Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Quick Hits

Soldier's blog teaches Kentucky sixth-graders about Afghanistan: Aaron Connor is serving near Ghazni City, Afghanistan, with the Illinois National Guard. He corresponds with social studies students at one Kentucky school through a blog on which the students can ask him questions. "I make mention about our little shootouts not to scare folks, but because I want people to know that this is a dangerous country," Connor wrote. (The New York Times)

Red flags for dropouts may pop up early, educators say: Many students who drop out of high school have not felt accomplished since the fourth grade, says Lynne Strathman, who runs an Illinois program for dropouts. Adult responsibilities, truancy, disabilities, boredom and a lack of community involvement may contribute to the problem, say others who work with dropouts. (Education Week)

Report: Minnesota charter schools "rife with mismanagement": A think tank found that 83% of Minnesota's charter schools had at least one financial irregularity during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2007. The group recommends that the state review the status of charter schools that fail audits. (Minnesota Public Radio)

California proposal could stop 200,000 students from attending college: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal seeking to close the state's $24.3 billion budget deficit by eliminating funding for grants for low-income students could affect more than 200,000 students this fall, says Diana Fuentes-Michel, the executive director of the California Student Aid Commission executive director. The potential decreases in enrollment that could result could devastate the state's college system, say California higher-education officials. (The Fresno Bee)

Study: Girls lack opportunities, not math skills: Female students can perform as well as boys in math, but they must have the same encouragement and opportunities that are offered to their male peers, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "We conclude that gender inequality, not lack of innate ability or 'intrinsic aptitude,' is the primary reason fewer females than males are identified as excelling in mathematics performance," the researchers wrote. (The Boston Globe); (ScienceDaily)

Professors who pose as "ghost students" in virtual classes spark debate: Professors disguised as students take part in virtual classes in order to spark discussions and keep students from getting discouraged. Some say the practice violates academic ethics, but others say that it works. (The Toronto Star)

Gates Foundation chief says teacher quality is the key factor: Jeff Raikes, CEO of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, says the charity found that having high-quality teachers in the classroom is more important than a school's size. The foundation spent billions to determine that, but Raikes says it has the means to take risks to find effective practices. (eSchool News)

Policy shift aims to mesh high-school standards, college expectations: Poorly aligned standards may contribute to the number of high-school students who have to take remedial classes in college, educators say. The Obama administration is requiring states that accept stabilization funds to do more to get colleges and high schools on the same page when it comes to course work. (The New York Times)

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