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Best of Education World 2015: This Year’s Top 10 Stories in K-12 Education

As the year comes to a close, Education World reflects on the top ten stories in education from 2015. 

 

1. The No Child Left Behind Act is Finally Overhauled 

Undoubtedly this year’s top story is the highly anticipated overhaul of the long-expired Bush-era education legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act, which became official just before the end of 2015.

The Timeline

July 2015: Congress began rewriting NCLB in Summer 2015, with the Senate and the House each working on their own respective bills: The Every Child Achieves Act and the Student Success Act. 

December 3: The House got the ball rolling by passing the Every Student Succeeds Act on Dec. 3 

December 8: The Senate passes the Every Student Succeeds Act Dec. 8 

December 10:  President Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act into law Dec. 10. 

2. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces Resignation

On Oct. 2, Secretary of Education since 2009 Arne Duncan announced his resignation, leaving behind a legacy of of radical reform that had its fair share of critics. Nonetheless, Duncan will leave behind a series of crucial improvements, such as all-time high graduation rates and the biggest improvements for minorities and the poor. John B. King will serve as his replacement, effective in January. 

Read the story

3. Common Core Support Descends into Free Fall

This was not the year for Common Core. Despite handfuls of supporters existing throughout, Common Core received some of its most prominent backlash this year as significant issues with newly-aligned standardized tests made national news in state after state.

To make matters worse, when Common Core tests results began to come in in August, most states were confused by what they meant.

States than began to left and right begin the process of dropping Common Core.

  • In August, CT Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the state’s high school juniors would no longer take a Common Core-aligned assessment but would take the SAT instead. 
  • Massachusetts, a leader in education reform, announced in November it will be completely scrapping Common Core assessments to replace it with its own test by 2017. 
  • Shortly before that, New York announced it was appointing a task force to determine if Common Core is working or not; the task force came back with unfavorable findings towards Common Core, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state will be pulling back. 

 

4. The Year of the Chromebook

While 2015 was not the year for Common Core, it certainly was for Google’s Chromebook.

In September, Education Week revealed that 60 percent of of Chromebook sales are entirely in the education sector.

In early December, NBC News reported that 30,000 new Chromebooks are activated in schools every single day, a huge difference from making up of just one percent of classroom technology in 2012.

Chromebook now holds 53 percent of the market for K-12 devices bought by schools and educators. 

Read the story

5. Google Changes Learning with Virtual Field Trip Kit

Google’s stronghold on education further increased this year when it announced in May the development of Expeditions, an affordable and easy-to-use virtual reality field trip kit for schools.

Using just cardboard headsets and a smartphone, the virtual field trip kit helps students travel the world in relation to classroom lessons in no time.

Still being tested through a pilot program, educators who have used it in their classroom have had only positive things to say. 

Read the full story

6. Schools Listen to Health Experts, Push Back School Start Times

Many schools this year began listening to advice from health experts that later start times are more beneficial to student’s health. One of the major school districts to heed this advice was the Seattle School District. 

The district voted to push back school times for the 2016-2017 school year in late November.

Read the full story

7. Computer Science Becomes a Priority

Several school districts opted to mandate computer science class offerings in its schools to increase access to the subject, which is receiving a lot of focus as a subject that should be mandatory for students to learn.

In June, the San Francisco Unified School District voted to have computer science offerings mandatory for all schools, all grade levels

In September, New York City's mayor announced he will require all New York City schools to offer computer science for all grade levels by the next ten years. The plan will require the training of 5,000 teachers to support the initiative to provide computer science to all students in the nation’s largest school district.

8. The Maker Movement Keeps Moving

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) continues to be at the forefront of education conversation, and this year the Maker Movement became a staple in education vocab as more students have become interested in being makers.

The movement has received such a following, many speculate that the Maker Movement is here to stay for  years to come. 

9. Teaching Quality Correlated to Collaboration

A ground-breaking study from the University of Michigan’s School of Education released in July found that higher equality teachers are directly related to a solid culture of collaboration.

The study links teacher and student success to collaboration, such as through the requirement of instructional teams, and is a first-of-its-kind on a district level. 

Read the full story. 

10. Report Outlines Blended Learning Techniques, Outcomes

The hype that surrounds blended learning- or combining in-person instruction with online instruction- didn’t go away this year, but it did have some experts wondering if the hype was merited by improving student outcomes.

A report from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) in July took a look at what blended learning means for classroom instruction and defined several different techniques that educators use when implementing blended learning.

Read the full story

 

Compiled by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

12/21/2015

 

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