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Growth plus proficiency? Why states are turning to a hybrid strategy for judging schools (and why some experts say they shouldn’t)

Chalk Beat – Matt Barnum

“A compromise in a long-running debate over how to evaluate schools is gaining traction as states rewrite their accountability systems. But experts say it could come with familiar drawbacks — especially in fairly accounting for the challenges poor students face. Under No Child Left Behind, schools were judged by the share of students deemed proficient in math and reading. The new federal education law, ESSA, gives states new flexibility to consider students’ academic growth, too.”(more)

Personalized learning could get a boost with increased local control

Education Dive – Tara García Mathewson

“Some argue the No Child Left Behind education law created a disincentive for innovation. Under intense pressure to steadily increase the portion of students meeting standards or face sanctions, many state and local educators found the risks of trying something new and failing to be too high. Doug Mesecar, former deputy chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Education under George W. Bush and current vice president of strategic partnerships for IO Education, sees the Every Student Succeeds Act as a major shift in this area. Under NCLB, Mesecar says states had to beg for permission to try new things, while “ESSA is a beg for forgiveness kind of law.” States have more freedom to innovate, even if the federal government still aims to hold them accountable. “It has really changed the conversation pretty dramatically in a short period of time,” Mesecar said.”(more)

Lawmaker: Make recess mandatory for schools

WSB TV – Richard Elliot

“A state lawmaker wants to make recess mandatory for school children from kindergarten to 5th grade. State Rep. Demetrius Douglas, a Stockbridge Democrat, introduced a bill that would require school districts to allow children recess time. The bill would also prevent schools from keeping students out of recess as a punishment.”(more)

3 Big Problems in How Schools Hire Teachers — and What Research Says About How to Solve Them

The 74 Million – Matt Barnum

“Every year, 15 percent of teachers quit, either switching schools or leaving the profession entirely, often to retire. That, in turn, means that each year, schools get a new slate of teachers to replace those who leave. Often, though, the subsequent hiring process represents a missed opportunity for increasing the quality and diversity of the teaching staff. Several recent studies suggest that many principals, schools and districts have considerable room to improve the outcomes of this annual cycle.”(more)

K-12 data is failing students-here’s what education could look like

E-School News – Laura Devaney

U.S. education is not effectively leveraging data to increase student performance and close achievement gaps in the same way other sectors have used data to improve work processes, according to a new report from the Center for Data Innovation. And while many have lamented education’s slow adoption of data-driven practices, there may be a hidden bonus to slow progress.”(more)

Get rid of the education bureaucracy and kids’ hearts will sing

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing. – Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

Steve Jobs made highly technical machines user-friendly and beautiful by blending mathematics, science, and art. More importantly, he started a wave of innovation that made products that were once only accessible to scientists and engineers readily available to the general public.

During this period of innovation, the education sector was stuck in a time warp. Most primary and secondary students today are educated in about the same way that they were in the 1980s.

Counselors continue to place students into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), humanities, and trade tracks rather than encourage a broad education. Teaching credentials are still more important than an amazing understanding of the subject and schools are still accredited by personnel from other schools rather than by the market. Also, the majority of U.S. students attend schools run by the government.

Regulations and peer review accreditations may have been necessary in the middle of the 20th Century. However, the same regulations and accrediting bodies that protected our kids then are forcing schools to operate in ways that are inconsistent with 21st Century realities. In short, this means kids are wasting years of their lives on things that no longer matter.

For education to keep pace with the times, there must be a complete paradigm shift. Instead of regulating and delaying change, we need to encourage the education sector to innovate.

To make sure new ideas make it into the education system we need to encourage more private schooling options. Then we need to urge these schools to try radical concepts and provide concrete information on what students are learning. Finally, we need to make sure all students have access to these innovative schools.

The easiest way to make all this happen is to issue education vouchers that can be used at any school and require schools to publish third party test results each year.

With this type of competition, all schools should become better. When the schools become better, our kids will be better prepared. When our kids are better prepared, the country will be more vibrant. When the country is more vibrant, the economy will be better. When the economy is stronger, everyone will be better off.

It is time to get rid of the bureaucracy and allow our schools to innovate so our kids’ hearts can sing.