June 14, 2006
Vol. 25, Issue 40
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These days policymakers and the public are increasingly riveted on student test scores as a way to gauge achievement. That has been at best a mixed blessing for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
School officials at this Texas high school launched an extended-length course venture four years ago in the hope that doubling the amount of class time on core academic subjects would raise student achievement and test scores. Similar strategies are being used in schools across the country, especially in reading and mathematics, where lengthier classes at all grade levels are becoming increasingly common.
By accepting two appeals on the voluntary use of race in assigning students to public schools, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely decide the constitutionality of widespread practices that school districts use to promote diversity. And the decision could affect schools in unforeseen ways.
Teach For America has again posted a record number of recent college graduates applying for its two-year teaching stints, with the added coup that nearly 20 percent came with coveted mathematics, science, or engineering majors.
In a bid to expand options for its high school graduates, the Philadelphia school district signed an agreement last week with the local building-trades council that will create at least 250 paid apprenticeships in the construction industry.
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
News in Brief: A National Roundup
When Louise Sundin, the president of the Minneapolis teachers’ union for more than 22 years, was routed in a re-election bid last month by an opponent who claimed she had gotten too close to the district management, she was the latest in a growing line of progressive, seemingly well- entrenched union leaders to face rejection.
As chronically underperforming schools around the country get to the point that the No Child Left Behind Act requires dramatic action, very few have gone the charter route. But Gompers Charter Middle School is one of three such San Diego schools that were shut down and reopened as charters.
These days, most U.S. education policy decisions are made at the Education Department. That's a switch from the intensity of the White House's involvement during President Bush's first term.
Only a few states expect schools to give students a grounding in world history, this at a time when more policymakers and business leaders are calling on high schools to prepare students for competing in a global economy, an analysis of state academic standards concludes.
As states ratchet up accountability requirements around student performance in reading and math, many schools and districts are paying far less attention to other subjects, particularly social studies and science, requiring teachers in later grades to play catch-up.
The defeat of the Preschool for All initiative in California last week is unlikely to slow the pace at which public preschool programs have been growing in other states, national experts said. Still, the outcome was a major disappointment for its backers in the Golden State.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas signed a record-high K-12 education budget of nearly $2.9 billion last month, calling the $466 million increase in state aid over the next three years a “historic commitment to our children’s schools.”
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
A House committee approved a pair of bills last week aimed at bolstering mathematics and science education, even as rifts emerged between lawmakers and the White House over the best strategy for accomplishing that widely shared goal.
Cupcakes brought in for special occasions, candy bars sold in vending machines, high-calorie muffins sold a la carte in the lunch line—all are now under scrutiny as school districts nationwide craft local “wellness” policies that a federal law says must go into effect by the start of the 2006-07 school year.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
A House subcommittee voted last week to cut discretionary funding for the Department of Education slightly next fiscal year, but its plan would partially pay for some proposals in President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative.
PAGE 23 - On Assignment
Louisiana state schools Superintendent Cecil J. Picard is working to rebuild the New Orleans school system while battling Lou Gehrig's disease.
PAGE 26 - Commentary
Walt Gardner writes about the evolution of the SAT, an acronym, Gardner writes, that now, literally, "stands for nothing."
PAGE 27 - Commentary
High school English teacher and blogger Emmet Rosenfeld has a few quibbles on what constitutes "best."
Honors & Awards
PAGE 36 - Commentary
Michael J. Feuer offers guidance on pursuing a more rational approach to education policy.
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