Enter the $200,000 Follett Challenge by February 28

Live Facebook Chat With Past Winners Scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 11


MCHENRY, Ill., Feb. 3, 2014 – The deadline to enter the third annual Follett Challenge is Friday, Feb. 28.  A total of $200,000 inFollett products and services will be awarded to 15 different winners from all levels of education able to best demonstrate innovative approaches to 21st century learning.

“It’s time to consider how you could use this challenge to advocate for your students and your school,” wrote Matthew C. Winner as part of a recent entry on his blog, The Busy Librarian, in a challenge to his colleagues. “Take some time to browse theprevious winners of the Follett Challenge and consider how you can share your school’s story with the world. This is an opportunity to dream beyond budgets, beyond limitations.”

With four weeks remaining for PreK-12 schools to enter the $200,000 Follett Challenge, the contest has scheduled a live Facebook chat with educators from two of last year’s winning schools who will provide key tips and support to those who have yet to submit their applications. The one-hour chat is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. EST (9:30 a.m. PST) on Tuesday, Feb. 11 on the Follett Challenge Facebook page.

Two examples of educators who made the grade with their 2013 Follett Challenge entries were Patrice Bryan, who teaches social justice Semester of Service at Maplewood Richmond Heights School District in St. Louis, Mo., and Danielle Salina, library/media specialist at Mary E. Griswold Elementary School in Kensington, Conn. Bryan and Salina will headline the Feb. 11 Facebook chat.


Bryan’s school – ranked among the St. Louis area’s lowest performing schools 10 years ago – was one of the contest’s two $60,000 grand-prize winners (see video recap of Maplewood Richmond Heights’ honor at this link). Salina’s school earned the Follett Challenge’s “People’s Choice Award” for receiving the most votes from the public in an online vote of favorite application videos submitted on the contest’s website. More than 450,000 online votes were generated last year.

“Our esteemed panel of judges will have the tough task of singling out this year’s winners given the extraordinary 21st century teaching and learning programs that are going on throughout our nation,” said Tom Schenck, president and COO for Follett School Solutions. “Our past winners have told us that being honored has motivated them to want to accomplish even more.”


The overall 2014 winner will earn a $60,000 prize, while each of the other three semifinalists will earn $30,000 prizes. Ten $5,000 prizes will be awarded to the “People’s Choice” winners.  Judges will select the grand-prize winner from among the four semifinalists.


“I’d tell everyone who’s doing something innovative to apply for the Follett Challenge – you just might win the grand prize,” said Bryan, who is one of six on this year’s judging panel. “Winning has made us at Maplewood Richmond Heights realize we are going the right direction, and it has been inspiring.”

To participate, entrants must complete an online application and upload a three- to five-minute video describing their program at www.follettchallenge.com.

Key contest dates are:


·         Feb. 28:                Entries close.

·         March 7:        Video voting begins.

·         April 4:                Video voting ends.

·         April 14:        Four semifinalists and 10 video winners announced.

·         May 16:        Grand prize winner announced.


For more information on the Follett Challenge, visit www.follettchallenge.com.

About Follett’s PreK-12 Business 
Follett is the largest provider of educational materials and technology solutions to PreK-12 libraries, classrooms, learning centers and school districts in the United States, and a major supplier to educational institutions worldwide. Follett distributes books, reference materials, digital resources, ebooks and audiovisual materials, as well as pre-owned textbooks. Follett also is one of the leading providers of integrated educational technology for the management of physical and digital assets, the tracking, storing and analyzing of academic data, and digital learning environment tools for the classroom focusing on student achievement.

About Follett Corporation

Since 1873, Follett has served as the trusted partner in education for students and educators at all levels of learning. Today, Follett delivers physical and digital learning materials, retail services, school content and management systems to more than 70,000 early childhood, primary and secondary schools, and on more than 1,000 college campuses. Headquartered in River Grove, Illinois, Follett is a $2.7 billion privately held company.


Education Technology Innovators Sought For Innovation Incubator at 2014 SIIA Education Industry Summit
Finalists will receive industry-wide recognition, mentorship and growth opportunities, and the opportunity to win prizes and an award

Washington D.C. (Feb. 3, 2014) – The Education Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has issued a call for applicants to its Innovation Incubator Program. Developers of promising new technologies in the K-12 and postsecondary space will be invited to participate in SIIA’s Innovation Incubator program at the annual SIIA Education Industry Summit in San Francisco, May 12-14, 2014. The deadline to apply is March 7, 2014.

SIIA’s Innovation Incubator program identifies and supports entrepreneurs in their development and distribution of innovative learning technologies. The program began in 2007 and has provided support and mentorship for dozens of successful products and companies in their efforts to improve education through the use of software, digital content, and related technologies.

The program is open to applicants from academic and non-profit institutions, pre-revenue and early-stage companies, and long-standing companies with newly developed technologies. Applicants will be assessed for the Innovation Incubator program on a broad range of criteria, including the education focus, end-user impact, market need for the innovation, representation of K-12/postsecondary market levels, and the level of originality and innovation.

“SIIA’s Innovation Incubator program is unique because it employs a peer review process to identify the most innovative and most likely to succeed products in the educational technology industry,” says Karen Billings, VP for the Education Division at SIIA. “Those same peers also provide one-on-one mentorship to support the growth and success of the innovators. It’s a great way for the industry to give back and help promote the next generation of creative solutions.”

All education technology companies are encouraged to apply – from start-ups to established innovators. A panel of SIIA member judges, consisting of prominent education technology industry professionals, will review and score each innovation, and collective scores will determine finalists and an alternate. Finalists will be asked to give webinar presentations to educators and administrators nationwide for the Educators’ Choice Award. Finalists will also present their products live for Education Business Forum attendees. One winner will be honored with the Educators’ Choice Award based on educator scores. An additional winner and one runner-up will be chosen for the “Most Innovative” and “Most Likely to Succeed” categories based on the scores submitted by Forum attendees.

For more information about the Innovation Incubator Program, click here.

About SIIA 
The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) is the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry. SIIA provides global services in government relations, business development, corporate education and intellectual property protection to more than 800 leading software and information companies. The SIIA Education Division serves and represents more than 200 member companies that provide software, digital content and other technologies that address educational needs. The Division shapes and supports the industry by providing leadership, advocacy, business development opportunities and critical market information. For more information, visit www.siia.net/education.

Building Capacity for Systems Change: A Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education
New report from iNACOL and KnowledgeWorks outlines opportunity for a paradigm shift in education
WASHINGTON – KnowledgeWorks and The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) today released a new report which provides a comprehensive vision for supporting state and local efforts to implement student-centered learning through competency education, where learning is the constant and time is the variable. The report, “A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change,” describes barriers and opportunities which federal policy makers and advocates can leverage to help catalyze change in our K-12 education system.
“We must take a serious step to reframe quality, accountability, and access to ensure that each and every student is prepared for their future,” said Lillian Pace, report co-author and Senior Director of National Policy for KnowledgeWorks. “A growing number of districts and states have begun to think about the next step to increase equity, rigor, and relevance in the system, and their success rests heavily on federal adoption of a new student-centered policy framework that will advance the growth of competency education.”
“The world is rapidly changing, and we must ensure that our education system prepares every student to succeed, no matter where they live or what challenges they face,” said co-author Maria Worthen, iNACOL’s Vice President for Federal and State Policy. “It is time to move away from traditional assumptions about how schools should look, how teachers should teach, and how students should learn.”
The report identifies four specific areas of focus:
  • Federal accountability policies should incent districts, schools, and educators to use real-time, individual student data to tailor instruction, supports, and interventions to ensure that each student is on pace to graduate with mastery of college- and career-ready standards and aligned competencies.
  • Flexible, balanced systems of assessments should measure mastery of competencies aligned to standards, with multiple measures, performance assessments, and evidence providing educators with a data-driven guide for prioritizing continuous improvement of student learning to ensure that every student is on pace to graduation.
  • The federal government should support states and districts in the development and implementation of a proactive system of supports and interventions that use real-time data to help students advance to college and career readiness through learning experiences aligned to their personalized learning pathways.
  • Student-centered data systems should collect, report, and provide transparent information on where every student is along a learning trajectory based on demonstrating high levels of competency, to help educators customize learning experiences to ensure that every student can master standards and aligned competencies. Data should provide useful information for improving teaching and learning, as well as for accountability and quality purposes.
The report is now available on the CompetencyWorks website http://bit.ly/cwk12fedpolicy.
KnowledgeWorks is a social enterprise focused on ensuring that every student experiences meaningful personalized learning that allows him or her to thrive in college, career and civic life. By offering a portfolio of innovative education approaches and advancing aligned education policy, KnowledgeWorks seeks to improve student readiness for college and careers. Our portfolio includes EDWorks, New Tech Network and StriveTogether.


Responsive Classroom Course to be Offered to Educators

in 26 Locations this Summer


Turners Falls, MA—Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc. (NEFC), the developers of the research-based Responsive Classroom approach to teaching, will introduce a newly revised and updated entry level course for elementary educators in an unprecedented 26 locations this summer including London, England. Responsive Classroom professional development will also be provided at hundreds of on-site trainings in schools and districts across the country.

The updated, four-day Responsive Classroom Course (which replaces Responsive Classroom I) is a practical, interactive, high-energy training that gives classroom and special area teachers everything needed to start using core Responsive Classroom teaching practices such as Morning Meeting, Interactive Modeling, Positive Teacher Language, Establishing Rules, Responding to Misbehavior, Academic Choice and more. An advanced-level offering that goes into greater depth with these and additional practices, Responsive Classroom II, will also be offered as a 4-day course at most locations this summer.

The use of Responsive Classroom practices has been shown to increase teacher effectiveness in three key and inter-related domains: engaging academics, effective management, and positive community.

“Teacher competence in these three domains means students can develop the academic, social, and emotional skills needed to achieve the rigorous learning called for by the Common Core,” says Dr. Lora Hodges, NEFC executive director. AllResponsive Classroom courses are taught by highly–trained and experienced elementary educators.

Teachers and administrators have consistently called Responsive Classroom training “the most relevant and best professional development experience” they’ve ever had. Below is a small sampling of comments about the updated Responsive Classroom Course:

“Tremendously powerful…This training will have a profound and positive influence on our school and its effectiveness for children.” — Dennis Dobe, Assistant Principal

“This was one of the best workshops I have ever done. I am excited to get back into my classroom and try these new ideas and strategies.”– Jessica Ortolf, grade 5 teacher

“As a principal, I am SO impressed with the content and presentation of this course!”

–Kevin A. Michaud, Principal

“This is perhaps the most powerful workshop I have ever experienced in my 20+ years of teaching….This is the essence of true teaching.” –Veronica Martinez Bland, Literacy Coach

“This training has given me new energy for my classroom. I am leaving feeling excited and hopeful that I can make great changes in my instructional practices.”

–Ashley Galicki, grade 2 teacher

Dr. Hodges sums up the power of Responsive Classroom this way: “Responsive Classroom is a proven source of high quality professional development, a way to build teachers’ capacity to make the instructional shifts that will prepare students to fully participate and thrive in our ever-evolving society. If we want every child, every day, to learn the skills necessary to face the challenges of the 21st century, then we need to focus on the most important ingredient–good teaching. That’s what theResponsive Classroom is all about.”

To learn more about the Responsive Classroom approach and to find dates and locations of upcoming trainings, visitwww.responsiveclassroom.org/workshops-institutes.


About Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc. and the Responsive Classroom® approach

The not-for-profit Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc. (NEFC) was established in 1981 by elementary school educators who envisioned a way of teaching that would bring together academic and social learning throughout the school day. That way of teaching, called the Responsive Classroom approach, is now being used in schools across the country. It has been recognized by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as one of the most well-designed, evidence-based social and emotional learning programs. NEFC offers Responsive Classroom on-site consulting services to schools and districts; workshops and institutes for educators in locations around the country; and numerous books, videos, and other resources for teachers and administrators.

For more information, visit www.responsiveclassroom.org.


NASBE Awarded New Grant to Continue Next Generation Science Standards Policy Initiative
 Arlington, VA —The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) has received funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to continue its work with states around high-quality science standards. During the second year of this initiative, NASBE will broaden the project’s focus from awareness of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to increasing policymakers’ knowledge about quality science standards, the policies needed for the effective implementation of science standards, and the development of partnerships for alignment of in-state efforts. The work will provide state board members with information, policy analysis, and resources so they are fully prepared to make the best, evidence-based decisions about science standards for their states.NASBE has been a leader in assisting states as they adopt and implement high-quality standards in a wide range of areas, from math and reading to early childhood education and school safety, and it will apply that experience to help state board members understand the current context, need, and policies for effective implementation of the NGSS.“State education policymakers are concentrating on how to answer the national call for greater emphasis on science and STEM education. NASBE’s job, as always, is to go beyond just providing information on this issue to our members, as important as that is,” said NASBE Executive Director Kris Amundson. “We want to help them understand the context that has given rise to the NGSS, and provide opportunities to hear from experts on quality standards and discuss adoption and implementation issues with their peers from other states. Finally, as is true in every good classroom, we intend to adapt our efforts to meet the varying needs of individual states.”This tailored assistance will be evident throughout the second year of NASBE’s initiative, as the nine states that have adopted the NGSS will focus on implementation challenges, while those states still considering new science standards will have their own set of issues to discuss. During the year, NASBE will host regional symposia for both types of states at which state board members will be able to advance their understanding of high-quality science standards and the policy levers for effective implementation (e.g., through assessments, teacher professional learning, and educator licensure), as well as share practices across states.States will also have the opportunity to focus locally on their needs by developing individualized adoption plans, building STEM partnerships, and conducting policy audits to ensure a smooth transition. In addition, NASBE staff will provide all state board members with online and print resources and webinars to help inform policymakers and other local, district, and state-level stakeholders. More information on the standards, state actions, and project activities is available on NASBE’s NGSS webpage.


The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America’s state and territorial boards of education. NASBE exists to strengthen State Boards as the preeminent educational policymaking bodies for citizens and students. For more, visit www.nasbe.org.

SIIA Education Division Calls for 2014 Vision K-20 Survey Participants
Newly Launched 2014 Vision K-20 Survey will measure classroom, school, campus, district, and state progress toward achieving the SIIA Vision for K-20 Education

Washington, D.C. – In conjunction with FETC 2014, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announces the launch of its seventh annual Vision K-20 Survey. Sponsored by the Education Division of SIIA, the Vision K-20 Survey gives educators, administrators, and faculty members from K-12 and postsecondary educational institutions the opportunity to evaluate their current technology and compare it to prior results in a short online survey.

“We’ve developed a vision for K-20 education to ensure all students have access to a learning environment that prepares them to compete globally and lead the world in innovation,” said Karen Billings, vice president of the SIIA Education Division. “This year, in addition to reporting progress over the last seven years, for the first time we will ask educators to identify how they are using mobile technology in the classroom.”

For more information on Vision K-20, and to take the survey, visit the www.siia.net/visionk20. Initial aggregated results will be released at the 2014 Education Industry Summit (EIS) in May, with a final report released at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) annual conference in June.

SIIA values the support of its partners and their commitment to improving students’ preparedness for an innovative and global economy. SIIA is always looking for more partners to help get the word out to educators around the country and around the world. Please contact Lindsay Harman (lharman@siia.net) if you are interested in helping spread the word about the Vision K-20 Survey.

“The Vision K-20 initiative is a helpful guide for educational institutions to implement technology district-wide and campus-wide,” said Susan Meell, CEO at MMS Education. “It’s an important tool to help educators benchmark how their institution is progressing in terms of integrating technology and preparing students to lead the world in innovation.”

About SIIA
The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) is the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry. SIIA provides global services in government relations, business development, corporate education, and intellectual property protection to more than 800 leading software and information companies. The SIIA Education Division serves and represents more than 200 member companies that provide software, digital content, and other technologies that address educational needs. The Division shapes and supports the industry by providing leadership, advocacy, business development opportunities, and critical market information. For more information, visit www.siia.net/education.



Science puts a twist on home science projects

Ace Hardware offers Pitsco products as projects for kids and parents
What child or parent hasn’t raided the kitchen or garage for a last-minute science class project? To assist in this endeavor, Pitsco Education kits are appearing across the country in Ace Hardware stores that offer Hardware Science projects.
Hardware Science is a program available to Ace retailers that encourages children to explore science in an everydaysetting, using products and instructions found at their neighborhood hardware store. Teachers can also take advantage of their neighborhood store to provide project suggestions for those in search of hands-on science connections. Each project provides children with a fun and engaging science experience, teaching them the basics of thinking like a scientist and providing a supplementary learning experience to their in-school science education.
Ace retailer Wayne Kamitaki developed the Hardware Science concept with Steve “Jake” Jacobs (Wizard IV), who was the science director and writer of Mr. Wizard’s World on Nickelodeon for 25 years and currently serves as one of the science consultants forMythBusters on the Discovery Channel. The pair looked to Pitsco Education to help bring the prepackaged product line to fruition. Jacobs also developed project-based video demonstrations that local retailers can play in stores. Always open to new ways to bring hands-on STEM projects to students, Pitsco came on board.
“Our typical school market is what we have always focused on, but we’ve been looking to increase our business in retail,” explained BillHolden, Pitsco product development specialist. “No other opportunity has looked as good and as promising as this one, partly due to it being in conjunction with Wizard IV and the video demonstrations. There is a definite educational component within this venture.”
Some of the Pitsco kits available through Ace include the hydraulic-powered T-Bot® Robotic Arm, solar cars, mousetrap vehicles, and catapult and trebuchet kits. There are also a number of project components such as wheels, axles, gear fonts, and solar panels. To help the Ace stores take advantage of the Hardware Science program, Jacobs is also offering his expertise for in-store demonstrations.
Currently, more than 200 Ace Hardware stores offer the Hardware Science kits and materials.


Pitsco Education is the leading provider of age-appropriate, student-centered K-12 STEM learning solutions. Our standards-based curriculum, products, equipment, and materials promote student success through positive and challenging learning experiences, and our hands-on solutions teach core concepts and career skills in science, technology, engineering, and math.


RIVER GROVE, Ill.,Follett Corporation today announced that the Company’s Board of Directors has named Todd Litzsinger Chairman of the Board, effective immediately. Litzsinger succeeds Steve Waichler, who held the role on an interim basis following the passing of Follett’s former Chairman, Alison O’Hara, in July of 2013.

“Todd’s time on the Follett Board of Directors and his extensive experience in the education market make him the ideal fit for this important role,” said Mary Lee Schneider, President and CEO of Follett Corporation.  As a fourth-generation Follett family member, Litzsinger will be responsible for managing shareholder relations and representing Follett to stakeholders of the Company.

Litzsinger joined Follett in 1992 and has served on the Board since 2003.  He has held a series of increasingly responsible leadership positions with the Company, most recently President of Content Solutions and Services for Follett School Solutions, the Company’s PreK-12 business.  Litzsinger’s career with Follett includes roles in the Company’s PreK-12 school and library market, including President of Follett Library Resources, President of Follett Educational Services, President of BWI, and National Sales Director for Custom Academic Publishing Company (CAPCO), a joint venture with BMI Systems. Prior to Follett, he worked for Jostens, the school yearbook and ring company.

Litzsinger holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas Christian University.

About Follett Corporation

Since 1873, Follett has served as the trusted partner in education for students and educators at all levels of learning. Today Follett delivers print and digital learning materials, retail services, library resources and school management systems on more than 980 college campuses and across 80,000 elementary and high schools. Headquartered in River Grove, Illinois, Follett is a $2.7 billion privately-held company.



Will Serve as a Voice for Career and Technical Education on Capitol Hill

ALEXANDRIA, VA –The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) today lauded the bipartisan efforts of U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in forming the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus.

“Career and technical education programs nationwide have a rich history of equipping students with the skills that they need for success in high-wage, high-skill and in-demand careers in growing industries,” said ACTE Executive Director LeAnn Wilson. “ACTE is pleased that Senators Kaine and Portman have committed themselves to supporting millions of CTE students, educators and administrators nationwide and helping to prepare America’s 21st century workforce, particularly as we prepare to celebrate CTE Month throughout February. We look forward to partnering with the senators to build congressional support for federal policies that will ensure the continued success and growth of our nation’s CTE programs.”

“Through career and technical programs we can strengthen the links between the classroom and the workplace, helping students acquire the education and skills that will help them find employment and enjoy productive, successful lives after graduation … I am proud to launch the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus with Senator Portman and I look forward to working together to improve CTE.” said Kaine.

Portman went on to state that “…we must close the skills gap to get Americans working again. One way we can do that is by focusing on career and technical education that equips workers with credentials, certificates, and other training that will match them with open jobs. I look forward to working with Senator Kaine as a co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus to bridge the skills gap and get Americans back to work.”

CTE programs provide rigorous academic and technical training to 94 percent of American high school students and 12 million postsecondary students. ACTE supports policies and programs, such as the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which connect students with relevant, real-world learning opportunities to prepare them for careers.

Every year, members of the CTE community celebrate CTE Month throughout February to highlight the achievements of CTE professionals, students and alumni. For more information on CTE and its positive impacts for students, schools, communities and the country, visit www.acteonline.org.

About ACTE

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. Founded in 1926, ACTE has more than 25,000 members; career and technical educators, administrators, researchers, guidance counselors and others involved in planning and conducting career and technical education programs at the secondary, postsecondary and adult levels. ACTE provides advocacy, public awareness and access to information on career and technical education, professional development and tools that enable members to be successful and effective leaders.