Roundup: Testing Changes, Bad Water, & Edu-Profiles

PARCC testing begins again but still no opt-out policy Chicago Sun-Times: For its second year, PARCC has been shortened. It has a simpler format, and results have been promised much sooner than last year — by the summer, rather than late autumn, so that teachers and parents can actually use the results. Those improvements still won’t stop a number of families in Chicago from skipping it.

Smarter Balanced test changes affect California special ed students KPCC: This year the Smarter Balanced test will allow students to control the volume and pitch on the computer program that reads a question to a student and that reads glossary words related to questions on the test. The test will also now provide Spanish language glossaries to help students who have a disability and who are classified as English Learners.

Schools Nationwide Still Grapple With Lead in Water NYT: The Flint, Mich., crisis has cast attention on the issue, but in schools from Jersey City, N.J., to Los Angeles, problems have dragged on for years. See also: Digging Further Into a Water Problem.

New Education Secretary: Bold Agenda. Just 10 Months To Get It Done NPR: John B. King Jr. talks about his priorities for a tenure that may be short-lived: implementing the new education law, high-quality preschool and college access, to name a few.

A Supreme Court Pioneer, Now Making Her Mark on Video Games NYT: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said she had never played video games until a few years ago. But now she is using them to teach students valuable civics lessons.

 Should Schools Ask Students About Their Sexual Orientation To Protect LGBT Rights? Washington Post: Researchers are calling on the federal government to begin collecting information about LGBT students’ experiences at the nation’s schools. Embedded in that argument, though, is a call to begin asking students to declare their gender identity and sexual orientation at school — a move that the Equity Project acknowledges is fraught with privacy concerns.

Education’s Mr. Fix-it Christian Science Monitor/Hechinger Report: While he may be relatively invisible to the students, Mr. Gordon is hardly unknown outside the school. As the overseer of 21 charter schools in Philadelphia, he has carved out a reputation as a turnaround artist – someone willing to try to fix high schools that are failing, a task that many other reformers have shied away from in their quest to transform urban education. 

When School-Installed Software Stops A Suicide NPR: School administrators increasingly have the power to track students’ Web browsing even when they’re at home. The implications are complicated.

Brooklyn Private School Looks to Expand to ManhattanWSJ: Basis Independent, an ambitious, for-profit, private school that opened in Brooklyn last year, says it will expand to the Upper West Side in the fall of 2017.

How Chicago Will Keep Classes Going When Teachers Strike Tribune: Chicago Public Schools will provide about 250 “contingency sites” for students locked out of the classroom by a one-day teachers strike April 1, while also asking teachers who disagree with the walkout to report for work.

See additional news and commentary from over the weekend here.

Alexander Russo

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 alexanderrusso@gmail.com.