NCLB’s demands that schools perform at certain academic levels may have missed the mark when it comes to what many parents value the most, according to a Brigham Young University co-authored study as reported by The Salt Lake Tribune. The study found that when given a choice, parents in wealthier schools preferred high-satisfaction teachers who would make their children happy, to high-achieving ones who might raise test scores. Conversely, parents at poorer schools preferred high-achieving teachers to high-satisfaction ones. Parental preferences come down to differences in schools, where poorer schools often face more academic strife than wealthier ones, the ...


A middle school in Braintree, Mass., that was identified for corrective action under NCLB last year has put itself on the road to "good standing" in part by making wholesale changes to its math curriculum, according to an article in The Boston Globe. Among other changes, students are now grouped according to their math scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam (rather than by parental preference), and special education teachers work side-by-side with the math instructors. In addition, teachers have taken to color-coding algebriac equations—"It helps you remember the steps," said one 8th grader—and use a software...


New numbers from New York City's teachers union beg the question of whether the city really needs any help in getting rid of teachers. (See "Targeting Teachers.") The United Federation of Teachers reported yesterday that 4,606 certified teachers resigned last year—the largest number in recent history. The figure includes some 14 percent of teachers who were newly hired, according to the union. “[L]osing good teachers is the predominant staffing issue that the City Department of Education needs to address,” emphasized Randi Weingarten, the UFT's president. An education department official countered that the union's numbers were inaccurate and ...


New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is taking steps to rid New York City schools of unsatisfactory teachers, including hiring new teams of lawyers and consultants to build cases against tenured teachers, according to a New York Times article. The new plan, at a cost of $1 million a year, will pair education consultants with principals to help improve the performance of struggling teachers and then, if the efforts fail, work to remove the tenured teachers from the school system. This new strategy follows last week’s release of the results from Bloomberg’s new, complex A-F grading system aimed ...


The introduction of a Harry Potter-based curriculum has reportedly helped a primary school in Nottinghamshire, England, dramatically improve student achievement. Over the past three years, the Robert Mellors Primary and Nursery has risen from the bottom 25 percent to the top five percent of schools in England—a jump that’s being attributed at least in part to the use of themed curricula. This year the students are carrying around wands, the grade levels have been renamed after the houses at Hogwarts, and the teachers are apparently wearing customs suggestive of all manner of witchcraft and wizardry. Among the school’s...


The only real effect of NCLB’s pressured-filled expectations of school-wide improvement, and its emphasis on teacher quality has been to drive away schools’ most valuable resources — highly motivated teachers, says author and education activist Jonathan Kozol in a Chicago Tribune Q&A. Studies show that school improvement is best achieved through high-quality teaching. But under NCLB, teacher quality and creativity is crushed in an atmosphere that Kozol says turns classrooms into “miserable test-prep factories.” The former public school teacher argues for less frequent testing, reduced class sizes, and an amendment to the transfer provision that would require states to ...


The Ankeny school district in Iowa has become the first in the state (or so it is believed) to turn to a software program to help evaluate candidates for teaching and principal positions. The district will use TeacherInsight and PrincipalInsight, multiple-choice assessment tools developed by the Gallup Organization to gauge educators’ interpersonal skills. More specifically (sort of), TeacherInsight “assesses the talents that result in teacher excellence that are difficult or nearly impossible to teach,” according to Gallup’s education Web site. Ankeny officials point to research reportedly showing that nearly 90 percent of the teachers who performed in the top ...


Whatever you may think of NCLB and its focus on test scores, Milwaukee schools can’t seem to get enough of data assessment. And teachers are increasingly the number crunchers, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gone are the days when teachers were expected just to instruct. More and more are being asked to assess and collect data from student learning in order to target intervention. “It’s a much more systematized and scientific approach [to teaching],” according to Superintendent George Zimmer of Milwaukee's neighboring Richmond School District. Data-driven decision making, as it is called, is driving school districts, like ...


A 25-day-old teacher strike in Israel continues to keep about 500,000 students and 40,000 teachers out of as many as 1,700 junior high and high schools, U.S. and world news sources reported. The Secondary School Teachers Organization, Israel’s second largest teacher union, began its strike Oct. 10 in response to failed negotiations with the Education Ministry for higher wages and better working conditions. On Thursday, the Israeli education and finance ministries asked the National Labor Court to force the teachers to return to work. The Court has not yet taken action. Members of the National ...


Schools that do well in math and science tend to pay teachers in those subjects more than other teachers and—perhaps less intuitively—have larger class sizes, according to a study released this week by a conservative Texas think tank. By analyzing scores on a variety of standardized tests, the Texas Public Policy Foundation identified 39 demographically diverse high schools in the state that have been “achieving success” in math and science performance. The study found that, thanks to incentive or stipend programs, math and science teachers in those schools generally made some $3,000 more per year than other ...


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