By Angela Kaye Mason
President Obama has signed a new education bill that will take the place of the controversial ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ from 2001 — and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will also provide a boost to computer science education.
While the thirteen-year-old act connected funding of schools to the scores that students achieved on standardized tests, ESSA reduces some of the control that the federal government has on education. But according to EnGadget’s Sean Buckley, the new act also makes computer science just as important as other “well-rounded” school subjects.
Frank Smith of EdTech feels that the new legislation could close the gap in student achievement. Smith explains:
- “The latest update to the U.S. National Education Technology Plan has big plans for addressing unequal access to the powerful technology changing schools today. On Thursday, [December 10th] the U.S. Department of Education laid out a vision for the future of technology at schools. The new plan updates technology guidelines issued in 2010, but doesn’t change direction dramatically. Instead, the latest plan sets up a series of bold calls to action designed to ensure technology helps close the achievement gap.”
via ESSA Passage Draws More Attention to Computer Science.
By Lynne Shallcross
Academic learning is usually in the spotlight at school, but teaching elementary-age students “soft” skills like self-control and social skills might help in keeping at-risk kids out of criminal trouble in the future, a study finds.
Duke University researchers looked at a program called Fast Track, which was started in the early 1990s for children who were identified by their teachers and parents to be at high risk for developing aggressive behavioral problems.
The students were randomized into two groups; half took part in the intervention, which included a teacher-led curriculum, parent training groups, academic tutoring and lessons in self-control and social skills. The program, which lasted from first grade through 10th grade, reduced delinquency, arrests and use of health and mental health services as the students aged through adolescence and young adulthood, as researchers explained in a separate study published earlier this year.
via Why Social and Emotional Skills Are Vital to Keep At-Risk Students on Track | MindShift | KQED News.
By Doug Ford
The 2015 California School Board Conference was a great event. There was a general feeling of optimism about the way K-12 education is now moving in California with Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and the Local Control Funding Formula.
There was much concern that the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) guidance needs to be revised and improved. After forty or more years in decline resulting from inadequate financial support, huge population growth, great changes in society and culture, and enormous increases in the amount of knowledge available, we seem to be finally getting K-12 education moving in a positive direction.
via Doug Ford: K-12 education moving in positive direction in the state.
By Mark Phillips
From President Obama on down, I’ve given up on educational policymakers having more than a glimmer of a clue when it comes to educational reform. It should be clear that there is a huge schism between their top-down approaches and the growing number of schools creating effective educational reform models that oppose and/or ignore these approaches.
This has never been more evident to me than when I recently viewed two films and read one high-profile book that provided an almost perfect microcosm of the promise and problems of American education today.
In my post last month, I described Vicki Abeles powerful film Beyond Measure. It provides a perceptive, revealing look at exceptional grassroots approaches and relates closely to the film and book that are the focus of this post.
via The Problems and Promise of Educational Change | Edutopia.
By Nadra Nittle
Alyssa Wallace, a senior at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, was among the 29 high school students who took an unusual math class last summer; the course, taught at Cal State Long Beach, will allow her to get her college degree without taking another math class once she enrolls at the campus.
Math 103 is the only class offered at a CSU campus designed for high school students to earn college credit, say its organizers and CSU officials. It also aims to attract would-be teachers.
The course is part of an effort to address a major obstacle that has sabotaged the academic plans of numerous California students – satisfying college math requirements.
The three-week class, which kicked off last summer, allows high school juniors and seniors in the Long Beach Unified School District to earn three university credits.
Unlike Advanced Placement classes, Math 103 isn’t targeted at exceptional math students. Instead, the class is open to any student in 11th or 12th grade who’s passed Algebra II.
via Students can satisfy college math requirement while in high school | EdSource.
By John Glidden
Fourth and fifth graders at Highland Elementary School were asked to perform a simple task on Wednesday and continue it until they graduate from high school: “Think College.”
Funded by the CC Sabathia PitCChIn Foundation, every fourth, fifth grader at the school received a jersey from a four-year university — Oklahoma State University, Iowa State University, Kansas State, or University of Missouri — in an effort to inspire them to begin thinking — at a young age — about life after high school.
In addition, all fourth and fifth graders in the Vallejo City Unified School District, and all students at Steffan Manor Elementary School will also receive jerseys.
via Vallejo students participate in program to inspire goals after high school.
By Anya Kamenetz
For Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 7-13), the nonprofit Code.org has helped organize nearly 200,000 “Hour of Code” events around the world. It’s advocating for computer coding as a basic literacy and an essential ingredient for jobs of the future, and there’s a lot of momentum behind the idea.
The biggest school systems in the country, New York City and Los Angeles Unified, each announced this fall that computer science will be a required course for all grades within 10 years. Coding is also part of national curricula in the U.K. and soon will be in Australia.
via Engage Kids With Coding By Letting Them Design, Create, and Tell Stories | MindShift | KQED News.
By Andrew Ujifusa
Title I aid for the nations neediest students would get a $500 million boost up to approximately $14.9 billion, while state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act would rise by $415 million up to $11.9 billion, as part of an omnibus federal budget deal announced by the House appropriations committee early Wednesday.
Those and other spending increases are part of an overall budget increase for the U.S. Department of Education of $1.2 billion. The agreement is expected to move through Congress in coming days and win approval from the White House.
via Education Spending Slated for $1.2 Billion Boost in Congressional Budget Deal – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today due to a threat of violence that closed all K-12 public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District:
“I support the actions taken by the Los Angeles Unified School district and law enforcement officials to keep students safe. Creating and maintaining a safe environment for students, teachers, parents, administrators, and classified employees is our top priority.
“I urge schools and districts to check their school safety plans to make sure they are up to date. The California Department of Education stands ready to assist school districts in enhancing and improving their safety plans. We have a variety of available resources for districts, including on our Web site.”
via LAUSD School Closures – Year 2015 (CA Dept of Education).
By Anya Kamenetz
For the fourth straight year, the U.S. high school graduation rate has improved — reaching an all-time high of 82 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, the Department of Education announced Tuesday. Achievement gaps have narrowed, too, with graduation rates ranging from 89 percent for students classified as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 62.6 percent for English-language learners.
“It is encouraging to see our graduation rate on the rise and I applaud the hard work we know it takes to see this increase,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement.
The growth in graduation rates has been steady since states adopted a uniform way of tracking the rate five years ago. This good news comes at the same time that performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (often called the “Nations Report Card”), has dipped. Scores on the SAT are down too.
via U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits Record High : NPR Ed : NPR.
By Jane Meredith Adams
Under federal pressure to increase the amount of time special education students spend in general education classrooms, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing announced it will require all future teachers to learn techniques proven to foster the success of students with disabilities, including small group instruction, behavior management and using frequent informal assessments to identify and address learning gaps.
The new standards for general education teacher preparation are the first statewide change to emerge from a push to improve the academic outcomes of students with disabilities, prompted in part by warnings from the U.S. Department of Education about the poor academic performance of California students with disabilities, compared to their peers in other states. A second major improvement effort is expected this spring, when new standards for special education teacher preparation are scheduled to be released.
“We have to be more effective in our teaching,” said Teri Clark, director of the professional services division of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which sets standards for the state.
via California approves tougher teacher training standards to help mainstreaming | EdSource.
States will be required to report chronic absenteeism rates for Title I schools, and school districts will be allowed to spend federal dollars on training to reduce absenteeism, under a sweeping education bill signed into law by President Obama on Thursday.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or No Child Left Behind, represents the first time that federal education law specifically mentions this measure of attendance. Chronic absence differs from truancy in that it tracks both excused and unexcused absences.
Its inclusion reflects the increasing awareness in Washington and across the country that chronic absence is a key indicator for assessing school and student success.
via New Federal Education Law Includes Chronic Absence Tracking, Training – Attendance Works Attendance Works.
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
More than 60 Green Valley Middle School seventh- and eighth-graders rose to the challenge Monday.
The challenges of Challenge Day involved hugs, some patty cake playing and the opportunity to stand before the group and compliment someone.
The goal of the all-school-day session was to break down barriers and encourage the students to be the change they want to see.
Participants were nominated by their teachers. Crowd-source funding raised enough for T-shirts and lunch for the participants.
via Middle school students up for challenges of Challenge Day.
By Richard Bammer
From the election of new board officers to the first interim 2015-16 budget report to recommendations from the Sierra Vista Reopening Committee, Vacaville Unified leaders worked through a busy agenda Thursday night.
Meeting in the Educational Services Center, trustees, in one of their first orders of business, realigned the board, three positions, all on unanimous votes.
Shelley Dally, a longtime public school educator, administrator and advocate, is the new president. She replaces Whit Whitman, a retired U.S. Air Force and commercial airlines pilot.
via Vacaville school board realigns, hears caution about future budgets.
By Richard Bammer
As other California school districts do in December, Travis Unified leaders reshuffled the governing board and heard the first interim 2015-16 budget report during their meeting earlier in the week.
During elections at the Travis Education Center in Fairfield, John Dickerson was named board president, replacing Ivery Hood; Angela Weinzinger was tapped as vice president; and Riitta De Anda was named clerk.
Their terms of office will be through December 2016. The chief business official for the district, Ken Forrest was absent, but Anna Pimentel, director of fiscal services and business operations, updated the five-member board on the first interim budget report for the current school year.
via Travis Unified school leaders reshuffle board, hear first interim budget report.
By Susan Hiland
The children and parents lined up Friday for the Santa sleigh ride in front of the small barn filled with hay and children’s games.
The smell of pine trees mixed with cinnamon to make the Happy Holiday Celebration at Silveyville Christmas Tree and Pumpkin Farm feel like home.
This year’s event brought 276 children from the area for the annual event. Some were new to the farm and others had come previously. That’s a small increase from last year, which had around 255 children attending the event from various Solano County schools.
via Silveyville Christmas Tree farm charms students – yet again.
By Bill Hicks
A furious competition took place Saturday inside Vanden High School’s Jim Boyd Gymnasium, with ravenous fans cheering on their favorite side.
Teams that were evenly matched took their best shots at taking a round ball and scoring by putting it through the net.
That isn’t unusual for Jim Boyd Gymnasium. What was unusual was the fact that squeaking sneakers were not heard and the only technicals involved were the schematics outlined by the competitors.
via Lure of problem-solving for robotics students a slam dunk.
By John Glidden
A little less than a week after graffiti with reference to the terrorist group Islamic State was found on the wall at a Vallejo school, questions were raised about teacher safety.
Last Thursday, Vallejo school district officials closed Elmer Cave Language Academy for the day after graffiti was found on one of the portable classrooms. The markings referenced “ISIS” and made threats of killing and blowing people up.
Sheila Gradwohl, president of the Vallejo Education Association — the union which represents teachers in the Vallejo City Unified School District — addressed the Vallejo school board on Wednesday stating that the district administration showed disrespect to teachers.
via Teacher safety addressed during Vallejo school board meeting.
By Sally Schilling
At least 27 percent of Suisun-Fairfield Unified School District’s seventh graders reported having access to alcohol during the 2013-2014 school year.
That’s just one of several statistics from the California Healthy Kids Survey that inspired Suisun City’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Coalition (ATOD) to host public workshops on teen alcohol access.
“We’re hoping to educate the community with the data,” said Cathy Rader, ATOD coordinator.
The workshops will focus on the impacts of addictive substances and how teens are getting their hands on alcohol, Rader said.
via Workshops to discuss teen alcohol access.
By Richard Bammer
Robotics season for California middle and high school students gears up at this time of year.
Just in time to distract them from semester-ending exams and the holidays, the 2015-16 VEX Robotics Competition will be Saturday at Vanden High in Fairfield.
More than 40 Northern California teams will vie for honors for doing their best to satisfy the requirements of a game called “Nothing But Net,” with teams try to place small balls into high and low goals or by elevating their ’bots in a “climbing zone.” With each team using, essentially, pint-sized robots, the competition will be played on 12-by-12-foot field. Two alliances — one “red,” the other “blue” — of two teams each will compete in matches consisting of a 15-second “autonomous” period, followed by one minute and 45 seconds of play controlled by the robot’s driver. The object of the game, of course, is to achieve a score higher than those of opposing alliances.
via VEX Robotics Competition Saturday at Vanden High.