Washington adopts professional learning bill

Legislators pass bill to help deliver high-quality professional learning to educators

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recently signed into law HB 1345, a bill that adopts a definition and standards for educator professional learning. HB 1345, championed by Representatives Kristine Lytton (D-40), Chad Magendanz (R-5), and Steve Bergquist (D-11), passed the House and Senate this session with strong bipartisan support.

“High-quality professional learning, developed in alignment with this new law, will allow our educators to be supported and prepared as they tackle new subjects like computer science and teach to more rigorous math and science standards,” stated Highline Schools Superintendent and Washington STEM Board Member Susan Enfield. “Thank you to Governor Inslee and Representatives Lytton, Magendanz, and Bergquist for recognizing the needs for high-quality training, which are particularly strong in STEM subjects that power student opportunity and the state’s economy.”

“Providing a quality public education for our kids is dependent on quality teachers,” said Rep. Kristine Lytton, Chair of the House Finance Committee. “By talking with teachers from around the state and consulting research, we know it is critical we invest in high-quality learning opportunities that are personalized, data-driven, and sustained. That’s the best way to help educators learn new content and master effective teaching practices.”…Read More

States assess their readiness for digital learning

Statewide ed-tech inventories are helping state leaders assess their digital learning needs

When Ray Timothy, executive director of the Utah Education and Telehealth Network, saw the results of a new statewide inventory of technology deployed across all 989 Utah public schools, one figure jumped out at him in particular.

It was the 100-percent response rate from the survey.

“We knew most districts and schools would respond, but a 100-percent response rate shows that technology is a high priority for education leaders throughout the state,” he said.…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

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

Digital equity bill targets ‘homework gap’

Proposed legislation would ensure students have access to digital learning resources, internet outside of school

digital-internetNew legislation introduced in Congress would support “innovative strategies and methods to increase out-of-school access to digital learning resources” in an effort to boost both student and educator engagement.

The Digital Learning Equity Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and co-sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), would call for a national study on what is known as the “Homework Gap” and would support pilot programs to extend digital learning opportunities for students when they are not in the classroom.

The proposed legislation received support across the ed-tech industry after it was announced.…Read More

ESEA rewrite passes Senate, education orgs respond

Passage moves act one step closer to replacing NCLB

senate-nclbVoting 81-17, the U.S. Senate has replaced the controversial No Child Left Behind with the Every Child Achieves act, which solidifies a commitment to standardized testing but gives states more freedom on how to hold schools who are not meeting objectives accountable.

Under the act, schools would still test students in reading and math and those scores would be used alongside other factors, such as graduation rates, in measuring progress. But now states themselves would be able to decide how much weight to give each factor and determine whether a school is meeting goals or not.

The federal government would have some ability to dispute a state’s measurement criteria, but some civil rights groups have contended that the bill lessens overall accountability (an amendment from several Senate Democrats that would have strengthened accountability in the bill was rejected).…Read More

New bill would support innovative internet pilots for students

Students would receive more opportunity to connect to the internet after school under proposed legislation

internet-billNew legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate would support innovative methods to give students access to the internet and digital tools outside of classrooms.

The Digital Learning Equity Act of 2015, introduced by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), would support pilot initiatives that increase student access to digital resources, increase student, parent, and educator engagement, and improve students’ chances to participate in new learning models.

It also provides for a national study of data related to the digital divide, including barriers to students’ home internet access, how educators confront that reality in their classrooms, and how no at-home internet access can impact student engagement.…Read More

Senate to tackle NCLB update

Education Committee will begin reviewing details of a plan to update NCLB

nclb-eseaA proposed update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) would strengthen state and local control and end federal test-based accountability.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on April 14 is set to begin action on the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, a bipartisan agreement touted as a fix to the divisive No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which in 2001 was the last reauthorization of ESEA.

Written by committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the legislation would give more power to states and local school districts when it comes to creating accountability systems and puts a renewed focus on improving struggling schools.…Read More

New bill would renew EETT funding

EETT, once zeroed out, would see new life under proposed legislation

EETT-fundingA new bill proposed in the U.S. Senate would once again fund the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) Act, which ensures that educators and students have access to technology for teaching and learning.

The program, Title II-D under No Child Left Behind, was last funded in 2010 before its funds were incorporated into other programs that supported technology use in the classroom.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, who said the act will help level the playing field and give schools much-needed resources to help students compete in an increasingly global economy.…Read More