Tell the FCC How Important Broadband is to Our Schools

Take One Minute…

Tell the FCC how important adequate broadband connectivity is to the future success of America’s schools.

Digital learning’s potential to improve learning will not be realized without robust and reliable internet connection in schools and classrooms. We have an opportunity to tell policymakers at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) how important broadband access is to realizing this potential for all students. Please sign our petition TODAY and ask your friends and colleagues to do the same!  The more people who show their support, the stronger our message will be.

All submissions received by noon on Friday, April 18th will be included. It only takes a minute to add your support.

It will make a very big difference!

Sara Hall
Alliance for Excellent Education

In 2014, there will not be enough funding for E-rate to support internet connections into classrooms — no wifi, routers, or even hard connections through Ethernet cables. Tell the FCC that these Internet connections are important, and why.

Please sign our petition TODAY

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Wheeler FCC Driving Toward Controversial E-Rate Overhaul

Tom Wheeler photo credit: LA Times

Under new Chairman Tom Wheeler, the Federal Communications Commission has intensified and accelerated its initiative to complete a massive transformation of its E-Rate universal service fund program to bring advanced high-speed broadband capabilities to America’s K-12 schools and libraries in the next few months–perhaps as early as this summer.

If Wheeler and the Democratic members of the FCC succeed, they will likely do so over strenuous objections of their Republican colleagues and Republican congressional leaders.

The drive to transform the program–formally known as the Schools and Libraries Program–into a high-speed broadband fund to enhance digital learning for students and library users across America has been underway since last summer, but it has picked up tremendous momentum since President Obama singled it out in his January 28 State of the Union address and then doubled down by hawking it during his post-SOTU “tour.” The president first outlined his vision for reform last June when he called on the FCC to overhaul the E-Rate program to connect 99 percent of America’s students to broadband at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) by 2015, with a target of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) by 2020. In the SOTU, Obama made clear that he intends the expansion of the E-Rate fund to be one of the signature accomplishments of his second term, and on Feb. 4 he advanced the ball by announcing $750 million in commitments of services and equipment by the likes of Apple Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Microsoft Inc., Sprint Corp. and other leading telecom companies.

Momentum Building, But So Is Opposition

Wheeler’s March 17 speech framed the key elements of E-Rate transformation: “While the details of E-Rate modernization remain in flux, the goals are clear. For E-Rate modernization to be successful, the updated program must be: (1) focused on delivering faster-speeds to schools and libraries and Wi-Fi throughout; (2) funded and future-proofed; (3) fiscally responsible and fact-based; and (4) friendly to use.”

In a bow to his more fiscally conservative colleagues, he emphasized that “simply sending more money to the E-Rate program to keep doing business as it has been for the last 18 years is not a sustainable strategy…My colleagues and I can’t just pour more money into the program as it presently stands.” But he also stated for the first time that he will recommend raising the universal service “contribution factor”–the fees assessed to telecom service providers to fund the federal universal service programs, which are invariably passed through to consumers as a line-item fee in their telephone bills–“should it be warranted.”

Wheeler Avoids Full-Commission Vote–For Now

But Wheeler chose to issue the recent public notice as a bureau-level document, thus avoiding putting it to a vote of the commissioners. In doing so, he exposed anew the growing frictions between the Democrats and Republicans on the agency. Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai immediately issued a statement complaining that Wheeler’s end-around “depriv[ed] comissioners of an opportunity to weigh in” and that “even if the right questions were posed, this is the wrong way to pose them.” In recent weeks, both Pai and fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly have affirmed their opposition to increasing the universal service program budget, declaring instead that any increase in E-Rate funding “must be offset by reductions elsewhere within the federal universal service budget.” Given that the educational community, the administration and other E-Rate champions believe that a doubling or tripling of the program’s funding will be necessary to realize the proposal’s high-speed broadband goals–and that most Democrats do not want to raid other components of the overall universal service fund–these pronouncements are widely perceived as a poison pill that would defeat the administration’s objectives. Moreover, Republican congressional leaders, as well as the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, have called upon the FCC to refer E-Rate reform to a federal-state joint board, which surely would slow momentum toward final action to expand the program.

Time to Act Is Now

Clearly, Wheeler and the Democrats are willing to weather a divisive, partisan, 3-2 vote if necessary. In any event, it is abundantly clear that Wheeler and the Obama administration believe that time is of the essence, and they need to act fast–by this summer– lest another signature administration initiative run aground on the shoals of political deadlock.

Read the entire article by James M. Smith on Bloomberg BNA at

For more information, read SETDA on E-Rate Modernization and The Broadband Imperative from SETDA at

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The Paradox of Right the First Time: Transform Assessment Practices to Reflect Growth

Those of us experimenting with how we accurately measure student skills and abilities hit a wonderful fork in the road the first time we experience the unintended consequences of change. The story goes something like this.

A cool Friday morning as school begins, Mr. Brock is welcoming his 11th-grade psychology class with a casual hello and a smile. As the bell rings, Mr. Brock proceeds through the daily business of taking attendance and fielding quick questions. Prior to that day’s summative assessment, he overhears two students casually conversing.

John, sitting at his desk with his materials strewn in a form best described as controlled chaos is combing through past formative work, open responses, and segments of the textbook he has identified as areas of focus. Diligently checking components off of his preparation list, you can see the hard work and time he put in to preparing for the day’s activities.

Strolling in about four minutes after the bell had rung, Timmy sits down, drops his backpack on the floor, and waits quietly. Noticing the laissez-faire demeanor of his classmate, John leans over and asks a question….“Tim….What are you doing? You don’t want to take the time to review for the summative we are starting in a few minutes?”
Tim, leaning back in his chair a bit more, smiles before replying, “It’s fine. I will just do the retake later.”

….I can feel the color draining from your face now: Not because it is a shock, but because it puts us as the educators in a position of philosophy versus experience. We know that grades are supposed to measure what a student knows and is able to do, but how do we make sure that students are putting in the effort to value the feedback from the assessment without rewarding or penalizing for non-academic instances. Retake policy has become one of the third rails of teacher-led reform, having the potential to limit the acceleration of change many of us are working towards.

In my own practice, I have seen many successes and failures in honing my policies and procedures in the classroom. For those of you still interested, below are my thoughts to help you on the way to an effective practice with stakeholder buy-in that helps juggle the balance between academics and behaviors.

1. Being clear upfront on why you are doing what you are doing:

You cannot just implement a policy and hope that it sticks. In the classes that I began, I told students that I was making the changes, which ultimately warranted “what if” questions as opposed to the acceptance I was hoping for.

2. Setting clear cut guidelines:

From the start, I had set expectations that were going to have to be met in order to earn a retake. I emphasized that it would have to be earned, mainly, because that is how we capitalize on opportunity in the real world. In developing what would be the base level expectations, I also explained why we would be using them and asked questions about whether they thought it was fair. Using this gained a little more student buy-in for the process while establishing acceptable criteria.

3. Identifying opportunity to scale:

As I observed what was working and what was not through our units of study, I left the ability to scale the opportunities for retakes open on an assessment-by-assessment basis. As the educational experiences themselves were a cycle, I attempted to raise the bar of expectation as we progressed through each unit we studied. Things I saw working, I raised the bar for (increasing minimum grade for retake, having all formative work done ON TIME, etc.), while things that were not working were either revamped or tossed.

4. Follow through:

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to follow through on the expectations that are set in the environment. No matter who you are or where you are, if policy is not adhered to, it will not elicit the same behavior modifications. If the class set a benchmark, it was adhered to and could be modified only when the cycle was complete. Ownership in the process and knowing the expectations beforehand were great motivators to students.

Read the entire article by Justin Ballou on CompetencyWorks at

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Nominations are open for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST)

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science).  Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

Since 1983, more than 4,200 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession .  If you know great teachers, nominate them to join this prestigious network of professionals.

Nominations Are Now Open

The 2014 Awards will honor mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers working in grades K-6. Nominations close on April 15, 2014.

Nominate a Teacher

Teachers: Apply Online

Before logging in, please review the
2013–2014 Application Packet (Adobe PDF). Applications must be completed by May 15, 2014.

Begin or Resume an Application

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INFOGRAPHIC: Ms. Bullen’s Data-Rich Year

Teachers have access to more quality data than ever, on factors like student performance, attendance, and more. When used along with pedagogy, content knowledge, and professional judgment, these data can be used responsibly to improve outcomes for kids. This graphic follows a teacher and student through the school year to see how data help teachers, parents, and others make sure students are meeting education goals.

Click on the image to enlarge.

From the Data Quality Campaign at

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Registration Open for NH Broadband Conference

NH Broadband Conference:  Friday, May 16, 2014


To bring together a variety of stakeholders to discuss what is happening to expand broadband access, adoption, and use throughout New Hampshire.

Grappone Conference Center

This conference is partially funded under a grant from the US Dept. of Commerce #33-50-M09048 to the University of New Hampshire and NH’s Regional Planning Commissions

For information and to register:


Municipal officials, legislators, community leaders, internet service providers, representatives from business, health/ medical, education, and public safety sectors, & NH residents.


  • Understand the role of broadband for economic competitiveness, education, health care, governance, public safety, and overall quality of life in NH.
  • Highlight broadband accomplishments, future plans, and what is needed to ensure continued broadband support in NH.
  • Explore current and emerging broadband technologies.


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Report Release: Speak Up 2013 National Findings, K-12 Students


2014 Congressional Briefing National Release of Speak Up 2013 K-12 Students

“Innovative technologies are helping K‐12 educators augment their teaching to reach students with more collaborative, creative and, ultimately, more effective delivery methods. We’re proud to partner with Project Tomorrow to gauge the progress districts continue to make in leveraging technology to better prepare students for future learning success.”

- Mark Belles, senior vice president, K‐12, Blackboard.

PT 2014cover front

On April 8, 2014, Project Tomorrow released the report “The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations” at a Congressional Briefing held in Washington, DC and for the first time, online in a special live stream of the event. Julie Evans, Project Tomorrow CEO, discussed selected student national findings from the Speak Up 2013 report and moderated a panel discussion with students who shared their insights and experiences with digital learning.

Over 100 people attended the Congressional Briefing including congressional staff members, student and staff representatives from some of our Speak up schools, and staff from many of our sponsors, champion outreach partners and non-profit partners.

Students and parents from Baltimore City Public Schools (MD), Baltimore County Public Schools (MD), Fairfax County Public School District (VA) and Frederick County Public Schools (VA) shared their insights regarding personalizing their own learning.


The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations

Speak Up 2013 National Findings K-12 Student

The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations is the first in a two part series to document the key national findings from Speak Up 2013.

For the past eleven years, Project Tomorrow’s® annual Speak Up National Research Project has provided schools and districts nationwide and throughout the globe with new insights into how today’s students want to leverage digital tools for learning based upon the authentic, unfiltered ideas of students themselves. With this year’s national report on the views of 325,279 K-12 students representing over 9,000 schools and 2,700 districts nationwide, we focus on getting beyond the anecdotally- driven stereotypes of student technology use to establish a more comprehensive understanding of the myriad of different ways that students are currently personalizing learning using technology.

Given the increasing interest amongst education, business, policy, and parent leadership on the value of digital tools to personalize learning and improve student outcomes, this year’s report provides new findings around these three central questions to further both national and local discussions:

 ▪ How are K-12 students currently using digital tools and resources to support schoolwork activities?

How are K-12 students currently using digital tools and resources to enable out of school time learning activities?

What are K-12 students’ aspirations for using digital tools and resources within new innovative learning environments?

Key Findings from this year’s report include:

info jpeg

Infographic Infographic- The New Digital Learning Playbook: Mobile Learning

 ▪ Girls outpace boys in use of many digital tools for learning, particularly the socially based tools like texting and collaborating online.

29 percent of high school boys say that they are very interested in a job or career in a STEM field, but only 19 percent of girls say the same. This gap remains even among girls and boys who self-assess their technology skills as advanced. During the seven years that the Speak Up surveys have polled high school students on their interest in STEM fields, the level of student interest has not increased significantly.

Students continue to report less regular interaction with traditional social networking sites like Facebook, while 44 percent of students in grades 6-12 report using social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Nearly one-third of high school students reported using Twitter.

One-quarter of students in grades 3-5 and nearly one-third of students in grades 6-12 say that they are using a mobile device provided by their school to support schoolwork (these percentages were greater among Title I schools than non-Title I schools).

In four years, the percent of middle school students taking tests online increased from 32 percent to 47 percent.

High school students reported a mean average of 14 hours per week using technology for writing.

Only one-third of middle school students say that for schoolwork reading, they prefer to read digital materials rather than printed materials; more than half, however, say online textbooks would be an essential component of their “ultimate school.”

Digital equity, including to student access to the Internet outside of school, is a growing concern among district technology leaders with 46 percent saying it is one of the most challenging issues they face today (compared to just 19 percent in 2010).

Download Links:

Download PDF of the report

View the report in HTML

Speak Up Report Landing page

Infographic- The New Digital Learning Playbook: Mobile Learning

Congressional Briefing Homepage

Congressional Briefing Packet Materials

Congressional Briefing Powerpoint

Recording of the event

Speak Up in the News

 ▪ One-Third of U.S. Students Use School-Issued Mobile Devices, THE Journal

Students Want More Alignment of Tech In and Out of School, Mind/Shift

Use of Digital Tools Rises, but ‘STEM’ Gender Gap Persists, Survey Finds, Edweek

If you tuned into yesterday’s Speak Up Congressional Briefing Live Stream we would like to apologize for the poor connection issues. Thank you for tuning in and we hope you enjoy watching the recorded version on our website.

Thank you for your interest and continued support of Speak Up! Be sure to stay updated on all things Speak Up by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our Blog.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Jenny Hostert at or via phone at 949/609-4660 ext. 17.

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