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This district’s blended learning program is putting struggling readers back on track

E-School News – Judith Culang and Linda Baker

“In Neshaminy School District, northeast of Philadelphia, nearly 20 percent of our struggling K–2 students spend 30 minutes a day, five days a week in small-group reading intervention. To limit the time these students spend in intervention programs, we have an “all hands on deck” approach: With parental involvement and our blended learning model, Neshaminy educators identify and build upon students’ strengths to lay the foundation for reading success. Our blended model starts with an engaging digital curriculum, one-to-one instruction, and small-group work. After we implemented this approach districtwide last year, we saw enormous growth in a majority of our students, especially among struggling or reluctant readers. Ten to 15 percent of students entering the intervention program at the start of the school year were able to “graduate” and transition back to the traditional classroom by January. We have found that by focusing on phonics and the skills needed to decode the English language, our students are able to bring what they’ve learned into the classroom, effectively bridging the gap between intervention and our ELA curriculum.”(more)

Early education key to developing skilled workforce, strong military

The Times Leader – Bill O’Boyle

“Education, particularly early childhood education, can be one of the best workforce development tools in Pennsylvania’s toolbox, Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino said Tuesday. Manderino joined Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry officials and military leaders to discuss a new ReadyNation/Mission: Readiness report titled: “STEM and Early Childhood – When Skills Take Root.” The officials warned of a “workforce skills gap” in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — skills affecting the pool of qualified workers needed today and into the future.”(more)

Education’s Mr. Fix-it

The Christian Science Monitor – Sarah Garland

“Several students sit around a conference table at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia on a surly winter’s day, the kind that makes even the school’s drafty classrooms seem welcoming. They are there to give their assessment of the school – and they’re not afraid to be blunt. “I like this school, but I kind of don’t,” says Chynah Perry, age 15, a thin girl with straight posture and stylish black-rimmed glasses. “It’s strict. Real strict.” Quaseem Foxwell, a linebacker on the football team, says several of his friends left the school because of the tough rules. Yet he defends the strictures. He says he improved his own behavior after a heart-to-heart with his teachers and administrators.”(more)

‘Kindness Workshop’ criticized for making students vulnerable to bullying

The Christian Science Monitor – Olivia Lowenberg

“A workshop promising to deliver on anti-bullying measures recently had the exact opposite effect at a Pennsylvania middle school, parents say. In the so-called Kindness Workshop, students at the West Allegheny Middle School in Imperial, Pa., were asked highly personal questions about themselves and their families that parents say exposed them to ridicule from their classmates. The questions varied, but included asking the students about their religious backgrounds and their family finances. The program was intended to promote empathy among students, a goal set by many schools across the United States as faculty and students strive to reduce bullying both on and off campus. The dispute over the Kindness Workshop highlights one of the key challenges of any anti-bullying program: getting kids to buy in.”(more)

Fight Crime leader: Early education is the key

The Daily Item – Staff Writer

“Quality early-education programs are key in keeping crime rates down, said Bruce Clash, Pennsylvania’s director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Children who are not provided early education programs are five times more likely to be law-breakers by age 27, Clash told a group of about 60 area educators, law enforcement and municipal leaders attending the fourth annual Snyder County Coalition for Kids conference Thursday in the Degenstein Center.”(more)

Exposure to STEM fields early helps girls, minorities see potential

The GazetteXtra – Ann Belser

“When Clinique Brundidge was growing up, she didn’t need to be introduced to the fields of engineering and math. She was born into them. Brundidge’s father was an engineer at the General Motors Institute, so she grew up visiting the GM plant in Detroit. At the University of Michigan, she studied materials science for her bachelor’s degree and later earned a doctorate in the same field. These days there’s an increased focus on getting more students comfortable in the so-called STEM fields—the acronym stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Research has shown that students in the U.S. are falling behind their peers in those subjects at the same time that there are job opportunities in those fields.”(more)