The International Reading Association is looking to shift more of the decision making back to teachers when it comes to reading and writing instruction. That would be a pendulum shift away from many current policies at the local, state, and federal levels that have instituted strict requirements for the materials and methods teachers use in their classrooms. In a new policy paper, published in the Dec./Jan. issue of Reading Today, the Newark, Del.-based association outlines its recommendations for the incoming Obama administration. The association also wants more and better professional development, as well as a boost in the ...


As the clock ticks down on the Bush administration and the tenure of many appointees at the U.S. Department of Education, I keep wondering what will happen to the Commission on Reading Research. It has been a long, foggy road for this panel, and sometimes I wonder if it has just been a mirage on the horizon. Probably not to the prominent researchers who've agreed to serve on it, and who have patiently endured what may be the longest pending announcement about an education panel in history. Could they still be going through the vetting process? Troy Justesen, who ...


Public and private organizations have tried all sorts of strategies to try to get girls and women more interested in science and math studies and careers—summer camps, the use of role models and mentors in the field, outreach to parents. Now, a new, and I suppose far hipper variation on those efforts is being tried: a social- networking site, aimed at luring more females into the so-called STEM fields. The site, www.underthemicroscope.com, was created by the Feminist Press, of the City University of New York, along with IBM and support from the National Science Foundation. It aims...


Late night funnyman Stephen Colbert, of all people, examined the issue of paying students for performing well in school this week. On Monday, Colbert hosted economist Roland Fryer, who has developed a program for paying students for achievement in school. Students are taking part in these sorts of programs in Chicago, New York, the District of Columbia, and other areas. Remarked Colbert: "If it works, look forward to Secretary of Education Alex Trebek." And later: "What is wrong with the older generation's way of doing things, where they paid kids to do well in school by not opening a can ...


A new survey shows that more high school students are lying, cheating, and stealing—a reflection, it says, of the "entrenched habits of dishonesty" among young people. The 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth, released by the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Los Angeles, is the result of a survey of 29,000 students at public and private high schools throughout the country. Sixty-four percent of the students said they have cheated on a test over the past year, with nearly four in 10 doing so more than once. Some 40 percent lifted information off the Internet...


All schools would like to think they're capable of producing the scientists of the future—students with the academic skill, curiosity, and creativity to conduct research in cutting-edge fields. But supporters of math and science academies, or specialty high schools, see themselves as especially well-suited to that mission. Now, a new study will attempt to examine whether specialized math and science public high schools actually turn out more scientists in the life, physical, and behavior sciences. Those schools' performance in that area will be compared against traditional high schools. The three-year study will be conducted by researchers at the University...


In the latest twist in the great California algebra debate, the feds have said that because the state is not complying with a testing mandate, they plan to take $1 million from the California Department of Education and redirect it to needy schools. The move is the result of delays associated with California's attempt to test all 8th graders in introductory algebra, a controversial policy that is now stalled in court. California's state board of education voted in July to require that all 8th graders be tested in Algebra 1 within three years, which state officials say has the effect ...


A couple of weeks ago I pointed to a few lists of recommended books to help parents and teachers find texts that would suck children in to the wonders of reading. The lists included primarily popular and classic literature. Will Fitzhugh reminded me today that such lists are incomplete without the kinds of captivating tales—fiction and non-fiction—that are based on history. Fitzhugh, who has devoted his career to publishing the outstanding history research papers of high school students in the renowned Concord Review, gets agitated by all the well-funded efforts to promote reading that fail to acknowledge...


Federal officials have taken a major step toward setting standards that would allow the public to use scores on a test known as "the nation's report card" to judge 12th grade students' preparation for college and the job market. On Friday, the board that sets policy for that influential test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, voted to accept a report of an expert panel tasked with setting those standards. The move essentially allows federal officials to move forward and begin conducting detailed studies to judge how students' NAEP test performance could be matched against their preparation for college and ...


When the interim report of the Reading First Impact Study came out in May, there was an uproar from fans of the federal program who said the methodology was seriously flawed. As I reported here, they cited the likely "contamination" of the comparison schools, meaning that even though they didn't receive the grant money they were implementing many of the same policies and practices as participating schools. Given that many of the RF and non-RF schools were potentially benefiting from the same professional development, instructional materials, and practices, the critics argued, it would be surprising if the evaluation found much ...


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