Charles Smith, the executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, has announced that he's stepping down from that post to take a position with the Washington office of ACT. The governing board, which sets policy for the influential National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, has an important role in education policy, though one that, it's safe to say, is probably not well understood by the public at large. Smith, 69, says he has sought to change that during his tenure on the board. He took the position of executive director in 2003, not long after the passage of ...


Math and science "academies" have grown more popular around the country in recent years. But the movement apparently has stalled in Gary, Ind., as Ball State University has withdrawn its sponsorship of a new school there. The school was scheduled to open on Aug. 20 in the city the Jackson Five made famous. But according to the Associated Press, university officials found that the school had not secured an adequate building, enrolled students, or hired teachers. The school was to be known as the Indiana Math and Science Academy, a charter school. A university official is quoted as saying it ...


This is my second and last entry blog based on a recent interview with Francis M. "Skip" Fennell, who completed his two-year run as president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, earlier this year. The first entry focused mostly on Fennell's work in crafting and promoting "Curriculum Focal Points,". But Fennell also had another prominent task while serving as NCTM president: He was named to a seat on the National Math Advisory Panel, a White House-created group tasked with identifying the best ways to prepare kids to take and succeed in algebra. Pretty much from the get-go, the ...


The Education Commission of the States has launched a pair of online resources, which seek to provide a nationwide view of state efforts in science, math, and career and technical education (the subject formerly known as vocational education). The first resource, at http://www.ecs.org/hsdb-stem, provides a 50-state database on state programs and efforts in STEM education. These include state policies in the recruitment of science and math teachers, after-school programs in those subjects, graduation requirements, state mentoring and internship programs, and so on. The second online site is a database on career and technical education, at http://www.ecs.org/hsdb-cte....


Earlier this year, Francis M. "Skip" Fennell's two-year term as president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics officially ended. Debates over the most effective strategies for teaching math—sometimes called the "math wars"—have been playing out for years in school districts around the country. And it's safe to say that Fennell has had a unique vantage point in observing, and to some degree, attempting to mediate those disputes. In 2006, NCTM released "Curriculum Focal Points." The document that seeks to spell out the core math skills students need in grades pre-K-8 drew praise from combatants on various...


What would happen if instead of silencing or confiscating cell phones in the classroom, teachers encouraged students to use them? Hall Davidson, the director of the Discovery Educator Network, wants teachers to realize the potential power cell phones hold for enlivening lessons and engaging students in the content they are learning. Most cell phones, Davidson points out, now have a number of technological features that schools used to pay thousands of dollars for as separate devices—camera, video recorder, GPS, text messaging, music player—and many students, even in low-income areas, own one. At a weeklong workshop for a corps of...


A couple years ago, a bunch of leading business organizations set an ambitious goal: "Double the number of U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduates with bachelor's degrees by 2015." But as those leaders frankly acknowledged this week, the nation has barely moved toward hitting that mark so far. The United States produced 223,255 such grads in 2005, and that number had only risen to 225,660 by 2007, reported the members of Tapping America's Potential, the business coalition. That's light years removed from their goal of reaching 400,000 by 2015. Several members of TAP, as they ...


Anyone interested in how schools, particularly those in rural communities, are recruiting and retaining math and science teachers and attempting to improve instruction in those subjects, might sit in on a forum taking place on Capitol Hill tomorrow (Wednesday, July 16.) Edvantia, an organization that researches rural school issues, is hosting an event that will highlight the work of the National Science Foundation in promoting math and science education in rural areas. Those communities often struggle to lure and keep capable math and science teachers, already in short supply in schools nationwide. The forum, which begins at 9 a.m. ...


Quote of the day from Nicholas Krisof's opinion piece in yesterday's New York Times, which touts the efforts of Greg Mortenson and his book, "Three Cups of Tea," about building schools in Pakistan: “I am convinced that the long-term solution to terrorism in general, and Afghanistan specifically, is education,” Lt. Col. Christopher Kolenda, who works on the Afghan front lines, said in an e-mail in which he raved about Mr. Mortenson’s work. “The conflict here will not be won with bombs but with books. ... The thirst for education here is palpable.”...


The debate rages on over Reading First, with supporters trying to make their case for preserving the federal program, which they say is proving itself in higher test results, improved teacher knowledge, and support among educators. The critics are picking through the data and arguing that, at best, there is little evidence that it is effective, and, at worst, is promoting a low-level form of literacy in its skills-based approach. Over at USAToday.com there are about 60 comments! to this story by Greg Toppo, arguing for and against and otherwise. And the debate continues among researchers like Reid Lyon ...


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