June 21, 2006

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Vol. 25, Issue 41
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California state officials are gearing up for a busy summer of helping high school students who have failed the state’s graduation test. But what happens next year, or the year after?
Faced with stiffer economic competition and worried about the skills of their future workforces, many states are trying to connect education from preschool through postsecondary so that more students are prepared for further study, work, and citizenship.
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Office of Education's Coleman Report, researchers continue to grapple with many of the same questions about how family background contributes to disparities in children's school performance.
The Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award, named for its donors, Houston philanthropists Nancy and Rich Kinder, is thought to be the largest single unrestricted award ever given to an American precollegiate teacher.
Lily Eskelsen is the only top officer of the 2.7 million-member National Education Association who faces re-election this year. The fact that she will run unopposed speaks to her popularity and raises speculation that she could some day take over the helm of the nation’s largest union.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
The Southern Baptist Convention has again sidestepped a controversial proposal urging its members to pull their children from public schools, but overwhelmingly adopted two milder resolutions relating to public education in the final hours of its annual meeting.
China’s approach to teaching math and science differs sharply from that of the United States, concludes a report that details the Asian nation’s use of strong national standards, a logical progression from easy to more difficult material, and superior teacher training in those subjects, even in the early grades.
Principals at more than 300 New York City schools could gain greater power over hiring, budgets, and curricula next school year in exchange for high performance in what Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is calling a dramatic step in his 4-year-old effort to improve the nation’s largest school district.
At Midwest City High School, detection or “sniff” dogs have helped deter students from bringing illicit drugs to school in cars and book bags. The use of the dog teams also lessens a perception among students that administrators are personally motivated to catch students.
The No Child Left Behind Act has not accelerated improvements in student achievement or helped narrow the test-score gaps between various groups of students, despite claims by state and federal policymakers that such progress is evident in state and national test results, a report by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University contends.
The New York state attorney general’s office announced a settlement with New York State United Teachers last week after a long-running investigation into an arrangement between the union and the Netherlands-based financial-services company ING.
Report Roundup
To help track whether students are being prepared for further education and work, many states are trying to connect their data systems from preschool through postsecondary education.
One indication that the lines between high schools and colleges are blurring is the growth in programs that permit students to earn college credit while still in high school.
What would the landmark Coleman Report show if the numbers were reanalyzed today using more sophisticated statistical techniques? According to Geoffrey D. Borman, a researcher from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the results would be markedly different.
The Ohio Department of Education this month put school districts on notice that some parents have sought to game the state’s new voucher system for students in low-performing schools.
Florida’s new voluntary prekindergarten program—which drew nearly 100,000 children over the school year—is serving less than one-tenth of that figure in its summer program.
State Journal
Most states continue to experience sound fiscal health, and as a result have been able to cover rising K-12 education costs, according to a report on state budgets released last week.
New Jersey this fall will begin testing some of its high school athletes for steroids, making it the first state to institute such a program for athletes statewide.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Capitol Recap
Some schools in Florida appear to have used disciplinary suspensions to “game the system” by keeping low-achieving students out of school during testing periods, a new study says.
A study using more than 25 years of data suggests that state exit exams—especially the more challenging ones—are leading to lower high school graduation rates. The high-stakes tests are also spurring more students to pursue a General Educational Development, or GED, credential, the study finds.
The first high school class that must pass an exit exam to graduate in Washington state has produced mixed results on its initial round of required tests, renewing debate about high-stakes testing there and raising interest in the support being offered to struggling students.
The Department of Education plans to re-evaluate how many students’ test scores districts and schools will be permitted to exclude when determining whether they’ve met annual educational goals under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Four years ago, federal officials launched an initiative to study mathematics and science cognition. Since then, that program has begun to exert its influence through the relatively modest but steady flow of public funding it provides for scholarly research.
Federal File
Congress has given final approval to a measure that provides $235 million to schools educating students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and extends the deadline for schools to decide how to spend the money.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Steeped in a distinctive view of leadership, graduates of the Broad Superintendents Academy have landed some of public education's top jobs.
Paula Dawning, a former AT&T executive, was the first Broad Superintendents Academy graduate hired as a schools chief. This year, she was named Michigan's superintendent of the year.
Mark Roosevelt, a Broad Academy graduate and former Democratic state lawmaker in Massachusetts, is using his political skills to shake up the Pennsylvania school district.
Carlinda Purcell, a Broad Academy graduate, was the first woman and first African-American to be appointed schools superintendent in Montgomery County, Ala., an important historical and symbolic move in the once-segregated birthplace of the modern civil rights movement.
John E. Deasy has moved from Malibu, Calif., to the suburban Washington district, where more than one-third of the schools have been rated as needing improvement.
In this Education Week Commentary, Mark Alter and Gordon M. Pradl urge professionals in the field of education to take a closer look at the relationship between teacher education practices and teacher effectiveness.
Following a tour of Sri Lanka's schools, Katherine Schultz, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's graduate school of education, found that U.S. schools are relying on the same type of static, traditional education system that Sri Lanka inherited from its colonial past.
As Congress considers revising the No Child Left Behind Act, it should draw lessons from a growing number of schools that are using socioeconomic integration to reduce achievement gaps, writes Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation.

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