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July 23, 2014

New from ECS

Where ELLs Do Best
The number of English language learners (ELLs) is increasing nationwide, but many of these students are taught by teachers without adequate training or specialization in the skills needed to help ELLs succeed. According to an analysis of the 2009 NAEP reading assessment, fourth grade Hispanic ELLs performed best in states that require ELL teachers to have specialist certification and training in English as a Second Language teaching methods. However, most states with rapidly increasing numbers of ELLs do not require specialist certification for ELL teachers.

Time Makes a Difference, but Not the Way Some Thought
While some education reformers argued a longer school day or year would raise student achievement, this study found it's subject-specific instructional time — only one or two hours a week — that can make a huge difference. Such an increase could dramatically reduce inequalities between high and low socioeconomic students, according to the author.

What States Are Doing

Giving Students a High-Tech Edge
West Virginia high school students gained access to information technology certification this month, the result of a collaboration between the West Virginia Department of Education and Microsoft. Microsoft's IT Academy will be in high schools, career and technical schools and the Virtual Schools program. The department has also launched Microsoft Office 365 for use by students and teachers. It is provided to students at no charge through Microsoft's Student Advantage program.

Dyslexia Intervention
Pennsylvania launched a pilot program to identify kindergartners with dyslexia and, with parental permission, to intervene.  At least three school districts will participate, agreeing to screen all kindergartners and looking for such potential risk factors as low phonemic awareness, low letter and symbol naming and inability to remember sequences. Gov. Tom Corbett signed the program into law last month.

School Safety and Security
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick released a school safety report last week that includes 29 recommendations. One of the most important, according to the report, is to prevent intruders by having only one main entrance, which is monitored at all times. Schools should have a crisis response team, a plan in place and they should practice and improve their plan.

Good Reads

Dual-Generation Support
Early childhood programs are one thing and education for adults another, but rarely do the two go hand-in-hand. However, disparities between children whose mothers had not graduated from high school and those whose mothers had a college degree are enormous, researchers found, and results from dual-generation programs can be impressive. One is CareerAdvance in Tulsa, where Early Head Start/Head Start children's parents are linked to career pathways. A nursing track starts with a Certified Nurse Assistant certificate and end with a Registered Nursing degree. (Foundation for Child Development)

Low-Income Students Need Extra Help with College, Career Readiness
Students from low-income families need college- and career-readiness policies that address their particular needs. A recent report found that 95 percent of students from low-income families wish to pursue some form of postsecondary education, compared to 87 percent of all students. However, only 59 percent of them immediately enroll in postsecondary education, compared to 71 percent of all students. Twenty percent of low-income students meet at least three of four ACT academic benchmarks, compared to 62 percent of students from high-income families. (ACT and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships)

Statewide Online Curricula Provides Wider Variety
Here is a partial solution to hand-wringing about lack of funds, hard-to-staff schools and difficulties with disabled students or those learning English. Touting state-wide digital programs that provide students with expanded course offerings across learning environments, this report reviews the few statewide programs that already exist, shows the way for states implementing such programs and introduces the idea of programs that cross state boundaries. (Digital Learning Now and EducationCounsel)

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