First Bell

KSDE seeks disciplined message on Common Core

Peter Hancock

The Kansas State Department of Education is tired of losing the messaging war when it comes to talking about the Common Core Standards. And so now they're fighting back. On Wednesday we reported that Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker soon will respond in writing to a recent Kansas Republican Party resolution ...

What National Merit awards do and don't tell us

Peter Hancock

A reader emailed me the following message recently about a story we ran last week about the local [National Merit semifinalists][1]. That story reported that there are 18 semifinalists from Lawrence schools this year: 11 attend Free State High School; five go to Bishop Seabury Academy; and two are at ...

Lawrence schools at a tipping point

Peter Hancock

The Lawrence school district is fast reaching the point where it needs to make some decisions about how to handle future growth. That was a common thread running through a number of discussions at the school board meeting Monday night. Much of it was brought on by the sudden and ...

Court grants permission for amicus briefs; Beier recusal

Peter Hancock

The Kansas Supreme Court today granted two requests by outside parties to file *amicus curiae*, or "friend of the court," briefs in the pending school finance suit. Without comment, and [over the objection of attorneys defending the state][1] of Kansas, the Court gave permission to the Education Law Center, a ...

Three education groups to file amicus briefs in school finance case

Peter Hancock

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday gave permission for three education groups to file amicus, or "friend of the court," briefs in the pending school finance lawsuit. The groups include the [Kansas Association of School Boards][1], the [Emporia school district,][2] and the [Kansas National Education Association][3], the state's largest teachers ...

The spin begins on ACT scores

Peter Hancock

It didn't take long after the release of state and national ACT scores for certain groups to start spinning the numbers for political gain. Those numbers, you may recall from [today's story][1], showed average scores in Kansas holding pretty much steady from the year before, and still well above the ...

Declining test scores in some states may be a precursor for Kansas

Peter Hancock

News has already started coming from other states about how new tests aligned to the Common Core standards in reading and math are producing dramatically lower test scores. In [New York City][1], for example, where public schools are actually a division within city government, this year's sudden drop in test ...

Annoying cliches in education jargon

Peter Hancock

Two very interesting writers have been discussing their nominees for the most pernicious cliches floating around in education jargon these days. I have a few suggestions of my own, but we'll save those for a minute. [Judith Shulevitz of the New Republic][1] started it off last week with her nomination ...

Survey documents enthusiasm of first-year teachers

Peter Hancock

By now, most people know that today is the first day of class in Lawrence and many other public school districts in Kansas. That's always a big deal, especially for kids starting kindergarten for whom school is an entirely new experience. But one fact often lost in all the back-to-school ...

STEAM: Arts education gaining new respect

Peter Hancock

For the past several years, people in certain education reform circles have focused their attention on STEM classes, a popular acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. The feeling has been that these are the areas that offer the most promise for future job growth and economic expansion. They're also ...

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