Reposted from Alabama.com:
HUNTSVILLE: Auseel Yousefi says he did it. He sent the tweets that school officials say led to a warning from the NSA which led Huntsville to begin monitoring student Facebook pages. But he says it was all a joke, a bad one – a stand-up routine that would cost him the first semester of his senior year at Lee High School.
On the day he got in trouble, Yousefi says, he was taken into a room full of administrators and shown emailed photos of a series of jokes on his Twitter feed. He says the administrators alternately referred to reports of threats forwarded by “the NSA” or an “NSA affiliate.”
“It meant absolutely nothing to me at the time,” he said of the National Security Agency, the U.S. government’s global spy network. Instead, Yousefi was focused on defending the humor in those tweets. Then school security searched his car. They found a jeweled dagger from a Renaissance fair in the glove box. Yousefi would be expelled for one semester.
Reposted from Brookings Now:
The authors of a new research report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings find that school superintendents “have very little influence on student achievement collectively compared to all other components of the traditional education system that we measure.”
“Superintendents may well have impacts on factors we have not addressed in our study, such as the financial health of the district, parent and student satisfaction, and how efficiently tax dollars are spent,” the authors conclude. “And to be certain, superintendents occupy one of the American school system’s most complex and demanding positions. But our results make clear that, in general, school district superintendents have very little influence on student achievement in the districts in which they serve. This is true in absolute terms, with only a fraction of one percent of the variance in student achievement accounted for by differences among superintendents. It is also true in relative terms, with teachers/classrooms, schools/ principals, and districts having an impact that is orders of magnitude greater than that associated with superintendents.”
Analyzing student-level data from the states of Florida and North Carolina for the school years 2000-01 to 2009-10, the authors find that:
- School district superintendent is largely a short-term job. The typical superintendent has been in the job for three to four years.
- Student achievement does not improve with longevity of superintendent service within their districts.
- Hiring a new superintendent is not associated with higher student achievement.
- Superintendents account for a very small fraction (0.3 percent) of student differences in achievement. This effect, while statistically significant, is orders of magnitude smaller than that associated with any other major component of the education system, including: measured and unmeasured student characteristics; teachers; schools; and districts.
- Individual superintendents who have an exceptional impact on student achievement cannot be reliably identified.
Dig deeper here.
Download the report here. (16 pages)
Reposted from the New York Times:
“Last year, sales of education technology software for prekindergarten through 12th grade reached an estimated $7.9 billion, according to the Software and Information Industry Association.
As schools embrace these personalized learning tools, however, parents across the country have started challenging the industry’s information privacy and security practices.
“Different websites collect different kinds of information that could be aggregated to create a profile of a student, starting in elementary school,” said Tony Porterfield, a software engineer and father of two pre-teenage sons in Los Altos, Calif. “Can you imagine a college-admissions officer being able to access behavioral tracking information about a student, or how they did on a math app, all the way back to grade school?”
“Despite the increasing need for our students to be bilingual or multilingual, only a quarter of our elementary schools offer language instruction. In order to compete in a global marketplace we need to provide our student with the opportunity for world languages, a curriculum that builds global competency skills and cultural awareness.”
Reposted from the Gallup Blog:
“Gallup research strongly suggests that the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become. The Gallup Student Poll surveyed nearly 500,000 students in grades five through 12 from more than 1,700 public schools in 37 states in 2012. We found that nearly eight in 10 elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged with school. By middle school that falls to about six in 10 students. And by high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged. Our educational system sends students and our country’s future over the school cliff every year.
The drop in student engagement for each year students are in school is our monumental, collective national failure. There are several things that might help to explain why this is happening — ranging from our overzealous focus on standardized testing and curricula to our lack of experiential and project-based learning pathways for students — not to mention the lack of pathways for students who will not and do not want to go on to college.
Imagine what our economy would look like today if nearly eight in 10 of our high school graduates were engaged — just as they were in elementary school. Indeed, this is very possible; the best high schools in our dataset have as many as seven in 10 of their students engaged, akin to the engagement levels of our elementary schools. In fact, in qualitative interviews Gallup conducted with principals of these highly engaged high schools, we heard quotes such as, “Our high school feels like an elementary school,” when describing what they are doing differently.”
A student shares how teacher Rich Lehrer is using technology to create authentic learning experiences that transcend the traditional curriculum with a wealth of learning experiences addressing real world problems. Lehrer’s 8th grade science classes are working with students virtually from around the world, including Brazil, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and India. With rich, real-world learning like this, how long before students no longer work from a classroom serving as their base of operations?
In a world where agility with skills and concepts is key, why are our elementary, middle and high schools focused on prescribed content and contrived outcomes? Because for the last century the ideals of the industrial age were reflected in public education: alignment, standardization, consistency of behavior, ability to follow directions. These things produced a more homogeneous citizenry, a trainable pool of prospective soldiers and responsible stewards of business. We accomplished this to an impressively high degree. But society has continued to grow and morph, and being able to master a set scope and sequence of memorized facts, rote vocabulary and basic heuristics no longer meets the needs in a collaborative, competitive global economy.