University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

January 21, 2011

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on January 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

The OWL is snowed in this week, but look for us to post a new Policy Brief either on Friday or Monday highlighting Arkansas rankings in Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report. It has been widely reported recently that overall, Arkansas is earning a grade of B- (as compared to the C earned by the U.S.). Our report breaks down each graded section to provide further detail regarding how our education system measures up to the standards set by Quality Counts.

Across Arkansas this week, Commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education, Tom Kimbrell, is in Helsinki, Finland where he and a group of American Professionals are checking out the high performing Finnish education system. Dr. Kimbrell was invited to attend this meeting by ASCD, formerly known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. You can keep up with Dr. Kimbrell and his fellow educators by following their live blog from Helsinki.

Last week, Dr. Kimbrell and the Arkansas State Board of Education were busy approving two new charter schools at the monthly State Board meeting…meanwhile; the Pulaski County School District has set community meeting to discuss a proposal to close or consolidate some schools in the district.

In national news, all this talk in the news about the waves the U.S. Congress is planning to make must have stirred the White House up. Education Week is reporting that the White House is planning a fresh start on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (commonly known as No Child Left Behind). Details are supposedly going to be mentioned in the State of the Union Address next week.

Lawmaking at the state-level gets interesting in Florida where a State Legislator introduced a bill that would require elementary school teachers to evaluate parents based on “the quality” if their involvement in their children’s schools.

Northward, in Detroit, at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy, teachers are stepping up and gradually assuming administrative duties and roles to become the city’s first teacher-led school.

Finally, a report from the Center for American Progress titled Return on Educational Investment: A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational Productivity – a yearlong effort to study the efficiency of the nation’s public education system – was released this week. The report includes the first-ever attempt to evaluate the productivity of almost every major school district in the country. Some of the findings include:

  • Many school districts could boost student achievement without increasing spending if they used their money more productively.
  • Low productivity costs the nation’s school system as much as $175 billion a year.
  • Without controls on how additional school dollars are spent, more education spending will not automatically improve student outcomes.

There are more interesting findings, which you can view by clicking here. Let us know what you think!

Stay tuned for our next update on the State Legislature’s progress on relevant education bills being heard in the current session.

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  1. Enjoy format and summary.

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