With the declining daylight hours and cooler weather hitting the Mid-Atlantic, it is a lot easier for me to get my kids to sit down with a book in the afternoons and evenings. What hasn't been so easy is finding the books that will suck them in and keep them engaged beyond the obligatory 20- to 30- minute reading time each day. I've searched library stacks and online education sites for recommendations, which have sometimes worked out well. My daughter, a 5th grader, has found a few that kept her up reading past bedtime, or left her sitting in the ...


There is a lot of discussion and speculation about how the federal education agenda will play out under the Obama administration, and whether the new president will take up reading reform in the wake of the controversy over Reading First, and the likely demise of that program. In a lengthy letter to the next president, Eduflack urges President-elect Obama to be "bold and audacious" and break the status quo in education. He then makes some general recommendations for policy decisions on key issues, such as accountability and school choice and teachers. He offers this on reading: "Reading—I have reluctantly ...


There's been a steady push to encourage students to take more math, and tougher math, in high school. Business leaders, advocacy organizations, and state and local policymakers provided a lot of the muscle behind that movement, arguing that high-level math skills are going to become increasingly important in the years to come. But why is advanced math important? For students, teachers, and parents, sometimes the responses can seem pretty vague, and unsatisfying. Some people will tell you it's because more jobs are going to require strong math skills, and the thinking that comes from taking demanding courses. Others say it's ...


You might have followed the debate this year over Florida's revision of its state science standards, but it's a good bet you've never heard of something called the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee. Yet that heretofore obscure panel is a player in odd new developments that could result in that document having to go through another review by state officials. The science standards that were narrowly approved by the state board of education in February, you might recall, won praise from the scientific community for offering a fuller treatment of the theory of evolution. Florida's previous standards did not even mention ...


Barack Obama, with 57 percent, over John McCain's 39 percent. That's the result of the Scholastic Presidential Election Poll, announced last month. Students participating in the poll have been right on all but two occasions since 1940. They voted for Thomas E. Dewey in the close 1948 election won by Harry S. Truman, and for Richard Nixon in his loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960. For all the talk about Obama being a rock star of sorts, owing to his appeal with America's youth, some of the student voters couldn't resist writing in their own favorites. Miley Cyrus and ...


The Detroit schools have taken their share of hits over the years, and many of those blows have been self-inflicted. But a recent study in an academic journal has found that a middle school science curriculum used in the district has resulted in improved science understanding, and higher standardized test scores, particularly among African-American boys. Students who made the gains were using a curriculum devised by the Center for Learning Technologies in Urban Schools, developed in partnership with the district. Participants in that project published their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. The ...


There's no surer sign of autumn's arrival than Halloween, when friends, co-workers, and complete strangers greet you in colorfully outlandish costumes, looking to impress you and rustle up some candy while they're at it. Yet autumn also brings another important American tradition: an unrelenting, glorious spate of football games. Since we're roughly at the midway point of the professional football season, I thought I'd relay a story that relates to that beloved American sport, and to science teaching. Not too long ago, I read a fine biography of the legendary late coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi. It ...


A few years ago, I queried a few states looking for itemized budgets for Reading First. I was curious to learn what similarities and differences were in the kinds of things individual states were spending their millions in federal grant monies on. Of course, much of the money was spent in very visible ways—well-attended and well-organized professional-development sessions, new instructional materials, reading coaches in every school—but there were also rumors that some of the money was being spent hastily on nonessentials simply because there was so much cash on hand, or to meet spending deadlines. Alas, there were...


Opponents of a new mandate requiring that all California students take introductory algebra in 8th grade scored a victory in court this week. How significant a victory? Check back in December. A Sacramento County superior court judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the new mandate from taking effect. Judge Shelleyanne Chang agreed the groups that sued to prevent the requirement from going forward, the California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators, would "suffer irreparable injury before the matter can be heard" formally, the Associated Press reported. She said the state Board of Education, which approved ...


After some five years at the helm of the National Institute for Literacy, Sandra Baxter's appointment was not renewed this month and a national search was launched for her replacement. It took a bit of effort to find the announcement, but here it is. No word on where Baxter has landed, but Dan Miller of OVAE is now the acting director. Like Baxter, the next executive director will have the unenviable task of answering to officials from the Education Department, the NICHD, and the other federal agencies that are part of the Interagency Group that oversees the institute. There's no ...


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