Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Quick Hits

Texas high-school students could fill a fourth of schedule with gym: A new Texas law allows high-school students to take more elective classes and earn a diploma. State education officials say the rules make it possible for students to graduate with more than a fourth of their classes in physical education. Lawmakers say the changes were intended to give students options for college-preparatory or career-training programs and that schools retain the power to prevent students from taking advantage of the elective loophole. (The Dallas Morning News)

Report: Pilot program boosted enrollment in AP classes: The National Governors Association has released a report showing its pilot program to boost Advanced Placement in six states successfully increased enrollment by 65% overall and by 106% for minority students. The NGA gave $500,000 grants to participating states and charged them with targeting one rural and one urban district. The goal was to improve AP offerings, appeal to more students with an emphasis on minority students and increase teacher training. (Education Week)

NYC mayor to toughen requirements for promotion from 4th, 6th grades: New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Monday he intends to make it tougher for underperforming fourth- and sixth-grade students to be promoted. His plan calls for holding back students who perform at the lowest level in English and math on state tests and do not learn the material in summer school. The requirements are already in place for the other grades between third and eighth. (The New York Times)

Longer year for Chicago elementary schools slightly bumps test scores: More than 130 Chicago elementary schools are now implementing a year-round calendar. The schools, about one-fourth of the city's total, begin the school year in the first week of August rather than waiting until after Labor Day. Schools CEO Ron Huberman said the calendar is boosting achievement. Students at the year-round schools averaged 3.1% gains in test scores last year, compared with a 2% gain across the district. (Chicago Sun-Times)

After layoffs, teachers must figure out what's next: Despite teaching's reputation as a recession-proof career, as many as 100,000 jobs may be lost this year, according to the National Education Association. The loss of positions would end a streak of annual increases in local education jobs every year since 1983. Teachers who are laid off, awaiting recall or concerned about their jobs are investigating other career options. (The Wall Street Journal)

To Date, Duncan Not Subpoenaed in Chicago Schools Probe: Over at This Week in Education, Alexander Russo wonders whether ex-Chicago Public Schools chief and now Education Secretary Arne Duncan has also been subpoenaed by federal officials in an investigation over allegations that well-connected parents called in favors to get their kids into elite public schools. (The Chicago Board of Education President has disclosed he has received a subpoena, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.) Michelle McNeill at Politics K-12 reports he has "not been contacted."

Michigan kids not ready for kindergarten: A third of the children entering kindergarten in Michigan don't recognize numbers and letters, can't follow directions and lack social skills, according to a survey of kindergarten teachers statewide.(Detroit Free-Press)

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