Interesting changes appear to be in the works for the state of Texas' accountability system, according to this story in the Dallas Morning News. The proposed changes, included in legislation moving through the House and Senate in Austin, would require students to meet new, higher college-readiness standards in English and language arts. But at earlier grades, the bills also would allow schools to promote students on a combination of factors, including test scores, grades, and teacher recommendations, as opposed to simply state test scores, according to the story. And state performance ratings of schools would be changed to consider growth ...


My colleague Alyson Klein reports on yesterday's hearing by the House Education and Labor Committee on common standards in "House Panel Considers Federal Role in Standards." Former North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr., testified that the Congress could help keep states' efforts to create common standards on track by asking for regular reports and for seeing that the states meet the deadlines that they set out for themselves. He said that Congress could also provide funding for the effort. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, the top Republican on the Committee, argued that the states are capable of creating common ...


An objective observer looking at course-taking patterns in middle and high school math in the United States, as shown in national data released this week, could argue that this country's students have made enormous strides. Thirteen-year-olds are more likely to take introductory algebra today than ever before: 30 percent of them reported being enrolled in that class today, as opposed to just 16 percent two decades ago. Thirty-two percent said they're taking prealgebra, compared with 19 percent in 1986. Precalc or calc? Among 17-year-olds, 19 percent report having taken that class in high school, while just 6 percent could make ...


Certainly attending a school that emphasizes green or environmentally friendly habits and processes is going to have an impact on students' awareness of such issues. But preteens at Merrill Middle School in Des Moines, Iowa, who participated in a recent survey about their commitment to conservation seem to be walking the walk in their everyday lives as well. The 140 students, between 10 and 12, describe in detail how the environment, and the value they give to conservation efforts, influence their day-to-day activities. They may be at that age when many youths are seen as self-absorbed and unfocused, but this ...


The long-term trend data for the National Assessment of Educational Progress was released today and the news is not good for students in high school. Average scores have remained flat for 17-year-olds both in reading and math since the early 1970s, when the assessments were first given. The scores for 17-year-olds in reading, however, did increase by three points, to 286, from 2004 to 2008, which is considered significant. But the same was not true for 17-year-olds in math. The scores remained stagnant for that age group in math during that same period. Written statements are starting to flow into ...


Barack Obama sounded a JFK-style motif in a speech before the National Academy of Sciences today. It came through not only in his direct mining of quotations from the 35th president, and his references to Kennedy’s (and President Eisenhower's) scientific initiatives post-Sputnik. Obama, to be sure, indicated he'd put money and political capital into scientific research and K-12 science education. But he called for some shared sacrifice in return. Specifically, he seemed to beseech scientists to step out of their labs and research facilities a lot more often, to help sell young people on the wonder of science, and ...


Or maybe a meat cleaver ... depends on how you look it at. Florida's governing body for high school athletics approved cutting 20 percent of varsity contests and 40 percent for nonvarsity sports, in response to budget shortfalls. All sports, except the all-mighty—football—will be affected. For those wondering why football was spared, I believe it's because football traditionally brings in revenue, enough to support other sports. At least that's the reasoning that was given to me by Roger Dearing of the Florida High School Athletic Association, when I interviewed him for a story last month on cuts to sports...


Arne Duncan spoke before the nation’s largest gathering of math teachers this weekend in Washington, D.C. While I wouldn’t say there were any dramatic departures from his earlier scripts, the secretary made a few points worth noting, particularly when it comes to trying to get more math teachers into the classroom, and persuading them to stay. The secretary, addressing the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics on Saturday, no doubt made some new friends when he spoke highly of differential pay—basically, paying math teachers more than teachers of other subjects, as a way...


Martin Doblmeier is the director of a documentary film, "The Power of Forgiveness," and has given talks at about 50 screenings of his film around the country. About half the screenings were sponsored by faith groups and the other half by high schools or universities, he says. More universities than schools have been interested in showing the film, but Doblmeier would like to see the film get more exposure in high schools. The film, made in 2007, has been shown in at least one community deeply affected by violence: Blacksburg, Va., the home of Virginia Tech. I chose this month, ...


The theme of this year's National Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual meeting—attended by about 12,000 educators—is “equity,” essentially trying to ensure that all students have an opportunity to learn. It comes as no surprise, then, that one of the big themes of the teachers and academic scholars presenting at various sessions, and among companies trying to peddle commercial products in the exhibit hall, was intervention. As teachers cope with pressure to lift math scores, and attempt to teach difficult courses at earlier grades (see my earlier entry on the question of when calculus should be taught),...


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