Curtis Whatley is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Here’s what educators, advocates, wonks and policymakers are talking about today:

News & analysis

NEA stakes a claim in teacher effectiveness debate
At a press event this morning, Van Roekel promised that his union would begin a number of new initiatives based on the commission’s findings—though how much sway the pronouncement will have on state and local affiliates has yet to be determined. In a prepared statement, Van Roekel said NEA will support national standards for teacher preparation and licensing. All teacher candidates should have one full year of teaching residency, and pass a performance-based assessment before entering the classroom. The NEA has supported teacher residency programs in the past, but has not specifically called for all teacher education programs to embrace them. It has long spoken out against alternative-certification routes that permit teachers to learn on the job without a supervised student-teaching experience. Van Roekel called specifically for the implementation of 50 new residency programs and adoption of performance assessments in at least 10 state licensure systems. (Teacher Beat)

Some states move away from exit exams; more changes coming
Thirty-one states currently use or are planning to implement some form of a high school exit exam. But change is coming: Three states—Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee—have changed their policies so that students will no longer be required to take those tests, according to a new report by the Center on Education Policy. It’s the first time in six years, the CEP says, that the number of states requiring students to pass exit exams has fallen. (State EdWatch)

New York: 12 New York schools with low test scores are put on closing list
In the first part of a two-step effort at weeding out some of the poorest-performing schools, the Education Department announced on Thursday that it would move to close 12 of New York City’s struggling schools and eliminate middle school grades at three others. Additional schools recommended for closing — by one account, as many as 10 more — will be announced on Friday. The 15 schools targeted for closing or downsizing are ones at which a large majority of the students are not proficient in English or math, according to their scores on state exams. The average graduation rate of the high schools was 49.5 percent. Most of the schools would be phased out, losing students and financing with each passing year. (New York Times)

Maryland: Dream Act opponents drop half of case
Whether Maryland voters get to decide on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants now rests on one legal question. Those who filed a court case opposing a referendum on the Dream Act have dropped their challenge to the petition signatures gathered on the Internet. Their case, filed in August in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, is now centered on their claim that the Dream Act is a spending bill and therefore not subject to referendum under Maryland law. The Dream Act would allow some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges. (Hometown Annapolis)

Maryland: School superintendents’ overseas trip questioned
When he was still Montgomery County schools superintendent, Jerry D. Weast traveled to Australia last year on an educational exchange underwritten by the Pearson Foundation that is now being criticized by a local parent group. Joining Weast on the July 2010 trip were schools chiefs Jack D. Dale of Fairfax County and Edgar B. Hatrick III of Loudoun County. The trip was organized by the American Association of School Administrators and funded by the nonprofit arm of one of the world’s largest education companies. The Parents’ Coalition, an activist group in Montgomery, called the Australia trip a “junket” on its blog, and questioned why the Pearson Foundation and the Montgomery school system were not more forthcoming about it. The local education chiefs, contacted for this report, said they learned a lot about Australian education and did not see a conflict of interest in taking the foundation-funded trip. (Maryland Schools Insider)

Georgia: State sees jump in charter school enrollment
Georgia is among a handful of states leading the nation in adding charter schools. A report released Wednesday by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools shows the state added 15 new schools this year, boosting the state’s charter school enrollment by 7,000 children. That’s among the 200,000 new charter school students added this year across the nation. Georgia now has more than 55,000 students in charter schools. (Online Athens)

Rhode Island: Thumbs-up for RI study on in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants
A leading Rhode Island political scientist has vouched for the quality of the only comprehensive study to assess the effects of allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges, calling it an “accurate and honest” effort. Tony Affigne, a political science professor at Providence College and Latino studies scholar, evaluated the Latino Policy Institute study [pdf] at the request of Affigne said he focused on three criteria: the research underlying the study’s conclusions, the study’s interpretation of that research, and evidence of bias. On all three counts, Affigne said, the study passed with flying colors. (WPRI)


Sol Stern: Bloomberg’s kids aren’t learning
The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from this week’s release by the National Assessment of Educational Progress: Reading and math achievement by New York City’s students is dismal. The federal test compares progress by fourth- and eighth-graders in 21 big cities. A mere 24% of all New York City eighth-graders read at the NAEP proficiency level; only 12% of black and Hispanic students attained proficiency. In eighth-grade math, a similar 24% of city students scored at or above the NAEP proficiency level. That amounts to a modest six-percentile-point increase from the 2003 NAEP tests, but the average eighth-grade math improvement of all the big city school districts measured by the feds is 12 points during that period. The disappointing performance is particularly significant for our city’s future. We might usefully think of this cohort of about 80,000 students as “Bloomberg’s children.” That’s because they started out in kindergarten in September 2002, just two months after the state Legislature voted to give Bloomberg total control of the schools. The mayor promised that the accountability reforms put in place in the previously “dysfunctional” and “sclerotic” school system would help those newly entering students to improve their academic performance and achieve higher graduation rates. (Daily News)


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