December 7, 2005

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With the federal No Child Left Behind Act underscoring the wide variation in what states demand of their students, people on both sides of the political aisle are again making the case for national standards, curricula, and tests.
State officials and advocates for students in rural America say that many thousands of students in small and remote school systems are not getting the free tutoring that is their right under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Possession of illegal drugs by students gets more headlines and elicits more concern, but schools also are grappling with what, if any, place common drugstore remedies have on campus.
City school districts may be seeing some payoff from years of work to improve mathematics instruction, but similar initiatives to raise reading achievement have not led to significant gains, much like the trend seen throughout the nation, a special urban study of the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress released last week indicates.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have wreaked highly visible havoc on schools in the Gulf Coast region, but their impact in a more esoteric realm—school districts’ bonded debt—is just becoming clear. The picture that emerges could say a lot about those districts’ prospects for recovery.
District Dossier
Despite improvements, large proportions of students in some of the nation's biggest city districts remain mired at the "below basic" level on "the nation's report card."
News in Brief: A National Roundup
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Leading a school on a state watch list for low performance isn’t at the top of most principals’ wish lists. But when Wayne Scott found out that the school he’d just been named to lead was in that category, he was elated.
Podcasts exist on just about any subject under the sun: retro television shows, local politics, and marathon running. There’s even “Copcast,” a podcast “for cops, by cops.” Now, a small but rapidly increasing number of K-12 schools are taking part in the trend, experts say.
Children’s voices filled the hallways at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in New Orleans last week for the first time in three months, as the first regular city public school opened since Hurricane Katrina struck.
The tutoring company Educate Inc. wants to sell its main supplemental-services division after it posted lackluster sales in the third quarter.
Textbooks—teachers’ road maps through the curriculum—generally do a respectable job of covering evolution, according to experts who have reviewed the books, though the thick volumes tend to be weaker in describing the theory’s relevance across the many areas of science.
State science tests differ greatly in what they expect students to know about evolution, with some asking no questions about the theory and others including more than a dozen items related to it, an Education Week review has found.
Private Schools
Running a school district is more like leading the U.S. Senate than it is like being a corporate executive, says best-selling business writer Jim Collins, whose Good to Great is one of the most widely read books among K-12 administrators.
The seasonal flu has been lying low this year, but health experts say schools need to take precautions to keep the flu at bay over the rest of the season, especially because the cancellation of flu clinics in several areas could mean that fewer children and school employees have been vaccinated in those communities than last year.
Residents of Kalamazoo, Mich., learned last month of a windfall that most parents can only dream about: A group of anonymous donors pledged college scholarships to every graduate of the city’s high schools, starting with the class of 2006.
A new campaign aims to use students’ personal stories to promote the positive influence public schools can have on the lives of children who are poor and members of minority groups.
Only two of the most popular school improvement models for elementary schools have “moderately strong” evidence to show that they work, according to a consumer-style guide released last week by a Washington-based research group.
After more than two decades of court battles over problems in the Baltimore city school system’s special education department, the district and the state of Maryland have embarked on a far-reaching intervention effort.
Report Roundup
Studying abroad conjures up glamour, romance, intrigue, and other exciting images for many teenagers. But the experience, however rewarding, often can have unpleasant consequences.
Teaching & Learning Update
Three firms—Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, and Standard & Poor’s—rate the municipal bonds issued by school districts, cities, and other public agences. The higher the rating, the better the financial terms for the issuers.
A school finance decision handed down by the Texas Supreme Court late last month will change property-tax bills in the Lone Star State and may eventually influence school spending in other states, some legal experts say.
The Ohio Supreme Court last week heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s system of charter schools, which have been the subject of fierce opposition from teachers’ unions and other critics.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Plaintiffs in Missouri and Connecticut are going to court to seek more state aid for schools.
The nation’s largest teachers’ union lost the first round in its high-profile legal challenge to the No Child Left Behind Act, as a federal judge in Michigan ruled that Congress may require states and school districts to spend their own money to comply with the school improvement law.
Federal File
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Reporter's Notebook
Evangelical Christian schools represent the fastest-growing sector of private schools. ore families are seeking the Christian-based culture of evangelical schools.
The claims from both contending parties in the charter school debate overstate the extent to which determinations can be made about the effectiveness of the charter schools included in newly-released 2005 NAEP data, writes researchers Jonathon Christensen and Lawrence Angel.
Ellen Moir, a 2005 winner of the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education, states that there is a high price for not supporting beginning teachers. With little support, about 40 percent of new teachers leave the profession within four years. Consequently, school districts spend significant sums to recruit high-quality teachers.
Co-editors of Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning write that using data effectively does not mean getting good at crunching numbers. It means getting good at working together.

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