Weekly NewsBrief 2/3/20-2/9/20

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In a stark reversal, Indiana lawmakers may decouple teacher evaluations from test scores – By Emma Cate Fittes, Chalkbeat

Indiana lawmakers may soon stop requiring students’ test scores in teacher evaluations, a move that would mark a significant shift away from the state’s tough accountability era.

A bill that would remove the requirement garnered support from Republican leaders, unanimously passing through the Indiana House last month.

It’s a surprising pivot for the state’s Republican party, which once was aggressively reform-minded. Back in 2011, lawmakers mandated that test scores account for a “significant” portion of teacher evaluations, amid other sweeping education policy changes. But nearly a decade later, enthusiasm for those policies is waning, after a yearslong teacher shortage and ongoing concerns about whether low state test results are an accurate reflection of students’ knowledge.

Growing unrest among Indiana teachers culminated in thousands joining the national Red For Ed movement —  rallying at the statehouse in November to demand greater support for public schools.

House passes bill requiring cursive writing to be taught through fifth grade – By Jake Flatley, Metro News

A bill requiring cursive writing to be taught in all West Virginia schools in grades 3-5 passed the House of Delegates easily on Tuesday.

In a roll call of 87 in favor, eight against and five not voting, the bill moved to the state Senate for consideration.

Delegate Joe Ellington (R-Mercer), chair of the House Education Committee, called the legislation getting back to the basics of education.

“The concern is that things aren’t being taught properly like cursive, ” Ellington said on the floor. “Now some of our students are getting taught and learning this. Some of our great teachers are doing a very good job with this but apparently, some are falling through the cracks.”

The bill, House Bill 4089, will amend the Code of West Virginia,1931. That current code states that cursive is required in grades 2-4. Ellington said second grade will still be required to learn cursive, if developmentally acceptable.

 

North Carolina district aims for socioeconomically 'healthy' schools amid continued growth – By Linda Jabobson, Education Dive

The Wake County Public School System in North Carolina — once hailed as a district with "no bad schools" — is using a community economic health measure as a new guide for achieving a more socioeconomically balanced school district.

Schools in communities far exceeding county averages on indicators, such as the percentage of households on food stamps or the percentage of families spending 30% or more on housing, would be considered socioeconomically “unhealthy” and targeted for integration strategies. But whether that would include reassigning students to different schools or creating enrollment incentives such as after-school programs has yet to be decided.

The plan, explained WCPSS school board Chair Keith Sutton, is an effort to refocus the district on equity following a period of rapid enrollment growth that increased the number of schools with concentrations of students in poverty or students from affluent families.

“We became more focused on managing growth than managing diversity,” Sutton said, adding before the recession, the district, located in the Research Triangle region, was adding roughly 6,000 students a year — about the size of an average North Carolina school district.

 

Louisiana reinventing career and technical education; 'There is honor in all pathways' – By Will Sentell, The Advocate

The rebirth of Louisiana's career and technical education system could become one of the state's biggest education success stories in recent years.

Not only has the number of students graduating with career diplomas skyrocketed, some new high school graduates are landing jobs paying $40,000 or $50,000 per year or more, and starting careers that are in no danger of disappearing.

"I believe there has been a paradigm shift in Louisiana from 'everyone has to go to college' to 'there are multiple, excellent options for all students,'" said state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, an engineer herself.

The program, called Jump Start, was launched by the state Department of Education in 2014 and has long been a key focus for Superintendent of Education John White.

L.A. State Senator Sharon Hewitt, from Sharonhewitt.com

 

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