A new Web site that performs very complex math calculations at breakneck speed is causing controversy among some math experts, who wonder if it will discourage students from being forced to work out problems the old-fashioned way. As this nice story in the Chronicle of Higher Education rightly notes, it's a variation on the unceasing debate over the role of calculators in math classes, rewritten for the age of the math super-engine. The online tool, called WolframAlpha, was created by Stephen Wolfram, the entrepreneur who invented Mathematica, one of the first computer math engines. It basically provides answers to questions ...


We don’t write that often on this blog about career-and-technical education, or what used to be called voc-ed. And that’s probably an oversight. After all, almost all students in this country take some sort of career-and-technical education class. The Perkins Act is the largest federally funded high school program in the nation. And high school students, on average, earn more credits in vocational education courses (4.01) than they do in math (3.68) and science (3.34). I’ve taken this information from the 2004 National Assessment of Vocational Education and other federal data on voc-ed. Advocates ...


Who wants to learn to read from a teacher who doesn't read much herself? It seems there's no danger of a child being in that situation if he or she has Donalyn Miller as a teacher. She's a 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher in Texas, who is otherwise known as "the book whisperer." Now that school is out, Miller has set for herself a summer challenge of reading a book a day. In a blog entry this week, she reviews Tillmon County Fire, a novel by Pamela Ehrenberg, set in Appalachia. She also interviews Ehrenberg on the ...


Like the gold miners of yesteryear, the nation's publishers appear to be setting out for California, hoping to stake their claims in a new online textbook market. Well, maybe the interest was not quite that intense. But Since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced plans to give districts access to free, online math and science textbooks, beginning at the high school level, the state has received interest from nine publishers, large and small. I've heard of some of them. Others were unfamiliar. The list includes Connexions, the Wellesley-Cambridge Press, Curriki, and what appear to be offers from individuals with experience in the ...


MDRC has just put out a policy brief summarizing the impact of Reading First, the flagship reading program under the No Child Left Behind Act for which funding was eliminated in fiscal 2009. Since I'm new to the curriculum beat, I walked past two rows of office cubicles to the desk of my colleague Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, who covered reading for Education Week for 12 years. I asked if the policy brief had any new information. The short answer from her is "no." It summarizes how the federal impact study for Reading First (see Kathleen's article about that research here) ...


States have a message for career-changers thinking of math and science teaching careers: We want you! A number of states have launched or are planning initiatives aimed at loosening state certification requirements and drawing people who haven’t gone through the traditional teacher-college route into the profession. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell says he will ask state lawmakers to establish a “residency teaching certificate” in subject areas where the state’s education secretary determines there’s a state or regional shortage. To get that certification, candidates must have either a bachelor’s degree with five years of relevant work experience, ...


The American Institutes for Research have released a study that allows for the comparison of U.S. states and cities with foreign nations, using a standard, and very familiar measure: letter grades. We've published a story about the study, authored by Gary Phillips, on our web site and in this week's print issue. Phillips uses statistical methodology to link state and city scores on a prominent domestic test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP, with an international exam, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS. The report will be discussed at a forum in Washington today. ...


This summer, some members of the U.S. Congress hope to introduce a comprehensive literacy bill, which I wrote about in this week's pages of Education Week. The bill would authorize $2.4 billion for reading and writing programs serving children along a continuum of birth to grade 12. It would increase funding considerably for literacy programs in grades 4-12. It would replace the federal Early Reading First, Reading First, and Striving Readers programs....


It's been more than a decade since the National Assessment of Educational Progress tested 8th graders in what they know and can do in the arts. In that amount of time, the proportion of schools offering the arts at least several times a week has stayed about the same, according to the NAEP arts report released today. In 2008, 57 percent of 8th graders attended schools where music instruction was provided at least three or four times a week, while 47 percent went to schools where visual-arts instruction was offered at least as often. See my story on the report, ...


A couple items worth catching up on today: The medical-technology corporation Medtronic Inc., will provide a $1.4 million grant to support Teach For America’s efforts to find, keep, and train math and science teachers. The award follows an earlier amount of money given by Medtronic in 2007. The latest amount will support additional training for TFA educators through online resources and other means, according to a statement from Medtronic. The money will also pay for the possible expansion of TFA’s program in Minnesota this year and to enhance ongoing efforts in Memphis, Tenn., and Jacksonville, Fla., where ...


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