April 11, 2001

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Vol. 20, Issue 30
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The tests that are playing an increasingly central role in education need to be changed substantially to reflect new knowledge about how people think and learn, a report released last week asserts.
Widespread efforts to boost reading achievement in the elementary grades, and to close the test-performance gap between minority and white students, have not yet yielded results, concludes the report of the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading, released here last week. Includes a table, "A Widening Gap."
The lastest installment of an international assessment study shows wide disparities in performance within the U.S. Includes a table, "Achievement Locally and Abroad."
When Rachael Oberdalhoff thinks of her high school years, she remembers crowded hallways, inaccessible guidance counselors, "gut" courses on floral design and marriage, and the social life. Especially the social life.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has suspended its popular "Teacher Next Door" program for 120 days in an effort to curb fraud and abuse in the initiative.
In a marked turnabout of public opinion last week, Milwaukee voters ousted the school board president, while voting in a pair of new board members and re-electing two incumbents backed by the teachers' group.
  • Nonprofit Group Forms To Challenge 'Monopoly"
  • Girl Sentenced in Shooting
  • Staff Arrests Prompt Resignation
  • N.Y. Catholic Schools May Close
  • Classes Resume After Shooting
  • 'Sick' School Closes Again
  • Hispanics Sue To Delay Vote
The overwhelming failure of a plan to turn five New York City public schools over to private management has left Edison Schools Inc. licking its wounds and city officials bickering over tactics.
The father of the world's most ambitious school voucher program doesn't get a lot of mention from proponents of such arrangements. He's Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the Army general who hijacked Chilean democracy in 1973 and may yet stand trial for political crimes.
The Goldwater Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, two state-based think tanks that share similar agendas, announced plans last week to join forces on education issues.
Meet 18-year-old Seth Konkel: high school senior, aspiring illusionist, elected school board member—and the kid who forced his town's schools superintendent out of office.
Hoping to drive down their insurance costs, the two largest school districts in Texas have formed a partnership to seek out health-care coverage for their 47,000 employees.
The San Francisco schools are shelving a multimillion-dollar plan to outfit classrooms with a souped-up telecommunications network, even though that means turning down up to $50 million in federal support for the project this year.
The charts below show how 8th graders in a number of U.S. school districts, consortia, and states stacked up against students throughout the United States and in other nations on the second administration of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study in 1999.
Scores significantly higher than the U.S.
Scores not significantly different from the U.S.
Scores significantly lower than the U.S.

Below are the point changes in the gap between top- and bottom-quartile scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress for 4th grade reading, 1992-1998. The numbers shown in red indicate statistically significant changes. Down arrows represent widening gaps.

The students scheduled to give persuasive speeches in Erva Curtiss' 9th grade English class were acting as if they'd rather be at the dentist than speak in front of their peers.
Organizations working on ways to improve American high schools include:
In Philadelphia, what started 10 years ago with a few students in a manufacturing apprenticeship has today grown to a districtwide school-to-work program in which hundreds of employers work with thousands of students and teachers to provide work-based learning experiences.
In recent weeks, Colorado lawmakers have come to relatively easy agreement on the annual school finance bill and on a measure that would carry out a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing greater spending on public education over the next 10 years.
G. Thomas Houlihan, a North Carolina educator who served as the senior education policy adviser to that state's former governor, James B. Hunt Jr., will take the helm of the Council of Chief State School Officers this summer. Some educators say the appointment, announced last week, could usher in a more centrist era for the Washington-based association.
"New and improved" is generally a fitting characterization of Virginia's revised history and social studies standards, according to experts and Virginia educators who have reviewed them.
The Kansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected a bill last week that would have revamped the way the state's schools are financed. But members of the Senate were much more receptive to the idea, agreeing to keep it alive for reconsideration later this month.
Maryland was poised last week to become the first state to require gun-safety education for students in grades K-12.
  • Wisconsin Voters Elect Principal
    To Be State's New Schools Chief
  • Illinois' Private School Tax Credit Upheld
Key senators and the White House have negotiated a tentative agreement on an education bill that, while it excludes a White House proposal to spend public money on private schools, would allow students in persistently failing schools to take federal dollars for private tutoring.
The Bush administration last week abruptly withdrew a proposal that would have allowed ground meat sold to schools to be treated with radiation, while lifting requirements that it be tested for salmonella.
At least $450 million in Department of Education funds have been misused through improper payments, fraud, and other instances of financial mismanagement in the past three years, the agency's inspector general said last week.
It wasn't a big surprise when Fessenden Elementary earned an F under Florida's grading system. In just a year, though, the rural Ocala school made a dramatic leap to an A for its test scores. Now, the question is whether students can score top grades again. Includes the story, "'We Didn't Think It Would Happen,'" and the table, "Anatomy of a Grade."
Michael Podgursky argues that national board certification for teachers is of dubious value and should be put to the 'market test.'
Why would the president of a prestigious black boarding school make a rap CD? Charles Beady explains.
To create better incentives for meaningful learning and teaching, say Tony Wagner and Tom Vander Ark, we need a fundamentally different system of accountability.
With University of California President Richard C. Atkinson's proposal to drop the sat as an entrance requirement to that system's campuses ("Uc President Pitches Plan To End Use of sat in Admissions," Feb 28, 2001), it may be time to delve further into the impact of having college acceptance as the purpose of our high schools.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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