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Inside a classroom at Chantry Elementary School in the small town of Malvern, Iowa, four 1st grade students are gathered around a table facing Becky Curtis. She is teaching them to read.
It appears to be a traditional reading intervention class. However, they are not alone.
A state away in Omaha, Neb., Mrs. Patty Smith is observing the small group via WebEx software and a webcam on an open laptop sitting on a table behind the students. Occasionally Mrs. Smith speaks with Ms. Curtis through a small listening device. The technology is allowing Mrs. Smith to communicate, see and hear the students’ responses and their teacher’s instruction.
They are part of Project READERS, a large-scale distance coaching study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). UNL is using technology to connect trained coaches with more than 200 teachers in over 40 rural schools in eight states, where reading-support experts would not be available otherwise.
Ms. Curtis is a special education teacher who volunteered for the professional development project to improve her skills and serve as a reading intervention specialist.
As they begin to read a story together, the students are hanging on their teacher’s every word, using their fingers to point and decode letters, repeating words, blending sounds, and improving their phonemic awareness.
Ms. Curtis is working with precision, making sure her pupils can hear patterns and the rhythm of stressed and unstressed pieces of compound words. They identify and repeat the smallest units of sound.
When incorrect, the students and Ms. Curtis repeat and persist until the sounds are exactly right.
This rural education R&D, using a high-speed broadband connection, appears less intrusive than traditional coaching with an additional teacher physically in the classroom. At no point is Ms. Curtis competing for her students’ attention.
UNL is investigating the effects of distance coaching using technology on rural teachers’ knowledge, practice and student outcomes. Early elementary school teachers also learn and apply methods for collecting and using data to make instructional decisions.
The large-scale study is part of work conducted at UNL’s National Center for Research on Rural Education (R2Ed), which is funded by a five-year grant from the Institute for Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education.
Near the end of class, Ms. Curtis bursts into laughter, unable to contain the private conversation she is having with Mrs. Smith about her students and their responses to her instruction.
The children immediately log-in, asking “What did she say? What did she say?” With a smile on her face, Ms. Curtis removes her hand from her mouth to tell her students, “She said I was awesome you guys!”
There are high-fives all around as Ms. Curtis tells her students how well they were reading. Before class ends, Ms. Curtis unplugs her ear-bud from the laptop and asks the students to turn to face Mrs. Smith for a quick debrief conversation.
Their time is up and class ends for the day. As the children run from the room, it is obvious their secret is out.
From Omaha to Malvern they’re all learning together.
John White is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education
A complaint faults the accreditor's actions at the City College of San Francisco and other community colleges throughout the state.
More than 40 percent of the time students spend reading is on social media, a new study finds.
If you are a high school senior who has yet to decide where you’re going to college this fall, you are most likely not alone. May 1st marks the National College Decision Day where the vast majority of U.S. colleges and universities require students to notify them of their decision to attend.
As you navigate the college decision process, the U.S. Department of Education provides tools for you and your family to make it easy to compare important information such as college costs, average student loan debt, and graduation rates across different institutions.
If you are a student or the parent of a college-bound teen struggling with this decision, here are a few tools that can help:
The College Scorecard includes essential information about a particular college’s cost, its graduation rates and the average amount its students borrow, all in an easy-to-read format. It is designed to help you compare colleges and choose one that is well-suited to your individual needs.
The Net Price Calculator Center provides an easy tool to explore the net price of any given college- that is, the price after subtracting the scholarships and grants you are likely to receive. Then, you can easily compare estimated net prices across the institutions that you are considering.
Many colleges and universities have adapted a Shopping Sheet which will be included in your financial aid package. The Shopping Sheet provides personalized information on financial aid and net costs as well as general information on institutional outcomes- all in a standardized format. This tool provides an easy way to make clear comparisons among financial aid offers that you may receive.
College Navigator is an interactive website that allows you to explore and compare features of different institutions, including programs and majors, admissions considerations, campus crime statistics and more.
Now that you have the resources and the tools to pick the right college, you can let out a sigh of relief and show your campus pride with that coveted university sweatshirt. Congratulations!
Kelsey Donohue is a senior at Marist College (N.Y.), and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach
The university's Arts & Sciences Council rejected a partnership with 2U, which had formed a consortium of top colleges to offer such courses.
The Education Department's decision to include same-sex parents' incomes on the student-aid form is a step forward, but tax unfairness persists.
The colleges should take steps to simplify their curricula and to help students help themselves, say researchers at Columbia University's Teachers College.
An office in the Labor Department and a nonprofit group are teaming up to improve employment opportunities in higher education for people with disabilities.
Eboo Patel, a speaker and consultant, has made it his mission to get colleges nationwide to lead smarter conversations about religious pluralism.
Everyone wants healthy school environments, but limited funding, space and time can challenge robust plans. The Healthy Schools Campaign has helped some Chicago schools build innovative partnerships and strong parental support to work around those issues, and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, got a taste of the results during a recent visit to Chicago’s Nathanael Greene Elementary School.
During her visit, the Surgeon General chopped fresh salad greens with Greene 5th graders and volunteers, dug-in with 2nd graders planting some of those same vegetables, and teamed-up with students jump-roping and other rainy-day recess activities in the school’s limited indoor space.
“As America’s doctor, I can tell you that what you’re doing here is special,” said Dr. Benjamin to parents representing Greene and other Chicago schools of Parents United for Healthy Schools/Padres Unidos para Escuelas Saludables – formed by HSC in 2006 to combat growing health disparities in Chicago.
Parents told the Surgeon General about after school classes like Zumba and healthy cooking they’ve helped implement in their schools. Many also helped their schools begin to serve nutritious breakfasts – now a standard throughout Chicago Public Schools.
“These activities make a difference for kids. We helped to make them happen,” said parent Jose Hernandez of Calmeca Academy Elementary School.
Local community and government leaders joined Benjamin for a lunch made of locally grown and sustainable items. The meal was developed and cooked by CPS high school chefs as part of a recent Cooking up Change competition.
“Three years ago, we began working with the district to challenge schools across the city to make changes to nutrition education, physical activity and other areas to meet the high standards of the Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge,” said Rochelle Davis, founder and executive director of HSC, which recently exceeded its initial goal of helping more than 100 Chicago schools to receive HUSSC certification. HUSSC is promoted through First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign against childhood obesity.
Healthy schools are a cornerstone of the National Prevention Strategy (NPS) to improve Americans’ health and quality of life. Benjamin leads the NPS charge that incorporates the work of 17 federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, which last week announced the 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees that are helping to create healthy and sustainable learning environments.
Julie Ewart is the Director of Communications and Outreach for the Great Lakes Region of the U.S. Department of Education
Explore connections among the industry's major players.
A letter reminds colleges of protections for people who raise concerns about civil-rights violations and, surprising experts, mentions possible "monetary relief."
Starting with the 2014-15 form, the Education Department will gather data from both parents of dependent students, regardless of their marital status or gender.
David Bergeron, who is leaving the Education Department for a new post, talks about changes over 34 years.
Amherst's rejection of edX could signal the end of the honeymoon phase for massive open online courses.
Legislation would redistribute authority, and control of funds, among old and new boards.
The leader of the National Center for Academic Transformation has been in the forefront of technology in higher education since 1980.
The chief executive of Chegg wants to help students with more than just textbook rentals.
A theater instructor at George State University puts on "Hamlet 2.0."