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White House to bolster STEM education, close skills gap

CIO – Kenneth Corbin

“On paper, the Obama administration has taken many steps toward advancing education and training in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math — a critical policy priority for many businesses that say they struggle to hire qualified workers. But White House officials are quick to acknowledge that more work needs to be done, particularly in recruiting girls and minority students into computer science and other technical fields. They are hoping that a newly launched advanced placement course will help attract more interest in computer science by integrating the field with other disciplines and emphasizing real-world applications.”(more)

We’re No. 3: U.S. Infrastructure, Education Faulted In Global Competitiveness Index

NPR – Bill Chappell

“The U.S. trails Switzerland and Singapore in economic competitiveness in a new global index that finds America’s infrastructure, health system and primary education all lagging. The World Economic Forum’s index also notes three U.S. strengths: its large market, financial sophistication and labor efficiency. Out of 138 economies worldwide, the U.S. “does not rank in the top 10 on any of the basic requirements pillars (institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education),” this year’s Global Competitiveness Index says. The authors add that the U.S.’ high ranking is supported by its “innovation, business sophistication, market size, financial market development, labor market efficiency, and higher education.” It’s the third straight year at No. 3 for the U.S., which hasn’t ranked No. 1 in global economic competitiveness since 2008. In the past decade, the U.S. has fallen out of the top five twice: in 2006, when it was sixth, and 2012, when it was seventh.”(more)

How Should States Design Their Accountability Systems?

Education Next – Jeb Bush, Heather Hough and Michael Kirst

“With the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, states have gained substantial new freedom to reshape their school accountability systems, including criteria for how to measure and communicate school performance to the public. One dominant model is the streamlined letter-grade system first adopted by Florida, which focuses on student achievement on annual statewide tests. By contrast, California is developing a dashboard-style system, which encompasses multiple measures, such as student attendance and school climate. Below are two views on the merits of each model. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who pioneered education reforms in that state, including the A‒F system, presents the case for summative ratings. From California, we hear from Heather J. Hough, executive director of the research partnership between the CORE Districts and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), and Michael W. Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education and professor emeritus of education and business administration at Stanford University, on the importance of multiple measures.”(more)

Report: More states are taking steps to protect student privacy

E-School News – Staff Writer

“A new analysis from the Data Quality Campaign shows more and more states are taking steps to ensure student privacy through legislation. During the past three years, every state but Vermont has introduced at least one bill and 36 states now have at least one new student privacy law. In 2016, 14 states passed 16 laws. Most of the states that passed new student data privacy laws in 2016 had already passed a student data privacy law, a sign that states continue to refine laws to ensure they protect student information while allowing educators to use data in service of student learning. While states signed fewer new bills into law this year than in 2015 or in 2014, the analysis, which is available online, shows that states are considering more diverse issues and thinking more broadly about data and privacy in schools than in recent years.”(more)

Teaching Teenagers to Cope With Social Stress

The New York Times – Jan Hoffman

“Almost four million American teenagers have just started their freshman year of high school. Can they learn better ways to deal with all that stress and insecurity? New research suggests they can. Though academic and social pressures continue to pile on in high school, teenagers can be taught effective coping skills to skirt the pitfalls of anxiety and depression. David S. Yeager, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and a leading voice in the growing effort to help college students stay in school, has been turning his attention to younger teenagers to help shore up their resilience at an earlier age. His latest study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found a surprisingly effective technique. At the beginning of the school year, students participated in a reading and writing exercise intended to instill a basic, almost banal message to help them manage tension: People can change.”(more)

Foreign Language Learning for Children: Necessity or Option?

Relocate Magazine – Staff Writer

“Linguistically, younger children have the potential to develop near native proficiency with pronunciation and intonation in a new language. They also develop a cognitive advantage over children who do not learn a subsequent language as second language acquisition helps to develop critical thinking skills, creativity, and elasticity of mind. In the case of the expatriate children, one of the greatest advantages is that they have the ability to mimic closely the native pronunciation and intonation of a new language through their interaction with teachers and peers. In addition, literacy skills that have been developed in the native language transfer to the learning of the new language. In the long-term, these children will be better suited to work in a global workplace due to their first-hand understanding of the language and culture of another country.”(more)