Verso Educational App Adopted By Texas K-12 District;

Teacher Says, ‘I’ve Had Kids Come Alive In Amazing Ways’

Classroom Tool Supports Teachers, Allows Students

to Learn More Deeply, Have Independent Voice

 

DENTON, Texas – Dec. 11, 2014 – Denton Independent School District, located 25 miles north of Dallas, announced this week it has adopted the Verso app, which activates learning using authentic student voice as a driver for deeper, personalized learning.  The new, simple-to-implement K-12 educational app is emerging in U.S. classrooms after earning acclaim and honors in Australia and other countries during its first year.

 

With the Verso app, which works on any device, students are asked to submit their own independent responses to challenges (designed by their teacher) before gaining access to their peers’ responses.  The ability to participate anonymously encourages all students in a classroom setting to actively participate – a feature applauded by Kevin Zahner, a history teacher at Denton High School.

 

“It’s safe to say that at least 20 or 30 percent of the students who will participate with Verso wouldn’t otherwise do so,” said Zahner, who was introduced to the app last spring as a pilot user. “With an environment that is anonymous, the more reserved students are now willing to take a risk and put themselves on the line both from an intellectual and emotional standpoint, and let their classmates evaluate their responses without knowing who said it.”

 

Zahner said he became sold on the Verso app when he witnessed examples of his quieter students gaining confidence and self-esteem by consistently participating in challenges he posed to the class.

 

“I’ve had kids come alive in amazing ways,” he said. “I had one young girl who never said one word in class, and then became an active participant just like that. It gives every student a voice — that quality right there sold me on Verso.”

 

Dr. Mike Mattingly, assistant superintendent of curriculum & instruction, said his district became intrigued with Verso, and its pedagogy-first approach, after it was successfully piloted in select high school and middle school classrooms.

 

“From a district perspective, we’re always looking for tools that help get us to the student outcomes we’re pointed toward,” Dr. Mattingly said. “Verso is easy for students to use, and our teachers are getting wonderful feedback from it, which helps inform them of where to take the class next.”

 

Dr. Mattingly envisions that Verso will dramatically help his counselors when they are teaching classes and faced with a controversial topic, such as bullying.

 

“We can get a lot of true feelings out there on the table since the students can respond in a safe, independent manner, and not just mimic what someone else has said,” he said. “We can start making headway and know better how to deal with the issues at hand.”

 

An elementary school principal in the Denton district says she is using Verso to improve professional development access by providing her teachers with a “flipped learning” experience.

 

“Bottom line, Verso helps to support my effectiveness as a leader, and in turn provides a format that is likewise more engaging and efficient for my staff,” said Debbie Cano, principal, McNair Elementary. “As my campus grows in its understanding and integration of Verso, I will have real-time data reflecting student engagement and the impact and success of individual classrooms and teachers. I see Verso’s effect potential as limitless.”

 

With an enrollment of 27,000, Denton ISD offer three comprehensive high schools, seven middle schools, 22 elementary schools, two early childhood centers, an alternative high school, an advanced technology complex and other specialized schools and centers.

 

Verso is in use by 3,000 K-12 schools globally. The app is free, available through iTunes, Google Play and most popular browsers, it works on any mobile device. For more information about the app, visit VersoApp.com. Developed by top engineers from both Melbourne and San Francisco, the Verso app was launched nearly a year ago in Australia.

 

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Education Technology Pioneers Announced as Winners of SIIA Innovation Incubator Program
Companies Recognized as Top Innovators at the Education Business Forum

NEW YORK (Dec. 10, 2014) – The Education Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) showcased some of the newest and most innovative products in the education technology market, and recognized the best among them as part of the Innovation Incubator program at the Education Business Forum, the leading business and finance conference for the K-12 and postsecondary education technology market, held Dec. 9-10 in New York City. A new award was introduced this year, the Faculty Choice Award, with SIIA Education Division Industry Partner eSchool Media.

Award Winners:

Runners-Up:

“This year’s Innovation Incubator participants presented extraordinary education technology products,” said Karen Billings, vice president of the SIIA Education Division. “The program winners will be among entrepreneurs to watch as they continue to innovate in the coming years.”

More than 50 applicants were assessed for the Innovation Incubator program on a broad range of criteria. They were judged by both industry leaders and educators in classrooms around the globe. Ten participants and one alternate were selected as finalists for the program, and the winners were judged by the ed tech leaders at the Education Business Forum.

The full list of finalists:

Alternate:

The SIIA Innovation Incubator Program identifies and supports entrepreneurs in their development and distribution of innovative learning technologies. The program began in 2006 and has provided support 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, as well as established companies with newly developed technologies.

“We were very excited to implement a new award for this year – called the Faculty Choice,” Billings said. “This is the first award specifically for companies with higher education products or services.”

The SIIA Education Division recognizes Texthelp, MCH, edWeb and eSchool Media for the support with the Innovation Incubator program. Thank you to the education members who reviewed the many applicants, and the mentors who worked with them throughout the cycle.

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.

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AASA Statement on the FY15 Appropriations Bill  

Alexandria, Va. – Dec. 10, 2014 – Daniel A. Domenech, the executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement today on the status of the fiscal year 2015 (FY15) federal appropriations bill.

“Last night, the House released details on the proposed FY15 federal appropriations bill. More than two months past due, the silver lining—in an era when Congress manages expectations to a very low level—is that they avoided a shutdown.

“When the reality is that overall spending for FY15 is virtually unchanged from FY14, there is little room for funding increases anywhere in the budget. AASA acknowledges this reality and applauds Congress for prioritizing Title I and IDEA as federal K12 priorities, providing a funding increase for each program. Looking to 2016, AASA remains hopeful that Congress will permanently resolve sequestration and that the federal funding discussion will turn to how we invest in education, and away from how we defend against additional cuts.”

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For more information on the FY15 appropriations bill, visit AASA’s Leading Edge blog.

About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

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Postsecondary Student Enrollments Continue Decline

According to the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™, Overall College Enrollments Decreased 1.3 Percent

Herndon, VA, December 11, 2014 – For the third straight year, postsecondary enrollments have declined by more than 1 percent, according to the just-released Fall Current Term Enrollment Estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™. Although this year’s rate of decrease is slightly slower than that of the previous two years (-1.5 percent and -1.8 percent, respectively), the nation’s postsecondary institutions are still losing about a quarter of a million students per year. The bulk of the decline is among students over the age of 24, whose numbers fell by 207,000 (-2.8 percent). These students appear to be leaving college or opting not to enter college, as their opportunities in the workforce continue to expand.

Enrollments increased at four-year public institutions (2.2 percent), but decreased sharply at two-year public institutions (-6.0 percent). Some of the shifts in the public sector are due to changes in institutional labeling, rather than student behavior as the U.S. Department of Education’s IPEDS system reclassified some community colleges as four-year institutions. Without these reclassifications, two-year public enrollments would have decreased by 3.4 percent, in line with the declines of the last two years, and the growth in four-year public enrollments would have been 0.4 percent, just slightly above last year’s growth of 0.3 percent. For the public sector overall, enrollments declined by 1.5 percent this fall.

Four-year private non-profit institutions provided the brightest news, with growth of 1.6 percent, which was stronger than last year’s growth rate of 1.3 percent. The growth was concentrated at the largest institutions, however. Campuses of at least 10,000 students in 2013 grew by 2.7 percent in 2014, more than double the growth rate for mid-size institutions (3,000 to 9,999 students), which grew 1.2 percent, and almost four times the rate for smaller institutions (under 3,000 students), which grew by just 0.7 percent.

In the for-profit sector, the steep enrollment declines of the past three years largely halted, dropping by only 0.4 percent in fall 2014. That’s down dramatically from the previous year’s decline of 9.7 percent.

Students over the age of 24 continued to show a greater decline than younger students (-2.8 percent compared to -0.5 percent). This was especially true for community colleges, where adult student enrollments declined 9.2 percent from fall 2013, compared to a 4.0 percent decline for students aged 24 and under. At the for-profits, younger student enrollments actually increased by 2.8 percent. This was a marked turnaround from last fall’s nearly 15 percent drop in younger students at for-profit institutions, but in total numbers their growth was not enough to counter the 1.2 percent decrease among students over age 24.

Published every May and December, Current Term Enrollment Estimates are based on postsecondary institutions actively submitting data to the Clearinghouse. These institutions account for 96 percent of the nation’s Title IV, degree-granting enrollments. The data are highly current, since institutions make several data submissions per term. In addition, since the Clearinghouse receives data at the student level, an unduplicated headcount is reported, avoiding double-counting of students enrolled in more than one institution.

Additional findings from the report include:

  • Enrollments declined in 39 states and the District of Columbia, and increased in 11 states, with the largest increases seen in New Hampshire (19.9%) and Arizona (5.2%).
  • Multi-state institutions as a group lost more students than any single state did, declining by 80,000, or 7.8 percent
  • Enrollment of full-time students declined at a slightly higher rate than part-time students (-1.4 percent compared to -1.2 percent)
  • Overall the rates of change were similar for men (-1.4 percent) and women (-1.3 percent)
  • There was a sharp divergence in enrollments in the four-year for-profit sector by gender: increase of 6.5 percent for men, but decrease of 4.0 percent for women

“These results go beyond the story of an improving jobs picture drawing more adults out of college and back into the workforce,” stated Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “We’re also seeing fewer high school graduates in June reducing the class of new traditional age college students in September. That’s why we now have fewer full-time and fewer part-time students alike.”

The Current Term Enrollment Estimates report for spring 2015 term is scheduled for release in May 2015.

About the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes.

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PublicSchoolWORKS Named Schools Insurance Group’s
Risk Management and Safety Resource for Member Districts

 

Member districts’ positive experience with EmployeeSafe Suite convinced the SIG Executive Committee to partner 

 

 

Cincinnati, OH (December 10, 2014) —  After three of its member districts successfully implemented the award-winning EmployeeSafe Suite, the Schools Insurance Group (SIG) in Auburn, CA, partnered withPublicSchoolWORKS to provide access to the automated risk management system to its 32 member districts.

 

By using EmployeeSafe, districts automate safety and regulatory compliance requirements including training, compliance tasks and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), while enhancing risk management initiatives such as accident investigation and hazard management. The result of this system is expected to reduce the occurrence of staff accidents and related Worker’s Compensation costs, as well as help avoid non-compliance penalties.

 

“Several of our districts, both large and small, were looking for more structured training options for both mandated training and additional safety training for employees,” said Bev Wilkinson, Executive Director of Schools Insurance Group. “The extensive list of training courses and its automated process, in addition to the fact that it specifically focuses on schools’ needs, made PublicSchoolWORKS stand out for us.”

 

SIG member Grass Valley School District (SD) was in need of a more streamlined way to provide staff training to its employees. The district’s Business Manager Jodi LaCosse began looking for training options to quickly and efficiently train employees so the district could remain compliant with training mandates. In her research, LaCosse came across a company that fully addressed the districts’ safety and regulatory compliance requirements, including training. In the fall of 2013, Grass Valley SD began using the PublicSchoolWORKS EmployeeSafe Suite to meet these needs.

 

“We needed to get a handle on our staff compliance training and not use our already-limited staff development time,” said LaCosse. “We came across PublicSchoolWORKS and thought it would be perfect for our district, since we wanted as much automation as possible.”

 

In addition to Grass Valley SD using PublicSchoolWORKS to effectively meet mandates, several other SIG member districts began implementing PublicSchoolWORKS. Pleasant Ridge School Districts implemented EmployeeSafe for their safety and regulatory compliance needs and Penn Valley Union Elementary School District began using the training system for all employees and the work management system for maintenance processes. These three districts then met with SIG’s executive committee to share their positive experiences with the systems and the customer service received to address their individual needs.

 

“After these districts talked about their smooth implementations and how they were able to handle it without extra staff, the committee saw the true value of EmployeeSafe,” said Wilkinson. “There are so many different aspects combined into one package that both HR and Workers’ Compensation staff on the executive committee saw how it could impact districts.”

 

“It has the ability to meet the varying needs of very different districts,” said Wilkinson. “This is why we are making it available to our member districts.”

 

To date, 10 SIG member districts have implemented EmployeeSafe: Dry Creek Joint Elementary SD, Grass Valley SD, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, Newcastle Elementary SD, Penn Valley Union Elementary SD,Pleasant Ridge Union SD, Roseville City SD, Roseville Joint Union High SD, Union Hill SD and Western Placer Unified SD.

About PublicSchoolWORKS

Since 2000, PublicSchoolWORKS safety and regulatory compliance management solutions have helped schools easily meet ever-changing compliance requirements, improve staff and student safety, cut costs associated with risk, and reduce administrator and staff time and effort. PublicSchoolWORKS is the only, complete safety compliance management program built for K-12 schools, and is proud to provide districts with award-winning technology and support recognized by North American educators. For more information on how PublicSchoolWORKS can improve district safety programs, contact 1-877-779-6757 or sales@publicschoolworks.com.

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E RATE UPDATES

The FCC voted to increase the E-rate fund by $1.5 billion annually. John Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning, shared the following statement to show support for the FCC’s decision:
“The FCC’s vote today to increase E-rate support is a bold step forward in support of our nation’s students and library patrons. Internet access is an essential element of modern society. Yet Internet capacity in our nation’s schools’ and libraries is lagging. The majority our nation’s classrooms and libraries lack adequate Internet capacity, and, in effect, are excluded from the interconnected world in which we live.
For 17 years we have watched a steady increase in the need for Internet capacity in schools and libraries. But the E-rate fund has not grown to meet that need. The new E-rate funding cap will enable applicants to enhance their network capacity so schools and libraries can connect more students and library patrons and expand their educational horizons.
Funds For Learning strongly supports the FCC’s action today. We are committed to working with the FCC and others to ensure that our nation’s educational broadband needs are being met and that learners of all ages have access to the Internet. We further pledge to equip and empower applicants to diligently manage their E-rate funding to ensure it is used properly and effectively to reach these goals.”
Please feel free to use this statement, and let me know if you would like to speak with Harrington about the implications of the decision for schools and libraries. I would be happy to make that connection.

 

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AASA Applauds FCC’s Bold Action on Historic E-Rate Order

Alexandria, Va. – Dec. 11, 2014 AASA Executive Director Daniel Domenech issued the following statement in response to today’s historic E-Rate vote.

“AASA is a long-time supporter of the E-Rate program, and we are proud to have collaborated with the FCC in their bold efforts to not only modernize the program, but also bolster the program’s continued and future success by raising its funding cap by $1.5 billion.

“Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner Rosenworcel, and their colleagues proved tireless advocates, committed to addressing the connectivity needs of our nation’s students, educators and community members. In the same week that Congress is advancing their federal funding bill, the FCC emerges as the education champion, ensuring that all schools and libraries benefit from robust wireless broadband connectivity.

“We applaud the diligent effort to modernize the E-Rate program, with today’s funding vote complementing the programmatic changes of this summer. Collectively, it is the first major comprehensive modernization of the E-Rate program and a bold step toward supporting our nation’s schools and libraries as they navigate current and future connectivity needs and uses.”

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About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

 

 

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Education Technology Leaders Trumpet Historic E-Rate Cap Increase
FCC Approval to Strengthen Program Will Directly Benefit Current and Next Generation of America’s Students 
Washington, DC (December 11, 2014) – CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) – the professional association for K-12 district technology leaders – today applauded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for approving a $1.5 billion annual funding boost to the federal E-rate program.
CoSN CEO Keith Krueger said:
“The FCC’s action today is a triumph for learning that reflects the world we live in and enables more personalized education.
“As we have seen year and after year, America’s classrooms do not have the needed technology infrastructure and related investments to cultivate learning environments that truly prepare students for college, career and life. Today’s vote paves that path for the current and next generation of America’s youth.
“Raising the cap also ensures that more schools can achieve the broadband goals established by the Commission last July, including expanding Wi-Fi connections, robust networks and broadband speeds. The FCC also wisely expanded the program’s definition of rural to more appropriately target resources to less populated – and typically underserved – school systems.
“We thank Chairman Wheeler as well as Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn for their steadfast leadership in this monumental decision for U.S. education. We encourage local and state leaders to make similar investments to equip all students with the broadband connectivity they need to learn and thrive in today’s increasingly connected world.”
The vote also implements important other programmatic changes to promote and create incentives for greater investments in education telecommunications networks. In a complementary step, the Commission also voted to increase the Connect America Fund’s minimum broadband speeds for rural areas.
CoSN has been a long champion of the E-rate program and the need for reform and urgently needed expansion. In the fall, CoSN, in partnership with AASA (The School Superintendents Association), unveiled its second national survey revealing broadband and technology infrastructure shortfalls in America’s schools. The report, which identified affordability and adequate funding as the most significant barriers to reaching the national ConnectEd connectivity goals, helped inform the FCC in its rulemaking process. Read more here.
About CoSN 
CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments. Visitcosn.org or call 866-267-8747 to find out more about CoSN’s focus areas, annual conference and eventsadvocacy and policy, membership, and the CETL certification exam.
Learn about CoSN’s 2015 Annual Conference in Atlanta, March 16-19, at: cosnconference.org.
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