Nation’s Report Card: mostly flat
The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card, showed no statistically significant changes from 2015, except for a slight uptick in 8th grade reading scores. This test is given every two years to fourth and eighth graders in reading and math. It is not high-stakes, but it is the largest single test enabling a comparison of students across the country.
One question raised by analysts is whether the shift to tablet-based testing instead of paper and pencil hurt scores, particularly in states with lots of low-income students and those who give their own state tests on paper.
YouTube accused of violating children’s privacy
A group of consumer advocates has filed a federal complaint against YouTube for collecting information on children under 13 without their parents’ permission, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The complaint charges that YouTube hosts many channels of cartoons and other children’s programming and targets advertising to children. YouTube and its parent company Google say YouTube is not for children, which is why they created a separate site, YouTube Kids.
Teacher walkout in Oklahoma; “walk-in” in Arizona; union in California
The largest teacher union in Oklahoma declared walkouts over after a ninth day. Teachers in Arizona staged a statewide “walk-in” protest this week. Kentucky teachers rallied at the capitol Friday, closing schools in the state’s largest district.
And in California, teachers for the California Virtual Academy formed what may be the first statewide union at an online charter school.
Around the country, the calls to action include better pay and better school funding. As we reported this week, U.S. teachers earned less last year, on average, than they did back in 1990 after inflation. And in more than half of states, school funding levels have not returned to pre-Great Recession levels. In Oklahoma, parents and community groups told NPR they support the teachers and are organizing to provide child care for kids out of class.
Digital devices hurt students, teachers say
A majority of nearly 500 teachers surveyed by Gallup say digital devices like smartphones and tablets are “mostly harmful” to students’ physical health (55 percent) and mental health (69 percent). Yet, 42 percent say these same devices are “mostly helpful” to students’ educations. Teachers under 40 were more likely to have a positive view of the impacts of technology, and parents, in a separate Gallup poll, also viewed their children’s use of tech devices in a rosier light than did most teachers.
Justice Department to Harvard: cough up admissions data
A portion of Harvard admissions data will become public in a case brought by an anti-affirmative action group. Asian American applicants to the University say they faced discrimination because of the University’s policy of “racial balancing”; Harvard has denied the accusation. The U.S. Justice Department, which is investigating a parallel complaint, filed an amicus brief in the case last week, and in an April 10 hearing Judge Allison D. Burroughs ruled that a redacted portion of applicants’ files and correspondence between admissions officers will become public.
13 Reasons Why and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian top “challenged” books list
The American Library Association released its annual list of the titles that the public most often tried to remove from schools, libraries, or syllabi in 2017. The top ten list included Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why, from 2007, which deals with teen suicide and was the basis of a controversial Netflix series, and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, also from 2007, for profanity and sexually explicit situations. One of the most enduring entries on this year’s list? To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), for its use of the n-word.
DACA students will no longer get in-state tuition in Arizona
Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that students who came to the U.S. as children without documentation will no longer be eligible for in-state tuition. The decision affects some 2000 students in the state. These students tend not to be eligible for state or federal financial aid either. In related developments, more than 70 U.S. colleges and universities joined a “friend of the court” brief in support of an ongoing court challenge to President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.