Friday Round-up


Happy Friday Everyone!

$5 Billion in Grants Offered to Revisit Teacher Policies

The plan still needs Congressional approval, but The Obama Administration is proposing $5 billion in grants to fund teacher improvement policies in schools. States with the most promising proposals for recruiting and maintaining good teachers will qualify for multi-year funding from the government. As Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in the article “We need to change society’s views of teaching from the factory model of yesterday to the professional model of tomorrow, where teachers are revered as thinkers, leaders and nation-builders.”

iPads in Auburn, Maine’s Kindergartens: A First Look at Their Effect on Learning

Last fall Auburn School District in Maine purchased over 250 ipads for every kindergartner in their school district. More impressive than that, the addition of iPads improved the students’ literacy rates. (Or so it would seem.) Auburn School District has made a strong effort to improve student literacy rates and they have tracked data on how well their kindergartners read and write for several years. When the school purchased the ipads they were part of an explicit, structured plan for student improvement. So the question is: was improvement only due to the hard work and structure of the school, or are iPads becoming a key tool in our classrooms?

Can Robots Grade Essays As Well as Humans?

The Hewlett Foundation is offering a $100,000 prize to the software designer that develops the best automated essay grader. Why? The Foundation believes the ease of automated test grading systems have made many teachers hesitant to continue using essays as a form of assessment. (I agree.) The Foundation also feels that essays are a more effecient form of assessment, that gives students a greater opportunity to “master important academic content, critical thinking, and effective communication.” (I agree.) What I’m not so sure about is how an automated system would be able to monitor whether or not students are effectively communicating. I worry it would simply focus on grammer rules and spelling errors.

Share your opinions or interesting articles you have read in the comments!