From the Editor RSS Feed

Efforts To Improve Procurement

Several interesting announcements over the past month related to procurement practices in the K-12 market. As public entities school districts are often required to abide by procurement guidelines that mandate competitive bidding and strict contractual agreements. While meant to protect schools and encourage lowest cost purchasing, the process is cumbersome and time consuming. Schools continue to seek ways to purchase that are both more cost effective and efficient. Read More »

Assessment Update

Education Week reports continuing erosion in the number of states planning to administer the assessments created by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The SBAC and PARCC assessments were specifically designed to measure student progress on mastering the Common Core State standards. While the Common Core Standards—renamed, revised, and in some locations still reviled—have largely survived, the assessments have not done as well. In some states pulling out of the assessment consortia was the price of seeing the Common Core survive; in most states the assessments also suffered in the general backlash against "too much testing." Read More »

Selecting Quality Instructional Materials

The State Education Technology Directors Association released From Print to Digital: Guide to Quality Instructional Materials this week, a toolkit designed to support states, districts and schools with the process of selecting quality instructional materials for learning. State, district and school leaders can use the guide to launch and maintain vetting processes for the selection of quality instructional materials aligned to standards. The guide includes best practice examples from states and districts and national, state and local resources to consider when selecting quality instructional materials. The online resource explains the key steps in this process—planning, budget, selection, implementation, and effectiveness. Read More »

Kids and Reading

Scholastic released its 6th edition of the Kids & Family Reading Report. On the whole it's mostly good news. Kids ages 6-17 report having read 23 books over the past year. The 32% of kids who are frequent readers - kids who read books for fun 5-7 days a week - read 42 books, while the 24% who are infrequent readers - kids who read for fun less than one day a week - read only 7 books. Moderately frequent readers (44%) - kids who read books for fun 1-4 days a week - read 14 books over the past year. When you consider the amount of screen time that children in the age range are logging, I guess one or two books a month isn't too bad. Seven books a year is more worrisome. Read More »

Changes at the FCC

Among the many changes that happen when a new administration takes over the reins of government, the balance of power at the Federal Communications Commission changes. The resignation of Chairman Tom Wheeler on January 20 left President Trump free to appoint Ajit Pai as the new FCC chairman. Since Pai is already a commissioner, his appointment did not need to be confirmed by the Senate, and he is already making staff appointments and will chair his first Commission meeting on Jan 31. He will, however, need to be reconfirmed for another five year term by the end of 2017, though that's something of a formality under the circumstances. Read More »

DeVos Hearing, State of the State Speeches

After a week's delay the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. In general, the confirmation process does not seem up to the task of seriously vetting candidates for their various cabinet posts and that was certainly true for the HELP hearing. To me it was a matter of considerable heat but not much light. Read More »

Digital Media Literacy

I've been nudged by several long-time colleagues this week to take a look at the News Literacy Project (NLP). NLP is a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age. NPL also fosters an understanding of the importance of the First Amendment and a free press in a democracy, especially the watchdog role. Read More »

DeVos Confirmation Hearing, 2017 Predictions

Welcome to 2017 everyone. It's hard to believe that we are already a full week into the new year.
The pace of the Trump administration's transition picks up as Congress begins to hold confirmation hearings for cabinet nominees. The 115th Congress convened on Tuesday and walked right into a buzz saw of its own making with the controversy over the House's plan to abolish the Office of Congressional Ethics. Most of the confirmation hearings are unlikely to draw quite as much attention, though there are some real battles in the offing. The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education is scheduled for January 11. Aside from her strong advocacy for charter schools and support for vouchers, little is known about DeVos' positions on other education issues. Read More »

End of Year Notes

We'll be taking a publishing break over the holidays, returning with the first issue of 2017 on January 6. From me and from everyone at MDR, I want to extend best wishes for a peaceful and joy-filled holiday season. As 2016 draws to a close there is so much to be thankful for and so much still to look forward to. We are blessed to work in an industry that makes a difference beyond the bottom line and beyond our personal satisfaction. Your products and services make it easier for teachers to teach and students to learn. I know that each of you cares deeply about American education and the future of all of America's children. I see how much education companies do every day to support schools and teachers and students. 2017 is likely to be a challenging year, but then, what year isn't? All we can do is face each challenge as it comes and work together to provide supportive, inclusive and exciting environments that pull kids into the adventure of learning and set them on the path to success. I wish you all safe travels, warm fellowship and some quiet time to reflect and recharge before the New Year. Read More »

Computer Science Education Week, Privacy and Security Concerns

Computer Science Education Week has been celebrated since 2009. In 2014, Code.org help organize Computer Science Education Week around a new theme, the "Hour of Code." That year, Computer Science Education Week reached over 15 million students and over 35,000 events across 167 countries. One year later, in January of 2015, the Hour of Code reached 100 million "hours served," making the Hour of Code and CS Education Week the largest education campaign in history. 2016 could be even bigger, helped along just a bit by President Obama's Computer Science for All initiative. Read More »