Weekly NewsBrief 3/2/2020-3/8/2020

News Clip


California’s largest district rolls out seal of approval for STEM schools – By Sydney Johnson, EdSource

As California leaders push for more math and science education through new K-12 standards, the state’s largest district wants to ensure high-quality instruction by expanding a seal of approval process for schools that specialize in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

In Los Angeles Unified, STEM learning often looks different from campus to campus. And campuses can decide on their own if they want to label themselves as a STEM school. But as the number of schools with STEM programs has increased across the district, officials say it has become difficult to know whether these schools are delivering on their promise of high-quality science and math learning opportunities.

“Some schools were really embracing the whole STEM framework, and then I saw others where there was no engineering and little technology,” said Los Angeles Unified school board member Nick Melvoin, who has pushed for the certification. Melvoin says he sees a huge level of variance among the STEM schools that he has visited in the district.

Nearly 250 out of 1,386 Los Angeles Unified schools designate themselves STEM or STEAM schools, an acronym that includes the arts to encourage creativity while engaging students in scientific discovery and problem solving. A total of 31 schools have been certified so far, and 36 schools are going through the process.


Rural colleges more nimble in scaling up pathways – By Ellie Ashford, Community College Daily

While community colleges nationwide are implementing guided pathways along with other comprehensive reforms, that process can be a little different at rural colleges.

Several college presidents, along with representatives from the American Association of Community Colleges and the Community College Research Center, will talk about the experiences of rural colleges in the pathways process during a session March 28 at the upcoming AACC Annual Convention.

In implementing whole-college redesign through guided pathways, rural colleges face some unique challenges but also have some advantages.

“Rural college are more nimble,” says Gretchen Schmidt, executive director of AACC’s Pathways Project. “They can implement change more quickly with more depth than large urban or suburban colleges that have to bring many more people to the table.”


Indiana Lawmakers Back Dropping Tests In Teacher Evaluations – By the Associated Press on Indiana Public Media

Indiana legislators have voted to end the mandatory use of student standardized test results in teacher evaluations, dropping a requirement long opposed by teachers.

The state Senate voted 50-0 Tuesday in favor of the proposal, following a unanimous vote by House members in January.

The votes represent an about-face on the mandate dating from a 2011 Republican-driven education overhaul that school districts incorporate those student exam results in their teacher evaluations, which are used in determining merit pay raises. Schools districts would still have the option of incorporating the scores in evaluations.

Bill sponsor Rep. Tony Cook, a Republican from Cicero, has said removing the requirement acknowledges the trouble with measuring teacher effectiveness based on a single student exam.

The test mandate was often decried during a November rally by thousands of teachers at the Statehouse, but some business and education reform groups opposed dropping it.