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April 21, 2004 8 min read
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Accountability | Assessment | Autobiography | Charter Schools | Gifted Education | Law | New Teachers | Psychology | Religion | Testing


Accountability for Learning: How Teachers and School Leaders Can Take Charge
by Douglas B. Reeves (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311; 160 pp., $23.95 paperback).

The director of the Center for Performance Assessment explains how to create a student-centered accountability system “by examining key indicators in teaching, leadership, curriculum, and parent and community involvement.” The plan offers classroom teachers a four-step process of observation, reflection, synthesis, and replication of effective teaching practices. Careful to describe the roles of federal, state, and local policymakers in educational practice, the author also “corrects the myths” associated with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Redesigning Accountability Systems for Education
ed. by Susan H. Fuhrman and Richard F. Elmore (Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027; 320 pp., $45 hardcover).

A practical resource for educators and policymakers that brings together research findings as well as “lessons learned” by leading scholars in the field. Contributors (including Eva L. Baker, Martin Carnoy, Robert L. Linn, Martha L. Thurlow, and others) consider issues such as: the effect of accountability policies on the ability of schools to improve over time, the variation in the design and effect of accountability systems in different states, and the validity of various assessment measures.


The Nation’s Report Card: Evolution and Perspectives
ed. by Lyle V. Jones and Ingram Olkin (Phi Delta Kappa International, PO Box 789, Bloomington, IN 47401; 616 pp., $69.95 hardcover).

A history and analysis of the National Assessment of Educational Progress that examines NAEP’s evolution since the 1960s. Written for educators and policymakers, the text includes interviews, analyses, and scholarly essays.


Romances With Schools: A Life of Education by John I. Goodlad (McGraw-Hill, 2 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121; 368 pp., $24.95 hardcover).

This memoir of one of America’s leading thinkers and school reformers describes his experiences over more than four decades of educational change, first as a student and public school teacher, then as dean of education at the University of California-Los Angeles, and later as an educational researcher. The book’s structure allows Mr. Goodlad to interlace his life’s story with discussions of the educational issues he has explored throughout his long career.

Charter Schools

The Charter Schools Decade by Anne Turnbaugh Lockwood (ScarecrowEducation, 4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706; 136 pp., $24.95 paperback).

The author, an educational policy analyst in Washington, analyses the “charter school phenomenon” with an eye to its historical antecedents, problematic aspects, and obstacles to be overcome. She also explores charter school legislation and the difficulties inherent in evaluating the movement, closing with a look at what she sees as the near-term future of charter schools over the next decade.

Gifted Education

Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds by Jan and Bob Davidson (Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; 256 pp., $24 hardcover).

The authors, educational software developers and founders of a nonprofit foundation for gifted children, argue that most American schools, including those with gifted programs, neglect and underchallenge gifted students. Gifted children, they maintain, are “one of the most at-risk student groups” in the nation. They demonstrate, through stories of the children they work with, that giftedness knows no racial or socioeconomic barriers, but suggest that our cultural values of egalitarianism and anti-intellectualism may in fact affect gifted education. The book includes specific steps that students, parents, educators, and policymakers can take to help gifted students achieve.


The School Law Handbook: What Every Leader Needs to Know by William C. Bosher Jr., Kate R. Kaminski, and Richard S. Vacca (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311; 215 pp., $28.95 paperback).

Organizes legal issues into five areas: the school environment, Constitutional issues, students, personnel, and accountability. Chapters within each area begin with a “realistic scenario,” followed by legal and practical analyses of the situation. Educators are given three key questions to apply to each situation in their responses: What are the legal boundaries? What is the district policy related to this issue? What are the potential strategies for resolution?

New Teachers

Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools by Susan Moore Johnson and the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers (Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, 989 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103; 314 pp., $24.95 hardcover).

Based on a longitudinal study of 50 beginning teachers, this book examines the difficulties that new teachers face by focusing on the personal experiences of 10 such teachers during their first years in the classroom. The authors suggest that in order to increase teachers’ job satisfaction, there needs to be greater focus on improving new teachers’ experiences with their schools. The book also offers recommendations for attracting and retaining a strong teaching force.

Its Your First Year Teaching . . . But You Don’t Have to Act Like It by Bob Kitchen (ScarecrowEducation, 4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706; 130 pp., $19.95 paperback).

Aimed at new teachers and education students, but useful to others, this guidebook offers such practical advice as: how to find a job, how to prepare for a job, what to do and say on your first day in the classroom, and how to handle various discipline situations.

Lessons to Learn: Voices From the Front Lines of Teach for America by Molly Ness (RoutledgeFalmer, 29 W. 35th St., New York, NY 10001; 256 pp., $24 hardcover).

Written by a former Teach for America corps member, this compilation of perspectives from over 150 essays and interviews with Teach for America members, education professionals, parents, and policymakers, is the first comprehensive inside view of the achievements and limitations of the program. Current and former Teach for America members reflect on their teaching experiences and the challenges they see facing the nation’s public schools, while comments from experts outside the group broaden the context for discussing education reform.

The New-Teacher Toolbox: Proven Tips and Strategies for a Great First Year by Scott Mandel (Zephyr Press, PO Box 66006, Tucson, AZ 85728; 144 pp., $19.95 paperback).

A manual providing tips for first-year classroom teachers, such as how to prepare for the first day, how to grade papers, ways to promote students’ self-esteem, and hints for working with parents.


Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds by Howard Gardner (Harvard Business School Press, 60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163; 256 pp., $26.95 hardcover).

An examination of how people shift from one way of thinking to a radically different one, or change their minds, by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner. Drawing on decades of research, he argues that “mind change occurs slowly, in identifiable ways that can be actively and powerfully influenced.” His list of seven important factors that can either bring about or prevent significant changes of mind includes: reason, research, resonance, real-world events, and resistance. Gardner supplies demonstrations of his theories with examples from the lives of famous people, such as George W. Bush and Charles Darwin, and outlines how readers can become more successful at changing others’ minds and their own.


The Fourth R: Conflicts Over Religion in America’s Public Schools by Joan DelFattore (Yale University Press, PO Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520; 360 pp., $29.95 hardcover).

Analyzes the history of the debate over religious discourse in the nation’s public schools, and in particular the battles over school prayer, by examining key court cases and rulings over the last 150 years.

Religion & Spirituality in the Public School Curriculum by Ronald D. Anderson (Peter Lang, 275 7th Ave., 28th Floor, New York, NY 10001; 192 pp., $26.95 paperback).

Argues for the critical importance of a “complete education” for our nation’s students, one that in addition to traditional academics and the arts must also address personal matters such as religion and spirituality. The author also discusses the constraints on such a vision, drawn from the political context of American public education, and questions whether these can be overcome.


Rethinking the SAT: The Future of Standardized Testing in University Admissions ed. by Rebecca Zwick (RoutledgeFalmer, 29 W. 35th St., New York, NY 10001; 392 pp., $24.95 paperback).

Discusses the SAT and the major issues surrounding college-admissions testing: How well does the SAT predict future academic success? Does it restrict educational opportunities along race, class, and gender lines? How should the question of which students get to attend colleges of their choice be decided? Contributors include: Richard C. Atkinson, the president of the University of California; Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board; Richard Ferguson, the chief executive officer of ACT Inc.; and Nicholas Lemann, the dean of the Columbia University graduate school of journalism.

—A.E. Conrad


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