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Thirty-seven Tennessee schools will use online formative assessments, administered periodically throughout the school year, to get an early warning about which students may need additional help to keep them on track toward mastering the state’s required skills. The Internet has made it a lot easier for students to
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  • Thirty-seven Tennessee schools will use online formative assessments, administered periodically throughout the school year, to get an early warning about which students may need additional help to keep them on track toward mastering the state’s required skills.
  • The Internet has made it a lot easier for students to find answers to their questions — either by searching its myriad resources or by going to any of hundreds of sites that offer some level of “homework help.†Read about some of the available options.
  • Technology’s steady advance has made the challenge of controlling students’ use of electronic gadgets — cell phones, handheld video games, MP3 players — during school time ever more difficult. Right now, compromise seems to offer the best solution.
  • Federal Way’s Internet Academy is located in a suburban Seattle strip mall, but it serves around 1.500 students statewide. And in a pattern that is being repeated nationwide, the Academy is expanding both its enrollment and course offerings annually.

TN Starts Online Benchmarking

Thirty-seven elementary and middle schools across Tennessee will pilot a new online assessments program this year. Eventually, the Tennessee Department of Education plans to make the tests available to any school that wishes to use the program. The online formative assessment program is designed to provide teachers with information about students’ progress toward mastering required skills. Students in grades 3 through 8 will takes tests in math and reading at intervals throughout the school year. The tests have been aligned to the Tennessee content standards and state performance indicators (SPIs) for students. Data from these tests will help to quickly identify students who have not grasped basic skills or teachers who have not effectively conveyed the curriculum. Once gaps in student knowledge are identified, teachers can intervene more effectively. Teachers will receive professional development to help them understand the data and how to best adjust instruction to target the needs of each student. Source:Tennessee Department of Education

Homework Help

The Internet has made it a lot easier for students to find answers to their questions — either by searching its myriad resources or by going to any of hundreds of sites that offer some level of “homework help.†The trick for students and helpers alike is to truly aid students in gaining a better understanding as opposed to doing the work for them. Some help sites are commercial and others are staffed by volunteers who simply enjoy sharing their knowledge. People like Robert Stewart, a Texas A&M University oceanography professor, and Henry Fliegler, a retired engineer, field questions and try to sustain students’ curiosity. Services such as AskMeNow and Webmath.com charge fees based on usage. AskMeNow will deliver answers to simple questions to peoples’ cell phones. Wewbmath.com combines automated responses with human-generated answers to serve more users. Other sites opt to provide more general information that users can search on their own to construct answers. Others provide tips on how to research a topic or organize information. In the end, the responsibility rests with the student who must evaluate the credibility of the sources used and incorporate them into an integrated approach to the assignment. Source:MSNBC

Gadgets, Gadgets Everywhere

As schools prepare to reopen, they are struggling to find the fine line between allowing students access to communication devices that help them stay in touch with their families and maintaining classroom order. And technological advances only serve to complicate the issue. This is not your father’s beeper. Students can use their cell phones to play video games, take pictures and send text messages, raising fears about privacy violations and cheating. Devices like the iPod not only play music, but also give students access to sound, text and photo files. While schools once almost universally banned beepers and cell phones, student and parental expectations have softened those bans. Sixteen states now allow local districts to decide whether to ban cell phones, according to a 2004 study by the Education Commission of the States. Neighboring districts often have different policies. For example, in Texas, the Katy school district allows students to carry cell phones, but they must be turned off and out of sight. The district charges a $25 administrative fee to parents who want to reclaim their child's confiscated cell phone. Houston Independent School District, allow students to use their cell phones in places that won't disrupt academics, such as hallways or cafeterias. And in Aldine ISD, students can’t bring their cell phones onto campus. Source: The Houston Chronicle

Online Learning Expands in Washington

Federal Way’s Internet Academy is located in a suburban Seattle strip mall, but its reach is statewide. When the Federal Way School District launched the online school in 1996 it served only 30 students, all of them from Federal Way. Last year the school served 1.5000 students. Statewide, 10,161 Washington students — mostly in high school — took one or more online classes for credit last school year, more than triple the number four years ago, according to a survey done by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Students can’t take all their courses online, since the Internet Academy and other online schools don’t grant diplomas. Instead, students use online classes to supplement their education. For some students, the Academy offers classes not available locally. For other students, the online classes solve a schedule conflict or allow them to make up lost credits. Generally, when students take classes as part of their regular schedules, the home districts pay the Internet Academy about $395 a class, roughly the amount of state support the district receives per student per class. If a student already takes a full load at school, however, they must pay the fee. And summer school costs $180 per class for everyone. This fall, the Internet Academy will begin to offer dual credit classes in partnership with the University of Washington. Source: The Seattle Times

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