From the Editor RSS Feed

Too Much Testing?

We are very pleased to introduce a new quarterly feature this week, focused on the business side of the industry. Baran Rosen, President of Whitestone Communications, will be sharing his insights on merger and acquisition activity in the education market. Whitestone Communications maintains an extensive database on M&A activity in the Internet, information, publishing, and training fields, which forms the basis for the firm’s annual Who’s Buying Whom publication. If you’re interested in seeing the monthly reports that Baran is drawing on for his analysis, visit the Whitestone website and sign up for a free subscription.

I know everyone has seen the President's initiative to cut down on the amount of time American students spend getting tested. While most of us agree with the sentiment, there really is little the administration and Department of Education can do to effect this change. Read More »

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, #GoOpen

It appears that the possibility of the U.S. government defaulting on its debt or shutting down has been averted, thanks to a last minute deal involving Congressional leaders and the White House, negotiated by departing Speaker John Boehner. The House voted on Wednesday to approve a two-year deal that extends the debt limit through March 2017, provides sequester relief by increasing domestic and military spending by $80 billion and sets clear spending targets for the next two years, through September 2017. The Senate is expected to act on the bill next week.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 passed by a vote of 266-167. All House Democrats voted for the measure, joined by 79 Republicans. Conservatives complaints about the spending increase were moderated somewhat by ensuring that the increases are fully paid for using a combination of tax and policy changes. Nevertheless, most House Republicans voted against the bill.

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White House Astronomy Night: OER

On Monday, a group of students, teachers and scientists spent the evening stargazing at the White House. President Obama hosted the second White House Astronomy Night, held on the South Lawn on what proved to be a cool but clear night. The night's activities were designed to inspire more girls and boys with the wonder of science and space and increase opportunities for all Americans to develop careers in science, technology, and innovation-driven disciplines. In a now familiar pattern when promoting initiatives for which there is no legislation or federal funding, the President used the occasion to announce a variety of new commitments, by cities and organizations all over the country, to expose even more students and their parents to STEM education. Read More »

Congratulations on Another Great EdNET!

Congratulations on another great EdNET! I’ve seen so much about the content and networking on our social channels, and many of you have reached out to me personally to share what a wonderful experience it was.

I am sorry to have missed this year, but I am looking forward to reporting back on the buzz from Atlanta very soon, so stay tuned!

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Librarians Are Key

I am so looking forward to EdNET this year. It will be wonderful to reconnect with long-time friends and industry colleagues as well as to meet new people and learn about new organizations who working on education solutions. Safe travels everyone. See you in Atlanta.

I was at an event at the local grade school this week that reminded me about what a gift a good librarian is to a school's teachers and students. I think we sometimes forget about the amazing things that librarians/media center specialists do to support learning at their schools. Librarians are at the heart of the school information network. They know a lot about what's going on in individual classrooms. They distribute catalogs with personal notes pointing out resources just right for the next unit a teacher is planning. They forward e-mails to the "right" people and introduce teachers to new products of all sorts. The library is often home to the school's maker space.

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2015 E-Rate Analysis

Funds for Learning has published its analysis of funding request data for E-Rate funding year 2015. In FY2015, there were 27,132 applicants for E-Rate funding. They requested a total of $3.92 billion. Category 1 requests (Internet access, leased data lines and phone service) totaled $2.25 billion. Category 2 requests (purchase, maintenance or operation of on-site networks) totaled $1.67 billion.

Of the 27,132 applicants, 91% submitted funding requests for voice telephony services, 81% for Internet access and data lines, and 39% for Category 2 services (e.g. Wi-Fi and other internal connections). Category 2 demand was greatest for switches and routers, Wi-Fi equipment and data cabling.

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Analyzing Classroom Assignments

The U.S. Department of Education has hired its first ever open education adviser to lead a national effort that, in the Department's words, "will expand schools' access to high-quality, openly-licensed learning resources." Andrew Marcinek will work in the Office of Educational Technology reporting to OET's director, Richard Culatta. Marcinek will be responsible for helping both K-12 and higher education connect with teaching, learning and research resources that are freely available to anyone over the web. Though the Department has long been a champion of OER, actually hiring someone to promote OER comes as something of a surprise, at least to me.

Now that PARCC has set (and released) the cut scores for its English/language arts and math tests in grades 3-8 (high school scores were set earlier), states are beginning to report results. Illinois and Ohio have released preliminary test score reports.

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TNTP Report on Teacher Development

I've revisited "The Mirage" report from TNTP on teacher development several times, trying to decide what I want to say about it. You will remember that it was released last month and many of the headlines about the report went something like this: "Time and Money Spent on Professional Development Is Largely Wasted." TNTP studied teacher development in three large school districts and one charter school network. Rather than examining a specific type of professional development to determine its effectiveness, TNTP worked backwards, first identifying teachers who had improved significantly over a two-year period and then looking for development experiences they had in common. Researchers used a broad definition of "professional development" to include efforts carried out by districts, schools and teachers themselves. Read More »

Connected Educator Month and more...

Just a few things that readers may want to know about:

October is Connected Educator Month, the fourth annual celebration of professional collaboration, designed to help more educators get proficient with social media. It's not too late to get your message in front of participating educators.

Applications are now open for the Software and Education Industry Association's 2015 Innovation Incubator Program. SIIA is looking for early-revenue stage ed tech companies with products or services that are innovative and unlike any others on the market.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is taking a number of steps to ensure a better testing experience for its member states in 2015-16, including an outside evaluation of the quality and performance of its open source test-delivery platform.

The FCC is making progress on bringing broadband to rural America. This week, the FCC announced that with the exception of Verizon, the price cap carriers accepted 95% of their Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II allocations. Read More »

PDK/Gallup, Education Next Polls

There's been a lot of attention devoted these past few weeks to two public opinion polls - the PDK/Gallup and Education Next. PDK released the results of its 47th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools last week. With its long history, this poll can provide a lot of historical context, allowing readers to see how opinion has changed over time. Education Next released its ninth version of its national poll the week earlier. Education Next asks alternative questions on the same topic in order to determine the sensitivity of opinion to new information and particular wording. Much of the press coverage has focused on the differences that the polls found in support for the Common Core and around questions related to testing. While there are differences, a careful read of the way the questions were posed and even the answer options offered helps explain a lot of what the supposed disagreement. Even question order has an impact. If you're really interested in this sort of thing, you will want to go directly to the survey documents to get the most unbiased perspective on the issues covered. Read More »