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‘Biliteracy’ Seal On Student Diplomas Will Recognize And Reward Bilingualism

NJ Spotlight – John Mooney

“New Jersey has joined more than a dozen other states that endorse an official seal on high school graduates’ diplomas and other records that signifies they are proficient in a second language. Known as the State Seal of Biliteracy and signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie last week, the mark is aimed as a way to highlight the language abilities of thousands of New Jersey’s graduates as they enter the workforce and college…“As a career educator I recognize the great benefit to students of mastering more than one language. This is a skill that will not only help them to expand their understanding of other world regions, but will also help to provide them additional career opportunities in the future,” said Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer), one of the prime sponsors of the bill.”(more)

New Jersey Bill Would Require 20-minute Recess for K-5 Students

Education News – Grace Smith

“In a victory for play, the New Jersey Assembly has passed a bill requiring state public schools to offer children a 20-minute recess. Supporters explained that recess is a necessary part of students’ day because it allowed young people time to practice social skills and to be active, which will ward off health problems later in life. The bill is aimed at students from kindergarten through fifth grade and calls for having recess outside whenever possible. At this time, New Jersey does not require an activity break…The recess period is mandated to be at least 20 minutes each day in an effort to promote communication, creativity, physical activity, and cooperation among children. If signed by the governor, the change will take place during the next school year.”(more)

After a $45 billion announcement, a question looms: What is personalized learning?

The Hechinger Report – Nichole Dobo

“It remains to be seen exactly how and where Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, will spend the estimated $45 billion they’ve declared they will donate to charitable ventures, including education. But their announcement this week made one thing clear: in education, the two are focused on the potential of “personalized learning.” For those who don’t follow education trends closely, the couple’s charity announcement Tuesday, in the form of an open letter to their newborn daughter, served to introduce the idea of “personalized learning.” Many people equate it with any classroom that is technology-rich, but that isn’t always the case. Personalized learning can be achieved without high-tech tools, and the underlying concept reaches back long before computers were commonplace. Generally speaking, personalized learning gives students lessons that match their individual preferences and needs. Children get choice and flexibility in how they will spend their school day. They can move faster or slower than peers; they are, at times, autodidacts. The idea is that this will be more engaging, and also prepare students to be independent and take responsibility for their own progress.”(more)

When Zuckerberg Commits Billions for Personalized Learning, He’s Thinking of Programs Like NJ’s ‘Teach to One’

The 74 Million – Naomi Nix

“In an iPrep Academy classroom in Elizabeth, New Jersey, an eighth-grader can dabble in high school math on a computer that already knows quite a bit about how he learns. Nearby, a group of seventh-grade students are working together on a class project revolving around a math concept that the eighth-grader may have mastered yesterday or is still struggling with.
That the students are in the same class tackling the same subject at the same time but not at the same level of difficulty or with the same approach is the point of what’s called personalized learning. The academy, part of the public school system in this industrialized city of 125,000, is one of dozens across the country experimenting with a new personalized learning model called “Teach to One: Math,” which allows students to follow a math curriculum at their own pace, using group work, traditional classroom teaching and virtual tutoring. “The students really like it,” said iPrep Principal Lawrence Roodenburg, who first started using the program in 2013. “They are not always doing the same thing.” Under the program, lesson plans might involve being taught by a teacher in a classroom setting one day, then the next working with a group to practice a concept or tackling computerized math problems with a virtual tutor one-on-one.”(more)

Early education may be more important than you know

New Jersey 101.5 – Kevin McArdle

“More than a dozen education experts showed up in Trenton for a Senate Education Committee hearing Monday and they gave panel members a very good idea how valuable an early education is. “At kindergarten entry the achievement gap was cut in half for the pre-school attendees with two years having twice the impact of one. Differences between attendees and non-attendees persisted through fifth grade. There was no fade out,” said Ellen Wolock, Director of the Division of Early Education with the State Department of Education. “Children who attended pre-school were three-quarters of a year ahead of those who did not attend.” A strong early education can often lead to a lot of great things later in life, including less need for repeating a grade and a reduction in remedial classes to help students catch up to their peers according to Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.”(more)

5 years after Facebook pledge to make Newark schools better: How are they now?

The Christian Science Monitor – Geoff Mulvihill

“When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show five years ago this week to announce a $100 million donation to remake education in Newark, it was presented as an effort to make a struggling city a national model for turning around urban schools. Advocates see success in the most visible result so far – many more students in charter schools. But the exodus of students and the public funding that comes with them from the Newark Public Schools has deepened a financial crisis in a district that still educates most of the children in New Jersey’s largest city. A big part of Zuckerberg’s mission was also to improve the traditional public schools. While there have been major changes there, too, indicators such as student test scores have been mixed.”(more)