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From DA

The eight-year-old No Child Left Behind Act established for the first time a federal benchmark for student achievement. When the Obama Administration took office last year, the new president promised to stay true to the goals of NCLB while upgrading what critics have termed simplistic, "fill in a bubble" testing to create a more comprehensive assessment of student learning.

What is your perspective on a four-day school week, pros and cons?

 

Kathleen Kapusta Independence (Ohio) Local Schools Board of Education

Dear Kathleen,

07/2010

Au Contraire

As a proud Vermont chauvinist, I feel compelled to point out that, contrary to your assertion in your first story in the States of Debate series ("Lone Star," May 2010), three U.S. states have been sovereign nations — Hawaii, Texas and Vermont. Vermont was an independent, self-governed republic for a period of time immediately following the Revolutionary War, I believe from 1777 to 1791.

Kate Davie, Librarian Blue Mountain Union School, Wells River, Vt.

As the United States works to develop broader, more comprehensive and sophisticated testing assessment systems, several countries that have gone down this road provide maps on how to do so.

In a white paper titled “Benchmarking Learning Systems: Student Performance Assessment in International Context,” Stanford University professor Linda Darling- Hammond explores testing systems in Finland, Sweden, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Tight budgets are no excuse for failing to be proactive with school safety. In fact, school leaders must be especially committed to prevention and security programs during times when economic woes are increasing stress on kids, their families and school staff. Parents will forgive educators if their school's test scores drop. But they are much less forgiving if their children are hurt in an incident that could have been prevented or better managed. Attorneys and the media will be equally relentless.

Arne Duncan speaks about the federal Race to the Top school reform competition in late July at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

A new informal federal survey has found that for many districts, budget cuts have had a profound effect on school safety and security measures. Administrators have been forced to cut safety and security staffing and programs, reorganize security departments and find alternative sources of funding in order to maintain levels of safety and security within their schools.

A weak economy paired with a national push to improve reading and math as well as other core subjects has left an important skill behind in K12 classrooms—digital media literacy.

1848

Discovery of gold kicks off California Gold Rush.

1850

United States admits California as the 31st state.

1852

California legislature creates state board of education.

1866

Legislature requires school attendance for children ages 8-14.

1921

School districts become responsible for their own budgets and taxes.

You can take this prediction to the bank: Within five years, each and every K12 student, in each and every grade, in each and every school in the United States will be using a mobile learning device, 24/7. How can we say that when today 99 percent of the schools ban cell phones? Because mobile is bigger than the Internet.

While St. Marys is a small, rural town in west central Ohio, over 800 students and 49 staff members are using mobile learning devices (HTC Touch Pro2s) in grades 3-7. The one-to-one 24/7 mobile learning project started in October 2008 as a small, 60-unit pilot, but it has exploded into the largest one-to-one mobile learning project in the nation. The students use the MLDs for at least 50 percent of the school day for all their academic subjects and then use them for homework outside of school.

Starting in December 2009, Watkins Glen Central School District, in a small, rural town in upstate New York, put HTC 6800 smartphones in the hands of about 200 fifth- and seventh-grade students and 20 teachers (including special education support teachers) in three schools. We had felt that it was too risky to give students access to cell phones and texting with all of the problems associated with them, but when Verizon Wireless said they could turn off the voice and texting capabilities of the devices, we jumped at the opportunity to do a pilot study.

Every fifth grader in Cimarron Elementary School in the Katy (Texas) Independent School District has been using MLDs since October 2009. The suburban district west of Houston has about 58,000 students. Six general education teachers and one special education co-teacher are participating. Students are using their MLDs for more than half of the school day in science, reading, language, social studies and math. They are using their MLDs at home, as well.

The North Rockland Central School District in Garnerville, N.Y., started its MLD program in January. Eighty fifth graders, along with three teachers, at Haverstraw Middle School have been using smartphones in a one-to-one pilot project.

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