By Katrina Schwartz
Nick Sigmon first encountered the idea of “grading for equity” when he attended a mandatory professional development training at San Leandro High School led by Joe Feldman, CEO of the Crescendo Education Group. As a fairly new high school physics teacher, Sigmon says he was open-minded to new ideas, but had thought carefully about his grading system and considered it fair already. Like many teachers, Sigmon had divided his class into different categories (tests, quizzes, classwork, homework, labs, notebook, etc.) and assigned each category a percentage. Then he broke each assignment down and assigned points. A student’s final grade was points earned divided by total points possible. He thought it was simple, neat and fair.
Looking back, however, Signmon said this kind of system made it seem like teachers were setting up rules to a game. “They say these are the rules and whatever the score works out to be that is your grade,” he said.
Source: How Teachers Are Changing Grading Practices With an Eye on Equity | MindShift | KQED News
By Thomas Arnett
If you’ve followed the K–12 education dialogue over the last decade, then you’re probably familiar with the term “disruptive innovation.” Edtech entrepreneurs and school choice advocates sometimes invoke it as an indomitable force that will redeem and transform broken school systems.
Meanwhile, people on the other side of these debates worry that “disruption” is a flawed yet rhetorically powerful narrative used to rationalize K–12 privatization. Somewhere in the middle are skeptics who give consideration to the idea, but wonder if “disruption” is an oversold term that is likely to underdeliver on its proponents’ promises.So how do we make sense of the tumult of opinions? What is disruptive innovation as it relates to K–12 education?
Source: K-12 Schools Aren’t Getting Disrupted, but Markets that Provide Resources to Schools Are – Education Next : Education Next
By Patti Neighmond
Many American teenagers try to put in a full day of school, homework, after-school activities, sports and college prep on too little sleep. As evidence grows that chronic sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for physical and mental health problems, there is increasing pressure on school districts around the country to consider a later start time.
In Seattle, school and city officials recently made the shift. Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, the district moved the official start times for middle and high schools nearly an hour later, from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. This was no easy feat; it meant rescheduling extracurricular activities and bus routes. But the bottom line goal was met: Teenagers used the extra time to sleep in.
Researchers at the University of Washington studied the high school students both before and after the start-time change. Their findings appear in a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. They found students got 34 minutes more sleep on average with the later school start time. This boosted their total nightly sleep from 6 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 24 minutes.
Source: How A Later School Start Time Pays Off For Teens | MindShift | KQED News
By Evie Blad
Many high school students believe their schools aren’t adequately preparing them for challenges they will face in college, career, and life, a new survey of current and recent students finds.
Among respondents to the nationally representative survey, 48 percent said their school is “pretty good as is,” while 43 percent said their school “needs to make some changes” and 9 percent said their school “needs to make a lot of changes.” The survey, administered by Hart Research and Civic on behalf on the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, asked students about a variety of school factors related to safety, relationships, and engagement.
“What they cite as the problem is a lack of development of social and emotional skills, everything from confidence to working with others who are different from them, problem solving, working through difficult emotions and stress…,” said John Bridgeland, the CEO of Civic. “Most students told us their schools aren’t cultivating these social-emotional skills and, to the extent they are, it’s through participation in organized sports and extracurriculars…Most didn’t see it in the classroom instruction and the larger culture of the school.”
Source: Survey: Students Say Schools Don’t Give Them Skills They Need to Succeed After Graduation – Rules for Engagement – Education Week
By Rebecca Klein
In the days since Camp Fire ravaged Butte County, consuming 150,000 acres and more than 10,000 homes, Annie Finney’s house has been turned into a makeshift school, filled with a group of eager second-graders.
Finney, a teacher at Children’s Community Charter School in Paradise, California, is one of the lucky ones. Most of her school burned down, but her house is still standing, which is more than many of her students and co-workers can say.
In the morning, students sit around her kitchen table, practicing math problems on a whiteboard that Finney borrowed from a neighbor. In the afternoon, they go outside for recess on her front lawn, wearing plastic masks to protect against the polluted air as they play basketball.
Source: In California, A County Of Children Without Schools | HuffPost
By Jessica Campisi
An increase in school closures and a declining population can be attributed to factors inside and outside the education bubble. As the article notes, the U.S. birth rate is a key piece of the puzzle. This rate has proved to be inconsistent over long periods of time, but as a whole, it’s experienced a decline since the Great Recession in 2008. Spikes and dips revealed fluctuations in elements like the economy and population, as well as a few key social factors. Most notably, women are putting off marriage and motherhood to further their education and prioritize their careers. The bottom line: If there are fewer births, there are fewer children going to school.
Source: Declining US birth rate could beget lower public school enrollment, closures | Education Dive
Many Bay Area school districts are canceling classes due to smoke from the Camp Fire.
Source: Here’s a List of Bay Area Schools Closed Due to Smoke From Camp Fire – NBC Bay Area
By Linda Jacobson
This series about the history and impact of First 5 is supported by a University of Southern California 2018 Center for Health Journalism fellowship.
- What did California’s novel approach to funding early-childhood programs achieve? The impact of the First 5 initiative, spearheaded by actor-director Rob Reiner, is complicated to measure because of the lack of longitudinal data.
- How filmmaker Rob Reiner put early childhood in the limelight Recruiting Hollywood A-listers for help, Reiner paved the way for passage of a tobacco tax to fund programs for California’s youngest children — and helped to spread a national movement.
Source: Special report: An in-depth look at California’s First 5 early-childhood initiative | Education Dive
By Peter Olsen-Phillips
A growing number of people support higher pay for teachers and more funding for public schools, according to a new poll that finds a shift in public opinion following a wave of teacher walkouts in six states where educators protested stagnant pay and inadequate school resources.
That’s one of the key findings in the 2018 EdNext poll, which the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Education Policy and Governance conducted for Education Next, a nonprofit journal formerly funded by the Hoover Institution.
The wide-ranging survey offers some insight into Americans’ mixed views on education. While there is growing support for raising teacher pay and spending more on public schools, backing for charter schools and school voucher systems has also risen slightly, while opinion on the Obama-era Common Core state academic standards has stabilized at 45 percent.
Source: Poll: States With Walkouts See More Support for Raising Teachers’ Pay | Education News | US News
By Susanna Loeb
Early childhood education in the United States is tangle of options—varying in quality, price, structure, and a range of other dimensions. In part as a result, children start kindergarten having had very different experiences in care and very different opportunities to develop the skills and dispositions that will serve them well during school. Systematic differences across groups by income, race, ethnicity, home language, and geographic location are particularly troubling because inequalities that appear early are often sustained through school and affect prospects throughout life.
Convincing research has demonstrated that high-quality early childhood programs can reduce these differences across groups.  A few small programs have demonstrated strong positive effects throughout the life cycle, but even some large-scale programs, such as those in Boston and Tulsa have shown effects on math and reading learning.  These positive results combined with evident need have led to substantial public investment in early childhood education. State spending on preschool more than doubled between 2002 and 2016, from $3.3 to $7.4 billion (constant 2017 dollars). 
Source: Accountability for Early Education — A Different Approach and Some Positive Signs – Education Next : Education Next
By Justin Goss
As the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of net neutrality phases in, concerns that Internet service providers (ISPs) could speed up or slow down traffic from certain websites or prioritize certain content loom large. Changes to Internet service, if any, will probably be slow and gradual; however, the repeal has potentially important implications for the digital divide in and outside of California’s schools.
K‒12 schools rely increasingly on online content and management systems to deliver instruction (e.g., blended learning), administer standardized tests (e.g., Smarter Balanced assessments), and manage educational data (e.g., cloud computing). As online learning becomes ubiquitous, access to high-speed Internet is no longer optional—it’s a necessity. Most schools receive discounted Internet services through the federal E-rate program, but if providers decide to introduce tiered pricing based on content, students and educators could lose access to quality education programs. Tiered pricing could also exacerbate the digital divide between urban and rural districts. PPIC research shows that close to 70% of rural districts lack sufficient bandwidth for digital learning, compared to 18% of urban districts. If this gap persists or widens, students in rural areas may be left behind in the digital race.
Source: What Does the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean for California Schools? – Public Policy Institute of California
By Tovia Smith
It would take a computer about a nano-second to mark “D” as the correct answer. That’s easy.
But now, machines are also grading students’ essays. Computers are scoring long form answers on anything from the fall of the Roman Empire, to the pros and cons of government regulations.
Developers of so-called “robo-graders” say they understand why many students and teachers would be skeptical of the idea. But they insist, with computers already doing jobs as complicated and as fraught as driving cars, detecting cancer, and carrying on conversations, they can certainly handle grading students’ essays.
Source: More States Opting To ‘Robo-Grade’ Student Essays By Computer | MindShift | KQED News
By Thomas Arnett
The success of our schools—and of our education system at large—hinges on teachers. From decades of research we know that teachers influence student outcomes more than anything else a school has to offer. Given the importance of teachers, many of the prominent ideas for improving education focus on increasing teacher impact through better recruitment, preparation, and development or through giving teachers better tools and resources. Yet perhaps one of the best ways to expand teacher impact doesn’t require extensive reform or new technology.
For some time, I’ve wondered if schools might help their teachers accomplish more by allowing them to focus more narrowly on what they do. This idea isn’t new to education. Middle and high school teachers already specialize by subject so they can hone deep expertise in teaching particular content areas. But what if schools took this idea a step further by having teachers specialize not just by subject, but by the roles they fulfill in the classroom?
Teaching is a multifaceted job that might benefit from some streamlining. In addition to being content instructors (often in multiple content areas), we also expect teachers to be curriculum designers, assessment creators, and experts at evaluating student work and analyzing student learning data, not to mention experts in classroom management and culture, coaching students on self-management, providing students with social and emotional support, and being the primary school connection with parents and families.
Source: Do Specialized Teaching Roles Help or Hurt Students? – Education Next : Education Next
By Michaeleen Doucleff
Fifteen years ago, psychologists Barbara Rogoff and Maricela Correa-Chavez ran a simple experiment. They wanted to see how well kids pay attention — even if they don’t have to.
They would bring two kids, between the ages 5 to 11, into a room and have them sit at two tables.
Then they had a research assistant teach one of the kids how to assemble a toy.
The other kid was told to wait. Rogoff says they would tell the second child, “You can sit over here, and in a few minutes you’ll have a turn to make this origami jumping mouse,” — a different task altogether.
Source: How To Get Kids To Pay Attention | MindShift | KQED News
Guys, you aren’t going to believe this…Bill Gates and his wife spend a lot of money to influence education policy.
This testing story from Tennessee is pretty fantastic. You’re a state and your testing company isn’t doing a great job for you so you bring in another company to help with capacity and then – surprise! – the second company is owned by the first company. And neither company is named Pearson!
Anyway, I’m always struck how in any conversation about testing things immediately turn to Pearson – certainly a major player – but you don’t hear a lot about ETS, one of the two companies involved here or the American Institutes for Research, another major vendor.
By Ashley Ching
May, National Teacher Appreciation Month, is a time to show gratitude for the educators who have done so much for us. Not only have teachers taught us essential skills like literacy and arithmetic, but they have also served as our cherished mentors and role models.
Great educators like this are found at The Leaven, a Fairfield-based tutoring program that has earned national recognition by Dr. Phil. Within the rapidly growing grassroots organization, The Leaven benefits at-risk youth in many ways. It helps students succeed in school, including reading and comprehension; it provides positive role models for its students; and it reduces crime as residents become active in making their communities safer.
Source: Leaven mentor nominated for 95.3 KUIC ‘Teacher of the Month’
By Chad Aldeman
As teachers have staged walkouts and strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and perhaps Arizona, most of the news coverage has focused on big-picture questions about state education budgets or average teacher salaries. But this misses a large trend going on in the background — teachers, like other workers in the American economy, are forgoing base salary increases in favor of in-kind benefits.
In 2016, I wrote a paper called “The Pension Pac-Man,” attempting to raise awareness of these issues. Using national data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, I found that teacher salaries hadn’t increased, in inflation-adjusted terms, since the early 1990s. But while base teacher salaries have not risen, total teacher compensation has, driven by large increases in health care and retirement costs. That is, there’s a growing disconnect between what teachers are paid and what their employers pay for them.
This trend has accelerated rapidly over the past 10 years. Across the country, benefit costs are increasing much faster than salaries. At some level, this trend is playing out across the broader American economy as the baby boom generation begins to retire and as health care costs have soared. Over the past decade, civilian employers have paid average annual wage increases of 2.3 percent, their health care contributions have risen by 3.2 percent, and retirement costs have increased by 4.9 percent a year.
Source: Teachers Have the Nation’s Highest Retirement Costs. But They’ll Never See the Benefits – Education Next : Education Next
By Daily Republic Staff
First 5 Solano has launched a $200,000 grant program for one-time projects that address the needs of children up to 5 years old, caregivers – including parents and guardians – and service providers.
“The purpose of the annual grants program is to provide an opportunity for the First 5 Solano Commission to consider grant requests that fill community gaps, pilot new or innovative ideas, or address time-sensitive community needs,” a statement released by the county Administrator’s Office said.
“All projects proposed for the annual grants fund must support First 5 Solano’s mission to promote, support and improve the lives of young children, their families and their communities,” the statement said.
Source: First 5 Solano starts $200K annual grant program
Big, medium or small, urban, suburban or rural, school districts all over the country need a leader, usually a superintendent.
It’s not an easy job, particularly in this time of school violence, teacher strikes, school funding woes and controversy over widespread testing and how student perform.
How do superintendents pull it off?
For an answer, I found a great source: David R. Schuler, the 2018 National Superintendent of the Year.
Source: What It Takes To Be A Top School Leader
By Nick Sestanovich
March 26 to 29 was March Madness Spirit Week at Benicia Middle School, where students got to show their school pride by dressing up and partaking in various activities. They also had their annual coin drive sponsored by the leadership class, where students donate money to a particular cause. Past donors have included the Humane Society of the North Bay and Faith Food Fridays. This year, students decided to raise money for one of their peers.
In December, seventh-grader Sunni Dae Ross was diagnosed with a brain tumor which was removed the following month. Ross soldiered on by continuing to attend school amidst her health issues. She notes that she is feeling positive but is limited in what she can do.
Source: Benicia Middle School pitches in to help fellow student