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Stories we've republished from Education Week.

#TBT: Innovation in Philly schools has rocky history

By Benjamin Herold for Education Week on Sep 26, 2014 12:11 PM

Finding ways to create "innovative" high schools seems to be a perennial policy priority for the beleaguered Philadelphia School District—and a topic that we at Education Week just can't seem to stay away from.

This school year, despite being beset by a financial crisis, stalemated labor negotiations, and a toxic reform climate, the 131,000-student district opened three new outside-the-box high schools, the planning of which we covered last spring.

Corbett urges review as part of effort to 'roll back' Common Core

By Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week on Sep 9, 2014 11:49 AM

Pennsylvania's Gov. Corbett has released a somewhat ambiguous statement about the future of the Common Core State Standards in that state, saying he has asked for a "continued public review" of the standards as part of the "final phase" of a three-year process to "roll back" the standards in the Keystone State.

In his Sept. 8 statement, Corbett said that he has asked his state K-12 chief, Carolyn Dumaresq, to ask the state Board of Education to hold hearings immediately on the state's academic standards. The goal, he said, is to ensure that Pennsylvania begins new academic standards with the help of national experts, teachers, and parents.

Schools in Ferguson suspend Black students at higher rates than peers

By Evie Blad for Education Week on Aug 22, 2014 12:10 PM

Black people in Ferguson, Mo. — where a police officer fatally shot an unarmed Black teenager Aug. 9 -- are more likely to be arrested by local police officers than their White peers. Those statistics have sparked a mistrust of the mostly White police force that added fuel to passionate protests that have followed the death of Michael Brown, 18.

Those racial disparities are also present in schools in Ferguson, where Black students are more likely to face some forms of discipline than their White peers, federal statistics show.

PDK/Gallup Poll finds rising awareness, majority opposition to Common Core

By Lauren Camera for Education Week on Aug 20, 2014 04:31 PM

Although more people know what the Common Core State Standards are than last year, most of them oppose the standards, according to the 46th edition of the PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

Overall, the wide-ranging survey found, 81 percent of those polled said they had heard about the common standards, compared with 38 percent last year. However, 60 percent oppose the standards, generally because they believe the standards will limit the flexibility that teachers have to teach what they think is best. Last year's poll did not specifically ask respondents whether they supported the standards.

Funding crisis threatens spread of innovation

By Benjamin Herold for Education Week on Jun 12, 2014 02:19 PM

Nearly a year after Superintendent William Hite committed millions of dollars to expand Science Leadership Academy and two other pioneering District schools here, the investment in hands-on, technology-rich instructional models has stirred hope and experimentation across the city.

But the tentative flourishing of innovation is at risk of being overwhelmed by a massive funding shortfall that has cast doubt on the superintendent's ability to safely open schools in September, let alone spread promising new models across the 131,000-student system.

No change in 12th-grade performance on NAEP math, reading

By the Notebook on May 7, 2014 10:45 AM

by Liana Heitin for Education Week

High school seniors' performance in mathematics and reading has stagnated since 2009, according to a new round of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The achievement data from NAEP, known as "the nation's report card," show that 12th graders' average math score remained at 153, on a 300-point scale, when comparing the 2013 results with those from 2009, the last time the test was administered. Just 26 percent of students scored at or above the proficient level in math — again, the same as four years ago.

Desperate times for schools in the City of Brotherly Love

By the Notebook on Mar 28, 2014 02:55 PM

by Benjamin Herold for Education Week

Balloons rained down from the balcony. The 11th graders gathered in the auditorium screamed in delight.

And I couldn't help but feel profoundly sad.

Such is life in Philadelphia, my adopted hometown and former professional stomping grounds, where hundreds of public schools and tens of thousands of children have been left largely on their own to forage and fundraise for the basics of modern education.

Google under fire for data-mining student email messages

By the Notebook on Mar 14, 2014 01:32 PM

by Benjamin Herold for Education Week

As part of a potentially explosive lawsuit making its way through federal court, giant online-services provider Google has acknowledged scanning the contents of millions of email messages sent and received by student users of the company’s Apps for Education tool suite for schools.

In the suit, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company also faces accusations from plaintiffs that it went further, crossing a “creepy line” by using information gleaned from the scans to build “surreptitious” profiles of Apps for Education users that could be used for such purposes as targeted advertising.

A troubled district gambles on reinventing high schools

By the Notebook on Mar 12, 2014 03:14 PM

by Benjamin Herold for Education Week

Six months after investing millions of dollars in expanding three of Philadelphia’s most innovative educational programs, Superintendent William R. Hite is doubling down on his bet to improve the troubled District by putting new models of teaching and learning in place.

Although he says the cash-strapped city school system will need $440 million in as-yet-uncommitted revenues just to provide a “bare minimum” level of service to its 131,000 students in the 2014-15 school year, Mr. Hite in February pushed for and won approval to open three unconventional high schools next school year. The price tag for the new schools remains unclear, but will easily run into the millions of dollars next year alone, prompting concerns from some public education advocates that more money will be diverted away from existing schools.

Innovative education model challenges teachers to adjust

By the Notebook on Mar 12, 2014 11:52 AM

 

by Benjamin Herold for Education Week

Another first-period engineering class has just been derailed by a series of small frustrations: Students strolling in late. Questions met with blank stares. Smartphones used for text messages instead of research.

Karthik Subburam, a five-year veteran in his first year teaching in the "inquiry-driven, project-based, technology-infused" style of Philadelphia's nationally acclaimed Science Leadership Academy, runs his fingers through his hair. "Sometimes, it's like pulling teeth," he says.

Six months into the school year, a controversial gamble by Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite to expand innovative school models has yielded progress. Science Leadership Academy has established a second campus that mirrors the quirky, intimate atmosphere of the original. At the new SLA@Beeber, students skateboard through the hallways past a teacher draped in Christmas lights, and no one bats an eye.

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