Is there any obligation for a school sports team to ease up on an opponent, when one side is so outmatched that the event devolves in a blowout that's embarrassing to just about everybody involved? Should athletic associations set up rules to prevent this from taking place? Those questions leap to mind in the wake of a much-publicized beat-down delivered by the girls basketball team from Covenant School, a Christian school in Texas, to the team from Dallas Academy, on Jan. 13. Even by the standards of high school basketball, where talent mismatches are common, this score was pretty stunning: ...


Any time the U.S. Department of Education gets a nudge to move on FOIA requests, particularly those related to the Reading First program, it gets my full attention. I have tussled with the department a number of times over the last six years, constantly nagging and prodding for documents that should be readily available but somehow take months, even years, to find and process. I'm not the only one to hit such hurdles. Now CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has won a round with this federal court judgment. The Washington-based organization, which uses FOIA, litigation, and ...


The Washington Post has a good story on what I would describe as an under-reported issue in education today: The dissimilarity of math standards and courses that, on paper, appear to be uniform. The story focuses on Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, and their efforts to encourage more students to take Algebra 2. The story says DC is moving toward a requirement that all students complete that math class before high school graduation. While Virginia and Maryland are not taking that step, the story notes that all three jurisdictions are raising requirements for Algebra 2 in one way ...


Scientists are celebrating in Texas today—or are they? The Texas state board of education on Friday tentatively approved new science standards, the basic blueprint that spells out what students are expected to know in that subject. The overwhelming focus has been on how the document would treat evolution. The existing version of the standards, which have been around since 1998, call for students to learn about the "strengths and weaknesses" of various scientific theories. Scientists have long complained about that wording, basically arguing that certain critics are only interested in examining what they believe are weaknesses in one theory...


Looks like the international assessments, TIMSS and PISA, are set for revamping and will include measures of 21st-century skills. Just how they will quantify those skills may depend on the results of a joint project being undertaken by of three of the world’s largest technology companies: Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems, and Intel Corp. The companies are working together to create assessments that measure things like critical thinking, technical aptitude, and collaboration. The project was unveiled this month at the Learning and Technology World Forum in London. Barry McGaw, the executive director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute in Australia, ...


I've written periodically about the struggle to improve educational opportunities for children, and particularly girls, in Afghanistan. In the process of reporting stories like this one, I've always been struck by the intense desire these children have for learning, and the value that families there place on education. But there are still factions in the country, generally aligned with the Taliban regime, working to prevent children, especially girls, from getting educated. They will do just about anything to derail educational efforts, including maiming and killing teachers and children. Here's another story, though, about how the desire for education transcends fear ...


I have no scientific data to back up my assumption that most teachers in America—at least the ones teaching in the upper-elementary grades through high school—took time out of the day yesterday either to watch part of the inauguration or discuss the events and their place in history. Even in a busy school day, with a full curriculum, this topic warrants priority. Over at Teacher Magazine I found an interesting, albeit brief, discussion about what teachers would be doing on Inauguration Day, but I wonder how it all turned out. How did you make the topic meaningful...


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 ...


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