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Ross: Data Is Key to Helping Teachers Improve — & Dismissing Them, When Needed. States Must Use It in Evaluating Educators

The 74 Million – Elizabeth Ross

“A recent investigation by The 74 sheds important light on the tiny number of teachers in New York City’s public schools who lose their jobs for incompetence. While New York has earned “best practice” status for its strong dismissal policy in the National Council on Teacher Quality’s biannual review of all 50 states’ teacher policies, New York City dismissed a shockingly small percentage — less than one-quarter of 1 percent — of its 58,000 tenured teachers during a recent 16-month period.” (more)

How Transparent is School Data When Parents Can’t Find it or Understand it?

KQED News Mind/Shift – Jenny Abamu

“Data has become particularly relevant for parents whose children attend low-performing schools. It can answer questions about school safety, disciplinary actions taken against certain student groups, graduation rates, attendance and academic performance. Several parents with children in low-performing schools view a child’s academic struggles as an individual responsibility — their child’s fault, or their own — but access to and understanding of school data can help them identify broader problems. For example, is only their child reading below grade-level or are a majority of the students? With better understanding, they can take action — invest in a tutor if the problem is isolated, for example, or demand that their district spend more on reading programs if the issue is widespread.” (more)

Computer science in high school?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Computer science has advanced considerably since the first computer programming language was developed in the 1950s. Instead of using punch cards to communicate with large mainframes, coders now work on personal computers, enjoy user-friendly programming languages, and have access to extensive libraries that include algorithms for many common operations.


Here are some of the highlights from the history of computer science from 1953 – 2016:
1953 – The first computer language, COBOL, is created.
1977 – Jobs and Wozniak incorporate Apple.
1985 – Microsoft announces Windows.
1998 – Google is founded.
1999 – WiFi is introduced.
2004 – Facebook is launched.
2007 – Apple introduces the smart phone and app developers flourish.
2016 – The first reprogrammable quantum computer is created.

During this period, Gordon Moore (Intel), Steve Jobs (Apple Computer), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Steve Case (AOL), Larry Page (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and many others made fortunes using zeros and ones to process and store information.

In 2017, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced development of a new “Molecular Informatics” program that moves data processing and storage to the molecular level. Instead of using zeros and ones these molecular computers would use qualities like size, orientation, and color to process and store massive amounts of data.

If the molecular approach to computing is accepted, computer science would likely shift from a discipline within electrical engineering to a specialty of chemical engineering. In addition, there would no longer be a need for traditional circuit boards and other computer components. Most, if not all, of the current computer programming languages would be obsolete.

With the possibility of such a radical change, one wonders how education needs to morph to prepare our children for the new paradigm. Sadly, it is impossible to predict the exact direction technology will take. As a result, it is impossible for schools to develop a curriculum that provides the perfect preparation for the workplace.

Rather than trying to chase each new advance, it is probably best to encourage children to build an strong understanding of foundational subjects like chemistry, physics, biology, reading, writing, speaking, and creative problem solving. This way they will have the building blocks to adapt whether computer science is electrical, biological, chemical, or some blend.

Strange as it may seem, basic is better when the pace of technological change accelerates.

3 ways our school uses data to drive instruction

E-School News – Cheryl Beauchamp and Melinda Chemin

“For the last six years, data has been part of our “secret sauce” here at Bronson Elementary School in Bronson, Fla. Many of our students come from economically disadvantaged homes so we know we need to continually work harder than most schools to help our students succeed academically—and data helps us do this.” (more)

Can Big Data Change a Wicked School Truancy Problem?

Ed Surge – Tiffany Wycoff

“The Brightmoor neighborhood in the western edge of Detroit—ravaged by poverty and gang violence, riddled with abandoned homes and boarded-up schools, and lacking public transportation options—has no shortage of wicked problems that exasperate chronic absenteeism in its schools. In fact, there is only one high school, Detroit Community Schools, a charter school, left in the area after other district-run campuses were shut down or abandoned.” (more)

How to use data to increase student success rates

E-School News – Nate Davis

“Roughly 10 percent of freshmen class students nationwide find themselves struggling to earn enough credits to pass ninth grade, leaving them with only a 20-percent chance of graduating on time. This past year, the Metropolitan School District (MSD) of Decatur Township teamed up with the University of Chicago to combat this issue by implementing a Student Transition and Enrichment Pathway (STEP), a research-based program proven to produce growth in academic achievement and graduation rates among high school students. With its new STEP program in place, Decatur Township experienced significant success in just six months.” (more)