July 26, 2006

This Issue
Vol. 25, Issue 43
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The next six months may be some of the most important in the 41-year history of the Education Commission of the States.
The fractured nature of the Kansas Republican Party is on display in the primary campaigns for the state school board, in which Republicans of all stripes are scrambling to woo voters before they choose their candidates Aug. 1.
The closely watched search for a new superintendent in Boston has taken such a rocky turn that the search committee’s revised timeline now envisions January as the starting time for the new schools chief.
In Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s latest vision for overhauling the Los Angeles public schools, teachers would be given an “authentic and central role” in selecting curriculum and instructional materials for the nation’s second-largest district.
District Dossier
Half of the more than 800 high-stakes state tests given to satisfy the No Child Left Behind Act don’t appear to line up with the states’ academic standards, raising basic questions about using such assessments to judge schools, students, or teachers, argues a report released today by the American Federation of Teachers.
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
People in the News
News in Brief: A National Roundup
A new federal study comparing public and private schools reflects findings similar to those of two education researchers earlier this year: When certain scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress are adjusted for socioeconomics, race, and other characteristics, public school students do as well as or better than private school students in some areas.
Early Years
The teaching of Arabic has received a boost with the first-ever publication of standards for teaching the language in U.S. schools.
States are adopting more policies that permit high school students to get a jump-start on college-level courses, according to a 50-state survey released this summer.
Health Update
Even as the merits of charter schools are still debated in the United States, an ambitious, charter-like experiment in public education is fast emerging in the Middle East.
Two dozen preparatory students from Egypt were in Washington this month to attend a conference about the Community Youth Mapping program, run by the Washington-based Academy for Educational Development, a nonprofit organization focused on education, health, and economic issues.
Project GRAD, a national high school improvement initiative begun in Houston almost 13 years ago, has yielded a mixed record in its effort to raise graduation rates and academic performance, according to an independent evaluation of the $70 million program.
The Urban Institute and six universities have joined forces to start a federal research center to mine the wealth of long-term data now piling up in state education databases.
Reporter's Notebook
Summer workshops for teachers on Ellis Island put the debate on immigration into a broader historical context.
Teachers’ thorough understanding of a subject and students’ respect for different points of view can help smooth the way for dealing with controversial topics in the classroom, professional-development experts say.
While lessons on bioethics have long been a part of many science classes, interest in the subject has grown in recent years, with new advances in science, and as public debates about science's role in society play out in the news media, the courts, and Congress.
District size has a more pronounced effect on the salaries of superintendents than for any other staff category, with chiefs in larger districts posting far higher earnings on average than their colleagues in smaller ones, according to a recent survey of more than 600 school districts conducted by Educational Research Service.
Report Roundup
School choice activists hope that they will be able to alter the future of education finance litigation through a new state lawsuit in New Jersey.
Riding a wave of national concern about high schools, Pennsylvania has expanded a pilot program that seeks to boost academic rigor for high school students and create clearer connections to college and work through a revamped counseling system.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Capitol Recap
The U.S. Department of Education said last week that it has yet to decide whether to extend an interim policy that allows states to adjust test scores for certain students with disabilities who are believed to be able to meet grade-level standards, but at a pace slower than their peers.
Previously stalled efforts to renew the federal Voting Rights Act rushed to completion this month, as Congress reauthorized several key provisions that were due to expire next year.
Federal File
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its $142.8 billion spending bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on July 20 on a voice vote. The measure would provide $55.8 billion in discretionary funding for the department in fiscal 2007, about $175 million below last year’s allocation, according to a Senate Republican aide.
The leader of a recently created Department of Education office that oversees policy development is stepping down, department officials announced last week.
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and key GOP lawmakers unveiled a proposal last week to offer vouchers to students in schools that fail for six years to make adequate academic gains under the No Child Left Behind Act.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Forget the beach. Summer "externships" are showing math and science teachers just how much their subjects really count in the workplace.
Summer externships for mathematics and science teachers are gaining traction. Here is a sampling of teacher-externship programs around the country.
Author Claude Goldenberg writes that the growing number of and the lack of adequate progress among English-learners is of critical concern given that some estimates predict that by 2025, one in four public K-12 students will come from a home where a language other than English is spoken.
Journalism professor and author Howard Good takes on the "strategic ambiguity" of educational slogans.
On July 14, readers posed questions on a variety of topics to Arthur E. Levine, who is stepping down as the president of Teachers College, Columbia University, later this month, after 12 years of service.
Michael J. Petrilli says that the No Child Left Behind Act is the result of an uncomfortable truce between two groups of school reformers: the “what works” camp and the “whatever works” camp.

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