If U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has started a fire in proposing that states adopt common academic standards, a report released today by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is adding kindling to the flames. The report looks at how the academic standards in 28 states are playing out in 36 elementary and middle schools. Basically, it found that it's much easier for schools to make adequate yearly progress goals under the No Child Left Behind Act in some states rather than other states. "Can we now officially say that accountability as currently conceived and practiced is a joke?" ...


After posting a series of items on national standards on this blog, like this one, I got an email from Neal McCluskey over at the Cato Institute. There are naysayers when it comes to national standards, for sure. McCluskey, the associate director for the Center for Educational Freedom at the Libertarian institute, is among them. And remember, the nation's initial foray into national standards was contentious and largely ineffectual. So it's only fair to present the counter argument. In his response to the Weingarten piece, McCluskey argues that standards do not guarantee quality. He elaborates in a handful of Op-Eds ...


In another sign of the growing interest of renewable energy lessons in schools, community colleges—a destination for many high school graduates—are getting into the act. One example is Kalamazoo Valley Community College, in Michigan. The college's officials have announced a new program to train wind-turbine technicians, according to this story. A similar program for wind-turbine workers is being created at North Iowa Area Community College. Iowa has no shortage of wind, the author of this blog item, a native Midwesterner, will attest. I learned of those programs through an organization that works heavily with community colleges, the Association...


In Massachusetts, three school districts are rethinking whether to offer full-day kindergarten for free, and the school board of a California district recently discussed cutting kindergarten altogether. The Boston Globe reported this week in "Schools reconsider full-day programs" that one district halted a plan to add full-day classes, another wants to charge fees for parents that opt to enroll their children in full-day kindergarten, and another has already announced fees. The Capistrano Unified School District in California recently announced a list of possible budget cuts that included eliminating kindergarten. That idea didn't go over well with some parents, who wondered ...


One essential skill I wasn't taught in my kindergarten-through-master's-degree education was how to read a road map. I learned this skill on my own through trial and error after I bought my first car at the age of 25 and worked as a reporter-intern at the Indianapolis Star. I'm spatially challenged, and maps and MapQuest directions are now my lifeline when I visit a new city for Education Week. And even then, sometimes I get lost. So if learning how to read a wide range of maps—from a highway map to Google Earth—isn't yet part of state academic...


Researchers from around the country are coming to the National Science Foundation this week to discuss cutting-edge and otherwise innovative research on science, technology, mathematics, and engineering ("STEM") education topics. On Thursday, Feb. 19, educational psychologists, cognitive scientists and others will present information on work funded through NSF's Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering program, known as REESE. A number of researchers will make presentations from 3:30 to 5 p.m., at NSF's offices at 4201 Wilson Boulevard, in Arlington, Va. A full roster of the participants, along with background information on their research, is available ...


At a time when cities are starved for revenue, New Orleans will lose a little bit of convention-related cash as a result of the state's new policy on teaching evolution. According to this story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology has told Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal that the organization is choosing Salt Lake City over New Orleans for its 2011 convention. The reason? The group's objections to the Science Education Act, signed into law by the Republican governor last year. That law gives teachers permission to use supplementary materials on topics such as evolution ...


Just in time for the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, Oklahoma legislators took up a bill that would have allowed students to "analyze, critique, and review" scientific theories, including evolution. Lawmakers, by a narrow margin, weighed and measured the proposal and found it wanting. The state's Senate Education Committee rejected the "Science Education and Academic Freedom Act," sponsored by Republican Sen. Randy Brogdon, by a 7-6 vote, according to this story in the Associated Press. The bill's language bore a resemblance to "academic freedom" measures considered in other states. It asserts that scientific subjects such as evolution, global warming, and ...


At a time when many educators are looking for ways to encourage more students, and more girls in particular, to take an interest in science, a new study suggests gender bias in male and female views of their high school teachers' abilities could be setting back those efforts. The study finds that male students rate their female science teachers significantly lower than their male teachers in biology, chemistry, and physics. Females students also rate women teachers negatively, though only in physics. Those attitudes' show up despite male and female teachers showing roughly the same level of effectiveness in preparing students ...


Now AFT President Randi Weingarten is making a case for national standards. In this Washington Post commentary, Weingarten says it is time to revisit the need for a common set of rigorous standards for all U.S. children if we are to be competitive with high-performing countries that already have such a system in place. "I am not talking about federal standards for every subject taught in American public schools, nor am I proposing that state and local education authorities lose all say on curriculum," she writes. "I certainly am not suggesting that teachers be forced to provide instruction in ...


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