It's funny how school improvement ideas around the globe often sound similar themes. As part of Australia's "education revolution," Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced a plan to require school report cards as a condition for receiving federal funding, according to this recent article in The Australian. Rudd, who was elected in November, has also promised to appoint a board to craft a national curriculum, an effort that has been pushed in Australia for decades. The call for national academic standards here in the U.S. has also gained new traction recently. Believe it or not, the plan to put ...


If you've got a strong interest in school policy and testing (seems likely if you're reading this blog), you might consider making a bid for one of the soon-to-be-open spots on the National Assessment Governing Board. NAGB, as it is known in Washington, sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. That gives the governing board an outsized influence on testing nationwide since many states look to NAEP, "the nation's report card," in trying to craft their own exams in various subjects. While NAGB members are appointed by the secretary of education, it's an independent board, designed to go ...


If they are looking for an inspiring and compelling speaker to promote the cause of public education at the conventions, organizers should put Dalton Sherman on the next plane to Denver or St. Paul. Here the 5th grader at the Charles Rice Learning Center gets thousands of Dallas teachers on their feet and psyched up for a new school year: This kid is awesome!...


It may have been a bit depressing following the Fordham Institute's "Education Olympics" or Bob Wise's video commentary comparing the nation's fixation with the Beijing Olympics and athletic excellence with the inadequate attention given students' academic performance. But there was at least one shining achievement. I almost missed it by assuming that all the posts would reflect dismally on U.S. schools and students (and because of the temporary jolt I got from seeing Mike Petrilli with red, white, and blue face paint for his final broadcast). The top finish came not in math or science or even literacy, but ...


Another documentary filled with history, emotion, and visual splendor ran on PBS this week, this one about the photographers who documented "the face of Depression-era America." For Frank Baker that means another chance to help teachers use media resources for their lessons. The longtime educator and media literacy consultant has created a teachers' guide for using the film, "Documenting The Face of America", in the classroom. It includes background, readings, preview and review questions for students, links to national standards in several subjects, and suggested assignments. Baker, who's become somewhat of a guru on media literacy education for his efforts ...


Democrats have descended on the Mile High City this week for their party's national convention (Ed Week coverage galore here and from our home page). One of the headliners will be former Vice President Al Gore, who is expected to speak the final night of the event, around the same time as presumptive nominee Barack Obama. Gore is certain to carry a strong pro-environment message to the podium. But whatever your political views, if you're listing speakers who've made a mark on what gets taught in the classroom over the past few years, you'd probably be hard-pressed not to at ...


In the No Child Left Behind era, it's hardly unusual to see teachers "restructured" out their jobs—basically, fired or reassigned as part of the major changes that the law allows administrators to make at continually poor-performing schools. But not many of those teachers have as devoted a lobby as Art Siebens. Siebens, who until recently worked as a science teacher at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in the District of Columbia, lost his job as part of what has been described as a school restructuring effort under NCLB. He had taught biology, anatomy, and physiology at the school for ...


After-school and informal science education programs have become a fixture in school districts around the country. It's easy to see why. They offer a way to introduce students to the natural world in a fun and pressure-free (free of tests, for example) environment. But how can educators and parents judge the strengths and shortcomings of those programs? And how can researchers evaluate them in a consistent way? A new study, prepared for the Noyce Foundation, attempts to provide some answers to those questions. It recommends the development of specific criteria for judging informal science programs, in areas such as student ...


The issue of boys' literacy has been fueling a lot of chatter lately. It is a topic that has come to my attention a lot throughout my years of covering reading policy and practice for Ed Week. Like every time girls outperform boys on national reading assessments. But lately the coverage has expanded beyond the test scores. USA Today columnist Richard Whitmire has launched a blog solely dedicated to boys and their struggles in school. Why Boys Fail is not all about reading, but it's loaded with material from research, media reports, and online discussions. (There's some interesting guest commentary ...


Few concepts are as fundamental to students' understanding of biology and plant life as photosynthesis. And everybody knows what photosynthesis is, right? Right? Well, a study published this year makes the case for introducing students to scientific concepts and phenomena, such as photosynthesis (the process by which plants use light energy to convert water and sunlight into oxygen and high-energy carbohydrates) in plain English. The study, published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, found that students who were introduced to science concepts in "everyday English" before learning the exact scientific language fared better on tests than students who ...


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