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 ...


Here are a couple more resources for inauguration lessons and activities: CSPAN will host four days of inauguration coverage on its television channel and Web site, and has posted curriculum resources on its classroom site CSPAN in the Classroom. Channel One, the news program shown in many middle and high schools, will offer an inaugural edition on Tuesday. The program will provide live coverage of the ceremony, in addition to its regular morning broadcast....


In the wake of the attention being paid to English language learners these days (by this newspaper and others) as well as students with disabilities, the public will be given a chance to influence an important policy affecting those students over the next few weeks. Two public hearings have been scheduled to discuss the options for testing ELLs and students with disabilities on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, commonly known as "the nation's report card." The hearings, to be held Jan. 30 and Feb. 4, will focus on efforts to bring more uniformity to the rules governing ...


Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow John McWhorter offers a scathing critique in this New Republic article of New York City's approach to bridging the reading gap between black and white children. The solution, he argues, is simple: Adopt the direct instruction approach, a scripted program that has perhaps the strongest track records for teaching children to read. He points to the Project Follow Through findings, as well as test results in Richmond, Va., and other places. I just keep wondering why, given the evidence of its effectiveness, it is not more popular. Even among educators who subscribe to scientifically based reading ...


Take a look at the latest Quality Counts report, which concentrates on English-language learners, and you get an idea of the challenges many school systems are facing in meeting the needs of this growing population. You may be surprised by the numbers of students in this category, and the broader data picture. Chris Swanson, the director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, which conducted the exhaustive study, presents the data in an informative Webinar, which you can access on the Ed Week website. There may be some surprises for those of us who aren't up on the information. ...


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