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ECS Resources, Personalization

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) has been busy these past few months as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. ECS is a national organization created to serve the needs of the states. It brings together governors, state legislators, K-12 and higher education department chiefs and other education leaders, tracking state policy trends, providing unbiased advice and creating opportunities for state leaders to learn from one another. Recently it has released a series of Policy Analysis and Education Trend reports on a variety of subjects. These reports are tightly focused and typically backed up by a related database that details policy or actions across the 50 states. They serve as great starting points if you want to explore a new market or think through a new marketing approach. Read More »

Pew on Teens and Technology

Last week, the Pew Research Center released "Teens, Social Media and Technology Overview 2015", the first in a series of reports on teens' (ages 13 to 17) technology use. This report examines teens' access to and use of smartphones, basic cell phones, desktop or laptop computers, tablets, and game consoles. The data is examined by a number of demographics including age, gender, race and household income. Read More »

ESEA, FERPA, Ed Tech Developers Guide

The Senate HELP Committee has released its bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill (if you’re not up for 600 pages of text, try the summary). The general reaction from the various stakeholder groups, including the President and some of the civil rights community, has been, “It’s a good start.” In order to be bipartisan, the bill includes a number of compromises, which have been negotiated over the past few months between Sen. Lamar Alexander, (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), without much input from the rest of the committee. Read More »

Musings

I and the technicians at my ISP have become great friends these last few days and it still feels like it's all glued together with chewing gum. With all the disruption, I won't pretend to have much to say today. I do have an apology to make to all the education leaders, visionaries, trendsetters and the developers and publishers of instructional materials who were honored as finalists and winners of the 2015 EdTech Digest Awards. When posting the story last week, I inadvertently copied the list from 2014 rather than 2015's new list. We caught the error pretty quickly, but if you not sure you saw the correct listing, check out the story here. It's a pretty amazing list of people and companies doing great work to support teachers and students.

I'm still on the lookout for Spring, which is in full bloom one day, just before the snow squalls set back in. I wish all of our readers a Blessed Easter and Passover and the joys of Spring. Read More »

White House Science Fair and STEM

On Monday, President Obama hosted the 5th White House Science Fair, featuring 36 exhibits manned by young scientists and engineers from across the country. Participating students had all previously won honors at a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, such as FIRST Robotics, the National eCybermission Competition, the Intel Science Talent Search, Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and the Google Science Fair, among others. This year's event included a specific focus on girls and women who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work. There's a video of the highlights at https://www.whitehouse.gov/science-fair, including a wonderful segment of the President interacting with a team of six-year old Girl Scouts who had created a battery-powered page turner for people who are paralyzed or have arthritis (and who seemed decidedly unimpressed by being at the White House). Read More »

FY 2016 Budget Process Begins

The House of Representatives will take up the FY 2016 budget resolution next week, following its passage Thursday by the House Budget Committee on a purely partisan 22 to 13 vote. The resolution – a Balanced Budget for a Stronger America – reflects the House’s aggressive deficit reduction and pro-defense spending stance. The House resolution promises to balance the budget by 2024 by cutting about $5.5 trillion of spending over the ten year period. While maintaining the Budget Control Act spending caps for FY16, going forward, the budget resolution lowers discretionary budget authority to $372 billion below sequester levels through 2025 and increases defense spending by $387 billion. It achieves this redistribution by making $759 billion in non-defense cuts. That makes for a pretty grim outlook for the education, social services and health care programs that fall into this non-defense discretionary spending bucket. Read More »

Digital Learning Day and More

Today is Digital Learning Day (DLD). This is the fourth celebration of the event, created in 2012 by the Alliance for Excellent Education. More than 1,000 local celebrations across the country have been registered on the DLD site.

At 1 PM Eastern, the Alliance will host Digital Learning Day Live!, a one-hour live broadcast from the Teaching & Learning conference in Washington, DC, to an in-person audience of more than 3,000 teachers and administrators as well as hundreds of thousands of educators who will be watching online. The broadcast will feature the stories of four innovative districts-Baltimore County Public Schools, Houston Independent School District, Huntsville School District (AR), and Vista Unified School District and include national leaders in education technology. It's always fun to listen to districts talk about the ways they have used technology to empower and support teachers and learners. Read More »

EdReports Releases First Reviews

More fuel to splash on the simmering fire of discontent around the alignment of instructional materials to the Common Core standards appeared this week. When it launched in August last year, EdReports described its mission as producing free reviews of instructional materials focused on alignment to the Common Core and other indicators of high quality. Its first collection of product reviews was released this week. You've probably seen the resulting headlines declaring that the materials were, for the most part, found lacking.

In fact most of the 20 products, from 9 publishers, were never fully reviewed, not having made it past the first "gateway" which evaluated the extent to which the product focused on appropriate grade level work and was coherent (made strong connections between the mathematical content). Only seven products made the cut for Gateway 2 where reviewers considered the rigor of the materials and evaluated connections to the mathematical practices. Only one product made it to Gateway 3 where the review reviewed focused on how well products support teachers in reaching all students and their ease of use in the classroom. Read More »

Net Neutrality, ESEA

Regulatory decisions and legislation continue to move forward.

The Federal Communications Commission approved net neutrality rules on a 3-2 partisan vote this Thursday.

The House of Representatives is expected to pass the Student Success Act today on a purely partisan basis.

The Senate HELP committee continues to work toward fielding a bipartisan reauthorization bill, but it's slow going. Read More »

A Research Accelerator

Education Week reported an interesting story this week about a new organization designed to bridge the gap between educators and companies developing educational products. Education leaders continue to report difficulty with vetting educational products. They are skeptical about alignment claims, wary of company-sponsored efficacy research and frustrated with the complexities of running pilots and ensuring that their feedback on products is heard and implemented. The Jefferson Education Accelerator plans to build a network of educators, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors who will work together to evaluate, research, improve and implement high-potential ed tech. Read More »