International News: September 2011

Speech-language, special education teachers in big demand due to retirements

Trained teachers for helping students with Speech and Language disability are now in short supply due to retirements in Schools in La Crosse, USA. The school authorities have been finding it more and more complicated to locate trained teachers to assist students, more than 32,000 other Wisconsin children, who have a primary speech-language disability. There are about 1,900 speech-language pathologistsare working in Wisconsin schools, about one for every 16 children with a speech disability.

A mass exodus of retiring teachers in the spring created 19 openings in the district's special education programme, five in the speech and language department alone. With days approaching for a new school year, the district is yet to fill all the openings. Teachers trained in speech-language pathology must have a master's degree in order to be certified by the state. They are the only class of special education teacher that must meet such a demand.

Former education chief of Florida says state's schools going backward

Test results show Florida is going backward in preparing students for college, yet high schools keep getting high grades from the state, a former education commissioner told a higher education study panel recently. That disconnect is holding back efforts to improve schools, said John Winn, who was commissioner under Gov. Jeb Bush. Winn urged the state Higher Education Coordinating Council to take a look at Florida's high school grading formula, which is heavily based on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores, and recommend changes for reducing grade inflation. Students' scores on standardized exams such as the FCAT steadily fall as they move from elementary school to middle and high school, Winn said. The ACT scores which was released showed Florida increased its composite score only slightly, from 19.5 to 19.6. Only Tennessee and Mississippi had lower scores.

Major literacy drive in Iraq

A literacy and life skills training programme for 6,000 unemployed youth and women in Iraq has been launched by UNESCO. The grant programme, funded by the Office of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, First Lady of Qatar, UNESCO's special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education,  is part of the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) project in Iraq which aims to achieve the Education for All (EFA) goal of reducing illiteracy by 50 per cent by 2015. The programme will help 25 local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Iraqi education ministry to establish community learning centres throughout the country.

Arizona lawmakers cut $30 million from vocational programme

Thousands of high-school students will have one less year to study business, biotech, engineering, multimedia, refrigeration repair and dozens of other career and technical-education subjects after state lawmakers cut $30 million from a statewide program. The classes are part of the Joint Technological Education District, which offers vocational education through central and satellite programs in the state.

Legislators passed a budget in the spring that eliminates funding for ninth-graders in vocation-education programs such as culinary arts, automotive repair and engineering. The cut costs 13 districts statewide, including the East Valley Institute of Technology and Western Maricopa Education, or West-Mec, almost $30 million. Authorities estimate that  the cuts affect 20,000 to 25,000 students who will lose a year to explore whether a career- and technical-education track is right for them.

Texas Early childhood education programme sees increase in applications

Many of Midland ISD's early childhood classes won't be complete when classes start for the coming semester, although registration for early childhood programs began in April. The district has received more than 200 applications for the program since Aug. 1 and has been unable to complete processing.

The district did not anticipate so many late enrollments, and although it has been overwhelming. One reason applications May be up is because early childhood classes are being offered on elementary campuses  instead of at early childhood centers. In April, the board of trustees voted to close Bunche and West Early Childhood centers to save money and begin the district's reconfiguration process.

Fall in number of Welsh students in UK universities

Education experts  called for scrutiny of this year's A-level results as figures revealed the number of Welsh students being accepted into university has fallen. Figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) to the Western Mail showed there were 159 fewer Welsh students accepted into university this year than at the same time last year.

Fears that fewer top grades could lead to more talented students from Wales missing out on higher education were felt with successful applicants down by 1.4%. This was despite the number of applicants rising by 289 to 24,284

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