A couple weeks ago, I wrote a story about a study that looked at the rising number of students taking algebra in 8th grade and made the argument that many of those middle schoolers are woefully unprepared for the challenge. How unprepared? Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution examined coursetaking data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and found that the lowest-performing students taking 8th grade algebra were scoring five or six years below grade level. Now a new study takes issue with Loveless' conclusions, particularly his use of data comparing average state NAEP scores and students' enrollments in ...


Some parents and residents in Racine, Wis., are raising eyebrows over a section in a middle school literature textbook that includes a lengthy narrative on Barack Obama and excerpts from his book, Dreams From My Father. The 8th grade text, published by McDougal Littell, has been in use in the schools since last year, according to this local news account. And now, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the debate has gone national, fueling a feeding frenzy on blogs and Web forums. Some conservative bloggers and pundits see it as a carefully organized campaign to indoctrinate students with liberal ...


My fellow bloggers at edweek.org have covered the lawsuit filed last week by the New York City teachers' union, which is protesting restrictions on teachers wearing political buttons in school (see Teacher Beat and Campaign K-12 ). But there is a compelling curriculum angle to the issue as well. The United Federation of Teachers asked for a temporary restraining order against the decades-old policy—which Chancellor Joel Klein recently asked principals to enforce—it says violates educators' free-speech rights. I've spoken to a lot of history/social studies teachers over the last 12 years at Ed Week, and written ...


The country will soon have a new way of measuring the technological know-how of its students, if federal testing officials' plans come to fruition. The board that oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress is taking steps to create a test of technological literacy for students, which federal officials say will be the first-ever nationwide gauge of those skills. The governing board has announced that it has made a preliminary move to create the tech test by awarding a $1.86 million contract to WestEd to develop a framework, or basic blueprint for the exam. The test will "define and ...


Earlier this week I attended an event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences, an umbrella group representing 17 math organizations. The event was focused on the recent report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel and how to interpret its findings and translate them into school policy. Some members of the math panel spoke, as did Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. But the event, held Oct. 6-7, was also arranged to allow groups of state and local school officials, math curriculum experts, and college faculty to meet in small groups to discuss ...


Reading First may benefit from the lack of action on the fiscal 2009 federal budget. As my colleague Alyson Klein reported this week, Congress passed an extension bill that would essentially provide the same level of funding for the federal reading program as in fiscal 2008. That's $393 million. The figure is less than the $1 billion or more the program had received each year since it was implemented in 2002. But it is far more than the zero funding that two congressional panels proposed in their versions of the fiscal 2009 budget. Congress passed the extension bill late last ...


Mark Schneider, who has served as director of the U.S. Department of Education’s top statistical office since 2005, is resigning from his post to take a job at a leading Washington research organization. You can read more on this at Ed Week's home page. The NCES official is leaving to accept a job at the American Institutes for Research, a major research center headquartered in the nation’s capital. Before joining NCES, Schneider, 61, was a widely published scholar and professor of political science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He was named deputy ...


If Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has her way, "the nation's report card" will soon have its own place on state and local report cards. Back in April, her department proposed federal rules that would require states and local education agencies to report state results on the National Assessment of Educational Progess (dubbed "the nation's report card") on their report cards, which detail results on state assessments. Those proposals were put out for public comment, and the secretary said the final regulations are likely to be issued in October or November. On Tuesday, Spellings said she still favors going forward ...


Why are more minorities not pursuing undergraduate and advanced degrees in computer science? A new book examines that question and finds that the answer can be traced to a number of factors in K-12 systems, including high school course offerings, access to counseling, the influence of teachers, and students' beliefs about their own abilities. "Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing" by UCLA Senior Researcher Jane Margolis, was published by the MIT Press last month. The book focuses in part on the experiences of students and teachers in three public high schools in Los Angeles, including an overcrowded ...


The International Reading Association has established a RTI Commission to address issues and concerns raised by members related to the response-to-intervention approach to reading instruction. RTI is being implemented across the country as a way of improving instruction for all students, as well as identifying students who need intervention or intensive special education services because of reading failure. The commission will be communicating with IRA's network of state affiliates to expand participation and plan related activities and events. The commission is chaired by Marjorie Y. Lipson of the University of Vermont and Karen K. Wixson of the University of Michigan. ...


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