Weekly News Brief 3/17-3/23 Drones Take Their Place in the K–12 Classroom | Seeking better results, Colorado lawmakers want to tell schools how to teach reading | Is it finally time to get rid of the SAT and ACT college admissions tests?

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Drones Take Their Place in the K–12 Classroom – By Wylie Wong, EdTech Magazine

Many children look at drones as cool toys. But from an educational perspective, teachers Ray Sevits and David Steele see an emerging technology that could steer their students toward a potential career.

Last summer, the two educators from Colorado Springs School District 11 took a two-week drone-flying course, became drone pilots certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and now teach classes focused on the technology.

Sevits’s North Middle School students master the art of flying drones as they learn the conceptual physics of how the aircraft work, their different parts and how to fix them when they crash or break. Steele teaches the same concepts at Coronado High School, but in much greater detail as students design and build their own drones and prepare to earn FAA certification as drone pilots.

“It’s easy to attract students and hook them with the coolness of flying drones. The burden is on us to show them the career connection — that a drone is a tool and that many industries use it,” says Duane Roberson, CSSD11’s director of career and technical education and concurrent enrollment.

 

Seeking better results, Colorado lawmakers want to tell schools how to teach reading – By Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat

Concerned about the high number of Colorado students who don’t read at grade level, some lawmakers want to dictate how schools teach reading. A bipartisan bill introduced Monday in the Colorado Senate would also require that teachers get new certifications in reading instruction and move state dollars earmarked for struggling readers to programs that help schools improve their teaching methods.

The proposal is unusual in its level of legislative involvement in the details of classroom teaching. It lays out the components of effective reading instruction and would require schools to focus on those elements: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Schools would have to develop reading education plans and report back to the state on how they are teaching reading.

“We have to do something,” said state Sen. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican and a sponsor of the legislation. “Sixty percent of our kids cannot read, at third grade, at grade level, and it makes a difference in the rest of their schooling and then their whole life. It’s a national problem. … But we know that there’s a science and there’s methodology and there’s evidence-based programs that work.”

Senate Bill 199 represents a major update to the READ Act, 2012 legislation that aims to get students reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Schools must test students in reading from kindergarten through third grade, identify students with “significant reading deficiencies,” and develop individualized plans to help those students.