It's been 13 months since I filed a request with the Education Department under the Freedom of Information Act, looking for information related to the appointment of a Commission on Reading Research to update the work undertaken by the National Reading Panel a decade ago. I lost faith that my request would be fulfilled a while back, particularly in light of the preliminary response I got, which included more than 80 blank pages. All the contents of the documents I requested were redacted under an exemption that allows federal officials to withhold information deemed deliberative. The law does not allow ...


California's state board has adopted draft content standards for foreign language, "putting the discipline on the same level as math, science, history, and other core academic subjects" for the first time, according to this article from the Sacramento Bee. The move is a badly needed endorsement for the subject, which gets a lot of lip service owing to the importance of such a skill in a global economy. But generally, there has been very little action in making more students learn Spanish or Arabic or Chinese, beyond pilot programs and local efforts. Foreign language, like the arts and civics and ...


They're debating a revision of the state science standards in Texas today, which of course means another debate over evolution's place in the classroom. The Texas state board of education is reviewing a draft of the standards, which basically spell out what students are expected to know in science. The current version of that document says that students should be taught the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories. That language has never been to the liking of scientists, who see it as potentially encouraging teachers to pick on evolution as somehow flawed or weak, when in fact the scientific evidence ...


Here are a couple more resources for inauguration lessons and activities: CSPAN will host four days of inauguration coverage on its television channel and Web site, and has posted curriculum resources on its classroom site CSPAN in the Classroom. Channel One, the news program shown in many middle and high schools, will offer an inaugural edition on Tuesday. The program will provide live coverage of the ceremony, in addition to its regular morning broadcast....


In the wake of the attention being paid to English language learners these days (by this newspaper and others) as well as students with disabilities, the public will be given a chance to influence an important policy affecting those students over the next few weeks. Two public hearings have been scheduled to discuss the options for testing ELLs and students with disabilities on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, commonly known as "the nation's report card." The hearings, to be held Jan. 30 and Feb. 4, will focus on efforts to bring more uniformity to the rules governing ...


Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow John McWhorter offers a scathing critique in this New Republic article of New York City's approach to bridging the reading gap between black and white children. The solution, he argues, is simple: Adopt the direct instruction approach, a scripted program that has perhaps the strongest track records for teaching children to read. He points to the Project Follow Through findings, as well as test results in Richmond, Va., and other places. I just keep wondering why, given the evidence of its effectiveness, it is not more popular. Even among educators who subscribe to scientifically based reading ...


Take a look at the latest Quality Counts report, which concentrates on English-language learners, and you get an idea of the challenges many school systems are facing in meeting the needs of this growing population. You may be surprised by the numbers of students in this category, and the broader data picture. Chris Swanson, the director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, which conducted the exhaustive study, presents the data in an informative Webinar, which you can access on the Ed Week website. There may be some surprises for those of us who aren't up on the information. ...


The Presidential Inauguration Committee has teamed up with both national teachers' unions on lesson plans related to the swearing in of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States and the nation's first black commander-in-chief. The plans include ideas for connecting the current events with history, and particularly with the inauguration of another president from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln. There are reading lists, activities, and documents available for download and printing. A number of other organizations and agencies are also offering resources for use in the classroom. They are designed for various grade levels, and include everything from simple ...


Rep. Mike Honda, a California Democrat, had to whittle down the list of requests for the few inauguration tickets he had to give away. So the former science teacher, public school principal, and school board member came up with a contest that would reward a few creative constituents and potentially yield some ideas for school reform in the process. Honda asked entrants to give their best pitch as to why they deserve the tickets, or to share their educational reform ideas. Here's a sampling of the responses from Rep. Honda's Facebook page. From the summaries posted from the 10 winners, ...


In what will probably not come as a surprise to anybody, a potential fracas over evolution is surfacing again in Louisiana. I write that this wasn't unexpected, because the topic was all but certain to re-emerge with the passage of legislation signed into law last summer by Gov. Bobby Jindal. The first-term Republican governor, with little fanfare, gave his approval to Senate Bill 733, which allows teachers to use supplemental classroom materials that will help students "analyze, critique, and review" scientific theories, including evolution. (It also says the "origins of life, global warming, and human cloning" could be the subject ...


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