Can States Use Special Needs, ELL Students To Manipulate Test Scores? WAMU: Maryland was the only state this year that showed declines on all four tests — reading and math for both 4th and 8th graders. It’s the first time this has happened for any state in the history of the test. Gov. Larry Hogan and Interim State Superintendent Jack Smith said some of that decline is because the state was more inclusive in who took the test, meaning more special education students and English language learners.

N.Y. Governor-Appointed Task Force: Rename Common Core, Reduce Testing State EdWatch: The Common-Core task force was commissioned by Governor Andrew Cuomo to “overhaul the Common Core system — to do a total reboot.” See also NY Daily News.

Threatened with closure, ChicagoQuest drops “gaming” focus Catalyst Chicago: During a long and emotional meeting Wednesday night, Chicago International Charter School board members wrestled with a tough question: Should they close a campus that has performed poorly on most academic metrics, but whose few remaining students believe in its mission of “game-like learning.”

Even In Diverse Schools, New Immigrants Face Bullying WAMU: “Anyone that’s not Americanized is basically a ‘chanchi’ [piglet] but that only goes for the Hispanic kids. If you are from India and don’t speak English you just don’t speak English, there is no code name,” explains Jennifer.

Wanted in New York City: A thousand black, Latino and Asian male teachers Washington Post: New York City, which has the nation’s largest public school system, wants to hire 1,000 black, Latino and Asian male teachers by 2017 to create a teaching corps that more closely matches the student body.

Black and Latino students vow to overcome their failing schools Boston Globe:  Saturday marked the first of a two-day session designed to give male students a voice in the changes looming over Boston’s public schools. Motivational speakers led chants about having the confidence and excellence of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in the morning, and held workshops about male empowerment in the afternoon.

Rapid response unit aims to counter criticisms of Teach for America Washington Post: A nonprofit group has begun a public relations campaign to defend Teach for America against critics of the program that places newly minted college graduates in teaching jobs in some of the country’s most challenging classrooms.

A Kids’ Coding Expert Says We’re Making Computer Class Way Too Boring NPR: This week, thousands of events around the world are encouraging computer-coding literacy. “Coding is really about creative self-expression and storytelling,” says Mitchel Resnick of MIT’s Media Lab.

Katherine Bradley’s influence calls into question who really makes the decisions City Paper: Operating in a nebulous zone between D.C. Public Schools and a network of charter school operators, innovators, and fellow donors, Katherine Bradley is a force multiplier.

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Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at