The first lady plans to host her second international literacy meeting in September, two years after the first, which my colleague Mary Ann Zehr covered here. The next one, however, will include discussions summarizing six regional meetings on literacy held around the world by UNESCO over the past year, and strategies for further action. While some longtime UNESCO staffers have seen Mrs. Bush's participation in the organization's literacy program as a political distraction, international development experts have seen it as a sure-fire strategy for raising the profile of the program and awareness of the education crisis in poor nations. See ...


Young people's understanding of government (or lack thereof) has become a prime target of late-night television comics and political parody. That bothers Sandra Day O'Connor, who has spent much of her time since her retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court promoting civic education. Justice O'Connor, 78, who stepped down from the high court in 2006 after 24 years, has been touring the country to make a pitch for a greater focus on civic education in schools. According to the online industry news site Silicon Alley, she is heading up a video-game project to help teach middle school students about ...


For years, American policymakers have looked with increasing wonder and envy at high-performing nations that consistently outperform the United States on heavily publicized international tests, such as PISA and TIMSS. And those assessments don't even provide information about the academic prowess of students in China, a nation of 1.3 billion people. (The People's Republic does not take part in them.) The truth is that for politicians, researchers, journalists, and others, the school practices in many of those countries remain a mystery. It's difficult to get reliable, firsthand information on those countries' standards, curricula, and teaching practices—not to mention...


A new report strongly criticizes the way in which teacher colleges, and by extension, states, are preparing aspiring educators to teach math. Count on it receiving a good amount of attention, given all the worries these days about American students lacking sound skills in that subject. Published by the National Council on Teacher Quality, the report says the curricula used by ed schools cover too little of the math content elementary teachers need—and that what's required varies greatly from campus to campus. Many states don't help the situation, the report found. Eighteen states have no requirements for what teacher-candidates need...


A Senate appropriations subcommittee has also voted to eliminate funding for Reading First, according to this article by my colleague Alyson Klein. So it looks like these efforts by the Reading First Advisory Committee to send a statement to committee members may be too late. Meanwhile, there's all kinds of discussions going on via the listservs and bloggers, including a very interesting take on the situation by Tim Shanahan here. Shanahan says that RF could have survived through the scathing inspector general's reports or the disappointing results of the federal impact study, but not both. "Under the circumstances, Reading First ...


As I've written previously, science teachers are eager to find information on how to present sensible and accurate information about climate change, whatever their personal views on the issue. Yet many have found that those resources are hard to come by. State standards generally don't mention the topic, and, probably as a result, a lot of textbooks and curricular materials don't, either. I will say that the publishing industry seems to be putting some money into developing new materials, judging from the sheer volume of stuff coming into my mailbox. Even so, science teachers appear to be left to cobble ...


The Center on Education Policy has released a new study on what's happened with student achievement since the inception of No Child Left Behind. It concludes that 1) state achievement has risen in math and reading; and that 2) the achievement gap between white and minority students appears to have closed, at least judging by students' performance on state tests, and to a lesser extent, by their performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. One measure the CEP report uses is the percent of students scoring at the "proficient" level on their state tests. Last year, I wrote about ...


Looks like a House appropriations subcommittee isn't interested in revising or strengthening Reading First, as many advocates and experts have advised. As my colleague Alyson Klein reports here, the panel, led by David Obey, one of the harshest critics of was a $1 billion-a-year program, would zero out funding in fiscal 2009. After the 61 percent cut to RF in the fiscal '08 budget, the strength of the program is certainly compromised. Many districts will be forced to eliminate positions, particularly the reading coaches that became a standard resource in participating schools. But many observers believe the RF principles—the ...


The Shasta Volcano was declared dead by the principal of Shasta High School, in Redding, Calif., after the student newspaper featured a photo of the American flag burning. An op-ed in the paper discussed freedom of speech, but that did not convince the principal that students had the right to publish material he deemed offensive. The superintendent of the Shasta Union High School District, however, reversed the decision after meeting with the incoming editor, according to the Student Press Law Center. The newspaper staff will receive guidance from journalists at the local newspaper....


The Reading First Impact Study interim report released by IES last month upset a lot of the program's fans, who've seen progress in their own schools/districts or on a statewide basis. It caused a bit of hand-wringing, and then a round of number crunching. Local and state representatives went to their databases and began printing off page after page of test results from Reading First schools, where they say there's been dramatic improvements. Some of those analyses, including this, were then tapped by bloggers, RF-friendly columnists, and national organizations to argue that the Impact Study—which found that the ...


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