University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Your Weekly Education Update

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on January 19, 2012 at 10:14 am

From the OEP

Classes resumed at the University of Arkansas this week which means those of us at the Office for Education Policy are back to our normal routine. We are working away over here on a few policy briefs of interest including an analysis of the 2011 NAEP results and the much discussed Quality Counts Report that was released last week.

If you have not yet had a chance, we encourage you to check out our new and improved Arkansas School Data Page. This page now features School Level Norm-Referenced Scores Database in a format that enables viewers to categorize schools by specific demographics. Have a great rest of the week and enjoy the news from around the state and nation.

News from Around the Natural State

Districts to Ask State to Allow for Annexation

Officials in the Lead Hill and Ozark Mountain school districts plan to petition the state Board of Education to allow them to merge. The two school boards each passed resolutions approving the annexation of the Lead Hill into the Ozark Mountain School District. If approved by the state board, Ozark Mountain will grow from a district of three campuses in three counties to four campuses in four counties spanning 500 square miles.

Kimbrell Discourages Education Funding Cuts

In preparation for the fiscal session which begins on February 13, lawmakers are reviewing the governor’s budget proposals. During budget reviews by the Joint Budget Committee, Dr. Kimbrell said he would view any cuts to Arkansas’ public schools budget as a slide from the commitment the state has made in the wake of lawsuits over how it funds its classrooms. Governor Beebe has proposed increasing the public school budget by $56 million to nearly $2 billion. It makes up nearly half of Beebe’s proposed $4.7 billion budget for the coming year.

Governor’s Workforce Cabinet Announces STEM Works Schools

The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet announced that 15 districts throughout the state and one technical center have been chosen as the first participants in the administration’s STEM Works Initiative. The districts and the tech center were designated by the cabinet to participate either in Project Lead the Way or the New Tech Network. Project Lead the Way includes several introductory courses in engineering or biomedical sciences that show how basic concepts taught in the classroom are used in the work world. The New Tech high school model integrates STEM education and extensive project based learning throughout the curriculum.

Click here to check out these news stories and more on the OEP Blog!!!

News from Around the Nation

No Child Left Behind turns 10

The infamous No Child Left Behind law turns ten years old amid divisions surrounding how the law should be rewritten. Time Magazine compiled various perspectives surrounding the law, its benefits, and deficits. At the federal level advocates and policymakers are split on the recently released House draft of the bill, also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The draft outline drastically reduces the role of the federal government in education.

Reports Detail Race to Top Winners’ Challenge

New reports unveiled last week depict the 12 winners of the Race to the Top competition as having immense difficulty implementing the sweeping reforms proposed in their grants. Major challenges cited in the report include limited state capacity to execute fast and dramatic change and difficulty revamping teacher evaluation systems. Even the states that have shown the most progress have found difficulty finding contractors and high-quality staff  members to do the work.

National Online Teacher Certification Program Announced

It was announced on Tuesday that online teachers–and eventually administrators, classroom teachers, librarians, and profession developers–will be able to enroll in an educational technology certification program that has the endorsement of several national ed-tech advocates. The certification program boasts well-known alliance members including iNACOL and ISTE as well as other state-level organizations. The initiation of this credentialing program is planned to begin midway through 2012.

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