Obama backs merit pay, early childhood education

With an emphasis on 21st-century education, President Obama called for better early childhood education programs, tougher teaching standards, and increased pay for outstanding educators and desperately-needed math and science teachers.

Obama stressed the danger in letting U.S. education fall behind, saying the nation’s place as a global economic leader will be put at risk if the U.S. does not do a better job of educating students.

“Economic progress and educational achievement have always gone hand-in-hand in America,” he said.  “Education is a prerequisite for success.”…Read More

How to get the most out of alert systems

Schools need to explore the use of more 'push' notification technologies.

Schools and colleges that invest thousands of dollars in mass notification systems also need to promote awareness of and participation in these systems for them to be effective, experts say. That’s one piece of advice contained in a new online resource from IT giant CDW-G, which recently unveiled its Mass Notification Toolkit web site March 2—giving educators and administrators a clearinghouse of information for how to implement and publicize potentially life-saving alerts effectively.

CDW-G created the free web site after a 2008 study from the company, “This is a Test – This is Only a Test: Updating America’s Emergency Alert Infrastructure,” showed that more than 30 percent of Americans polled had no knowledge of their town, city, or state’s notification system.

The study showed that most local governments turn primarily to television and radio to alert citizens of incoming storms or other emergencies. But with 1 billion text messages sent daily nationwide, the study encourages officials to embrace the medium’s immediacy. Although many schools and colleges have implemented text-message alert systems, some students don’t sign up to receive the messages, because these systems aren’t publicized adequately.…Read More

Students school lawmakers on tech’s value

Students from four Georgia school districts were on Capitol Hill March 4 showing federal lawmakers how technology is being used to enhance teaching and learning in their classrooms–and why federal funding for school technology is important.

Sixteen students from four Georgia counties participated in "Capitol Hill Tech Day," pulling legislators aside to show them examples of educational technology projects made possible with federal funding. The students showed legislators how they can listen to podcasts on iPods and other MP3 players to hear lessons they missed when they were absent from school and how interactive whiteboards make class interesting.

"We want legislators to see their dollars at work and see that technology is making a big difference in the classroom," said Mimi McGahee, director of the Educational Technology Center (ECT) at Valdosta State University. "We want them to see that [technology] is not an add-on, it’s a way of learning. It’s our world."…Read More

“Use it or lose it” approach to technology garners impressive results

High stakes test scores are like time–both must continually advance.

A distinctive trait of North Carolina’s Cumberland County Schools (CCS) is not resting on our laurels, which explains why we went searching for a way to improve student performance at a time when the district was doing pretty well. We were not satisfied with test scores staying the same; we wanted to do even better than we had. Plus, at that time, the No Child Left Behind Act, with its consequent statewide accountability and Adequate Yearly Progress requirements was just coming into effect, and we wanted to ensure that we could show improvement each year.

Additionally, in 2003, the district created the "Vision 2010: What Our Schools Will Become" program, which was designed to help us meet the needs of 21st century students. Among the program’s elements were mandates for the district to provide integrated instructional technology and flexible structures for teaching and learning.…Read More

AASA: Educate the ‘total child’

Duncan is focusing on rural schools as stimulus funds flow to districts nationwide.
Duncan is focusing on rural schools as stimulus funds flow to districts nationwide.

Three days after his confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan reportedly called Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, to arrange a conference call with 15 rural superintendents to hear what their needs were–and how the federal stimulus package could help meet those needs.

“We’re excited that we have a Secretary of Education who listens to us,” Domenech said at AASA’s annual conference Feb. 19. He noted that Duncan–a former superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools and AASA member–said the conference call wasn’t a one-time occurrence and would happen again throughout his tenure as secretary.

Domenech’s story illustrates how AASA once again has been given a place at the national policy-making table under the Obama administration. And that’s important, Domenech said, as Congress prepares to reauthorize the federal No Child Left Behind Act later this year.…Read More

Report urges U.S. to look abroad for ed lessons

In a report titled "Benchmarking for Success," high-level state officials call for action to ensure that American students are globally competitive. Education leaders, the report advises, should renew the focus on international benchmarking and look toward other countries for help in drafting state achievement standards.

The report’s advisory group, which consisted of governors, state education commissioners, business executives, researchers, and other officials, identified five transformative steps the U.S. education system should take to produce more globally competitive students. The group was convened by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve Inc.

Here, according to the report, are the five steps American education should take to produce more globally competitive students:…Read More

AASA hears what’s about to disrupt schools

Disruptive innovations are based on the idea that every so often, a new innovation comes along that completely changes the marketplace.
Disruptive innovations are based on the idea that every so often, a new innovation comes along that completely changes the marketplace.

If Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen is right, half of all instruction will take place online within the next 10 years–and schools had better get into the online-learning market or risk losing their students to other providers.

Christensen was at the American Association of School Administrators conference in San Francisco Feb. 19 to discuss his book Disrupting Class, which looks at why schools have struggled to improve through the lens of “disruptive innovation.”

Disruptive innovation is the business idea that, every so often, a new innovation comes along that completely changes the marketplace, knocking the old market leaders from their perch and giving rise to new ones.…Read More

2009 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award winners honored during AASA conference

Ten superintendents who are among the nation’s most successful in leading their schools into the 21st century were honored in a special ceremony Feb. 20.

The occasion was eSchool News’ Ninth Annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards, sponsored by Promethean, the Pearson Foundation, and K12 Inc. This year’s award winners were honored during a private ceremony held in conjunction with the Century Club 100 meeting at the American Association of School Administrators’ annual conference in San Francisco.

“Research shows that if you start with a clear vision for how to implement technology effectively, and you provide strong leadership in sharing this vision with stakeholders, and you make sure your staff is well supported and receives professional development that is relevant and sustained, and you seek to change instructional practices to take advantage of technology’s potential, then technology really can empower more effective teaching and learning,” eSchool News Managing Editor Dennis Pierce said in presenting the awards.…Read More

What it means to be ‘tech savvy’

At our Ninth Annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards ceremony in February, we asked the winners what technology-related programs they were most proud of in their districts–and what it means for them to be a “tech-savvy” school leader. Here’s a sampling of what they said.

“Right now, our one-to-one laptop initiative has my attention, because we’re trying to make sure we have some baseline data to show our community that the investment of those dollars is really going to pay off in terms of student achievement. …Students have access to the technology 24-7, [which enables] a just-in-time kind of learning. I was talking to a teacher who was saying, ‘If we want to look up some information, we don’t have to schedule into out computer lab–I can just have the students open up their laptops and look up this information right away.’ …Our media specialists are moving ahead with all sorts of ideas and innovations; I’m just really fortunate that our community, the staff, and the school board are all behind this.”

Margaret Anderson, Knob Noster School District, Mo.…Read More