• Innovate or Die
  • Recruiting KIPP Students
  • NY City Schools and Teacher Evaluation
  • Student Achievement and Alaska Teacher Evaluation
  • Strapped District Plans to Add Online Classes


Innovate or Die

What does it take to reform the Detroit School System? According to one author, Tom Watkins, former state superintendent of schools in Michigan, it takes TLC: teaching, learning, children. Not power, control, politics, and adults. Or more succinctly, Innovate or Die.

In the state of Michigan, Governor Rich Snyder created the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) to help turn around dysfunctional high schools in the state of Michigan. The EAA is currently working with 15 formerly dysfunctional schools. The goal is to be working with 40 schools throughout Michigan by next year.

It is understood that real school reform takes many years; generally somewhere between five to seven years. The mantra of the EAA is, Innovate, create, change, or die. The EAA is determined to bring about the reform that they know is needed in Michigan.

Source: Public Education’s big Challenge: Innovate or Die


Twenty Colleges Agree to Recruit KIPP Students

Twenty top universities including Pennsylvania, Syracuse, Duke, Brown and Georgetown, have pledged to strongly consider alumni from the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). KIPP is a program that specializes in an education program especially for underprivileged students in rural and urban areas.  

KIPP is a unique program. They are a national network of open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools, whose motto is, “Work hard. Be Nice.” Right now there are 125 KIPP schools found in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 41,000 students. 87% of their students are from low-income families. 95% of the students are African American or Latino. 90% of KIPP middle school students graduated from high school.

The agreement between KIPP and the colleges does not guarantee admission. KIPP will promote the 20 colleges and the 20 colleges will recruit top KIPP students.

Source: Twenty Colleges Agree to Recruit KIPP Students


New York City Schools and Teacher Evaluation

Chancellor Dennis Walcott of the New York City Schools warned city school principals that if an agreement between the city school unions and administrators was not arrived at by Dec. 21 on revising the teacher evaluation procedure, some $250 million dollars in state school funding would be lost. The United Federation of Teachers has been involved in a three year discussion on using student test scores as a basis for teacher evaluation. The Union has indicated that the test scores are not a reliable means to evaluate teachers.  The administrators have noted that the current evaluation system states that the vast majority of teachers are satisfactory with a small percentage rated as unsatisfactory. Receiving portions of the $250 million is dependent on having an approved revised teacher evaluation system.

Source: School Chief Sets Deadline


Evaluating Alaska Teachers

The Alaska State Board of Education recently approved a proposal to include student achievement as a portion of each teacher’s evaluation starting in the 2015-2016 school year.  For the first year student achievement will make up 20% of the teacher’s evaluation and by 2018-2019 student achievement will make up 50% of the teacher evaluation. This has been one of the most hotly debated decisions in Alaskan history.

Teachers indicate that it is not their fault that many students come to school with the burden of fetal alcohol syndrome, ADHD, cognitive impairments and poor nutrition. These problems make it difficult for students to learn in the classroom.

Source:  Alaska teachers to be evaluated on student achievement starting in 2015


District adding Online Classes to save Money

Manchester, New Hampshire has had to lay off 95 full time teachers which has caused class sizes to expand. Administrators recognized that it was a terrible situation and began to look at blended learning as a possible cure. Students taking an online class or two while in the school building but without a teacher present. Many parents and teachers are not happy about the plan. Some refer to it as high-tech babysitting.

The district’s plan would have students working in a lab-like room where the students would utilize New Hampshire’s Virtual Learning Academy. This is a form of the blended learning which is a combination of brick and mortar and online learning.

Source: Strapped District Plans to Add Online Classes

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