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Category Archives: Progress

Breast Cancer: Steady Progress Being Made in New Treatments – BioSpace

Posted: October 31, 2019 at 11:44 pm

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, the last year data is available, 245,299 new cases of breast cancer in women were reported and 41,487 women died of it. Or to put it another way, more than a quarter of a million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, which comes out to about 124 new cases out of every 100,000 women.

What is sometimes surprising, given advances in treatment, is that the number of diagnoses has gone up from 196,000 in 1999 to 245,299 in 2016. Some of this is related to an overall increase in the U.S. population and other aspects may be due to increased awareness and better detection rates.

Quite a bit of effort and resources are going into developing therapies for breast cancer. Increasingly, like many cancers, drugs are developed and approved for narrower and narrower indications as more genetic and hormonal markers are developed and it is determined which drugs are most effective for the cancer types. As Breast Cancer Awareness Month wraps up, BioSpace gathered some examples of recent breakthroughs in breast cancer treatment.

MacroGenics On October 23, MacroGenics announced topline data from the second pre-specified interim overall survival (OS) analysis of its Phase III SOPHIA trial of margetuximab in HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer who have previously received anti-HER2-targeted therapies. The drug is an immune-enhancing monoclonal antibody derived from MacroGenics Fc Optimization tech platform. In the intent-to-treat population, the median OS of patients receiving the drug and chemotherapy was prolonged by 1.8 months compared to patients receiving trastuzumab and chemotherapy.

Seattle Genetics On October 21, Seattle Genetics announced positive results from its HER2CLIMB PHASE III clinical trial of tucatinib in combination with trastuzumab and capecitabine compared to trastuzumab and capecitabine alone in locally advanced unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive cancer.

HER2-positive breast cancer has tumors with high levels of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes aggressive metastases. Of breast cancers diagnosed annually around the world, between 15% and 20% globally are HER2-positive.

The HER2CLIMB trial met the primary endpoint of progression-free survival (PFS), showing that adding tucatinib to the treatment regime was superior to trastuzumab and capecitabine alone. There was a 46% decrease in the risk of disease progression or death by adding tucatinib.

Tucatinib is also being studied in breast cancer with other drug combinations as well as colorectal cancer.

New Immunotherapy Approaches Researchers with the Washington University School of Medicine found that other T-cells than the killer T-cells usually stimulated in immunotherapies can improve on these therapies. The WU researchers focused on helper T-cells, whose job it is to recognize cancer as a threat and recruit killer T-cells.

Immunotherapy presents tremendous promise for cancer treatment, but we havent yet found a way to make it widely effective, said Robert D. Schreiber, the Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky Distinguished Professor, and senior author of the study. It still doesnt work for many patients, particularly for common cancers, such as breast or prostate. We want to understand why they are ineffective in these cases so we can make better therapies. Our research suggests that immunotherapy is likely to be more effective when a vaccine is used alongside checkpoint inhibitors.

The most effective anti-cancer response was observed when checkpoint inhibitors were combined with a vaccine that targets both helper and killer T-cells specific to the patients cancer cell antigens.

The idea of giving checkpoint inhibitors along with a tumor-specific vaccineespecially a vaccine that activates both killer and helper T-cellsis just beginning, Schreiber said. But based on our study, the combination is likely to be more effective than any of the components alone. Today, when we treat a particular tumor type with checkpoint inhibitors, maybe 20% of the patients respond well. Were hoping that with a vaccine plus checkpoint inhibitors, the number of patients who respond well will go up to 60 to 70%. We havent tried that yet in patients, but thats the hope.

New Approaches to Resistant Cancers Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, identified a drug that appears to be effective in cancers that become resistant to chemotherapy. The drug is called BOS172722 and it forces cancer cells to multiply faster, which would seem to be counterintuitive. However, this faster cell division causes more fatal errors in the cells. And in the case of this drug, appears to cause fatal errors in all the cancer cells.

We have discovered a brand new type of cancer treatment that uses cancers rapid growth against it, by forcing cells through cell division so quickly that they accumulate fatal errors, said Spiros Linardopoulos, Professor of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics at the ICR, who led the study. The drug works especially well in combination with chemotherapy in triple negative breast cancer cellsthe deadliest form of breast cancer for which there are few successful treatments.

Patients with triple-negative breast cancer generally receive taxane chemotherapies, such as paclitaxel. Paclitaxel affects chromosome distribution during cell division but prevents cells from dividingalso resulting in cell death. However, some cells develop resistance to the drug.

Cancer cells receiving paclitaxel and BOS172722 decrease cell division from about 110 minutes with paclitaxel alone to 15 minutes. All the cells treated with the combination had gross chromosome abnormalities and died, compared to 40% surviving with paclitaxel alone.

The drug also worked at lower doses when used in combination with paclitaxel, at least in lab animals, and was well tolerated by the mice.

Atossa Genetics In September, Atossa Genetics completed enrollment of its Phase I clinical trial of a proprietary modified-release oral tablet form of its Endoxifen. The trial has enrolled and endorsed 24 participates in the last six weeks. The company will use the Phase I dosing data to conduct a Phase II trial on whether the drug reduces breast density. Mammographic Breast Density (MBD) can mask the detection of cancers, and 35 states have legislation requiring women be notified if they have MBD, indicating that they have a higher risk of breast cancer and that mammography may not be as effective in detecting breast cancer as a result.

In August, Mustang Bio announced that City of Hope had received a $9.28 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to fund an ongoing Phase I trial of MB-103 in HER2-positive breast cancer with brain metastases. City of Hope holds patents covering the HER2 CAR that were licensed to Mustang Bio in 2017. The trial is expected to enroll 21 City of Hope patients with the primary objective to determine safety and dosing for intraventricular delivery of HER2-specific CAR-T cells.

SELLAS Life Sciences Group Also in August, SELLAS Life Sciences Group completed enrollment in its Phase II trial of nelipepimut-S (NPS) in combination with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast who are HLA-A2+ or A3+ positive, express HER2 at IHC 1+, 2+, or 3+ levels, and are pre- or post-menopausal. The primary endpoint is the difference in frequency of newly induced NPS-cytotoxic T lymphocytes in peripheral blood between the two arms.

Merck In late July, Mercks checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) hit the primary endpoint in the companys Phase III KEYNOTE-522 in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Keytruda was used in combination with chemotherapy. The KEYNOTE-522 trial has 1,174 patients in it. It is a Phase III, randomized, double-blind trial studying Keytruda with chemotherapy compared to placebo plus chemotherapy as neoadjuvant therapy. The dual-primary endpoints are pathologic clinical response (pCR) and event free survival (EFS). Secondary endpoints are pCR rate, EFS in patients expressing PD-L1, overall survival, safety and patient-reported outcomes.

Novartis Also in late July, Novartis announced that its Phase III MONALEESA-3 clinical trial of Kisqali (ribociclib) hit its key secondary endpoint, overall survival, in a pre-planned interim analysis. The MONALEESA-3 trial is evaluating the efficacy and safety of Kisqali plus fulvestrant in postmenopausal women with HR+/HER2- advanced or metastatic breast cancer in the first-line and second-line treatment settings.

All of which suggests that intense research is ongoing in preventing and treating breast cancer, with improvements being developed every day.

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bluebird bio Reports Third Quarter 2019 Financial Results and Highlights Operational Progress – Business Wire

Posted: at 11:44 pm

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--bluebird bio, Inc. (NASDAQ: BLUE) today reported financial results and business highlights for the third quarter ended September 30, 2019.

During the third quarter we advanced our country-by-country launch plans in Europe and, with the recent approval of the commercial drug product manufacturing specifications for ZYNTEGLO, we moved one step closer to our goal of treating patients suffering from TDT in early 2020, said Nick Leschly, chief bluebird. Also this quarter, we presented updated data from the Phase 2/3 Starbeam study in patients with CALD. To report that patients continued to be free of MFDs at up to five years of follow-up is something were tremendously proud to do for these families, and we look forward to advancing that program in the regulatory process next year. Looking ahead, we plan to provide clinical updates for ZYNTEGLO and across the rest of our portfolio, including LentiGlobin in sickle cell disease, bb21217 in multiple myeloma, and from our registration-enabling KarMMa study of ide-cel in patients with multiple myeloma by the end of this year. Id like to thank all the bluebirds around the globe for their tireless focus on doing the right thing for our patients weve seen amazing progress thus far in 2019 and I look forward to ending the year on a strong note.

Recent Highlights:

TDT

CALD

COMPANY

Upcoming Anticipated Milestones:

Third Quarter 2019 Financial Results

About bluebird bio, Inc.bluebird bio is pioneering gene therapy with purpose. From our Cambridge, Mass., headquarters, were developing gene therapies for severe genetic diseases and cancer, with the goal that people facing potentially fatal conditions with limited treatment options can live their lives fully. Beyond our labs, were working to positively disrupt the healthcare system to create access, transparency and education so that gene therapy can become available to all those who can benefit.

bluebird bio is a human company powered by human stories. Were putting our care and expertise to work across a spectrum of disorders by researching cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy, sickle cell disease, transfusion-dependent -thalassemia and multiple myeloma using three gene therapy technologies: gene addition, cell therapy and (megaTAL-enabled) gene editing.

bluebird bio has additional nests in Seattle, Wash.; Durham, N.C.; and Zug, Switzerland. For more information, visit bluebirdbio.com.

Follow bluebird bio on social media: @bluebirdbio, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

ZYNTEGLO, LentiGlobin and Lenti-D are trademarks of bluebird bio, Inc.

The full common name for ZYNTEGLO: A genetically modified autologous CD34+ cell enriched population that contains hematopoietic stem cells transduced with lentiviral vector encoding the A-T87Q-globin gene.

Forward-Looking StatementsThis release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding the companys financial condition, results of operations, as well as statements regarding the plans for regulatory submissions and commercialization for ZYNTEGLO and the companys product candidates, including anticipated regulatory milestones, planned commercial launches, planned clinical studies, as well as the companys intentions regarding the timing for providing further updates on the development and commercialization of ZYNTEGLO and the companys product candidates. Any forward-looking statements are based on managements current expectations of future events and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially and adversely from those set forth in or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the risks that the preliminary positive efficacy and safety results from our prior and ongoing clinical trials will not continue or be repeated in our ongoing or future clinical trials, the risk of cessation or delay of any of the ongoing or planned clinical studies and/or our development of our product candidates, risks that the current or planned clinical trials of our product candidates will be insufficient to support regulatory submissions or marketing approval in the United States and European Union, the risk that we will encounter challenges in the commercial launch of ZYNTEGLO in the European Union, including in managing our complex supply chain for the delivery of drug product or in the adoption of value-based payment models or in obtaining sufficient coverage or reimbursement for our products if approved, the risk that our collaborations, including the collaboration with Celgene, will not continue or will not be successful, and the risk that any one or more of our product candidates, will not be successfully developed, approved or commercialized. For a discussion of other risks and uncertainties, and other important factors, any of which could cause our actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see the section entitled Risk Factors in our most recent Form 10-Q, as well as discussions of potential risks, uncertainties, and other important factors in our subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All information in this press release is as of the date of the release, and bluebird bio undertakes no duty to update this information unless required by law.

bluebird bio, Inc.Consolidated Statements of Operations(in thousands, except per share data)(unaudited)

For the three months ended September 30,

For the nine months ended September 30,

2019

2018

2019

2018

Revenue:

Collaboration revenue

$

6,575

$

10,926

$

29,310

$

33,971

License and royalty revenue

2,335

602

5,367

1,365

Total revenues

8,910

11,528

34,677

35,336

Operating expenses:

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As long as hes making progress I think thats what people want to see.: A Q&A with CRFF – Frogs O’ War

Posted: at 11:44 pm

The Horned Frogs have been bad in Stillwater since joining the Big 12, winning just once in one of the leagues most menacing environments. With both teams coming off of the high of an upset win, this showdown in Stillwater looks much more appealing than it did a week ago. We spoke with Micah Allen of Cowboys Ride For Free to talk all things Gundy, BPS, and Chuba.

Frogs O War: Mike Gundy and Gary Patterson are the two longest-tenured coaches in the Big 12 by a wide margin, with a bunch of fresh faces making big impacts across the rest of the conference. Much like the Frogs, the Cowboys have been a little up and down this season -- do you sense any frustration from the fanbase about the state of the coaching, or are people will to let the Mullet write the end of his own story in Stillwater?

Cowboys Ride For Free: We have a mixture of both. We have fans that are to the point that if something doesnt change and soon theyre ready to see him go. However, most know that no matter how much they want it to, thats not gonna happen. If Im remembering correctly hes got two or three more years left on his contract. OSU isnt gonna want to pay that buyout unless something goes horribly horribly wrong. You also have the fact that what snazzy hire could they get right now? Fans wouldnt be happy replacing him with just anyone.

FOW: TCU Football has struggled in Stillwater, winning just once at Boone Pickens Stadium since joining the Big 12. Is there some bad juju there, or has it simply come down to OSU being the better team when these two match up?

CRFF: I mean BPS can be a tough place to play. The Paddle People and all the fans being so close to the field is kinda terrifying. I think sometimes that was just something hard for TCU to overcome. There have been years where OSU was the better team though, I feel like it partially has to do with the fact that when TCU has had years where they struggled, they happen to play OSU in Stillwater. Look at 2014. the Frogs stomped the Cowboys in Fort Worth. But then in 2015 the Cowboys won big in Stillwater. I dont know I think im going with bad juju.

FOW: Chuba Hubbard has been unbelievable in 2019, averaging over 170 yards per game and 5.7 yards per attempt. He seems, quite simply, unstoppable. What does he do so well, and how are the Cowboys maximizing his abilities?

CRFF: Hes sooo fast. Hes got some power to him as well. You have have him tackled and he can break away and hes off to the races. If a back gets behind they pretty much had 0 chance of catching up with the Canadian Speedster. What OSU has done to maximize this is getting their O-line in a position where he can get some decent protection and just getting him the ball. Running plays where hes able to get holes to come through has been big.

FOW: The strength of Oklahoma States football team has generally the receivers, but outside of Tylan Wallace, not a single receiver has accumulated 250 yards on the season. Have guys not developed as expected or is this the growing pains of a first year quarterback?

CRFF: This is 100 percent growing pains of a first year QB. Hes comfortable with Tylan and when he gets covered Spencer hasnt learned how to make another play quite yet. Dillon Stoner is a good player and when him and Jordan McCray get the ball good things can happen its just a first year QB. The coaches also are a bit skittish with Spencer airing it out at this point and you can look as his interception numbers and see why.

FOW: Lets talk a little more about that first year quarterback. Spencer Sanders, at times, has reminded people why he was such a highly-tout recruit. At others, he has looked every bit a redshirt freshman. At Iowa State, he was really solid - making a couple of big plays and generally avoiding the big mistake. Is this the start of him figuring it out, or what are folks hoping to see in the next stage of his development?

CRFF: I think hes growing up. The biggest thing for me is him learning how to hold on to the football. I can live with some interceptions, that happens to even the most experienced QB. What annoys me is running with the football 2 feet away from you and fumbling it. That didnt happen as much on Saturday which for me is progress. As long as hes making progress I think thats what people want to see. Hes gotta make better reads in the next step as well. Lean on other receivers and not just Tylan.

FOW: Talk a little bit about your defense -- it seems as if it has been boon or bust in 2019. TCUs offense has been suspect; do you expect the Cowboys to be able to contain the Frogs rushing attack and fluster their true freshman QB in a tough road environment?

CRFF: Youre exactly right with boom or bust. Theyre starting to come together though. I really like Malcom Rodriguez and Amen Obongbeminga. Those guys have been a workhorse for this defense. Oklahoma State has had an issue this year with running backs so I do worry about that. However I dont expect them to let Duggan sit in the pocket as he pleases and think theyll be in his grill.

FOW: Give us a player or two to watch on both sides of the ball that we may not know much about.

CRFF: Offense: MATT AMMEDOLA DESERVES THE PRAISE! Hes been good this season and our special teams is lightyears better than last year. On defense, Kolby Harvell-Peel broke up six passes last week so look out for him.

FOW: And finally, whats your prediction on what does down Saturday afternoon? Who gets the win and how do they do it?

CRFF: Its gonna be a good game. These teams are both riding the big win waves and will be on a high. These team will play each other close. That being said, I just think OSU has the talent around Sanders to win this game. 45-35 Pokes.

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Kelly pleased with Phil Jurkovec’s progress – WNDU-TV

Posted: at 11:44 pm

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Brian Kelly made it very clear in his press conference on Monday that Ian Book is without a doubt the starting quarterback, but he did say backup Phil Jurkovec has made some progress.

Jurkovec came in for Book in the Michigan game and tossed a touchdown pass to Javon McKinley late in the fourth quarter.

This season, Jurkovec has completed 75% of his passes and thrown for a pair of touchdowns.

Kelly really likes Jurkovec's size and speed and believes he is the future at quarterback for Notre Dame.

But the future is not now. Book is the guy, but Jurkovec will soon be the guy down the road.

"It's an incredible game, right, you practice, practice, practice, practice, and then you play only 12 games," Kelly said. "He's practiced a lot and hasn't played a lot in college. So, he's really missing that college it is faster, you know. So, that's really all he's missing right now. I mean, in practice, he looks pretty good, but it is getting to that point where he actually plays in some of the games and making those quick decisions, changing protections, making some quick decisions, those are the things that he's going to have to continue to work on."

Jurkovec will be back on the sidelines this weekend when Notre Dame looks to bounce back Virginia Tech.

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., and you can catch the game right here on WNDU.

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Police Briefs: Theft in progress thwarted by cops – The Times Herald

Posted: at 11:44 pm

LOWER PROVIDENCE -- On Oct. 12, at 8:10 p.m., township police were dispatched to a business in the 3000 block of Ridge Pike for a report of a theft in progress.

The caller indicated a male was seen putting items into his pockets and was accompanied by a female. Police located the male in front of the store and asked him to empty his pockets.

According to reports, the male produced a baggie of marijuana and quickly returned it to his pocket. Police place the male was placed under arrest and located the narijuana, as well as a small plastic capsule commonly used to store narcotics and a baggie of nethamphetamine.

No store property was located on the male subject or the female subject police later located. However, while checking the male it was learned he had a warrant for his arrest. The male was transported to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility for processing. Charges filed for intentional possession of a controlled substance, possession of a small amount of Marijuana and use/possession of drug paraphernalia.

FRAUD -- Police met with a business employee from the 3000 block of Ridge Pike regarding check fraud on the afternoon of Oct. 11. The employee reported a male had attempted to cash a fraudulent company check at a local bank.

The bank manager had called the complainant during the transaction, the male suspect likely heard the conversation and left the bank without receiving any money. Four additional checks had been cashed by a male suspect on 10/10/2019. The total amount cashed by the suspect is $8,616.51.

A suspect has been identified and the business account frozen.

ELEVATOR RESCUE -- Township Fire and Police were dispatched to an elevator rescue at a building in the 600 block of Shannondell Boulevard at 1:39 a.m. on Oct. 12. The fire company was able to isolate the power and open the door by elevator key. The occupant reported no medical issues after being freed.

SUSPICIOUS VEHICLE A male said he had fallen asleep while waiting to go fishing after police responded to the 1300 block of Pawlings Road at 1:16 a.m. on Oct. 13 in response to a report of a suspicious vehicle.

Upon arrival, police reported observing the door to the vehicle to be pen with a subject in the drivers seat. Observed in clear view was fishing equipment and a cooler of beer in the vehicle. The male was cooperative with police and was informed of the parks closure at nighttime. The male did admit to drinking one beer while on location. The subject had a suspended license as well and was asked to secure his vehicle and await a ride.

The male left the area without incident, police added.

THEFT FROM A VEHICLE -- On Oct. 13, at 1:20 PM, police were dispatched to a township park on Redtail Road for the report of a theft from motor vehicle. The caller advised that about 5 minutes after parking she was informed that her window was smashed out.

Upon further checking, the victim observed her purse missing from the floor of the vehicle. Inside the purse was a light gray wallet, several debit and credit cards, PA drivers license, social security card and insurance cards. The purse and wallet were valued at below $100.

INTERNAL THEFT On Oct. 10, around 1:40 p.m., police responded to a business on the 3800 block of Ridge Pike to investigate a report of an alleged internal theft.

Reports added that the store director advised an employee had sold various pieces of jewelry to a local jeweler for approximately $700. The director believes it may have been stolen from their store, however, they were unable to show any jewelry missing from inventory or provide and identifying information.

Reports added that the suspect did admit to the director that he had stolen the items and his current address is unknown.

LOST SENIOR -- Township Police were contacted by West Norriton Police regarding an elderly female who had been found wandering the area of South Park Avenue/Eagleville Road in the predawn hours of Oct. 9and was brought to their station. The female was identified, and her family was notified. Police transported the female home and spoke with family members regarding arrangements and assistance for the elderly female. Incident report #2019-18494.

TRESPASSING -- Township police were dispatched to a property on Moyer Road at 10:14 a.m. on Oct. 10 regarding suspicious vehicles. The caller reported subjects trespassing by parking their vehicles on the property in order to hunt in the nearby park. Police spoke with the hunters and advised them of same. The property owner was urged to post no trespassing signs on the property.

ELUSIVE ARACHNID -- Police were on patrol in the 2600 block of Ridge Pike on the afternoon of Oct. 10 when a black Subaru was observed pulling into a parking lot and a female exited the vehicle and began yelling.

It was quickly determined that the female had encountered a spider and was unable to locate the elusive Arachnid.

The female occupants declined any police assistance.

OVERDOSE -- On Oct. 10, at 9:49 PM, police were dispatched to a residence in the 3800 block of Germantown Pike for the report of a Heroin overdose.

Police located the victim and observed her hands and feet to be blue in color and she was not breathing. A faint pulse was detected, and police administered Narcan nasally. The female began to breathe, albeit with with difficulty, while EMS arrived and continued care. The female became alert and agreed to be transported to a local hospital for further treatment.

Police reported locating 2 empty baggies of Heroin, 1 baggie containing suspected Heroin, and several syringes.

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Michigan schools are now average. That’s progress. – Bridge Michigan

Posted: at 11:44 pm

Michigan public school students show marked improvement compared to their peers in other states, according to national test results released Wednesday.

On the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the nations report card, Michigan students were firmly in the middle of the pack in eighth-grade math and reading (28th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in both) and fourth-grade reading (32d); Michigan fourth-graders were 42d in math, a drop from 38th in 2017.

While approaching average doesnt sound like cause for celebration, it does indicate that Michigan schools, which have languished in the bottom third of the nation for most of the decade, may be improving when compared to other states.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called the results a step in the right direction, and great news for our students and families that were making progress on literacy.

In general, Michigan improved by not losing ground: Its tests scores were similar to those in 2017 when the test was last administered, while many states, and the national average, declined slightly over that period. NAEP officials Tuesday said they did not know why scores were dropping nationally.

Detroits fourth-graders took a leap forward in math, raising their average scores by the most of any of the nations major cities that took part in the test. Still, Detroit remains at the back of the pack among 27 large cities across the country that volunteer to participate.

Only Detroits traditional public school students took the NAEP test public charter schools and private schools were excluded. The NAEP is given to a sample of students in cities and states across the country.

State-level tests, such as Michigans M-STEP, offer comparisons of schools within state borders, but say nothing about how Michigan students fare against their peers in other states.

Thats where the NAEP comes in. The biennial NAEP test results give education leaders, politicians and families of school children state-to-state comparisons of education systems. Without NAEP, Michigan would have difficulty determining if its schools are doing great or horribly compared to the rest of the nation.

The test was administered to about 300,000 students in traditional public, charter and private schools nationally in the spring of 2019, along with 27 urban districts including Detroit.

Major takeaways from the Michigan results:

Michigan School Superintendent Michael Rice said the states schools improved their ranking among peers in other states despite two significant challenges: a statewide teacher shortage (there are teacher shortages nationally), which adversely affects most severely the highest poverty and/or most remote districts, and inadequate and inequitable state funding for Michigans 1.5 million children.

Imagine how much more rapid our improvement could be if we invested more in our children and funded their specific needs, Rice said.

John Yun, associate professor of education at Michigan State University, who looked at the latest NAEP data for Bridge, pointed to another warning sign inside the data. While test score averages for the state are flat, there is a growing gap between the states highest-achieving students and its lowest-achieving. The test scores of those two groups are diverging, Yun said.

For example, in eighth-grade math, the gap between the top 10 percent of readers and the lowest 10 percent has grown by almost a semester of learning over the past decade, according to NAEP scores.

People are reading much better now than two decades ago, but weve given back a lot of the gains since 2009, Yun said. And its striking that the losses are most felt at the lowest achievement levels.

Amber Arellano, executive director of Michigan-based Education Trust-Midwest, said she saw glimmers of hope and pessimism for Michigan schools in the latest test results.

Today is cause for a sobering celebration, Arellano said. Between 2017 and 2019, Michigan low-income students led the nation for improvement in eighth-grade math. These notable gains should be applauded.

On the other hand, Michigan is still not a top-improving state since 2003 for key subjects such as early reading. And the data suggest Michigan is many years away from becoming a top education state for all students, particularly students who are most left behind in our state. This new data should be a clarion call for changing how we invest and support public education for all children in our state."

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Giants WR Sterling Shepard making more progress toward return from concussion – SNY.tv

Posted: at 11:44 pm

Sterling Shepard is technically still in concussion protocol, but he participated in contact practice on Wednesday as he works his way back.

"It does (boost the optimism)," said head coach Pat Shurmur. "I think he's getting closer and closer. We have an extra day, certainly, because (Week 9's game against the Dallas Cowboys) is a Monday night, so again, we'll just see what the week brings."

He will likely see independent doctors later in the week, Shurmur told reporters.

"He's still in the protocol, but he's making good progress," Shurmursaid of Sherpard. "So we'll just see what the week brings and we'll see if he's available for Monday. Same for (cornerback) Corey (Ballentine)."

Shepard wasn't ruled out of the Giants' Week 8 game against the Lions until late in the week, so there is a chance he will be cleared in time to face the Cowboys.

The 26-year-old Shepard has missed the last three games since suffering his second concussion of the season in Week 5 against the Vikings.

In four games this season, Shepard has 25 catches for 267 yards and one touchdown.

If Shepard is able to return for Monday night's game, the Giants will likely have their full slate of main offensive weapons for the first time all season: Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton,Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley.

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Human trafficking task force outlines progress and plans – CBS News

Posted: at 11:44 pm

During his tenure, President Trump has signed several bills aimed at addressing human trafficking and they had bipartisan support.

"Can you believe that?" remarked Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and top adviser, who opened a meeting of a federal task force to combat human trafficking a goal that crosses party lines in a hyper-partisan era.

The task force recognized the efforts of two organizations with the 2019 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking: Truckers Against Trafficking and the Responsible Business Alliance.

The task force comprises representatives from more than a dozen government agencies secretaries or under secretaries of the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Labor attended the meeting of the task force.

The secretaries outlined the progress their departments have made against human trafficking and the plans they have for the upcoming year. The common thread was training. Most of the agencies are training people from students and teachers to health care providers and park rangers to identify and respond to human trafficking.

Worldwide, there are estimated to be 25 million victims of human trafficking. "It takes place not just in distance corners of the world but here in our backyard," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Trump who typically ties human trafficking to illegal immigration did not attend the task force meeting, but he greeted the award recipients earlier in the day in a closed-door meeting at the White House.

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York cites progress on food and theater – Queens Chronicle

Posted: at 11:44 pm

York Colleges dining facilities and performing arts center remain closed, but college officials said Tuesday that work is underway to reopen both as quickly as possible.

The colleges cafeteria was shut down by the city in September after failing a health inspection, but its re-opening was authorized after a follow-up inspection on Sept. 18.

However, the York College Auxiliary decided not to renew its contract with its former food service vendor which expired on Monday, September 30, 2019, the college said in an email. As a result, the cafeteria on the lower level and the Cardinal Caf on the main level have remained closed. Because of a CUNY-wide process to determine food services for all campuses, York cannot commit to a new long-term contract as a campus.

The school said conversations are ongoing with a number of food service vendors for a short-term contract that would enable us to re-open the Cardinal Caf as soon as possible to provide the college community with additional food options once again.

Students, faculty and staff have been limited to vending machines and a variety of food trucks that have been stationed outside the schools Guy R. Brewer entrance since September.

The Milton G. Bassin Center for the Performing Arts also has been shut down since early September after the school learned of a mold condition. The building has been chained and padlocked shut, with all classes moved to other locations on the campus.

The school said a new fence that was erected around the perimeter of the theater this week is due to work being done by contractors to repair the buildings roof, which is expected to be completed by the end of December.

Upon completion of this phase, the College will begin remediation of the interior of the building, the school said. The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) and the contractor have developed a plan to ensure the safety of the college community and the work crews during the repair period.

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Navy Marks Progress on Three New Warship Hulls – USNI News

Posted: at 11:44 pm

Top to bottom: USS Indianapolis (LCS-17), Virginia-submarine Delaware (SSN-791) and American-class Tripoli (LHA-7)

A Virginia-class submarine, the second America-class amphibious warship and a Littoral Combat Ship marked significant production milestones last weekendm the service annouced.

On Friday, the Navy accepted delivery of the future fast attack submarine, USS Delaware (SSN-791), the eighth and final Virginia-class Block III submarine being built. Delawares commissioning is scheduled for April 4, 2020.

The Block III Virginia-class submarines, when compared to the Block I and Block II subs, 12 individual vertical launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes that each can launch six Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to Naval Sea Systems Command. The Block III submarines also have a water-backed large-aperture bow sonar array in places of the traditional air-backed spherical array.

Delawares delivery marks the culmination of millions of man-hours of work by thousands of people across this country to bring the worlds foremost undersea asset to the fleet, said a statement from Capt. Christopher Hanson, the Virginia-Class Submarine program manager. This next-generation attack submarine provides the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nations undersea superiority.

In Pascagoula, Miss., the future amphibious warship Tripoli (LHA-7) completed acceptance trials, NAVSEA announced. Tripoli is the second ship in the America-class built without a well deck, and instead has an enlarged hangar deck and realigned and expanded aviation maintenance facilities.

The capability that our large deck amphibs bring to the fight is tremendous, said a statement from Tom Rivers, the amphibious warfare program manager for Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. Their ability to embark Joint Strike Fighters and MV-22 Osprey enable this versatile platform to increase the lethality of our expeditionary warfighters.

The Navy expected Tripoli to join the fleet this fall. However, the shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls Industries pushed back its delivery while it fixed some technical design issues, USNI News previously reported.

Theres been a lot of hard work accomplished to get LHA-7 to this point, said a statement from Capt. Nathan Schneider, the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair Gulf Coast. The teams focus is now on delivering the LHA-7 to the fleet in the best possible condition, fully capable and ready to deploy if called upon.

On Saturday, the Navy commissioned USS Indianapolis (LCS-17), a Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship, at a ceremony at Burns Harbor, Ind., at the southern end of Lake Michigan. Freedom-variants are built at the northern end of Lake Michigan at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin

The crew gives the ship its own personality and warfighting spirit. The men and women of USS Indianapolis exemplify patriotism, grit, and what this great country of ours stands for, said Cmdr. Colin Kane, the commanding officer of Indianapolis in a statement. I am extremely proud to have all of [the USS Indianapolis crew] as shipmates.

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