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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.

    Read More »

    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 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 »


    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 »