Refundable tax credit for private school tuition created

Source: EdChoice blog, Jan 2014

When Alabama joined the school choice “family” in 2013, it did so in dramatic fashion, passing two tax-credit programs, one of which is the country’s first refundable tax credit for private school tuition.

Under the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013, parents can receive a tax credit worth the lesser of (1) 80 percent of the average annual state cost of attending a K-12 public school or (2) their students’ actual cost of attending the choice school. If the taxes owed by the parents are less than the total credit allowed, they may receive a rebate equal to the balance of the unused credit, giving low-income families the power to choose.


Scouring the World for Math Teachers

Source: Bridge to Tomorrow, Dec 2013

The state’s middle school students are struggling in math. And in a 21st century economy that relies heavily on innovation in science and technology and in which our kids will be in a desperate competition with students from leading states like Massachusetts and high-flying nations like China and Korea to maintain middle class lives, that’s really bad news…

So Florida should do what any successful business would do given a glaring weakness in its operation — scour the nation and world for the best math teachers and do whatever it takes to get them into our middle schools.

It may take the addition of a supplement of as much as $10,000 per year on top of the standard teaching salary to attract a great teacher from Michigan (for example) to Florida.

High-quality online instruction with F2F TAs

Source: The American Interest, Jan 2014

 the real case for MOOCs, and the reason the professoriat (except for stars like Dan Drezner) needs to stay braced for big change has to do with empowering TAs and cutting the cost of highly paid, tenured and mediocre senior faculty.

It is a lot cheaper to train people to be brilliant and effective TAs than it is to train and tenure senior faculty at third tier institutions.

An education based around highly trained and motivated, often non-Ph.D instructors working with MOOCs that give students access to the best professors and biggest names in the academic world may not be as good as what kids get at Harvard now—but it can be a lot better than what many students are getting today on thousands of campuses in this country and all over the world. And it is substantially cheaper to provide.

OCPS needs a School for the Gifted

Source: Orlando Sentinel, Dec 2013

Central Florida school districts have few options to challenge young, highly gifted children such as Spencer.Many Orange elementary schools, including the one Spencer attended, pull gifted students out for special attention for only one day a week.

The Orange School Board recently discussed the possibility of creating a districtwide gifted school, but no final decision was made.

In a survey of gifted parents last month, 82 percent of respondents said they would send their student to such a school if transportation were provided. The district has more than 12,000 students identified as intellectually gifted, or about 6.7 percent of the student body.

“I think that there is a gap in what Orange County offers to these kids,” particularly at the middle school level, said Cortney Thekan, who has two gifted children in Orange schools. She said she “wholeheartedly” supports the idea of a gifted school.

Gifted services aren’t mandated by federal law, and the depth of offerings can be influenced by the number of higher-income parents advocating for them, said Tiombe Kendrick, a school psychologist in Miami-Dade schools and president-elect of Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, an advocacy group for gifted children and adults.

To address disparities, Orange schools universally screen second-graders in high-poverty schools for gifted, and they admit some students based on potential and academic performance instead of raw IQ.

School Board Chairman Bill Sublette has made clear that Orange needs to at least consider a gifted school such as the highly regarded Pine View School in Sarasota County. Having such a school can enhance the reputation of a district, he said.

The district needs to do more, Superintendent Barbara Jenkins agreed.

“It is critical that we challenge our advanced learners,” she said. “If you do not, they will find other places to take their children.”

Cambridge Exams in Central Florida

Source: Cambridge website, Dec 2013


Fullscreen capture 20-Dec-13 12536 PM.bmp

OCPS Gifted Services Initiative

Source: OCPS, Dec 2013
(see the Dec 19th 2013 work session)

Home-schooled gifted program

IBM Prediction: The Classroom will Learn You

Source: VentureBeat, Dec 2013

 The classroom will learn you. Globally, two out of three adults haven’t gotten the equivalent of a high school education. But IBM believes the classrooms of the future will give educators the tools to learn about every student, providing them with a tailored curriculum from kindergarten to high school.

“Your teacher spends time getting to know you every year,” Meyerson said. “What if they already knew everything about how you learn?”

In the next five years, IBM believes teachers will use “longitudinal data” such as test scores, attendance, student behavior on electronic learning platforms — and not just the results of aptitude tests. Sophisticated analytics delivered over the cloud will help teachers make decisions about which students are at risk, their roadblocks, and the way to help them.


IBM is working on a research project with the Gwinnett County Public Schools, the 14th largest school district in the U.S. in New York State with 170,000 students. The goal is to increase the district’s graduation rate. And after a $10 billion investment in analytics, IBM believes it can harness big data to help students out.

“You’ll be able to pick up problems like dyslexia instantly,” Meyerson said. “If a child has extraordinary abilities, they can be recognized. With 30 kids in a class, a teacher cannot do it themselves. This doesn’t replace them. It allows them to be far more effective. Right now, the experience in a big box store doesn’t resemble this, but it will get there.”

Helping Gifted and Talent Students

Source: NYTimes, Dec 2013

Analysts and scholars have studied international trends and identified the familiar ingredients of a high-performing educational system: high standards and expectations; creative and well-designed coursework; enhanced status, development and pay of teachers; and a culture where academic achievement is valued, parents are deeply involved and school leaders insist on excellence.

But raising the performance of the best students will require the country to do far more. Here are a few recommendations:

  1. Government Support
  2. Accelerated Learning
  3. Early College Admission
  4. Psychological Coaching

2012 PISA Results

Source: OECD website, Dec 2013

High School with No Walls: iZone Academy

Source: WSJ, Dec 2013

New York City is planning to open a new high school next year—but it won’t have a gym, library, science lab or even a math classroom.

The city wants to open a so-called school without walls, one where students would take courses that combine online and classroom learning, while giving them more time for internships.

If it goes as planned, the initial class in fall 2014 would be open to 50 to 100 students. Unlike some of the city’s selective schools, students won’t need to submit portfolios or test results to get in. “Students will be able to experience, live and learn throughout the city,” said David Weiner, deputy chancellor for talent, labor and innovation.

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