February 2, 2005

This Issue
Vol. 24, Issue 21
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For the past two decades, studies have consistently offered a more complicated picture of high school science teachers’ opinions of religion’s role in their classrooms—one that reflects the views of the public at large.
Even before U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings was confirmed in her job on Inauguration Day, a few states began testing her pledge, made during Senate hearings, to work with them in carrying out the No Child Left Behind Act in a “sensible and workable” way.
Most authorizers who take their responsibilities seriously agree that weeding out bad schools is a vital component of the autonomy-for-accountability bargain at the heart of the charter school concept. But amid the sparks thrown off by closings, those authorizers are often ending up singed.
Starting in March, the SAT, taken annually by more than 1.4 million college-bound students, will undergo its most significant change since 1994. Changes include revised math and critical reading sections, and a new writing portion.
The proportion of high school students demonstrating mastery of Advanced Placement courses has increased since 2000, as has the proportion of students taking such courses, according to a report on the college-level program released last week.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Correction
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Chicago’s high-profile bid to downsize many of its schools began to take shape last week, as district leaders approved a varied group of small schools slated to open in the fall.
To prepare children for school, states should devise long-range plans for serving the needs of all children from birth through age 5—not just 3- and 4-year-olds—advises a guide designed to assist governors in crafting and implementing early-childhood-education programs.
People in the News
Early Years
A majority of high school students are apathetic toward, and ignorant of, Americans’ First Amendment rights, concludes a study being released this week that surveyed 112,000 students at 544 public and private high schools nationwide.
Sharon P. Robinson, a former vice president of the Educational Testing Service, has been selected as the new president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Hammett Learning World's shutdown of its stores is the latest development in a tough school supplies market that keeps shrinking and consolidating, analysts and other experts say.
Education Inc.
As a captain who oversaw a major construction regiment for the U.S. Navy, Jim McConnell embraced the Seabees’ motto, “We build, we fight.” Today, as the facilities chief for the nation’s second-largest school district, his new mission statement is “We fight to build.”
As President Bush promotes his plans for expanding high-stakes testing in the nation’s high schools, a new study has found that states that already have such exams in place have lower graduation rates and college-entrance-exam scores than states that don’t have them.
Research
The Schools Interoperability Framework, a method of exchanging data among various school software applications, is ready, finally, to give a technical boost to schools’ ability to use data to improve student achievement.
Report Roundup
Private Schools
Reporter's Notebook
Like any pair of longtime competitors, the sponsors of the nation’s two major college-entrance exams, the SAT and ACT, regularly scrutinize each other’s work, and adjust their own accordingly.
Students taking the revamped SAT this spring will face a broader test of their abilities in advanced mathematics, a level of rigor that reflects the higher standards many states are making a part of their high school graduation requirements.
Twenty-five minutes may not seem like much time to ponder a provocative passage about human nature and to draft an essay outlining one’s views on a related philosophical question. But high school students taking part in the ritual of the nation’s most- used college-entrance exam will have to do just that, beginning in March.
The writing section of the new SAT includes a 25-minute essay.
Reporter's Notebook
Democrats and Republicans alike are calling for merit pay, pay for performance, and other ways that deviate from the generally inflexible salary schedules under which teachers are paid.
Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan surprised many in the state’s education establishment last month when she publicly declared that she wanted state Superintendent of Public Instruction Thomas D. Watkins Jr. out of office.
State Journal
Following bitterly partisan debate, the Wisconsin Assembly voted last week to lift the cap on the number of participants in the state’s school voucher program for low-income families in Milwaukee.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
State of the States
State of the States
Where in the world is the U.S. Department of Education’s rural education task force?
The new chairman of the Senate education committee made clear last week that he aims to catch up on an array of overdue bills to reauthorize education laws, from Head Start to vocational education to the Higher Education Act, as well as focus new attention on issues such as reducing high school dropout rates.
Federal File
With Margaret Spellings in place as the new U.S. secretary of education, further staff changes are afoot in her department, including the naming of David Dunn, a White House domestic-policy aide, as the secretary’s chief of staff.
Over the objections of dozens of researchers, the Department of Education plans to expand its push for "scientifically based" education research to all its programs.
The Department of Education made a mistake when it agreed to a public relations arrangement with commentator Armstrong Williams, President Bush said last week. He also said the White House did not know about the arrangement.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
At Norview High School in Norfolk, Va., teachers used their academic departments to map out higher standards for teaching and learning. The result: soaring scores.
Only the foolish would think that 13-year-olds' skills at bubbling in answer sheets would mean much for a nation's well-being, argues Gerald W. Bracey.
America is math-phobic to an extent that profoundly influences our country's policies and the performance of our students, suggest Erica N. Walker and Alexander P. Karp.
Letters
Letters
At some point, if we are to retain the lead in the global economic race, we will have to rely on our homegrown and homebound human capital for our competitive edge, writes Anthony P. Carnevale.
Eric A. Hanushek writes that the performance of our students now will influence the pattern of our nation's future economic success.

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