University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

OWL Weekly Education Links – 02/23/2012

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on February 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm

From the OEP

Good afternoon all! We are editing our analysis of Arkansas’ standing on the most recent the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report and we should plan on having it out to you all on Tuesday of next week. Additionally, researchers in the OEP are working away at the ESEA Flexibility Request posted on the Arkansas Department of Education website. We wish you all a good remainder of the week and hope you have the opportunity to step outside and enjoy this beautiful weather!

News from Around the Natural State

Northwest Arkansas Editors Support State’s Education Waiver Plan

Editors of the Northwest Arkansas edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published an editorial this week citing support for the state’s education plan to seek a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and requirements. The editors say the plan sets a path toward educational achievement that makes sense for Arkansas. NCLB was established in 2001 and according to editors created unrealistic goals. The editors wrote that the waiver provides more realistic accountability goals in sync with what teachers will be teaching.

IRS Plan Worries Charter Advocates

New IRS regulations have charter school advocates worried about the security of charter school teachers in participating in the state’s retirement plan. The Arkansas Public Resource Center (APSRC) has submitted a comment to the Internal Revenue Service concerning a proposed federal regulation titled “Determination of Governmental Plan Status”. According to APSRC , the plan–as currently written–“will jeopardize the retirement security of public charter schools from recruiting or retaining veteran public school employees, significantly interfering with public charter schools’ ability to achieve their educational goals”.

Schools set to Talk Cuts with Unions

As stated in last week’s links, the Pulaski County Special School District has recently been placed on the fiscal distress list for the second time. Superintendent Jerry Guess testified before the State Board of Education last week that discussions with the union would occur as part of a plan to address declining fund balances. Failure by unions to cooperate would be “fatal” Guess said. Marty Nix, President of the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers, said that though they would do their part, but to make changes to the entire contract would be unreasonable. Areas cited by the district financial officer as being negotiated would be additional payment for bus duty, lunch duty, and two additional sick days above what is required by state law. Additionally the district contributes $140 per person above what is required by state law for personnel health insurance.

Resource Center Conducts ‘Hub’ School Meetings

Leaders from the Arkansas Public School Resource Center (APSRC) are conducting trainings for rural schools and charter schools around the state to prepare teachers and administrators for the incoming Common Core state standards. The resource center will guide the schools in studying the data systems they use to track student learning and to evaluate the level of teaching and learning taking place in classrooms. The APSRC will also develop lesson plans and units to share with schools in the pilot program..

News from Around the Nation

Head Start Providers Stand to Lose Funding

Strict new federal rules intended to improve the quality of Head Start preschool services for poor children concern some that good providers might lose funding. Under regulations announced last year by President Barack Obama, agencies that fall short of new federal quality standards for the Head Start program have to compete with other potential providers for funding rather than automatically qualifying for it as has been the case in the past. The new rules require at least 25% of providers to be evaluated for quality in any given year to compete for funding against other providers in their communities.

‘Value-Added’ Concept Proves Beneficial to Teacher Colleges

More than a dozen states plan to use the “value-added” data systems to analyze how graduates of state teacher training programs fare in the classroom. Two states with the most experience using such data–Tennessee and Louisiana–have demonstrated that this information can be a “catalyst for change”. Teacher-educators and state officials still do not know how to incorporate this information into their plans to improve teacher education.

Governor Cuomo Announces Agreement on Evaluation Guidelines for Teachers 

According to a press release issued by the New York governor’s office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Commissioner John King, and New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi, announced an agreement on a new statewide evaluation system that will hold teachers accountable for student achievement. The agreement gives significant guidance to local school districts for the implementation of a teacher evaluation system that is based on multiple measures of performance including student achievement and rigorous classroom observations. The agreement follows through on the state’s commitment to put in place a real and effective evaluation system as a condition of the $700 million granted through the federal Race to the Top program.

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

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

Site Seeing

The state of Arkansas, as well as many other states, intends to submit a request for a waiver from the requirements of NCLB at the end of the month. The plan that state education leaders intend to submit has now been posted online. It’s a big document, but is worth at least a quick skim. If approved, these plans could have a major impact on the way accountability is implemented in the state.

Mark Your Calendar

March 5, 2012: Joint Committee Meeting on Education, State Capitol, Room 171, 1:30 PM

March 6, 2012: Joint Committee Meeting on Education, State Capitol, Room 171, 9:00 AM

March 27, 2012 & April 3, 2012: Dealing with Challenging Youth courses offered at the University of Arkansas

Final Thought:

“Contract negotiations can be relatively pleasant when the subject is how to divide excess money between two parties. On the other hand, it’s never fun to negotiate how much each party must pay to cover unanticipated losses. However, I renew to you the promise I made to the State Board of Education on Monday. I promise you that I’ll approach these negotiations with an open mind and positive attitude about success,”

Jerry Guess, Appointed Superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District

Thanks for reading!  See you next week!

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