Friday, November 06, 2009

Quick Hits

Does sorting students by ability exacerbate achievement gaps?: Educators in a New Jersey district are questioning whether grouping students by ability -- called leveling or tracking -- may be perpetuating racial achievement gaps, but teachers and parents are divided on whether embracing mixed-ability classes will solve the problem. Raising expectations in lower-level classes is a goal, says school Superintendent Brian Osborne, but the question remains whether sorting systems undermine students' confidence and send the wrong message. (National Public Radio)

Texas may link teacher-training programs to student achievement: A proposed rating system in Texas is aimed at holding teacher-training programs accountable for their graduates' success in the classroom. Given preliminary approval by the State Board for Educator Certification, the rules would use student achievement to help determine which programs are producing the most -- and least -- effective teachers. Final approval could occur in February.(Houston Chronicle)

Group wants authors of common standards to disclose potential conflicts: The authors of new common national academic standards are being asked by a literacy-research group to make clear any ties to commercial entities that could constitute a potential conflict of interest as the standards are being written. The Literacy Research Association wants the disclosures because of concerns about relationships between the authors and companies that stand to profit financially from the sale of curriculum-related materials and assessments. (Education Week)

N.J. university creates urban-residency program for teachers: New Jersey's Rowan University will prepare five graduate students for teaching careers by immersing them in one year of supervised teaching at a local urban school -- creating a master's program that will be comparable to a medical residency. The program will accept candidates studying math, science or Spanish -- disciplines that traditionally graduate fewer teachers -- and will pay them a living wage of $30,000 through a federal grant for new professional-development programs. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Private-school data is public domain on education Web site: An unheralded database on the Department of Education Web site is proving to be a comprehensive resource for families interested in private schools. Although not mandated, some 91% of private schools respond to survey questions about demographics, length of the school year and college-enrollment rates, among other things. Survey results are posted to the site in a searchable format that provides information that may not be otherwise available to the public. (The Washington Post)

Election could change busing policy for schools in N.C. district: A school board election today in North Carolina's Wake County has become a referendum on school busing and integration, with the expected results set to create a majority in favor of returning the county to a system of neighborhood schools for the first time since the 1970s. According to this newspaper analysis, neighborhoods in the county have become racially diverse but are still divided by income, leaving some opponents of the possible policy change worried about the potential negative effects on schools in poorer neighborhoods. (The News & Observer)

Former Apple executive is named educational technology head: Karen Cator, a former educator and Apple executive, has been appointed to lead educational-technology initiatives for the Department of Education. Cator said her immediate goals include updating the National Education Technology Plan and capitalizing on federal funding available for technology initiatives. She will also oversee the Enhancing Education through Technology grant program, which promotes digital learning and best practices in educational technology. (Education Week)

Low-income and black students raise scores in N.C. district: In a significant turnaround from a 2004 assessment, low-income and black high-school students in North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district performed better than peers in the Raleigh area and better than the statewide average on state tests. But with a significant achievement gap remaining and just more than half of low-income and black students earning high-school diplomas in four years, district officials said, there is still much work to be done. (The Charlotte Observer)

Teacher-quality report receives criticism from union leaders: A report by a national education task force that called for a sweeping policy overhaul to improve teacher quality received sharp criticism from the American Federation of Teachers. Union representatives felt that the panel ignored much of the teacher input when developing the final report, which one union leader said did not address the "professionalization of teaching at all." The panel called for raising entrance requirements for teacher-education programs and the inclusion of residency-type internships for teacher candidates. (Education Week)

No comments: