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
Department of Education to track college readiness

State Nebraska’s public high schools will receive more detailed information this school year about how well they’ve prepared students for college thanks to new state data, a top education official said Tuesday.
Nebraska Education Commissioner Roger Breed told a legislative panel his agency expects to offer statewide “college readiness” reports this year. The reports will detail how well students are performing in Advanced Placement and other college-level courses. “We have to accept accountability as simply a fact of how government will operate in the future,” Breed said in a hearing before the Education Committee. The reports are “simply a part of responding to that need for accountability.” For years Nebraska has lagged behind most states in tracking information about its public schools and students, but officials are trying to increase the available information to help schools pinpoint areas that need improvement. (Journal Star) 

Senate Agreement on Student Loans
The Senate Democratic and Republican leaders on Tuesday reached an agreement on legislation to extend subsidized federal student loans, adding bipartisan pressure to House Republicans to come along before rates double July 1. The $6.7 billion agreement would extend the current 3.4 percent rate on Stafford loans for one year, with about $700 million extra for deficit reduction, according to Senate leadership aides. The bulk of that — $5.5 billion — would come from two pension measures. One would change how private pension interest payments are calculated, smoothing the fluctuations for businesses even as the total cost rises slightly. The other would come from higher premiums for companies participating in the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Another $1.2 billion would come from limiting how long a student could receive Stafford loans to 150 percent of the average time it takes to complete a degree. Currently there are no limits. (New York Times) 

Input Sought on Math Frameworks Pegged to Common Core
A state-led testing consortium is inviting public comment on two sets of “model content frameworks” in mathematics that aim to serve as a “bridge” between the Common Core State Standards and the aligned assessments under development. The voluntary resources from the 24-state Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are offered as a way to help curriculum developers and teachers as they work to implement the new standards, as well as to inform the development of item specifications and blueprints for the forthcoming PARCC assessments. In the case of the grades 3-8 assessments, this represents the second round of public comment, according to a press release. (The first was last August.) In addition, PARCC is seeking comments on what it describes as newly created materials that are now included with a revised framework for high school mathematics, the release says. (Education Week – Curriculum Matters) 

New Jersey:
Gov. Chris Christie may not sign teacher tenure bill, stuck on layoff protocol

Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday threw some cold water on a high-profile bill that would toughen requirements for teachers seeking tenure, suggesting it doesn’t go far enough a day after state lawmakers in both houses approved it unanimously. At a town hall in Brick Township, Christie said he hasn’t decided whether he will sign the legislation. Seniority rights for teachers should be scrapped, the governor said, potentially delivering an unexpected roadblock just as the bill (S1455) neared the finish line. Under current law, the newest teachers are the first to be laid off when budgets are cut, while the most senior teachers are the last to go. ( 

Conn. Joining Teacher Trend

Connecticut is set to revamp the way it evaluates public-school teachers with a vote Wednesday that is expected to create a rating system based on student performance, classroom observations and, to a smaller extent, anonymous student and parent surveys. The move by the state’s Board of Education would put Connecticut among an increasing number of states, including New York, linking at least some part of teacher evaluations to how well their students score on standardized tests. The effort will be rolled out in a pilot program in 16 school districts during the 2012-13 school year. The guidelines, which may be tweaked, will be used statewide in the 2013-14 school year. Under the four-tier system, teachers will be rated exemplary, proficient, developing or below standard. Although districts will be able to define what constitutes an “ineffective” teacher—grounds for dismissal—the state must sign off on each plan. (Wall Street Journal online) 

Pennsylvania Senate budget would reinstate $100 million in block grants for education

Lawmakers are nearing completion of a $27.7 billion state budget that would offer more money to schools and colleges than Gov. Tom Corbett proposed. With the potential for more aid than expected, Harrisburg might avoid becoming the first school district in the state to eliminate kindergarten. A spending plan unveiled Tuesday by the state Senate would restore $100 million in accountability block grants to the state’s education budget. The governor had proposed eliminating the grant program. For the Harrisburg School District, the block grants — along with an increase in the state’s basic-education subsidy — would allow the district to hold half-day kindergarten in the fall, Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney said. (PennLive) 

Washington Post: Pr. George’s faces an education reality check

The fine school superintendent of Prince George’s County is thinking of leaving. Sadly, the question that arises is not why he would go but why he has stayed as long as he has. Leading any school system is challenging. It’s especially difficult in Prince George’s, where pretty much every politician, from school board member on up, thinks he or she knows what’s best and doesn’t hesitate to interfere. We hope county officials persuade William R. Hite Jr. not to leave for Philadelphia, where he’s a finalist for a comparable post. But whether he goes or not (Philadelphia is expected to decide within the coming week), the county needs to reexamine how its schools are governed and be prepared to remove the obstacles that impede education reform. (Washington Post) 



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