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Published in Print: October 24, 2001, as Reporter's Notebook

Reporter's Notebook

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Girls' Math Scores Linked to Role Models

Girls' math achievement tends to be higher in districts with female role models in their schools than in ones that don't have them, a study concludes.

In an analysis of test scores in Texas between 1995 and 1998, researchers at Texas A&M University found that test scores for girls were higher in districts that had large percentages of women teachers. And girls' achievement was even higher in districts where the superintendents were women, according to the research conducted by the Texas Education Excellence Project, a program of the school of government and public service at the university in College Station.

The researchers reviewed math scores on the Texas Assessment of Student Skills for 3rd through 8th graders, scores on the state's high school exit exam, and results on the SAT college-entrance exam. They found that girls' math achievement was about the same as boys' in elementary schools, but started to fall behind that of boys after 8th grade—a finding similar to the results of other studies.

In examining high school scores, the Texas researchers found that girls' scores on the exit exam and the SAT were the highest in districts with high percentages of female teachers and with a woman superintendent.

While administrators have little impact on what happens day to day in classrooms, their leadership provides role models for girls to follow and may be an ingredient in helping to close the test-score gap between girls and boys, suggests Kenneth J. Meier, the director of the education project.

Literacy Project

The International Reading Association has announced that it will join with the Washington-based National Urban Alliance for Effective Education to form the Urban Partnership for Literacy.

The urban alliance, a branch of the Council of the Great City Schools, sends consultants into school districts with a high percentage of minority students to provide professional development to teachers in mathematics, science, reading, and writing. Through the partnership, the IRA will provide the program with scholars and experts to work with those consultants on literacy, according to Richard Long, the director of government relations for the Newark, Del.-based reading organization.

The IRA also plans to offer participating districts continuing support by providing teachers with a program for self-directed professional development and making sure the teachers can stay in touch with the organization after the consultants leave.

Archiving History

The Library of Congress is teaming up with online- archiving projects to assemble a collection of resources on the Web related to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

The site includes links to Internet sites for the U.S. government and military, U.S.-based and international news outlets, and charitable organizations.

The archive, intended to preserve at least part of the vast body of information that has emerged from the attacks, will include powerful primary-source materials, according to Winston Tabb, the associate librarian for library services.

Partners in the project include the Internet Archive (www.archive.org), WebArchivists.org, and the Pew Internet & American Life Project (www.pewinternet.org).

Standards, With Conditions

Nearly 50 school administrators from around the country have endorsed the academic-standards movement in a joint statement, but they urge policymakers to attend to what the administrators say are the necessary conditions for achieving high standards.

"The promise of the standards movement is so great that we must do all we can to ensure its success," says the statement drafted this past summer during the 60th annual Superintendent's Work Conference at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City. "To do so, we must begin by understanding that standards and testing alone are not enough."

The group, which included administrators Linda Clautti of Dayton, Ohio; Doris Walker of Lakewood, Wash.; and Daniel Zorn of Kalispell, Mont., wrote that attending to the quality of the teacher corps and the curriculum, and working to reduce class sizes and build community support, are essential to a successful standards-based system.

—Michelle Galley, David J. Hoff, & Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Vol. 21, Issue 8, Page 20

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