T&L News(113) - Tech Learning

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Week of: January 21, 2008 DOE Releases National Dashboard The U.S. Department of Education released what it calls a National Dashboard that shows how the nation is doing on key indicators such as high school graduation rates and closing achievement gaps. Web Site for Aspiring
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Week of: January 21, 2008

  • DOE Releases National Dashboard
    The U.S. Department of Education released what it calls a National Dashboard that shows how the nation is doing on key indicators such as high school graduation rates and closing achievement gaps.
  • Web Site for Aspiring College Students
    Connecticut was one of twelve state to open a web site devoted to helping students navigate the college application process—from the SATs to financial aid.
  • Court Orders End to Wisconsin Virtual Academy Funding
    The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently found that the operation of Wisconsin Virtual Academy, a virtual charter school that enrolls students from across the state, violates state statutes.
  • Speak Up a Big Success
    Project Tomorrow - NetDay announced significant growth in the number of surveys received as part of its 2007 Speak Up activities.
  • Mapping the Continental Shelf
    As the deadline approaches for submitting petitions for boundary extensions under the 1994 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea draws near, high tech mapping techniques take on added importance.

DOE Releases National Dashboard

The U.S. Department of Education released what it calls a National Dashboard that shows how the nation is doing on key indicators such as high school graduation rates and closing achievement gaps. Over the six years of No Child Left Behind's implementation, the Department has gathered much data about the academic performance of American students and their schools, information which can be used to depict where the nation is in relation to the goal of having all students performing at grade level in math and reading by 2014. The Department also launched a companion site featuring a new tool, Mapping Educational Progress 2008, designed to help parents and policymakers understand how their state is performing. Mapping Educational Progress 2008 presents state-by-state data on student achievement in reading and math, high school graduation rates, schools making adequate yearly progress, highly qualified teachers, parents taking advantage of tutoring and choice options, state participation in flexibility options, and more. The information can be accessed via an interactive map. Users select the state they are interested in and find a report that they can download detailing the state's progress.

Source:U.S. Department of Education

Web Site for Aspiring College Students

Connecticut was one of twelve states recently opening a web site devoted to helping students navigate the college application process—from the SATs to financial aid. The graduating class of 2008 will be largest in the last 20 years and many of them are college bound, significantly upping the competition factor. Some students have been able to pay for access to sites that help them manage the college application process. The state supported sites will help level the playing field, especially for low-income and first-generation college students who are already underrepresented on state college campuses. The Connecticut site is designed to provide a one-stop shopping site for students and their families. The twelve state web sites are part of a national campaign to offer guidance to students who need help preparing for postsecondary education. The American Council on Education, Lumina Foundation for Education and the Ad Council launched the KnowHow2GO campaign in January 2007. This multiyear, multimedia effort includes television, radio and outdoor public service advertisements that encourages 8th through 10th graders to prepare for college using four simple steps. Individual states, usually led by the state Departments of Education and Higher Education, have added local resources including details about scholarships, community groups, and government agencies available to assist students throughout the state.

Source:The New Haven Register

Court Orders End to Wisconsin Virtual Academy Funding

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently found that the operation of Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA), a virtual charter school that enrolls students from across the state, violates state statutes. The court ordered the state to stop funding WIVA. Despite the growth of online learning, virtual schools continue to face funding and policy challenges from the school establishment. Wisconsin is the latest instance, where the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the state's largest teachers union, sued the Northern Ozaukee School District which operates WIVA and state Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster over the virtual school's operation. WIVA, with a statewide enrollment of 800 students, is Wisconsin's largest virtual school. It launched in 2004 as a collaboration between the Northern Ozaukee School District and K12 Inc., a private online learning company. Wisconsin has an open enrollment public school choice system under which students are allowed to attend any public school district that admits them. Districts, including those operating the state's various virtual schools, received $5,845 for each nonresident student in the 2006-'07 school year. WEAC argues that virtual schooling, which largely relies on parents to supervise students' day-to-day activity, is just another form of home schooling. The Court agreed, saying that state statute prohibits a school district from operating a charter school located outside the district. State statute also requires that open-enrollment students attend a school in the district to which they open enroll. Finally, the statutes require that teachers in all public schools, including charter schools, be state certified. The court found that WIVA violated all three provisions, noting that under Wisconsin law parents cannot be the primary teachers in a public school funded with taxpayer dollars. The ruling is specific to WIVA; it is not clear how it applies to the state's other statewide virtual school operations. Bills have already been introduced in the legislature to address the various problems the Court addressed.

Source:MSNBC

Speak Up a Big Success

Project Tomorrow - NetDay announced significant growth in the number of surveys received as part of its 2007 Speak Up activities. In 2007, Speak Up received more than 367,000 online surveys from K-12 students, teachers, parents and, for the first time this year, school administrators - a growth in participation of 37% over 2006. The top 10 participating states in terms of number of surveys submitted in 2007 were TX, CA, AZ, IL, AL, MD, NC, PA, FL and MI. The project also had participation from schools in Canada, Mexico and Australia. In a major milestone, since Speak Up launched in 2003 it has collected more than 1.2 million surveys submitted from over 14,000 U.S. schools. The 1 millionth student survey was submitted on December 10th and that student's school will receive a SMARTboard and be invited to participate at the annual Speak Up Congressional Briefing in Washington DC this spring. Along with announcing the winner at the Florida Educational Technology Conference, Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans will moderate a session titled "Students Speak Up about Emerging Technologies for Learning 2.0." Later this month, all schools and districts that participated in Speak Up 2007 will gain online access to their own aggregated student, teacher, parent and administrator data along with Speak Up's national benchmark data. Schools and districts use this data to inform their plans for 2009, using the data to drive technology plans, budgets, purchasing decisions and community engagement efforts. National findings will be released in April.

Source:Project Tomorrow

Mapping the Continental Shelf

As the deadline approaches for submitting petitions for boundary extensions under the 1994 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea draws near, high tech mapping techniques take on added importance. The 1994 Convention allows countries to move their boundary lines to the edge of their continental shelf. While the political and economic consequences of these boundary extensions are enormous, the actual mapping of the various continental shelves is very challenging. To support a claim for a boundary extension, a country must map multiple off-shore points: the area where the ocean depth drops to 2,500 meters, and the place where a country's land mass drops off to become seafloor. For six years a team from the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping have been scanning the various coastlines of the United States — mapping in the Arctic, the Bering Sea, the gulfs of Alaska and Mexico, the Atlantic Margin off the East Coast, and the Marianas in the Pacific. The 247-foot research ship is equipped with a sonar system called a multibeam echosounder. The system's sonar devices shoot repeated, 15 millisecond bursts of sound into the water. As the sound waves bounce back, they're picked up by receiving sensors and interpreted by the computer. To further calibrate the sonar measurements, the research team uses temperature and motion sensors and the ship's onboard GPS. The resulting maps show the ocean bottom as a world of canyons and rocky walls, all rendered in a rainbow of colors that delineate depths.

Source:Wired Magazine

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