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Illinois schools experiment with competency-based education model

Education Dive – Autumn A. Arnett

“Competency-based education is seeing growth in adult education programs as a way to help graduate more marketable future employees, and now the trend seems to be headed for the K-12 sector as well. The push toward mastery vs. time-in-class should help promote students who are better prepared for life after high school. Many of the adaptive competencies emphasized are the same as the ones employers say today’s workers are lacking, and making the development of these “soft skills” a mandatory part of their education should help close the gap.”(more)

Want to Fix Schools? Go to the Principal’s Office

The New York Times – David Leonhardt

“Gregory Jones, the principal of Kenwood high school, has learned that when spring finally arrives in Chicago, trouble often arrives with it. He saw it happen again on a warm afternoon last May, when students were lingering outside the school, on the city’s South Side, and a fight broke out. Jones, a trim 46-year-old with a calming presence, went to investigate. He passed a junior named Maya Space and asked her. She said she hadn’t been there. He sensed she was lying, and a cellphone video would confirm she had been in the scrum.”(more)

Arne Duncan Says STEM Programs Could Be Game-Changer For Chicago

CBS Chicago – Staff Writer

“One way to stem Chicago street violence might be more STEM programs in the city’s schools. Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan dropped in at a South Side high school Friday to give one STEM program a boost. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley has more. Chicago Vocational students like freshman Makiya Wright once viewed science and math like castor oil.”(more)

Foreign language in elementary school: more talk, less grammar

The Chicago Tribune Kimberly Fornek

“In language classes in area elementary schools, students spend less time memorizing vocabulary lists and conjugating verbs and more time speaking and writing the language. “We may be learning fewer vocabulary words, but the words students learn they will remember and use on a daily basis,” said Kyle Schumacher, superintendent of La Grange Elementary District 102..”(more)

Toymakers want to bring STEM to playtime, filling gaps from schools

The Chicago Tribune – Cheryl V. Jackson

“The toy industry is looking to fill a gap where schools might not be teaching STEM, said Robin Raskin, founder of lifestyle technology conference producer Living in Digital Times. “Ninety percent of parents want their kids to learn computer science, but only 40 percent of schools teach computer science,” she said during the Chicago Toy and Game Inventors Conference. Learning Resources has shifted its business mix in recent years to reflect that, to about 55 percent consumers and 45 percent schools. Its business base had previously been about 90 percent schools.”(more)

This tech academy is using project-based learning to close the STEM gap

E-School News – Laura Devaney

“Across the country, more and more schools are implementing project-based learning and forging partnerships with businesses to help students build real-world skills to succeed in college and the workforce. Take Chicago’s Chicago Tech Academy High School for example. While ChiTech, as the school is known, aims to help students become leaders, it also seeks to increase the number of minority and low-income students pursuing STEM in college and the workforce. Since 2009, the school’s graduation and college enrollment rates have steadily increased. School leaders focus on closing the technology gender gap by teaching female students to code and build websites and apps.”(more)