19 new districts join League of Innovative Schools

A cohort of 19 new school districts have been accepted into the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of forward-thinking school districts organized by Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to accelerate innovation in education.

The League of Innovative Schools, launched in late 2011, accepts new members through an open application process once per year. Twenty-two districts were accepted last year. With the new members, the League now has a presence in 33 states, representing 3.3 million students. The full list of members can be found at digitalpromise.org/districts.

In addition to the 19 new members, several former members — Blue Valley USD 229, Bristol Township School District, Fulton County Schools, and Lexington County School District One — were re-admitted under new superintendents.…Read More

Online petition urges computer science education funding

Policy makers, educators, and the private sector ask for federal investments in computer science education

An online petition urges Congress to provide $250 million to help schools and districts integrate computer science into the curriculum.

In a letter sent to Congress, the authors note that technology is quickly changing society, and “participating in this world requires access to computer science in our schools.”

They also state that more than 100 school districts are working to roll out computer science courses, and 20 states have passed policies around the subject and are in the process of identifying professional development for computer science teachers. But despite pockets of growth, three-quarters of U.S. schools do not offer meaningful computer science courses.…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

Buoyed by Congress, STEM and coding are on the rise

New legislation makes computer science an official part of STEM education

STEM-edSTEM education, while always a national focus, is receiving more attention in recent days, as surveys and legislation reveal awareness of its importance to the nation’s success.

Three out of four Americans in a recent survey said they think “science is cool in a way that it wasn’t 10
years ago.”

Seventy-three percent of participants in the Finger on the Pulse opinion survey, from Horizon Media’s WHY Group, agreed with the statement that “in the future, all the best jobs will require knowledge of computer coding languages.”…Read More

22 districts join network of innovative school systems

 Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools members partner with other leading educators, entrepreneurs, and researchers from across the U.S.

league-innovativeTwenty-two new school districts have been accepted into the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of forward-thinking school districts organized by Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to accelerate innovation in education.

The League of Innovative Schools, launched in late 2011, accepts new members through an open application process once per year. With the new members, the League now includes 73 school districts in 33 states, representing 3.2 million students. The full list of members can be found at digitalpromise.org/districts. A list of the 22 new districts being added is also available via a blog post from the league.

“The League’s goal is to find leaders pioneering bold, creative, and student-centric practices, connect them with each other, and amplify what they do best so others can learn,” said Sara Schapiro, director of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. “With these new members, we add a wealth of insights, ideas, and energy to help our members effectively support teaching and learning through technology.”…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

Tough slog ahead in Congress for NCLB rewrite

Debate about testing looms over the promise of a NCLB compromise

nclb-congressU.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander earlier this month announced a symbolic breakthrough in the decadelong ideological wrangling over how to rewrite the nation’s chief education law.

Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate committee working to renew the law known as No Child Left Behind, agreed to scrap his own proposed bill in favor of a new version he would craft with Murray, the committee’s ranking Democrat.

Yet the promise of a bipartisan first draftand quickening momentum that Congress may pass a reauthorization that is seven years overduehas only heightened the political fissures.…Read More