August 10, 2005

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In the three years that the Pinellas County, Fla., district has offered its more than 7,800 teachers a performance bonus as mandated by the state, exactly two have qualified and taken home the money.
More youths with disabilities are successfully making the transition from school to higher education, jobs, and adult responsibilities than they did in the late 1980s, according to a federally financed study that has tracked thousands of secondary school students with disabilities over time.
As districts nationwide seek ways to ensure a sound education for all children, Montgomery County, Md., has drawn notice for its unusual concentration on human resources.
Cleveland voters last week soundly rejected a levy intended to bolster the school district’s finances, a move widely interpreted as a referendum on the performance of its leader, Barbara Byrd-Bennett.
A survey of school district budget officials shows that employee health care now costs their districts nearly $900 per pupil on average, an expense that they say seriously affects their ability to pay for instructional services.
In a recent poll, school business officials reported that the rising cost of health care is taking a chunk out of budgets.
Take Note
The Reading Recovery Council of North America, which represents a popular nationwide program for struggling learners, has asked the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general to investigate the agency’s signature reading initiative, known as Reading First.
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Most students with disabilities took state reading tests during the 2003-04 school year, but states are struggling to create and give alternate assessments that measure grade-level and below grade-level standards for at least some special education youngsters, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
A business coalition has released a plan to lure more Americans into careers in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering, with the goal of doubling the number of graduates in those fields in the next decade.
People in the News
In most states, the majority of students with disabilities took statewide reading assessments in the 2003-04 school year.
Joyce L. Conrad, executive director of Organizations Concerned about Rural Education, continues the work of her late husband, Charles O. Conrad, who died suddenly last year at the age of 80. Mr. Conrad founded OCRE in 1988, and ran it until his death.
A California activist group has sued the state commission on teacher credentialing, contending it is misleading the public by enabling teachers with emergency credentials to serve as “highly qualified” educators under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
When administrators of virtual schools evaluate a teacher, they can’t walk out of their offices, stroll into the classroom, and take a seat at the back to observe the day’s lesson. But they can go online and get megabytes of vital information about the teacher.
Learning Links
Teaching & Learning Update
Teaching & Learning Update
The American Federation of Teachers’ affiliate in Puerto Rico is resisting the parent union’s attempts to keep it in its fold. The power struggle has both sides claiming the other is abusing the relationship.
Leadership
International Update
Urban Education
Both fans and critics of San Diego’s closely watched school improvement efforts are applauding the choice of Carl A. Cohn, a former superintendent of the Long Beach, Calif., schools, as the system’s next leader.
Reporter's Notebook
Report Roundup
Far more high school graduates with disabilities are attending college than in the past.
The National Black Home Educators Resource Association held its fourth annual symposium July 29-30 in Baton Rouge, La., hoping to expand the number of black families supportive of home schooling.
Thirty-nine New York state high schools have won a reprieve from a state requirement that students pass the Regents exams to earn a diploma.
Only about 20 percent of the construction and renovation projects the New Jersey Schools Construction Corp. approved for the state’s neediest districts will move forward, the state agency announced late last month, because it has run out of money.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Capitol Recap
While many districts are seeing less Title I aid in the 2005-06 school year, others—particularly larger urban districts with high concentrations of disadvantaged students—are getting a bump up, according to a study released last month by the Washington-based Center on Education Policy.
About two-thirds of the school districts participating in the federal Title I program will receive less money in school year 2005-06 than they did this past year, while 4,400 districts will gain in funding.
Mark S. Schneider, President Bush’s new pick to head the National Center for Education Statistics, is a far less controversial figure than his first choice for the job, comments last week from researchers and education advocates suggest.
Federal File
With Senate hearings on U.S. Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. scheduled to begin Sept. 6, several education groups said last week that they were content to wait on opining about whether the federal appellate judge should become the high court’s next associate justice.
As the Department of Education’s assistant secretary for vocational and adult education, Susan K. Sclafani has generally won praise from backers of career and technical programs, despite her demand that they recast their mission and become more challenging academically.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
With college applications looming, high school students turn to summer camps to polish their essays and SAT scores.
Stephen Chappuis argues that there is a danger of unintentional sacrifices on the way to "adequate yearly progress."
Laura Thomas, director of the Antioch Center for School Renewal, uses an analogy from her life to illustrate the need for educators to address and discuss larger issues of society and citizenry with their students.
Letters
Letters
Two education researchers propose that despite earlier assumptions, the United States has not yet fully tried decentralizing decisionmaking authority to schools. But it should.

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