Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:
News and Analysis
Saying its college admission exams do not focus enough on the important academic skills, the College Board announced on Wednesday a fundamental rethinking of the SAT, eliminating obligatory essays, ending the longstanding penalty for guessing wrong and cutting obscure vocabulary words. (New York Times)
I vividly remember a seventh-grade English teacher telling our class, with great solemnity, “Small minds use big words.” For years, this guided my writing. Until I figured out how wrong, how profoundly wrong, she had been. And that’s why I’m so concerned about the new SAT’s approach to vocabulary—namely cutting “obscure” and “arcane” words. According to the Times, “The SAT’s rarefied vocabulary challenges will be replaced by words that are common in college courses, like ‘empirical’ and ‘synthesis.’” (Education Gadfly)
One of the most contested points of teacher contracts is the issue of tenure. Hardline education reformers argue that tenure protects underperforming teachers, which ends up punishing the students. Teachers unions challenge (among other reasons) that with the ever-changing landscape of K-12 education, including evaluation systems, tenure is necessary to protect the jobs of excellent teachers who could otherwise be ousted unfairly. It can often be a sticking point – and one that can lead to costly time out of classrooms, as recently seen in large school systems like New York City and Chicago. (Education Week)
New York
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina did a 180-degree flip today and said she’s looking to find new classrooms for some 200 students displaced when the city blocked a highly-rated charter school from sharing a public school building in Harlem. (NY Post)
North Carolina
The State Board of Education approved new standards Thursday for state exams that will lower required passing scores, potentially saving thousands of third-graders from having to go to summer reading camps under the new Read to Achieve law. (News and Observer)


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