Lisa Gibes is 50CAN’s vice president of strategy and external relations. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News & analysis:
States Granted NCLB Waivers Offer Varying Goals For Helping Education Reform, According To Report

A report released Friday by the Center for American Progress examines the measures various states that received No Child Left Behind waivers have taken to gauge school and teacher progress. The controversial law expired in 2007, but so far Congress has failed to pass a new version, prompting the Obama administration to grant waivers to 32 states and the District of Columbia, releasing them from the toughest provisions of NCLB. This includes the requirement that all students must be proficient in reading and math by 2014. In exchange for the waivers, states had to agree to a plan that includes implementing college- and career-ready standards, and improving teacher accountability by increasing focus on students’ standardized test scores. (Huffington Post)

Joe Biden: Mitt Romney Doesn’t Think Education ‘Is Worth The Investment’
Vice President Joe Biden, in a speech Sunday to the nation’s second largest teachers unions, said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn’t treat public education as a priority and distrusts the hardworking teachers who struggle to create opportunity for the nation’s young people. Biden addressed 2,500 delegates at the American Federation of Teachers national convention in Detroit on Sunday. Biden painted Romney as planning to gut education funding to finance tax breaks for the wealthy. From what Romney and his GOP rivals said during the primary debates, “it looks like they don’t think public education is worth the investment,” Biden said. (Huffington Post) 

American Federation of Teachers in Detroit calls for an end to high-stakes testing
High-stakes tests deny students a rich, meaningful education, and exams should instead inform, not impede, teaching and learning, American Federation of Teachers members said in a resolution. The nation second-largest school employees union also adopted a new mission statement calling for the union to champion fairness, economic opportunity and high quality public education at the gathering of 3,000 delegates from across the country at the union’s national convention at Cobo Hall. Testing as played a larger role in schools since the No Child Left Behind was signed into law in 2001, and a growing number of states are attaching student progress on standardized exams to teacher evaluations. (MLive) 

Paul LePage, Maine Governor, Lays Out Education Proposal, Says High Schools Should Pay For Graduates’ Remedial Courses
Maine Gov. Paul LePage thinks school districts should be responsible for their graduates’ remedial courses in college. So in a plan to improve education for students in the state, the Republican governor has laid forth a a remedial plan that he will propose in the next legislative session, noting the high number of students who need remedial classes when entering college as proof that Maine’s public education is failing taxpayers and students. And the state’s reputation is suffering for it. “I don’t care where you go in this country — if you come from Maine, you’re looked down upon now,” LePage said, according to The Portland Press Herald. (Huffington Post) 

More evidence that D.C. education reforms are working
Test scores for D.C. public school students released last week provide unmistakable proof that reforms instituted under mayoral control are working.
Results of the 2012 D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) announced on Thursday showed steady and solid growth in student achievement over the past five years. In 2007, when then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) took over the schools and Michelle A. Rhee became chancellor, 27.9 percent of students were proficient in math, and 34 percent were proficient in reading. The results for 2012 — while still woefully unacceptable — are substantially improved, with 46 percent of students proficient in math and 43.5 percent proficient in reading. (Washington Post) 

New York:To Earn Classroom Certification, More Teaching and Less Testing
New York and up to 25 other states are moving toward changing the way they grant licenses to teachers, de-emphasizing tests and written essays in favor of a more demanding approach that requires aspiring teachers to prove themselves through lesson plans, homework assignments and videotaped instruction sessions. The change is an attempt to ensure that those who become teachers not only know education theories, but also can show the ability to lead classrooms and handle students of differing abilities and needs, often amid limited resources. It is also a reaction to a criticism of some teachers’ colleges, which have been accused of minting diplomas but failing to prepare teachers for the kind of real-world experience where creativity and flexibility can be the keys to success. (New York Times) 

North Carolina:
N.C. to Require Arts Integration in Teacher-Prep Programs
Efforts to promote integration of the arts across the curriculum got a boost in North Carolina last month, when Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue signed legislation stipulating that those studying to become elementary teachers get some grounding in the concept.The measure, contained in a broader education bill, says elementary education programs “shall ensure” that teacher candidates “are prepared to integrate arts education across the curriculum.” Arts integration is nothing new, but it does seem to be building some momentum lately. For example, I recently wrote an EdWeek story about initiatives to promote adding an “A” for the arts into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) acronym, so that the arts are infused across the disciplines. (Education Week – Curriculum Matters) 

Discussion: Can School Performance Be Measured Fairly?
More than half the states have now been excusedfrom important conditions of the No Child Left Behind education law. They’ve been allowed to create new measures of how much students have improved and how well they are prepared for college or careers, and to assess teacher performance on that basis. Teachers will be evaluated in part on how well their students perform on standardized tests. One study, though,found that some state plans could weaken accountability. How can we measure achievement of students, teachers and schools in a way that is fair and accurate, and doesn’t provide incentives for obsessive testing, and cheating? (New York Times) 



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