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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.
Read More »

Mid-Year Roundup

Happy summer holiday week, friends! In a season of vacations and celebrations, we hope you’re enjoying some time with family and friends. This week, we’re highlighting the most read articles for the first half of 2013 to give you another chance at catching up on them. We’re grateful to have had so many valuable contributions to the News Alert from our friends and industry colleagues this year! The highlighted collection below presents the four articles published since January that received the most pageviews. Enjoy! Read More »

Horizon Report > K-12

I always tell people how generous the education publishing industry is, with people willing to lend a helping hand when they can. Now’s your chance to prove me right. If you sell digital resources to the education market, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) is looking for your help. SIIA is in the final phase of data collection for its 2012 US Educational Technology Industry Market reports. SIIA fields two surveys, one for PreK-12 and the other Higher Education. Based on responses to those two surveys, SIIA aggregates numbers to project the relative size of each market segment. Submitted information is held in strict confidence and no company-specific data is published. The survey is open to SIIA members and non-members alike and is designed to be as comprehensive as possible. The survey is short and if you respond with sales data, you'll get the $1,500 final report for free when it’s published. I know how much the industry needs this kind of data. We all benefit from timely, reliable data on the size and direction of the US educational technology software market. Find more information and a link to both the K-12 and higher ed survey at http://www.siia.net/education/marketsurvey/ Read More »

Flexibility for the CCSS

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan announced expanded flexibility for schools, saying that the Department is "open to requests for flexibility with the deadline for implementing new systems of evaluating principals and teachers. States that request and are given this flexibility can delay any personnel consequences for teachers and principals tied to the new assessments for up to one year, until 2016-17." The decision came in response to a number of requests from individual state superintendents, from national associations representing administrators and school boards, from the Learning First Alliance, and considering the views of CCSSO, all of whom have advocated recently for more time to ensure that the implementation of the CCSS and the new Common Core Assessments be done correctly. Of particular concern was the use of results from the new assessments for high-stakes decisions, like school accountability, sanctions for students and teacher and principal evaluation systems. Read More »

ESEA Reauthorization, Children's Media Use

I'm not sure what's worse, no legislation from Congress or too much. Certainly in the case of ESEA reauthorization, which I still don't see happening anytime soon, we have a sudden abundance, with two bills introduced in the Senate and one in the House. The bills are even more partisan this time around. In 2011 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed a bill (that never made it to the floor) that garnered support from three Republican members. This time around the Strengthening America's Schools Act (SASA), introduced by Sen. Harkin (D-IA) passed out of committee on a party line vote of 12 to 10. Ranking committee member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) had introduced his own version of a reauthorization bill - Every Child Ready for College or Career Act - which was rejected on another party line vote of 12 to 10. Read More »

ConnectED

On Thursday, President Obama announced ConnectED, a new initiative aimed at connecting 99% of America's students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years. The president timed his announcement to coincide with his visit to the Mooresville Graded School District. Mooresville is heavily invested in technology and digital learning and has been getting positive student achievement scores since launching the Digital Conversion Project. To reach the goal of high-speed broadband connectivity for all schools, the President:

  • called on the Federal Communications Commission to update the E-rate program to build out next-generation broadband (at speeds no less than 100Mbps and with a target of 1Gbps) to, and high-speed wireless within, schools and libraries
  • directed the federal government to make better use of existing funds to get this technology into classrooms and provide teachers with training and support to effectively use it;
  • asked for the support of businesses, states, districts, schools and communities
  • Read More »

    News Roundup

    Just a few news items of interest this week. Last week the Census Bureau reported a drop in per-student public education spending for FY 2011, the first such decrease since the Bureau began gathering data in 1977.

    • The 50 states and the District of Columbia spent $10,560 per student in 2011, down 0.4% from 2010.
    • The top spenders were New York ($19,076), the District of Columbia ($18,475), Alaska ($16,674), New Jersey ($15,968) and Vermont ($15,925).
    • Total K-12 expenditures totaled $595.1 billion in 2011, down 1.1% from 2010. This is the second time total expenditures have shown a year-to-year decrease, the first time being 2010.
    Nothing here will surprise anyone who has marketed to schools over the past several years. With only a few exceptions, the 2011 fiscal year for school systems in all states began on July 1, 2010, and ended on June 30, 2011. While school systems were still spending ARRA money during the 2010-11 school year, the influx of stimulus dollars was not enough to make up for budget cuts that states were making to cope with the weakened economy. I've been researching school district budgets recently and it's not unusual to find that any given school system cites significant revenues declines. For example, Colorado's Cherry Creek School District reported an $18 million cumulative decline in revenue between 2009-10 and 2012-13. But things do appear to be slowly getting better. … Read More »

    Data and Privacy

    There's a lot of attention being concentrated right now on various aspects of data. Part of the push back about too much testing has to do with growing parental awareness that each test administration generates a lot of data points about their children. When that sat on aggregated score sheets in a district office or when individual performance reports became part of a child's cumulative record, there was less concern, but as technology allows more manipulation and analysis of data and storage shift from a file cabinet to the cloud, anxieties mount. Parents not only want reassurances about what schools are doing with that data, some are beginning to question whether lots of it even needs to be gathered. Recent changes to The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and pending changes to Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) have made the schools more anxious about compliance and interpretations vary on just what anyone, much less the educational vendors, can do with personally identifiable data. Two new reports look at different aspects of data. The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) published "Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning." The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) released "Data-Driven Innovation - A Guide for Policymakers: Understanding and Enabling the Economic and Social Value of Data." Read More »

    The Games Have It

    Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced the winners of this year's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract awards. ED's SBIR awards program is run by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), providing up to $1.05 million to entrepreneurial small businesses for the R&D of commercially viable education technology products. This year more than half of the awards - 12 in all - went to games and game-related projects. According to the IES website, this year's game winners display several common elements:

    • Most include an adaptive component that auto-adjusts the game difficulty to the competency level of the player.
    • Most include rewards and competition to drive game play.
    • Several use story-based narratives to engage students.
    • Most include a teaching component that supports the implementation of the game as a supplement to or replacement for standard instructional practice.
    • Several include teacher dashboards, where formative assessment results are provided to the teacher in real-time to inform them of player status for further instruction and remediation.
    Read More »