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from Technology & Learning

Arizona Governor to continue to Innovate America, feds woeful response to Katrina-ravaged schools, more on Web 2.0.

Innovation America Continues

Her term as National Governor's Association chair may have just ended, but Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has no plans to walk away from her lauded innovation agenda that calls on states to overhaul their K–12 science and math curriculum.

Napolitano says her Innovation America initiative, started in 2006, will continue on as an independent foundation, a task force, and with business partnerships—all aimed at finding ways states can improve education so students can compete globally in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Under Napolitano (profiled in T&L's June's Leadership Issue), the NGA was able to draw attention to the nation's woefully under-funded STEM curriculum.

Results of the NGA survey, "Innovation America: The Final Report," were released this summer, including Napolitano's yearlong analysis of technology-related education state by state.

To view "Innovation America: The Final Report," go to www.nga.org/portal/site/nga and follow the links to the NGA's Best Practices portal.

www.webware.com/100

There are too few places to find comprehensive listings of new Internet-based tools. We think we've found one of the best. Editors at Webware.com, a CNET-hosted site, reviewed a slew of Internet-based applications and utilities and put their faves up for a vote. The results of the best 100 Web 2.0 apps, broken down into 10 categories from entertainment to communications, can now be viewed and downloaded. Want more on Web 2.0? See "Stretching the Virtual Boundary," below.

Stretching the Virtual Boundary

Here's a chance for educators to get an overview of online tools in one location. The 2007 K12 Online Conference "Playing with Boundaries" will be held in October over a two-week span.

The annual event, to run Oct. 5-19 and Oct. 22-26 with both live and archived chats and talks, will provide teachers, administrators, and educators around the world an opportunity to explore Web 2.0 tools. It will also feature talks on professional development, Second Life, engaging community, and webcasting for educators.

For more information, go to http://k12onlineconference.org.

Two Years, No Relief

It's been more than two years since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, exposing the federal government's inability to respond to a widespread domestic disaster and prompting pointed criticisms of the Bush Administration.

Lessons, it appears, have yet to be learned, particularly when it comes to assisting the region's most vulnerable—students.

In a scathing assessment of the federal response post-Katrina in rebuilding the area's education system, the Southern Education Foundation has released the first comprehensive report on the plight of K–12 and college-aged students in both Mississippi and New Orleans since August 2005.

And the results are grim.
Highlights include:

  • In the 2006-'07 school year, 10,000 to 15,000 school-aged children may have missed all or most days of school.
  • Only 6 percent of Louisiana schools hired additional teachers to provide remedial work for displaced students.
  • Nearly 26,000 students attending Louisiana's public colleges and universities remain out of school.
  • Money was never allocated to track and support the estimated 30,000 K–12 students who dropped out of school in 2005. The federal government, to date, has no tracking system in place (read: it has no idea how) to locate them.
  • For every $2.5 billion the government spends nation-and worldwide, it spends $1 on Katrina education recovery programs.

"What has been done thus far by the federal government is, by any objective measure, grossly inadequate," said SEF President Lynn Huntley, commenting on Katrina's second anniversary, the same day President George Bush toured New Orleans to assess the city's rebuilding efforts. The SEF has called on Bush to appoint an independent commission to review and improve relief efforts.

Has NCLB Increased Teacher Effectiveness?

A recent study from the Center on Education Policy reports the No Child Left Behind Act's "highly qualified" teacher requirements have had little impact on the teacher workforce nationwide. The study, which surveyed 350 districts, considered a range of factors, including student achievement, professional development, teacher preparation, working conditions, and data collection systems among its evaluation criteria. Issues raised by both report analysts and district respondents include the lack of evidence between credentialing programs and classroom effectiveness. Says the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development "…a focus on standardsbased reform and teacher credentialing may lead to instruction that is overly broad and thin." And a report from the Congressional Research Service notes that "characteristics often identified in research on teacher effectiveness are much more difficult to measure and evaluate than the current HQT requirements." One participant, a Nevada state board of education member, summed up what seems a widespread opinion by states and districts, "highly qualified teachers and quality teachers are 'two different things'."

For the full text of the study, visit: http://www.cep-dc.org/

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