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education news bulletin

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  • edupreneurs_moderator
    Message 1 of 117 , Feb 2, 2005
      Education News Bulletin



      WASHINGTON -- The newly formed Charter School Leadership Council
      (CSLC) today announced an ambitious first-year agenda to focus the
      national charter movement on the dual goals of growth and quality,
      starting with the appointment of a high-level Task Force on Quality
      and Accountability to help raise the bar of charter school
      performance. Council Chairman Howard Fuller said CSLC was launching
      its campaign at a critical moment for charter schools, which are
      independently run, publicly financed, and publicly accountable.
      After a decade of steady growth and positive results, the movement
      is facing serious challenges on many fronts: persistent inequities
      in funding and arbitrary caps on growth, intensified opposition from
      defenders of the status quo, and ongoing questions about academic
      performance, which have created doubts about the efficacy of the
      charter model. Fuller said the campaign's immediate objective was to
      spark a more informed discussion of charter school performance.
      Toward that end, the CSLC today released a comprehensive review of
      charter achievement research, covering 38 studies from the past five
      years. The report's author, education researcher Bryan Hassel, noted
      that while more research was clearly needed to draw definitive
      conclusions, the 21 change-based studies provided "encouraging"
      news. (Charter School Leadership Council)

      http://www.charterschoolleadershipcouncil.org/launch.asp (see
      executive summary of the report by Bryan Hassel of Public
      Impact, "Charter School Achievement: What We Know," at

      Knowledge spells power

      DENVER, COLORADO – Colorado's first takeover of a low- performing
      school will mean big changes at Cole Middle School in Denver. State
      Board of Education members have tapped the Knowledge Is Power
      Program - KIPP, for short - to operate the struggling school in
      northeast Denver beginning this fall. KIPP is a national nonprofit
      network of charter schools serving mostly poor, mostly minority
      students. Yet 76 percent of KIPP alumni go on to college. The
      program, which varies by school, is intense. Principals are
      specially trained, teachers work with missionary zeal, students log
      long hours. How KIPP will work at Cole is uncertain. A transitional
      program is planned for the first year, followed by a full KIPP model
      in fall 2006. To get a glimpse of what Cole may look like in the
      coming years, the Rocky Mountain News spent a day with a seventh-
      grader at the only other KIPP school in Colorado, Sunshine Peak
      Academy. (Rocky Mountain News)


      Big Buildings, Small Schools: Using a Small Schools Strategy for
      High School Reform

      NATIONAL – A growing number of school districts around the
      country are using small school development as a central strategy for
      improving high schools and overhauling the way the district itself
      does business. Driven by an increasing sense of urgency and
      frustration with reforms that fail to fundamentally change the
      quality of instruction or the nature of student-teacher
      relationships, they are transforming large, under-performing high
      schools into "education complexes" made up of multiple
      autonomous small schools under one roof. For school districts, this
      conversion process offers a potentially powerful opportunity for
      a "defining moment" of change — an opportunity to provide the most
      fertile conditions for excellent teaching and learning. A small
      schools strategy provides educational leaders with an opportunity to
      fundamentally rethink such key areas as administrative structures,
      staff roles, student/teacher relationships, course sequences,
      subject matter, the use of time, community partnerships, and parent
      engagement. (Jobs for the Future, Prepared for Carnegie Corporation
      of New York and the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational
      Laboratory at Brown University)



      Unfinished Business: More Measured Approaches in Standards-Based

      NATIONAL – Standards-based reform and test-based accountability
      have come to be the principal approaches to education reform in the
      United States, evolving and gathering momentum over the last two
      decades. As these approaches become ever more important to raising
      achievement, and as accountability systems become the basis for
      substantial sanctions and rewards to schools, teachers, and
      students, it becomes critical that we use the measures that will get
      it right. The purpose of this report is to help in the evolution of
      these systems by examining the measures used, including, but not
      limited to, tests. The author asks: Are these the best measures? Are
      they used right? Are there other measures that should be employed?
      (Educational Testing Service)



      School readiness starts at home, national report says

      NATIONAL – States can do more to help prepare children to succeed
      in school by providing support services for their parents in
      programs aimed at early childhood intervention, according to a
      report released Jan. 25 by the National Governors Association's Task
      Force on School Readiness. Unveiled at the 2005 National "Smart
      Start Conference" in Greensboro, N.C., the report outlines a series
      of recommendations for states to develop school readiness programs
      that focus on helping parents and families prepare children to start
      school. The report calls for increased pre-kindergarten programs,
      support for non-English speaking families and special attention for
      children with special needs and those in foster care. (Stateline.org)

      pa=story&sa=showStoryInfo&id=427073 (see the "Final Report of the
      NGA Task Force on School Readiness" at
      http://www.nga.org/cda/files/0501TaskForceReadiness.pdf and "A
      Governor's Guide to School Readiness" at


      Schools chief offers 'P-16' plan

      SACRAMENTO, CA – The difference between K-12 and P-16 is more
      than a shuffling of letters and numbers in the proposal outlined
      Monday by Jack O'Connell, the state's superintendent of public
      instruction. California's philosophical approach to education would
      gain five years and a broader scope under goals O'Connell set for
      the state's children in his annual address on the condition of
      public schooling. O'Connell advocated state-sponsored preschool
      available free to all 4-year-olds whose parents want them to attend.
      Instead of a system that begins with kindergarten and ends with the
      senior year of high school, he said California should approach
      education as a process that starts with preschool and ends four
      years after high school graduation. He proposed state and
      regional "P-16 councils" to execute the broader vision of
      integrating preschool and K-12 with higher education - even while he
      said the state doesn't spend enough money to allow schools to live
      up to standards set for the 6 million students in the existing K-12
      system. (Sacramento Bee)

      13005368c.html (see also "'Starving' Schools Need Tax Hikes,
      O'Connell Says" in the Los Angeles Times at

      Urban Mythbusters: Rethinking Some Things We `Know' About
      Urban Schools (by Nina Zolt, founder and chair of In2Books)

      NATIONAL – Now and then, I encounter another one of those stories
      we've come to call "urban legends." These days, they
      usually arrive by e-mail, but they sound a lot like the tales we
      once told around the campfire, playing on our fears of the unknown:
      the darkness, the woods, our computers, life in the big, wicked
      city. Passing along urban legends is mostly harmless. I feel more
      strongly when the misinformation has the power to make or break a
      child's future and undermine our democracy. Yet many opinion makers
      continue to repeat a set of negative assumptions about some of our
      most vulnerable students —- children in urban public schools. Taken
      together, these stories paint a bleak picture of the future of
      public schools: districts abandoned by their communities,
      underprepared teachers unwilling or unable to improve, and students
      who start out so far behind that the best they can hope for is
      mediocrity. … I'd like to promote a different story—one in which we
      all work together to create a more hopeful vision of what an urban
      public school district is —- and can be. (Education Week –
      registration required)


      Calls for Revamping High Schools Intensify

      NATIONAL – From President Bush on down, the pressure is on to fix
      America's high schools. But despite a broad consensus that
      something is seriously wrong with the institution, deep fault lines
      remain about the remedies. "It's like saying we have to fix global
      warming or obesity," said Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the
      Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. "From 30,000 feet,
      you can easily agree that there's a problem, but the closer you
      get to it, the more you can see that different people's views of the
      essence of the problem and the solution are very, very different."
      Part of the reluctance to address high schools has been their
      complexity. Elementary pupils generally don't drop out of school.
      Nor do they hold part-time jobs or often engage in risky social
      behaviors that interfere with their homework. And the sheer size,
      departmental structure, mission creep, and other political
      impediments at the secondary level have made it hard for reformers
      to gain a toehold. But now, thanks to a drumbeat of statistics,
      coupled with a flurry of reports and initiatives, attention once
      again has focused on grades 9-12. (by Lynn Olson for Education Week
      – registration required)


      Renaissance Learning, AlphaSmart to merge

      WISCONSIN – Renaissance Learning Inc., a Wisconsin-based provider
      of educational software, yesterday announced plans to merge with
      AlphaSmart Inc., a maker of portable word processors for students.
      The $57 million marriage is just the latest in a swath of industry
      moves intended to advance the trend toward one-to-one computing in
      the nation's schools. … Renaissance isn't the first educational
      service provider to make overtures toward the handheld computing
      market. As educators begin to see the value of one-to-one computing
      in the nation's classrooms, inking multimillion-dollar laptop
      initiatives and expanding the use of handheld devices such as the
      Palm and PocketPC, several ed-tech companies have formed similar
      alliances combining the ubiquity of handhelds with an overarching
      need for more individualized instruction and assessment.
      (eSchoolNews – registration required)

    • edupreneurs_moderator
      Education News Bulletin February 10 - 17, 2006 HUMAN CAPITAL COMMENTARY: Fast-Track Certification - Can We Prepare Teachers Both Quickly and Well? NATIONAL -
      Message 117 of 117 , Feb 21, 2006
        Education News Bulletin
        February 10 - 17, 2006


        COMMENTARY: Fast-Track Certification - Can We Prepare Teachers Both
        Quickly and Well?

        NATIONAL - Teacher-preparation programs today come in many shapes
        and sizes. Traditional and alternative programs have morphed into
        one another, making broad comparisons between them useless. What
        matters instead is how particular programs work. Do they attract
        candidates to teaching? Do they provide what they promise? Do they
        give new teachers what they need to get started and grow on the job?
        Do participants report that they're prepared to teach their
        students? With such questions in mind, we studied 13 fast-track,
        alternative-certification programs in four states, observing the
        training and interviewing directors, faculty members, and
        participants. … Fast-track preparation is a deceptively simple idea.
        In fact, surprising capacity is required to train teachers both
        quickly and well. (by Susan Moore Johnson of Harvard University's
        graduate school of education and consultant Sarah Birkeland for
        Education Week - registration required)

        http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/02/15/23johnson.h25.html (see
        also "A Difficult Balance: Incentives and Quality Control in
        Alternative Certification Programs" at

        Parents, teachers have educational divide

        WASHINGTON (AP) -- Considering they share responsibility for 50
        million children, parents and teachers sure have some different
        views about what goes on in school. From discipline to standardized
        tests to the quality of high schools, parents and teachers disagree
        on basic aspects of education, an AP-AOL Learning Services Poll
        finds. They come together, though, on the need to hire and keep good
        teachers. … On testing, the poll found teachers are much more likely
        than parents to say standardized exams get too much emphasis. Yet
        most parents and teachers agree testing has weakened the ability of
        educators to give individual attention to students. (Associated
        Press via CNN)

        html (see also "Press Release: 87% of Teachers Say Parents Should
        Spend More Time with Children on Homework" at


        Assessment Testing >> In Their Hands: Handheld devices empower
        teachers with assessment data they can put to immediate use

        NATIONAL - At the Orange County Public School District in Orlando,
        FL, assessing reading skills among the youngest students used to be
        quite a process. Relying on rudimentary products such as paper and
        pencils, the strategy hinged on the bubble sheets teachers
        administered to students once a year. After teachers scored the
        exams, they sent them to the district office, where results were
        scanned, analyzed, and combined to form summary reports. These
        reports gave teachers information about which students needed extra
        help, and which subjects were proving to be troublesome. But because
        the reports took weeks to generate, it was difficult for teachers to
        use them to better serve the needs of their students. Everything
        changed with the implementation of a three-year pilot program that
        kicked off the 2003-2004 school year. District officials, eager to
        improve their assessment techniques, turned to Wireless Generation
        to find a way to assess students so that teachers could actually do
        something with their data. Change came in the form of Palm handheld
        devices. Teachers used them to record student performance on a
        series of questions designed to gauge reading skills. (T.H.E.


        Grading Equity: Tisch Lecturer Outlines Report Card on Education

        NATIONAL - Richard Rothstein agrees with No Child Left Behind
        supporters on at least one point: Holding schools accountable for
        improving children's reading and math skills may, in fact,
        eventually lead to improvement in those skills. The problem, as
        Rothstein outlined it on Monday evening, January 30th during the
        first of a three-part Teachers College lecture series known as the
        Tisch Lectures, is that those skills could improve -- to the
        detriment of others that are equally important. "What gets measured,
        gets done," said Rothstein, Tisch Visiting Professor at TC and
        research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, in a talk he
        titled Equity in What? Defining the Goals of American Education for
        which We Seek Equity. For the past year and half, Rothstein and two
        graduate assistants, Rebecca Jacobsen and Tamara Wilder, have been
        working to create a new "report card" that will assess the nation's
        progress in providing equal educational opportunities across a much
        broader range of skills. The list, unveiled at the first Tisch
        lecture, includes basic academic skills; critical thinking; social
        skills and work ethic; citizenship; physical health; emotional
        health; the arts and literature; and vocational education. (Teachers
        College at Columbia University)



        Can Bush make America more competitive in math and science?

        WASHINGTON - Americans have heard the warnings for decades: The
        nation is in danger of falling behind other technological
        powerhouses in the world, posing a threat to its way of life.
        President Bush's competitiveness initiative, outlined in his federal
        budget, would focus $136 billion over 10 years on boosting research
        and education. Much of that cost would come in the form of tax
        incentives for research and development; the rest represents new
        funding, including a doubling of the budgets of three federal
        agencies focused on science and technology. The education piece of
        Mr. Bush's plan seems relatively small - $380 million in fiscal
        2007 - but it is getting most of the attention. Overall, Bush's AP
        Incentive Program aims to boost the number of students taking AP
        math and science exams from 380,000 today to 1.5 million in 2012. In
        a nation that seems to have a cultural aversion to tackling "hard"
        subjects like math and science, can those numbers be achieved? And
        without the stark image of Sputnik - the Soviet satellite whose
        launch in 1957 caught the US by surprise - to spur a fear of
        national decline, will the nation rally to the "competitiveness"
        cause and push Congress to fund the plan? (Christian Science Monitor)



        Venture Capitalists Are Investing in Educational Reform

        CALIFORNIA - Venture capitalists of Silicon Valley, who have backed
        hundreds of high-technology entrepreneurs, are eagerly financing a
        new group these days: schoolmasters. "We give education
        entrepreneurs money to start or to speed up building their
        companies," said L. John Doerr, who over 26 years has helped start
        dozens of ventures, including Sun Microsystems, Amazon.com and
        Google. He help found the New Schools Venture Fund in San Francisco
        six years ago for a new breed of entrepreneur - the kind who doesn't
        have to produce a profit. … New Schools Venture Fund is still
        investing its first $80 million, contributed by individuals like Mr.
        Doerr and organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
        which gave $22 million. New Schools has begun raising another $125
        million to expand the reach of charter schools as models of reform
        for traditional public school systems. (by James Flanigan for the
        New York Times - registration required)


        Column: The New Engines of Reform (by David Gergen of US News &
        World Report)

        NATIONAL - There won't be any sleek limousines drawing up at the
        door, no red carpets, no paparazzi, no Vanity Fair afterglow, and,
        alas, no Annie Leibovitz. But when dozens of people roll into the
        Mohonk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley this week, they'll be
        holding their own Oscar party--one celebrating the stars of a new
        group of emerging leaders in the United States. They're
        called "social entrepreneurs," and if you haven't heard the phrase
        yet, you're missing one of the hottest movements to ripple across
        college campuses and into young urban communities. Social
        entrepreneurs do more than treat society's ills--they envision
        widespread, systemic change that could prevent those ills from ever
        occurring. They tackle social problems with entrepreneurial and
        innovative spirit. … The roster of all-stars in the social
        enterprise movement is growing rapidly--and just as in business and
        politics, they are forming networks among themselves. (US News &
        World Report)

        (see also "Two Guys...and a Dream" on the founders of KIPP in the
        same issue at


        Put Learning First: A Portfolio Approach to Public Schools

        NATIONAL - Today, public education policies and administrations are
        organized to serve the needs of the institutions and the adults that
        work in them. Addressing our stunning achievement gaps, particularly
        those affecting minority students in our cities, means that
        students, not the system, must become the primary organizing
        principle for educational policies -- and, more importantly, for
        schools themselves. The current system is intended to advance
        individual, community, and national goals, but is, in fact,
        engineered for stability. That is normally a good thing. We want
        schools to open on time, teachers to count on having jobs from one
        day to the next, and parents to feel secure knowing that their
        children will have a place to go to school. Stability alone,
        however, is the wrong goal in a complex, fast-changing, modern
        economy. Students -- disadvantaged students, in particular -- need
        schools that are focused on providing them with the skills they will
        need to succeed in today's society, schools that are flexible enough
        to try a variety of teaching methods until they succeed in reaching
        these goals. (by Paul Hill of the Center on Reinventing Public
        Education, for the Progressive Policy Institute)


        The New Reverse Class Struggle: Although Smaller Sizes Are Touted,
        Some Say Bigger May Be Beneficial

        NATIONAL - Billie-Jean Bensen, principal of Herbert Hoover Middle
        School in Rockville, called [math teacher Jane]
        Reiser "outstanding," "fabulous" and "truly amazing," able to get
        great results despite her large class size [32 students, way above
        the national class size average of 25]. So why, some experts are
        asking, are educators and politicians so bent on reducing class
        sizes? Wouldn't it be better to let classes get bigger? Then schools
        could reduce the number of teachers, keep good ones like Reiser and
        pay them more. The idea seems odd to many. But some scholars and
        administrators say raising class sizes and teacher pay might improve
        achievement. (by Jay Mathews for the Washington Post - registration


        President's Budget Would Cut Education Spending

        NATIONAL - President Bush's blueprint for federal education spending
        in the next fiscal year includes a high-profile plan to boost math
        and science education, new money for private school vouchers, a
        renewed push to improve high schools-and the most drastic cut in
        Department of Education funding in more than a decade. In his
        proposed federal budget for fiscal 2007, released last week, Mr.
        Bush calls for a 3.8 percent drop in the department's discretionary
        spending, or $2.1 billion less than the agency received for fiscal
        2006, excluding hurricane relief and adjusting for a recent
        accounting change for financial aid. If approved by Congress, his
        plan would mean the largest percentage cut for the department since
        fiscal 1996. The president would sink new federal education money
        into fresh initiatives, particularly those intended to strengthen
        learning in mathematics and science, and provide generally flat
        funding to K-12's two largest programs: Title I for low- income
        students and special education state grants. (Education Week -
        registration required)

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