Thursday, May 07, 2009

Quick Hits

Study: 4 reading-comprehension programs don't help students: None of four reading-comprehension programs -- Project CRISS, ReadAbout, Read for Real and Reading for Knowledge -- improved average test scores for elementary-school students, while Reading for Knowledge actually led to lower scores, according to a federally funded study involving 6,350 urban fifth-grade students. One researcher, who is also the founder of the group that developed Reading for Knowledge, said the study was flawed because the educators who taught the programs were not likely to be enthused about the lessons and may not use them consistently. (Education Week)

Career-changers find teaching jobs aren't recession-proof: People who recently changed careers to become teachers are being hit hard by layoffs in California. Although many of the educators are older and specialize in fields -- such as math, science or special education -- with teacher shortages, many lack seniority. (San Jose Mercury News)

Educators tap technology to keep students learning during closures: Educators in districts across the nation didn't let the swine flu scare keep them from their students. Instead, they assigned homework, held virtual study sessions and crafted lessons that were available online or on television to keep students' brains active during the unscheduled break. (The Washington Post), (The Salt Lake Tribune)

D.C. voucher compromise would allow current recipients to continue: No additional Washington, D.C., students would receive school vouchers under a proposal offered by President Barack Obama. However, the 1,716 students already in the program would continue to receive the vouchers to attend private schools until they graduate. (The Washington Post)

Many Ga. students who do well in high school need college remediation: Some Atlanta-area students who earn high grades in high school are failing state tests and need remedial work in college, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation. Of the 37 Atlanta graduates who earned B averages that qualified them for a state scholarship program in fall 2007, 78% required remedial classes in college, the paper found. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Support grows for national education standards: Teachers unions, governors and state education leaders voiced support for national academic standards at a recent congressional hearing on the subject. "The purpose ... is to raise the bar for all states by drawing on the best research and evidence," said Arkansas' education commissioner, Ken James. "The most basic way ... is to guarantee that what is being taught in classrooms in every ZIP code of this nation is both rigorous and relevant." (eSchool News)

Larger Kindle aims to revolutionize textbook industry: Amazon is preparing a larger version of its Kindle electronic reader that is meant to better accommodate textbooks. The technology allows users to highlight, bookmark, annotate and look up words as they read. A pilot program at Case Western Reserve University will test how the experiences of students who receive Kindles preloaded with certain texts compare with those who use traditional textbooks. (The Wall Street Journal), (The Boston Globe)

Public-school critics may rally if stimulus funds don't improve education: Some say that the two years of added federal investment in public education through the stimulus package is not enough time for schools to make big gains. "This is sort of 'stand and deliver' time for education," said Amy Wilkins of the advocacy group Education Trust. "If the education community doesn't deliver change with this money, this becomes 'TARP for Public Schools' -- and that's a huge danger. The next time we go hat in hand, it's going to be awfully hard to justify another investment." (USA TODAY)

Congress may consider federal support for dual-enrollment programs: Hundreds of thousands of high-school students nationwide are getting a head start on their college degrees by enrolling in college classes while still in high school. A bill moving through Congress would offer federal grants to support such partnerships. Some educators say the model could encourage more disadvantaged students to consider college. (The Washington Post)

Major New SREB Report Calls for States to Elevate Students' Reading Skills Substantially in Middle, High Schools: Building on several states' success in raising reading achievement in the early grades, a major new report from the nonprofit Southern Regional Education Board urges states to develop comprehensive adolescent literacy policies that establish improvement in middle grades and high school reading and writing as the most immediate critical priority for public schools. (SREB)

Duncan launches 15-state tour seeking opinions on NCLB reforms: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is traveling to 15 states to gather feedback from teachers, students and parents on No Child Left Behind. President Barack Obama has said he will reform the law, but how has not been discussed. "Where things make sense, we're going to keep them," Duncan said. "Where things didn't make sense, we're going to change them." (The Washington Post)

Judge: Teacher's lecture comment violated First Amendment: A California history teacher who referred to creationism as "religious, superstitious nonsense" during a high-school lecture violated the First Amendment by displaying hostility to religion, a federal judge has ruled. Although the student who sued had cited more than a dozen statements attributed to teacher James Corbett, the judge found that only one was a violation. Corbett's school district was not held liable in the suit and Corbett is still teaching at the high school. (The Orange County Register)

Pennsylvania charter school accused of fraud: Pennsylvania's Education Department says it has sued one of its charter schools and said it will withhold future payments out of concern that the online charter has allegedly misused public funds by sending "millions of dollars" in unearned payments to a company owned by the charter's founder. The allegations prompted the chairman of the state Senate Education Committee to call for tighter restrictions on charter schools. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

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