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Education News Bulletin, September 26-30

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    Education News Bulletin September 26 - 30, 2005 CHARTERS, CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS Portfolios of Schools: An Idea Whose Time Has Come NEW YORK - In 2001, as part
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2005
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      Education News Bulletin
      September 26 - 30, 2005


      Portfolios of Schools: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

      NEW YORK - In 2001, as part of the Schools for a New Society
      initiative, Carnegie Corporation helped launch a nationwide high
      school reform movement by supporting the efforts of seven cities to
      transform the way their districts and communities organized and
      supported high schools. At the same time, New York City, with
      support from Carnegie Corporation, the Bill & Melinda Gates
      Foundation, and the Open Society Institute, launched the New Century
      High Schools initiative to transform the city's lowest-performing
      high schools into successful smaller schools. The core challenge in
      both initiatives is to create entire systems of excellent high
      schools. Four years later, a powerful pattern is emerging in New
      York City, the seven Schools for a New Society cities, and other
      cities around the country that are experimenting with high school
      and district reform. In different ways, each city is creating an
      exciting variety of high schools, most of them small learning
      environments, and many involving external community partners. Cities
      are developing new small schools, dividingexisting large high
      schools into small learning communities and small high schools,
      granting charters for new schools, and writing contracts with
      community-based organizations that operate educational programs
      where youth can complete high school. In this article, we attempt to
      position the ambitious and promising work we see in each of these
      cities within a strong conceptual framework. The term being used to
      describe this diversification of organizational format, educational
      approach, and governance is portfolio of schools. (Annenberg
      Institute for School Reform's VUE magazine)



      Teachers From Alternate Routes Scrutinized

      Washington - New research findings provide fresh fodder for debates
      over whether teachers who skip traditional education school training
      are more demographically diverse than their colleagues, and whether
      they provide special expertise in math or science. The findings,
      presented here at a Sept. 16 conference sponsored by the U.S.
      Education Department's Institute of Education Sciences, come from a
      study tracking teachers who entered the profession via seven
      alternative-certification programs scattered around the
      country. "The thing that struck us was the tremendous variation
      among program participants, and among programs," said Daniel C.
      Humphrey, the study's lead author and the associate director of the
      Center on Education Policy at SRI International, a think tank based
      in Menlo Park, Calif. "A lot of the characterizations we've heard
      turned out to be inaccurate." More than half the alternative-route
      teachers the SRI researchers studied were either recent college
      graduates or were already involved in education, working in schools
      as classroom aides or private school teachers, for example. Only 5
      percent of the participants previously had worked in math and
      science fields, the study found. Those findings cut against some
      advocates' claims that alternatively certified teachers tend to be
      midcareer professionals who often bring needed expertise in
      mathematics and science to schools, the researchers said. (Education
      Week - registration required)

      (see also http://www.sri.com/policy/cep/teachers/altcert.html for
      more on SRI's research in this area)

      IBM to encourage employees to be teachers

      NEW YORK - IBM Corp., worried the United States is losing its
      competitive edge, will financially back employees who want to leave
      the company to become math and science teachers. The new program,
      being announced Friday in concert with city and state education
      officials, reflects tech industry fears that U.S. students are
      falling behind peers from Bangalore to Beijing in the sciences. Up
      to 100 IBM employees will be eligible for the program in its trial
      phase. Eventually, Big Blue hopes many more of its tech savvy
      employees - and those in other companies - will follow suit. The
      goal is to help fill shortfalls in the nation's teaching ranks, a
      problem expected to grow with the retirement of today's educators.
      Math and science are of particular concern to companies in many U.S.
      industries that expect to need technical workers but see low test
      scores in those subjects and waning interest in science careers.
      While many companies encourage their employees to tutor
      schoolchildren or do other things to get involved in education, IBM
      believes it is the first to guide workers toward switching into a
      teaching career. (USA Today)



      Union-Funded Study Finds Fault With High-Stakes Testing

      NATIONAL - New research contending that current accountability
      pressures have yielded no real achievement gains touched off another
      round of skirmishing last week over the reliability of a series of
      union-financed studies criticizing high-stakes testing. Titled "High-
      Stakes Testing and Student Achievement: Problems for the No Child
      Left Behind Act," the new report concludes that students in states
      with test-based accountability systems have not shown improvement on
      national assessments. Those states also tend to have higher dropout
      rates and larger numbers of students retained in key grades,
      problems that disproportionately affect minority students, the study
      concludes. "The theory is that if we were to exert more pressure on
      the key players in a state, … they will live up to that pressure
      by working harder, and that ultimately that will be translated into
      more learning," said researcher Sharon L. Nichols, who wrote the
      report with Gene V. Glass and David C. Berliner. "But there is no
      systematic relationship with that pressure that affects student
      learning or learning gains." Released Sept. 20 by the Education
      Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University, the report is
      the latest in a series of similar studies funded by a center
      associated with the National Education Association and its
      affiliates that has drawn sharp criticism from education researchers
      who deem it "advocacy research" of questionable scholarly value.
      (Education Week - registration required)

      http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2005/09/28/05tests.h25.html (see
      also the reports, "High-Stakes Testing and Student Achievement:
      Problems for the No Child Left Behind Act" at
      and "The Impact of the Adequate Yearly Progress Requirement of the
      Federal No Child Left Behind Act on Schools in the Great Lakes
      Region" at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/g_l_new_doc/EPSL-0505-109-

      National Clout of DIBELS Test Draws Scrutiny: Critics say reading
      tool's scope fails to justify its broad use

      NATIONAL - Just a few years ago, a set of tests known as "dibbles"
      would have elicited little more than a chuckle from educators or
      anyone else. Today, they're taking it seriously, because the acronym
      DIBELS has come to symbolize the standard for early-literacy
      assessment throughout much of the country. Teachers in Reading First
      schools in more than 40 states now use the Dynamic Indicators of
      Basic Early Literacy Skills to screen K-3 pupils for potential
      reading problems and to monitor their progress. And state officials
      are collecting the data from the short reading-fluency tests to
      determine whether schools receiving some of the $1 billion given
      annually in federal Reading First grants are making adequate
      progress in getting students up to grade-level proficiency. Several
      states have gone so far as to adopt the assessments for all schools
      to use regularly. Developed by researchers at the University of
      Oregon, DIBELS has become a catchphrase in the schoolhouse and the
      statehouse as officials look to test data to inform instruction, to
      identify children at risk of failure in reading, and to hold schools
      accountable for student achievement. But while teachers,
      administrators, and researchers praise the tests for their ease of
      use and reliability in predicting which children may have reading
      difficulties later, the use of DIBELS has drawn criticism from some
      in the field. Critics cite the tendency of some educators to teach
      to the tests or give the measures too much weight in gauging reading
      ability, as well as the often-aggressive promotion of DIBELS by
      federal employees and consultants to the Reading First program.
      (Education Week - registration required)



      Top Graduates Line Up to Teach to the Poor

      NATIONAL - For a surprisingly large number of bright young people,
      Teach for America - which sends recent college graduates into poor
      rural and urban schools for two years for the same pay and benefits
      as other beginning teachers at those schools - has become the next
      step after graduation. It is the postcollege do-good program with
      buzz, drawing those who want to contribute to improving society
      while keeping their options open, building an ever-more impressive
      résumé and delaying long-term career decisions. All told, a
      record 17,350 recent college graduates applied to Teach for America
      this year. After a drop last year, applications were up nearly 30
      percent. Teach for America accepted about a third of this year's Ivy
      League applicants, and about a sixth of all applications. Teaching
      does not pay much. It is not glamorous. And the qualifications of
      most young people going into the field are less than impressive. A
      report by the National Council on Teacher Quality last year said
      that the profession attracts "a disproportionately high number of
      candidates from the lower end of the distribution of academic
      ability." But then there is Teach for America, whose members
      typically have top academic credentials - the average G.P.A. is 3.5 -
      experience with children and determination to get results. Teach
      for America officials see their recruiting success as a sign of the
      post-9/11 generation's commitment to public service, and to
      improving the quality of education for low-income children. (New
      York Times - registration required)

      http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/02/education/02teach.html (also
      posted to Apollo at https://apollo.newschools.org/gm/document-

      Powerful Teachers Union Is in the Thick of Ballot Battles

      SACRAMENTO - Employing a political war chest on a par with those of
      major parties, the California Teachers Assn. is used to being in the
      thick of campaigns. But on a muggy Monday morning at the end of
      July, when most of their peers were on vacation, hundreds of
      teachers gathered at UCLA were reminded that they were now targets
      as much as participants. "There are people in this state who are
      trying to portray us as something that has nothing to do with
      children, nothing to do with students and everything to do with
      greed," the union's president, Barbara Kerr, told organizers and
      negotiators attending an annual summer training institute. "And they
      are wrong." California's largest teachers union is, depending on
      where one stands, either the epitome of labor's stranglehold on the
      state Capitol or one of the few lobbies strong enough to champion
      education against Sacramento's more moneyed interests. In the Nov. 8
      election, the 335,000-member union has more at stake than perhaps
      any other group. Initiatives that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has
      endorsed would delay teacher tenure and could curb spending on
      schools. He is also taking on labor by backing Proposition 75, which
      could restrict public employee unions' participation in political
      campaigns. Characteristically, the teachers union has gone on the
      offensive. It is the biggest underwriter of this year's opposition
      to Schwarzenegger and the ballot measures he favors, directing $45
      million to the fight so far. (Los Angeles Times - registration


      School Board Will Keep Romer

      LOS ANGELES - City schools chief Roy Romer emerged unscathed this
      week from lengthy, sometimes blustery debate over his performance by
      the Los Angeles Board of Education. Late Tuesday night, board
      members critical of Romer put aside their reservations about him,
      clearing the way for the superintendent to remain in charge of the
      nation's second-largest school district until the end of his
      contract in 2007. The decision to retain Romer, 76, comes at a
      critical time, as the 742,000-student district pushes ahead with a
      massive school construction project but continues to weather
      criticism for its uneven pace of reform on several fronts. Romer has
      come under increased scrutiny for lack of progress on, among other
      things, reorganizing high schools and boosting graduation rates.
      Faced with a Friday deadline to decide whether to dismiss Romer at
      the end of June or leave him in charge for another year, the board's
      vote of confidence came after a contentious day of private meetings
      in which some board members expressed frustrations with Romer's
      leadership. (Los Angeles Times - registration required)

      romer29sep29,1,5558066.story?coll=la-news-learning (for more on Los
      Angeles, see also "Lessons unlearned," a critical article on LAUSD's
      new school buildings, at http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-ca-

      Business Leaders Call for More Cooperation in K-12 Giving Efforts

      NATIONAL - Concerned about increasing competition in the global
      marketplace-particularly from China and India-leaders from business,
      education, government, and the nonprofit sector called last week for
      combining their K-12 education efforts to better prepare students
      for the workplace. Participants at a conference organized by Jobs
      for the Future, a Boston-based nonprofit group, pointed to what they
      described as the United States' poor showings on international tests
      in mathematics and science. They also cited data showing that only
      seven out of every 10 American 8th graders go on to earn high school
      diplomas, and that only three of those seven go on to get a college
      degree or other postsecondary credential. Meanwhile, they noted, the
      number of American college students graduating with engineering
      degrees has remained stagnant, while the numbers for China, India,
      and other Asian countries have surged. A prominent theme was how
      corporate foundations can leverage the time and money they give to
      precollegiate education so that high school students will have the
      math, science, problem-solving, and reasoning skills they need after
      they graduate-skills the conference-goers said public schools do not
      sufficiently teach. (Education Week - registration required)

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