Archive for the ‘Federal government’ Category

Atlanta’s grades on ‘Nation’s Report Card’ at odds with CRCT cheating scandal

Marshall S. Smith is a former under-secretary in the U. S. Department of Education. Nominated by President Bill Clinton, he served from 1993 to 2000.

Prior to his appointment as Under Secretary, Smith was a professor of education and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Previously, he was an associate professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he also served as the Director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Smith earned both a master’s (1963) and a doctoral (1970) degree in measurement and statistics from the Harvard Graduate School of Education

In this guest column, he discusses an oddity of the APS cheating scandal: The system was showing notable progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is known as the Nation’s Report Card. It wasn’t that Atlanta was leading the nation, but its progress was significant.

When we have discussed this in the …

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Seeing teachers as technicians ignores what else they give students: confidence, moral support and inspiration

Spurred by federal policy, many states, including Georgia, want to move to evaluations that consider student progress on tests. But a rising chorus is challenging the reliability of testing to define a good teacher.

Spurred by federal policy, many states, including Georgia, are moving to teacher evaluations that consider student progress on tests. But a rising chorus is challenging the reliance on testing to define a good teacher. (AJC photo)

Frequent blog contributor Peter Smagorinsky is Distinguished Research Professor of English Education at the University of Georgia and recipient of the 2012 Sylvia Scribner Award from the American Educational Research Association for conducting scholarship that has influenced thinking and research of learning and instruction and that represents a significant advancement in the field’s understanding.

Here is a thoughtful piece he wrote on teacher evaluations.

By Peter Smagorinsky

When I was a kid growing up in Fairfax County, Va., my father became head of the school PTA at one point. Among his goals was to institute a merit pay system to reward the school’s best teachers.

Around the house, he’d say, “There’s no one more overpaid than a bad …

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Obama in Decatur on pre-k: ‘Give all of our kids that chance.’

Here is the text of the Obama speech. The President deviated now and then but this is essentially what he said today in Decatur:

Hello, everybody!  Well, it is great to be in Georgia!  Great to be in Decatur!

I can’t imagine a more romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day — (laughter) — than with all of you, with all the press here.  Actually, Michelle says hello.  She made me promise to get back in time for our date tonight.  r.)  That’s important.  That’s important.  I’ve already got a gift, got the flowers. I was telling folks the flowers are a little easier, though, because I’ve got this Rose Garden.   Lot of people keeping flowers around.

I want to acknowledge a few people who are here — first of all, Congressman Hank Johnson is here.  Where’s Hank?  Your Mayor, Jim Baskett, is here.   Another Mayor you may know — Kasim Reed snuck in here.  I want to acknowledge the Decatur School Board, who I had a chance to meet and has helped to do so …

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White House releases Obama early childhood proposal: Expand pre-k for low and moderate income families

The White House released an outline of the ambitious early childhood initiative that President Obama will announce today in Decatur after a visit to a pre-k there:

The President’s proposal will improve quality and expand access to preschool, through a cost sharing partnership with all 50 states, to extend federal funds to expand high-quality public preschool to reach all low- and moderate-income 4-year olds from families at or below 200 percent of poverty.

The U.S. Department of Education will allocate dollars to states based their share of 4-year olds from low- and moderate-income families and funds would be distributed to local school districts and other partner providers to implement the program. The proposal would include an incentive for states to broaden participation in their public preschool program for additional middle-class families, which states may choose to reach and serve in a variety of ways, such as a sliding-scale arrangement.

Funds will support states as …

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Feds release College Scorecard announced by President Obama during State of the Union address

As promised by President Obama last night, here is the info on and link to the new federal College Scorecard.

The easy-to-use site provides basic information — the tuition costs, the grad rate,  average loan amount, repayment rate and some employment information.

From the U.S. DOE:

Following President Obama’s State of the Union address, today the U.S. Department of Education released an interactive College Scorecard, which provides students and families the critical information they need to make smart decisions about where to enroll for higher education.

The College Scorecard – as part of President Obama’s continued efforts to hold colleges accountable for cost, value and quality – highlights key indicators about the cost and value of institutions across the country to help students choose a school that is well-suited to meet their needs, priced affordably, and is consistent with their educational and career goals.

“Through tax credits, grants and better loans, …

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Obama cites Georgia as proof that pre-k works. Calls for College Scorecard and redesigned high schools. Real goals or rhetoric?

President Obama praised Georgia for its pre-k program in his speech. (AJC)

President Obama praised Georgia for its pre-k program in his speech. (AJC)

In his fifth State of the Union address, a buoyed President Obama called for making “high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.”

Citing Georgia as an example, the President said states that have treated early childhood as a priority have children who “grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own.  So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.”

He called proposed cuts to education and job training a terrible idea, saying, “Most Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents, understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.” While saying that …

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Obama comes to Decatur, but school is out for week. Go to the beach or go to school to meet the president?

President Obama will visit City of Decatur Schools pre-k on Thursday. (My 14-year-olds attend Decatur schools and attended pre-k at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center that the president will visit.)

Oddly, Decatur schools are closed this week as part of the district’s balanced schedule calendar, which features a shorter summer and week-long breaks throughout the year. Many folks had vacation plans already in place and are out of town. (Some families went to Washington, D.C. Turns out that they’d have had a better chance glimpsing the president if they stayed in Decatur.)

Apparently, Decatur intends to reconvene its pre-k for the president’s visit. I’m not sure how many 4-year-olds from the pre-k classes can be rounded up Thursday. The quandary for parents may be: Go to the beach or go to school to meet the president?  I would suspect most 4- and 5-year-olds would take the beach, but their parents may disagree.

College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center …

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Alabama school bus kidnapping ends with release of little boy and death of assailant

Kudos to the FBI hostage team and police officers who freed the Alabama 5-year-old this afternoon from the gunman who killed a bus driver and kidnapped the child off a school bus a week ago.

I am thrilled the boy will celebrate this 6th birthday Wednesday at home with his family.

Kidnapper Jim Lee Dykes, 65, is dead. He was keeping the 5-year-old in an underground bunker on his rural property for reasons that are still unclear.

Now that this horror story has ended, can someone explain how a man who reportedly shot at his neighbors and beat a dog to death with a lead pipe was not in jail? It sounds like the people who lived around Dykes were in terror for their lives.

The AJC reported: Neighbors described Dykes as a man who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property, and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a firearm. Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court {last}Wednesday to answer charges he …

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If testing and measuring makes for better schools, why are the Obama girls in a school that doesn’t agree?

The Obamas opted for a pricey pivate school for their daughters. (AP)

The Obamas opted for a pricey private school for their daughters. (AP Photo)

In a powerful essay in Education Week, retired educator Alan Jones of Illinois shares his experience accompanying his daughter to look at schools for his grandson.

Jones talks about today’s test-driven education classrooms, codified through No Child Left Behind and incentivized through Race to the Top. He compares schools that measure students almost entirely by test scores to the holistic approach of the Sidwell School attended by President Obama’s girls, saying. “When President Obama talks about good schools, he is talking about schools for other people’s children, not his own.”

Jones makes great points, although comparisons between public and private schools are not necessarily instructive in view of the wide gap in costs. The best private schools in metro Atlanta cost $18,000 to $22,000 a year — and that does not count books and fees — while the average per-pupil spending in public schools in …

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Feds: Provide students with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in after-school athletics and clubs

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says students with disabilities are often denied the chance to participate in sports.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says students with disabilities are often denied the chance to participate in sports.

The U.S. Department of Education sent out one of its clarifying “Dear Colleague” letters today, this one explaining school districts’ legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities.

According to US DOE:

Students with disabilities have the right, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, to an equal opportunity to participate in their schools’ extracurricular activities. A 2010 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that many students with disabilities are not afforded an equal opportunity to participate in athletics, and therefore may not have equitable access to the health and social benefits of athletic participation.

“Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that …

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