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OER, Kindergarten Assessments

I've seen several announcements about the availability of rich libraries of open educational resources (OER). I've seen several announcements about the availability of rich libraries of open educational resources (OER). The Saylor Foundation is making its Media Library freely available to the public. Since 2008, the Foundation's free education initiative has focused on driving the cost of education to zero and expanding access to quality OER. Toward that end, the foundation has built over 270 free, self-paced, online courses mostly for higher ed, with a recent expansion into K-12. The online Media Library includes about 6,000 total resources, including 3,000 open educational resources, 1,300 videos, 124 full-length textbooks, and 2,500 articles, covering a broad spectrum of curriculum across K-12, college, and professional education. The online library draws learning materials out from the courses, adds useful metadata (additional information such as author, license type, abstract, etc.), and makes the items searchable by course, subject, keywords, license type, and more. Read More »

Literacy Courseware Challenge

I hate to even bring the subject up, but the new federal fiscal year, FY 2014, starts on Oct 1, 2013. Few appropriations bills have been passed. Bills funding education, like many others, are not moving at all. Congress comes back in session on Sept 9 and there aren’t that many working days before the start of the new fiscal year, some of which will be devoted to the debate about military action in Syria. That makes it almost certain that Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution to keep the government running. A CR will hold spending level with that of FY 2013 and does nothing to address the sequester or the continuing cuts called for in the Budget Control Act. There’s a debt ceiling debate looming in November and there are likely to be continuing efforts to defund the healthcare law. With so many opportunities to wreak havoc, Congress may decide to pass along term CR or a shorter-term CR followed by the passage of a big omnibus funding bill. The scenario is familiar. It’s played out in one form or another since 2008. Since a good resolution seems unlikely, let’s hope for a speedy one. Extended uncertainty is not good for the schools or at the bigger picture level for the nation’s economy. Read More »

Flipped Day

As I watched the various events and the in-depth news coverage associated with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, I found myself awash in memories. And my next thought was "What a learning opportunity!" I know how pressed teachers feel right now in light of the new Common Core standards and accountability pressures, but I hope that teachers all over America took advantage of the wealth of primary source materials that scrolled across their students TVs, tablets and phones to engage their student in an exploration of the historical facts and serious discussion of the consequences and present day implications of that event. The music alone - popular anthems and old spirituals - offered one lens through which to explore the movement to say nothing of the rhythm and language of Dr. King's speech. Who were those people who marched and why? What did they want? What a chance to pull students into an appreciation of what our past has to teach us. Read More »

Public Attitudes Toward Education

The media is full of stories about the three national polls of public attitudes about education that were released this week - Education Next's 7th annual survey on What Americans Are Thinking about Common Core and Other Education Policies, the 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research on Parents' Attitudes on the Quality of Education in the United States. Some topics are common to all three surveys, while each also contains unique and interesting questions about a variety of topics. If you're really interested in this sort of thing, you will want to go directly to the survey documents. You want to see exactly how the questions were stated and the response choices people were offered, since both can affect way a particular question is answered. Read More »

E-Rate Reform, Competency-Based Education

There's a lot of effort going into drumming up support for an expansion of the E-Rate, as you can see from several headlines in this week's Feature section. Funds for Learning estimates that the network and connectivity upgrades necessary to adequately connect U.S. schools would cost billions, given current pricing models. They see raising the E-rate funding cap as one way to deal with these costs, as does the Learning First Alliance. There are other ways to go, however - like reducing the amount of money that can be spent on POTS (plain old telephone services) and support for more cost-effective purchasing practices. I'm sure many of you have your own ideas about E-Rate reform. Comments on the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are due by September 16, 2013. Read More »

New York Test Scores

New York released its results for the new Common Core-aligned assessments that were administered this spring and the news was fairly discouraging. I'll get back to the test scores in a minute, but the other part of this story is that supporters of the Common Core standards and the looming new Common Core assessments went on the offensive here. And that's good, though it may have been too late to matter. In New York City Mayor Bloomberg and a number of state officials held a major press conference to discuss the results. Many people issued supportive statements, including Achieve and PARCC. A group of leading businessmen are lending their support. Secretary Duncan got on the phone with a group of reporters, though in an area like this I'm never sure if support from the Department of Education helps or hurts. Depends on who's listening, I'd guess. It does seems as if New York education leaders did not start early enough to warn parents and the wider community what was going to happen, how bad it would seem and why it really is a step in the right direction. Read More »

News Roundup

I always know the summer is winding down when news about “Back-to School” promotions begin to cross my desk from the big office supply retailers and school supply companies. The collection bins for donated school supplies went up today at the local grocery stores. Chicago opens after Labor Day, but many schools across the south are opening next week and most by the week after. It will be another “interesting” school year. Schools will begin to feel the impact of federal budget cuts mandated under the sequester. The sequester was set at 5.23%, but depending on enrollments and the level of poverty at any given school, actual reduction could range in the 7% to 11% range, with some school faring better. Read More »

E-Rate, ESEA, Common Core Assessments

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Monday, seeking comments about ways to modernize the E-Rate. The comprehensive review is focused around three goals: increased broadband capacity, cost-effective purchasing, and streamlined program administration. While this may be narrower than some people had hoped, these are areas where the FCC has clear authority to act and where there are opportunities for establishing more cost-effective approaches, which will help make E-Rate dollars go farther. The NPRM also ask for comments on a variety of other issues. Comments are due by September 16, 2013.

  • In other news the House of Representatives passed the Student Success Act, it's ESEA reauthorization bill. Georgia withdrew from the PARCC testing consortium and Florida legislative leaders want to take down the same path.

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    E-Rate Reform

    This morning, July 19, the Federal Communications Commission is holding an Open Meeting. One of the items on the agenda is the consideration of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) “to modernize the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support mechanism (the E-rate program) to support highspeed broadband for digital learning technologies and ensure all students, teachers, and library patrons have the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century.” The Commission will also hear from former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and , and Jim Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, who will present on the bipartisan Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission's Five Point Blueprint recommending a national initiative to expand digital learning in K-12 education. You will remember that in announcing the Connect ED initiative, President Obama called on the FCC to modernize and leverage existing programs (such as the E-Rate) to support his goal of connecting 99% of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years. Read More »

    OK RFP for Assessments, Arts Integration in LAUSD

    I hope you all enjoyed some much needed time off during the holiday last week and caught up after a busy ISTE. I wanted to share just a few things that slipped by in last week's publishing pause.

    • Joanne Weiss is leaving the Department of Education, effective July 19.
    • Following its decision not to use the PARCC assessments in 2015, Oklahoma issued an RFP for the development of Oklahoma Assessments in Math and English Language Arts.
    • Los Angeles Unified School District received a $750,000 grant to fund arts integration pilot programs in schools over the next three years.
    • ISTE delivered a petition urging the FCC to act to "accomplish the goals of the ConnectED initiative.
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