Vermont joins 31 other states in applying for federal assessment grant

first_imgA 31-state consortium, including Vermont, submitted its application recently for a federal grant that would develop a student assessment system aligned to a common core of academic standards. The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC, formed in December 2009, hopes to receive a Race to the Top assessment grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant, which lasts four years, is worth as much as $160 million. No more than two grants will be awarded.‘As a governing state, Vermont has an exciting opportunity to develop and implement assessment models that better reflect the progress and strength of our students, educators and their schools,’ said Vermont’s Deputy Commissioner for Transformation and Innovation Rae Ann Knopf. ‘SBAC represents a significant and necessary departure from the dependence on statewide assessments as a primary indicator of education effectiveness.’Vermont is a governing state in the application, meaning it is an active participant in the development of the policies and framework of the assessment.The assessment system to be developed by SBAC is tied to the Common Core State Standards, an initiative led by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association to create a consistent and clear set of learning standards for K-12 in English language arts and mathematics that all states can use. By the end of 2011, states in the consortium must agree to adopt the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math. States still in the consortium in 2014-15 must agree to use the consortium’s tests as their accountability assessments. The U.S. Department of Education is expected to announce its awards in September 2010.”We are very pleased to be a part of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, and proud that Vermont will play a leadership role in this project,’ said Vermont Department of Education Assessment Director Michael Hock, who also serves on the SBAC leadership team. ‘The name really says it all. It’s ‘smarter’ because we will be developing next generation assessments that will use new and highly innovative technologies to improve efficiency and accuracy, and to provide greater access for students with learning challenges. It’s balanced because it will provide a coherent system of classroom, district and state level assessments, all aligned with the new Common Core State Standards, that will challenge students to demonstrate what they have learned on test items and tasks that are practical and authentic. And since we will be sharing expenses with 31 other states, we are anticipating considerable cost savings over our current state assessment system.’Source: Vermont DOE. 7.21.2010Washington State is the applicant state on behalf of the consortium.‘It’s encouraging that so many states from across the country are working together to create an assessment system that aligns with efforts to adopt consistent and clear learning standards, ensuring every child gets the quality education they deserve to be ready for the global economy when they graduate,’ said Chris Gregoire, Washington state governor.###last_img read more

A celebration and a challenge

first_img June 1, 2004 Associate Editor Regular News A celebration and a challenge Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Part history lesson, part celebration, part personal challenge to truly accept that all persons are created equal, the Florida Supreme Court honored the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education with a special ceremony May 17.From the testimony of Justice Peggy Quince of still going to segregated schools in Virginia a decade after the decision, to a rousing rendition of “Never Give Up” sung by Tallahassee high school teacher Pamela Patterson that had the audience swaying to the beat, the hour-and-a half-program inspired a packed courtroom to take the principles of equality to heart.Everyone gathered to honor what Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead called “the most important human rights decision ever rendered.”School children listened in amazement at how things used to be, while their elders who suffered through those shameful times nodded in recognition of an era when blacks could not vote, serve on juries, or go to school with whites, when race riots polarized a nation, and claimed many lives.Retired Justice Leander Shaw set the scene, detailing history from when the colonies met in Philadelphia to draft the Constitution to a divided nation during the Civil War, to the 1896 Plessey v. Ferguson decision that ushered in the era of “separate but equal” and made a mockery of the equal protections of the 14th Amendment.Shaw continued his history lesson to the early 1950s, when an 8-year-old third-grader named Linda Brown was barred from a public school conveniently located seven blocks from her house — just because she was black.“ Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas” is one of those rare landmark cases that fundamentally and forever changed the face of America,” Shaw said, adding its impact reaches far beyond the simple issue of public school integration.“It was the opening salvo in the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s, a movement that changed the social and political fabric in America. It was a giant step in the direction of fulfilling America’s promise of freedom, justice, and equality for all, and equality for all of Florida’s citizens,” Shaw said.“In Brown, we see the nation’s highest court in a unanimous opinion, ignoring three-quarters of a century of precedent and responding to evolving special values.”An undercurrent to the ceremony’s message was that change was still slow to come after the 1954 landmark decision, and the challenge continues to this day.With passion propelling his words, Miami lawyer H.T. Smith reenacted arguments made by a team of NAACP lawyers for Brown, delivered by Thurgood Marshall:“The whole world is waiting to see whether this court will say to Negro children that they are not entitled to the same liberties to learn as other children, simply because they are black.. . . We are not like the animals in George Orwell’s satirical novel, Animal Farm, where after the revolution, the dictator changed the sign that read all animals are created equal, to read, ‘but some animals are more equal than others.’ There is no provision in the Constitution of the United States of America that reads, ‘All men are created equal, but white men are more equal.’ Under the provisions of this Constitution, and under the protection of this court, the Negro proclaims to the world today that he, too, is equal.”Just as a crowd gathered 50 years ago at the nation’s highest court during the noon hour on May 17 to await the ruling, the current audience gathered at Florida’s high court in 2004, and imagined the words recited by Chief Justice Anstead were those of Chief Justice Earl Warren:“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life, if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity where the state has undertaken to provide it is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.. . . We conclude that the public education doctrine of separate but equal has no place. Separate education facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. It is so ordered.”In the marbled halls of justice in Tallahassee, where history was brought to life, applause broke out.Bringing a personal touch to the proceedings, Justice Quince reeled back the years to being a little girl growing up in Virginia, one of the states involved in the Brown lawsuit.“When the decision was announced, my father said to us, ‘Now you can attend any school that you want to.’ But it wasn’t that easy. So in the fall of 1954, when I went off to the first grade, I went to John T. West Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia, the segregated school. In 1954, only the cities of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland, began a desegregation program.”The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided “ Brown II, ” Quince explained, and determined that integration should take place “with all deliberate speed.”“But therein lies the rub. What is, in fact, ‘all deliberate speed’?” Quince asked.“The Brown v. Board of Education was not the most popular decision in this country. There were many who were opposed to it. And so, in 1956, 100 members of Congress from the 11 southern states penned what they called the Southern Manifesto, whereby they determined to fight integration with all means necessary.”In Virginia, that meant the schools shut down until a federal court decision opened the doors again. And for schoolgirl Peggy, it was not until 1965 that Virginia finally decided to implement what it called the “freedom of choice plan.”“Now, I was a senior in high school.. . and so I did not take advantage of their generous offer,” Quince said. Her brother, just beginning high school, did choose to go to the integrated school closest to their home. But in 1968, the Supreme Court decided the “freedom of choice plan” was insufficient to accomplish integration, ushering in a new era of court decisions and strategies that included busing, and the struggle continued.Janet Sermon, assistant dean of Florida A&M University, did choose to leave the “quality segregated schools” of Tallahassee, where she was taught with “care and compassion” and was instilled with a love of learning. In the 10th grade, she was among a select group of blacks admitted to Florida High, the Florida State University research school.“I must say that it actually was the absolute worst year of my life, learning in a hostile environment, foreign to me,” Sermon said.Signs of prejudice may not have been blatant, but they were “subliminal,” said Sermon, recalling how she sat in biology class shaking with fear, enduring a year of migraine headaches and falling grades. For the last two years of high school, she attended Leon High School, and proudly told how blacks were instrumental in removing the Confederate flag from the school. In her senior year, she was one of two black girls chosen as cheerleaders.“Though we felt that was history for Leon, and especially for the students we represented, there was so much more work to be done,” Sermon said.Joseph Hatchett, the first African-American to serve on the Florida Supreme Court, detailed the laborious process in Florida for parents to make written requests to schools and petition the school boards for hearings, just to fulfill the promises of Brown. “I appeared in this courtroom my very first time, when I was a student at Florida A&M,” said Hatchett, telling how his professor required all political science majors to hear a case at the Florida Supreme Court. It was Hatchett’s opportunity to witness arguments in the case of Virgil Hawkins, a black man who had graduated from an unaccredited law school, because he was not allowed to attend the University of Florida, which meant he could not take the bar exam in Florida. Hawkins’ case was filed in 1949, five years before Brown, when the law was separate but equal.“There wasn’t a black law school in the state of Florida,” Hatchett said, “so there was nothing to be equal to, and yet his petition was denied.”Finally, a 69-year-old Hawkins was admitted to the Bar, and the Florida Supreme Court had a special ceremony reversing all of the court’s previous decisions.Again, the courtroom erupted in applause.“So, then, what did Brown bring us?” Hatchett asked. “It redefined race and education in our society. It eliminated all of the formal barriers to equal education opportunities. And it provided a quality education for all children, not just white children. The legacy of Brown is a society with a new set of cultural and educational values.“But we must not believe that the work of bringing equality to America is over. And when shall we begin? As we walk out the door!” Video clips from the Supreme Court’s ceremonial session celebrating Brown v. Board of Education can be seen on The Florida Bar’s Web site at A celebration and a challengelast_img read more

Video: Lakers discuss Magic Johnson, injuries during exit interviews

first_imgThe Lakers talk about the abrupt resignation of Magic Johnson, and how injuries ravaged their season during exit interviews at the Lakers practice facility. Video by Jonathan Khamis, for SCNG.Related Articles Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed center_img Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more