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12-22-16 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--2016 Education Recap: Policy Debates More Fizzle than Pop

Politics, personalities, and other weighty issues contribute to stalled agendas

For all the debates over the past few years about teacher tenure, charter schools, PARCC testing, and school funding, this week’s end to the 2016 legislative session proved pretty anti-climactic.

Topping the Legislature’s education bills this week: a proposal about special-education certification and another dealing with dual enrollments with community college.

All in all, school issues took a backseat to the pension wars and battles over transportation funding and, at the end, the outcry over publishing legal notices online rather than in newspapers.

That was partly due to the sheer weight of those issues, but personalities mattered as well. Gov. Chris Christie’s run for the White House dominated the news, reducing any chance of substantive policy change. And now that he is on his way out, the Democrat-led Legislature is starting to wait him out for their own initiatives as well.


John Mooney | December 22, 2016


Education Week--SNAPSHOT | Summing Up Results From TIMSS, PISA

 Students in the United States are by and large treading water in the two largest international benchmarking tests in math, science, and reading, which both released 2015 results in recent weeks.

U.S. 15-year-olds did not perform significantly differently in science or reading on the Program for International Student Assessment in 2015 compared with their showing in previous years, and their math performance significantly declined since 2012 and 2009, the last two times PISA was given. That put the United States roughly in the middle of education systems in reading and science on PISA, but below average in math.

In the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, the nation’s 4th graders scored in the top quarter of all participating countries in those two subjects, though they showed no improvement since 2011, when TIMSS was last held. U.S. 8th graders likewise performed in the top quarter of countries in math and science; they had significantly improved in math but not in science since 2011. TIMSS, run by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, tracks math and science skills in 4th and 8th grades in 55 countries and education systems. PISA, run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, measures critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in math, science, and reading of 15-year-olds in 77 countries and education systems.

The United States also took part in TIMSS Advanced in 2015, for the first time in 20 years. That test gauges 18-year-olds in nine countries and education systems on the most challenging math and science, including calculus and physics. U.S. students showed no improvement in advanced math or science since 1995. They performed above average among the participating countries in math, but below average in physics.


By Sarah D. Sparks| December 13, 2016


ABC News--Utah Man Donates Money to Cover Kids' School Lunches

A Utah man who grew up eating free- and reduced-lunch at school has donated enough money to pay for more than 5,000 meals for kids with outstanding lunch balances due at schools in the district where he received his education.

Damon Burton now owns website development and marketing companies and was looking for ways to give back and decided to give $2,000 to the Davis School District, the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/2hLYgJi ).

"I've experienced the big gap, so I understand the value in helping out because I was a direct recipient of that help in my younger years," he said.

Burton, 35, of Layton, said he thought of the idea and started making calls to schools about two months ago.

"It wasn't a strategic thing, it just evolved," he said.

Burton's donation went to the Davis Education Foundation for distribution. Chris Williams, a spokesman for the district north about 15 miles north of Salt Lake City says it "has definitely lightened someone's load" and is much appreciated.


The Associated Press|Dec 21, 2016, 6:01 AM ET