Monday, January 30, 2012

Hewlett Foundation Sponsors Prize to Improve Automated Scoring of Student Essays

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced last week that they will award a $100,000 prize to the designers of software that can reliably automate the grading of essays for state tests. The software competition is intended to begin to solve the problem of the high cost and the slow turnaround resulting from the time consuming and expensive task of hand scoring thousands of essays for standardized tests. These obstacles typically mean that many school systems exclude essays in favor of multiple-choice questions, which are less able to assess students’ critical reasoning and writing skills. This is a wonderful contest, and is consistent with the current design of the NAAS EAS/N2 Multi-Purpose Automated System. Essays are already graded by the NAAS EAS/N2 Form 000 automated system.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

International Sponsorship of Financial-Aid, and global Education markets

It is typical for many domestic American businesses involved in the education market to perhaps not notice the huge momentum shifts in the education market overseas. taking place globally. For example, the media reports that there’s now at least one education firm in China with a market valuation of over $4 billion and one in India easily over $1 billion. While their ripples have barely reached the U.S. market they, and other fast-growing firms around the world, tell us that education is increasingly a global business.

For this reason, National Academy of American Scholars, is intent on expanding its base of financial-aid sponsorships overseas to the growing markets abroad.

With the global need for financial-aid, the Internet is a convenient means of making international sponsorship of financial-aid a reality for Chinese, Indian, African, and European students who need funds to attend domestic or international schools.

Monday, January 23, 2012

NAAS Teacher Evaluation Study; Rep. John Kline (R-MN)

On Jan 6, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, released the final two pieces of House's ESEA reauthorization package. These last two bills are a Republican effort, finalized and released after talks with Democrats on the Committee broke down. Two major studies related to teacher evaluation have also been released, one from the Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project and the second from the National Bureau of Economic Research study on the long-term effects of high value-added teachers.

Education Week released the 16th edition of it's annual Quality Counts report, focused on the nation's international standing in education, and lessons to be drawn from high-performing countries. And more information is also surfacing about states' implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Follow the NAAS NEWS Blog for more education and financial-aid news.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

NAAS reports on Young Children and Digital Media

— Research by National Academy of American Scholars has indicated that Digital media has become a regular part of the media diet of children ages 0 to 8, with four in 10 2- to 4-year-olds and half (52%) of 5- to 8-year-olds using smartphones, video iPods, iPads, or similar devices. Young children’s use of everything from television to mobile devices and apps has created an articificial dependency. I doubt anyone is very surprised to learn that young children are spending more and more with the many forms of media available to them. Children age 8 and under spend an average of about three hours (3:14) a day with media, including screen media, reading, and music. Most of that time is spent with screen media: an average of 2:16 a day. Music and reading occupy an average of about a half-hour a day each (:29 for reading, :29 for music). What is surprising is how young all this starts. Children under two spend roughly an hour a day (;53) using screen media, 2- to 4-year olds spend just over two hours (2:13) and 5- to 8-year olds spend nearly three hours (2:50). And despite all the options available, most of this screen time is spent with old-fashioned TV.

New State-by-State Progress Reports

New Progress Reports Find Every State Has Room for Improvement in Making Afterschool Programs Available to All Kids Who Need Them Afterschool Alliance The new 2011 State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports and Consumer Guides , which are being released in conjunction with Lights On Afterschool, the only national rally for afterschool, measured all 50 states on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best rating. No states received a 5 and only nine states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York) received a 4

Monday, January 9, 2012

Omnibus appropriations bill finalized the FY 2012 federal budget

Happy New Year everyone! Well, we are fully into the 2012. We are sad that some persons and students did not make into 2012. Our blessings go out to the families. As expected, there was a flurry of activity in Washington at the end of the year. For example, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill that finalized the FY 2012 federal budget. The Department of Education also announced its Round III Race to the Top awards, along with Promise Neighborhoods grants and the 23 highest rated projects in the 2011 Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund competition secured their required private funding, qualifying them to receive their i3 grants. Our research indicates that much of ED's energy in 2012 will be devoted to monitoring the progress of the various RTTT grantees, applying pressure where needed and help where requested and managing the ongoing NCLB waivers process.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

High-School Students Lagging in Standards, and the impact of Casinos on Education

Education studies indicate that more than 50% of students entering high school are two or more years behind in at least one subject on meeting the academic grade-level standards. On top of that, the same studies indicate that less than 40% are proficient, and only 5% are advanced. For educators, we need to therefore ask ourselves: What do we do about the more than 50% of students who are missing the necessary prerequisite skills to master their current standards? Good instructional leaders have a vision of individualizing instruction to meet the needs of individual students. Unfortunately, they lack the assessment and diagnostic tools to make this vision a reality. Some school districts, most notably, the Clark County School District in Nevada, are severely lacking in qualified, and suitable teachers that can help lower this gap. Students attending schools in "Casino" districts are most likely to suffer and are most likely to fail to achieve the required standards by the time they reach high-school. Therefore, community leaders must carefully weigh the short-term terms gains that may result from the approval and construction of casinos vs. the long-term affects on educational quality. High-performing school districts use a variety of assessments and tools to address student improvement. In the Clark County School District, for example, parents and students are being asked to cut back, sacrifice more, while the powerful student unions do everything to preserve the salaries of inefficient, and uninspiring teachers who do no more "copy and past" assignments from the Internet. Quality school districts that employ qualified teachers, on the other hand, have developed numerous hot-button gauges that tell us what standards a student has mastered or not mastered to diagnostic tools that identify skill strengths and deficiencies, and they provide authentic (created by the teacher) materials to teach valuble missing skills.