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

2017 NAEP Mathematics & Reading Assessments
Compared to 2015, there was a 1-point increase in the average reading score at grade 8 in 2017, but no significant change in the average score for reading at grade 4, or for mathematics at either grade. Compared to the initial assessments in the early 1990s, average scores for both subjects were higher at both grades. The charts below show trends in average scores for the nation since the assessments were first administered in 1990 for mathematics, and 1992 for reading. (The Nation’s Report Card)

Did computer testing muddle this year’s NAEP results? Testing group says no; others are unconvinced
A critical question has hung over the release of scores on national math and reading tests: Can state trends be relied on, given this year’s switch to digital tests? For the first time, the vast majority of students took the National Assessment of Educational Progress on tablets in 2017. Students can be affected by how they take a test, something researchers call “mode effect” — and NCES, the federal agency that administers the tests, says it’s gone to great lengths to ensure that comparisons over time are fair. But NCES has found itself having to defend its own methods publicly, as a state education chief raised questions about the comparisons and even asked outside researchers to analyze the data before its official release. (Chalkbeat)

After Parkland shooting, U.S. states shift education funds to school safety
Before the ink could dry on Florida Governor Rick Scott’s signature last month, critics cried foul over the bill he signed into law to spend $400 million boosting security at schools across the state following February’s Parkland mass shooting.School officials, local sheriffs and Democrats opposed different provisions, including one to provide $67 million to arm teachers. Educators, in particular, voiced concerns that the state will strip money from core education funding to pay for the new school resource officers and beefed up buildings. (Reuters)

Building Skills Outside the Classroom With New Ways of Learning
What differentiates the Mayfield Innovation Center from traditional classrooms is evident not just in the virtual reality technology, the 3-D printers or the open architecture that make the two-floor, 30,000-square-foot building seem less of a secondary school than a Google satellite office. It is also in the words emblazoned on the crimson-colored wall of the Computer-Aided Drafting and Design lab, a quote attributed to Curt Richardson, the founder of OtterBox, which makes consumer electronics accessories: Failure is a part of innovation. Perhaps the most important part. (The New York Times)

Report: A Compass for Families
“Families talk about the Head Start program with joy, and they love being in the program, so in rural communities we have to embrace that role as the compass for families. Not to intervene, but to partner with them in raising their families, to help show them the way in the face of toxic stress.” (Center for American Progress)

Virtual charter high school serving 2000 students closing in June
The state’s first virtual charter high school announced today it was closing in June. Graduation Achievement Charter High School served 2,100 at-risk high schoolers, some of whom had been expelled from their home schools, both online and at locations in Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah. The closing will impact about 1,900 of the 2,100 at-risk students enrolled in the statewide school. Ten percent of the 2,100 students are on track to earn diplomas in June. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

New Jersey
In what is a biennial rite of spring, New Jersey’s public schools get a report card from the NAEP tests of student performance, gauging how schoolchildren measure up against other states in math, reading, and other subjects. And usually, it doesn’t change that much for New Jersey, with the state’s results typically near the top, even as the passing rates on the national test overall send a sobering reminder of the work still ahead. Yesterday, the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress scores were released, and many of the same historical trends were in evidence: incremental gains were recorded nationally in most grades, but less than half the students met the NAEP’s grade-level standards. (NJ Spotlight)

New Mexico
School districts seek guidance on salary increases
School districts have been grappling this week with how to implement salary increases that were in the state budget Gov. Susana Martinez signed earlier this year. Included in the budget was a 2.5 percent pay bump for teachers and an increase in minimum starting teacher pay from $34,000 to $36,000 per year, beginning in the fall.But districts have been debating on how to interpret the salary legislation. Albuquerque Public Schools’ budget committee presented two interpretations to its Board of Education this week. (Albuquerque Journal)

Two Nashville schools board members call for ethics, policy review of Director Shawn Joseph’s spending
A pair of Nashville school board members are once again questioning the spending of their director, requesting the board convene an ethics committee to look into whether he violated any district policies since his arrival in 2016. District officials, however, have said the policies Board Vice Chair Jill Speering wants to review are being followed and, through following those procedures, the system has increased accountability and transparency around the management of funds. Speering said she requested the review of Director of Schools Shawn Joseph’s spending during a Monday budget meeting, along with board member Amy Frogge, because of continued questions over the management of district funds. (Tennessean)

Mimi Woldeyohannes is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at 50CAN. She lives in Maryland.


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