"Sesame Street" has sought for years to help children from all backgrounds develop basic reading skills. Can "Planet 429" help them read and comprehend? WTTW National Productions, a Chicago-based company, has begun production of a TV show to be titled "Mission to Planet 429," which, like Sesame Street and other educational-themed programs, will seek to help nurture students' reading skills as it entertains them. "Planet 429" is expected to hit the air on PBS about a year from now, targeting 6- to 9-year-olds. The show seems likely to receive an added dose of publicity because of one of the creative ...


Every week seems to bring new drama for besieged Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Will he resign, or be impeached? Can he successfully defend himself against federal corruption charges? Most recently, will the man he has nominated to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris, ever be allowed to serve? But those of us who focus on education might be asking another question: What does Robert Schiller make of all of this? Some readers will recall that Schiller served as the Illinois' schools superintendent for two years before being essentially pushed out of ...


Let's say you're entering your senior year of high school. Your school district, or your state, is requiring you to take a fourth year of math. But the only options offered, in addition to the courses you've already taken, are pre-calculus, calculus, and a more basic course that wouldn't challenge you. You don't want to take a blow-off course, but you also don't like the calc and pre-calc options. It's not that you hate math. But you're not planning on majoring in math in college. You want math that challenges you in a different way. Many schools are creating alternative ...


Less than a year after a federal panel offered its blueprint for how to improve teaching and learning in math, a number of academic researchers have put some sharply worded critiques of that work in print. Their reviews have been published in a special issue of the Educational Researcher, a journal of the American Educational Research Association. The AERA, a well-known, nonpartisan Washington organization, invited and published the essays, which examine the final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, titled “Foundations for Success.” The math panel was appointed in 2006 by President Bush to study effective strategies for improving ...


With the recent release of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (suggested headline: Mixed Results for the United States), it's worth noting that there are many good opinion pieces and commentaries being put forward by researchers offering their take on how to interpret these and other, nation v. nation exams. The obvious question these commentators are trying to get at is: How good- or bad-off are we? In trying to interpret those results, I'm struck by how many respected, astute researchers have looked at the available data from international tests like TIMSS and PISA and come to very ...


There’s a long, fractious debate over the performance of public schools v. private schools in this country, and that feud has grown more intense over the past few years, with the publication of a couple of intriguing studies on student performance that compare the two systems. And if subject-specific fights are your thing, you’d find a similar level of rancor in play in the so-called “math wars,” the seemingly unceasing disagreement over the value of “reform”-oriented math, as opposed to a more “traditional” curriculum. (Though there has been noticeable evidence of a détente among the various factions ...


A judge has now officially blocked a California policy requiring students to take algebra in 8th grade from going forward. Judge Shelleyanne Chang had originally issued a "tentative ruling" saying she was likely to halt the policy, as of a few days ago. But she's now made the decision final, in a decision dated today, Dec. 22. If you opposed California's algebra mandate, don't celebrate just yet. Ted Mitchell, the chairman of the California Board of Education, which approved the policy, says the panel will appeal, according to the Associated Press. More to come....


A California judge has issued a “tentative ruling” saying she's likely to block a requirement that all California students take algebra in 8th grade. California Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang, in a ruling dated today (Friday), sided with advocates who had argued that the state, in approving the controversial policy, did not allow for sufficient public input in that process. She also appeared to agree with their view that state officials had exceeded their authority in approving the mandate. Tentative rulings are common in California courts, and, as the name tells us, they're not final until the judge makes them ...


Zoos, aquariums, and science centers have become major resources for science teachers over the years. Educators see those facilities as places where students can study the behavior of living things, or learn about them through visually appealing exhibits, rather than simply reading about them in a textbook or hearing about them in a lecture. In reporting a story earlier this year, I learned that 90 percent of the nation’s zoos, aquariums, and museums said that they had at least one educational outreach program. That story was about Urban Advantage, a New York City program that offered middle school students ...


I came across this new release from the Ed Dept. on the "Progress by Our Schools and the U.S. Department of Education." The paper outlines what the Ed. Dept. sees as accomplishments of the NCLB era, including higher test scores, a narrowing achievement gap, and progress on international comparison exams. It also recounts some of the changes the law required, including more data, disaggregated by student group, options for students in failing schools, and more support services for those schools. There are sections on teachers, higher education, and choice. I'm sure some of the claims will be challenged by ...


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