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 ...


The federal officials who oversee the National Assessment of Educational Progress took a first look at a new idea for administering the exam, which would mark a major departure for the test known as "the nation's report card." That method, which is only under discussion at this point, is known as "targeted," or "adaptive," testing. In basic terms, it involves tailoring tests so that students at different ability levels receive exams with different levels of difficulty, rather than giving all students tests at the same level of difficulty. The panel that sets policy for the NAEP, the National Assessment Governing ...


The Texas board of education is the latest state entity to begin debating the status of evolution in the state's science academic standards. To provide a quick overview: The current version of Texas' science standards calls for students to understand the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories. That language irks scientists, who see it as a way of falsely implying that evolution is riddled with flaws, as opposed to being one of the best-established principles in science. A draft produced by an expert committee recommended dropping that language, as part of a broader reworking of the standards. Then Texas' board ...


The IES released the final Reading First Impact Study report today, and the bottom line is that the $6 billion spent on the federal initiative over the last six years helped boost decoding skills among 1st graders in the program, but had no effect on comprehension for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd graders. Ed Week reports on the study here, and already there are two opposing comments. One commenter asks a number of good questions about whether the program was implemented properly and what are the variations among the 250 schools in the study. The other suggests that focusing on low-level ...


The state of Arkansas and the city of Chicago have shown the capacity to produce presidents from the Democratic Party. But less appreciated are their efforts to produce ... middle school algebra teachers! A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a venture by Arkansas to create a specific endorsement , rather than a generic one in math, for teachers who want to teach algebra at the middle school level. The idea is to produce educators who are better prepared to teach that class in middle school, at a time when, across the country, more students are being asked to take introductory algebra ...


A couple years ago, I was lucky enough to be one of many reporters who crowded into a federal courtroom in Harrisburg, Pa., to cover a landmark court case over whether "intelligent design" had a place in public school science classrooms. The legal battle centered on a decision by the Dover, Pa., school board to require that students be introduced in biology class to intelligent design, an alternative to the theory of evolution. A group of parents sued to halt the policy, arguing that it amounted to an attempt to promote religious views in a public school science setting. Federal ...


The title of this entry is a mouthful, I know. But they're all topics scheduled to be discussed next week by the board that sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. The meeting of the National Assessment Governing Board is scheduled for Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 20-22, to be held just outside Washington. On Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m., the board will continue its discussion of policies to allow students to be excluded from, or received special accomodations, on NAEP tests. States follow their own exam policies right now, and as a result, the percentage of students ...


So many people who work with young people and youth organizations have been heartened by the enthusiasm and energy that American teens and young adults displayed leading up to the presidential election this month. Even students who are still too young to cast a vote were following the race, expressing their views on issues via blogs and social networking sites, and even volunteering in the campaigns. This week in Washington, experts involved in programs serving youth said that the youth factor in the election and the growing numbers of teenagers participating in community service, as seen in this new report, ...


With the declining daylight hours and cooler weather hitting the Mid-Atlantic, it is a lot easier for me to get my kids to sit down with a book in the afternoons and evenings. What hasn't been so easy is finding the books that will suck them in and keep them engaged beyond the obligatory 20- to 30- minute reading time each day. I've searched library stacks and online education sites for recommendations, which have sometimes worked out well. My daughter, a 5th grader, has found a few that kept her up reading past bedtime, or left her sitting in the ...


There is a lot of discussion and speculation about how the federal education agenda will play out under the Obama administration, and whether the new president will take up reading reform in the wake of the controversy over Reading First, and the likely demise of that program. In a lengthy letter to the next president, Eduflack urges President-elect Obama to be "bold and audacious" and break the status quo in education. He then makes some general recommendations for policy decisions on key issues, such as accountability and school choice and teachers. He offers this on reading: "Reading—I have reluctantly ...


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