Although results have improved in recent years in several key areas relating to education—high school graduation rates, number of children attending preschool, and fourth-grade reading proficiency—much work remains to be done, according to the 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book, published by the Anne E. Casey Foundation. The annual report measures the well-being of children on 16 measures in the areas of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community, reporting findings at both national and state-by-state levels.  Continue reading

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The publishing community has for some time been closely following the conflict between Amazon and Hachette about e-book pricing. Gradually, public awareness of the dispute is growing as well.  Continue reading

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Educators at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels have a desire to integrate technology at a much higher level than they currently do, but they need support and assistance to make that happen. That’s one of the conclusions from a new Vision K-20 survey conducted by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).  Continue reading

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More than one in six 15-year-old students in the United States (17.8%) do not reach the baseline level of proficiency in financial literacy, according to recently released results from a 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey. U.S. students ranked in the middle of the pack among 18 countries and economies participating in the survey. Those with the top average scores were Shanghai-China, the Flemish Community of Belgium, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

“Developing financial literacy skills and knowledge is critical now that individuals are becoming increasingly responsible at an ever earlier age for financial risks affecting their future,” said Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which administers PISA. Key findings from the survey included the following:

  • The gender gap in financial literacy was much smaller than in the PISA tests in math or reading, with no significant difference between the performance of boys and girls, except in Italy.
  • The inequality gap between socio-economically advantaged and less-advantaged students mirrored that in key school subjects.
  • About one in 10 students in the United States was a top performer (9.4% compared to the average of 9.7% across OECD countries). Top performers can handle a variety of high-level financial tasks.
  • About half of 15-year-old students in the United States reported that they held a bank account, and they performed better than those who did not, but this performance gap disappears after accounting for socio-economic status.

To learn more, read this OECD press release, which also contains links to more detailed findings, including the U.S. country notes.

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To help state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) use social media platforms more effectively, the Reform Support Network of the U.S. Department of Education has begun offering Social Media Tip Sheets. The first, focusing on Innovative Engagement, came out in June. The tip sheet described four key innovations, giving examples of each.

  1. Utilizing the Voice of Chiefs. Since taking over four years ago, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has amassed more than 9,000 followers on Twitter. She tweets, on average, at least six or seven times per day as part of her social media outreach strategy.
  2. Trying New Platforms. Georgia, among other states, is experimenting with posting materials for teachers on Pinterest. The Georgia Department of Education’s Pinterest page features 24 boards with different topic areas.
  3. Engaging Directly with Non-Traditional Media. Ohio has engaged with and monitored bloggers who write about education in the state.
  4. Keeping It Social—and Fun. Several states are working to find ways to be compelling and even humorous (but still informative) on social media, realizing that social media attracts the most interest when it is compelling.

To learn more, read the full tip sheet.

The tip sheets built on findings from a Reform Support Network survey that found 80% of SEAs and LEAs said they use or plan to use the three dominant social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube—and 79% said they thought their efforts on social media were succeeding. Key findings from that survey, titled “Measurable Success, Growing Adoption, Vast Potential: Social Media Use Among State and Local Education Agencies,” include the following:

  • While adoption of the leading social media platforms is strong, skepticism remains about additional or unproven platforms.
  • LEAs use social media more expansively than SEAs.
  • About half of agencies have formal policies in place for social media usage, and an equal number use metrics to track success.
  • Parents, local educators, and the media were key audiences for LEAs and SEAs using social media.
  • Staffing, concerns about negative postings by the public or critics, and lack of training and resources are key challenges for social media implementation.

For further information, read the survey report.

 

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