University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Ed News Links 05/02/12

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on May 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm

It’s been an interesting week in Arkansas education news. Check out the links below. Be sure and check out our blog tomorrow morning when we post two new policy briefs. The first, the Arkansas Report Card, provides a comprehensive look at school performance in the state based on 2011 test scores, teacher salary, and other indicators of performance. Second, we will post a policy brief that examines funding in Arkansas for traditional school districts and public charter schools. Look for it tomorrow!

Don’t forget that 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! You can find our full program here and more information about the conference here.

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

Math Policy Could Mean No Algebra for Some
The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board on Friday approved an amended freshman assessment and placement policy that allows public higher education institutions to replace college algebra as a graduation requirement for most students. The state Department of Higher Education recommended the move, which calls for the course to continue to be required for students in majors related to the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Students outside of those majors may enroll in a “comparable college-level mathematics course” that would count toward their degree, according to the new language in the policy adopted by the board.

E-Books Powered Down
Area students probably won’t be using digital textbooks in the next few years. School districts submitted three-year technology plans to the Arkansas Department of Education in March. The plans fell short of including digital textbooks, but technology administrators were hopeful they could lighten students’ backpack loads. Now administrators are sitting back and taking a more cautious approach.

Special Education Agreement OK’d
School Board members approved increased involvement in a special education consortium and tabled a request for more office space at the Benton County School of the Arts meeting Tuesday. The $60,954 Western Benton County Special Education Consortium agreement will give the school access to a Medicaid clerk to help families file, an administrative assistant to pull reports, a Local Educational Agency supervisor and a special education transition coach for the high school and continue their consulting teacher agreement. The partial week positions add up to 95 percent of a single full-time job. All five jobs will be contracted through the Gentry School District and the consulting teacher is the only one who will actually visit the school. The school currently has an agreement with Gentry for a twice-weekly consulting teacher and that will not change.

News from Around the Nation
Tennessee Students Now Have Stakes in State Test Scores

Tennessee students in elementary and middle school will have a greater stake in the scores they earn on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests that start this week. This is the first year that those scores will make up between 15 percent and 25 percent of the second-semester grades for students. Tennessee legislators wanted students to be just as accountable for those grades as their teachers, whose evaluations depend on how well students do on the tests. Also in high schools this year, end of course exams in several subjects, including U.S. history, English and biology, will count as 25 percent of the second-semester grades, an increase from 20 percent last year. TCAP scores now count for 35 percent of teachers’ evaluation scores. Teachers and principals say the changes will make students take the tests more seriously and they’ve worked all year to prepare the students.

Standards Open the Door to Best Practices in Special Education
Some instructional approaches associated closely with special education are gaining traction more quickly than ever as more states and districts look to them as the ideal tools to implement the Common Core State Standards. In particular, two strategies—universal design for learning and response to intervention—are being cited by states in requests for waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act in the section about how they will implement the standards. Those familiar with the techniques say the pairings are logical, and the timing is right.

Social Entrepreneurs Try to Offer Solutions to K-12 Problems
Despite the often-intense competition for financial backing—and having their ideas rigorously scrutinized in the process—social entrepreneurs and their out-of-the-box ways of thinking are driving a movement of sorts that works to apply the approach of a startup business venture to solving problems in K-12 education. With their enterprising approach to school improvement comes an expectation of measurable results for both students and teachers, a blend that has led to the building of education “incubators” to identify promising ideas and help the entrepreneurs behind them get their ventures off the ground.

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

Education Next published and interesting and inspiring piece this week on the effect of great teaching on students. Check it out and be challenged and inspired: Great Teaching.

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

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