EdNET Insight - From the Editor http://www.ednetinsight.com en-us http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Central by Imulus (http://imulus.com) info@ednetinsight.com SBIR Supports Ed Tech Developers http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/sbir-supports-ed-tech-developers.html The Department of Education/Institute of Education Sciences' Small Business Innovation Research (ED/IES SBIR) program recently announced the award of 14 new contracts for FY 2016. The IES/SBIR program provides funding to small business firms and partners for the research and development of commercially viable education technology products designed to support student learning, teacher practice, or school administration in education or special education. The Department of Education's SBIR program has an annual budget of $7.5M. <br><br> There are some familiar names on this year's grantee list. Among the nine Phase I ($150,000, six-month contracts) grantees are EdSurge, Fablevision, Schell Games, and SpryFox. Teachley won a two-year $900,000 Phase II contract. ]]> Friday, May 20, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/sbir-supports-ed-tech-developers.html Speak UP! 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/speak-up--2016.html Project Tomorrow held its annual Congressional Briefing earlier this month and released "From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulation within K-12 education," which documents the key national finding from the Speak Up 2015 survey. For 13 years now, Speak UP has examined how students are using and would like to see digital tools used for learning. Additional data is gathered from teachers, librarians, administrators, parents and community members which sometimes provides interesting contrasts, not just to student views, but also among the various groups of adult survey respondents. ]]> Friday, May 13, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/speak-up--2016.html Excellent STEM Teachers http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/excellent-stem-teachers.html During the celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, President Obama announced progress towards his goal of preparing an additional 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021. The President issued the original challenge in his 2011 State of the Union address. To address that challenge 100Kin10 was formed, a network of 280 organizations, including school districts, universities, foundations, corporations, museums, nonprofits, and government agencies. To date, the network has trained more than 30,000 teachers. 100Kin10's partners have made commitments to recruit and train an additional 70,000 by 2021, meeting the President's goal. 100Kin10 reports that these projections have been verified by the American Institutes for Research, which has concluded the estimates are reasonable. ]]> Friday, May 06, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/excellent-stem-teachers.html STEM for Early Learners http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/stem-for-early-learners.html In a now familiar Obama administration pattern, a White House Early STEM Symposium brought together leaders from the public and private sectors who have committed to promoting active STEM learning for the country's youngest children. The Summit, presented in partnership with the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and Invest in US, highlighted new steps being taken by the Obama Administration, including the development of new research grants, to improve early elementary science outcomes. ]]> Friday, April 29, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/stem-for-early-learners.html Assessing Soft Skills http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/assessing-soft-skills.html It appears that the educational research community is concerned about growing interest on the part of schools in measuring soft skills like “grit” or a “growth mindset.” They’re not the only ones. It’s been disconcerting to watch school systems begin to consider adding measures of these soft skills to their accountability systems. At a time when everyone seems to agree that there is too much testing going, why would schools want to add still more assessments? As I read the research it’s not totally clear to me that we have solid evidence that some of the more recently embraced soft skills can be taught effectively. I know for sure we don’t have the instruments in place to measure them effectively. ]]> Friday, April 22, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/assessing-soft-skills.html Science Fair and STEM Literacy http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/science-fair-and-stem-literacy.html The President hosted the 2016 Science Fair at the White House this Wednesday. This year marked the sixth and final year of the President hosting some of the nation's brightest and most inquisitive young minds. More than 130 students from more than 30 states, as well as student alumni from each of the prior five White House Science Fairs participated. Each of these students had been competitors and winners from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions across the country. Following the Science Fair, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett moderated a panel discussion with students from each of the previous White House Science Fairs. The poise and intelligence of these young people is truly inspiring. Their advice: Start early and try science—you just might like it; don't stop with an idea, work on implementing it; and do what you love. ]]> Friday, April 15, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/science-fair-and-stem-literacy.html It's Testing Season http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/it-s-testing-season.html The nation's schools are in the midst of their 2015-16 assessment cycle, which began in March is some states and will extend through early June. On the whole, it seems a lot calmer than last year when a generalized feeling of anxiety about the consequences of the first required administration of Common Core summative assessments (then largely delivered by PARCC and SBAC) reached a fever pitch. That's not to say everyone is happy. Some parents continue to opt their children out of testing and several teachers' groups continue to lobby against "too much testing." ]]> Friday, April 08, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/it-s-testing-season.html Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/horizon-report--2016-higher-education-edition.html I don't write about higher education very much. It's not an area where I have a lot of experience and as a market, higher ed is very different from K-12. But as I read through the higher ed edition of the New Media Consortium's Horizon Report 2016, I was struck by the number of similarities. NMC identifies six barriers that are impeding technology adoption. As it does in its K-12 edition, NMC categorizes these barriers as solvable, difficult and wicked hard. <br> One of the solvable barriers is digital literacy. The report indicates that weak digital literacy skills are a problem that reaches well beyond higher ed. It's the familiar problem of students who may have grown up surrounded by technology, but are not necessarily very good at using it effectively. Students may excel when using digital products in familiar and predictable ways, but be unable to apply those skills to unfamiliar tasks or use them to solve more challenging problems than creating a play list or taking a selfie. The report's authors see this barrier as solvable since there are a lot of efforts going on to address the problem, many of which seem promising. ]]> Friday, April 01, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/horizon-report--2016-higher-education-edition.html SEA Capacity, Infrastructure Spending http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/sea-capacity--infrastructure-spending.html I've been trying to catch up on the news this past week or so and must admit a lot of stories have me thinking "What did you expect?" Education Week and other outlets have been reporting on State Education Agencies (SEAs). When Congress crafted the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), its intent was to return control over many education policies and decisions to the states and local districts. While the district and individual schools know best what students need, the resources available to meet those needs and the barriers that might exist to more innovative and flexible solutions, local control is not always the most efficient way to get things done. If districts act in isolation, there are a lot of people working to recreate the same wheel. SEAs play an important role in fostering collaboration, coordinating efforts and disseminating promising practices. But most SEAs are stretched just trying to maintain their current level of effort. They have limited capacity to take on new roles and responsibilities. ]]> Friday, March 25, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/sea-capacity--infrastructure-spending.html Evidence-based Programs in ESSA http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/evidence-based-programs-in-essa.html Last week I briefly described the transition from current education policy to full implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), especially in Title I. There is another area of ESSA that is of particular interest to instructional materials provider. While the Department of Education has been talking about evidence since the passage of No Child Left Behind, this is the first time that the legislation has incorporated a definition of evidence. NCLB was peppered with references to "scientifically-based research," calling on schools to adopt instructional materials and programs based on rigorous research that proves their effectiveness. NCLB was signed into law early in 2012, the same year that Grover "Russ" Whitehurst was appointed director of the Institute of Education Sciences and that the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) was established. WWC was created to promote informed education decision making by serving as a central and neutral source of scientific evidence about "what works" in education. ]]> Friday, March 18, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/evidence-based-programs-in-essa.html ESSA Transition, Making http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/essa-transition--making.html The Department of Education has issued an <a href="http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/faq/essa-faqs.pdf">updated FAQ</a href> about transitioning to ESSA. For the 2016-17 school year, non-competitive grant programs will be funded and operate under the rules in place before ESSA was adopted. The Department will make FY2016 formula grant awards for the 2016-2017 school year in <i>the same manner and using the same allocation formulas</i> it did with FY 2015 formula grant funds. That means your Title I customers, along with ELL and the smaller formula-based programs should receive the same amount of funding they received in the previous school year (depending on the overall FY 20167 appropriation) and the programs should operate normally. The same is true for special education which operates under its own authorizing legislation, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. ]]> Friday, March 11, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/essa-transition--making.html #GoOpen http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/-goopen.html The Department of Education has signed up 14 states and 40 school districts to support and implement elements of its #GoOpen initiative. You may remember that when the initiative was first announced back in October, only 10 districts had signed on to the basic challenge of replacing at least one textbook with openly licensed educational resources within the next year. Six districts already involved in using OER were named Ambassador Districts, committed to helping other school districts move to openly licensed materials. This latest announcements saw three districts added to the list of Ambassador Districts, with 21 new districts signing on to #GoOpen. Essentially districts commit to creating a team to plan implementation strategies, replacing at least one textbook with openly-licensed educational materials in the next year, and documenting and sharing their implementation process. ]]> Friday, March 04, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/-goopen.html Broadening Procurement, ESSA Hearings http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/broadening-procurement--essa-hearings.html There was a really good article in <a href="http://www.eschoolnews.com/2016/02/19/5-ways-to-give-teachers-and-principals-more-say-in-ed-tech-buying/">eSchool News</a href> last week about the tensions between centralized purchasing versus one that puts power in the hands of principals and teachers. We've all seen the numbers coming out of recent work around procurement and the technology purchasing process. Digital Promise's work on procurement indicates that teachers and principals are only moderately involved. While district officials say they want teacher input for purchasing decisions, just 28% of superintendents agree with giving greater authority to individual schools and educators. Some of this is understandable. Central purchasing helps maintain a limited set of standards that the district must support and for which it should be providing PD. It can save districts money as volume purchasing equates to larger discounts or more "free" support. And it's the central office staff that has to answer to the School Board and to parents when an initiative goes badly off the tracks. ]]> Friday, February 26, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/broadening-procurement--essa-hearings.html Digital Learning Day http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/digital-learning-day.html February 17 saw the fifth annual celebration of Digital Learning Day. Launched by the Alliance for Excellent Education in 2012, Digital learning day was created to celebrate teachers who were tapping the potential of technology to enhance student engagement and learning. Over the years the event has showcased innovative teachers, leaders, and programs that are improving student learning experiences through the effective use of technology. This year the Alliance reports that there were over 2,300 Digital Learning Day events across the country, including celebrations in classrooms, libraries, and afterschool programs. Digital Learning Day was celebrated in all fifty states and in fifteen countries across the world. This year's event focused on digital equity in schools and communities across America. In a series of live streamed conversations, educators, students, and policymakers from small, rural towns to large, urban centers talked about what they are doing to close the digital divide in their communities. There has been a lot of attention lately to the digital equity issue. I'm sure school leaders welcome the increased attention to a problem they have wrestled with for years. While school online access is steadily improving, educators continue to worry about students' ability to access the digital tools they need to complete assignments and expand their learning opportunities. ]]> Friday, February 19, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/digital-learning-day.html FY 2017 Education Budget Request http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/fy-2017-education-budget-request.html On Tuesday, President Obama released the FY 2017 budget for the Department of Education. The president's budget provides $69.4 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $1.3 billion, or 2%, over the 2016 level. In many ways this budget is something of a wish list. Money is tight and the Republicans seem determined to fight most increases, no matter how moderate. The partial lifting of the sequester caps provided under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 helps, but does not allow for a lot of new programming. The 2015 legislation increased discretionary spending by $80 billion over two years, split evenly between defense and nondefense programs. The FY 2016 budget saw a resulting bump of $50 billion, leaving a $30 billion increase for FY 2017. That's not a lot of money to spread over many departments and programs. The Department of Education budget emphasizes three themes: (1) increasing equity and excellence; (2) providing support for teachers and school leaders; and (3) promoting access, affordability, and completion in higher education. ]]> Friday, February 12, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/fy-2017-education-budget-request.html Mode Effect on PARCC Tests http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/mode-effect-on-parcc-tests.html <i>Education Week</i> ran a major article this week reporting that students who took the PARCC assessment last school year on the computer tended to score lower than those who took the paper-and- pencil form of the test. While the numbers are not yet available across the states in the consortium, a PARCC spokesperson acknowledged that the pattern exists, on average. The pattern was most pronounced in English/language arts and middle- and upper-grades math. The Smarter Balanced consortium is still investigating if any such problems exist among their test takers. <p> It seems fairly obvious that lack of familiarity with computers added to the challenges that students faced as they worked their way through the PARCC test. Students who did not know their way around the computer may have found dragging and dropping, highlighting or scrolling back through text to find the required supporting evidence more difficult than test designers anticipated. Navigating the computer may have slowed then down or just frustrated them. ]]> Friday, February 05, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/mode-effect-on-parcc-tests.html State of the States, Slow Funding Recovery http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/state-of-the-states--slow-funding-recovery.html It's State of the State season. We're roughly half way through the season, with the last State of the State speech - from Pennsylvania's Governor Wolf - scheduled for February 9. These speeches set out the governor's goals for the coming year and often provide high-level descriptions of new programs and initiatives. They also provide a good overview of the state's current economic outlook. As I've said before, companies with significant business interests in a particular state or group of states should be sure to read or listen to the relevant speeches. The National Governor's Association <a href='http://www.nga.org/cms/home/special/col2-content/2016-state-of-the-state-dates.html">maintains a page</a href> with confirmed dates and hyperlinks for governors' State of the State addresses. <i>Education Week</i> also publishes <a href="http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/01/27/states-of-the-states-calif-colo-mich.html?qs=State+of+the+State+addresses">education-focused summaries</a href> of the annual governor's addresses. ]]> Friday, January 29, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/state-of-the-states--slow-funding-recovery.html ESSA Regulatory Process Begins, New Privacy Legislation http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/essa-regulatory-process-begins--new-privacy-legislation.html First, an update on the rule-making process for the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Department of Education is wrapping up the gathering public input stage of its efforts to move forward on developing ESSA regulations. In December, the Department published a Request for Information seeking advice and recommendations for Title I regulations under ESSA. That public comment period closed on January 21. The Department also held two public meetings seeking input, one In Washington, DC on January 11 and one in Los Angeles on January 19. A <a href="http://edstream.ed.gov/webcast/Play/7592f68fb7404eedb2b89ea72032188c1d">recording of the Jan 11 event</a href> is available on the Department's <a href="http://www.ed.gov/essa">ESSA web page</a href>, which is a one-stop source for all things ESSA. ]]> Friday, January 22, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/essa-regulatory-process-begins--new-privacy-legislation.html EdNET Advisory Board, State of the Market Report http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/ednet-advisory-board--state-of-the-market-report.html Several news items from MDR this week. We are excited to announce the members of the EdNET 2016 Conference Advisory Board. For most of its history, the EdNET Conference has been shaped by the Advisory Board – a panel of industry executives who help us identify education market trends and the challenges and opportunities that the education industry is facing and provide input on programming and conference formats and activities. <p> EdNET Conference Manager Vicki Smith Bigham works hard to put together a board that represents different education market segments, job titles, experience levels, and familiarity with EdNET. I heard a lot about the quality of the programming at EdNET 2015. That kind of quality starts with the Advisory Board and grows as Vicki works at finding the right people to flesh out the EdNET vision, from keynoters to panel moderators. For EdNET 2016, we plan to use our social channels and other outreach to involve the broader EdNET community in refining potential session topics, identifying speakers and suggesting program innovations. Get ready to contribute your ideas. ]]> Friday, January 15, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/ednet-advisory-board--state-of-the-market-report.html Quality Counts, Eduventures' 2016 Higher Ed Predictions http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/quality-counts--eduventures--2016-higher-ed-predictions.html I can't believe that we are already a full week into the New Year. I think 2016 may fly by even faster than 2015 did. I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday season, with time for family and fun and some quiet time for rest and reflection. May 2016 bring everything you are hoping for and more. <br><br> <i>Education Week</i> released the 20th edition of Quality Counts this week. This year's report focuses on accountability, examining how state and federal policies are" transforming the assessment of school performance and reshaping the consequences for poor results." Acknowledging the anniversary, the report looks at look at highlights and milestones from the past 20 years and includes a new original analysis of national and state achievement trends on the National Assessment of Educational Progress during the multiyear period NCLB period. ]]> Friday, January 08, 2016 http://www.ednetinsight.com/news-alerts/from-the-editor/quality-counts--eduventures--2016-higher-ed-predictions.html