Starting next school year, Pennsylvania will began phasing in Keystone exams—final exams which students could be required to pass in order to graduate, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Starting next year, 11th graders in participating districts will begin taking the exams in biology, literature, and Algebra 1; by 2015, students now in 7th grade would be expected to take six Keystone exams to graduate. The Keystone exams look to replace the state-run Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, of which 50 percent or more 11th graders failed (in math or reading) in 132 of the state's 500 districts last year....


Theodore Sizer, influential education reformer and author of Horace's Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School, has died at age 77. Among other traits, Sizer was known for his acute sense of the systemic challenges teachers faced in their work--often amid what he referred to as policy and social "silences." We'll have more on this. ... Update, 5:15 p.m.: From Teacher's archives, an excellent 1996 profile of Sizer, as well as a 2000 appreciation of Horace's Compromise....


Students struggling with learning to read are receiving confidence boosts by turning to a new, unlikely reading partner: reading therapy dogs. By reading to dogs, children can build their confidence and reading skills without facing the risk of judgment by their classmates. Kathy Klotz, the executive director of a company which runs a program called Reading Education Assistance Dogs, believes that new readers benefit from their canine partners' attentiveness. "A factor that we never planned for, that turned out to be really important, is that the child feels like they're letting the dog understand the story," Klotz says. "They get ...


A new study from the University of Alberta suggests that the epidemic of "chatspeak" probably does not negatively impact students' spelling abilities. The study's lead author, psychologist Connie Varnhagen, believes that the abbreviated language of text messages and online instant messages should be considered a dialect with proprietary spelling and grammar. "Young people can compartmentalize their language," Varnhagen said. "They have language that they use on the playground and then school language. They know how to speak in classrooms without sounding like goofballs." Roughly 40 students, aged 12 to 17, were asked to save their instant messages for a week, ...


A school district in Indiana is investing more than $1 million on 20 math and literacy coaches for the 2009-2010 school year to help provide teachers an opportunity to reflect on their teaching methods, according to a column in the Indianapolis Star. The coaches in the Warren Township district are responsible for helping teachers in the elementary and middle schools examine data and enhance instructional practices. . "It's not that the coach is the expert," said Betsy Snapp, who serves as the district's math coordinator and gets to manage the coaches. "It's just the fact that they provide teachers a resource. ...


Long thought of as a tool for deaf and special education students to improve communication skills, sign language is making its way into traditional classrooms. Teachers are incorporating sign language into their daily class routines in order to manage their classrooms more effectively, a recent story in the Washington Post reports. According to the Washington Post, several products exist for helping teachers learn how to sign, including DVDs, CDs, and posters. Second-grade teacher Fran Nadel, who works at Woodburn School for the Fine and Communicative Arts in Falls Church, Va., invented a system four years ago where students sign letters ...


It was a strange week for six-year-old boys—a trifecta of odd events that read as follows: As of today, Ohio has repealed a school safety law that was named after a six-year-old who was killed in school, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Jarod's Law," honoring a boy who was struck by a falling cafeteria table, required every public and private school to undergo an annual inspection and repair anything that presented a danger to a child. It had strong legislative support. But, the Plain Dealer reports, the law's repeal was buried in the state's budget. Said principal Jill...


Three years ago, Marie Reed Elementary School in Washington, D.C., adopted a professional development instruction model called "lesson study" developed in Japan and, by all accounts, it appears to be working, according to The Washington Post. Principal Dayo Akinsheye, a former math resource teacher, brought the PD model to her school after landing a $47,000 grant from the D.C. school district. The program resembles a professional learning community with an instructional objective decided by the teachers. Together, they determine how they will teach it, anticipating student and teacher exchanges over possible misunderstandings. And then, they take the ...


Six-year-old Zachary Christie faces 45 days in his district's reform school after bringing in a Cub Scout's camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork, and spoon to school, the New York Times reports. Knives are banned "regardless of possessor's intent" in the zero-tolerance weapons policy of the Christina School District in Delaware, where Zachary attends 1st grade. Citing the zero-tolerance policy, school administrators suspended Zachary, a new Cub Scout who was excited to use the camping tool at lunch. "Zachary wears a suit and tie some days to school by his own choice because he takes school so ...


Here's a messy situation: Two former teachers at Achievement Academy Charter School in Albany, N.Y, are charging that school officials secretly planted video cameras in their classrooms. One of the teachers, Ryan Marie Roberts, was fired shortly after the alleged videotaping, reportedly for poor performance; the other, Carol Connelly, resigned after finding a camera in her classroom. Both say they detected a camera hidden behind a sweater hanging in the back of the classroom (not exactly James Bond stuff here). But here's the thorny part: School officials acknowledge that the classrooms were videotaped, but claim it was done as ...


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