eSchool News

eSchool News
eSchool News covers the intersection of technology and innovation in education.
  • Every Student Succeeds Act shifts more power to states
    While a "new and improved" version of the hotly-debated No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) would still require reading and math testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school, states would have much more leeway when it comes to defining teaching and learning objectives and outlining accountability measures. The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states the power to determine their own academic goals and measure progress toward those goals--a departure from NCLB, which aimed for 100 percent math and reading proficiency by 2014. States or districts will be in charge of determining how to improve persistently underperforming schools. Previously, NCLB gave the federal government a strong voice in what happened to those schools. Now, under Every Student Succeeds, schools requiring much intervention would be among the lowest-performing 5 percent in the state. Every Student Succeeds also prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from providing incentives for participation in the Common Core State Standards. Reaction to the bill came quickly, with critics worrying that states will have too much leeway and too little accountability. Supporters' statements echoed the sentiment that a change has been a long time coming. The National Governors Association issued a full endorsement of the bill--a move it has not taken in almost 20 years. “This is a significant step in the right direction in our work to ensure state control of education policy. This bill reinforces that accountability and responsibility for K-12 education rests with the states,” said NGA Chair Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert in a statement. “ESEA has been in need of revision for many years, as the education landscape has evolved dramatically since it was last updated 15 years ago," said Mark MacCarthy, SIIA senior vice president of public policy, in a statement. “SIIA is particularly supportive of the renewed effort by policymakers to fund vital education technology. The ITECH program included in the ESSA will support schools as they seek to bring classrooms into the 21st century through enhanced access to technology and strong pedagogical skills for educators."
  • Is your library going Future Ready too?
    Along with other school leaders, modern librarians can take charge in making their schools Future Ready and leading the digital change.
  • Alabama district eyes digital conversion by eliminating textbooks
    Decatur City Schools in Alabama is considering a digital conversion that would significantly change how the district delivers education and communicates with parents. The plan would eliminate textbooks, provide each student a personalized approach to learning, give them 24-hour access to the classroom and eliminate the assignment gap by assigning tasks appropriate for each student’s learning level. DCS would not be the first school district in the nation to take a total digital approach to learning, but school leaders said they want to be a model for the state in the way Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina became one for the nation. “We can do this, and if we don’t, we’re cheating our students by not preparing them to be competitive in a global society,” Walter Jackson Elementary Principal Rhonda Reece said. Reece serves on an 11-member committee that started meeting in August at the request of Superintendent Ed Nichols. The group, which includes administrators, parents and Central Office employees, rolled out its proposal last week. If successful, DCS, by 2018, will eliminate teachers leading lessons from textbooks for a model that will include student-directed learning, which relies heavily on digital material. The plan is ambitious, but it is one committee members and parents Mary Ila Ward and Lorrianne Curtis Sparkman said is achievable before 2018. “This is where our students are, and the good thing about this proposal is it allows them to customize their learning plan,” Ward said. The first key step, DCS director of technology Kathy Rains said, is school board buy-in, something the committee didn’t overwhelmingly get last week. Board President Karen Duke questioned Rains about how the district would serve parents without internet access, and board member Joe Propst quizzed her about making sure every home has a computer.
  • Experts pick the 21 best apps for autism
    These top apps for autism focus on communication, routines, and social skills. Recently, we asked the experts at Common Sense Graphite, a national nonprofit, to curate their best apps for working with students on the autism spectrum. These top apps for autism focus on communication, routines, and social skills. According to Graphite, more app creators are turning their attention to the particular learning needs of kids on the autism spectrum. The apps on this list can help kids learn to better identify and regulate emotions, communicate and express themselves, manage time and routines, and interact with others.
  • App of the Week: Interactive video tours come to life
    Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated with help from Common Sense Graphite. To read the full app review, click here. Zaption What’s It Like? Zaption is an online tool that allows teachers to create video “tours” for their students. These tours can be created using Zaption’s extensive gallery of videos from  [ Read More ]
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