News for Teachers From the
U.S. Embassy, London
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02 JULY 2014
SUMMER VACATION

U.S. schools have now broken up for the summer vacation, some schools go back in August while others are back after the Labor Day holiday.
Research has indicated that students from a disadvantaged backgrounds experience learning loss over the summer while their more affluent peers often make learning gains. One way to close the gap is by Summer Learning Programs.
How to Get the Most out of a Summer Learning Program
by Catherine H. Augustine, Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Heather L. Schwartz, Laura Zakaras
Rand Education August 2013
Summer learning programs may help close the achievement gap between low- and higher-income children if done well, but they are sometimes an afterthought or not offered at all, especially when education budgets are tight.

National Summer Learning Association serves as a network hub for thousands of summer learning program providers and stakeholders across the country, providing tools, resources, and expertise to improve program quality, generate support, and increase youth access and participation. Offering professional development, quality assessment and evaluation, best practices dissemination and collaboration, and strategic consulting to states, school districts, community organizations, and funders.

Remarks by the First Lady at Summer Learning Day Event
At the Dept. of Education, Washington DC June 20, 2014
The National Summer Learning Day Fair at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. Bringing together high school students and education leaders from across the country, to the National Summer Learning Day Fair event at the Dept. of Education. Highlights the critical role summer learning plays in preparing young people for successful college entry and completion.

TECHNOLOGY IN SCHOOLS

Improving School District Network Capacity for 21st-Century Learning
Digital Learning November 22, 2013
As rich online media, methods and tools begin to dominate the classroom, it’s more important than ever for district networks to be fast, secure, resilient and robust. Forward-looking schools and districts are evaluating and upgrading their wide area networks (WANs) and metropolitan area networks (MANs) to ensure that they operate under high usage, adapt to flexible configurations, and withstand interruptions and bandwidth surges.

Creating Anytime, Anywhere Learning for All Students: Key Elements of a Comprehensive Digital Infrastructure
June 2014 Alliance for Excellent Education
the Alliance for Excellent Education urges that adequate broadband access be accompanied by a comprehensive “digital infrastructure” that unlocks the potential technology to enhance student learning. This report adopts a broader definition of digital infrastructure that includes professional learning, changes in pedagogy, parent and community engagement, and assessment and data systems.

Capacity Enablers and Barriers for Learning Analytics: Implications for Policy and Practice
June 2014 Alliance for Excellent Education
The effective use of data and learning analytics are both critical components of a digital learning strategy to personalize instruction for many more students, especially to increase student achievement in the highest-need schools.

The Promise of Education Information Systems
How Technology Can Improve School Management and Success
By Nathan Levenson and Ulrich Boser
Center for American Progress June 26, 2014
This report, which looks closely at the use of management technology in education, finds that most school districts fail to use these tools to improve their outcomes. In most cases, they lack both the technology and capacity to analyze their data and figure out effective and cost-effective solutions to raising achievement and reducing costs. Moreover, as this report argues, a large part of the problem is that the fundamental design and culture of schools today are not in sync with these new approaches.

Using Early Childhood Education to Bridge the Digital Divide
by Lindsay Daugherty, Rafiq Dossani, Erin-Elizabeth Johnson, Mustafa Oguz
Rand March 2014
Technology literacy plays an important role in a child's ability to succeed in school and later life. Yet, despite rapid growth in society's use of digital technology, many children in low-income families in the United States are not able to access and use technology in the same ways as their more-advantaged peers.

SCHOOL MEALS

To help reduce America's childhood obesity epidemic and reduce health risks for America's children, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set new school meal standards. At beginning of the next school year, all grains and breads in school meal programs must be "whole grain-rich," meaning that they contain at least 50 percent whole grain meal and/or flour. These requirements also reflect the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends making whole grains at least half of all grains consumed.
You can read this publication by the USDA on the Whole Grain Resource for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs

2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA)
The act reauthorizes the nation’s child nutrition programs such as School Breakfast, School Lunch, summer feeding, and the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program for pregnant women, infants, and children. One of the important goal's of HHFKA is to ensure every American child has access to the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults.
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) part of HHFKA, ensures that all children have access to healthy meals at school. For schools to qualify for free school meals there must be at least 40 percent of its enrollment identified as from low income households.
The CEP allows these schools which predominantly serve low-income children to offer free, nutritious school meals to all students through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The CEP uses information from other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families (TANF) instead of traditional paper applications.
The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, opportunity to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children.
Schools Weigh Expanding Free Meals to All Students
By Evie Blad
Education Week June 30, 2014
Schools will have more time to decide if they want to take advantage of a new federal provision that would allow them to provide free meals to all students after the U.S. Department of Agriculture extended the deadline to opt in from June 30 to Aug. 31.

Secrets to Success in School Nutrition
By Nancy Rice, M.Ed.,RD,LD,SNS
School Business Affairs April 2011
All school nutrition programs learn new Ideas from school nutrition success stories in districts nationwide.

School Meals Programs USDA Has Enhanced Controls, but Additional Verification Could Help Ensure Legitimate Program Access
U.S. Government Accountability Office May 2014
In fiscal year 2012,over 31.6 million children participated in USDA’s National School Lunch Program (NSLP) at a cost of about $11.6 billion. In fiscal year 2013, USDA estimated NSLP certification errors of more than 8 percent, or $996 million. GAO was asked to review possible beneficiary fraud within the program.

—U.S. Embassy's Education Blog—

education matters blog July's teachers' newsletter will be the last one until September, but we will be regularly updating our Education Matters! blog through out the summer months.
Education Matters Blog

 

The Embassy will be closed on July 4th for the Independence Day Holiday


INDEPENDENCE DAY

The founders of the United States knew that independence was something to celebrate and although U.S. Independence Day celebrations have evolved over time, July 4th festivities remain an important part of American life.
You can read more on Independence Day here. The U.S. Census Bureau has complied some facts and statistics relating to July 4th, for example in July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation was 2.5 million, today it is 318.4m
Fourth (of July) and Main Streets By Mark Trainer The Fourth of July is, first and foremost, a birthday party. Americans mark the day in 1776 when 13 English colonies adopted a Declaration of Independence and the United States of America was born.

ARTICLES/REPORTS

The Forgotten Story of the Freedom Schools
Fifty years ago, students in the American South boycotted their classrooms and demanded higher educational standards. Whatever happened to those ideals?
Jon N. Hale
The Atlantic Jun 26 2014
If the civil rights revolution was to succeed, organizers reasoned, African Americans still in their teens had to be properly educated. As more than 2,000 college students from across the country volunteered to register voters, a select minority opted to teach in 41 “Freedom Schools”—alternative middle and high schools that taught the art of resistance and the strategies of protest.

U.S. teachers have harder job than counterparts in industrialized world — survey
By Valerie Strauss
Washington Post July 1 2014
New results from an international survey shows that U.S. public school teachers work harder under more difficult conditions than teachers elsewhere in the industrialized world, and they don’t have the same kind of supports, such as enough useful feedback and professional development.

TALIS 2013 Results
An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning
OECD 25 June 2014
How can countries prepare teachers to face the diverse challenges in today’s schools? The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) helps answer this question by asking teachers and school leaders about their working conditions and the learning environments at their schools. TALIS aims to provide valid, timely and comparable information to help countries review and define policies for developing a high-quality teaching profession. It is an opportunity for teachers and school leaders to provide input into educational policy analysis and development in key areas. This report presents the results of the second cycle of the TALIS survey conducted in 2013.

The Children We Mean to Raise:
The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values
Rick Weissbourd and Stephanie Jones, with Trisha Ross Anderson, Jennifer Kahn, Mark
Harvard’s Graduate School of Education 2014
In the study, “The Children We Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults are Sending About Values,” the authors point to a “rhetoric/reality gap,” an incongruity between what adults tell children they should value and the messages we grown-ups actually send through our behavior. We may pay lip service to character education and empathy, but our children report hearing a very different message.

States Are Strengthening Teacher Preparation Laws
by Chris Kardish
Governing June 25, 2014
According to a new report, states are passing more laws that make teacher colleges more selective and require educators to demonstrate mastery of their subject areas.

Districts Re-Evaluate How to Keep Kids in School and Out of Trouble
A recent report seeks to help states and school districts updating their policies to avoid suspending students for bad behavior -- a practice studies show makes them more vulnerable to dropping out and getting in trouble with the law.
by Kevin Tidmarsh
Governing June 18, 2014

But I Want to Do Your Homework
Helping Kids With Homework
By Judith Newman
New York Times June 21, 2014
Let’s ignore, for the moment, the question of whether homework makes kids smarter and more successful. Almost all studies on the subject say it doesn’t, and in countries with some of the highest levels of academic achievement (hello, Denmark and Finland), there is little or no homework. But in many American schools there is anywhere from one to four hours of it a night.

How States Are Failing Students with Disabilities
Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced a new grading system to evaluate whether states are meeting the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -- and the first year's results aren't good.
by Chris Kardish
Governing June 24, 2014
The number of states out of compliance with a federal law to protect students with disabilities has more than tripled under a new U.S. Department of Education grading system that now emphasizes student performance.

The Great Divide
Parental Involvement Is Overrated
By Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris
New York Times April 12, 2014
Most forms of parental involvement, like observing a child’s class, contacting a school about a child’s behavior, helping to decide a child’s high school courses, or helping a child with homework, do not improve student achievement. In some cases, they actually hinder it.


Teachers Newsletteris produced by the Information Resource Center at the United States Embassy in London
Inclusion of any of the items listed above, especially those from sources outside the U.S. Government, should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein or as official U.S. policy.