May 11, 2005

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Policymakers often complain that teacher education programs don’t have to answer for the quality of their graduates. But over the past five years, as a result of new accreditation rules, hundreds of those institutions have been quietly revamping how they collect and use data about their students.
It’s a situation often compared to a massive electrical power surge: Three years ago, the federal No Child Left Behind Act hit education agencies here and in other state capitals with a host of new duties just as severe fiscal shortfalls were forcing cuts in budgets and staffing.
As the resident practitioner for safe and orderly schools for the NASSP, Bill Bond travels at least 40 weeks a year to talk to administrators, teachers, and school resource officers about responding to school crises.
The theory of evolution was subjected to the first of several courtroom-style hearings in Kansas last week, an occasion colored by detailed testimony, forceful cross-examinations, and quarrels over biological events that occurred millions of years ago.
Under pressure to improve their lowest-performing schools, urban districts are increasingly forming subsets of those schools and remaking them in significant ways, ranging from highly focused instructional changes to total restructuring.
A rigorous study of 38 schools that are using the Success for All improvement program has found that students read better after two years in the program and outpace students in regular classrooms by up to half a school year.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
State and national policymakers need to pay more attention to the problems of rural schools, which in some states are extremely urgent, a report due out this week says.
English teachers have taken their red pens to the new SAT and ACT writing tests, and they have some critical words not for the student writers but for the test-makers.
People in the News
By and large, teachers in the southeastern corner of Missouri known as the Bootheel have been slow to seek out added training to teach English as a second language. Although some districts in the Bootheel have dozens of English-language learners and others have only a few, training in teaching students with limited English skills is becoming more critical.
Spanish is the most common language among limited-English-proficient students.
Classroom "clickers" aim for a greater purpose than simply helping couch potatoes channel-surf. Educators who have used them say clickers help involve every student in a lesson and give teachers immediate feedback about what students are learning, so that instructional strategies can be changed on the fly.
Over the past year, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has been making good on its promise that teachers would be able to extend the 10-year life of their certificates.
Even among large urban school districts, the District of Columbia’s special education system has problems that seem nearly intractable.
Public pre-K teachers often lack the training or degrees that their states require, and one-fifth of them are working second jobs to pay their bills, according to a study unveiled last week that provides the first detailed profile of states’ preschool teachers.
A new study finds that in most of the states with high-pressure testing systems in place, previously documented mathematics improvements have tapered off from 2000 to 2003. And in students’ reading scores, it seemed to make no difference whether a state had attached high stakes to the test scores or not.
Report Roundup
Charter Schools
Health Update
State lawmakers around the country are introducing a flurry of proposals that call for mandatory steroid testing of student-athletes and related education programs for coaches.
A former state education official who helped design Georgia’s reading initiative nearly a decade ago has filed more than a dozen complaints against the Georgia education department for actions that she claims effectively blocked schools applying for federal Reading First money from using the textbooks she now publishes.
State Journal
As Utah prepares for the fallout from its new law giving priority to state education measures over federal No Child Left Behind regulations, a Hispanic advocacy group last week filed a related civil rights complaint over the quality of schools in the state.
Capitol Recap
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Bucking a White House plan to halt the flow of federal dollars to the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, the Republican-led House last week overwhelmingly passed a bill to reauthorize the popular law.
A plan being studied by the Department of Education to create a federal database of all U.S. college students to help improve graduation-rate tracking is raising privacy concerns among students and others.
Federal File
A long-running legal battle over the scheduling of high school girls’ sports in Michigan entered a new round last week as the U.S. Supreme Court sent the gender-equity case back to a federal appeals court for reconsideration.
A former Department of Education official has pleaded guilty in federal court to one misdemeanor count of conflict of interest that included using federal money to pay for personal expenses.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
House Republican education leaders struck a conciliatory tone last week as they unveiled legislation to revise the federal Head Start program, saying they believed that Democrats would support most of their proposal.
The Wall may have come down in Germany, but tensions over the nation’s immigrant population have provoked another kind of rift that is evident in the schools. Education Week went to Germany for this special story.
National identity can be tricky for immigrants in Germany, even those with German passports like the Celikkol family of Berlin.
Educators around the country are coming to see that students do benefit from an instructional model that emphasizes effort rather than innate aptitude or general intelligence, writes educator Louis Pugliese.
The correct use of data, the new darling of education reform, is not necessarily penetrating into the classroom, according to Suzanne Tacheny and Linda Plattner.
The belief that education is the answer to all our problems has distorted and narrowed its purposes and led to an endless cycle of overschooling, writes Marvin Lazerson.
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