News for Teachers From the
U.S. Embassy, London
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Women's History Month
March is Women's History Month, and the Embassy have some pamphlets on: Women of Influence and Women in the World Today, to give out to schools in the UK. If you would like either of these two pamphlets then email the IRC at the U.S. Embassy on weblond@state.gov giving your name, school and your postal address.
March 2014
Home Schooling

In 1980, home schooling was illegal in 30 states,it was not until 1993 that all 50 states made the practice lawful and in recent years, the practice of home schooling has taken off.
A growing number of U.S. students receive their education through home schooling,about 1.5 million students were home schooled in the U. S. in 2007. In addition, the estimated home schooling rate -- the percentage of the school-age population that was being home schooled -- increased from 1.7 percent in 1999 to 2.9 percent in 2007. Figures taken from the 2011 Digest of Education Statistics.
Homeschooling regulations vary from state to state. Oklahoma, Missouri and New Jersey have only minimal requirements, for example, while New York's, Rhode Island's and Pennsylvania's requirements include parental notifications, state tests, professional evaluations and curriculum approvals.

The ‘Tim Tebow’ Law allows home schoolers to do sport at their local High School. The “Tim Tebow law,” was passed in 1996 and gave the homeschooled Tim Tebow a chance to play for local private and public schools on his way to an NFL career. Tebow’s family was living in Florida in the mid-1990s and his evangelical parents homeschooled him and his siblings. In the early days of the homeschooling movement, students who learned at home were not allowed to participate in athletics at their local public schools. After Florida passed the law, at least 25 states already have some kind of "Tebow law."

Declarations of Independence: Home School Families’ Perspectives on Education, the Common Good, and Diversity
Kenneth V. Anthony
Current Issues in Education February 2013
This study examined the perspectives of home school families regarding the rights, interests, and responsibilities of family and state over education. These families viewed the common good differently than critics of home schooling.

Homeschooling, City-Style
By Lisa Miller
New York Magazine Oct 14, 2012
Why more and more city parents are teaching their kids themselves.


Virtual Schools
The first statewide, internet-based not for profit public high school was created in 2000 in Florida called the Florida Virtual School (FLVS).FLVS provides courseware, training, and expertise to a vareiety of online programs for schools and international agenices.
FLVS teaches approximately 150,000 students annually.

Measuring Success: Examining Achievement and Perceptions of Online Advanced Placement Students
By Sharon Johnston & Michael K. Barbour
American Journal of Distance Education 2013
The purpose of the research was to compare student performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams from 2009 to 2011 at Florida Virtual School and to explore student perceptions of their online course experience compared with the classroom-based AP experiences. The data indicated that students performed at levels comparable to the national sample but higher compared with other Florida students. The data also showed that students perceived benefits to both their online and classroom AP courses. Both these findings lend credibility to the delivery of AP in an online format but also indicate that the design, delivery, and support of the instruction was paramount regardless of delivery model.
Available in hardcopy,you must be resident in the UK. Email your request to weblond@state.gov

Financing Online Education and Virtual Schooling
A Guide for Policymakers and Advocates
Bruce D. Baker Rutgers University and Justin Bathon University of Kentucky National Education Policy Center October 2013
This policy brief addresses considerations for state and local policymakers as they decide whether and how to finance supplemental online education alternatives and/or full-time virtual schools. They offer an alternative cost analysis framework that can be used to add individual cost components in order to calculate total overall costs for virtual schools. After discussing general analytic issues that policymakers should consider as they develop finance policy, they offer model legislation for a uniform financing and accountability policy applicable to both supplemental and full-time online education.

Teacher Development

Summary of research on the effectiveness of math professional development approaches
Russell Gersten, Mary Jo Taylor, Tran D. Keys,Eric Rolfhus, and Rebecca Newman-Gonchar
January 2014
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
This comprehensive literature review identified 643 studies of professional development interventions related to math in grades K–12. Thirty-two of the studies used a research design for assessing the effectiveness of math professional development approaches,and five of those met What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards. Of the five, only two found positive effects on student math proficiency.

Time for a New Approach to Professional-Development Research?
By Stephen Sawchuk
Education Week January 6, 2014
In the wake of a number of disappointing, no-effects-seen evaluations of professional-development programs, several scholars are proposing that the research community upend its traditional approach to studying in-service teacher training.

Learning-Focused is a professional-development program directed towards classroom instruction to help schools increase teacher effectiveness with a comprehensive range of solutions.

Closing the Achievement Gap

Rocketship Education is a network of public charter schools, with eight schools in San Jose and one in Milwaukee, dedicated to eliminating the achievement gap,the schools are based in under privileged areas. The Rocketship model is designed to overcome these differences and eliminate the achievement gap. Through personalized student instruction, teacher development, and parental engagement, showing that students can perform as well as any of their peers in other schools.

Growing income inequality threatens American education
Greg J. Duncan, and Richard J. Murnane
Phi Delta Kappan March 2014
Researchers have long known that children attending schools with mostly low-income classmates have lower academic achievement and graduation rates than those attending schools with more affluent student populations. Less well understood are the ways in which student body composition shapes school functioning and children’s developmental trajectories and long-run outcomes.

Student-centered learning approaches are effective in closing the opportunity gap Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) January 28, 2014
Four new case studies look at California schools effectively using student-centered learning models
While, nationally, students of color and low-income students continue to achieve at far lower levels than their more advantaged peers, some schools are breaking that trend. A new set of case studies, released today, looks at four of these schools in Northern California in which traditionally underserved students are achieving above state and district averages.

The Wrong Way to Close the Education Gap
In trying to raise achievement levels in our schools, we're failing to acknowledge a critical factor: Students are different from each other.
by Curtis Johnson
Governing February 24, 2014
The American narrative focuses narrowly on the difference in median scores on standardized tests between racial categories, predominantly in reading and math. Education is stuck in this one-dimensional notion of how to measure achievement. In no other area of life do we do this. We buy houses based on multiple attributes. When we shop for a car, we think about fuel economy, style, safety, even color. Why should we restrain schools to consider only reading and math, and only on standardized tests?

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Women of InfluenceWomen's History Month

National Women's History Month's roots go back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women's Day was first observed in 1909, but it wasn't until 1981 that Congress established National Women's History Week to be commemorated the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month. Every year since, Congress has passed a resolution for Women's History Month, and the President has issued a proclamation .

Useful websites from the Smithonian for Women's History Month:
The National Museum of American History
O Say Can You See, blog features a number of posts that highlight topics in women's history.
Women's History blog
Women's History Photos
Smithsonian's Flickr photostream features historic photographs of notable women in American history.
Flickr photostream;
Setting the Precedent: Four Women Who Excelled In Business
The National Museum of American History offers an interactive online exhibition that profiles four women who set the precedent for women in the workplace.
http://amhistory.si.edu/archives/WIB-tour/mainMovie.html
Women of Our Time
The National Portrait Gallery has an online exhibition that highlights photographs and biographies of famous and influential American women.
http://www.npg.si.edu/cexh/woot/index.HTM

Healthy Eating in Schools

On Tuesday 25 February Michelle Obama gave a speech launching the new “School Wellness Standards” to help build healthier learning environments for school children. And as part of this effort, advertisements for unhealthy food and beverages in schools will be eliminated. With these new guidelines it is hoped that this will inspire companies to rethink how they market food to kids in general. Because, today, the average child watches thousands of food advertisements each year, and 86 percent of these ads are for products loaded with sugar, fat or salt. And, by contrast, kids see an average of just one ad a week for healthy products like water, fruits and vegetables. Read more on our Education Blog

Articles/Reports

If Bill Gates did this one thing, student test scores would soar
Debby Mayer
Great Schools for America February 03, 2014
Here’s a suggestion for Bill and his buddies who want to reform our public schools: FEED THE CHILDREN. Concentrating on this one thing would cause test scores to soar.

Does Class Size Matter?
Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach
National Education Policy Center February 2014
This policy brief summarizes the academic literature on the impact of class size and finds that class size is an important determinant of a variety of student outcomes,ranging from test scores to broader life outcomes. Smaller classes are particularly effective at raising achievement levels of low-income and minority children.

Kansas City Plan Would Weaken Superintendent's Office, Expand Charter Schools
A proposal to improve the city's education system dissolves the board and gives far greater autonomy to individual schools, who would answer to a slimmed-down district office.
by Chris Kardish
Governing February 3, 2014
It’s a plan that radically shifts control of per-pupil dollars to the people running schools, leaving the central office with a few basic functions and the role of monitoring the progress of independent schools and holding them accountable for their performance.

The Joy of Teaching Computer Science in the Age of Facebook
Atlantic Monthly Feb 18 2014
Hope Reese
"When people see companies like Google and Facebook being founded by relatively young people, they feel empowered and think: I can do that."

Right-sizing the Classroom: Making the Most of Great Teachers
Michael Hansen
CALDER Working Paper No. 1
10 January 2014
This CALDER Center paper examines the value of strategically assigning disproportionately larger classes to the strongest teachers in order to optimize student learning in the face of differential teacher effectiveness. The rationale is straightforward: Larger classes for the best teachers benefit the pupils who are reassigned to them; they also help the less effective teachers improve their instruction by enabling them to concentrate on fewer students. But just how much of a difference could manipulating class sizes in this way make for overall student learning and access to effective teaching?

Schools Should Be Teaching Kids How to Use the Internet Well
But outdated web filters make that mission quite difficult.
Abigail Walthausen
Atlantic Monthly Feb 14 2014
During this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama championed the goal of increasing bandwidth in schools across the country.

Have Public Schools Found the Answer to Competition from Charters?
American Interest Feb 2014
Magnet schools have been on the decline since their heyday in the late 1960s and 1970s, but as a urban school districts begin to lose students to charter schools, many are trying to revive the schools as a means of competing with charters.

You think you know what teachers do. Right? Wrong
By Valerie Strauss
Washington Post February 22 2014
By Sarah Blaine
You went to school so you think you know what teachers do, right? You are wrong. Here’s a piece explaining all of this from Sarah Blaine, a mom.
We all know what teachers do, right? After all, we were all students. Each one of us, each product of public education, we each sat through class after class for thirteen years. We encountered dozens of teachers.


Teachers Newsletter is 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.