My apologies for the lateness and lightness of this post. But I’ve been in Paris this past week and WiFi access has been tricky and the red wine abundant. I visited both La Porte d’Enfer and Les Catacombes and I wish I could say I did so without thinking about ed-tech a single time.


It was PISA week with the release of the 2012 scores from the Program of International Student Assessment, an exam given to students around the world. In math, the average score of US students was 481, lower than the OECD average of 494. In science, the average score of US students was 497; the OECD average was 501. In reading, the average score of US students was 498; the OECD average was 496. University of Oregon professor Yong Zhao weighs in (well, lots of folks did, but I’ll just link to him).

Other Tests

The school board in Huntsville, Alabama will offer students cash incentives to do well on their ACT tests – up to $300.

A revised SAT will not come until 2016, according to Inside Higher Ed.

The College Board, edX, and Davidson College are teaming up to offer special Advanced Placement courses in calculus, physics and macroeconomics. More details in The New York Times.

Law and Politics

There have been a wave of occupations, protesting against privatization efforts at several British universities. More via Angus Johnston and The Guardian.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau will soon have some oversight powers over student loan servicers like Sallie Mae. While the CFPB regulates bank-based loans, student loans haven’t had the same oversight.

Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) have reintroduced the Do Not Track Kids Act, which would update COPPA to further restrict Internet companies from collecting and selling kids’ personal data.

Civil rights groups in Texas are asking for a ban on using non-lethal weapons like Tasers and pepper spray on school grounds. This follows an incident last month where a student who was tased by a school safety officer suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Utah State Senator Aaron Osmond (yes, from that family) says he plans to introduce a number of bills in the next legislative session, including one that will allow home school and private school students in the state to opt out of all public school requirements (including assessments) and one that will allow public school parents to influence the selection of their child’s teacher.

Argosy University’s Denver campus has agreed to pay $3.3-million in a settlement with the Colorado attorney general’s office, which found that the for-profit institution, a division of the Education Management Corporation, had intentionally misled students about one of its degree programs.” So says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a former graduate student at the University of Oregon. Monica Emeldi claimed that the school's education department retaliated after she complained about its treatment of women.


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos managed to distract from the company’s woeful labor practices by announcing via 60 Minutes that it would soon launch drone delivery for Prime members. I’m not even going to link to the folks who wrote about the ed-tech angle here.

Boundless, the “textbook alternative” startup, has launched its Boundless Teaching Platform, an effort to get more teachers using and remixing Boundless content.

littleBits unveiled several new modules this week: a microphone, a dc motor + motorMate, a vibration motor + vibeSnap, and a servo!

Earlier this year, Techcrunch speculated that Aardvark founder Max Ventilla’s next startup would be an education one because his wife had tweeted a stack of education books that he was reading. Turns out, Ventilla’s launched a school. Because what else preparation do you possibly need?!

Funding and Acquisitions

STI has acquired the education app store Chalkable for $10 million. More details via Techcrunch.

Clever has raised $10 million, according to Techcrunch. Because data.

Pearson has acquired the Brazilian language-learning startup Grupo Multi, says Bloomberg, for £440 million.

Edsurge reports that SmartestK12 has raised an “undisclosed round” of funding to help “teachers create, deliver and track online assignments.” 

EducationSuperhighway has raised $9 million in funding from Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates’ non-profits which are both totally neutral initiatives into getting kids faster Internet in their schools, I’m sure. Read The School Library Journal for more details.

East-West Digital News reports that the Russian edu content market place has raised $4 million in funding.

CB Insights has listed the top 10 ed-tech funding rounds for 2013. Oh, look. MOOCs. Oh, look. The World Bank. Hmm. (Please stay tuned for my year-end roundup of “the business of ed-tech” which will draw on this and more.)

“Research” and Data

The most commonly awarded grade at Harvard is an A. Because they’re all so clever there.

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics has released a database on athletic and academic spending at NCAA Division I public schools.

According to a survey conducted by the Los Angeles Board of Education, just 36% of teachers strongly favor continuation of the district’s troubled iPad initiative. 90% of administrators said the same.

A small number of Chicago Public School students had their personal data leaked online, says the city. although it assures parents that the issue has been fixed. Health data – specifically vision test results – from about 2000 students were briefly accessible online.

According to research by University of New York professor Peter Shea, online learning does, in some cases, help boost college completion. But he also found that online community college students in Virginia and Washington have higher dropout rates.

Mike Caulfield takes a closer look at a recent study that found a high rate of employment of history PhDs. He says he’s weighing writing regular “deep dives” into these sorts of stories – when stats make headlines but need more explanation. Do it, Mike!

And Phil Hill takes a closer look at research out of the University of Pennsylvania on its MOOCs.

From the HR Department

MOOC godfather George Siemens is joining UT, Arlington.

Former Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino is joining Twitter’s Board of Directors, the startup's first and only female board member.

Image credits: Wikipedia and The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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