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Thursday, November 29, 2012

High School Graduation Rates

Four-year graduation rates by state, 2010-11

Nov 27, 2012 11:59 AM
The U.S. Department of Education has released for the first time data on four-year high school graduation rates compiled with states' using a common measure. The rankings, based on preliminary data for 2010-11:
4New Hampshire86%
4North Dakota86%
12New Jersey83%
12South Dakota83%
19Montana 82%
19Virginia 82%
21Missouri 81%
26North Carolina78%
29New York77%
29Rhode Island77%
32California 76%
32Washington (state)76%
32West Virginia76%
37South Carolina74%
43Alaska 68%
46New Mexico63%
48Washington, D.C.59%
*Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahomano data
Source: U.S. Department of Education

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rock Hill School District News

Compiled by Elaine Baker:

Highlights of Nov. 26 School Board Meeting
The board recognized "Future Focus" Distinguished Climbers and 101 students in grades 3-8 who made perfect PASS scores in 2012.
Board members heard a report from the Summer Reading Coalition which awarded a check for $500 to The Children's School for having the highest percentage of students reading this summer.
On. Nov. 12 the S.C. Dept. of Education published state accreditation ratings and state report cards. In Rock Hill Schools, India Hook Elementary, Old Pointe Elementary, The Children's School, Dutchman Creek Middle and Rawlinson Road Middle had absolute achievement and growth ratings of "Excellent." Absolute achievement ratings for all of our schools were "Average" or above, and district ratings held steady at "Good" and "Average."
The following proposed high school courses will be added to the course catalog for 2013-14: Chinese 1, 2, 3; Discrete Mathematics; Sports and Entertainment Marketing; Guitar; Professional and Leadership Development; Mobile Apps Development; Veterinary Asst.; and Gerontology.
A new policy titled "School Nurses" was approved for first reading, and the board is interested in any input from employees. To view the policy, go to
More Info on State Football Championship
Tickets for the Northwestern vs. Greenwood state football game, which will be held Saturday at noon in the Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, will be presold in the locations listed below:
NHS Athletic Department:  today – Friday; 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Ledo’s Pizza (on Herlong across from Fatz):  today – Friday; during normal operating hours
WRHI Office (142 N. Confederate): today – Friday; during normal operating hours
High School League passes will be the only passes honored, but they must be shown at the Northwest Pass Gate (across from fair grounds). Parking will be provided on the fair grounds for $10/car.
Northwestern Cheerleaders Place Third in State

Congratulations to the Northwestern Varsity Cheerleaders for being the Upper-State Runner-up and placing third in state competition Nov. 10. The team is coached by Koren Pantsari McManus.

December 11:  Sullivan Middle School Chorus Winter Concert @ 7:00 PM in the Sullivan Auditorium.  Free admission! Lisa M. Pecarina, Choir Director

Follow The Best - Lesson in Implementing Digital Technology in Schools

From the Getting Smart blog:

The Shift to Digital: District, School, and Program Exemplars

The Shift to Digital: District, School, and Program Exemplars
This afternoon I moderated a Digital Learning Now session featuring three exemplars: Mooresville, KIPP Empower and Teach to One.
Middle school principal Carrie Tulbert kicked off the show for theMooresville Graded School District, a great example of a district-wide 1:1 program using the same curriculum and laptop.  With 5600 students, Mooresville is pretty representative in  size and demographics—a slice of America.  While their funding is near the bottom in North Carolina, their achievement and completion rates are near the top.
When I visited Mooresville a couple months ago I noted that It’s Not About the Machine, It’s About Heart.  There is a strong culture of achievement and collaboration.
High School senior Troy Eckles noted all the ways that use of the laptop across the curriculum boosted his college preparation.  Eighth grader Mark Miller noted the equity produced by giving every student the same level of access to digital learning.
“The digital conversion has resulted in a dramatic shift in my teaching,” said Samone Graham, a high school science teacher.  Student publish rather than turn in and build a digital portfolio.  Graham featured student video stressing the use of multimedia and humor to boost engagement and retention.
Mike Kerr, principal of KIPP Empower Academy featured their K-2 classroom rotation model that makes the most of their $5140 per pupil funding (about a third of the funding of his last post in NYC).  KIPP Empower uses programs like ST Math to boost preparation and make time for small group instruction.  Kerr tries to keep groups to 14 students during math and reading instruction.  KIPP Empower is a blended learning model worth watching as the school grows to full enrollment.
Joel Rose, New Classrooms, described the Teach to One program which powers the NYC School of One as well as classrooms in Chicago in Washington DC.  Teach to One is a middle school math program that uses an algorithm to recommend a sequence of lessons from a library of 10,000 tagged learning objects and to dynamically schedule eight different learning stations.  The program makes sure that every student gets the right lesson on the right day in the right modality.  It’s the best early example of customized learning and early results are promising.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Succeeding With Science, Technology and Math Programs

From the Innovative Educator:

Want to succeed in STEM? Listen to the experts!

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President Obama believes “The quality of  math and science teachers is the most important single factor influencing whether students will succeed or fail in science, technology, engineering and math.” The problem is that our “quality” teachers  and their administrators are not given the freedom to support children in ways that will produce the scientists and innovators our country needs.  This is because we are stuck in an outdated system that values test scores and grades rather than creativity and innovation.  

This is no secret.  America’s great scientists and innovators have been clear about how our nation’s schools need to change to support great thinkers like themselves. Unfortunately it seems those with the power to make decisions (the politicians and corporations) are not listening to the very type of people we say we want our students to become.  

Let’s take a look at what those in charge are failing to hear when our nation’s historic inventors, scientists, and physicists share their advice and experiences.

  • Albert Einstein
    Einstein clashed with authorities and resented the school's regimen and teaching method. He later wrote that the spirit of learning and creative thought were lost in strict rote learning. At 15 he convinced his school to let him leave by using a doctor's note. After he left school he wrote a short essay with the title "On the Investigation of the State of the Ether in a Magnetic Field." At sixteen, Einstein sat the entrance examinations for the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich where he failed to reach the required standard in several subjects, but obtained exceptional grades in physics and mathematics.
  • Thomas Edison
    In school, the young Edison's mind often wandered, and his teacher called him "addled". This ended Edison's three months of official schooling. His mother supported his learning outside of school where he taught himself mostly everything he knew about science and technology. His two favorite pastimes were reading and experimenting.
  • Richard Feyman
    In high school, his IQ was determined to be "merely respectable. Feynman scoffed at psychometric testing. At 15 he taught himself trigonometry, advanced algebra, infinite series, analytic geometry, and both differential and integral calculus. His advice was to “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

    As a physicist Feyman gave
    a now famous lecture on education where he shared that he figured out that the students had memorized everything, but they didn’t know what anything meant.  They could pass the examinations, and “learn” all this stuff, and not know anything at all, except what they had memorized.  He explained that he couldn’t see how anyone could be educated by this self-propagating system in which people pass exams, and teach others to pass exams, but nobody knows anything.”
  • Michio Kaku
    In the video below physicist Michio Kaku explains that e
    xams are crushing curiosity out of the next generation through the memorization of facts. In light of this he questions why we wonder why kids aren't interest in science.

Despite these insights, our schools are still places that reward compliance, memorization, and regurgitation. They give young people little time to work independently, discover passions, or pursue much of anything that requires independent thinking or hasn’t been laid out for them.  In many cases schools also restrict them from using the technology tools and online resources they need for success in the world.

Instead of fostering success in science, technology, engineering and math, schools have pushed young people to achieve success outside of school. As a result many talented youth are learning that when it comes to being innovative and creative, leaving school behind is often the best option.  To address the issue of our failing schools let’s think about how the following modern-day school rejects and trouble makers could have been supported in our school system.  

  • Aaron Iba Aaron Iba is a computer programmer who became a mulit-millionaire in his early 20s after Google bought a great product he created and also hired him.  Iba shares that school was a boring waste of time but he had one exception during his entire k - 12 experience. It was in 4th grade when his teacher allowed him to sit in his own space in the classroom doing logo programming. Iba laments that he just isn't the type of person who could sit back passively listening to a teacher try to impart knowledge. He liked interactivity and engagement which was why he drawn to technology.  The school system labeled him as a multi-problem child. Fortunately, Google did not. 
  • Nick Perez Nick Perez is a successful software developer who was traumatized in a school system who had no place for someone with such a passion.  Perez endured a long and hard road in school that included prescription drugging, to the humiliation of being singled out from the rest of his peers, to threats of litigation. He left school at the age of 17 after deciding that he’d had enough of his school district’s attempts to forcibly shift his attention toward the classroom, and away from the studies about which he was passionate. Perez notes that this is the result of rigid systems that have yet to bend and break under the pressure of progress. Read his story here
  • Mom’s Story Education experts told Jo-Anne Tracy without any doubt in their minds, that she would be foolish to keep thinking that her son had what it takes to succeed and he was being placed in a class where ineducable children would taught life skills and a vocation. She knew they were wrong however, the school system does little to honor or respect the insights of mere parents who don’t have the “credentials” necessary to properly identify “problem children” like hers. The one-size-fits all school system experts refused to consider her input and explained they were not giving her son any other options. As a result she removed her son from school at 9 years of age. Today he is studying geoscience at university.
  • Jack Andraka At 15 years old, Jack Andraka created an important test for pancreatic cancer.  He explains that he could not have done this without the use of the internet. He came up with the idea for his research when he was attempting to chill out in biology class and read a scientific journal.  Like many teachers, independent work was not allowed in her class and she confiscated the journal.  Andraka was forced to leave school to do his research which he began by going to Google to begin his research.  Then he wrote to nearly 200 actual biology labs where he could do the work of a real scientist  in a real science lab.  
You can watch Adraka’s video below to hear how he was able to reach his potential, pursue his passion, and save lives.
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The answer
It’s time to change tradition, change direction, and change our lessons learned from politicians and corporations to our nation’s experts.  The scientists, programmers, physicists, inventors and others are telling us that supporting them really is not rocket science. The answer is not more teachers, tests, and textbooks.  Instead it is in helping our students explore, discover, and develop their passions. It is not in doing what is common, but supporting the uncommon with personalized plans for their success. It is not keeping kids locked up in schools listening to lectures under fluorescent lights, but rather releasing them to live and learn in the world. The answer is not in measuring grades on tests and requiring the same standards for all.  It is in allowing young people to show what they know in authentic ways and develop areas of focus customized to their success.  

Parents, their children, and innovative educators know the answer.  Let’s stop sitting back and start taking charge of doing what is best for our children’s success.  It’s not easy going up against the politicians and corporations, but they do not own our children’s learning. That is in the hands of children, parents, and teachers.  It’s time to take it back!

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Good Advice on Education Technology Implementation

From BostInno:

How To Succeed in Educational Technology

November 25th, 2012 by Posted in Future of Higher EdOnline Learning
“Won’t anyone think of the children!?”
Anyone who follows politics for an extended period of time is very familiar with this phrase.  Whenever anybody wants to encourage action or try to stymie everything from entertainment to legislation, the future wellbeing of our children will almost certainly be brought up.  While there are many cases where this phrase will elicit groans and frustration, there is a very good reason why it is so widely utilized: it is very effective at encouraging action.
To a family that has decided to have children, there is nothing more important than making sure they are well taken care of, and anything that is perceived as a threat to their child’s wellbeing and chance at a good life is dangerous and must be removed.  This is something many politicians understand and it can be a very effective tool when it comes time to run for re-election or push through an important piece of legislation.
So why am I talking about politicians and the welfare of children in an article about educational technology?  Because this is the mindset that the emerging ed tech market must overcome if it is to have a lasting impact in our  schools.  Educational technology is a new and rapidly growing business and is filled with exciting new ideas, but new ideas and products will always have to overcome preconceived notions created by the system it is trying to replace. It was true for the printing press in the 1500s, it was true for the Internet in the 90s, and it is true for the ed tech market today.
This current ed tech boom is different from the previous examples in one very important way, however: it is targeting our schools and the way our children learn and aims to change the way we have been teaching our children for years, something that is bound to make the most open-minded parent very, very, nervous.
Unfortunately, this uncertainty does have a huge effect on any CEO or leader in charge of developing new educational technology for a classroom.  Anyone who wants to make a profit from developing learning material will inevitably come face-to-face with the elected officials in charge of school budgets and creating curriculum.  Due to the nature of their job, any elected official needs to keep his or her finger on the pulse of the public consciousness.  If parents are nervous and don’t want to utilize something for fear of corrupting their children, legislators will do everything they can to sweep it under the rug.
So, how can the ed tech business overcome this massive hurdle?  Well, I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I believe there are three things that can be done in order to encourage parents and legislators to bring more tech solutions and ideas into the classroom.

1. Work with legislators to create a definitive policy for technology in schools

Right now there is no definite school policy on how to properly utilize technology.  This has led to fear of abuse within schools, which translates into restrictive tech policy. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for the use of Facebook in schools or allowing unrestricted access to the Internet, but a centralized policy that governs the use of technology in schools will go a long way toward opening people’s minds to new ideas and innovations.

2. Educate the educators

Any emerging tech company that takes the time and effort to invest in actively showing teachers how their products can be fully utilized will have a tremendous advantage in the near future.  When I was in elementary school, the personal computer was beginning to take off, so much so that schools were paying through the nose in order to equip their classrooms with the latest technology.  Unfortunately, the teachers had little to no idea how to properly utilize the computer as a learning tool, which led to these very expensive computers being under utilized or not even used at all, collecting dust and eventually becoming obsolete.  While technology can enhance learning and make it more engaging it will never replace a good teacher.  If the ed tech market is to truly transform education, it must collaborate with teachers and help them realize technology’s true potential.

3. Keep innovating

While there are many new and creative ideas on how to fix the American education system, there will always be problems.  While the constant need for innovation can be found in any industry it is especially true with education.  The pace of human advancement has rapidly accelerated just in the past decade creating new mindsets, ideas and problems in need of solving.  If our schools are to keep up with this relentless advancement, we must be able to bring constant and dramatic change to the way we view education.
Bottom Line: If educational technology is to truly come into its own as an industry it must gain the trust of the current system by developing clear and definitive policy concerning technology in schools, educate the educators on how to fully utilize technology within the classroom, and create a spirit of innovation and experimentation in order to deal with a constantly changing system.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rock Hill School Board Business Meeting Information Now Online

In the interest of transparency and improving communication, the Rock Hill School District is now posting the school board business meeting information packet online. You can view this information by clicking here or going to the district web site (, click District Information,  Board of Trustees, and finally click on Board Meeting Information Packet. This information also makes it easier to follow along during the meeting or while watching a tape replay.

How Schools Use Social Media

From the Huff Post Education Blog:

How Our School Adopted Social Media, One Small Step at a Time

Posted: 05/26/11 02:00 PM ET

Last week my school was fortunate to have the N.J. School Boards Association (NJSBA) visit to produce a live event called Learn@Lunch: Technology as an Engagement Tool. You can view the archive of the event.
A little over two years ago something like this would have never happened at New Milford High School. Yes, I was the principal at that time, but my perspective and philosophy as to what constituted a 21st Century learning environment was vastly different than what it is today. Back then I felt that being a tech savvy administrator just consisted of purchasing the tools for my staff and letting them use them as they felt fit. I was also adamant that social media had no place in an educational setting, but most of you who read this blog know about my radical change of mind in regards to this. To put it bluntly, no educational organizations in N.J. would have even thought of approaching me to talk about the innovative use of technology at my school.
We have seen many shifts in terms of instruction, communication, and learning at NMHS resulting in a transformative culture that is more in line to meet the needs of our students. So what changed? There wasn't really one big "ah ha" moment or school epiphany, but rather small changes on the surface that have resulted in some significant changes. The first small change was my philosophical enlightenment as to the educational value to web 2.0 technology, including social media. It was at this time that I saw the error in my ways and began to leverage the power of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) to effectively integrate an array of tools that I had never knew existed. This small change evolved into my present philosophy on how schools can, and should, use social media. This short list includes:
- Effectively communicating with stakeholders
- Establishing a consistent public relations platform
- Developing a brand presence that promises value
- Authentically engaging students in the learning process
- Providing cost-effective professional development that is meaningful
- Discovering opportunity for my school (i.e. our tablet pilot program discussed at 
The second small change was educating my staff on the value of web 2.0 technology in the classroom and beyond. Instead of mandating that every teacher integrate technology, I instead chose to empower my staff to create a stimulating learning environment. Little things such as support, encouragement, flexibility, and modeling have gone a long way to provide my staff with the confidence to take risks with technology and create meaningful learning activities that foster creativity, problem solving, and participation by all students. This is now a collaborative effort and more and more teachers are beginning to embrace a vision that pairs sound pedagogical techniques with technology. Refer to the archive mentioned above to see some of the amazing things my teachers are now doing.
The third small change was realizing that students had to be instrumental in any effort to transform the culture of our school. We had to give up a certain amount of control in order to successfully implement a bring-your-own-device program where students are granted access to the school's wireless network during the day using their computing devices. We also had to trust they would use their mobile learning devices (i.e. cell phones) responsibly as a tool for learning in certain classes using free programs such as Poll Everywhere. The result has been an increase in student engagement, enthusiasm towards learning, and mutual respect amongst students and staff.
The fourth and final small change was becoming a more transparent administrator and sharing the innovative practices taking place within the walls of my school. With Twitter I have been able to give my stakeholders a glimpse into my role as an educational leader. Facebook has been an incredible tool to share realtime information, student achievements, and staff innovations. Both of these tools combined have given my stakeholders and the greater educational community a bird's eye view into my school and the great things happening here.
These small changes, combined with many others, are beginning to have a huge impact on the teaching, learning, and community culture of my school. Even though I have highlighted examples specific to technology, there have also been changes focused on curriculum and programming. Politicians and self-proclaimed reformers routinely throw around the word change and think that a one-size-fits-all approach is what's needed to increase student achievement and innovation. Each school is an autonomous body with distinct dynamics that make it unique. It's the small changes over time that will eventually leave a lasting impact. Schools and educators need to be empowered to make these changes as they see fit. In my eyes, this is the type of reform that is needed.
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