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Education News Bulletin, Feb 19-23

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    Education News Bulletin February 19-23, 2007 CHARTERS, CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS Opinion: Magna Charters (by Nelson Smith of the National Alliance for Public
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 26, 2007
      Education News Bulletin
      February 19-23, 2007


      Opinion: Magna Charters (by Nelson Smith of the National Alliance
      for Public Charter Schools)

      NATIONAL - As he prepared to announce the Aspen Commission's recent
      recommendations for revamping the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB),
      co-chair Tommy Thompson made a telling remark: "We have been much
      more successful at identifying struggling schools than we have been
      in actually turning them around." Regrettably, as with other
      mainstream groups that have weighed in on the NCLB, the commission's
      report focuses almost exclusively on fixing ailing schools rather
      than starting healthy new ones. Both tracks are needed. … By all
      means, the next No Child Left Behind Act should continue pushing to
      improve existing schools. But the reauthorized NCLB should also be
      an engine for creating new, high-quality schools in communities
      where they're most needed. Here's how. (Wall Street Journal -
      registration required)



      Projects Under Way in 2 States to Judge Teacher Prep

      NATIONAL - As calls to improve the quality of teacher education
      programs nationwide intensify, two statewide projects are
      scrutinizing their own institutions of higher education to see what
      they are doing right, or wrong, in preparing new teachers. Louisiana
      and Ohio are using different models to measure the effectiveness of
      new teachers who graduate from the states' preparation programs.
      While the Louisiana project primarily uses several years of student
      data to track teacher effectiveness, the Ohio model includes
      extensive surveys of new teachers responding to their first few
      years in the classroom. Some institutions of higher education such
      as California State University and the University of Texas are also
      evaluating their teacher-preparation programs. The Ohio study is the
      result of a partnership among all 50 teacher-preparation programs in
      the state, including 37 private and 13 public schools. The findings
      will be used to establish a set of program profiles and guidelines
      that the institutions can refer to, said Robert Yinger, the
      Cincinnati-based research director of the Ohio Teacher Quality
      Partnership. "Part of the agreement was that it would be a formative
      project where we would study ourselves, and not be a teacher
      education report card," he said, adding that the project will not
      single out programs for criticism or approval. But in Louisiana,
      where all the state's 21 schools of education are being watched, the
      stakes are higher. Jeanne M. Burns, the associate commissioner of
      teacher education initiatives with the state board of regents, said
      while details are yet to be worked out, she expects the findings
      will eventually be integrated into the state's accountability system
      for teacher-preparation programs. The goal is to narrow down factors
      that have a positive effect on some universities with successful
      programs, and share that with other campuses, she said. (Education
      Week - subscription required)



      Higher grades contradict test scores

      WASHINGTON - High school students are getting better grades and
      taking more challenging courses, but that apparent progress is not
      showing up on national math and reading tests. "The reality is that
      the results don't square," said Darvin Winick, chair of the
      independent National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the
      tests. Scores were released Thursday. Nearly 40 percent of high
      school seniors scored below the basic level on the math test. More
      than a quarter of seniors failed to reach the basic level on the
      reading test. Most educators think students ought to be able to work
      at the basic level. The new reading scores show no change since
      2002, the last time the test was given. The government said it could
      not compare the math results with the previous scores because the
      latest test was significantly different. The National Assessment of
      Educational Progress - often called the nation's report card - is
      viewed as the best way to compare students across the country
      because it's the only uniform national yardstick for how well
      students are learning. The tests were given in 2005. The government
      released the scores Thursday along with a report examining the high
      school transcripts of 2005 graduates. The transcript study shows
      high school students are earning more credits, taking more
      challenging courses and getting higher grade-point averages than in
      the past. In 2005, high school graduates had an overall grade-point
      average just shy of 3.0 - or about a B. That has gone up from a
      grade-point average of about 2.7 in 1990. It is unclear whether
      student performance has improved or whether grade inflation or
      something else might be responsible, the report said. (Associated

      (see also the transcript study at

      School offers new path to success: Sacramento campus is a model for
      combining vocational education with high-level academics

      SACRAMENTO, CA - A large and varied group of experts gathered in
      Sacramento this week to see how high schools can prepare students
      for college and the work world at the same time by teaching rigorous
      academics and hands-on job skills. Nearly 100 legislative staffers,
      education researchers, university admissions officers and business
      leaders descended on Arthur Benjamin Health Professions High School
      to view what's become a model for combining occupational with high-
      level academic education. Everything students learn in this
      Sacramento City Unified school, which opened in 2005 with 150
      students, is organized around the theme of health care. Momentum has
      been building around the "multiple pathways" approach, which calls
      for more work preparation for academically strong students, as well
      as better academic education for students who in the past might have
      been pushed toward vocational ed. Rather than steering students
      toward college or work, high schools should prepare all students for
      both, according to proponents. … The energy building around this new
      vision is supported by a recent study that calls multiple pathways a
      promising approach. Education researchers at UCLA found that the
      technique benefits the economy, engages students and improves
      graduation rates. But it could present challenges too, they found.
      Students could be tracked into occupations based on race or income.
      The structure of education could change without improvements in its
      substance. (Sacramento Bee - registration required)

      http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/128276.html (see also the UCLA
      report, "Multiple Perspectives on Multiple Pathways: High School
      Reform that Promises to Prepare All Students for College, Career,
      and Civic Responsibility" at

      Educators ponder who gets left behind: Renewal of federal education
      law sparks debate over testing

      NATIONAL - Like a strict teacher demanding precision from her
      students, No Child Left Behind has inspired reactions ranging from
      anger to admiration during the five years it has re-shaped public
      education in every city and hamlet in America. Now that Congress is
      preparing to reauthorize the 2002 federal law, groups representing a
      range of interests -- educators, employers, testing advocates,
      testing foes and politicians of every stripe, including the
      president -- want the rules rewritten to reflect each of their
      points of view. But as the congressional debate kicks off, this much
      appears certain: The law's basic premise requiring every student
      everywhere to score at grade level by 2014 will be kept intact,
      regardless of how improbable success may be. What Congress may
      change are some day-to-day rules. … The National Education
      Association, which represents more than 3 million teachers, has
      declared No Child Left Behind fundamentally flawed. What the
      teachers dislike most is that the law essentially sends bad schools
      to the corner with a dunce cap. The union wants Congress to expand
      the definition of successful schools to include those that improve
      somewhat -- not just those that raise test scores by the prescribed
      amount. The union is not alone in demanding this change. Other
      educators, including state school superintendents, school board
      members and even parents have been asking Congress for it for years.
      (San Francisco Chronicle)



      CALIFORNIA EDUCATION REPORT CARD: Index of Leading Education
      Indicators, Fourth Edition

      CALIFORNIA - Since the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) released its
      first California Education Report Card in 1997, parts of the
      education landscape in California have changed dramatically. The
      state now has a full set of rigorous academic content standards that
      serves as a guide for what students should know in core subjects
      such as mathematics and English. Curriculum and the testing regime
      are now aligned to the standards, and there is greater focus on
      student outcomes than a decade ago. Yet, despite these positive and
      encouraging reforms, there are still aspects of education in
      California that are hardly different today than they were 20 years
      ago. The new 2007 fourth edition of the California Education Report
      Card analyzes recent developments in the state's education policies
      and features updated statistics. Like its predecessors, this new
      edition seeks to answer fundamental questions concerning education
      in California. Are government education policies helping or hurting
      the goal of improved student achievement? How much bang for the buck
      is California getting from its government education spending? What
      reforms hold the most promise in improving the performance of both
      students and school personnel? The following pages address these and
      other key questions. (Pacific Research Institute)


      Eight for 2008: Education Ideas for the Next President

      NATIONAL - Education reform has been a prominent part of the
      nation's policymaking agenda for more than two decades. And while
      presidential elections generally turn on issues other than schools
      and colleges, virtually all candidates for the White House emphasize
      education in their platforms. That is why Education Sector is
      offering the following eight education ideas for the 2008
      presidential campaign. They cover the educational spectrum, from
      preschool to higher education. They range in scope from big ideas
      that would chart entirely new directions for policymaking to others
      that would simply help schools and colleges improve what they are
      already doing. These ideas are neither Democratic nor Republican.
      They are pragmatic solutions to real problems that both parties can
      get behind. They have realistic goals and price tags. As a
      nonpartisan organization, Education Sector hopes to see them
      reflected in the agendas of both Republican and Democratic
      candidates. [Ideas include: Unlock the Pre-K Door, Offer Teachers a
      New Deal, Create a National Corps of "SuperPrincipals," Open New
      Schools in Low-Income Neighborhoods and Give Students a Roadmap to
      Good Colleges.] (Education Sector)


      High School Redesign Moves Ahead in States

      Washington DC - The 10 states receiving high school redesign grants
      under the National Governors Association's High School Honor States
      program have taken significant steps to ensure that students are
      prepared for college and the workforce, according to a midterm
      assessment of the program released at a meeting of grant recipients
      here last week. Despite the progress, however, "states are neither
      where they want nor need to be in terms of student performance," the
      report says. The $20 million program, underwritten by the Bill &
      Melinda Gates Foundation, supports governor-led initiatives to
      reform high schools and improve the rate of students who graduate
      ready for college. Each of the 10 states involved-Arkansas,
      Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
      Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia-is required to follow a
      blueprint agreed to by governors and business leaders at the 2005
      National Education Summit on High Schools. The core activities,
      or "non-negotiables," of that blueprint include setting 10-year
      performance goals to improve high school graduation rates and rates
      of college readiness, using a common formula to calculate graduation
      rates, demonstrating gubernatorial leadership in creating a pre-K-16
      education system, submitting performance data, and crafting and
      implementing a communications plan to support the redesign efforts.
      (Education Week - subscription required)

      http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/02/21/24nga.h26.html (see
      also the NGA report, "Redesigning High Schools in 10 Honor States: A
      Mid-Term Report" at
      http://www.nga.org/Files/pdf/0702HONORSTATESMIDTERM.PDF; for more on
      high school reform, see also this story from Oregon, "Big schools
      shrink toward change," at

      Scholars Push Ideas to Bolster U.S. Workforce

      NATIONAL - Wide-ranging changes aimed at improving education from
      the early years through college are needed to produce a workforce
      with the skills demanded by today's increasingly global economy,
      scholars with the Brookings Institution argue in a set of policy
      papers released last week. The papers from the Hamilton Project, an
      economic-policy initiative of the Washington-based think tank, call
      for investing in early-childhood education, reforming teacher pay
      and hiring, and simplifying the college financial-aid process.
      Brookings launched the project last year to generate policy options
      aimed at bolstering the U.S. economy. Project leaders say the United
      States spends more on education than other countries, but does not
      get better outcomes. They call for efforts to bolster education
      based on performance-based measurement and accountability, market
      forces, and experimentation in educational policies. (Education
      Week - subscription required)

      (see also "How to Keep America Competitive" by Bill Gates at
      dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022301697.html, "Education and
      the inequality debate" from the Economic Policy Institute at
      http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/ib232 and some related recent
      remarks from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, "The Level and
      Distribution of Economic Well-Being" at

      COMMENTARY: When Students Disappear . . . The Need for a National
      System to Share Student Information (By John Pane of the RAND

      NATIONAL - Fifty-three thousand students disappeared from
      Louisiana's public school system after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
      Another 10,000 enrolled temporarily after the storms and then
      departed. They did not return to the state's public schools for the
      remainder of the 2005-06 school year. Which of these displaced
      students attended schools in other states or private schools? How
      much classroom time did they miss? How many of them never went back
      to school at all? How did the disaster affect their academic
      progress? These and other questions cannot be answered, because the
      United States lacks the information systems necessary to monitor the
      educational experiences of students who move across state lines.
      This is a national problem that transcends the Gulf Coast region and
      the storms of 2005, although the Katrina and Rita disasters can help
      us think about how to prepare for future large-scale disasters. But
      even during normal times there is a steady stream of students moving
      among schools, and the ability to monitor them is crucial to
      addressing important educational concerns. … Addressing the
      problems of tracking students as they move across school systems,
      whether as a result of the hurricanes or more routinely, requires a
      national effort to unify the collection and sharing of student
      records, either by building a national student-information system or
      by linking all of the states' systems. In either case, several major
      issues must be addressed. (Education Week - subscription required)

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