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Leading the News

Governors Call For NCLB Reform, Job Training Funding.

The “Govbeat” blog of the Washington Post  (1/6, Chokshi) reports on comments by National Governors Association leaders Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and Gov. Gary Herbert (R-Utah), who called on the new Congress to cooperate and achieve legislation. Specifically, the governors called on Congress to tackle several issues, including a reform of No Child Left Behind, saying it needs to be reconsidered as 43 states are using waivers. “While waivers are important tools that provide states with flexibility to innovate and to manage programs, government by waiver is a sign that underlying laws do not work and are in need of reform,” said Herbert, adding that the law should be reauthorized in a manner that “protects states’ rights to set standards.” The governors also called for a reinstatement of workforce training funds left out of the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act last year.

Education Week  (1/7) also reports.

Column: NCLB Reform Would Empower States. In commentary for the Washington Examiner  (1/7), Jason Russell examines “several factors to weigh” as Republican leadership in Congress considers a reform of the No Child Left Behind Act, including states’ control over education policy, standardized testing, positive Federal requirements and linking Federal funding to students rather than schools. Ultimately, Russell concludes that “it is clear that any federal education reform… will reduce overreach and give states more power to shape education policy as they choose.”

Higher Education

Study: SAT More Predictive Of Black Students’ Success In College.

The Washington Post  (1/6, Guo) reports a recent working paper from three Texas economists found that, of Texas public school students that attended public universities, “for black students, the SAT is a far more important predictor of college GPA than for white or Latino students,” despite black students scoring worse, on average, on such tests. Study coauthor Jane Arnold Lincove of the University of Texas at Austin speculated that such tests are less predictive of white students’ performance because they have more access to prep courses that aim to boost scores regardless of the student’s ability. Lincove also said that the results speak “to the idea that affirmative action in admissions might empirically be a good idea.”

Alternatives To Standardized Testing.

NPR  (1/6, Kamenetz) reports in its “Ed” blog that some Republican Senate aides are working on a bill to repeal the No Child Left Behind act’s mandate on standardized testing. Some parents are removing their children from such tests, and the Council of Chief State School Officers and large school districts are “in favor of reducing the number of standardized tests students take.” Meanwhile, despite concerns about testing, Education Secretary Arne Duncan “‘strongly believes’ in annual tests.” Possible replacements for such tests include testing only a statistically representative sampling of students; use computers to collect data on students’ progress all through the year instead of at test times; use additional and different kinds of data, such as social and emotional skills surveys, game-like assessments, and performance or portfolio-based assessments; and inspections

Coverage Continues Of States’ College Spending.

The “Data Mine” blog of US News & World Report  (1/7, Bidwell) continues coverage of state spending on higher education, noting the GAO report on rising tuition burdens for college students. The article focuses on data released Monday by the Student Impact Project of the advocacy group Young Invincibles, which also found that average tuition costs had increased at “three times the rate of inflation,” and that states overall had reduced their spending on all aspects of higher education.

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Accreditation and Professional Development

New York Education Group Offers Policy Positions.

The Washington Post  (1/7, Strauss), in its “Answer Sheet” blog publishes a letter from NYS Allies for Public Education responding to a letter sent to them by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and written by Cuomo’s then-director of state operation, Jim Malatras, who “is becoming a top assistant to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.” The group argues Cuomo’s school reform is “misguided” and “ineffective.” It draws on research to argue that teacher turnover, not retention of poor teachers, is “the real crisis in teacher quality”; that negative rhetoric and blame has reduced those entering teaching and could lead to a “critical shortage”; that high-needs schools aren’t helped by high-stakes testing, the Common Core, or closing of schools; and “that charter expansion and enhanced ‘competition’ do not work to improve public schools.”

Policies Focus On Teachers’ Skill In Reading Mastery.

According to the “Curriculum Matters” blog of Education Week  (1/7), a new report by the Education Commission of the States outlines the impact of state policies “requiring teachers to demonstrate mastery of reading instruction before they are licensed,” rather than having policies which focus on students’ reading proficiency. “This is a shift in focus… Typically, states have concentrated on the student rather than the teacher by pursuing policies that identify struggling readers for special instruction,” ECS said in a statement.

Blog Comments On “Teacher Leadership”.

In a blog for the Huffington Post  (1/7, Slade), Sean Slade, director of Whole Child Programs at ASCD, discusses the concept of “teacher leadership,” both its definition and how best to achieve it. Slade quotes Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s assertion that “Teacher leadership means having a voice in the policies and decisions that affect your students, your daily work, and the shape of your profession,” and says that the questions on teacher leadership were recently discussed at the ASCD Whole Child Symposium on Teacher Leadership in Washington, attended by NEA Vice President Becky Pringle, US Department of Education Teaching Fellow Maddie Fennell, and others.

Research and Development

Seed Experiment Wins Mars One Contest.

BBC News  (1/6) reports on the winners of a Mars One contest to send an experiment to Mars in 2018. The Seed experiment, which will try “to germinate the first seed on the” planet, won the most votes online. The University of Southampton’s Lettuce on Mars experiment, which was the focus of the article, came in third in the votes. Mars One named that project as a back up option in case the Seed experiment ran into trouble. SPACE  (1/6, Wall) notes that even though it won the competition, the Seed experiment is not guaranteed to go to Mars. Officials still must ensure that Seed is “feasible” and able to be attached to the lander.

JetQuad Could One Day Be Used As Atmospheric Booster.

Popular Science  (1/6, Atherton) reports that Alexander Taits, a PhD candidate at Arizona State University, is running a Kickstarter fundraising campaign for his JetQuad, which appears to be a normal quadcopter, but is capable “of traveling at almost the speed of sound, and reaching altitudes up to 33,000 feet.” Taits hopes to take the JetQuad and scale it up one day into “an atmospheric booster stage for modern launch vehicles.”


Intel Sets “Aggressive Goal Of Dramatically Increasing” Workforce Diversity By 2020.

USA Today  (1/7, Guynn) reports Intel “has set an aggressive goal of dramatically increasing the diversity of its U.S. workforce by 2020.” As part of the plan, the company is “pledging $300 million to fund the hiring and retention of women and underrepresented minorities,” which is the “largest investment yet in diversity by a technology company.”

The New York Times  (1/7, Wingfield, Subscription Publication) reports the plan calls for “increas[ing] the population of women, blacks, Hispanics and other groups” employed by the company “by at least 14 percent.” Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich said, “This is the right time to make a bold statement. It’s kind of Intel’s culture…We say we’re going to reinvent Silicon every two years even though we don’t really know how we’re going to pull that off.”

Service Sector Growth Slowed In December.

The AP  (1/7) reports that the December edition of the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index, a measure of service sector activity, dropped to 56.2 from 59.3 in November. Still, November’s reading was near the eight-year high of 59.6 notched in August, and a reading above 50.0 indicates that the sector is still expanding.

Keystone Project’s Job-Creation Potential Remains In Dispute.

NPR  (1/7) reports that “supporters of the pipeline say it will create 42,000 jobs, but opponents…are skeptical about how many jobs the project can actually create — with one estimate noting that it would create just 35 permanent jobs.” The Wall Street Journal  (1/7, Subscription Publication), in an editorial, makes the case that the President should welcome the pipeline because it is the type of infrastructure project he has long championed. The Journal claims that the project would create, directly and indirectly, more than 50,000 jobs, though many of those would be temporary.

Industry News

California Breaks Ground On Nation’s First “Bullet Train.”

ABC World News (1/6, story 13, 0:10, Muir) reported, “History tonight in California where they broke ground for the nation’s first bullet train, one day, hitting speeds up to 200 miles an hour. Los Angeles to San Francisco in under three hours.”

The New York Times  (1/7, Nagourney, Subscription Publication) says that Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) announcement of the train’s groundbreaking is “a defiant and defining act” for him in his final term. The Times adds that it “was as much an act of political symbolism as anything else” as the actual project is just a 29-mile stretch of a proposed 520-mile line and Brown has “identified just $14 billion of funding for the $67 billion project.”

The Los Angeles Times  (1/7, Vartabedian) reports that Brown “acknowledged that he, like many critics, once had misgivings about the state’s ability to secure the money needed to finish the project” but he argued “that as a long-term investment in California’s future and in the context of the state’s massive economy the bullet train ‘is not expensive.’”

Engineering and Public Policy

Logsdon: NASA’s Budget Likely To Stay At Current Levels.

Mark Whittington at the Examiner  (1/6) writes that at the American Astronomical Society, John Logsdon, “considered the dean of space policy,” said that while NASA’s budget will likely not be cut below $18 billion in the near future, Congress will also not likely increase it much more. According to Whittington, this means that any plans to send people deeper into space will be “an unrealistic aspiration,” resulting I in more “drift” for the agency. Whittington speculates that while some do support raising NASA’s budget, it may be hard to enact this under “a desire to restrain spending.”

Michoud Experiencing “Renaissance” With Construction Of SLS.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune  (1/6, Larino) reports how the Michoud Assembly Facility will tackle the development of the Space Launch System (SLS), “ts largest NASA project yet.” After much work upgrading the facility with the Vertical Assembly Center, the center is now entering “a new era in spacecraft manufacturing, one that relies more on sophisticated robots than large crews of workers.” According to the article, because of the SLS, Michoud has lost the sense of “uncertainty” it had following the cancellation of the Constellation program. Pat Whipps, resident program manager for NASA at Michoud, said, “We’re using the best of yesteryear from Apollo and the shuttle program, with a whole lot of brand new technology that is state of the art. … This is Disneyland for engineers. It’s tremendous.” Whipps added, “Michoud has been here for many years and is here to stay, but this is a renaissance. … We’re really looking forward to not just an evolved, but a revolutionary improvement in the rockets we’re going to build.”

Meanwhile, another New Orleans Times-Picayune  (1/6, Larino) article lists six items, such as the Saturn V rocket stage, Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and space shuttle external tank, that have been built at Michoud over the years.

A third New Orleans Times-Picayune  (1/6, Larino) article carried a photo gallery of the center over the years.

Sen. Warren Visits Tech High School, Calls For Federal Investment.

The Springfield (MA) Republican  (1/7) reports on a visit by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to Worcester Technical High School on Monday, where she “commended the school” and urged greater Federal investment in technical education. “This is where we should be investing as a country… This is what it’s supposed to be about – building opportunity,” said Warren. The article notes that Warren is the most recent Federal official to visit the school after Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama both visited last year.

Elementary/Secondary Education

Philadelphia Schools Welcome GEAR UP Funding.

The Philadelphia Tribune  (1/7) reports on additional funding from the Education Department for 35 Philadelphia schools involved in the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). The allocation of $301 million will be divided among the schools, providing each with about $4.3 million over seven years. US Rep. Chaka Fattah welcomed the funding in a statement Monday, and the article notes “Education Secretary Arne Duncan applauded the program saying it was an investment in student success, assisted by a culture that helps young people achieve.”

Canceling School For Snow Said To Be Better For Student Performance.

Libby Nelson writes on Vox  (1/7) reports a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that canceling school for snow, even if there isn’t much, is better than having it in session. When there’s snow, some children don’t go to school if it isn’t canceled, and :”teachers are better at making up for lessons” the entire class misses than “helping students catch up on what they missed from an ordinary absence.”

Group: Longer School Days, Years, Would Help Income Students With Achievement Gap.

The Huffington Post  (1/7, Svokos) writes that a report by education advocate ReadyNation says “afternoon dismissals and long summer breaks contribute to an achievement gap between low-income and wealthier students and waste billions of dollars a year.” The schedules disproportionately affect low-income students “because they are more likely to lack access to after-school programs and summer activities,” often being left “unsupervised and not using the time in educationally productive ways, as their higher-income counterparts do.” The group advocates extending the school day and school year.

Iroquois School District Students Selected To Send Experiment To The ISS.

The WFXP-TV  Erie, PA (1/6) website reports that six students from the Iroquois School District are designing an experiment on the “balance and orientation of living organisms” that will be launched to the ISS in April. According to the article, the students believe this is an “absolute honor.”

The WSEE-TV  Erie, PA (1/6, Adams) website reports that a total of “25 student teams nationwide” will take part in the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program’s Mission 7.

Tuesday’s Lead Stories

GAO: Students Assuming Greater Share Of Public University Cost.
University Of Illinois Suggests In-State Tuition Freeze.
OSU Researchers Develop DNA “Robots”.
Louisiana Panel Favoring Changes To Teacher Review.
SpaceX Will Attempt Its Reusable Rocket Test Today.
Lubell: Congress Should Consider New Ways Of Funding Research.
Study Offers Hope Against “Summer Slide”.

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