May 2008 Archives

In the continued search for solutions to the gender gap in math achievement, researchers have found that cultural factors may play an important part in explaining why boys do better in math, the Baltimore Sun reports. Using 2003 results from an international assessment program and gender equality profiles, scientists compared the math and reading scores of thousands of 15-year olds in 40 countries. Girls generally scored lower in math but scored higher in countries (such as Norway and Iceland) with greater gender equality, where women had greater economic and political opportunities. The scores of U.S. girls were in the ...


A few weeks back, we highlighted a story about a very tense situation at Cascade High School in Everett, Wash., where teachers were raising concerns that district administrators had planted a surveillance camera in the classroom of a teacher who was later fired, allegedly for helping students publish an underground newspaper. At the time, an attorney for the district denied the allegations. Now, however, the district has publicly acknowledged that it did, in fact, use a video camera to secretly monitor journalism teacher Kay Powers’ classroom. District officials say they do not believe the practice was unlawful and that they ...


A growing number of studies suggest that college education schools are generally of poor quality, according to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Among the charges: education majors have comparatively low college-entrance scores; admissions standards are minimal; education professors are often undistinguished and detached from classrooms; and program requirements, such as student-teaching hours, are wildly inconsistent. Part of the problem, observers note, is the growing pressure on ed schools to produce ever more graduates to fill the nation’s need for qualified teachers. Another factor may be a general lack of clarity on what sort of preparation today’s ...


A new study from Pennsylvania State University in University Park finds that 16 percent of high school biology teachers believe in creationism, according to NewScientist. The researchers sampled 2000 high school biology teachers across the country in 2007 and found that teachers with less training in evolutionary biology are less likely to spend time teaching evolution. Of the 939 who responded, 2 percent said they did not teach evolution at all. While the majority of educators sampled spend between 3 and 10 classroom hours teaching evolution, almost a quarter of those educators focus some time on creationism. And almost half ...


At many competitive high schools, traditional honors courses are all but disappearing from the curriculum, as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs grow more influential, according to an article in The Washington Post. Honors courses, according to the article, generally give students a chance to learn at a faster pace than in regular classes, but without necessarily going into the college-level material required in AP and IB classes. Their decline has left a gap for some students. “There are some students who are just honor students,” said a high school junior at Rockville High in Maryland. “They don’t have ...


First Jim Piculas had a job, then he didn’t. The Florida substitute teacher claimed the Pasco County School District rubbed him off the substitute list because of complaints that he had practiced “wizardry” in the classroom, The Tampa Tribune reports. Piculas, who was working toward teacher certification, said he thinks his disappearing toothpick trick—involving a toothpick, transparent tape, and sleight-of-hand—may have been interpreted by one of his middle school students as “wizardry.” The student was so rattled by the trick, according to Piculas, that the student’s father complained. District officials said complaints from the classroom...


Teacher-in-training Stacy Snyder brought suit against Millersville University, alleging that she was denied her teaching credential because of a picture of herself as a “drunken pirate” on her MySpace page. Snyder is claiming her First Amendment rights were violated, according to ABC News. Citing unsatisfactory performance and unprofessional behavior, university officials said they would have denied Snyder a degree regardless of the photo. The photo, which officials say promoted underage drinking, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Snyder’s suit, which is scheduled to go to trial on Tuesday, raises questions about teachers’ accountability to students—inside ...


According to the National Education Association, the details around the origins of National Teacher Appreciation Day are “murky.” It appears to date back to 1944 when Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge began a letter writing campaign to petition political and education leaders for a national day to honor educators. Eleanor Roosevelt received one of those letters and the rest, as they say, is history. This year, with their theme “Great Teachers Make Great Public Schools,” the National Education Association draws attention to the role teachers play in ensuring that every child receives a quality public education, according to its Web ...


Many students seem to forget that terms like “LOL” (Laugh out loud) and “ROTFL” (Rolling on the floor laughing) don’t belong in academic assignments. In fact, nearly two-thirds of 700 students surveyed in a recent study said their e-communication style sometimes finds its way into their schoolwork, according to the New York Times. Students said they sometimes omit proper punctuation and capitalization, use text shortcuts, and emoticons, according to the study. But while schools seek to assimilate new modes of writing, some experts see it as a non-issue. “I think this is not a worrying issue at all,” said ...


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