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Home   Communities   Publications   Education   Issues   Convention   Join TESOL   Jul. 18, 2012






Alarms sounded as federal education cuts loom
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A pair of new reports raises dire warnings about the impact on school districts and federal education programs from the sweeping, across-the-board spending cuts set to hit all federal agencies in early January if Congress doesn't act to head them off. The reports, from the American Association of School Administrators and the National Education Association, take a close look at the threat posed by what's known as sequestration, the automatic budget cuts that loom as a result of the deal last August to raise the federal debt ceiling. More



Education law challenges loom after health care ruling
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Legal analysts say that part of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the federal health care law will encourage states to challenge education laws and other federal aid programs and legislation passed under Congress' spending power, a pivotal aspect of the historic ruling. The justices ruled 5-4 to uphold a key provision of the Affordable Care Act — the requirement that individuals purchase a health insurance policy with at least a minimum level of coverage — as a valid exercise under Congress' taxing power. But the court effectively ruled 7-2 that the states could not be threatened with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if they refused to participate in the law's expansion of the federal health care program for the poor. More






TESOL seeks applications and nominations for TESOL Quarterly Editor
TESOL    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The TESOL Board of Directors invites applications and nominations for the position of editor of TESOL Quarterly. The editor serves a 5-year term, beginning January 2013. The new editor must be a TESOL member in good standing no later than 1 January 2013. The application deadline is 17 September. For more information, please download the call for applicants.

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Check out the revised edition of 'New Ways in Teaching Reading'
TESOL    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The popular "New Ways in Teaching Reading" is now updated and revised, featuring new activities inspired by state-of-the art developments in teaching reading to English learners, expanded categories, including the Internet, fluency, young readers and extensive reading, and more of what made the first edition a best seller: classroom-ready activities contributed by ESL and EFL reading teachers for ESL and EFL reading teachers. Please log in to the TESOL Bookstore.



Education department to study ELLs with disabilities
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Challenges related to identifying English language learners who have disabilities and providing appropriate services for them are about to become the subject of a U.S. Department of Education "exploratory" study. The education department has selected six school districts (names not to be revealed) to focus on as case studies in an effort to understand how educators figure out which ELLs need special education services and how they go about delivering those services to them. Using surveys and interviews, researchers will gather information from each of the districts and use their findings to plan a nationally representative study of ELLs with disabilities. More

More than half of states now have NCLB waivers
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act remains stalled in Congress, but the Obama administration continues to push ahead with big changes to the accountability system at its core, with more than half the states now having been approved for waivers from major mandates of the law. The U.S. Department of Education so far has granted conditional waivers to 26 states from mandates such as the 2013-2014 deadline for bringing all students to proficiency on state tests and the NCLB law's teacher-quality requirements. In exchange, states have promised to adopt college- and career-readiness standards, measure teacher effectiveness in part by student outcomes and set alternative goals for student achievement. More

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Back to school already? Debate continues over year-round benefits
The Associated Press via The Christian Science Monitor    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
By the time summer's over, many families can't wait for school to start. Working parents have struggled to find camps or babysitting, kids are bored and teachers fret over "summer slide" — the academic losses that research shows hits kids from poor families hardest. Year-round schooling might seem like the antidote, and in some parts of the country, schools with just a few weeks off are not uncommon. In Raleigh, N.C. and other parts of Wake County, for instance, this week was the first week of school for 26,000 students on a year-round calendar. More



Education department: Waivers won't get states out of reporting
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Just because 26 states have been granted waivers from certain accountability requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act doesn't mean they will be able to avoid the reams of student achievement data reporting required by the law. Ross C. Santy, the education department's director for EDFacts, told state and district officials at the annual STATS-DC conference that the education department is in the process of changing its requirements for the federal EDFacts system, which consolidates data from various education programs including Title I grants to districts and the School Improvement Grant program, to adapt to the varied state accountability systems which will be created by the waivers. More

Next up in teacher evaluations: Student surveys
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The search for reliable methods of gauging teacher effectiveness — a dominant education policy issue over the last several years — has centered on classroom observation tools and value-added measures. But another potential indicator has emerged and is starting to pick up momentum: student surveys. A roomful of teachers, administrators, representatives from education organizations and policymakers gathered in Washington to discuss the use of student feedback in improving teacher practice. The Center for American Progress event coincided with the release of a report finding that many U.S. students perceive their schoolwork as too easy. More



Florida releases grades for elementary, middle schools
The Miami Herald    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Fewer elementary and middle schools in Florida received A's and more schools got red-letter F's on the state Department of Education's school report cards. High schools grades, which include other factors like graduation, are released later in the year. Educators have been bracing for the high-stakes grades, because of major changes to how students — and schools — are graded this year. For example, the state now includes scores from students with disabilities and more students who are still learning English when computing the school grades. More

School is too easy, students report
USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Millions of kids simply don't find school very challenging, a new analysis of federal survey data suggests. The report could spark a debate about whether new academic standards being piloted nationwide might make a difference. The findings, from the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank that champions "progressive ideas," analyze three years of questionnaires from the Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress, a national test given each year. More

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Thai and Malaysian teachers collaborate on best practices
The Nation    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Thailand and Malaysia: Thai and Malaysian student performances in international tests have lagged far behind those in developed countries. As a result, best practices of good teaching conducted by teachers in both countries were recently presented to inspire other teachers and agencies to change their teaching to strengthen students' academic performance. More

Larger class sizes, education cuts harm children's chance to learn
The Huffington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
When Shania started third grade at P.S. 148 last fall, she was thrilled to be back at the Queens, N.Y., public school. An outgoing 8-year-old, she said she was happy to be among her friends again, and she had loved her class the previous year. Her second-grade teacher would take the time to explain tricky topics like addition and subtraction one-on-one. She had even been named "student of the month." But since 2007, as the economy has tanked and expenses for public schools have risen, New York City has made principals cut budgets by 13.7 percent. When budgets are cut, teachers are fired and others aren't replaced — including at P.S. 148, which has lost at least $600,000 and eight teachers since 2010. When teachers are lost, class sizes balloon. Shania had 31 classmates this past school year, compared to 20 the year before. More

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Can the International Baccalaureate improve English education?
The Telegraph    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
United Kingdom: The European Survey of Language Competences found that English pupils are among the worst in Europe at foreign languages. "For England, an international trading nation, to lie at the bottom of a league of language competence is economically and socially dangerous," said the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb. Reports that Education Secretary Michael Gove is considering a return to an O-level-type exam in an attempt to raise standards, the establishment of single boards to avoid grade inflation in core subjects and the setting up of a review of A-level syllabuses in English, science and maths by leading universities reinforce the sense of unease at the present state of English education. More

Global education shifts
Inside Higher Ed    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
China and India are expanding their influence in the higher education arena. According to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, about 40 percent of young postsecondary degree-holders in leading countries will come from China and India by 2020. The United States and some European Union countries will produce about 25 percent. The report, which is part of the organization's series Education Indicators in Focus, looked at higher education graduates between the ages of 25 and 34 in OECD and Group of Twenty member countries — 42 countries total. More



Computer helps Asian students with English
United Press International    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
United Kingdom: British university researchers say a computer program can help Asian students deal with sometimes difficult-to-understand regional English accents. The researchers' Spoken English Discrimination training program can train Chinese speakers in how to detect differences in speech sounds in adverse conditions, such as accented speech or in situations in which there are a number of sounds in the background. More

College advising in Chinese high schools
The Chronicle of Higher Education    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
China: Some parents see Jason Zhang as a babysitter. Their children think of him as their secretary. But Zhang is neither of those things. He's director of college counseling at Nanjing Foreign Language School, in China. Guidance counselors have long been fixtures of American high schools. But high-school-based advising is a nascent field in China, spurred by the recent explosion of interest in earning a college degree overseas. University admissions there, and even students' majors, are determined by their scores on a single national entrance examination, the gao kao. So there's never been any need for counselors to advise students on college choices, high-school courses of study or extracurricular activities. More



Study: '21st century learning' demands mix of abilities
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The modern workplace and lifestyle demand that students balance cognitive, personal and interpersonal abilities, but current education policy discussions have not defined those abilities well, according to a special report released this afternoon by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science in Washington. A "who's who" team of experts from the National Academies' division of behavioral and social sciences and education and its boards on testing and on science education collaborated for more than a year on the report, intended to define just what researchers, educators and policymakers mean when they talk about "deeper learning" and "21st-century skills." More


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In search of the key word: Bursts of certain words within a text are what make them keywords
ScienceDaily    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Human beings have the ability to convert complex phenomena into a one-dimensional sequence of letters and put it down in writing. In this process, keywords serve to convey the content of the text. How letters and words correlate with the subject of a text is something Eduardo Altmann and his colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems have studied with the help of statistical methods. They discovered that what denotes keywords is not the fact that they appear very frequently in a given text. It is that they are found in greater numbers only at certain points in the text. They also discovered that relationships exist between sections of text which are distant from each other, in the sense that they preferentially use the same words and letters. More

Our brains often fail to notice key words that can change the whole meaning of a sentence
ScienceDaily    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Far from processing every word we read or hear, our brains often do not even notice key words that can change the whole meaning of a sentence, according to new research from the Economic and Social Research Council. After a plane crash, where should the survivors be buried? If you are considering where the most appropriate burial place should be, you are not alone. Scientists have found that around half the people asked this question, answer it as if they were being asked about the victims not the survivors. More



Ukrainian students develop gloves that translate sign language into speech
TechCrunch    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Ukraine: There is no dearth of impressive student projects here at the finals of Microsoft's Imagine Cup in Sydney, but one of the six finalists that caught my attention was a project called EnableTalk by the Ukrainian team QuadSquad. There are currently about 40 million deaf, mute and deaf-mute people and many of them use sign language to communicate, but there are very few people who actually understand sign language. Using gloves fitted with flex sensors, touch sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers (as well as some solar cells to increase battery life) the EnableTalk team has built a system that can translate sign language into text and then into spoken words using a text-to-speech engine. The whole system then connects to a smartphone over Bluetooth. More



Teachers learn ways to keep students' attention, but are brain claims valid?
eSchool News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
When Chris Biffle called out the word "Class!" on July 11 at Walsh University in Ohio, 450 teachers and administrators yelled back, "Yes!" "Class class?" he said. "Yes! Yes!" they replied. "Classity classity," he said. "Yessity yessity," they chanted back. Biffle, one of the co-founders of Southern California-based Whole Brain Teaching LLC, is leading a two-day conference at Walsh about his method. He calls the technique "Class-Yes." The research page of Whole Brain Teaching's website says "Class Yes" activates the prefrontal cortex of the brain and "readies students for instruction." It's one of seven techniques the company says "are validated by contemporary brain research." The method might be fun, engaging, and popular, judging by teacher testimonials and company-conducted polls. More
The TESOL English Language Bulletin is presented as a service to members of TESOL International Association and other English language teaching professionals. For information about TESOL member benefits, visit www.tesol.org or contact us at membership@tesol.org.

TESOL English Language Bulletin is a digest of the most important news selected for TESOL International Association from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs, an independent organization that also manages and sells advertising. TESOL International Association does not endorse any of the advertised products and services. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the author and not of TESOL.

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