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 By Doug Deane

August 30, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) -- The following local, state and national education news items are excerpted from a very informative e-newsletter published by Doug Deane, chair of the Business Education Committee at the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce. Latest education news headlines include:




  • GUHSD iParent Conference September 17
  • Steady improvement in standardized tests
  • The state’s new education blueprint
  • How to measure school success
  • Thought provoking videos from TED
  • Algebra I for 8th graders: an EdSource study
  • Turning the classroom upside down
  • How to get a real education
  • Wind walkers
  • Pathways to prosperity
  • A special report on multimedia in schools
  • Texas students sent from classroom to courtroom
  • Feds say ‘no child’ benchmarks can be left behind
  • Helping others succeed is teacher’s reward


 GUHSD iParent Conference


The GUHSD is looking for local organizations, service providers, and community partners to share their valuable resources at its Resource Fair at the GUHSD iParent Conference at Valhalla High School starting at 9 a.m. on September 17, 2011. 


 Steady improvement in standardized tests


Despite another round of budget cuts, students in San Diego County and throughout California continued to show steady improvement across the board in state standardized tests, with a larger proportion than ever scoring proficient or higher in English, math, science and history in 2011.

“The significant and sustained improvements we’ve seen for nine consecutive years prove how hard teachers, school employees, administrators and parents are working to help students achieve despite budget cuts that have affected our schools,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement.“Their heroic teamwork is paying off for California.”

Read more by clicking on



The state’s new education blueprint


Given that pronouncements from Gov. Jerry Brown about how to improve California’s public schools are both rare and vague, state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson has the spotlight more than his predecessors when it comes to education policy. Torlakson also has been working closely with the state Board of Education and has a strong relationship with Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who often takes the lead in the Legislature on education issues. That’s why the 31-page “Blueprint for Great Schools” Torlakson released last week is of particular note.




How to measure school success


When actor Matt Damon attended an education rally last month, he spoke eloquently in praise of teachers and blasted the increasing reliance on standardized testing to measure success. The son of a teacher, he noted that his imagination, love of acting, passion for writing, love of learning and his curiosity all came from how he was parented and taught. “None of these qualities that make me who I am ... can be tested,” he said. “My teachers were empowered to teach me. Their time wasn’t taken up with a bunch of test prep.”





 Thought-Provoking Videos from TED


Here are some really interesting education-related videos from TED that we thought you’d enjoy:


Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world:  Reality is broken, says Jane McGonigal, and we need to make it work more like a game. Her work shows us how.  Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.


Check this video out at


Ali Carr-Chellman: Gaming to re-engage boys in learning:  Ali Carr-Chellman pinpoints three reasons boys are tuning out of school in droves, and lays out her bold plan to re-engage them: bringing their culture into the classroom, with new rules that let boys be boys, and video games that teach as well as entertain.


Check out this video by clicking on


Cameron Herold: Let's raise kids to be entrepreneurs:  Bored in school, failing classes, at odds with peers: This child might be an entrepreneur, says Cameron Herold. At TEDxEdmonton, he makes the case for parenting and education that helps would-be entrepreneurs flourish -- as kids and as adults.


Check it out at



Algebra I for 8th Graders:  An EdSource Study


California education policy has long aspired for more 8th graders to take and succeed in Algebra I. While this serves some students well, placing all 8th graders in Algebra I regardless of their preparation sets up many students to fail.

So which students should be placed in Algebra I in 8th grade?

A recent EdSource study, Improving Middle Grades Math Performance, used longitudinal test data to examine the math course placements of nearly 70,000 8th graders in 303 middle schools across California.

Since its release in February, this research has helped local leaders take an important new look at math placement in their own schools. Now that information is available in a free, easy-to-read summary.

As part of its continuing work on middle grades education, EdSource has created a 2-page policy brief highlighting the findings and implications of this research.

The brief includes findings regarding the relationship between students' prior math achievement, their math course placements in 8th grade, and their subsequent success. It also sheds light on local practices and policies for placing students, and highlights opportunities for districts and schools to carefully evaluate these pivotal decisions.

This brief was developed with input from the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Middle Grades Education Council. We thank ACSA for working with us on this brief and for making it available to their members across California.

 Turning the Classroom Upside Down


Why not have lectures at home and 'homework' at school—and let students learn at their own pace?  There’s a relatively new movement in education called “open source courseware” – where classes and lectures are posted free, online for anyone, anywhere, to access.


MIT is doing it, as are many other top tier universities.


One of the leaders is the Khan Academy.  We’ve heard much about the Khan academy – but had no idea that the developer was an individual and so young!!


Check this out:


How to Get a Real Education


Forget art history and calculus. Most students need to learn how to run a business, says Scott Adams. I understand why the top students in America study physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature. The kids in this brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward. But why do we make B students sit through these same classes? That's like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money.  Wouldn't it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship?


Read this interesting article in the Wall Street Journal at:


Wind Walkers


This idea is not directly related to education, but it’s all about imagination and innovation, which is exactly what education’s goal should be.  You will really enjoy this video!


Pathways to Prosperity


By concentrating too much on classroom-based academics with four-year college as a goal, the nation’s education system has failed vast numbers of students, who instead need solid preparation for careers requiring less than a bachelor’s degree, Harvard scholars say in a report issued today .


Leaders of the “Pathways to Prosperity” project at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education argue for an education system that clearly articulates students’ career options as early as middle school and defines the coursework and training required, so young people can chart an informed course toward work, whether as an electrician or a college professor….


 A Special Report on Multimedia in Schools


In science and math classes across the country, digital tools are being used to conduct experiments, analyze data, and run 3-D simulations to explain complex concepts. Language arts teachers are now pushing the definition of literacy to include the ability to express ideas through media. This report, "Multimedia Transformation," examines the many ways multimedia tools are transforming teaching and learning as schools work to raise achievement and prepare students for careers that require increasingly sophisticated uses of technology.


Check out this interesting study at


Texas students sent from classroom to courtroom


In a small courtroom north of Houston, a fourth-grader walked up to the bench with his mother. Too short to see the judge, he stood on a stool. He was dressed in a polo shirt and dark slacks on a sweltering summer morning.


“Guilty,” the boy’s mother heard him say.


He had been part of a scuffle on a school bus.


In another generation, he might have received only a scolding from the principal or a period of detention. But an array of get-tough policies in U.S. schools in the past two decades has brought many students into contact with police and courts — part of a trend some experts call the criminalization of student discipline.




Feds say 'No child' benchmarks can be left behind


State and local education officials said Monday they welcome the opportunity for more flexibility from stringent testing mandates in the federal No Child Left Behind law, saying there is clearly a need for an alternative model for accountability.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced over the weekend that President Barack Obama has authorized him to grant waivers to states, as long as they pursue other reform efforts, because Congress has failed to rewrite the widely criticized law.





 Helping others succeed is teacher’s reward


Chris Branton never thought he’d want to go from fixing cars to teaching other people how to fix cars, until he started doing just that.


“The interaction with students, helping the students, there’s nothing better than having a student come back five or six years later and say, ‘You helped me get my career started,’” he said. “To see the students doing well and to feel like you had a hand in some of it, it’s real rewarding and I love the job.”





The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce’s Business Education Committee believes that education is the cornerstone of our region’s economic health and is key to the well-being of all our member businesses and residents. 



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