Time to hit the books for 2012. But first, a look at the most-viewed posts on Education News Colorado in 2011:
2. Among all news stories, a three-part series titled Troubling questions about online education drew the most page views in 2011. A joint project of EdNews and the Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network, the articles were based on an analysis of state data that showed half of Colorado’s full-time online students wind up leaving their virtual programs within a year – and they’re often further behind academically than when they started. On a national level, The New York Times also took a look at virtual schools.
3. Election coverage of school board races in Douglas and Jefferson counties was a hit, perhaps because the campaigns receive little coverage elsewhere. We get the message – there are great stories outside of Denver that deserve attention.
4. An in-depth look at Colorado’s school nurse shortage, even as the number of kids needing medical services grows, garnered a lot of reader attention and an accompanying podcast with state nursing consultant Kathy Patrick was among the most downloaded in 2011. Reporter Rebecca Jones showed how other staff must pick up the slack in her depiction of school secretary Kelly Oswald, who draws blood and dispenses prescription medicine in the tiny Kit Carson school district. National Public Radio did a similar story on school nursing shortages this week.
5. Proving breaking news still matters, a story about Obama’s visit to Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School – which appeared first on EdNews – also was a reader favorite.
For a full list of the top 20 posts in 2011, check the column running to the right of today’s Churn.
Top national education stories in 2011
Over at the Education Writers Association, a national organization of education journalists, academics and others, these were the stories frequently cited among the year’s most memorable, in no particular order:
1. Cheating. In March, USA Today began a series of stories about cheating on tests in seven states called When scores seem too good to believe. EdNews partnered with the national newspaper to look at Colorado results in Extraordinary gains, little investigation. The USA Today series prompted greater attention to cheating, including this investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
2. Character. In September, The New York Times Magazine took a look at the role of “grit” in student achievement, asking What if the secret to success is failure?
3. Evaluating teachers was a hot topic throughout the year and another New York Times journalist, Michael Winerip, examined a controversial plan in Tennessee to evaluate teachers whose students don’t take standardized tests.
4. Charters. A series by the Miami Herald looks at Florida’s $400-million-a-year charter school movement and what happens when the educational mission of the school clashes with the profit-making mission of its management company. The series, Cashing in on kids, also looks at why some charters enroll lower numbers of low-income kids and those with special needs.
Don’t agree with those picks? Check out Education Week‘s Year in Review, which includes a look at the most-viewed stories – No. 1 is about research studying why math causes anxiety among students – as well as its editors’ picks of the most memorable stories in education politics, teacher issues, curriculum and educational technology.
What’s on tap:
Meetings, announcements and other education news of interest is revving up slowly after the long holiday break. Here’s some of what’s ahead:
- Thursday – Jefferson County school board members meet in a study session to talk about $70 million in proposed budget cuts and to hear an update on the district’s performance pay plan. Agenda
- Friday – Buechner Breakfast First Friday, the monthly forum put on by CU-Denver’s Buechner Institute for Governance, looks at the impacts of term limits. Speakers include Ken Delay of the Colorado Association of School Boards. More info
- Education Week, the national K-12 industry journal, issues its annual report Jan. 12 with a focus on American education in a global context. That’s followed Jan. 13 with a discussion about what U.S. schools can learn from high-performing countries.
- Jeff Piontek, head of school at the Hawaii Technology Academy, is this month’s guest at the Jan. 20 Hot Lunch, a speaker series sponsored by the Donnell-Kay and Piton foundations. More info
- Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning or iNACOL, will visit Denver Jan. 23 for a conversation about online education policy sponsored by the Donnell-Kay Foundation and the Independence Institute at the institute’s new Denver office, 16th Avenue and Clarkson or 727 E. 16th Ave. It begins at 8:30 a.m. Call 303-279-6536, ext.115 for more info.
In case you missed it:
The National Education Association asked 21 teachers and educational leaders from across the country to form the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching and to, among other charges, make recommendations on the future of the teaching profession. The commission includes two members from Colorado – Adele Bravo, a reading and math interventionist in Boulder who was Colorado’s 2006 Teacher of the Year, and Lori Nazareno, a 23-year teacher who is co-leader of the Math and Science Leadership Academy or MSLA in Denver.
The report, Transforming Teaching, was released Dec. 8 after a year of work and includes this statement in its introduction:
All students deserve an effective teacher. To make this a reality, the teaching profession does not need tinkering; it needs seismic changes in:
- How, where, and when learning is expected to occur
- How potential teachers are recruited and prepared
- How professional development is aligned to student learning
- How compensation is determined
- How teachers are evaluated, retained and dismissed
The report recommends peer evaluations as well as higher pay for teachers who demonstrate greater effectiveness, take on additional roles such as peer reviewer, work in hard-to-staff schools or positions, or work in schools with extended days or years.
The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.