26. September 2011 12:35
On Friday, President Obama detailed a plan to address increasing concerns over No Child Left Behind. The plan offers waivers against some of the law's most criticized requirements to states that agree to meet the current administration's requirements for improving education.
The Obama administration's new plan, under the supervision of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, offers to waive ten provisions of NCLB. Highlights include lifting the 2014 deadline for 100-percent student proficiency in reading and math and replacing the pass/fail report card with accountability systems designed by states.
These waivers will only be granted, however, if states align themselves with several key elements of this administration's education-improvement strategy. Among these requirements are adoption of more rigorous teacher evaluation systems, the overhaul of low-performing schools, and adopting "college and career ready" academic standards.
So, under Obama's proposed plan, a state can opt out of difficulties presentedby an existing education reform model...in exchange for a tweaked educationreform model, the broad strokes of which still adhere to NCLB.
The most obvious and thus far discussed benefit of this plan is increased flexibility for states to design their own reform systems. This seems, on the surface, to limit the federal government's role in education. However, when one analyzes the specifics of the plan, one finds Washington's presence just as apparent. The guidelines revisit reforms proposed by the administration to Congress last year. The waivers are granted by the Secretary of Education. And those "college and career ready" standards - can you say Common Core? It seems that these well-intentioned and admirable standards are being adopted by the federal government as a new benchmark for schools around the country.
It's generally agreed that NCLB is problematic and in need of revision. Is this new plan what American education needs to turn itself around? Is the federal government inserting itself into a place it doesn't belong? Should the states have full control of reform? Start the discussion in the comments section below!
19. September 2011 15:18
Lorenz Educational Press would like to welcome you (or welcome you back) to our newly designed and greatly improved blog, Bridging the Gaps in Education
If this is your first time stopping by, let me be the first to thank you for doing so. We're here to write about and discuss
all things education, with an emphasis on hot topics and new or emerging trends. I mark the discussion aspect because that's what we here at LEP ultimately want. We want to hear your thoughts, reactions, opinions, and experiences; we hope to start an open forum in which meaningful and productive educational conversation can be had. For more information about us and our blog, take a look at the 'About Us' window at the top right of our toolbar.
A few new features of note for those of you on a return trip (glad to have you back!). Most of these can be found to the right of our blog stream, in our new toolbar:
- Search Blog: Looking for a specific topic? Look no further. This nifty tool allows readers to search our blog for content they are interested in. The search tool can scan comments, too.
- Tag Cloud: This gives you immediate access to all posts relevant to the tag words you see within the tool window. Click on a tag, and you'll be taken to all of our posts that deal with that tag in any way. Take note of the tags that appear larger than others - these are our most-blogged-about topics.
- LEP Twitter/Facebook Tools: This blog isn't the only way we're sharing with you. Use these tools to see our Twitter feed and Facebook page. You won't see a simplified repeat of our blog posts, either. You'll find different and exciting new content to explore.
- Share/Rate Posts: At the end of each post, you have the opportunity to rate what you've just read. Don't be shy - let us know what you think, even if you don't like it! More ratings will allow us to provide more of the content that you want in the future. If you do like what you read, or think your friends or family will find it interesting, share it with them through your various social media platforms. This will allow our community to grow - we surely appreciate it!
We're excited to share this new-and-improved interface with you. Do you like what you see? Have any suggestions or ideas? Let us know in the comments section below!
16. September 2011 16:25
It's no secret that the modern economy demands workers that are increasingly skilled, particularly in advanced, specific skills like mathematics and engineering. Another obvious fact is the poor condition of the American economy. Combine the two, however, and a surprising and troubling situation emerges. Despite high unemployment rates, the aforementioned advanced jobs are available. The problem is filling these positions with capable, appropriately educated workers. America is not producing viable candidates, and companies are forced to hire more capable candidates from other countries. Why does this gap exist? Could it be that our education system is to blame?
A recent article appearing on Education Next compares the performance of U.S. students and other countries in the areas of mathematics and reading proficiency. The results are not encouraging. The comparisons are based upon two assessment organizations that are generally considered as "report cards" of American and global students. These are the National Assessment of Educational Progress (America) and the Program for International Student Assessment (global). For a full breakdown and explanation of the comparisons and results, check out the full article. It's absolutely worth a read.
The broad findings of the comparisons are this: U.S. students are consistently performing well below students from several countries around the globe in both mathematics and reading. The gap is much more pronounced in mathematics, which is without a doubt the skill more applicable to today's economy (and likely the future's).
Perhaps most stunning is the fact that only one U.S. state - Massachusetts - has above a 50 percent proficiency rating in either subject. Many states, in fact, score far below that mark. This means that the vast majority of our students are not proficient in either mathematics or reading. Statistics such as these reinforce the increasingly obvious fact that America, once the undisputed leader in global education, is steadily losing ground to parts of the rest of the world.
The pivotal question is, of course, what will we do about it? I ask you - what can be done? What should be done? Sound off in the comments section below.
2. September 2011 14:22
Earlier this summer, we posted about the pros and cons of using Facebook in your classroom. Since then, the debate over social media's emerging roles in education has continued.
The Dayton Daily News (LEP's local newspaper) recently published an article about the city of Dayton Public School District's decision to ban its teachers from interacting with students via unapproved media, including Facebook and text messaging. This plan applies to the popular industry go-around of professional Facebook accounts, as well.
The move is a first in the area - neighboring districts have safety policies in place, but most of these restrict the conditions or frequency of use, rather than forbidding it outright. Early reaction seems to be positive.
My reaction? Let's call it mixed.While I applaud the district's firm stance (let's not waffle on the issue, I say - pick a side rationally and plant your feet firmly), I have to wonder if it's playing things safe on a convoluted issue. As our previous post discussed, there are many reasons to be concerned about teacher-student communication through social media. But locking the door and throwing away the key seems excessive. True, leaving that door open allows the potential passage of inappropriate communication. But closing it forever stems the gathering tide of opportunity that's knocking with ever-increasing insistence on Education's door.
I do not think it wise to ignore social media's potential positive impact upon students, teachers, and the communication that tethers them. The gap between educator and educated should be bridged whenever possible, the ultimate goal being a unified classroom that thrives together. It's a difficult commitment to make, and the process must be supervised and adjusted in order to craft a properly functioning tool. But, oh, the things that tool might fix!
The Dayton Public School District has decided to ignore that tool's presence. My question? What will they do when they realize how badly they need it?