If you are concerned about getting students more motivated to study math and science, especially more difficult math and science, the results of a recent Public Agenda survey are likely to feel a bit troubling. It seems that students, and their parents, are satisfied with a less-rigorous level of instruction in those subjects. Check out the Education Week story about the survey results....


Back in May, I had promised to keep readers up to speed on any developments in the Wisconsin Covenant program, which plans to offer guaranteed college placement and financial aid to high school students in the state who maintain B averages. Well, here's the latest: Almost 10,000 ninth graders in the state have signed a pledge that promises them a route to a college in Wisconsin if they meet certain goals, according to a recent Associated Press story. That number seems like a first step toward determining how effective such external motivators can be. But it's also worth noting ...


Will Fitzhugh, the founder and president of the Concord Review, a journal of academic writing by high school students, has written a thought-provoking essay, "Absent From Class," for edweek.org that poses the question: Why do so many of our high school students do so little work? This, of course, is a question educators have been asking for years. But what was especially interesting about Fitzhugh's essay was how he contrasted the high levels of motivation today's high school students show in sports and other extracurricular activities versus the disturbingly low levels of motivation they have for academic work. "I ...


My thoughts today turn to a Tuesday exactly six years ago when I was driving into Manhattan on a beautiful, sunny morning to spend the day with New York City teacher Laura Marks. I was writing a story about her motivation to return to the classroom after recovering from a violent beating from a student. On that day, her state of mind would be put to the test....


A growing number of schools across the country are asking or requiring students to pick an academic major or specialty before they enter high school. Seems a bit premature for most kids, who probably do not have a clue what career they want to pursue. My oldest son, for one, picked engineering as his concentration. Still, if picking a major gets students more interested in coming to school and paying attention, then it's an idea worth considering. The Seattle Public Schools blog addressed this issue in a recent post. What do you think? Should high schools have incoming freshmen pick ...


My kids started school yesterday with typical fanfare: new backpacks and lunchboxes and, as they waited for the bus, endless chatter about their teachers and which friends are in their classes. My daughter and son, who are starting 4th and 2nd grades, respectively, are joining a record number of students entering the nation's public schools this year, nearly 50 million, according to this report by my colleague, Mary Ann Zehr. "The rising number of Hispanic youngsters in the United States is fueling overall growth in enrollment and is expected to do so for at least two more decades," the story ...


How shocked would you be to learn that school and watching television rank the same among activities that make young people most happy in life? In a survey by MTV and the Associated Press, few 13- to 24-year-olds identified school or TV (or sex or cars, for that matter) as the key to their happiness. Maybe we should be relieved that, instead, the respondents said they are most happy spending time with family and friends, playing with pets, worshiping God, and playing sports. About half of those surveyed described at least one of their parents as a hero (5 percent ...


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