GAO: Less Than Half of School Districts Test Water for Lead

WASHINGTON (AP) — A survey of school districts around the country finds that less than half test their water for lead, and among those that do more than a third detected elevated levels of the toxin, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

Lead can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in children.

The report, released by the Government Accountability Office, is based on a survey of 549 school districts across the United States. It estimates that 41 percent of school districts, serving 12 million students, did not test for lead in the water in 2016 and 2017.

Of the 43 percent that did test for lead, about 37 percent reported elevated levels. Sixteen percent of schools said they did not know whether they test for lead, the report says.

Full story at US News

Teacher Professional Development: Many Choices, Few Quality Checks

Ask teachers what they actually do to renew their licenses every five years, and you are likely to get an elaborate description of their decision process, not a simple answer.

“For me, and this is being bluntly honest, I try to pick something that’s going to work easiest with the time constraints that I have,” said Chris Woods, a math teacher in Calumet, Mich., who, among his other commitments, sits on a state panel looking at teacher recruitment and retention.

Full story at edweek.org

DeVos Calls for ‘Major Shift’ In Higher Education

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Tuesday called for a “major shift” in higher education – one that prioritizes programs like apprenticeships over four-year college degrees.

“For decades now, we have given the subtle, or not so subtle, message that the only path for a successful life is a four-year degree,” DeVos said at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council conference in Washington.

“There is really no traditional student anymore,” she said, underscoring the small percentage of high school graduates who enroll full time in a four-year college and graduate within four years.

Full story at US News

Filling the pipeline for computer science teachers

It’s not easy to teach a subject in which you have no training. But Kristen Haubold, a computer science teacher at James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana, was up for the challenge.

Haubold arrived at Riley 5 years ago as a math teacher after graduating from Indiana University in Bloomington. A year later, Indiana began developing a new computer science requirement for elementary and high school students, and Haubold signed up for the course that the state was offering. She also began looking around for resources to create a curriculum that would meet the new standard, which Indiana officials finalized earlier this year.

The course, Computer Science Principles, debuted in 2014. This fall she’s added a second course: Computer Science A. But Haubold remains the only computer science teacher in the 18,000-student district.

Full story at Science Mag

U.S. Department of Education Announces $3 Million in Pay for Success Grants for Preschool Programs

The U.S. Department of Education announced today more than $3 million in grant awards to eight government organizations for Preschool Pay for Success feasibility pilots that will support innovative funding strategies to expand preschool and improve educational outcomes for 3- and 4- year-olds. These grants will allow states, school districts and other local government agencies to explore whether Pay for Success is a viable financing mechanism for expanding and improving preschool in their communities in the near term.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence that attending high-quality preschool can help level the playing field for our most vulnerable children, we continue to have a huge unmet need in this country,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “We’re pleased that these grantees will work in their communities to make the case for investing in early education and drive expansion of high-quality preschool.”

Full story of Pay for Success and preschool programs at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Announces $2.5 Million in Grants to Operate Centers for Parents of Children with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education announced today the award of $2.5 million in grants to operate 23 Community Parent Resource Centers in 17 states and a Parent Training and Information Center to serve American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Republic of Palau. The centers provide parents with the training and information they need to work with professionals in meeting the early intervention and special needs of children with disabilities.

With the new grants, the Department now funds 87 information centers for parents of children and youth with disabilities. Every state has at least one Parent Training and Information Center that assists parents as they work to ensure their children receive a free, appropriate public education as guaranteed by federal law. In addition, the centers provide services to underserved parents of children with disabilities in targeted communities throughout the country.

Full story grants assisting children with disabilities at ed.gov

FACT SHEET: Supporting Dual Language Learners in Early Learning Settings

Statement by U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.:
“The number of children ages 5 to 17 in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home has more than doubled in the past three decades. These home languages are an asset that should be valued, and research shows that supporting bilingualism from early ages can have wide ranging benefits, from cognitive and social advantages early in life, to long-term employment opportunities and competitiveness in the workplace. This statement is part of ED’s ongoing commitment to ensure that dual language learners, including immigrants and refugees, have access to high quality supports, which is especially important as we celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month.”

Today the White House is announcing a new Federal policy statement from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education on better supporting our country’s youngest dual language learners (DLLs) in early childhood programs. The Obama Administration will be joined by public and private sector organizations that will also announce new commitments to support DLLs. Additionally, the White House, in collaboration with Too Small to Fail and Invest in US, is holding a regional convening today at the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education in Miami, FL to highlight the importance of supporting our country’s DLLs in early childhood programs.

Full story of supporting dual language learners at ed.gov

New Guidance Highlights High Impact Opportunities to Support Healthy Students

In a new letter sent today to governors, chief state school officers, state health officials and state Medicaid directors, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) recognize the critical role that healthcare coverage and health services play in ensuring all students are ready and able to learn, and recommend action steps to better coordinate health and education services for all students and their families.

ED and HHS also released a new toolkit that details five high impact opportunities for states and local school districts to support stronger communities through collaboration education and health sectors, highlighting best practices and key research in both areas.

“Healthy students are better learners and better positioned to thrive in school and later in life,” said Acting Secretary John B. King Jr. “The opportunities we highlight in our new toolkit are happening already in some schools, but we need more action. Our hope is this call to action is a new day for collaboration. We need more schools, more districts and more states to take advantage of existing channels and opportunities to create healthy opportunities for their students.”

Full story of impact opportunities to support healthy students at ed.gov

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Announces ASCD as New Partner in Teach to Lead

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today that ASCD will join the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the U.S. Department of Education as the third partner in Teach to Lead, which focuses on expanding opportunities for teacher leadership in ways that enhance student learning and make it possible for teachers to stay in the classroom while leading in the profession.

“We are happy to welcome ASCD as a partner in Teach to Lead and look forward to working with them and the National Board to advance teacher leadership,” said Duncan. “During this period of immense change in education, teachers are helping to catalyze great progress, including our nation’s record high school graduation rate, narrowed achievement gaps, and a larger, more diverse group attending college than ever before. This progress is possible because—across the country—teachers are leading from their classrooms and taking on new roles to improve education for all students. The teaching profession becomes stronger when teachers are empowered to lead—and when teaching is stronger, students benefit.”

“The entire team at ASCD is thrilled to become a partner in Teach to Lead, and we look forward to advancing the effort and continuing the work that the Department of Education and National Board have done since the initiative was launched,” said ASCD President Matt McClure. “Teachers of all types and backgrounds―from those who have spent 30 years in the classroom to those new to the profession but full of ideas and ambition―need expanded opportunities for leadership. We will focus our efforts on providing resources, support and encouragement to make teacher leadership a reality for all educators who desire it.”

Full story of ASCD as new partner in Teach to Lead at APTA

A Phys Ed Teacher Battles Tight Budgets And Childhood Obesity

First rule of Brinton Elementary School run club: Keep those legs moving. Second rule of run club: Have fun.

For 13-year-old Kaprice Faraci and her sister, Kassidy, inspiration to keep moving struck one after school afternoon in the third grade. Video games and TV bored the twins. They were outside when they spotted a small pack of children chugging down their street.

“We saw some girls running around the school in the neighborhood and we were like, ‘Hey, we wanna do that!’ ” Kaprice says. She’s wearing a pink tank top with the words “Yeah I run like a girl, try to keep up!”

“It took a lot of effort to start and push ourselves, but she was really encouraging and helped us gain more confidence to run a 5K race at the end of the season.”

Full story of phys ed teacher and his obesity battle at NPR