October 11, 2006

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Vol. 26, Issue 07
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Two prominent Democrats are demanding to know more about the problems identified in the implementation of the federal Reading First program, including whether criminal violations may have occurred and what Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings may have known about the problems while she was a White House aide.
Ditch NCATE. That’s one of the suggestions Arthur E. Levine, the former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, made in his recent report that has the field of teacher education in an uproar. But others have come to the defense of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
The three school shootings that left a principal and six students dead in less than a week have sparked a barrage of pledges from national and state political leaders to tighten campus security. But school safety experts urged caution against overreacting to the horrific, but rare, incidents in rural schools in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Hispanic children account for nearly two-thirds of the recent growth in school enrollment, but most of that increase has been absorbed by a small proportion of the nation’s schools, says a report released last week by the Pew Hispanic Center.
The nation’s largest teachers’ union is pushing compulsory high school graduation as an important step toward reducing the number of dropouts.
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
Companies hoping to capitalize on the popularity of social-networking Web sites such as MySpace.com and Facebook.com are building similar sites for K-12 schools that they claim will be safer and more educational.
In a paper released last week, two experts at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, the federally funded regional laboratory in Denver known as McREL, distill 27 studies on district leadership and student results. Using meta-analysis techniques, they combined the effects found in those studies and arrived at a positive and statistically significant correlation.
Only 10 of the 18 most widely used school improvement programs for middle and high schools have “moderate” or “limited” evidence to show they work, and none deserves a top rating, a review by a Washington think tank concludes.
Learning progressions are frameworks that spell out how student comprehension of concepts should grow over time. Those progressions, scholars say, should be guided by an understanding of how children learn and the knowledge that they already possess or have been taught.
States are grappling with the task of creating alternate assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities that will pass muster with federal officials for use under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Report Roundup
Charter Schools
The Amish in Lancaster County, Pa., are not likely to respond to the fatal shootings in one of their schools by adding technology for security, according to scholars of Amish society.
Voters in some states will be asked to approve more funding for education when they go to the polls next month, and others will decide ballot measures that could have a significant impact on how states pay for education.
Administrators who have been shaking up Connecticut’s system of technical schools for the past several years scored a victory last month when two of the schools were taken off the state’s watch list for low performance under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
State Journal
The Arkansas Department of Education has a message for parents across the state: Students need to take tougher classes.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Democratic lawmakers and candidates seeking to regain a majority in Congress are working to convince voters that they would do more to help students pay for college than the Republicans, highlighting proposals to increase Pell Grants and make college loans cheaper for student borrowers.
President Bush said last week that it would be a priority of his administration to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act next year, and that he was prepared to take on the law’s critics.
Federal File
The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to consider whether a California public school’s curriculum that directed 7th graders to pretend to be Muslims violated the constitutional rights of the children or their parents.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
After a massive investment in small high schools, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is broadening its reach to include all levels of K-12 policy.
In the national discussion of teaching, learning, and the very notion of public education, one professor of education writes that "the broader purpose and grand vision of the common public school" has become an abstract thought, lost in the "culture wars that swirl around schools."
Jonathan Zimmerman, a former Peace Corps volunteer and professor of education and history at New York University, looks at the dilemmas faced by America's overseas teachers in an excerpt from his book Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century.
Ted Sanders, a co-chair of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, argues that teacher education has not kept pace with changes designed to raise standards and accountability in K-12 schools.

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