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Google Donates $2.8 Million to Help Black Girls Code

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Kimberly Bryant is the founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, a nonprofit that teaches computer programming to African-American girls.

Black Girls Code, a non-profit that teaches computer programming to African-American girls, opened its first permanent New York office inside of Google’s New York headquarters.

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Mentoring Partnerships

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The backbone of mentoring’s infrastructure is the growing Mentoring Partnership Network that MENTOR helps build and support.

MENTOR is scaling impact by developing and supporting a national network of affiliate Mentoring Partnerships. Mentoring Partnerships are non-partisan, public-private organizations that galvanize local or statewide mentoring movements, providing the leadership and infrastructure necessary to support the expansion of quality mentoring relationships. Mentoring Partnerships serve a unique role as a clearinghouse for training, resources, awareness, and advocacy, providing the critical link between MENTOR’s national efforts and local organizations and programs that foster and support quality mentoring relationships. Mentoring Partnerships are designated MENTOR affiliates that inform and distribute our research and resources.

Mentoring Partnerships are focused on the following key priorities:

Advance the quality of the local mentoring field by building relationships with new and existing mentoring programs and provide capacity building trainings and technical assistance grounded in evidence-based approaches.
Engage a wide variety of public and private stakeholders to increase both the number of volunteer mentors as well as resources for the local mentoring field.
Collect data on a regular basis to describe the impact of mentoring in the broader community and identify gaps in the range of services needed.
Expand public and private support and investment in mentoring through public awareness and advocacy efforts that foster communities that prioritize quality youth mentoring. Mentoring Partnerships have developed solid, field-tested solutions to some of the mentoring movement’s greatest challenges.

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Smarter Balanced States Approve Achievement Level Recommendations

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Smarter Balanced members voted to approve the initial achievement levels for the math and English assessments that will be administered in 17 states and one territory this school year. The achievement levels help provide a more accurate picture of individual student performance, and the vote marks an incredibly important milestone in the development of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System.

Achievement Level Setting was an inclusive, collaborative process that involved an unprecedented level of educator and public input. More than 2,500 educators, parents, and other interested stakeholders provided input during the Online Panel. Their recommendations were shared at In-Person workshops in Dallas with nearly 500 teachers, school leaders, higher education faculty, parents, community leaders, and other stakeholders. Participants reviewed test questions and determined threshold scores for four achievement levels for each grade in both subjects. In addition, a cross-grade review committee comprised of 72 members took results from both the Online Panel and In-Person workshops into consideration as they developed recommendations aligned across grades to reflect student progress from year to year.

It’s important to remember that achievement levels are a starting point for discussion about the performance of individual students and groups of students. In addition to achievement levels, there are other ways to evaluate academic progress of students and schools. Smarter Balanced states unanimously approved a position paper that provides guidelines for how scores and achievement levels can be used and interpreted.

We know that new content standards set higher expectations for students. That’s why the new assessments are designed to evaluate student performance against those higher standards. It is therefore not surprising that we may see a decline in student scores this year. However, over time the performance of students will improve.

In the coming months, Smarter Balanced states will present the approved achievement level recommendations to policymaking entities that have the authority to formally adopt achievement levels in each state.This authority typically rests with the state board of education.

To learn more about the Achievement Level Setting process, visit the Achievement Levels page.

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Smarter Balanced States Approve Achievement Level Recommendations

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Members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have voted to approve initial achievement levels for the mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) assessments that will be administered in 17 states and one territory this school year. The vote marks an important milestone in the development of the assessment system. READ THE PRESS RELEASE

LEARN MORE ABOUT ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS

Smarter Balanced Hires Deputy Executive Director

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) has appointed Luci Willits as its deputy executive director. Willits joins the state-led consortium December 8. As deputy executive director, Willits will focus on strategy and state services, overseeing communications, policy, and partnerships with higher education. LEARN MORE

Field Test Report Now Available

A report on the Smarter Balanced Field Test is now available. This report presents results from state surveys given to students and adults in 13 Smarter Balanced member states. The Field Test or “test of the test” was administered in the spring of 2014 to more than 4.2 million students across the Consortium, and provided teachers and schools an opportunity to gauge their readiness in advance of the operational assessments in spring 2015. LEARN MORE

New Resources Available on the Support for Under-Represented Students Page

To prepare states across the Consortium for successful implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System, a variety of updates have been made to the Support for Under-Represented Students page. Updated versions of the Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines, Accessibility and Accommodations Factsheet, and Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations FAQs are now available.

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Best High Schools

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The 2015 U.S. News Best High Schools rankings, released today, feature information on more than 19,000 eligible schools. High school performance has been under the spotlight recently, as the Obama administration announced awards earlier this month totaling more than $100 million to help schools prepare students for in-demand careers in fields including health care, technology and engineering.

The data show that receiving a gold medal is truly a rarity among the public high schools that U.S. News evaluated for this ranking. Only 2.8 percent of eligible schools ​received a gold medal. That number represents the top 500 schools and is calculated using a combination of state assessments and college readiness scores. Silver medals were awarded to just 8.6 percent of eligible schools.

The School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas ​excelled, earning a gold medal along with top honors in the overall national rankings as well as the Best Magnet Schools rankings. ​

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Black Girls Code Adds Color to Tech Scene – Q&A with Kimberly Bryant

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Volunteer teachers work help young students with computer progra

The lack of diversity in Silicon Valley’s mostly white, mostly male workforce has attracted a lot of scrutiny and criticism in recent months. But even if criticism is warranted, the problem originates elsewhere – in early education. That realization has driven several tech companies to action.

Black Girls Code founder, Kimberly Bryant. (Curtis Jermany)

(Black Girls Code founder, Kimberly Bryant. photo: Curtis Jermany)

Among them is Google, whose $50 million Made with Code initiative seeks to challenge cultural stereotypes and teach girls coding at an early age. California-based startup Play-i, uses toy robots teach kids to code, and Black Girls Code, a non-profit organization, is working to bring minorities into the technology space.

Chatting with TECHtonics, Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant says she launched the non-profit organization in 2010 after she noticed a distinct absence of minorities in technology.

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Future Ready Schools: Empowering Educators through Professional Learning toolkit

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This toolkit provides leaders with a multi-step decision-making process, practical tools, and numerous examples for setting a trajectory of positive change, moving assertively toward achievement of student learning and improvement goals. The toolkit recognizes that improvements in student learning are related to improvements in educator practice and that strengthened practice is supported by research- and standards-based professional learning.

Navigate through the toolkit using the orange buttons below. You may choose to move linearly from one step to the next, or skip directly to a particular step. You may also access each tool directly from the sidebar.

Determine District Readiness
Go to Step 1

Assess Current Professional Learning
Go to Step 2

Refine Professional Learning
Go to Step 3

Implement Professional Learning
Go to Step 4

Measure Refined Professional Learning
Go to Step 5

Read more About this toolkit

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