University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

February 2-Weekly Links

In The View from the OEP on February 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Happy Groundhog Day! We are adding Punxsutawney Phil’s latest prediction to our data tables so that we can perform a long-term trend analysis and determine the correlation of the esteemed groundhog’s predictions with the actual weather outcomes. Okay, we are not actually doing that–we don’t actually love data that much. Although if you have been reading our most recent blog posts, you might wonder!

We are working on an in depth analysis of the NAEP results released in December. That report will be published next week. In the mean time, check out our blog  to get a little background on why we feel the NAEP is a strong and reliable source of information on the performance of Arkansas students.

Don’t forget, you can always keep up with more education news on the In the News section of our website.

News from Around the Natural State

New Finance Commissioner Named

Commissioner Tom Kimbrell announced the hiring of Jared Cleveland as new Assistant Commissioner for Finance. Cleveland has served as the superintendent of the Lavaca district in Sebastian County for six years. Cleveland will replace Kathleen Crain who has served as assistant commissioner for finance in an interim capacity since October 2011. Crain was filling in after the former assistant commissioner, Bill Goff, left for a similar position in the Pulaski County Special School District.

KIPP Delta Hosts Conference

A one-day conference designed to disseminate effective practices and programs that have been developed, tested, and proven successful in Arkansas charter schools will be held on February 9, 2012. The conference is free of charge to all participants and is funded by a dissemination grant through the Arkansas Department of Education. Educators from across the Mid-South will have the opportunity to learn and share best practices and to celebrate student achievement. The conference program features 9 workshops spanning topics such as maximizing data, developing school leadership, leveraging technology in the classroom, college readiness, and math and literacy curriculum sessions.

Three Girls Arrested in Social Media Case

In a very public cyber-bullying case, three teenage girls from Bentonville High School were arrested in connection with the Twitter account Burnbook10. Two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old were arrested on charge of harassing communications, a Class A misdemeanor, said Captain Justin Thompson with the Bentonville Police Department. The girls were given citations and will appear in juvenile court at a later date.

New Learning Approach Reviewed

Teachers, parents, and incoming sophomore students of Fayetteville High School met at the auditorium on Tuesday to  learn about a new structure coming to the school in the upcoming school year. The Small Learning Communities are designed to divide large-school populations into smaller, autonomous groups. The curriculum is a combination of core and other required courses as well as courses centered on interests of each community. Students will turn in their choice of community in the next few weeks. At that time, the high school staff will consider the number of requests for each community based on demographics and other issues.

News from Around the Nation

No Child Left Behind Waivers: States Failed to Hold Schools Accountable for Student Performance

In its initial review of No Child Left Behind waiver requests, the U.S. Education Department highlighted a similar weakness in nearly every application: States did not do enough to ensure schools would be held accountable for the performance of all students. The Obama administration praised the states for their high standards. But nearly every application was criticized for being loose about setting high goals and, when necessary interventions for all student groups–including minorities, students with disabilities, and low-income students–or for failing to create sufficient incentives to close the achievement gap.

Analysis Raises Questions about Rigor of Teacher Tests

A new report released by Education Week analyzed the rigor of teacher tests. The average score of  graduating teacher-candidates on state required licensing exams are uniformly higher, often significantly so, than the passing scores states set for such exams. According to Education Week the pattern appears across subjects, grade levels, and test instruments supplied by a variety of vendors. The report raises question about the rigor and utility of current licensing tests.

Students Bear More of College Cost, Increase Focus on Studies

The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011 is survey of more than 200,000 incoming first-time, full-time college students at four-year institutions and is conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute as part of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. The survey, released this week, finds that students are paying more of their own share of college costs, and are becoming more serious about their studies.

Mark Your Calendar

February 6, 2012: Joint Committee on Education, 1:30 PM, Room 171

February 7, 2012: Joint Committee on Education, 9:00 AM, Room 171

February 9, 2012: KIPP Delta Promises of a New Day Conference, 8-4 PM, North Little Rock Hilton Garden Inn

Final Thought:

“We need to make sure the districts and schools feel some pressure to make sure that all the students they are responsible for are being educated,” Pedro Noguera, on No Child Left Behind Waivers.

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