September 20, 2006

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Vol. 26, Issue 04
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In a new study that has already raised some hackles, a noted expert on teacher education paints the field as a troubled one in which a majority of aspiring teachers are educated in low-quality programs that do not sufficiently prepare them for the classroom.
More than 15 years after its publication of influential national standards in mathematics, a leading professional organization has unveiled new, more focused guidelines that describe the crucial skills and content students should master in that subject in elementary and middle school.
The proportion of public schools meeting their prescribed achievement targets under the No Child Left Behind Act appears to have fallen slightly in the 2005-06 school year, while the percent classified under the law as needing improvement increased.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has won his hard-fought political battle to gain partial control over Los Angeles’ public schools, but securing meaningful reforms in classrooms is likely to prove far more difficult for the charismatic politician, experts say.
After 16 days on the picket lines, teachers in Detroit returned to their schools at the end of last week, ending a period of intense uncertainty and chaos for the already-troubled district.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
With K-12 participation in online learning rapidly expanding, two reports from the Southern Education Regional Board lay out a set of standards for online teaching and offer guidelines on the costs of establishing state virtual schools.
A popular K-6 math curriculum has shown promise for improving student achievement but needs more thorough study before it can be declared effective, a federal research center reported last week.
A flap over classroom materials tied to a controversial TV drama marking the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has renewed discussion about the obligations of educational publishers when they partner with entertainment companies to produce teaching aids.
Colorado’s closely watched effort to forcibly convert a low-performing Denver school into a charter school has been rocky, but early indicators suggest that Cole College Prep may be better off for the change, a new study concludes.
Four schools in the Baton Rouge, La., area are to be the first recipients of donated state-of the-art technology packages this week as a part of an initiative to upgrade or replace the technology infrastructure of Gulf Coast schools affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
More testing and better teachers have drawn greater attention to the No Child Left Behind Act, but they are not the only means the 4½-year-old law envisions for bringing every child up to academic par by 2014. Involved, informed, and provided with choices, parents—especially poor parents—will help change schools for the better. Or so the law seems to assume.
Report Roundup
The Guilford County, N.C., school district has joined with a coalition of local foundations to offer an incentive program designed to lure some top-flight math teachers to eight of the district’s low-performing high schools.
Reporter's Notebook
Spurred by a desire to make its undergraduate admissions process more fair for disadvantaged students, Harvard University announced last week that it plans to eliminate its early-admission program, which allowed some students to find out whether they were accepted several months before others.
Gulf Coast students who were displaced to other states last year by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita scored significantly lower on state tests than their peers in those new states, according to data released by several states that took in large numbers of such students.
New Hampshire’s school finance saga took a new turn this month, when the state supreme court struck down the funding system and threatened to step in if legislators failed to fix it by next summer.
In a major victory for religious advocates, the South Carolina legislature approved a law this summer allowing high schools to give credit to students for off-campus religious study during the school day.
State Journal
A former social studies teacher who has led the education departments in Kentucky and Arkansas will take the helm of the Washington-based organization that represents state schools chiefs.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
In the federal government’s give-and-take with states over improving the nation’s teaching corps, the latest move appears to be a give to the states.
With few students taking advantage of their school choice options under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, advocates are increasing the pressure on officials at all levels to meet the letter of the law.
Federal File
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
The Department of Education published final rules for testing English-language learners under the No Child Left Behind Act and including those scores in accountability decisions that differ little from proposed regulations published more than two years ago.
A gleaming white building on the edge of a blighted West Philadelphia neighborhood, the $62 million school garnered wide attention when it opened this month, in part because of its technological bells and whistles. Those futuristic features include a tablet personal computer for each student, interactive digital whiteboards, a supercharged wireless network, customized educational software, and digital “smart cards” to open lockers and pay for meals—all making possible a virtually paperless environment.
Former teacher and central-office administrator Kim Marshall offers advice on instructional leadership, writing that minimizing activities that don't contribute to teaching and learning is the key to success.
Lisa M. Weinbaum writes that it is a teacher's obligation to foster empowering relationships within all households, and doing anything less undermines the family unit and the success of educators.
The battle over reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act will dominate education policymaking for at least the coming year, perhaps longer, writes Thomas Sobol, a former state commissioner of education for New York. But there are issues that will affect children’s education long after NCLB has had its day, Mr. Sobol states, and they should not be neglected now.

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