November 24, 2004

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Vol. 24, Issue 13
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Most of the off-the-shelf mathematics programs used in middle schools across the country have little or no rigorous evidence attesting to their effectiveness, concludes a federal research review released last week.
The Chelsea school district, which serves mainly low-income Latino students, is one of only three urban districts in Massachusetts that met goals for adequate yearly academic progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The district is managed by Boston University.
President Bush’s decision to nominate Margaret Spellings, his chief domestic-policy adviser, as the new U.S. secretary of education signals a steady course on education policymaking from the administration, analysts say.
Congress was poised late on Nov. 19 to reauthorize the main federal special education law, after a House-Senate conference committee hammered out a bipartisan compromise designed to improve the educational opportunities of some 6.7 million children with disabilities.
At a time when many schools are making large cuts to physical education to make more time for academic priorities, the largest school district in the nation has embarked on an ambitious plan to rebuild its physical education program.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Correction
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
Roman Catholic elementary school teachers in St. Louis are directing more than 2,000 letters to the Vatican from community members supporting the teachers’ efforts to form a union.
People in the News
Early Years
How are the Perry Preschool children doing now that they’ve crossed into middle age? Pretty well, apparently.
The nation’s governors are pushing high school reform as a way to build up the workforce in their states—and to score major political points in the process.
While political discussion about after-school programs often focuses on how they can improve students’ academic performance, that goal is not the highest priority for most parents choosing such programs, a survey has found.
Having heard plenty of well-meaning but uninspiring proposals from all kinds of interest groups over the years, one longtime elected official last week offered fellow supporters of international education advice on how to make a successful pitch: Be able to explain why it’s necessary.
More children are attending school around the world than ever before, but most developing countries are far behind their goals for providing universal schooling and educational programs of good quality, concludes the latest monitoring report by UNESCO.
The States Institute on International Education in the Schools, held here last week, served as a stage for the Goldman Sachs Foundation, a New York City-based philanthropy, to announce its Prizes for Excellence in International Education.
Media
Representatives from 34 states gathered here last week to discuss options for rating schools based, in part, on the gains that individual students make from year to year.
The level of skill required to solve many of the math questions posed to 4th and 8th graders on the nation’s benchmark of academic progress is “extraordinarily easy,” asserts an analysis unveiled last week.
Four years ago, a hotly disputed study concluded that schools were being recognized under the popular federal Blue Ribbon Schools Program despite unimpressive academic records.
A new foundation hopes to entice top college math majors into careers as high school teachers in New York City public schools with the promise of tuition for graduate school, as well as annual stipends for four years.
Report Roundup
For the third time, a Florida court has struck down the state’s best-known voucher program, calling it unconstitutional because it allows students to attend religious schools with taxpayer money—a violation, the court said, of the state constitution.
Michigan’s high school achievement test, in place since 1978, could be on its way out to make way for a set of new tests that would measure students’ college readiness.
State Journal
The Education Commission of the States has chosen a community college president who has been an adviser to two governors to be its next president, the group announced last week.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
To Roderick L. Jackson, winning his case at the U.S. Supreme Court would be vindication for standing up for what he believes. To the broader education community, the case is about much more.
As the No Child Left Behind Act is being implemented, it is unlikely to solve the problems of inadequately prepared teachers or low-performing schools, panelists at a meeting here last week contended.
Federal File
Seeking to overcome “senioritis,” the board that oversees the nation’s benchmark of academic skills is studying ways to encourage 12th graders to take the tests more seriously, from forming partnerships with corporations to using celebrities in promotional pitches.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
In naming Ms. Spellings as his choice to succeed Rod Paige as secretary of education, President Bush described her as an “energetic reformer” and said she has a “special passion” for improving education.
With their single-district days behind them, leaders of the new merged Two Rivers school district in rural Arkansas are looking for ways to make the relationship work.
Teachers' unions and superintendents need not act as opposing forces, believes Larry Cuban, drawing on lessons learned during the reformation of the San Diego school district.
When properly embraced, standards and testing can become powerful tools in a teacher's arsenal, argues education consultant Tim DeRoche.
Letters
Letters
Reform efforts in urban school districts need to coordinate better with those in the real position to implement them—the midlevel staffers—says Diana Nelson, executive director of the Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform in Chicago.

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