September 2009 Archives

An Ohio school district has decided to implement a review system to evaluate all books on teachers' reading lists.


Last week, in the nation's capital, 38-year-old Chancellor Michelle Rhee announced that there would be a reduction in force of the city's 3,800 teachers due to "unanticipated" cuts to the budget by the City Council, according to The Washington Post. A controversial figure locally since her appointment in the spring of 2007 by Mayor Adrian Fenty to head up Washington, D.C.'s troubled school system, Rhee has became something of a media darling outside the Beltway—appearing on the cover of Time magazine in the now-famous picture of her in a classroom, holding a broom; in the pages...


A California elementary school with high percentages of low income and minority students has seen dramatic test score gains as a result of an instructional program that combines intensive white board use with choral student responses, according to the Contra Costa Times. Delta View Elementary's Academic Performance Index scores have jumped 148 points over the past year, reaching 830 this year (on a scale of 200 to 1000, where 800 marks proficiency). It boasts the highest academic-growth rate in its district. Teachers and administrators attribute the gains to the introduction of basic-skills instructional programs called "BoardMath" and "BoardEnglish." In these ...


A New Hampshire teacher has been disciplined and is being monitored after issuing a (shall we say?) peculiar essay prompt to her 12th grade class, according to local news provider WMUR. The prompt in question: "If you knocked your brother to the ground, would you urinate in his mouth?" Jack Robertson, superintendent of the Governor Wentworth Regional School District, claimed that the teacher designed the question to motivate students to think creatively and improve their writing. He noted that the teacher, who previously had a good track record, did not exercise good judgment by assigning the question to the class. (Ya...


This week, CNN reported that the population of Facebook—now at 300 million members—has neared that of the United States. This is good news for anyone trying to connect via the Internet, except perhaps for teachers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The ArgusLeader.com reports that, as of June, the district has a new policy that prevents students and staff who are not related from social-networking with or “friending” each other, unless the site is a professional one. For Deb Merxbauer, the head of the Sioux Falls Education Association, the decision is an inconvenience for district staff who find sites ...


Editor’s note: Conquering classroom management can be tough. Whether it’s figuring out how not to make the most of leftover classroom time, dealing with behavior problems, or staying ahead of classroom chaos, classroom management can raise the hackles of even a seasoned educator. A best-of selection of classroom management tips written by the members of the Teacher Leaders Network and staff reporters at Education Week is now available. A package of articles on topics ranging from classroom organization to conflict resolution to the latest management tools are available for only $4.95....


In an op-ed piece published in the Boston Globe, education professor and historian Diane Ravitch argues that the current movement to emphasize “21st Century Skills” in K-12 schools is a potentially harmful rehash of earlier, now discredited pedagogical efforts to teach life skills in the place of content knowledge. Ravitch writes that the focus on cooperative learning, critical thinking, and employment preparation recommended by advocates of 21st Century Skills has a host of precedents. Throughout the 20th century, she says, progressive pedagogical movements repeatedly called on educators to “abandon their antiquated academic ideals” and teach students relevant practical skills through ...


An 11-year-old student in Alabama came up with an elaborate kidnapping hoax last week in an effort to hide his bad report card from his parents, according to CNN. The boy claimed that on Friday, a man in a beat-up red car kidnapped him at gunpoint and said, according to the local police department, “I’m going to take you somewhere and kill you.” The boy told police that he jumped from the car at that point, leaving his backpack behind in the car. The truth was slightly less dramatic. “He got a bad report card,” Sgt. Mark Roberts of ...


The U.S. Department of Education’s push to get states to link teacher evaluations to student test-score performance is ill-advised and unfair to educators, former Los Angeles teacher Walt Gardner writes in an opinion piece published in the Los Angeles Times. Under proposed guidelines, the Education Department’s $4 billion “Race to the Top” competitive-grant program would require participating states to use student-performance data in evaluating teachers’ effectiveness. Lawmakers in California are considering changing the current state law on teacher evaluations so it can qualify for the program. While the idea of linking teacher evaluations with student scoring gains ...


Recent gains by U.S. students on an international-comparison test show that the much-maligned “reform math” is in fact working, a middle school math teacher writes in an opinion piece published in The Seattle Times. Seattle educator Michael Sparks notes that so-called “discovery-based” math programs, oriented around guided investigation and interaction, emerged in the mid-1990s in response to the “Third World-level” performance of U.S. students on international tests. Despite an “endless stream” of commentary criticizing the “fuzziness” of such programs, Sparks writes, recent data suggests they are dramatically improving students’ traditional math skills. On the 2007 Trends in International ...


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