October 25, 2006

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Vol. 26, Issue 09
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The success of the Voyager Universal Literacy core reading program has drawn questions about how a program with no independent track record could advance so far, so fast, and whether its rise has been accelerated by its effect on student achievement or by the political influence of its founder and the researchers he hired who designed the program.
Interest in online school courses is surging nationwide, especially at the high school level, according to those who follow trends in educational technology. Much of that demand is coming from those who enroll in just one or two a year to meet a particular academic need or resolve a scheduling hang-up.
Five years into an eight-year study of its high school improvement efforts, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is shifting its strategy for evaluating the $1.3 billion grant program. The decision to halt the study that began in 2001 worries some scholars.
District Dossier
With adolescents' reading skills garnering increasing attention in school improvement discussions, a report released last week urges educators and policymakers also to address the need for effective writing instruction in middle and high schools.
People in the News
News in Brief: A National Roundup
A decade after the first charter schools opened in the nation’s capital, they have mushroomed into a major presence here, serving a larger segment of students than in almost any other city.
Among Americans’ most cherished beliefs is the idea that the United States is a land of opportunity, a place where all children have an equal shot at success regardless of the circumstances of their birth. A growing body of research suggests, however, that idea may be a myth.
Teacher-compensation strategies being tried in other industrialized nations could give U.S. policymakers some new ways to address the issue, says a report out last week from the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank.
As educational software and web sites become increasingly rich in multimedia, and more schools adopt one-to-one laptop computer initiatives, districts are turning to high-speed wireless networks to make better use of that software and bandwidth-heavy interactive Web sites.
New employees with just high school diplomas, and even some employees with four-year college degrees, lack the work skills needed to succeed in a global and increasingly competitive workplace, suggests a survey of corporate human-resource officials.
Educational video games have great potential to hone critical-thinking skills, help teach academic curricula, and evaluate what students learn, concludes a report released last week by a prominent group of U.S. scientists.
Report Roundup
Reporter's Notebook
Special Education
Votes cast in next month’s 36 gubernatorial elections will help shape future K-12 policies, from how schools are financed to how teachers are paid.
Prompted by concerns about international competitiveness, a coalition of business, foundation, and education groups in Delaware launched a campaign last week to promote a plan for transforming public education in the state.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Reporter's Notebook
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
State officials responsible for carrying out the No Child Left Behind Act want more money and more power to make the nearly 5-year-old federal law work.
Education organizations, civil rights groups, and scholars were among those filing a total of 57 friend-of-the-court briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court by the Oct. 10 deadline in support of race-conscious policies of the Seattle and Jefferson County, Ky., school districts.
Federal File
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to hear an appeal by a Boy Scouts of America affiliate that was denied the free use of a boat marina owned by the city of Berkeley, Calif., because of the Scouts’ policy barring gays and atheists.
The Shays-Farrell race is one of three closely watched contests in Connecticut that could help determine control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm elections Nov. 7.
Deborah Wadsworth, a senior adviser to the nonprofit group Public Agenda, writes on putting public relations aside in favor of public engagement.
Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown, authors of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers’ Schemes, write that educators need to re-examine sexual education curricula in order to address the racy depiction of sexuality in the media.
On Oct. 10, readers put questions about the expanding educational uses of the Internet to Will Richardson, the author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Power Web Tools for Classrooms and the founder of Connective Learning.
Sam Chaltain, an education consultant and a former co-director of the First Amendment Schools project, offers his suggestions on how schools can create safer, more inclusive school cultures that might prevent school violence.

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