Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Federal Reserve Board Beige Book

Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions By Federal Reserve District, October 2014
“Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts generally described modest to moderate economic growth at a pace similar to that noted in the previous Beige Book. Moderate growth was reported by the Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts, while modest growth was reported by the New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and Kansas City Districts. In the Boston District, reports from business contacts painted a mixed picture of economic conditions. In addition, several Districts noted that contacts were generally optimistic about future activity. Most Districts reported overall growth in consumer spending that ranged from slight to moderate, at a pace that was often similar to that reported in the previous Beige Book. However, general merchandise retailers in New York noted that sales were weaker on balance since the previous report. Several District reports indicated that retailers were relatively optimistic about the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, tourism activity remained upbeat in several areas, with some reports of higher occupancy rates and solid advance bookings for travel and lodging. Several Districts reported that nonfinancial services grew at a moderate pace since the previous Beige Book. Districts reporting on transportation services generally noted growth in this sector, with a few pointing to capacity constraints in railroads, trucking, or both. Manufacturing activity increased in most Districts since the previous Beige Book; contacts in the Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Kansas City Districts reported positive near-term outlooks. Residential construction and real estate activity were mixed since the previous report. Commercial construction and real estate activity grew in most Districts. Banking conditions continued to improve relative to the previous Beige Book. Commercial loan volumes increased in nearly all reporting Districts. However, consumer loan demand was mixed, and some Districts pointed to low or reduced levels of demand for refinancing. Credit standards generally remained unchanged, and there were no reports of deterioration in credit quality.”  Information provided by Sabrina I. Pacifici

Monday, October 13, 2014

Common Core State Standards

CRS Report – Common Core State Standards: Frequently Asked Questions. Rebecca R. Skinner, Specialist in Education Policy; Jody Feder, Legislative Attorney. September 15, 2014.
“Over the last two decades, there has been interest in developing federal policies that focus on  student outcomes in elementary and secondary education. Perhaps most prominently, the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; P.L. 107-110), which amended and reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), marked a dramatic expansion of the federal government’s role in supporting standards-based instruction and test-based accountability, thereby increasing the federal government’s involvement in decisions that directly affect teaching and learning. Under the ESEA, states are required to have standards in reading and mathematics for specified grade levels in order to receive funding under Title I-A of the ESEA. In response to this requirement, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted and implemented standards that meet the requirements of the ESEA. Since the ESEA was last comprehensively reauthorized by NCLB, recent developments have taken place that have possibly played a role in the selection of reading and mathematics standards by states: (1) the development and release of the Common Core State Standards; (2) the Race to the Top (RTT) State Grant competition and RTT Assessment Grants competition; and (3) the ESEA flexibility package provided by the Department of Education (ED) to states with approved applications. As of June 2014, 43 states, the District of Columbia, 4 outlying areas, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) had at some point adopted the Common Core State Standards. Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina recently became the first states to adopt and subsequently discontinue use of the Common Core State Standards.” [More]     Information provided by Sabrina I. Pacifici

Thursday, October 02, 2014

KU announces departure of Dean of Libraries

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Libraries announced today the departure of Dean Lorraine Haricombe, who has accepted the position of vice provost and director of the University of Texas Libraries.
Haricombe’s last day will be Dec. 12. Associate Deans Kent Miller and Mary Roach will assume the roles of interim co-deans at that time. Search information will be announced at a later date. “The years I have enjoyed at KU have been exhilarating, challenging and most rewarding, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with thoughtful and dedicated colleagues, both in the libraries and across campus,” Haricombe said. “I am proud of the accomplishments of our library faculty and staff. I believe their efforts have moved the libraries—and by extension, the university—forward. I have no doubt the future of KU Libraries will be bright.” Miller and Roach will lead a team to ensure a smooth transition in the months ahead. “Dean Haricombe’s visionary approach and dynamic leadership have positioned KU Libraries at the forefront of the rapidly changing world of library and information science,” according to the interim deans. “We are grateful for her contributions, and we wish her the very best in this new endeavor.”  (More)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Art and Science of Data-driven Journalism

http://towcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Tow-Center-Data-Driven-Journalism.pdf “Journalists have been using data in their stories for as long as the profession has existed. A revolution in computing in the 20th century created opportunities for data integration into investigations, as journalists began to bring technology into their work. In the 21st century, a revolution in connectivity is leading the media toward new horizons. The Internet, cloud computing, agile development, mobile devices, and open source software have transformed the practice of journalism, leading to the emergence of a new term: data journalism. Although journalists have been using data in their stories for as long as they have been engaged in reporting, data journalism is more than traditional journalism with more data. Decades after early pioneers successfully applied computer-assisted reporting and social science to investigative journalism, journalists are creating news apps and interactive features that help people understand data, explore it, and act upon the insights derived from it. New business models are emerging in which data is a raw material for profit, impact, and insight, co-created with an audience that was formerly reduced to passive consumption. Journalists around the world are grappling with the excitement and the challenge of telling compelling stories by harnessing the vast quantity of data that our increasingly networked lives, devices, businesses, and governments produce every day. While the potential of data journalism is immense, the pitfalls and challenges to its adoption throughout the media are similarly significant, from digital literacy to competition for scarce resources in newsrooms. Global threats to press freedom, digital security, and limited access to data create difficult working conditions for journalists in many countries. A combination of peer- to-peer learning, mentorship, online training, open data initiatives, and new programs at journalism schools rising to the challenge, however, offer reasons to be optimistic about more journalists learning to treat data as a source.”   (Information: Sabrina I. Pacifici on