Weekly NewsBrief 12/2/19-12/8/19

News Clip


Pointillism in 1st Grade? Teachers Use Unfamiliar Lessons to Mine for Giftedness – By Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week

To find talented children who historically have been overlooked in gifted education, Wheeler Elementary educators are learning to see their students in a new way.

Early one morning this fall, 3rd grade teacher Kristin Finck watched Tiffani Morrison, a gifted teacher in the district's Reaching Academic Potential program, give her students a lesson on ocean ecology and conservation and ask students to come up with inventions to protect endangered animals. She circulated quietly, listening to her students excitedly describe armor for sharks and radar to locate floating islands of trash.

"One of them drew a turtle and talked about how pollution can damage the shell, and she had a robot machine that could clean it," Finck said. "And it wasn't a student you'd think would do that—it wasn't one of our high-performers. ... It's just a reminder that gifted and talented covers several different aspects, and it's not just a black-and-white thing."

The number of gifted students identified at the school has risen from 22 when the project started in 2015 to 39 in 2017. Districtwide, more than 9 out of 10 students who have been identified as gifted under the program qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.


‘Everything We Wanted’ City, State Leaders Hail Education Bill – By Seth Daniel, Jamaica Plain Gazette

Budget issues in the Boston Public Schools look to be something of the past after Gov. Charlie Baker signed off on a landmark education funding bill last week at Jamaica Plain in English High School – legislation officially known as the Student Opportunity Act.

This week, education leaders and elected officials like JP Sen. Sonia Chiang Diaz – who has personally labored tirelessly to pass some form of education funding reform over the past five years – hailed the bill as historic and would be everything the City needed to address its budget problems.

Sen. Chang Diaz was front and center, with Mayor Martin Walsh, at the Nov. 26 signing ceremony in JP. The new Act is heavily based on the PROMISE Act that Chang Diaz filed in a previous attempt to reform education funding in the state. Having sat on the Foundation Budget Review Commission almost five years ago, Chang Diaz had taken the issue on as her number one legislative platform – even after being removed from a state education committee earlier this year. She said after the signing that the Foundation Committee had recommended five key changes, and the Act passed on Nov. 26 addressed all five.

After WV made community college free, number of new students jumped 10 percent – By Ryan Quinn, Charleston Gazette Mail

The number of first-time freshmen in West Virginia’s public community colleges jumped 10 percent from last fall to this fall, the first semester in which the state has offered its free tuition program for those colleges.

In another bright spot, the number of high schoolers taking courses through the nine public community colleges surged 27 percent. The number increased from about 430 to 1,000 at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

“We’ve actually gone out and deliberately built, throughout our main catchment area, deliberate relationships with principals and guidance counselors,” WVU-Parkersburg President Chris Gilmer said. He said the school is using seven early-college models.

The enrollment figures were released Thursday by the state’s higher education oversight agencies.


Can colleges launch data science programs fast enough? – By Natalie Schwartz, Education Dive

When the University of California, Berkeley rolled out a new undergraduate data science program last fall, nearly 800 students immediately signed up for major, making it one of the most popular degrees on campus. 

That move has positioned UC Berkeley to be a leader in producing data scientists, an in-demand and high-paying job that requires workers to be adept in topics such as statistics, machine learning and programming.

But colleges are largely struggling to add or expand their programs to keep up with the growing demand for such workers. More than 150,000 jobs requiring data science skills are unfilled, with particularly severe shortages in large cities such as New York City and Los Angeles, according to a 2018 report from LinkedIn. 

"Data science is an incredibly hot area," said Susan Davidson, a computer and information science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in an interview with Education Dive. "Yet there are relatively few places and resources that currently are available for teaching data science." 












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