Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Education Leaders Tackle Student Data Privacy Issues at Summit

Forthcoming federal guidance on the hot-button issues of student data privacy will seek "vigorous self-policing by commercial players," but the federal government is "not going to wait for industry or rely on promises" to protect children's sensitive information, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told privacy advocates and ed-tech industry leaders gathered here Monday.
That tension—between hoping the private sector will proactively develop and implement "best practices" on the one hand, and pushing for new legislation and regulations, on the other—dominated the "School Privacy Zone" Summit, convened by San Francisco-based nonprofitCommon Sense Media.
The event came in the midst of a recent flurry of student data privacy-related activity. In addition to the non-binding federal guidelines, expected to be made public Tuesday afternoon, a leading technology trade group released recommendations on the issue; major state legislation on the issue was proposed in California; and U.S. Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who also spoke at Monday's school privacy summit, announced that he will soon introduce new federal legislation.
The confluence of efforts across sectors is a good sign, said James Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, a group known for evaluating media and educational technology for use by children.
"I've never felt that industry self-regulations were sufficient to protect the interests of kids and families," Steyer said in an interview with Education Week. "We want the best [private] actors to step forward, but we also need legislation and regulation and advocacy. It's the combination that works."
'Police Yourselves Before Others Do'
In his keynote address at Monday's privacy summit, Secretary Duncan touted the "extraordinary learning opportunities" associated with new digital learning tools and the vast amounts of information they generate, citing examples of schools in Detroit, New York, Nashville, Tenn., and Huntsville, Ala. that are using technology and data to personalize student learning, free up teachers' time for high-value instructional activities, and engage parents.
But the secretary also stressed that "school systems owe families the highest standard of security and privacy," and he sharply criticized some industry practices, including "take it or leave it 'Click Wrap' agreements" with districts that allow companies to unilaterally and without notice change their privacy practices.
"It is in your interest to police yourselves before others do," Duncan said in a pointed message to ed-tech vendors. 
The federal guidance to be issued Tuesday will help school systems and educators interpret the law, and will "include examples of best practice," the secretary said. The technical assistance is largely the brainchild of Kathleen Styles, the U.S. Department of Education's recently appointed chief privacy officer.
One key principle around which there is an emerging cross-sector consensus is that educational data about students should be used solely for educational purposes—and not for targeted advertising.
Industry representatives and some education officials in attendance at Monday's event supported the general notion, but said much confusion remains about what "for educational use only" means in practice and expressed concerns about how such details will be enacted in policies and contracts.
"We want [vendors] to be able to use [student] data to improve their product. On the other hand, we don't want them selling it off randomly for profit," said Jeff Mao, the learning technology policy director in the Maine education deparatment.
Not Far Enough
Hoping to get out ahead of the rising tide of proposed bills in state legislatures around the country, the Software & Information Industry Association released on Monday its own list of best practices.
Mark Schneiderman, the group's senior director of education policy, said the recommendations were intended "to create a trust framework, and at the same time make sure [we're] not cutting off our nose to spite our face."
But privacy advocates said that the group's suggestions don't go nearly far enough. Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham law professor who recently authored a much-discussed study on the shortcomings of districts' contracts with cloud-computing service providers, criticized the SIIA proposal for not explicitly rejecting the use of educational data for targeted marketing, failing to include any guidelines for how long data should be stored or when it should be destroyed, and failing to include provisions for parents to access and amend their children's information, among other things.
Reidenberg was also critical of some state bills that have been proposed, saying they only addressed "the tip of the iceberg."
In their recent study, Reidenberg said, his team found that "school systems didn't understand what they were doing" when it came to entering agreements for cloud-computing services with private vendors, and as a result were systematically failing to notify parents about the use of web-based services to store children's sensitive information and unthinkingly "paying with students' privacy" for no-cost classroom apps and software.
Reidenberg, Khaliah Barnes, an attorney for the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center, and others ticked off a list of concerns that continue to go largely unaddressed by legislation, regulations, industry practices, or district policies. Among them were the "vast amounts of data" collected by third-party vendors that don't fall under the jurisdiction of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA; the use of location data, biometric data, and social media to track students; the metadata generated by students' digital devices, especially when they are used outside of schools; and the growing trend of merging the "learning path" information generated by digital instructional materials with the personal data contained in student profiles.
Positive Examples
Not all the news at Monday's summit was bleak.
Among the educators to address the privacy summit was Superintendent Terry Grier of the 210,000-student Houston Independent School District, currently in the midst of a digital conversion that recently featured the distribution of 18,000 laptops to high school students.
Among the policies Grier highlighted were a one-step-at-a-time approach to deploying devices; a matrix used to evaluate the privacy protections offered by all ed-tech vendors seeking contracts with the district; and a teacher-led tech committee that vets any free apps and software that educators would like to use in their classrooms.
"Every day, we're thinking about things we haven't thought about before," he said.
Two big ideas also seemed to gain immediate and widespread traction among the heavy-hitters in the audience.
Many expressed enthusiasm for a suggestion that the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Education partner to set new parameters around data security and classroom apps, widely viewed as a major threat to students' privacy.
And the notion of "Good Housekeeping"-like seal of approval for ed-tech vendors who have met agreed-upon standards for protecting students' privacy was also popular.
"Market signals matter a lot," and such an effort may have an even greater impact than government regulations, said Jim Shelton, the acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Study Finds That Kindergarten is Too Easy

Kindergarten might be the new 1st grade but it is still too easy. A forthcoming study in the peer-refereed American Educational Research Journal finds that students make bigger gains in reading and math when they learn more advanced content such as adding numbers and matching letters to sounds. Yet kindergarten teachers spend nearly twice as much time on basics such as alphabet recognition and counting out loud. Study authors Amy Claessens,Mimi Engel and Chris Curran found that the majority of kindergartners already know how to do these things when they start school. 
 "If you teach kids what they already know, they're not going to learn as much," said Claessens, an assistant professor in the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and the mother to a kindergartner. "I would go even further and say more time on basic  [content] is actually harmful to kids particularly in mathematics. In reading, it is neutral, but math is negative."
In a paper published last year in the peer-refereed Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Engel, Claessens and Maida A. Finch found that even students who started kindergarten lacking basic skills made bigger gains when teachers emphasized advanced material. The American Educational Research Journal findings add a wrinkle by suggesting that kindergarten students learn more when taught advanced content, regardless of whether they have attended preschool or come from low-income families. 
Academic Content, Student Learning, and the Persistence of Preschool Effects is based upon a large, nationally representative sample (ECLS-K) representing more than 15,000 students who started kindergarten in 1998-99. The article, which you can read in full for free for the next month, is the most frequently viewed piece on the American Educational Research Journal'website, even though it was just posted November 13th and has not yet appeared in print. (This is relatively rare since it often takes academic articles years to wend their way toward most-viewed status.) Claessens speculates that one reason that the findings have received so much attention is that they have some pretty interesting policy implications.
"Shifting what you're teaching is very cost effective," Claessens said.
Claessens notes that past research has found that schools have already ramped up the amount of time spent on spent on academic content in kindergarten. So if these research results hold, teachers could see a real difference by making a relatively small and inexpensive change that would not further subtract from the time kindergartners want and need for other important areas such as social emotional learning and physical education.
Like other researchers,  Claessens, Engel and Curran found that kindergarten teachers spend a lot more time on literacy than on math.  On average, teachers taught basic reading skills 18 days a month or nearly every school day and advanced literacy 11 days per month. By contrast, they spent ten days a month on basic math and six days on math that was more advanced. These results were the same for teachers serving bigger and smaller percentages of children from lower-income families.
 "Early-childhood and kindergarten teachers are not as confident about teaching early math and the way they should teach early math," Claessens said. "We have for a long time pushed and done a good job of focusing on reading and basic skills for reading. I don't think we know as much or are as confident about early-childhood math."
Claessens said she had shared her findings with her daughter's kindergarten teacher, who was already emphasizing more advanced skills. She has also presented her research to school district leadership teams.
How did they react?
"Not surprised but they're not quite sure how to change it."

courtesy : Education Week 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An appeal to our fellow citizen

Dear All , 

Any one who wants to join us as Volunteer , or help us in our cause to promote education to under privilege 

children in India , you may write to us : nikunjfoundation@gmail.com or send us a sms TYPE 

JOIN(SPACE)NF(SPACE) and send us to 7890011940

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

An Appeal to my reader or those who are following my blog

Dear All . 

Greeting from Nikunj Foundation .
We wish you all Happy New Year 2014 .

India is a nation of a billion dreams, a billion aspirations and above all great opportunities. To turn these dreams into reality, especially for the vulnerable sections of the society, Reliance Foundation has taken the path of inclusive development to address their basic needs. Nikunj Foundation is Mixed bunch of young & experienced Educators . All of them cater different schools in different capacities viz. as director , principal , head of departments etc . Nelson Mandela once said " “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” . As educator we believes if we want  , we can change the face of the nation by providing guidance to our young generation . Our Mission to educate India remains in our heart . Our organization under the leadership of Educationist from across the India launch the Program " Education For All " .

Statistical Facts which drives our Mission:
1 - India still home to largest illiterate population: UNESCO 2 - The literacy ratio of India is 65.38% with male literacy at 75.85% and female literacy   at 54.16%
3 - Of the 193 million Children in the age group 6 to 14 years, 8.1 million children are out of school as of Sept 2004 as per Government statistics.
4 - Net primary enrollment ratio in 2001/02 : 83 7%
5 - Children reaching grade 5 in 2000/01 : 59 8 %
6 - Many of the 8.3 million Indian children born with low birth weight will carry a burden of disadvantage with them into primary school.
We work with children in orphanages, slum and village community centers; educating and mentoring them for a better future, for both themselves and our country.

What We Need & What You Get

We want to  build up a school for these children so that they can access the better education . For that we need the following :
1 - fund for purchase of land where we build the school building .
2 - fund for construction of school building .
3 - Honorary salaries to educators .
4 - funds for Providing breakfast , lunch & dinner to children’s .
5 - funds for Electricity & Water tax.
For your contribution our students will send you a memento made by them .Believe us " they are not ordinary children , they are very very special children " lets us join our hands and help these children .
Your help will bring smiles to millions of children who actually deprived from Elementary Education .Your little contribution help the world to became a better place to live in for these children. 

To support our cause , please click on  the link :


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Are Schools producing asses ?

These are the extract of Multiworld Newsletter.
Lets rethink what we are doing in Schools..
The news is official. Schools are producing asses. After an average study of 12 years (sometimes, 14) in school, children are turning out duds.The schooling system in the USA, India, Malaysia, Africa,everywhere is producing largely unimaginative and boring products, lacking initiative completely.
A recent Consumers Association of Penang booklet on How School Affects Your Kids lists the ways in which schools and their mug-mentality harm children. The school is perceived by children as:

A world of silence and immobility;
A world of uniforms, uniformity and punishments;
A world cut off from life;
A world of strange objects not found in the natural world;
A world strewn with obstacles and meaningless tasks;
A prison where students learn inferiority, submission and fear.
None of these are disputable facts.
Children themselves have drawn our attention to the fact that the school completely resembles a prison. It follows timings; food is bad or the same everyday; permission is required for everything including going to the loo; schooling demands that one sit in the same position for hours without exercise (even prisoners are spared this punishment). All children love intervals, just as prisoners look forward to the short breaks they are given out of their cells. Teachers are mostly wardens, since all they are really concerned about is discipline, uniforms, cleanliness, silence, obedience. Many of them are mean.
The comparison should not be really surprising since the same people who designed the schooling system also designed the prison system.
Parents who claim to love their children are willing to submit them to a 12 year torture learning things that everyone forgets immediately after the examinations are over.
Children who remain out of school do not lose anything since all human beings learn better out of school, given their natural aptitudes to do this. Thus, children can learn three to four languages before they are six without a teacher, but cannot speak or write a language if it is taught to them in school, even after six or eight years!
Taleemnet is providing a much needed platform for parents and educators who realise that although keeping kids out of school may initially seem risky, maybe frightening or even more of trouble, it will bring inestimable benefits in the long term in terms of quicker learning, and better family ties as children have a greater opportunity to be with their parents, members of the community, relatives and friends — all of whom will contribute in one way or another to the learning process.
One of the first Taleemnet projects is a primer on how to unschool kids or help the present ‘walk out’ rates to increase, so that children have a better chance to be themselves and learn what they want to rather than having to submit to a programme of text book cramming that goes on year after year without respite and whose utility is not accepted by anyone including the teacher.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Homework Wars

Kids don’t want to do it.
Teachers don’t want to grade it.
Experts don’t even know if it has any true education value.
So the question is: Is homework really necessary?
No thorough answer to the homework question would be complete without the input of students.
After surveying 72 students in the south Los Angeles middle and high school, students expressed a desire to move beyond the “how many pages?” homework mentality. Many of the surveyed students preferred challenging homework assignments that “make us think” or “involves a part of our lives.”
While a handful of the students wrote that they loved to do homework, most reported negative feelings towards homework assignments that were “boring” or “too much.” A majority of the students felt that they had been inadequately prepared to successfully complete their homework assignments alone. They requested that teachers explain the homework in greater detail and “actually give homework that we have talked about in class.”
Almost 30% of the surveyed students named English essays as “the worst homework assignment of the year.” They also commented on homework often being “too hard” and advised teachers to: “Take it easy because we already get frustrated with all the assignments we do in class.”
This student poll holds an obvious bias. Common sense tells us that most students would choose to do less or easier homework, if given the choice. These survey results do stress the struggle to challenge students without frustrating them, to adequately prepare students and to ensure that homework assignments are actually valuable.
Some experts believe that homework can actually impede student learning and motivation.
According to Dr. Vicki F. Panaccione, licensed child psychologist and founder of the Better Parenting Institute, “One of the biggest detriments that I come across each and every day in my clinical practice is the absolute abhorrence that the majority of students feel toward homework. I think, in most cases, the assignments are counter-productive and create a strong dislike for learning.” For optimum benefit, Panaccione recommends assignments: “that move them beyond the facts they have learned, helping students develop their ability to think, not regurgitate.”
Alfie Kohn, education critic and author of “The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing,” recommends that homework should be assigned only when necessary, and urges teachers to organize a change in mandatory homework policies. Kohn says that teachers should reflect on one main question before assigning homework: “What will the effect of this be on kids’ interest in reading, their desire to learn, and their attitudes about school?”
While Panaccione and Kohn might prefer that homework assignments be dramatically reduced, major research studies have proven that homework can increase student achievement at the secondary school level, in addition to other benefits.
According to Harris Cooper, “Homework can foster independent learning and responsible character traits.” Cooper is a professor of psychology and Duke University’s education director, and author of “Using Research to Answer Practical Questions About Homework.”
Parents also benefit from homework. Cooper argues that homework allows parents to get involved in their children’s education and to foster an appreciation for learning at home.
Clearly, the homework debate is not as simple as “to give homework or not to give homework.” The answer may be, rather, to redefine homework and its goals.
In her extensive research, Susan Hallam determined just that. Hallam is the head of the School of Lifelong Education and International Development at the Institute of Education, University of London. She says that the most important information that she has gleaned from research is that homework must possess specific aims related to learning.
“The real question that needs to be considered is whether homework is useful,” Hallam writes. “Giving homework just for the sake of it is wasteful of children’s time. Where it can be demonstrated to contribute to their learning, then it has value.”

Friday, August 16, 2013

Teachers Must Encourage Student Creativity

In today’s Common Core dominated, test-taking, data-driven schools, creativity is often like everybody’s favorite eccentric aunt: we all say we love her just the way she is, but nobody wants to actually be responsible for taking care of and nurturing her. And she’s really inconvenient, immeasurable, erratic, irascible, and unpredictable.
So many teachers are forced to teach to state tests that, little by little, creative projects and critical thinking have been forced to the back of the educational closet.  This isn’t because teachers like it this way; they feel it’s a necessary evil given the idea that student test scores play a large role in how teachers are evaluated.

Why Fight for Creativity in the Classroom

I am here to stand proudly for creativity, in all its messy, out-of-the-lines glory.
Why? Because ultimately, creativity not only improves those pesky test scores, but it also contributes to what should be our ultimate goal as educators: inspiring students to become curious, engaged, and interested in the world around them and within them.
“The great engine that drives innovation and invention in society comes from people whose flame of creativity was kept alive in childhood. Research shows that, if not nurtured, creativity takes a nosedive by fourth grade. Young children who were awesome artists in preschool no longer color the sky orange and pink just because they love the glowing colors,” says Alice Sterling Honig, PhD, of Syracuse University.
In large part, this happens within the confines of the classroom walls. We train them to spit out the answers we want rather than find the answers themselves, because it’s quicker and gets a more consistent result. But is it the right thing to do?

The Bottom Line on Creativity

Every invention, both practical and whimsical, was the product of creativity. The car you drive, the clothes you wear, the music you hear, some television shows you watch, the books you’ve read, medicines that have cured your ills—all these came from a creative mind, someone who could take existing information and knowledge and tweak it slightly to make something totally new and original.
“Creativity has always been prized in American society,” according to author Po Bronson, “but it’s never really been understood.” Bronson and co-author Ashley Merryman wrote a cover story for July’s Newsweek Magazine titled The Creative Crisis. The writers note that “while our creativity scores decline unchecked, the current national strategy for creativity consists of little more than praying for a Greek muse to drop by our houses. The problems we face now, and in the future, simply demand that we do more than just hope for inspiration to strike.”
As teachers, it is our duty to introduce and nurture creative thought in the classroom. It’s messy and often difficult to measure, but this is the stuff that dreams are made of, and America desperately needs dreamers. Of course, they still need to be able to read, write, and do arithmetic, but emphasizing those skills at the expense of critical and divergent thinking is a mistake, not only in a practical sense, but also because we are called to inspire and ignite young imaginations, not shove them into a box with a scantron.

How to Bring Creativity into the Classroom

It really depends on your subject area and/or grade level, but all teachers can sprinkle some pixie dust on their curriculum:

Get Visual

  • Allow students to look at photos or paintings and make up stories about them.

Integrate Music

  • Play different kinds of music and ask students to visualize the scenes that might be going on while the music is playing, and have them draw or write poetry, or create a short, short story.
  • Remember the old Schoolhouse Rock? I learned more about the Constitution from those little segments with music than I did in all my high school classes.

Historical Creativity

  • English teachers really have great opportunities to infuse creativity, but other subject areas lend themselves also: in history or social science, have students write letters form the point of view of an historical character, or write a scene of dialogue between a historical character and a modern-day politician or pop star.

Math & Science

  • Math and science might be more of a challenge, but consider letting students create homes or buildings out of geometric shapes, or write a song about basic math principles.
  • There are also many resources for creative projects emerging, since the issue is gaining attention. Look for project-based instruction, or constructivist learning, and you might find some interesting ideas that may inspire creativity in you.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Recent Development in Education sector

Firstly some development on the NOC from the state government (please see the clipping below) which may no longer be required.
Schools to get Direct Recognition

Monday, July 29, 2013

Accreditation: The New Trend in School Improvement

For hundreds of years there have been varying philosophies about education, based on various models of study. In modern times, parents, students, and educators continue to explore the different philosophies on education and how they impact learning. While each education philosophy has its own belief in the driving forces behind it, the issue of provision of education quality exists in the wake of the recent globalization. Numerous education systems exist throughout the world; however, education providers have not been able to develop a consensus on what to teach, what teaching methodologies they should adopt and how the examinations should be assessed.  The question that arises is how the quality of education can be assured when numerous education systems exist across the world.
There are numerous regional accreditation agencies and bodies across the world that assess the education providers of their specific regions on different factors.  They evaluate an educational institution based on the years of education students acquire and how many of them pass their exams. The problems that arise is since these exams are not similar in different countries, they do not really allow an agency to evaluate the quality of education imparted to the students. The quality of education cannot be assured because the academic programs around the world are not the same and cannot be compared to each other.
To standardize the quality of education globally and accredit education providers on an international scale, organizations like IAO have developed accreditation standards that are both regionally and internationally recognized and accepted.
Traditional and Non-Traditional education providers today have realized the importance of establishing global educational standards through international accreditation, adding tremendous value to the brand name of their establishment. In this regard, to prove the legitimacy of such organizations, University of Bangalore recently received Candidacy Status from IAO, which is a major achievement for the education sector of India. It will encourage reputed education providers to get internationally accredited and recognized for providing quality education. Not only this, this accreditation will offer international recognition to all its stakeholders, a factor considered very important by students and university placement programs around the world.
With IAO’s international accreditation, education can reach out across geographic boundaries and has greater appeal for foreign students. Graduates of internationally accredited universities find it much easier to pursue careers in foreign countries because their academic credentials are accepted worldwide. This quality of international accreditation plays a vital role in career development for students and increases the value of international accreditation for students.