November 30, 2005

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The main federal special education law’s promotion of a practice that can identify children with learning disabilities and give them early help has brought new attention to the method.
In India, putting a child through engineering or medical college is, for many middle-class families, a life’s mission in a way that is almost unknown in the United States.
Following months of pressure from states and education groups, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has announced a pilot program that will let some states use what are known as growth models to evaluate the success of schools and districts under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The nation’s 4th graders may not stack up quite so well against their peers around the globe as previously thought, but also may not post as big a drop-off in achievement when they get to high school, a new analysis of international-test comparisons concludes.
Nearly four years after Reading First was authorized under the No Child Left Behind Act, federal officials are renegotiating with Puerto Rico—one of the nation’s neediest jurisdictions—on a revised plan for satisfying the program’s criteria.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
The nation’s charter schools appear to enroll low-income students and students with disabilities in proportions similar to those in their surrounding districts, according to a report released last week. But it’s still not clear, the report adds, whether they provide a better education.
Experts who gathered here recently to discuss educational entrepreneurship pointed to what they see as barriers to expanding its influence in the K-12 arena: federal and state policies, district bureaucracies, a climate that resists change, and outright political opposition.
It looks as though Idaho high school students will be adding more math and science courses to their transcripts, under rigorous new standards approved by the state board of education.
Contract provisions that force principals to hire teachers they don’t want are hampering efforts to build a strong corps of teachers for urban schools, a report contends.
Washington state officials are beginning to distribute model assessments to help districts meet a new mandate for gauging what students know and are able to do in social studies, at a time when other states are abandoning tests in the subject.
Maryland has elected not to take part in a series of 12th grade tests on the National Assessment of Educational Progress next year—the first time, federal officials say, that a state has opted out of an entire set of NAEP exams at that level.
You could describe it as the year of the tests. Twenty-three states are expanding their testing programs to additional grades this school year to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
By the end of this month, 26 states will have undergone a “peer review” to determine whether their standards and tests meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
School districts worried about how students will perform on end-of-the-year state tests are increasingly administering “benchmark assessments” throughout the year to measure students’ progress and provide teachers with data about how to adjust instruction.
Across the country, school districts are adopting benchmark assessments to help teachers modify instruction over the course of a school year. Yet many teachers remain wary.
Health Update
Early Years
Determining whether schools and districts are making adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act “has evolved into 50 intricate formulas that vary greatly from state to state,” according to a recent report by the Center on Education Policy.
Report Roundup
India sent more students to college in the United States in 2004-05 than did any other country in the world, says a report by the Institute of International Education.
The U.S. Department of Education and a coalition of private groups are launching separate but coordinated efforts to improve the quality of educational data and to make it easier to use.
State Journal
The Louisiana legislature has voted overwhelmingly to hand control of most New Orleans public schools to the state, a major outcome of a wide-ranging special session that ended Nov. 23.
It has been a tough sell that took several years to make, but South Carolina lawmakers adopted a career education program this year that they hope will prepare the state—and its young people—for the needs of a rapidly shifting economy.
In the face of controversy and lingering confusion, the Hawaii state board of education has voted to begin putting the state’s new system of school aid in place in the 2006-07 school year.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Parents of children with disabilities may be less aggressive in formally challenging school districts over their children’s education plans under the main federal special education law, after a decision last month by the U.S. Supreme Court, several experts said.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which battered the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29 and led to breaches in the levees that protected New Orleans from the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, along with others in the Louisiana congressional delegation, has worked to funnel federal aid to the area for everything from job creation to K-12 education.
Federal File
An unexpected defeat for House Republicans on an education appropriations bill earlier this month leaves federal spending on K-12 education for fiscal 2006 in limbo as lawmakers try to strike a deal.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
In Schaffer v. Weast, the court ruled Nov. 14 that the party seeking a due-process hearing under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the one that bears the burden of proof.
While school districts still haven’t received any federal education aid from Congress to deal with the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the House has passed a measure that could ease education rules for Gulf Coast schools and others that have enrolled students displaced by the storms.
Indian students throw themselves into the study of science, math, and technology to earn a coveted spot in one of the country’s prestigious, and competitive, engineering and medical colleges.
Two academics propose a posthurricane curriculum for Louisiana stressing the healing power of manual labor, service learning, and environmental study.
Retired teacher Laurie Barnoski reflects on her 32 years of teaching, considering herself a "most fortunate woman."
Four education advocates mark the 30th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act with a call to continue the evolutionary change and improve the system.

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