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April 02, 2013 3 min read
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| NEWS | College Bound

Carnegie Report Outlines Principles for High School Redesign

Noting that “nowhere is the need for redesign greater or more urgent than in American high schools,” the Carnegie Corporation of New York released a report last month that outlined 10 principles for high-performing secondary schools. It contends these practices need to be embraced in high schools if students are going to be successful under the demands of the Common Core State Standards and the forthcoming Next Generation Science Standards.

The report, “Opportunity by Design: New High School Models for Student Success,” suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach to learning is outdated, and that schools should look at new ways to manage teaching, time, technology, and money.

The principles promoted in the report focus on personalization, rigor, curriculum alignment, student voice, and other issues that motivate and connect students. To adopt these principles will require a shift in thinking, practice, policy, and, in some instances, in the way resources are allocated, said Leah Hamilton, a co-author of the report, in a telephone interview.

As expectations for student performance are elevated with the common core, high schools need to be redesigned to meet the needs of all students, said Hamilton.

To encourage districts to design new high schools that align with these principles and serve as models, the Carnegie Corporation is funding grants for school design projects, the first of which will be announced in the fall.

—Caralee Adams

| NEWS | Teaching Now

Value-Added Testing and the County Fair

So I bet you never stopped to consider the effects of teacher-evaluation reform on county fairs. Apparently this has become a not-insignificant matter in Cardington, Ohio.

Starting next school year, teachers in Ohio will be evaluated, in part, on the basis of their students’ performance on state assessments, as measured via a value-added formula. In order to have more time to prepare their students for the tests, teachers and administrators in the Cardington-Lincoln school district have proposed starting the school year a little earlier. But the earlier start date would mean that schools would be in session during the county’s fair week.

That potential scheduling conflict sparked what sounds like some serious soul-searching at a recent county school board meeting. While the district superintendent insisted that teachers need the extra time to work with students, other attendees questioned the value of still more testing in schools. More pointedly, they stressed the importance of the fair to the area’s civic life and to children’s overall development. The board decided to leave the matter unresolved, agreeing to take it up again this month.

—Anthony Rebora

| NEWS | Schooled in Sports

Ga. Schools to Add More Physical Activity

Georgia plans to add 30 minutes of physical activity to the school day in all elementary schools, the commissioner of the state’s public-health department announced last month.

Only Mississippi has a worse childhood-obesity rate than Georgia, Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald said at the inaugural State of Public Health Conference on March 21. In the state’s most recent fitness test, only 16 percent of the roughly 1 million students tested were able to pass all five components (body-mass index, aerobic capacity, flexibility, push-ups, and curl-ups), while 20 percent couldn’t pass even one of the five, according to the commissioner.

To rectify that, Fitzgerald recently met with the state education department and agreed to a plan to bring 30 extra minutes of physical activity to every elementary school in Georgia, with the change to begin in the 2013-14 school year.

“We need every single segment of the society involved in this,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a huge problem that has to do with lifestyle issues, that has to do with changing not only what we do, but what children do, what their parents do, what the school does, and ultimately, what the society does.”

The University of Georgia will conduct online training for teachers in how to get students physically active for 30 minutes a day, according to the commissioner.

—Bryan Toporek

A version of this article appeared in the April 03, 2013 edition of Education Week as Blogs of the Week

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