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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 »

DeVos Nominated for Secretary of Education

Time spent with family and friends over Thanksgiving provided a welcome break from post-election anxiety and uncertainty. So did the generosity that marked Giving Tuesday. From local efforts like food drives and holiday gift collections through national campaigns like the partnership of First Book and Penguin Random House, aimed at providing up to 550,000-new books to children in need, and so many more, it was wonderful to see education companies reach out to support children and families across America.

The nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education goes a long way to resolving any lingering uncertainty about education policy in the Trump administration, Like President-elect Trump, DeVos is a school choice advocate.

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Another CR, Future Opportunity

Congress is back in session, with about 15 working days between now and its final adjournment. To some extent the pressure is off, with the assurance of a government firmly under Republican control come for at least the next two years. There is still a lot of unfinished legislative business, but much of that is likely to be deferred until the 115th Congress convenes early in the new year.

One of the things that won't be resolved this year is the FY 2017 budget. FY 2017 started on Oct 1. When it became clear that Congress would not be able to complete its budget work in time, it passed a Continuing Resolution with an expiration date of Dec 9. Congressional leaders had hoped to make real progress on the appropriations bills in the lame duck session, But the Trump administration has expressed its preference for passing another short-term continuing resolution and Congress is going along. The new CR would extend through March 31, 2017. That would keep FY 2017 spending level with that of FY 2016 through the first six months of FY 2017. Read More »

The Trump transition

The education press if full of speculation about what the Trump victory means for education. Right now, all we can do is speculate. There are some things we do know, however. Education will not be a top tier priority. There are just too many critical issues for an administration that intends to usher in almost total policy shifts on the economy, health care and immigration, for starters. That means that within a few broad parameters, the Department of Education will be on its own for a while after the inauguration, as larger policy issues are resolved. Read More »

RCE Coach, NAEP Science 2015 Scores

The Department of Education is ready to test a new tool that schools can use to evaluate the technology they are using. The Ed Tech Rapid Cycle Evaluation Coach (RCE Coach) was developed by Mathematica Policy Research in partnership with SRI, International, Concentric Research and Evaluation, and Cooper, with funding from the Office of Educational Technology. Last year, the Office of Educational Technology issued an RFP for Rapid-Cycle Technology Evaluations, looking for innovative approaches to evaluating educational apps that would help schools make evidence-based decisions when choosing apps to use with students. Read More »

Record Graduation Rate, SSAEGuidance

Once again there is a lot of buzz around graduation rates. The National Center for Education Statistics published the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate for 2014-15, a series of tables that display the percentage of students from the original cohort who graduated in four years with a regular high school diploma. Nationally, high school graduation rates stand at a record high 83.2%. Since the 2010-11 school year, when states, districts and schools began uisng this new common metric, the national graduation rate has increased by roughly 4 percentage points. Graduation rate varies by state and for specific sub-groups of students. Increases in the graduation rate for the 2014-2015 school year were seen for all ethnic groups, as well as for disabled students and students from low-income families. Read More »

K-12 Computer Science Framework

This week saw the release of the K-12 Computer Science Framework,. Developed by the Association for Computing Machinery, Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association, the Cyber Innovation Center and the National Math and Science Initiative, the Framework provides a core set of concepts and practices for teaching computer science. It is not a set of standards. Organizers expect that states and school districts will use the framework to create their own standards, curriculum and instructional approaches. This is an instance where the schools are likely to welcome outside input as many lack the expertise to develop standards and curriculum on their own, especially at the earlier grade levels. Read More »