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Op-ed: Leaders need to step up STEM education

The Houston Business Journal – Rich Haut and David Holt

“According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there is a rising consensus that our nation’s future economic competitiveness depends upon strengthening our students’ skills in STEM. Unfortunately, American students rank just 27th in math and 20th in science, the National Math and Science Initiative says…A Pew Research Center report last year revealed that only 29 percent of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in STEM as above average or the best in the world. Scientists were even more critical: A companion review of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that just 16 percent labeled America’s K-12 STEM education as the best or above average.”(more)

Feds give guidance for how new education law can support early learning

Ed Source – Jeremy Hay

“Early education advocates in California are welcoming the guidance issued this week by the U.S. Department of Education on how the Every Student Succeeds Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in December can be used to support early education. The law represents the long-delayed reauthorization of the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly referred to as the No Child Left Behind law. Early education has a far more prominent place in the new law than in its predecessors, as noted by the authors of the 37-page document. “The Elementary and Secondary Education Act has been transformed from a K–12 education law to one which envisions a preschool through 12th grade (P–12) continuum of learning,” the 37 page document notes.”(more)

School Accountability Systems Must Focus on Proficiency

Education Next – Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Chad Aldis

“The central problem with making growth the polestar of accountability systems, as Mike Petrilli and Aaron Churchill argue in “Stop Focusing on Proficiency Rates When Evaluating Schools,” is that it is only convincing if one is rating schools from the perspective of a charter authorizer or local superintendent who wants to know whether a given school is boosting the achievement of its pupils, worsening their achievement, or holding it in some kind of steady state. To parents choosing among schools, to families deciding where to live, to taxpayers attempting to gauge the ROI on schools they’re supporting, and to policy makers concerned with big-picture questions such as how their education system is doing when compared with those in another city, state, or country, that information is only marginally helpful—and potentially quite misleading.”(more)

Are you using your school’s PLC to its fullest?

E-School News – Laura Devaney

“When professional learning communities (PLCs) meet frequently to examine and analyze student work and data, higher levels of teacher morale emerge, according to a new report from the Learning Sciences International (LSI) research team. The report, Did You Know? Your School’s PLCs Have a Major Impact, expands on existing research about the role that human and social capital, collaboration, and knowledge sharing all play in education. Researchers looked at teacher morale and student achievement as they relate to PLCs.”(more)

Rallying Interest In STEAM Education Starts With A Message Of Inclusivity

The Huffington Post – Marcy Klevorn

“As the daughter of the man who co-invented the world’s first adjustable shock absorber, I grew up with engineering as an ever-present part of my daily life. Going to amusement parks meant inspecting the hydraulics before riding the coasters. Chores included assembling shock absorber catalogues. And when my dad’s German and Russian business partners came over for dinner, I was always invited to the table. Those gestures of inclusion gave me great confidence throughout my life. What’s more, I’ve come to learn that the messages we send and receive, consciously or not, are vitally important in shaping what we believe to be possible. Anything can be positive or negative depending on the way it’s communicated. When it comes to STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and math), I fear that too often the messages and examples are not coming from diverse role models. As a result, we exclude a large percentage of kids from becoming interested in these subjects at a young age, when it’s most important.”(more)

Pediatricians update digital media recommendations for kids

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“It’s not so bad to hand your child an iPad once in a while depending on how it’s used. Playing a game together or Skyping with Grandma? That’s OK. Helping your little one calm down or trying to keep peace in the house? Not so much. New guidelines announced by the American Academy of Pediatrics today say parents not only need to pay attention to the amount of time children spend on digital media – but also how, when and where they use it. For children ages 2 to 5, media should be limited to one hour a day, the statement says, and it should involve high-quality programming or something parents and kids can view or engage with together. With the exception of video-chatting, digital media should also be avoided in children younger than 18 months old. “Digital media has become an inevitable part of childhood for many infants, toddlers and preschoolers, but research is limited on how this affects their development,” says one of the lead authors of the statement Jenny Radesky, M.D., a developmental behavioral expert and pediatrician at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.”(more)