March 8, 2006

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An agreement announced last week allowing local National Education Association unions to affiliate with the AFL-CIO signals that the NEA is willing to tighten ranks with the rest of the American labor movement in the face of formidable economic and political changes.
High school dropouts interviewed for a study released last week were far more likely to say they left school because they were unmotivated, not challenged enough, or overwhelmed by troubles outside of school than because they were failing academically.
While many states and districts are addressing teacher shortages by adopting policies that encourage veterans to stay in the classroom while attracting retirees back to the job, they are also finding that their policies can have unintended consequences.
As federal officials search for ways to upgrade the quality of math and science instruction, a study concludes that a large-scale venture to spread professional- development throughout entire districts had a positive effect on teaching those subjects.
Under intense pressure from state officials, an Illinois school district has agreed to stop asking about the immigration status of students who apply to enroll in school. It abandoned a 4-year-old practice of trying to screen out foreign students who are in the United States on tourist visas, according to a lawyer representing the district.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
The Educational Testing Service last week acquired the assets of a Portland, Ore.-based company that specializes in helping teachers use classroom assessments to improve daily instruction.
The push for higher academic standards and student achievement is now extending beyond the school day, fueling a growing demand for high-quality after-school programs, professionals in the after-school field said at a recent meeting here.
Specific strategies for middle school administrators to use to improve academic achievement and better prepare students for high school are outlined in a report released last week by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Reporter's Notebook
Peggy McCardle, a key aide to her influential and controversial predecessor, has been confirmed as the new chief of the branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that oversees federal research on reading and math disabilities.
Over the past decade, Forsyth County, Ga., has evolved from a district with a few desktop PCs in every classroom and a simple Web site to one where the superintendent and senior administrators use Blackberry devices, every teacher has a laptop, custodians wield Palm Pilots to track work orders, and school board members conduct nearly all their public business electronically.
Report Roundup
Schools should be at the center of efforts to combat obesity in the United States, former President Bill Clinton told the nation’s governors last week.
Georgia is poised to become the first state to enact a law requiring districts to spend at least 65 percent of their budgets on classroom expenses.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
State of the States
Congressional lawmakers and Bush administration officials pushed their separate proposals for improving math and science education last week at a series of mostly harmonious hearings that seemed to underscore their shared thinking on the issue.
Senators from both sides of the aisle grilled Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings at a hearing last week over President Bush’s proposed 2007 budget for education, which would slash spending by 3.8 percent while boosting funds for mathematics and science education.
Federal File
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Some students with disabilities find that skilled companion dogs can help them achieve their goals. But schools don't always welcome the animals. Includes online photo gallery.
Sarah Theule Lubienski and Christopher Lubienski examine common criticisms of NAEP data—and offer their take on its unique benefits as an assessment tool.
Does the formula for success from a high-achieving subculture offer mainstream American families the solution they need to set their children on a path to academic excellence and, ultimately, to success in a competitive global economy?
On Feb. 22, 2006, Theresa Gilly and Ben Daley, two teachers from San Diego’s High Tech High, a charter school that emphasizes project-based learning, answered readers’ questions about this type of instruction and the role technology can play in it. Below are edited excerpts from the discussion.
After looking at current data, Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute argues that, contrary to some education researchers' conclusions, high school graduation rates have actually been improving in recent years.

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