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

National
In female-dominated education field, women still lag behind in pay, according to two new studies
Two University of North Carolina graduate students were curious: Were female school superintendents earning less than their male counterparts? Considering longstanding gender pay gaps across the economy, they expected to find a disparity. And using data from Pennsylvania, they did. But they also turned up something else when they plugged in data about classroom teachers.“We were like, ‘Oh, we’ll throw these numbers in,” said James Sadler, one of the researchers. “And that’s when our eyes opened wide.” (Chalkbeat)

Advocates Worried About Special Ed. Testing Waivers Under ESSA
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has allowed nearly half of states to get wiggle room from a provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act aimed at making sure that only a small percentage of students are taking alternative tests reserved for children with the most significant cognitive disabilities. And the process for granting that leeway has made special education advocates uneasy. Those advocates fear the department—and the states—aren’t meeting transparency requirements in the law. (Education Week)

How Microcredentials Help Educators Develop New Tech Skills
A lot is demanded of teachers. In addition to their daily task of educating students, teachers must also continue to learn. Traditionally, that requires educators to take courses, whether in the classroom or online. In efforts to make time-mandated and compliance-based professional learning efficient, technology offers microcredentialing as a vehicle for educators to pursue personal growth. Also known as digital badges, these tools are increasingly used to improve student focus as well as provide a means to incentivize teachers to complete new disciplines. (EdTech)

Few parents actually plan to use 529s to pay for private school
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made a big change to 529 plans, the tax-advantaged investment funds that can be used for education costs. People can now use them to save not just for college, but for K-12 private school expenses, as well. It was considered a windfall for affluent families. But fewer than 1 in 5 parents who have 529 plans are actually considering using them for their child’s private education prior to college, according to a survey of 1,200 mothers and fathers by Savingforcollege.com. (CNBC)

States
Delaware
Youth group recommends ways to improve teacher diversity in Delaware
“The most underrepresented group of educators in America are black males, and that hits at about 2 percent,” said Madeline Schneider, a recent graduate from Sussex Tech. The group of students, including her, made five recommendations to improve teacher diversity in the First State: Set short- and long-term goals to increase teacher diversity, A greater emphasis on recruiting teachers of color, Make school-level and Advanced Placement courses data on teacher diversity easily accessible, Create a program to prepare and recruit teachers of color. (WDEL)

Tennessee
Tennessee Says Middle Schoolers Will Take Only One State Exam Online Next Year — Science
State officials are hedging their bets on next year’s TNReady testing. The Department of Education announced Thursday that they’ll be limiting online exams in the middle-school grades to just one subject — science — as part of a new plan to keep closer tabs on how computerized testing is going. “This is the direction Tennessee will continue to move,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said at a press conference, “but we want to make sure we’re phasing in online, based on successful proof points, to help get us to the next stage.” (WKNO)

Washington D.C.
Fewer DCPS students get diplomas on time this year
Following a graduation scandal, the percentage of D.C. public school students getting their diplomas on time is down noticeably this year. Last year, the school system said 73 percent of its students graduated on time. It was later discovered that a third of the students were allowed to graduate despite violations of school policy, such as excessive unexcused absences. At a public oversight roundtable Wednesday, interim Schools Chancellor Amanda Alexander said that for this year, the number of students graduating on time currently sits at 59 percent, although that number could rise to 63 percent as students complete summer programs. (WTOP)

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

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