December 14, 2005

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The real-world experiments conducted by South Carroll students in this rapidly growing suburb west of Baltimore are intended to teach scientific principles while also dispensing significant life lessons about the environment and nature’s delicate balance. Such moral and ethical principles often go hand in hand with academic content, educators here say.
A growing number of K-12 educators are using Web logs, or “blogs” for short, to foster better writing, reading, communication, and other academic skills. Such Web sites, often open to the public, double as chronological journals and can include Web links and photographs as well as audio and video elements.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined an opportunity last week to rule on the constitutionality of a school district’s policy of weighing race as a factor in assigning students to schools. It has sidestepped a potentially thorny sequel to its 2003 rulings on affirmative action in higher education and left several lower-court rulings as the best available road map for districts that want to promote racial diversity with minimal legal risks.
More than two-thirds of states have science standards that earn a C grade or worse for their quality, in part because they overemphasize “discovery learning,” the idea that students should be encouraged to acquire knowledge through their own investigation and experimentation, a study issued last week concludes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says student-athletes sometimes engage in unhealthy weight-control practices, and a new policy from the group asks doctors to guide athletes, their parents, and coaches on healthy ways to gain and lose weight.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
Miami-Dade County school officials are poised to jettison their teacher-evaluation system. The 5-year-old system is tied to a contract that the Florida district’s former inspector general criticized as flawed in a report that also raised questions of cronyism and conflicts of interest.
David S. Berezin, a 40-year-old certified public accountant, can point to some notable successes from his two hours as a high school teacher here. But the Nov. 29 experience in the suburban Coral Gables community didn’t leave Mr. Berezin impressed with his skill. And that was the point of the Great American Teach-a-Thon.
A national panel of scholars met here last week to begin work on a mammoth task: synthesizing research on all the ways in which teachers are prepared across the United States and advising policymakers on how to improve the process.
St. Louis University is one of a growing number of higher education institutions that are retooling their Doctor of Education, or Ed.D., programs to concentrate more on the practical skills required of district leaders.
The original founder of the National Alliance of Black School Educators has sued the organization, contending that its executive director should be removed from office because he has mismanaged it.
Schools in the Northern and Mountain states may be asking students to bundle up this winter. Lowering the thermostat is one way that districts are bracing for predicted higher heating costs. Some districts are also looking at alternative fuel sources and energy-efficient building materials for longer-term savings.
For the Sidwell Friends School, environmental stewardship is a crucial part of exemplifying Quaker values and traditions.
Report Roundup
Report Roundup
Mounting angst was on display here last week as corporate and university leaders gathered to press federal officials to take steps to ensure that the United States keeps up economically with foreign competitors—and that schools produce enough talent in math, science, and engineering to make it happen.
With its relatively homogeneous population and conservative ideals, Olathe, Kan., is not the most likely place to embrace global studies as a critical part of the school curriculum. But the 25,000-student district southwest of Kansas City has been working to infuse international content throughout the curriculum, according to Jan Heinen, the director of middle-level education.
International Update
English-Learners & Immigrants
Reporter's Notebook
Philanthropy Update
A sampling of teacher and instructional-technology Web logs for becoming familiarized with K-12 blogging.
A recent decision by the Texas state school board to withdraw from a national education group highlights how debate over issues involving gay students is reaching all levels of education policymaking.
Protracted battles over evolution, sex education, and school financing in Kansas have generated plenty of headlines in the Sunflower State over the past year. Now, the state school board has stirred fresh controversy by its hiring of conservative policy advocate Bob L. Corkins as the state’s new commissioner of education.
State Journal

Education Week Special Report:
A Progress Report on the No Child Left Behind Act

The federal government has responded to criticism of the No Child Left Behind Act by giving states greater flexibility in how to comply. Analysts worry that the law’s purpose is being lost along the way.
A shifting political landscape could significantly affect the upcoming congressional review of the No Child Left Behind Act, even as states and school districts continue to grapple with the requirements of the nearly 4-year-old federal law.
If the No Child Left Behind law’s prescription for “highly qualified” teachers had worked out the way it appears on paper, states would have gotten a good look at how far they had to go as far back as 2003.
As states add reading and math exams in previously untested grades to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act, they will have to determine the level of performance considered “proficient.”
Children who attend high-quality state preschool programs with well-trained teachers make significant academic gains, regardless of their families’ economic status, according to a new study.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
The Department of Education this week plans to release proposed regulations on testing flexibility for certain students with disabilities, which will guide states in the lengthy process of developing new assessments.
The Department of Education, whose checkered management record has spanned much of the agency’s history and included employee theft of funds and uncollected student-loan debts, has made steady progress in shoring up its operations, according to federal and outside evaluators. Some of the credit is going to Undersecretary Edward R. McPherson, who has been credited with overseeing such efforts since his arrival from the Department of Agriculture in April 2004.
Federal File
The U.S. Supreme Court appears inclined to uphold a law that denies federal funding to colleges that do not give military recruiters the same campus access to students that other potential employers get.
The Department of Education has told California that if students with disabilities use certain modifications on state tests, such as calculators on mathematics assessments, those students cannot be counted as participating in the test for the purposes of calculating adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed last week to decide a case that could clarify what constitutes an “adverse employment action” in federal employment-discrimination law. The federal appeals courts have used conflicting definitions for the term, which is a key element of retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 decisions upholding the consideration of race in college admissions under certain circumstances, several lower federal courts have had a chance to apply those rulings to student-assignment policies in K-12 schools.
Michael Pressley thinks that we should view the recent complaints from educational vendors in the Reading First marketplace as an extension of the list of concerns over federal reading efforts that have accumulated over the past six years.
Former teacher and education researcher Antonia Lewandowski writes that students need to be part of the conversation about learning, standards, and accountability. Without their effort, reforms will not work.
Honors & Awards
It’s not a matter of whether every student will get a computer but when, writes education researcher Andrew A. Zucker.

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