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Native appeal

A 10-year-old Native American girl has been a welcome friend and hero for 4th graders at the Berkeley Carroll School in New York City.

For years, students at the private K-12 school have read the book Moki about the feisty Cheyenne girl and her life on the Great Plains. The girl's desire to fish and hunt and do other things that the boys in her tribe do has had broad appeal among boys and girls alike.

Their only gripe with the book was the photocopied pages they had been forced to read after the paperbacks got lost or deteriorated. Originally published in 1960, the fictional book has been out of print for years.

The youngsters' interest in the timeless tale, however, caught the attention of an editor at Puffin Books, when a parent lobbied the New York City publisher to reprint the tale. The students received shiny new copies of their own this semester.

"I often work with other schools and kids to see what they like to read," said Sharyn November, a senior editor at Puffin Books. "I think a kid's opinion has a lot of weight."

Puffin Books printed fewer than 10,000 copies of the book, but anticipates reprinting it again--year after year.

Out with the D's

Teachers at North Carroll High School in Hampstead, Md., have come up with a novel solution to poor work that earns a passing grade: Eliminate the D's and force students to earn at least a C or fail.

As simple as it sounds, the high school's no-D's policy may be the nation's first, experts said.

Gregory Eckles, the director of secondary schools for the Carroll County district, says that the new grade scale is part of a push to raise academic standards.

With a waiver from the school board, the 1,300-student school began removing D's from courses, provided that all staff members who taught them agreed to the change. Some lower-level classes have opted to keep the D.

James Boesler, a math teacher, said his sense is that about 70 percent of the students who previously received D's are working up to C's and that about 30 percent are failing.

The new system gives students multiple chances to improve their grades through after-school clinics and retesting.


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