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Officials interviewed by the Government Accountability Office often mentioned the time and cost of gathering consumer-disclosure data as problems.
An information gap is among the factors that make it difficult for students to pay for their higher education, says America's Promise Alliance.
Transitions: NATO Commander to Lead Tufts's Fletcher School; New Vice Chancellor at California Community Colleges
James G. Stavridis, who will retire from the Navy this summer, will become dean of the international-affairs school. Read about that and other job-related news.
Patrick Haden, of the University of Southern California, performed in a musical to model the value of experiencing college more broadly.
The Yale professor of classics and history, who is about to retire, has long advocated fiercely for the study of Western civilization.
Kevin Kumashiro, who has written on oppression in the classroom, will bring his approach to training teachers to the University of San Francisco.
The classic arrangement of buildings around a green may have its roots in an architect's plans for a New York college.
A career center at Hamilton College teaches job-search skills to underprivileged freshmen.
Discussions about socioeconomic class, once taboo, are taking hold on some campuses.
On most of those campuses, the value of living in the house isn't calculated as part of total compensation, because it doesn't have to be.
Median total compensation was more than $440,000 a year, better than a 4-percent increase.
Graham Spanier made as much money as he did in 2011-12 because Penn State, amid a scandal, chose to fire him "without cause."
Glimpses of life in academe from around the world.
Cross-posted from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog.
“I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create… educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game. I want you guys to be stuck on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up.” - President Obama, March 2011
Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced the final winners of this year’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract awards—funds that are reserved for entrepreneurial small businesses using cutting-edge R&D to develop commercially viable technologies to solve tough problems. And there’s something that may surprise you about the winning contracts: More than half—or 12 in all—are for games and game-related projects, more than in any previous year. That says a lot about the increasingly creative field of educational games, and the growing base of evidence indicating that games can be an important and effective component of our strategy to prepare a highly skilled 21st century American workforce.
The SBIR program at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the Department of Education’s research division, provides up to $1.05 million to small businesses for the R&D of commercially viable education technology products. The program holds an annual competition and awards funds in several phases: Phase I awards, up to $150,000 for 6 months, allow for the development of a prototype and research to demonstrate its functionality and feasibility; and Phase II awards, up to $900,000 for 2 years, are for full-scale development of the product, iterative research to refine it, and a pilot study to demonstrate its usability, feasibility, and promise. A small number of Fast Track awards are made each year for funds to cover work in both Phase I and Phase II.
This year’s prominent success of games-related proposals reflects three factors. First, the IES SBIR program has gained a reputation for recognizing and supporting—and so increasingly, attracting—bold innovators such as Filament Games (winner of the National STEM Video Game Challenge in 2011), Sokikom (winner of several industry awards and recent recipient of $1M in angel funding), and Triad Interactive Media (winner of a 2013 SIIA CODiE award). Second, educators are increasingly learning to use games to motivate students in new ways, creating increased demand for new ideas and products in this sector. Third, the recent meteoric rise in popularity of mobile devices has enabled game-playing anywhere and at any time, providing an expanded market of players interested in purchasing education titles.
This year’s SBIR games winners share several themes:
- Most include an adaptive component that auto-adjusts the game difficulty to the competency level of the player.
- Several use story-based narratives to engage students.
- Most include rewards and competition to drive game play.
- Most include a teaching component that supports the implementation of the game as a supplement to or replacement for standard instructional practice.
- Several include teacher dashboards, where formative assessment results are provided to the teacher in real-time to inform them of player status for further instruction and remediation.
The winning 2013 IES SBIR awards for games this year are:
- World Explorador, CurriculaWorks, Lynn Krause
- Readorium Rising Reader: Smart Nonfiction Comprehension Software for Students in Grades 3-5., Mtelegence, Harriet Isecke
- Transmedia: Augmented Reality Game for Essential Transfer of Science, Second Avenue Software, Victoria Van Voorhis
- Science4U: Game-Based K2 STEM Education for Teachers and Students, vKiz, Inc., Catherine Christophe
- Hall of Heroes: An Interactive Social Tutoring System to Improve and Measure Social Goals for Students in Preparation for Transition to Middle School, 3C Institute for Social Development, Melissa DeRosier (video)
- Go Games: Meeting Common Core Standards with Tablet-Enhanced Multiplayer Role Play Games, Filament Games, Beth Quinn (video)
- Empires: The First Socially-Networked Story-Based Math Game, Imagine Education, Scott Laidlaw (video)
- Teachley: MathFacts – Design and Development of Intervention Software for Promoting Single-Digit Operational Fluency, Teachley, LLC, Kara Carpenter (video)
- Numbershire II: Development of a Second Grade Game-Based Integrated Learning System to Target Whole Numbers and Operations in Base Ten and Operations in Algebraic Thinking, Thought Cycle, LLC, Marshall Gause (video)
Fast Track (Phase I & II)
- Dynamic E-Learning to Improve Postsecondary Transition Outcomes for Secondary Students with High Functioning Autism, 3C Institute for Social Development, Debra Childress
- Mission US: An Interactive Solution for Middle School History Learning, Electric Funstuff, David Langendoen
- SciSkillQuest: A Standards-Based Game to Develop Students’ Scientific Skills, Academic Mindsets, and Learning Strategies in Science, Mindset Works, Inc., Lisa Sorich Blackwell
Information about other awards can be found here.
Congratulations to all the winners and we can’t wait to see what’s coming next!
Mark DeLoura is Senior Advisor for Digital Media at OSTP
Edward Metz is a developmental psychologist and Director of the Institute of Education Sciences’ Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.
Today marks the final day of an eventful Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6th-10th). The Department of Education joined millions across the country to celebrate teachers for their dedication and hard work, but also to listen to teachers on how we can help them in improving our schools and the teaching profession. With so many exciting things going on this week, we’ve compiled a few highlights of how the Department of Education celebrated 2013 Teacher Appreciation Week.
Celebrating and Listening to Our Nations Teachers
Secretary Duncan kicked off this year’s Teacher Appreciation week by encouraging others to not only take a more active role in honoring teachers, but to listen to them actively and celebrate their great work. Celebrating teachers for one week is appropriate Duncan said, but “what our teachers really need—and deserve—is our ongoing commitment to work with them to transform America’s schools.” Read the entire blog post.
More Substantive and Lasting than a Bagel Breakfast
In an article posted on SmartBlogs on Education, Duncan reiterated the importance of year-round support for teachers, noting that “teachers have earned every bagel breakfast, celebratory bulletin board, gift card and thank-you note,” but that “we need to do something a bit more substantive and lasting than the bagel breakfast, too.”
ED Goes Back to School
During the week ED officials from across the country went “Back to School,” to shadow teachers in classrooms. Over 65 officials took part in the second annual event designed to give Department officials an opportunity to witness the day in the life of a teacher and hear directly about ways the Department can greater support their work and better understand the demands placed upon teachers. Following the regular teaching day, officials and teachers met with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other senior officials to discuss their experiences and share lessons learned.
Celebrating African American Teachers in the Classroom
Early in the week, ED hosted a Google+ Hangout at Howard University to celebrate African American teachers in the classroom. The Hangout, moderated by NBC News’ Tamron Hall, comprised of African American educators from across the country, discussed the rewards of teaching, the critical role of good teachers, and the challenges they face in preparing students for college and careers. Watch the archived version of the Hangout.
Highlights from Teacher Appreciation Day on Twitter
Thousands took to Twitter this week to share heartfelt tributes and stories of the teachers who have inspired them. Check out our collection of some of the best from Teacher Appreciation Day. For updates on the latest information from ED, follow @USEDGOV & Secretary @ArneDuncan on Twitter.
Estelle Moore, a 2nd grade teacher at Greencastle Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., got a surprise phone call in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day on Tuesday, May 7—she was one of five teachers across the country to get a surprise “thank you” phone call from Secretary Duncan. Ms. Moore has taught for more than four decades and has been with Maryland County Public Schools for 39 years.
Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player
Kelsey Donohue is a senior at Marist College (N.Y.), and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach
Before you head off to the real world, it’s important that you take some time to learn about your student loans. Many federal student loans have a grace period, which is a set period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before you must begin repayment. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to figure it all out. It is important that you use this time wisely. To get you started, here are five things you should know about your student loans:
- Loan Types
You may have federal loans, private loans, state loans, loans from your school, or some combination of the different types. Different loan types can have very different terms and conditions, so be sure you know what types of loans you’ve got.
To see all of your federal student loan information in one place, you can visit www.nslds.ed.gov. Once you log in, you can access a list of your federal student loans, including the loan type and information for your loan servicer. A loan servicer is the company that will handle the billing and payments on your federal student loans.
For all other types of loans, consult your records. If you have questions about the type of a loan, you can try contacting the financial aid office at the school you were attending when you took out the loan.
- Loan Balance
Once you’ve tracked down all of your loans, you’ll want to find out what your total loan balance is. This will help you determine a plan for repayment.
For your federal student loans, www.nslds.ed.gov will display your loan balance. For private and other student loans, you’ll want to check with your lender.
- Loan Interest
Remember, a student loan is just like any other loan—it’s borrowed money that will have to be repaid with interest. As interest accrues, it may be added to the total balance of your loan if left unpaid. As a recent graduate, you may want to consider making student loan interest payments during your grace period to save money on the total cost of your loan.
- Repayment Options
Depending on the types of loans you have, you will have different repayment options.
Federal student loans offer great benefits, including flexible repayment options. Some options include tying your monthly payment to your income, extending your payments over a longer period of time, or combining multiple loans into one. Want to compare what your monthly payment would be under each of our repayment plans? Try our new Repayment Estimator! Once you figure out which repayment option is right for you, contact your loan servicer to enroll in that plan.
For nonfederal loans, you’ll want to check with your lender to see what types of repayment options are offered.
- Repayment Terms and Benefits
Familiarize yourself with the repayment terms of all your loans. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:
- Ways to save on interest, like enrolling in automatic debit
- Options for paying more than your monthly required payment
- Forgiveness, cancellation, and discharge options
With that, Class of 2013: let me be the first to welcome you to the real world, where midday naps are frowned upon and the closest you get to spring break is a Throwback Thursday on Instagram.
But jokes aside, make it a priority to figure out your student loans as soon as you can. The more informed you are the better. So don’t wait—get started today!
Nicole Callahan is a new media analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
“Read to your child.”
“Help them with their homework.”
“Make sure they get a good night sleep.”
“And what else?…”
A parent is a child’s first and most important teacher, but our approaches to family engagement often fall short of recognizing the full potential of partnerships between schools and families. The challenges we face in education require that we go beyond these basic messages on family engagement – moving from communication to collaboration among schools and families.
This is why the U.S. Department of Education is working to develop better frameworks for family engagement, and why teacher-family collaboration is a component of RESPECT , our blueprint for elevating and transforming the teaching profession. We are also renewing our Together for Tomorrow initiative with an expanded emphasis on family partnerships to propel school improvement and produce better outcomes for students.
In support of these efforts, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) to advance family engagement in education across the country. NCFL brings to this work more than 20 years of experience providing tools and resources for educators and parents to create lifelong learning opportunities for the entire family.
Through the partnership, the Department and NCFL will jointly develop and implement strategies to raise the awareness and understanding of effective family and community engagement in education. This will emphasize how teachers and families can better collaborate to improve student engagement and learning. We will work together to:
- Convene community discussions on family engagement with educators, families and community leaders across the country.
- Identify and compile promising practices and program examples for effective family engagement in education, so schools can employ leading practices that work.
- Gather feedback on family engagement frameworks from educators, parents, advocates, and others in the education community.
- Develop and disseminate resource materials to support family and community engagement in education. An example includes NCFL’s Wonderopolis, an online learning community that engages classrooms and families in the wonder of discovery.
We are eager to move this essential work forward, beginning with Together for Tomorrow community conversations in locations across the country. These will spotlight promising practices and examples of school-family partnerships, and gather feedback to shape the Department’s family engagement efforts.
We also want to hear how your family-school partnerships are boosting student engagement and academic achievement. Please email us your promising practices and program examples to firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Robbins is senior advisor for nonprofit partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education
Earlier this week, Sanger Unified School District (Sanger, Calif.) had the opportunity to host Michael K. Yudin, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), and what a great day it was! I met Michael several years ago when I was invited to share the Sanger story while I was in Washington, D.C., to celebrate being recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School. After a two-hour conversation with a large group of Department staff, the conversation continued with Michael and a small group of others for another two hours.
That day’s conversation was centered on our efforts to transition into a Professional Learning Community district and the outcomes of that effort. The staff were very interested in the journey we were on and in particular the outcomes. Michael, in particular, was truly impressed by the broad-reaching significant improvements and outcomes made by all students, including students with disabilities, in academic achievement, graduation rates, and scores on accountability testing. Michael told me he had to visit Sanger to observe directly a district making dramatic and meaningful improvements in student outcomes.
Sanger Unified is a rural district in the heart of the Central Valley of California that shares the demographics of the region. We are a high poverty, high minority, high English Language Learner, low-parent education district as are most others in our area of California. In 2004, we were one of the first in California to be identified as a Program Improvement (PI) District due to our failure to meet the learning needs of large segments of our student population, and in particular our English Language Learners, children of poverty, and special needs students.
We began the Professional Learning Community (PLC) journey in the fall of 2005 and exited PI as a district in 2006. Our work in collaborative teams focused on answering the four key questions of a PLC. “What do we want our students to learn? How do we know they have learned it? How do we respond when learning has not occurred? And, how do we respond when learning has already occurred?” These questions generated the framework that drove our achievement gains. That work continues and so do the gains in student achievement.
In particular, the work around answering question three of a PLC, “how do we respond when learning did not occur,” prompted Michael Yudin’s recent visit. Answering that question has led to robust systems of support for individual student learning needs being developed at all sites and at all levels in the district. These systems provide a balanced approach to intervention that supports both the academic (Response to Intervention (RtI)) and behavioral (Positive Behavioral Intervention Systems (PBIS)) needs of our students, and areas of investment by OSERS. The foundational piece of this work is that both RtI and PBIS are not Special Education initiatives but rather General Education obligations. Interventions are not what someone else does for those kids, but what we all do together to support the learning of all our kids.
On Tuesday, Michael and I visited three of our elementary sites, Lincoln, Madison and Reagan, and our middle school, Washington Academic Middle School (WAMS). This gave Michael the opportunity to see our student support initiatives in action. At Lincoln, what we saw was a learning environment with high expectations for the children and deep belief in the children and their ability to learn. The program provides direct support to the students and has developed rubrics to monitor student progress.
Madison and Reagan elementary schools allowed us the opportunity to visit classrooms during RtI. We were able to witness the data driven responses to the learning needs in the small group intensive and strategic interventions for some kids and the opportunity for many others to go deeper by providing enrichment in the benchmark classrooms. All of these supports are fluid in their nature and are driven by constant regular progress monitoring and data based placement decisions. Data drives the program and that fact was evident throughout.
The Reagan Data Wall was a great example of one staff’s response to monitoring student progress. Each student has a color-coded card that is placed on the wall according to the student’s intervention placement. The cards are color coded in terms of initial placement, intensive, strategic, or benchmark, and regularly moved on the wall to reflect current placement. The evidence of student movement within the system is clearly displayed visually by the cards that are constantly updated to include current data. Staff pointed out with pride that at one particular grade level the benchmark band had to be extended on the wall because the original band did not have the capacity to include all of the kids who have moved up bands to that level during the year.
At all three sites the PBIS supports were clearly evident, not just in the banners and posters, but in the behavior of the students themselves. Creating sets of clear expectations around behavior and then providing supports to meet those expectations has a dramatic impact on school climate, quality of the learning environment, and learning outcomes.
At Washington Academic Middle School we again saw a balanced system of supports for the learning needs of every student. The journey at our Middle School to develop and provide the needed learning supports for our students began several years ago in response to a site request that we adopt a district policy that we would not send students on to High School who had a failing grade in core subject areas.
The staff quickly realized that if they were going to reverse the trend of sending to the high school groups of students who had more than 30% failing grades in core academic subjects, they were going to have to do something different to support student learning. The response of that staff to develop those necessary supports and create a place where a student actually has to work harder to fail than to be successful has been incredible. From noontime homework labs, to academic seminar periods, to after school rectification classes and holiday break intersessions, the system of increasingly intense supports to the learning needs of the students has done the job. As they have built the supports on the academic side of the pyramid, they have also built in a system of behavioral supports and the overall impact on student achievement and school climate is why WAMS is today, a National Middle School to Watch!
Has the work we have done in Sanger in the last eight years made a difference? The answer is yes! In the period of time between 2004 and 2012 Sanger has seen dramatic gains in student achievement in all sub groups. In 2004, we ranked in the bottom ten percent in California in terms of student achievement, recently EdTrust West reported that Sanger has the third highest overall achievement gains in California for Districts with high minority, high EL, high poverty student populations.
In 2004 no subgroup exceeded the state average in AYP and today all do. Looking only at our students with disabilities (SWD), in 2004 we had only nine percent proficient of advanced in English Language Arts (ELA) and 13 percent in math. In 2012, those levels were 43 percent in ELA and 48 percent in math with the State average being 36 percent in ELA and 37 percent in math. Similar gains have been made in our dropout and graduation rates and the latest data shows a district-wide dropout rate of 3.1 percent and a cohort graduation rate of 94.6 percent. Similar results again are shown in our students with disabilities subgroup where our current dropout rate is 3.6 percent (compared to a countywide average of 23.9 percent and statewide of 17.2 percent) and our cohort graduation rate for the SWD students is 76.4 percent (compared to countywide average of 48.8 percent and Statewide of 60.8 percent). Our RtI program has also resulted in a 50 percent decrease of referrals to special education.
Maybe the most moving conversations that took place with Michael were those at lunch in an informal setting with a group of 30 or so parents, students and staff from various locations in the district. Again and again the parents expressed their appreciation for the levels of support that the district provides for their children in meeting their individual learning needs. One mom shared with pride the learning journey of her daughter who has struggled along the way. The daughter has been provided with various interventions and supports and the outcomes of these efforts have been clearly communicated to both the student and parent.
Another parent shared that she has four children, each of them unique in their nature, makeup and needs. She said that each of her children has been supported by staff according to their individual needs and not once has she heard the question raised, “why aren’t you more like…” comparing one child in the family and their accomplishments with the accomplishments of a sibling. This, she said, is rare and is exactly why we made the choice to bring our children to Sanger; this is a place where every child is supported to be the best that he or she can be.
I couldn’t have said it better myself, “Every Child, Every Day, Whatever It Takes!”
Marcus Johnson is the Superintendent of the Sanger Unified School District in Sanger, CA.
Under an agreement with two federal agencies, the university will revise policies, provide training, and take other steps to assure a safe learning environment.
The bill would make more data available on college graduates' earnings. It has more support than previous versions, but privacy concerns linger.