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GED 21st Century Learning Pathways Pilots

October 31, 2014 Comments off

GED 21st Century Learning Pathways Pilots
Source: MDRC

For the nearly 39 million U.S. adults who do not have a high school diploma, the General Educational Development (GED) programs and exam have served as the main avenue for improving individuals’ skills and helping them earn a high school credential. However, few students who start these programs ever get this credential and even fewer advance to the postsecondary education and higher-level training programs that could increase their earning potential. In response to this challenge, the American Council on Education (ACE) partnered with Pearson Inc. to release a new more rigorous GED test in 2014 that assesses the crucial thinking, writing, and analytical skills considered essential for success in today’s labor market. In addition, ACE partnered with the New York City Department of Education’s District 79 (D79), the Office for Adult and Continuing Education (OACE), and MDRC to create the Learning Pathways Pilots, a project aimed at improving students’ preparation for this new more rigorous exam.

The pilots focused on revising a K-12 writing curriculum (based on the Writers Express [WEX]) and an adult basic education math curriculum (based on Extending Mathematical Power [EMPower]) to align with the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core is a set of nationally recognized K-12 language arts and math competencies upon which the new GED exam was based. These curricula were then implemented in dozens of D79 and OACE classrooms. This report details the findings from MDRC’s evaluation of the implementation of these curricula over the course of the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years.

Overall, the study found that the curricula were implemented broadly throughout both school districts and reached thousands of students. Administrators, teachers, and students saw value in the content of both WEX and EMPower, the curricula’s connections with the Common Core, and their ability to prepare students for the 2014 GED exam. However, a number of challenges arose in implementing the curricula. These included the transient nature of the student population and turnover in district leadership and management, which ultimately led to students receiving relatively few lessons from these new curricular models.

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Federal School Finance Reform: Moving Toward Title I Funding Following the Child

October 24, 2014 Comments off

Federal School Finance Reform: Moving Toward Title I Funding Following the Child
Source: Reason Foundation

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty.” The Act was designed to help disadvantaged students meet challenging state academic standards. Originally authorized in 1970, the ESEA has been reauthorized routinely through the early 2000s. The last authorization of ESEA came in the form of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which expired in 2007.

While Congress has not reauthorized the ESEA since the expiration of NCLB, most ESEA programs still receive appropriations. As it is currently written in federal statutes, the ESEA contains eight titles each directing federal funding toward different initiatives, all of which aim to improve education for disadvantaged students. At the crux of the ESEA is the Title I program, as it is the most far-reaching and heavily funded. Where other titles under the ESEA outline grants to states for specific initiatives—like teacher training, school choice, English language instruction or state assessments—Title I grants go toward any and all students who qualify as low-income.

The Title I program has fallen under scrutiny in the last decade. A common complaint is that stipulations in the legislation do not address funding inequities between Title I and non-Title I schools.

Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade: A Policymaker’s Guide

October 24, 2014 Comments off

Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade: A Policymaker’s Guide (PDF)
Source: Education Commission of the States

This reference guide addresses effective strategies to support children on their path to third-grade academic success and details the foundations of effective P-3 approaches. It is organized in response to the two types of questions policymakers most commonly ask ECS about P-3 approaches: What are effective strategies to support children on their path to third-grade academic success, and what are the foundations of any effective P-3 approach

Bullying of Students with Disabilities Addressed in Guidance to America’s Schools

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Bullying of Students with Disabilities Addressed in Guidance to America’s Schools
Source: U.S. Department of Education

As part of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today issued guidance to schools reminding them that bullying is wrong and must not be tolerated—including against America’s 6.5 million students with disabilities.

The Department issued guidance in the form of a letter to educators detailing public schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the bullying of students with disabilities. If a student with a disability is being bullied, federal law requires schools to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the issue and, as necessary, take steps to stop the bullying and prevent it from recurring.

Diploma, Please: Promoting Educational Attainment for DACA- and Potential DREAM Act-Eligible Youth

October 13, 2014 Comments off

Diploma, Please: Promoting Educational Attainment for DACA- and Potential DREAM Act-Eligible Youth
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Two years after its launch, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has provided temporary relief from deportation to more than 580,000 unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. With an estimated 2.1 million young immigrants potentially eligible to benefit from the program now or in the future, many educators, community leaders, policymakers, and government officials are trying to understand how DACA and potentially DREAM Act criteria affect eligibility.

Several factors are thought to contribute to the reluctance of many unauthorized youth to sign up for the program, including the $465 application fee, fears of drawing attention to unauthorized family members, and general lack of knowledge about the program. But more significantly, DACA also requires that applicants who are not in school or who lack a high school diploma or its equivalent must enroll in an adult education or training program in order to qualify.

With the national adult education system showing a steep decline in capacity at precisely the time when hundreds of thousands need to enroll to qualify for DACA protections, the report makes clear the challenges facing educators and other stakeholders

The report explores the challenges to educational attainment facing three key subgroups of the DACA program: those under age 19, those age 19 and over without a high school diploma or equivalent, and those age 19 and older with only a high school diploma or equivalent. It provides a demographic snapshot of these groups and examines the impacts of DACA’s unprecedented educational requirement on potential beneficiaries and the programs that serve them. Finally, the report offers recommendations for actions that policymakers, education and training program managers, and other stakeholders can take to support the educational success of these youth.

Ending Teacher Tenure Would Have Little Impact on its Own

October 12, 2014 Comments off

Ending Teacher Tenure Would Have Little Impact on its Own
Source: Brookings Institution

Tenure for public school teachers is increasingly under attack, with the Vergara v. California judge ruling in June that “both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reason…disadvantaged by the current Permanent Employment Statute.” Last year, North Carolina legislators voted to phase out tenure, although that law was later blocked by a state judge. In 2011, Florida legislators ended tenure for new teachers beginning this year.

A primary stated goal of the California case is to “create an education system that gives every child a passionate, motivating and effective teacher,” and it is likely to become a model for efforts throughout the nation. According to one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, “This is going to be the beginning of a series of these lawsuits that could fix many of the problems in education systems nationwide. … We’re going to roll them out to other jurisdictions.” A similar lawsuit has already been filed in New York State. If these challenges to tenure laws are successful, will they lead to improvements in education?

National Solar Schools Census

October 9, 2014 Comments off

National Solar Schools Census
Source: The Solar Foundation

As part of its commitment to increase understanding on the use of solar at K-12 schools, The Solar Foundation (TSF) and its research partners at SEIA have built the most comprehensive database known of K-12 schools that have gone solar throughout the United States.

TSF’s National Solar Schools Census serves as a starting point for sharing ideas and best practices between schools experienced with solar energy and those seeking to join their ranks. Each solar school has its own unique story to tell on how their systems were financed and installed and how (and whether) solar has been integrated into class curricula.

In TSF’s report, entitled Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, our team uncovered a number of key findings from our data collection and analysis:

  • There are currently 3,752 K-12 schools with solar installations, meaning nearly 2.7 million students attend schools with solar energy systems.
  • The 3,727 PV systems have a combined capacity of 490 megawatts (MW), and generate roughly 642,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity each year, equivalent to $77.8 million worth of utility bills and enough clean, renewable energy to offset 50 million gallons of gasoline.
  • Solar potential remains largely untapped. Of the 125,000 K-12 schools in the country, up to 72,000 schools (60%) can “go solar” cost-effectively. Approximately 450 individual schools districts have the potential to save more than $1 million over 30 years by installing a solar PV system.
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