Educators Back Personalized Learning
More than 9 out of 10 education officials agree personalized pacing for students could help raise achievement levels, according to a recent poll by Blackboard. The same ratio also say teachers need additional professional development to use individualized instruction effectively. Six out of 10 say their district wants to deliver virtual courses, while nearly half say students are not able to take all the courses they want or need because of conflicting schedules or lack of available staff. The survey of 1,500 respondents in November included nearly 700 teachers and a mix of education officials, from superintendents and principals to curriculum directors and specialists.
Asked about bolstering parent communication, 8 of 10 respondents say expanding access to student information, assignments, and results would accomplish this goal. Looking deeper at the personalized learning question, the poll shows that while all respondents favored the benefit of these plans, just four percent of curriculum specialists did not "agree" or "strongly agree" with these plans. Specialists also led the call for virtual courses, with two of three favoring these. In the same category, just more than half of teachers said their districts wanted to offer virtual classes. For more
survey results, click here.
Students Favor Single-Sex Classes
South Carolina has led the way in offering single-sex classes, and a new survey from the state department of education finds both students and parents in favor of the option. Seventy-nine percent of students enrolled in a single-sex program say they've increased their classroom work, while 83 percent add that they are more likely to graduate. And their answers are corroborated by the grown-ups—85 percent of teachers reported greater classroom effort, and 94 percent of parents say their children are more likely to graduate. The bad news is the state has already been forced to cut the programs due to budget issues, slicing the number of schools with single-sex classes from 214 to 125.
California Parents Sue for P.E.
A California appeals court has ruled parents can force schools to offer the mandated amount of P.E., a bar many districts aren't reaching due to budget concerns. The initial decision called the guidelines "advisory" and said the parent appellant had no authority in the matter, but the court overturned that decision in late November. A spokesperson for the Department of Education told the San Francisco Chronicle the minimum has never been optional, but the DOE doesn't have the budget to oversee physical education programs.
Virginia Gets Tough on Textbooks
After an expert review found several inaccuracies in historical textbooks published by Five Ponds Press and used in Virginia schools, the state department of education announced that it plans to ask publishers for proof their materials have been reviewed for accuracy. The controversy began around one textbook's claim that a sizable group of African-Americans fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. That book, Our Virginia: Past and Present, was written by an author who says she found her information online.
Whiteboards Work in Preschool
Preschoolers who completed instructional activities on an interactive whiteboard made significant gains in reading and math, according to a recent study by Hatch Early Childhood. Prior to using the technology, only 54 percent of students were ready for kindergarten-level reading. Afterward, 82 percent of children were prepared to move on. In math, the jump was from 72 to 92 percent of students ready for school. The preschool classrooms used Hatch's TeachSmart Learning System in integrating the whiteboard into the curriculum.