps. The legislation also includes a sizeable state block-grant program intended for technology, among other uses.

Although it’s not the program that ed-tech advocates had hoped for, many expressed cautious optimism that a section of ESSA under Title IV (“21st Century Schools”) could help schools use technology tools to transform teaching and learning.

“We’re pleased that the federal government has renewed its commitment to funding educational technology,” said Lan Neugent, interim executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, in an interview. “It’s great to see that become a priority again.”…Read More

Every Student Succeeds Act shifts more power to states

Much-anticipated bill attempts to satisfy all stakeholder groups as it moves away from NCLB mandates

every-student-succeedsWhile a “new and improved” version of the hotly-debated No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) would still require reading and math testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school, states would have much more leeway when it comes to defining teaching and learning objectives and outlining accountability measures.

The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states the power to determine their own academic goals and measure progress toward those goals–a departure from NCLB, which aimed for 100 percent math and reading proficiency by 2014.

States or districts will be in charge of determining how to improve persistently underperforming schools. Previously, NCLB gave the federal government a strong voice in what happened to those schools. Now, under Every Student Succeeds, schools requiring much intervention would be among the lowest-performing 5 percent in the state.…Read More

More than half of students struggle with reading, report says

New report examines literacy development and urges Congress to do the same as NCLB rewrites progress

reading-literacyNearly half of minority students and students from low-income families enter the fifth grade without basic reading skills, according to a new report urging Congress to focus on students’ literacy development beginning in early childhood.

Noting that 60 percent of both fourth and eighth graders currently struggle with reading, the report from the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) notes that Congress should put an emphasis on students’ literacy development from the early years and up through grade twelve as it works to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

The report, The Next Chapter: Supporting Literacy Within ESEA, is based on the 2013 results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. According to the report, 50 percent of African Americans, 47 percent of Latinos, and 47 percent of students from low-income families read below NAEP’s basic level.…Read More

ACT to launch college and career testing for elementary school students

ACT officials say testing students early will give them more time to adjust coursework and prepare for potential career paths.

Standardized testing is under increasing scrutiny, as proponents tout its potential for bringing accountability to education while opponents deride it as misguided and exhausting. How much testing is too much? How early is too early?

Now, assessment provider ACT Inc. has announced plans to develop a “next generation” assessment system that would test students for college and career readiness as early as kindergarten and continue through high school.

The first module in the new system, designed for third graders, will pilot next year and launch officially in 2014.…Read More

ACT results show slight increase in college, career readiness

Students slowly move toward college and career readiness while racial and ethnic gaps remain.
Students are slowly moving toward college and career readiness, though racial and ethnic gaps remain.

Only 24 percent of 2010 high school graduates who took the ACT met or surpassed all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, and while there is much room for improvement, college and career readiness advocates are encouraged by the increase in this year’s figure—up from 21 percent in 2006 and 23 percent in 2009.

The results reflect a slow but steady increase in college readiness as the population of ACT-tested graduates has grown to new levels—up by 30 percent since 2006—and become more diverse. Ethnic and/or racial minority students this year made up 29 percent of all ACT-tested graduates, up from 23 percent in 2006. The highest growth was in the number of Hispanic graduates tested, which has nearly doubled since 2006, increasing by 84 percent. College readiness is determined in English, reading, math, and science.

But that increase in the number of minority students who took the test showed that college and career readiness gaps between some racial and/or ethnic groups remain wide. The largest readiness gap in the ACT results was between Asian students at 39 percent and black students at 4 percent.…Read More