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Education Week Roundup, Oct. 10

If you want to see how NCLB dominates the K-12 landscape, look at the front page of this week's issue of Education Week. Three of the four stories on the front page are directly related to the law. The other one mentions NCLB in the fourth paragraph.

In Federal Rule Yields Hope for Science, Sean Cavanagh reminds us that states must assess students in science starting in the current school year. Note that the Department of Education has approved just five states' science tests. Also see that six states will use their science scores as the "other academic indicator" in determining AYP. The question of whether science scores will be part of the mix in the future, though, is still under debate in reauthorization. Science education groups and business groups are supporting that move.

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo culled through The Proficiency Illusion for Report Pans How States Set the Bar. She and the chart that goes with the story highlight the wide disparity in states' expectations. In Colorado, a 3rd grader has to read at approximately the 6th percentile to be considered proficient under NCLB. A 3rd grader in South Carolina, by contrast, must read at the 60th percentile.

(As a side note: New York Times columnist Bob Herbert yesterday cited the report while arguing for the end of high-stakes testing. The Fordham Foundation responded quickly. "That's like reacting to the Enron accounting scandal by calling for the end of accounting," Fordham VP Michael Petrilli wrote in a letter to the editor. "The answer is not to throw out testing, but to do testing right.")

For Provision on Tutoring Raises Renewal Issues, I spell out the questions facing the future of supplemental educational services, which are available to Title I students in schools that don't make AYP for two or more consecutive years. Providers are trying to prove the success of their programs, while school officials want to protect their Title I money for their own instructional efforts. Add this to the list of issues that must be worked out before NCLB can be reauthorized.

The final front-page story is Mobility of Native American Students Can Pose Challenges to Achievement. Students' mobility makes it difficult for schools serving Native Americans to make AYP, Mary Ann Zehr notes.

On the back page, Harold Pratt argues in Science Education's 'Overlooked Ingredient' that schools need to focus more intently on science education in the elementary school years. In his commentary, Pratt writes that educators can't wait until middle school to play "catch up" in science. By then, he argues, students lack the grounding in science that they need to succeed. Although assessing scientific knowledge under NCLB is important, he says that students need experience "in the nature of science" as part of their curriculum.

Also note this online commentary: Reauthorize the NCLB With National Standards. The essay wasn't written by a Washington think-tank type. It was written by an Advanced Placement teacher. Following up on my post from yesterday: Are we going to be hearing from more teachers that they want national standards?

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