• Consumer Corner: Is laying off teachers by seniority a mistake?
    Rather than relying on seniority to determine layoffs, the authors argue districts should measure teacher effectiveness in the classroom to determine who gets laid off.
  • Teacher Performance to be Monitored Online
    When Tennessee teachers return to school this month, they’ll face a brand new way of being scored on their performance. Classroom observations will make up about half of that score, and the state plans to make the results of those in-class critiques available almost in real time. State law now requires at least four classroom observations a year to judge teachers in action. The state hopes scores will be posted to an online database within a week of each classroom visit. Teachers, principals, and state officials will all have access to the database.
  • Celebrating School Choice: Milton Friedman’s 99th Birthday
    Providing students with education opportunity increases the likelihood that they will receive the best education possible. Across the nation, families are standing for school choice, and more state leaders are taking on the charge to open the doors of educational opportunity. This trend will hopefully continue in more states, ensuring an even greater extent of educational options exist for all our nation’s students.
  • In Franklin , socioeconomic equity in schools is challenging task
    It was back in October when Franklin Special School District leaders started to work on a plan to bring socioeconomic and ethnic balance to its seven schools and 3,800 students. More than nine months later, it’s still unclear what direction the district will take. The six-member school board appears to be delicately trying to figure out how to reduce high concentrations of poorer students that exist at a couple of its schools. Other than eliminating a balanced calendar and an application process at the district’s sole K-8 school, the school board has met twice to hash out some direction, but whether it means changing grade configurations at existing schools, shifting attendance zones or something else is still a mystery.
  • Middle Tennessee’s Troubled Schools
    The labels range from “School Improvement 1” for two years of failing to make adequate yearly progress to “Reconstitution” for seven or more. “Improving” means school met standards this year but needs another year to get off the list.
  • 3 Knox schools added to ‘high priority’ list; 2 taken off list
    Three Knox County schools were added to the state’s “high priority” list, meaning they failed to meet federal academic benchmarks, according to Annual Yearly Progress data released Friday by the Tennessee Department of Education. Two other schools, however, were taken off the list for making significant improvements, the data showed.
  • Parents hear plans, specifics of proposed charter school
    Response to a call for a new charter school in Blount County has been described as strong, and a decision on whether it will move forward will come in three days. The Blount County School Board will vote on a 450-page application for the school at its 7 p.m. Thursday meeting. Hope would be the first charter school in Tennessee in a non-urban area and has intrigued parents from across Blount County with its different approach to funding and curriculum.
  • Students gain access to electron microscope via Internet
    Scott Robinson looks for the grossest, creepiest things, like stingers, fangs, and venom pores. Spider eyes are creepy at 300- to 20,000-fold magnification. And kids love creepy. What’s special, Korb said in an interview, “is that it’s a live session. You send your insects. You have direct interaction with scientists at Illinois. It’s a live chat,” with students controlling the scope and the direction of the conversation. Robinson is a microscopist with a program known as Bugscope that puts a $600,000 electron microscope under the control of K-12 kids all over the country, via the Internet.
  • New York Teams Up With IBM to Reboot a High School
    This fall, New York City will open P-Tech, a unique six-year high school where students can earn a diploma and an associate’s degree in a computer-science-related field and then first crack at a job with IBM. Stanley Litow, president of IBM International Foundation, said the company has given up “checkbook philanthropy.” But P-Tech—a joint venture with the school district and the City University of New York—is its biggest gamble. The school opens in September with 130 ninth graders, about 80% from low-income homes, and will add a grade each year for five years.
  • Teacher Quality: Are Incentive Programs Enough?
    “I’m a big advocate of rewarding outstanding teaching,” said Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., at a Senate hearing. “My fear is that if we put it into the law and we write a rule about it, then suddenly we’ll be defining what 100,000 schools will be trying to do.”

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