Virtual School Meanderings

April 16, 2014

Straight A’s: CareerConnect Grant Winners; Duncan on Education Budget; E-Rate; Ad Lit; & Equity

One from the neo-liberals…

Straight A's: Public Education Policy and Progress

Volume 14, No. 7
April 14, 2014

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In This Issue:

GET CONNECTED: Obama Announces Winners of $107 Million in Federal Grants to Better Prepare High School Students for Today’s In-Demand Jobs

BUDGET BEAT: Secretary Duncan Discusses President’s Budget Request Before House Appropriations Subcommittee

E-RATE UPDATE: Alliance for Excellent Education Calls on FCC to Boost Funding for E-Rate Program

ADVANCING ADOLESCENT LITERACY: Pennsylvania Literacy Program Improves Student Opportunities, Outcomes, New Alliance Report Finds

FALLING OUT OF THE LEAD: New Ed Trust Report Presents Stark High School Experiences Among High-Achieving Low-Income and Students of Color, Compared to White Peers

GET CONNECTED: Obama Announces Winners of $107 Million in Federal Grants to Better Prepare High School Students for Today’s In-Demand Jobs

On April 7, President Obama announced twenty-four winners of $107 million in federal grants that reward school districts for integrating real-life work experience into academic curriculum. The grants, which range from $2.2 million to $7 million, fall under the Obama administration’s Youth CareerConnect program, an investment that the president believes will prepare today’s students for the “in-demand jobs of the future.”

“We challenged America’s high schools … [and asked], ‘What can you do to make sure your students learn the skills that businesses are looking for in high-demand fields?’,” Obama said. “And we asked high schools to develop partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on real-life applications for the fields of the future—fields like science and technology and engineering and math. And part of the reason we have to do this now is because other countries, they’ve got a little bit of a lead on us on some of these areas.”

The White House describes the program as a national competition administered by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor, to “start redesigning America’s high schools for the 21st-century economy.” Schools are encouraged to partner with local businesses, organizations, and education agencies to incorporate on-the-job skills into traditional classroom learning. Upon mastering these skills, students in these programs across the country are able to earn certificates in different professional fields.

Read the rest of this article…

BUDGET BEAT: Secretary Duncan Discusses President’s Budget Request Before House Appropriations Subcommittee

In his April 8 testimony before the U.S. House Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education Appropriations Subcommittee on President Obama’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended the president’s decision to fund new competitive grant programs while flat-funding formula grant programs such as Title I. Duncan stressed the need for high standards, but he said they did not need to be “common” and highlighted the president’s proposals to close achievement gaps, expand preschool access, support educators’ use of technology and data, and make college more affordable in order to ensure students can compete in a global economy.

“The fact is that we are falling further behind our international competitors educationally,” Duncan said. “We should recognize that as an urgent wake-up call. But we are sleeping through the alarm. In the U.S., we are still just talking about the steps many leading countries are actually taking to prepare their students for a competitive global economy. Falling behind educationally now will hurt our country economically for generations.”

Subcommittee members from both political parties pressed Duncan on Obama’s continued reliance on competitive grant programs. In his FY 2015 budget, Obama proposed a new Race to the Top–Equity and Opportunity initiative, which will focus on improving the academic performance of students in the nation’s highest-poverty schools, and would reserve a portion of funds from state formula grant programs, such as career and technical education and special education, for competitive awards. In response, Duncan noted that approximately 89 percent of the U.S. Department of Education’s budget goes to formula programs, compared to 11 percent that goes to competitive programs. He also said that providing larger grants to innovators for models that could be replicated would go further in the long run than spreading smaller amounts across the country.

Read the rest of this article…


E-RATE UPDATE: Alliance for Excellent Education Calls on FCC to Boost Funding for E-Rate Program

In comments submitted April 7, the Alliance for Excellent Education called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modernize the federal E-rate program in order to lay the foundation for expanding the program through increased funding. The comments were in response to the E-Rate Public Notice issued by the FCC on March 6, regarding its plan to expand, modernize, and simplify E-rate, the federal government’s program for connecting the nation’s schools and libraries to the internet.

“The common-sense measures currently under consideration by the FCC are a necessary first step toward the permanent expansion of the E-rate program. I applaud the FCC’s progress and urge them to quickly modernize the program so that additional funding can be secured and used effectively and efficiently to provide 99 percent of America’s students with access to high-speed broadband within the next five years,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia.

Read the rest of this article…


ADVANCING ADOLESCENT LITERACY: Pennsylvania Literacy Program Improves Student Opportunities, Outcomes, New Alliance Report Finds

As one of only six states receiving a federal Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) grant, Pennsylvania has designed and implemented an innovative program that focuses on improved instruction and interventions to ensure every student is literate and graduates from high school ready for college and a career. A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education describes Pennsylvania’s grant initiative and highlights the state’s emphasis on professional learning and development to improve instruction, and ultimately, student achievement outcomes in literacy. The report, Advancing Adolescent Literacy: Pennsylvania’s Keystones to Opportunity Comprehensive Literacy Program, includes a set of policy recommendations at the local, state, and federal levels.

“In a time when students must have reading and writing skills that compare with—and can compete with—their international peers, Pennsylvania has created a road map for improving literacy that all schools, districts, and states should observe closely,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia.

Pennsylvania, along with Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, and Texas, will receive a five-year federal SRCL grant, the report notes. Subsequently, through a competitive application process, Pennsylvania awarded $36.7 million to fifty-three districts and two charter schools to improve literacy instruction and outcomes for students with the greatest needs.

Read the rest of this article…


FALLING OUT OF THE LEAD: New Ed Trust Report Presents Stark High School Experiences Among High-Achieving Low-Income and Students of Color, Compared to White Peers

Black and Latino students from low-income families who enter high school as high achievers typically finish high school with lower grades, lower Advanced Placement (AP) exam pass rates, and lower SAT and ACT scores than their high-achieving white or more financially advantaged peers, according to Falling Out of the Lead: Following High Achievers Through High School and Beyond, a new report from the Education Trust (Ed Trust). Although high-achieving black and Latino students take similar courses in high school as their white peers, they attend schools where instruction, school culture, support, and guidance “render [them] less competitive upon high school graduation,” the report notes.

“These are the students who arrive at high school most ready to take advantage of rigorous and high-level instruction,” said Marni Bromberg, research associate at Ed Trust and coauthor of the report. “But to reach the academic levels that they are capable of, they need exposure to challenging curriculum as well as support and guidance from their schools, including in selecting a college that can really challenge them.”

Read the rest of this article…

www.all4ed.orgStraight A’s: Public Education Policy and Progress is a free biweekly newsletter that focuses on education news and events in Washington, DC and around the country. The format makes information on federal education policy accessible to everyone from elected officials and policymakers to parents and community leaders. Contributors include Jason Amos, editor; Cyndi Waite; and Kate Bradley.

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal education policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information about the Alliance, visit Follow the Alliance on Twitter, Facebook, and the Alliance’s “High School Soup” blog.

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[DEANZ] Special Media Release: New Zealand’s eLearning Guidelines Revamp Offers Prompts For Practice In Support Of Online Teaching And Learning

One for my Kiwi readers….

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We have received an exciting media release regarding the eLearning guidelines.

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Play Ball With QM!/Always Improving with QM K-12/Subscriber Spotlight/6th Annual Conference Update/Welcome New QMers!

Also from yesterday’s inbox…

Hi, just a reminder that you’re receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in Quality Matters. Don’t forget to add to your address book so we’ll be sure to land in your inbox!

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In This Issue
Play Ball with QM!
Continuous Improvement with QM K-12
Subscriber Spotlight: Mid-Ohio ESC
6th Annual Conference Call for Proposals OPEN Until April 16
Welcome to QM’s K-12 Program!
Announcing Changes to the K-12 Publisher Rubric
The K-12 Publisher Rubric has been revised to ensure consistency with previous K-12 Secondary Rubric revisions. K-12 Publisher Reviews’ scoring has changed with the implementation of essential standards. In addition to needing a total review score of 85% or better, all alignment standards and standard 2.3 must be met for a Publisher course to meet standards. 
We’re Hiring!
Interested in becoming the public face of QM? Are you a tech-savvy innovator looking for a new challenge with an award-winning international organization? Check out our open positions
Elementary Educators: We Need YOU!
Plans for developing QM’s K-12 Elementary Rubric are underway! We’re looking for Elementary Educators with online and/or blended learning experience to serve on this committee. It’s an exciting opportunity to help mold and develop the next addition to the QM family of Rubrics! In addition, your involvement will be recognized in our K-12 Elementary Rubric publications. Interested? Contact K-12 Program Director Christine Voelker.


Spring 2014 Workshop Dates


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Connect with QM

Play Ball with QM!



Even if you missed Opening Day, you can still play ball with QM! If you’ve been considering a QM subscription now’s a great time to do it. Subscribe before the end of the fiscal year, June 30, and your school or district’s benefits will include access to our Course Review Management System (a web-based tool where you can conduct collaborative internal course reviews). 

Check out our lineup of professional development offeringswhich includes new hitters like “Flipping Your Class and More: Exploring Blended Learning”; “K-12 Online Course Design”; and, “K-12 Introduction to Teaching Online”. You can get needed professional development AND get your classes ready for next fall – sounds like a home run!

Swing for the fences with an engaged international community of subscribers. Membership means influence, a voice in the future of K-12 education and the Quality Matters Program. The expertise of educators and professionals like you has helped QM grow into an award-winning organization recognized for its peer-based approach to quality in education. Join us as a subscriber before June 30 and reap the benefits of membership in the QM community.

Always Improving with QM K-12 

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We’re constantly looking to improve the quality of our products and services while working to provide members of the QM community with the best possible experiences. As this fiscal year draws to a close, we’re excited to present new offerings and ideas to our subscribers. Stay tuned for more information on changes to workshops, reviews and more!

Subscriber Spotlight: Mid-Ohio Education Service Center 

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The Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center (Mid-Ohio ESC) provides specialized academic and support services to 16 school districts in Ohio – including access to professionals and services – that might otherwise be unaffordable by sharing these services among the districts.

In 2013, Mid-Ohio ESC, in collaboration with Knox County ESC and Tri-County ESC, received one of ten “Quality Matters” grants distributed by eTech Ohio. Six teachers from these ESCs were provided with professional development opportunities that would ultimately result in their certification as K-12 Online Facilitators, enabling them to provide their own sessions of Quality Matters’ (QM) flagship course, K-12 Applying the QM Secondary Rubric (K-12 APP), to the school districts in which they serve.

Luke Burton, a Technology Integration Specialist at Mid-Ohio ESC, has taken four different QM-led professional development courses. Luke and his colleagues at Mid-Ohio ESC are working with many districts throughout the state, offering them professional development in a “train-the-trainer” model. In addition to the K-12 APP, they offer courses in Moodle training and assessment literacy.

Read the Mid-Ohio ESC case study.  

Call for Proposals for QM’s 6th Annual Conference OPEN Until April 16

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We’re now accepting proposals* for the 6th Annual QM Conference on Quality Assurance in Online Learning: Charting the Course. The deadline for proposal submissions is April 16, 2014.

Stay tuned for more information on the 6th Annual Conference!

*Organizations not affiliated with an education institution interested in submitting proposals should contact QM’s Events and Conferences Manager .

Welcome to the K-12 Program!



We’d like to offer a hearty HELLO! and WELCOME! to the newest member(s) of QM’s K-12 community:

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April 15, 2014

Plugged In | 04.15.14 | (powered by iNACOL)

More from the neo-liberals…

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PLUGGED IN  04.15.14
powered by iNACOL…

*ICYMI: Top 3 stories from Monday’s edition… (read)

Attendance ‘way up’ as Yukon school moves courses online
Attendance is up by 10 per cent at Watson Lake Secondary School in the southern Yukon, and the principal and students say it’s the result of a major change to the way courses are delivered. This fall, the school introduced an optional “blended learning” program. It (read)
Western school district blends traditional, online learning at all grade levels
Herald-Whig | Quincy, IL
Sitting in front of the computer screen, Emery Rucker makes a note, then reaches for her calculator to work out a problem. It’s a math class at Western Junior High School, fueled by Edgenuity, a provider of online and blended learning solutions for schools across (read)
Light At the End of the Tunnel
After finishing a round of site visits in New Hampshire and Colorado I had come to the conclusion that it was the lack of innovation in the private sector that was the biggest barrier to competency education. Everywhere I went, educators complained about (read)
Pa. Cyber Charter teachers join union
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Pittsburgh, PA
Teachers at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School have voted for representation by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, giving the state’s largest teachers union its only charter school members. PSEA has represented charter school teachers in the ( read)
Investing in Autonomy, Performance and Innovation
Getting Smart
Most districts put “innovation” at the top of their agendas these days, but too few are innovating with a purpose. The Reynoldsburg City School District (RCS) is becoming an exemplar for how to unleash principals’ and teachers’ creativity in meaningful ways (read)
New Jersey teachers will fight blended learning charters
Cabinet Report
The state’s largest teachers union said late last week it would appeal a ruling upholding the state’s authorization of charter schools that utilized blended learning curriculum. Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association, said in a (read)
How a District Ended Student Dropouts with Personalized Learning
Imagine, if you can, a school where students do not have specific teachers assigned to them, nor do teachers have specific students on their roster. Imagine a school where students come each day with a list of standards to work on and accomplish – right ( read)
One in three US students uses school-issued BYOD devices, report finds
Apps Tech News
A report from Project Tomorrow has found that one in three US students had used a school issued BYOD device. The paper, entitled ‘The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations’, confirms what (read)
9 Lessons From 1-to-1 Pioneers
THE Journal
Even as the Los Angeles Unified School District is being derided - rightly or wrongly - for bungled management, inadequate teacher training, overpaying for devices and insufficient attention to infrastructure, its massive iPad program has helped make the (read)
Irish ed-tech finds a start-up middle ground to keep the momentum going
Silicon Republic
Ireland has a rich education-technology heritage dating back to the early years of computing. Businessman Pat McDonagh, for instance, spent most of his career in the computer-based training industry – the first steps of e-learning in the Eighties. “It ( read)


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We respect your right to privacy – view our policy e-Newsletter – 4/14/14

From yesterday’s inbox… Newsletter
APRIL 14, 2014
Welcome to the new Distance-Educator newsletter
Hello again!As a reminder starting Monday, April 21st we’ll be making some changes to the website and newsletter that we believe will help us continue to push our mission forward.

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Introduction to Distance Education: Theories and Theorists: Ramifications of the Theory of Transactional DistanceBy Farhad Saba Founder, Offering adaptive learning based on the needs of the learner for independence and the requirement of the discipline for structure can be implemented in educational organizations with a management system that is conducive to learners starting and completing courses of studies based on their needs as compared to administrative needs […]

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Undertaking an Ecological Approach to Advance Game-Based Learning: A Case StudySystematic incorporation of digital games in schools is largely unexplored. This case study explored the ecological conditions necessary for implementing a game-based learning course by examining the interaction between three domains (the innovator, the innovation, and the context). From January-April 2012, one in-service teacher learned and applied the Play Curricular activity Reflection Discussion (PCaRD) pedagogical […]Keep Reading

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Game-Based Assessment of PersistenceInterest in 21st century skills has brought concomitant interest in ways to teach and measure them. Games hold promise in these areas, but much of their potential has yet to be proven, and there are few examples of how to use the rich data from games to make inferences about players’ knowledge, skills, and attributes. […]Keep Reading

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Download Proceedings: Learning Innovations and Quality: „The Future of Digital Resources“Learning Innovations and Learning Quality: The two main objectives to foster improvements in learning, education and training and the two core ingredients for learning success and impact. They are focused by many different theories and diverse practices. And they are more and more required due the increasing speed of globalization and changes in communities, economies, […]Keep Reading

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‘PARTLY SELF-MADE NICHES’? STUDENT-ONLY SPACES IN AN LMSEighty-nine students were provided with a student-only live-voice space in a Learning Management System (LMS). Would they use it and, if so, would they feel sufficient ownership to create what Havnes (2008) described as “partly self-made niches”? In this study, a substantial proportion of respondents reported that they used the space not only for social […]Keep Reading

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USING RESEARCH TO INFORM LEARNING TECHNOLOGY PRACTICE AND POLICY: A QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OF STUDENT PERSPECTIVESAs learning technologies are now integral to most higher education student learning experiences, universities need to make strategic choices about what technologies to adopt and how to best support and develop the use of these technologies, particularly in a climate of limited resources. Information from students is therefore a valuable contribution when determining institutional goals, […]Keep Reading

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Incorporating the Experiential Learning Cycle into Online ClassesBased on a case study built upon an introductory digital media class in a large urban school, this case study explores the relationship between ee-learning, a combination of experiential and e-learning, and technological integration in online higher education classes. By incorporating the experiential learning theory proposed by Kolb (1984), which elaborates upon John Dewey’s notion […]Keep Reading

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Early learning, assisted by technologyVINCI’s model combines hands-on, experiential learning with software that identifies early learning gaps While students are working on activities, the software analyzes their progress—helping teachers know if they’ve grasped the material. Susan Kelly is excited about the possibilities when her school welcomes its first class of students this fall. eSchool News Full ArticleKeep Reading

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PBS Announces Sizzling Summer Season LineupARLINGTON, VA; April 10, 2014 — PBS announced today a summer schedule of programming spanning generations and genres. From examinations of our nation’s history to our connections to the animal kingdom, and escapes to Britain’s courtrooms and countryside, PBS offers diverse series and specials for all viewers. Returning favorites this summer include the second season […]Keep Reading

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The Right to TweetFaculty members and staffers at public institutions in Kansas have doubled down on a policy that protects their right to express their opinions on social media. The proposal now heads to the Kansas Board of Regents, where it faces uncertain prospects. Inside Higher Ed Full ArticleKeep Reading

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Your Guide to Picking an Online CollegeIt wasn’t too long ago that online schools held little credibility, but the number of schools offering education degrees all or partially online has increased dramatically in the last decade. The rise in online courses and degrees provides students more options as employers demand more skills, but experts warn that not all programs are created […]Keep Reading

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8 surprising facts about undergrads and ed-techIt’s not every day, after scouring headlines from dozens of news sources, that news—especially education technology news—can surprise a seasoned education writer; but in recent research provided by EDUCAUSE, as well as a spiffy new infographic, many details on how undergraduate students are using ed-tech are fascinating…in that they’re not always as ‘cutting-edge’ as some […]Keep Reading

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India suffers doubly due to lack of open accessDeveloping nations, especially India, increasingly face a challenge in prioritising their goals. One that has become increasingly relevant in this context, in the age of open knowledge, is the relevance of subscription journals in the dissemination of knowledge in a developing society. University World News Full ArticleKeep Reading

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