Education

Report Roundup

April 14, 2004 3 min read
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New Certification Goals Necessary, Report Says

Low-performing schools could badly use a boost from nationally certified teachers, who disproportionately work in schools less likely to be struggling, says a report from the Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington think tank affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council.

“Opportunity and Responsibility for National Board Certified Teachers,” from the Progressive Policy Institute. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Andrew Rotherham, the director of the institute’s 21st Century Schools Project and the report’s author, says that while many states reward teachers who win certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, few harness the program to their broader school improvement goals. The current incentive structure may “work at cross-purposes with the task of improving educational quality for low-income schools and minority youngsters in struggling schools,” the report says. He recommends that states make certification incentives more substantial and provide them only to teachers who work in low-performing schools.

—Bess Keller

Florida Policies

Florida’s widely varied education improvement measures have produced mixed results, according to policy briefs released this month by the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University.

Read the “Reform Florida,” policy briefs from the Education Policy Studies Laboratory.

The briefs explore such subjects as student achievement, high-stakes testing, student retention, school funding, English-language learners, and vouchers and charter schools in Florida.

Overall, the reports contend that Florida sets high standards for accountability, but does not apply those standards to voucher programs and charter schools.

The briefs recommend adherence by the state to better test-development practices and a requirement that students using state vouchers to attend private schools take state tests.

—Alan Richard

Sleepyheads

American children are not getting enough sleep, and that is taking a toll on their parents, according to an annual survey released recently by the Washington-based National Sleep Foundation.

Read the results of the 2004 poll, “Sleep in America,” from the National Sleep Foundation. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The poll asked 1,473 parents and caregivers about the sleeping habits of children age 10 or younger, and found that, on average, the children do not get the minimum hours of sleep recommended by experts, which varies with each age group. For example, children in 1st through 5th grades should get 10 to 11 hours a sleep per night, but they are sleeping only 9½ hours on average, the foundation reports.

Meanwhile, the poll, released March 30, reports that 76 percent of parents responding were unsatisfied with their children’s sleeping habits. The poll also found that while 69 percent of the respondents reported that their children experienced sleep-related problems, 52 percent said their children’s doctors had not addressed the issue.

–Catherine A. Carroll

Math Education

Adults in Massachusetts and Washington state say math skills are crucial to the health of the their states’ economies, according to a survey released last week by Mass Insight Education, based in Boston.

Read the full report “More Math, Please,” from Mass Insight Education. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

A majority of the 1,000 people surveyed said they believe that students in the United States do not perform as well in mathematics as those in other countries.

More than three-quarters of those polled said that both algebra and geometry should be required for high school graduation. Nearly 40 percent of the respondents, however, said they thought that “even many smart people don’t have the ability to learn math.”

—Michelle Galley

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