Pennsylvania is learning the hard way that modernizing math instruction does not always further comprehension. The state’s students are faltering in math placement tests, in spite of demonstrating achievement elsewhere. As a result, colleges and universities are having to rewrite textbooks and add remedial courses so their students can catch-up on math concepts and skills. The college math professors in the state blame the emphasis placed on student testing combined with introducing higher-level math to increasingly younger students. “Many bright students are hurried through algebra and trigonometry courses on their way toward statistics and calculus,” said Marie Wilde, chairwoman ...


As the debate over evaluating test scores continues, many schools across the country are shifting their method of evaluating student progress. More than two dozen states, including Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, and Ohio, are looking to a new way of analyzing test scores, called a “growth model,” which assesses individual student's progress as they advance from grade to grade instead of comparing them to the previous year’s class. The model has been helpful in both urban areas where the student population includes at-risk children, as well as affluent communities which tend to attract top-performing children. While tests scores traditionally have ...


Illinois Sen. Barack Obama told members of the nation's largest teachers union this week that he supports the idea of merit pay for educators. In the prepared text for his speech at the National Education Association’s annual convention in Philadelphia, the Democratic presidential candidate said that teachers who excel at helping students raise their achievement, as well as those working in hard-to-staff schools and high-needs subject areas, should be rewarded extra. However, he noted that teachers’ performance should not be based “on some arbitrary test score.” “I want to work with teachers,” he assured the 9,000 NEA members ...


A school district in Michigan is considering a “pay to plug” program that would require teachers and school employees who use desk lamps, small fans, and mini-fridges to pay a fee. The program, designed to lessen the strain on the system’s shrinking budget, could save Chippewa Valley Public Schools at least $25,000, according to school officials. The plan, similar to one implemented in Grosse Pointe Public Schools, is part of an energy-saving initiative, which, according to business manager Chris Fenton, also includes making sure computers and lights are turned off. “If you take all of those pieces, they ...


They may be only one letter apart, but Parent Teacher Association officials are working to stress the differences between PTAs and the PT0s—or Parent Teacher Organizations—that are increasingly replacing them. According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, PTA membership has dropped from 12 million in the 1950s to 5.5 million today, and PTAs now make up less than 25 percent of school-parent groups. The annual PTA convention, which ended yesterday in St. Louis, included a session called "A Instead of O: How to Talk PTA to PTO," which provided attendees with early warning signs that...


Reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of race-conscious school-assignment plans has been swift and emotional, with the decision even becoming a focal point of Democratic presidential debates last night. In Seattle, the mother who led the lawsuit against the school district’s “racial-tiebreaker” admissions policy broke down and wept in relief. Kathleen’s Brose’s daughter had failed to get into the high school of her choice—the one that was also nearest to their home—because she is white. “I don’t want any parent to go through what we went through,” said Brose. “It shouldn’t...


Reports of assaults against teachers seem to growing, particularly in big city schools. Sometimes they are verbal. Sometimes they are violent physical attacks. NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross speaks with two veteran teachers, Ed Klein and Frank Burd, who were physically assaulted last year in their Philadelphia classrooms. Both Burd and Klein are white and taught at predominantly African American schools; however, neither perceived the incidents to be entirely racially motivated. Music teacher Klein was relocated to a school one month into the school year when his former school dropped their music program. Entering a new school, with ...


Most parents agree that cutting teacher jobs isn’t beneficial for their kids, but Boston-area parent Scott Jones was so frustrated that he started a campaign, aptly named Save the Teachers. With schools in Georgetown, Mass., facing a budget shortfall due to the failure of a proposed property tax increase, the father of four decided to raise the money from private donors. I can’t sit back and watch the schools decay another year, watch the kids suffer, and do nothing,” Jones says. He and a handful of volunteers have raised more than $18,000 in the past month by ...


In an effort to reverse the dropout rate, New Hampshire’s State Department of Education is suggesting statewide changes in its curriculum. The state released a document this week, which upends traditional classroom instruction with a more flexible approach to learning. The proposed suggestions include tallying learning hours rather than school days and replacing the standard curriculum with a more tailored one unique to each student’s interests. Teachers would mentor, rather than coach, and students would earn credits by mastering a subject instead of following a prescribed course. Each student would be accountable for maintaining high academic and personal ...


A combination of strong forces, including baby boomer retirements and increased career options for women, is creating growing teacher shortages around the nation, says a Washington Post story. Some three quarters of the country's public school teachers are women, but research indicates that the number of women who pursue teaching after college, as well as their class rankings, has declined sharply since the 1960’s. “It’s not that you don’t have some terrifically talented people going into teaching," says Richard J. Murname, a Harvard economist who has studied the teaching profession. "The issue is you don’t have ...


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