Archive for July, 2014

New Jersey Teacher Evaluations Modified

Under the TEACHNJ Act, a component of teacher evaluation was to be the academic growth of students; this was to count as 30% of the evaluation. The Department of Education announced that in the first year of these new evaluations (2014/15), student growth would be pegged at 10% and the following year at 20% of the evaluation. In addition, Governor Christie issued an executive order establishing a nine-member commission appointed by him to assess the quality and effectiveness of PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). NJ Spotlight, as usual, provides an excellent overview; NJEA also has relevant information. Additional comments/reportage are at: New Jersey School Boards Association, New Jersey Association of School Administrators, The Bergen Record, Asbury Park Press, and Education Week. Also, please see this article: Some Race To Top States Tinker With Teacher Evaluations.

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Online Primary Sources: British and Foreign State Papers

Published under the aegis of Great Britain’s Foreign Office (until 1968 when the Foreign Office was merged into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), this multi-volume work includes the text of treaties, diplomatic correspondence, foreign constitutions as well as some internal British documentation , mainly on the budget. Almost a complete run from volume 1 (1812/14) until 116(1922) is available online.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: New Jersey Historic Laws

This site – New Jersey Historical Laws, Charters and Constitutions – from the New Jersey State Library has done an admirable job of compiling various legal sources from diverse sites. Here can be found such items as New Jersey constitutional documents including the debates and proceedings for them or legislative manuals or charters and treaties from when New Jersey was a colony or session laws dating back to 1776. The site is well worth a visit and can be used in conjunction with this previous blog entry.

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The State of New Jersey Pensions Since 2001

This report from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence – The Funding of State and Local Pensions: 2013-2017 – charts where the pension funds were in 2001 and where they are headed in the near-term. Look at page 11 to see the gradual diminution of three of New Jersey’s major pension funds.

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New Report on MOOCs

Interactive Online Learning on Campus: Testing MOOCs and Other Platforms in Hybrid Formats in the University System of Maryland reveals, among other results that:

1) Using MOOC and OLI courses in hybrid formats, faculty were able to achieve outcomes comparable to traditionally taught sections with, on average, considerably reduced class time

2) Students in these hybrid sections fared as well or (using OLI) slightly better than students in traditional sections in terms of pass rates, scores on common assessments, and grades;

3) These findings held true for academically at risk students as well, including those from low-income families, under-represented minorities, first-generation college students, and those with weaker academic preparation. (press release)


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An International Digital Library of Security Studies

The International Relations and Security Network from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology acts as a portal to thousands of publications/documents. Under Dossiers are located writings divided between issues and regions; the Digital Library leads to articles, audio files, videos, and a quite extensive listing of security-related organizations; while the ISN Blog features numerous other relevant security blogs. A wealth of information presented mostly in English (the default language for searching is English) from various sources makes this site a most valuable resource. Our special area of interest has been the intersection of the water sector and security; we found many apposite publications here.

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CIA Style Manual and Writers Guide

The Style Manual & Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications (8th edition, 2011) from the CIA  states: “Good intelligence depends in large measure on clear, concise writing. The information CIA gathers and the analysis it produces mean little if we cannot convey them effectively. The Directorate of Intelligence and the Agency as a whole have always understood that. Both have been home, from their earliest days, to people who enjoy writing and excel at it.” An updated list of acronyms and suggestions for word usage are included.

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