University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Ed News Links

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on April 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

April 26 2012

From the OEP

Good morning to you all!

We have uploaded our final program for the Office for Education Policy Conference on Improving Student Achievement through Technology. The program will feature global and local leaders in education and technology. We have a great line-up of speakers including Sundar Subarrayan, from Khan Academy, who will speak about their innovative virtual programs that are being used in public schools to improve student achievement. Also, we will hear from Bevil Wooding, who works in numerous roles in technological development. Mr. Wooding will discuss how to integrate technology in instructional practices and how to build the infrastructure for that integration in local schools.

Registration for our conference is up. If you are interested in attending, and let us just say it’s going to be well worth your time, please register. We expect this conference to quickly fill up, so we encourage prompt registration!

Annual OEP Conference
May 17, 2012

Using Technology to Increase Student Achievement

Peabody Hotel

Continental Breakfast and Registration starting at 7:30 AM

Conference Starts at 8 AM and ends at 12:00 PM

News from Around the Natural State

School District’s Union Goes to Court
The Pulaski County Special School Disrict’s two unions said Monday night that they will not strike but will fight in court to preserve their negotiated contracts and recognition as bargaining agents. The decisions came in an emergency meeting of the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers and the Pulaski Association of Support Staff—known as PACT and PASS. On Friday, Arkansas Education Commissioner directed state-appointed Superintendent Jerry Guess to terminate union recognition along with the unions’ current contracts and proceed with nearly $11 million in cuts for the 2012-13 school year.

Arkansas School for Gifted Names Finalists
The field of candidates to be director of Arkansas’ school for gifted high school juniors and seniors has been narrowed to two. Officials say Cory Alderdice and Marcella Dalla Rosa will visit the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science, and the Arts in the coming weeks to talk with students, faculty, and staff. Each will make a public presentation about their vision for the school this week.

Students, Teachers Honored with Stephens Award for Academic Excellence
A total of four teachers and eight students were honored with the Stephens Award from The City Education Trust at a ceremony Monday afternoon at the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. Teachers and students from seven different schools in the Little Rock area were honored for both their academic excellence and for teaching and learning in the classroom, along with being known as exemplary individuals.

Proficiency on State Tests is Subjective
An article in the Northwest Arkansas Times examines the manner in which standardized tests are scored. Gayle Potter, director of student assessment for the Arkansas Department of Education contrasted the scoring process with that which takes place in classrooms. The process involves a two-step grading process: determining the number of raw points a student earns for correctly answering questions and equating those points with a fixed range of “scale” scores.

News from Around the Nation

Concerns Abound Over Teacher Preparedness for Standards
A quiet, sub-rosa fear is brewing among supporters of the Common Core State Standards Initiative: that the standards will die the slow death of poor implementation in K-12 classrooms. By any accounting, the challenge of getting the nation’s 3.2 million K-12 public school teachers ready to teach to the standards is enormous. With new assessments aligned to the standards rapidly coming online by 2014-15, the implementation timeline is compressed. Teachers are wrestling with an absence of truly aligned curricula and lessons. Added to those factors are concerns that the standards are pitched at a level that may require teachers themselves to function on a higher cognitive plane.

Assessment Consortia Offer Technology-Purchasing Guidelines
The new tests for the common standards aren’t expected to be fully operational for three more years, but schools are already wondering what they’ll need to do, technologically speaking, to be ready for the new assessments. The answer is rolling out in stages, but one stage rolled out today: The two consortia of states that are designing the tests issued joint technology-purchasing guidelines to help schools and districts as they buy technology now. The outline helps them decide on hardware and operating systems that lend themselves to the new tests.

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

Any of you who have ever looked with suspicion on your cafeteria hamburger, you might enjoy this fun video put out by NPR: The 26-Ingredient School Lunch Burger.

Mark Your Calendar

May 7-8, 2012: Joint Commission on Education Committee Meetings, State Capitol, Room171

May 14, 2012: State Board of Education Meeting, Little Rock, AR

May 17, 2012: OEP Conference

Final Thought:

“It is a capacity-building process, without question. We’re not at square one, but we’re not at the end of the path, either. And we don’t want to just bring superficial understanding of these standards, but to deepen the understanding, so we have an opportunity to deliver instruction in a way we haven’t before.”Jim Rollins, Superintendent of Springdale School District, as quoted in Education Week

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