Video and story from Arne Duncan visit

Here’s the video link for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s visit to North Dakota on Tuesday: http://vimeo.com/15805200

The Michael Steele video will be posted this morning yet. Yesterday got a little crazy with so much going on.

Here’s the Duncan story:

NEW SALEM, N.D. — The nation’s top education official praised a rural North Dakota school on Tuesday and said he got a lot from his visit there.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent about two hours at New Salem-Almont High School during his first trip to North Dakota.

“This is just a great school. This is a community that’s absolutely committed to education,” Duncan said. “I love the use of technology. I love the commitment of the teachers. And I think there are so many strengths here that we want to build upon. So I really enjoyed the day and got a lot from it.”

Duncan visited three classrooms, including an interactive television anatomy class taught by Darrell Howard of Grant County High School in Elgin.

Duncan asked Howard how ITV changed how he teaches. Howard said it’s harder to do dissections when he isn’t in the same room as students, and it’s harder to take field trips.

However, he said ITV provides opportunities for students who wouldn’t otherwise get certain classes at their schools.

Howard then asked Duncan what efforts were being made in regard to adequate yearly progress and No Child Left Behind. Duncan said he wants to make significant changes and is more interested in seeing growth than just test scores.

One student asked Duncan why he came to North Dakota. Duncan said he wants to understand the strengths and challenges in rural school systems and said site visits are “a big part of my learning curve.”

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., who invited Duncan to North Dakota, said laws can’t be aimed at just large schools, and it’s important to make sure the unique situations of rural schools are considered.

Duncan also met with about 50 state education leaders during a roundtable discussion.

Fargo Davies High School Principal Jeff Schatz asked Duncan how he thought students should be assessed to determine whether a school is successful or a failure.

Duncan said much of the testing today doesn’t work well and resources are being put behind creating the next generation of assessments.

“I think we have to develop much more sophisticated, much more thoughtful assessments,” Duncan said. “You don’t want to have no assessments. You don’t want to sweep children under the rug. (But) you don’t want them to take assessments they don’t understand.”

Bismarck Century High School teacher Nick Archuleta said North Dakota couldn’t compete under the criteria for Race to the Top, a grant program designed to encourage and reward states for creating education innovation and reform.

He asked what rural states can do to become more competitive for grants.

Duncan called it a fair question and critique and said his department is working to level the playing field to make sure rural areas can compete.

Dakota Draper, president of the North Dakota Education Association, asked what the federal government was going to do to help teachers adjust to new standards.

Duncan said it’s going to take time and professional development.

“Change is hard. I think teachers are being asked to do more with less today, more so than ever before,” Duncan said. “But I think this is the right thing to do for the country, and we need to work together to get there.”

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