LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THE EDUCATION INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
included in your newsletter, EIA is not an educational
an anti-teacher, anti-union newsletter that trashes what we as teachers
do on a regular basis. His bias is evident in only reporting on the
worst in education and rarely on our many successes. Your inclusion of
this in your own newsletter sheds doubt in the intent of your own
Left Behind" will never work because you cannot force all children into
the same mold. Why does this nation think that every child
needs to go
to college. We are the only nation in the world that does not
federally funded vocational training for those who are not college
material. There will be more children left behind than ever
due to the
fact that not all children can be forced into this nations mold of what
they should be and more will leave school unprepared or will drop out
due to frustration.
former middle school principal, I agree wholeheartedly that the middle
schools must add rigor to the instruction. Too much
stuff has been part of the Middle School movement and these students
regrettably are not ready for high school when they arrive.
good enough for the middle-level teacher to help these kids feel good
about themselves (affective) if they are going to flunk their
ninth-grade material in high school. What does that do for their
Thanks for this report.
Please continue to send it to me on a monthly basis.
for middle schoolers they need to think outside the box. Knowledge
alone does not help these students function in today's world. We seem
to be throwing the baby away with the bathwater. We must meet the
emotional needs of this group in order to develop mature and
well-balanced individual. When I see one of these topics stated as more
important, I cringe. We need to teach the WHOLE child. They are the
read you summary of David T. Conley article [Failing College: Why We Must
Align High School Curriculum with College Expectations,
May] in your ERP of 5/19 with
interest. The need for more vertical integration is crucial
I do have
one concern. Your summary suggested
everyone else should accommodate what is going on in the
Maybe the colleges/universities need to do a bit of accommodating, too.
To submit letters to the editor
for this e-newsletter, please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please indicate whether or not we have permission to publish
comments in future newsletters. The editor reserves the right
trim content for length purposes when necessary, but will not edit the
tone of the letters. back to top
J. Hansen, Ph.D.
Sounds to me
like we are sending too many students to college and not enough to Tech
WHAT EDUCATION SCHOOLS AREN'T
TEACHING ABOUT READING
A report from
The National Council on Teacher Quality: http://www.nctq.org/nctqABSTRACT
persistent reading struggles and failure of nearly 40 percent of all
American children, little improved over time, has led to aggressive
government-funded efforts in school districts to train veteran teachers
in the science of reading. The accumulated scientific findings of
nearly 60 years of research gained the nation's attention with the
release of a number of significant reviews and compendia of the
research beginning in 1990, but most notably the National Reading Panel
report in 2000. The findings call for explicit, systematic teaching of
phonemic awareness and phonics, guided oral reading to improve fluency,
direct and indirect vocabulary building, and exposure to a variety of
reading comprehension strategies. All this attention on veteran
teachers begs the question: How are future teachers being prepared to
teach reading? In this study, the National Council on Teacher Quality
makes a unique effort to learn what aspiring teachers are taught about
reading instruction. From a randomly selected, representative sample of
72 education schools, NCTQ reviewed 222 required reading courses,
including evaluations of syllabi as well as 226 required reading texts.
Schools were scored on how well their courses presented the core
components of the science of reading. The findings are alarming. Only
15 percent of the education schools provide future teachers with
minimal exposure to the science. Moreover, course syllabi reveal a
tendency to dismiss the scientific research in reading, continuing to
espouse approaches to reading that will not serve up to 40 percent of
all children. Course texts were equally disappointing. Only four of the
226 texts were rated as "acceptable" for use as a general,
comprehensive textbook. This distressing trend in teacher training
demands attention from federal and state governments, professional
organizations dedicated to improving and supporting education schools,
textbook publishers, and educations schools themselves. The report
closes with recommendations to ameliorate this serious failure in
adequately preparing teachers in the best practices of reading
To see the complete report,
please go to:http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_reading_study_app.pdf
additional copies or the full version of this study, contact:
Council on Teacher Quality
1225 19th Street N.W., Suite 800
Tel 202 222-0561, Fax 202 222-0570, Web http://www.nctq.orgback to top
HOW DO YOUR STATE'S MATH AND
READING STANDARDS MEASURE UP?
Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires all students to be "proficient" in
math and reading by 2014 but allows each state to determine its own
level of proficiency. Some states are leaving their citizens with a
misleading impression of their accomplishments by grading students
against low standards, while those states that have high standards may
suffer by comparison.
editors Paul E.
Peterson and Frederick M. Hess first revealed this discrepancy a year
ago ("Johnny Can Read . . . in Some States," Education Next,
2005) by comparing states' passing percentages on their math and
reading tests with their passing percentages on the National Assessment
of Education Progress (NAEP). Now, the Education Next
issued a new "report card" for each state.
Next is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover
Institution that is
committed to looking at hard facts about school reform. Other
sponsoring institutions are the Harvard Program on Education Policy and
Governance and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
are not evaluating state tests, nor are we grading states on the
performance of their students," explain Peterson and Hess. "We are
checking for 'truth in advertising,' investigating whether
state-announced proficiency levels mean what they say."
year, a total of 48 states were assessed, including nine new ones. In
good news category, a handful of states have kept their standards
rigorous for a second consecutive year, each assessing their own
performance on a particularly tough curve. Massachusetts, South
Carolina, Wyoming, Maine, and Missouri once again earned As.
topped all others as the nation's most improved state, and Texas,
Arkansas, and Wisconsin significantly boosted their proficiency
standards over last year.
The bad news is that some
states that had been in good standing are letting their standards
slide. The biggest decline was in Arizona, with significant drops (in
order of magnitude) in Maryland, Ohio, North Dakota, and Idaho.
the "cream puff" category, states with already low standards have done
nothing to raise them. Oklahoma and Tennessee both earned Fs because
their self-reported performance is much higher than can be justified by
the NAEP results. States with nearly equally embarrassing D minuses
included Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, West Virginia, and North
To learn your state's grade
and how it was graded, go to http://www.educationnext.org/20063/28.htmlback to top
REPORT ON THE STATE OF AMERICAN
SCHOOLS SHOWS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS CHALLENGED BY MATH AND SCIENCE
school students in the United States are consistently outperformed by
those from Asian and some European countries on international
assessments of mathematics and science, according to The Condition of
Education 2006 report released today by the U.S.
Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Fourth graders, by comparison, score as well or better than most of
their international peers, although their counterparts in other
countries are gaining ground.
"While our younger
students are making progress on national assessments and are ahead on
some international measures, the same cannot be said at the high
school level," said Mark Schneider, NCES Commissioner. "U.S. students
do relatively well in reading literacy when compared to their
international peers, but they are outperformed in mathematics and
science and our 15-year-old students trail many of our competitors in
math and science literacy."
The Condition of Education
is a congressionally mandated report that provides an annual
statistical portrait of education in the United States. The 50
indicators included in the report cover all aspects of education, from
student achievement to school environment and from early childhood
through postsecondary education.
The report shows that
U.S. public schools have the most diverse student population than at
any other time in history. In addition, more individuals are enrolling
in postsecondary education, and more bachelor's degrees have been
awarded than in the past.
report's other findings:Elementary/Secondary Achievement
fourth-grade students had higher reading literacy scores than
students in 23 of the 34 participating countries, according to one
international assessment. In mathematics, fourth graders' performance
was better than their peers in 13 countries but lower than 11 others.
In science, students in only three countries scored higher. However,
while other countries made gains from 1995 in mathematics and science,
U.S. scores were unchanged.
- U.S. eighth graders
their standings relative to students of 21 other countries that
participated in international assessments in math and science from 1995
- U.S. 15-year-olds had lower average scores
mathematics and science literacy compared with most of their peers from
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries.
graders showed improvements in math and science, with rising
scores between 1996 and 2005 on the National Assessment of Educational
- Twelfth graders' performance in
NAEP science declined between 1996 and 2005.
students are enrolling in colleges and getting degrees, and the
enrollment increase is projected to continue through 2015.
number of bachelor's degrees awarded increased by 33 percent
between 1989–1990 and 2003–2004, while the number
of associate's degrees
increased by 46 percent.
- The sole decline among the
five most popular degree fields between 1989–1990 and
2003–2004 was in
engineering and engineering technologies (five percent).
America's Students Today
percent of children ages 5–17 speak a language other than
English at home.
- Minority students make up 43
percent of public school enrollment.
- Female college
enrollment passed male enrollment in 1978, and the gender gap has
widened and is expected to grow.
back to top
is the statistical center of the Institute of Education Sciences in the
U.S. Department of Education. The full text of The Condition of
(in HTML format), along with related data
indicators from previous years, can be viewed at:http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe
NEWSWEEK'S TOP 100
HIGH SCHOOL LIST DRAWS CRITICISM
don't think Newsweek
"America's Best High Schools" list (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12532678/site/newsweek
lives up to its name.
schools in the "Top 100" reported half or fewer of their
African-American students graduating. All of those schools are still
list this year.
For example, Atlantic
Community High School, in Delray Beach, Florida, ranked #25 on Newsweek's
list, reported a 50-percent graduation rate for its African-American
students in 2004, according to its detailed NCLB report card
from the Florida Department of Education.http://web.fldoe.org/nclb/default.cfm?action=report2&level=School&school=0862&district=50
45 percent of the school's 2,000+ students are African American, and
about 35 percent qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. That's not
an affluent, lily-white suburban school, like many on Newsweek's list,
but it's not "high-poverty, high-minority," either. In fact, the
percentage of economically disadvantaged students at Atlantic Community
is lower than the statewide average in Florida, which is 46 percent.
Now, I think it's a scandal that nearly half of Florida's kids are
economically disadvantaged, but does that mean we shouldn't expect the
state's high schools to get more than half their black students to
Further, there are schools on Jay's own
list that prove him wrong. For example, this year's school #87, YES
College Preparatory School in Houston, Texas, has a student enrollment
that is 92 percent Hispanic, 5 percent black, and has 75 percent of
students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch—a higher
of economically disadvantaged students than all but one other school
list. But YES reports a 93.9-percent graduation rate, and
100 percent of its graduates are accepted to four-year colleges.
may be doing great things for some of its students, but a method that
ranks it higher than YES seems to defy common sense.
see the complete article, please go to:http://www.quickanded.com/2006/05/best-we-can-expect.htmlback to top
STATES INVEST HEAVILY IN DATA
SYSTEMS, BUT HAVE A LONG WAY TO GOResearch Center Grades the
States on School Tech: West Virginia Leads Nation With an "A," Nevada
Trails With a "D-"
the No Child Left Behind Act has touched off a boom in school data
collection, much work needs to be done before the vast amounts of
student information can be harnessed to improve learning, according to
Technology Counts 2006:
The Information Edge: Using Data to Accelerate
Achievement, a new report from Education Week and
Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center. The report is based on a
systematic analysis by the EPE Research Center of the structure and
quality of states' computerized data systems, and how those systems are
being used. It comes at a time when states are under tremendous
pressure to get technology systems and access to data up and running as
genuinely useful tools to accelerate student learning on a broad scale.
Report Cards: Grading the States
In a survey of state education officials conducted
for the report, the
EPE Research Center finds that despite the federal government's push to
make data central to instructional decisions, states are still far away
from putting their electronic information into a form that local
educators can easily use. . . .
the first time ever, Technology
Counts issues letter grades for all 50
states and the District of Columbia, ranking their efforts to improve
access to and use of school technology and the ability of teachers to
use it more effectively. While the nation earned an overall grade of
C-plus, West Virginia and Virginia earned the highest marks, with
grades of A and A-minus, respectively. At the opposite end of the
spectrum, a small group of states is lagging behind. Minnesota, Oregon,
and Rhode Island all received an overall D grade, while Nevada ranked
last in the nation with a D-minus. Grades are based on where states
stand in three core areas of state policy and practice, including
access to instructional technology, use of technology, and capacity to
effectively use technology. They are contained both in the print
version of the report and in new online-only State Technology Reports
created by the EPE Research Center.
the complete article, please go to:http://www.edweek.org/media/ew/tc/2006/TC06_press.pdf
access individual state reports please go to:http://www.edweek.org/ew/toc/2006/05/04/index.html?levelId=1000back to top
GOT MATH? HIGH SCHOOL COURSES
ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT FOR LOW-INCOME, FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS
able to take high-quality, high-intensity classes during high school
can play a key role in the success of students whose parents have
either lower incomes or lower educational levels. Though these students
are less likely to enroll in college than students from more advantaged
backgrounds, pursuit of rigorous classes in high school can help change
The relationship between high school math and
college enrollment is particularly striking: just 27 percent of high
school graduates in the U.S. whose parents did not go to college enroll
in a four-year institution within two years. However, this rate jumps
to 64 percent for students who take at least one math course beyond
The reason? Taking higher-level math
likely reflects a lifetime of high expectations, previous success with
math, and a willingness to take challenging
are key to college enrollment and that students may have acquired from
parents, teachers, other role models, or on their own. In fact, of all
pre-college courses, the highest level of math taken in high school has
the strongest influence on degree completion.
on how to establish high expectations for students as early as middle
school and for assistance in planning for higher education academically
and financially, visit http://www.AIE.org
TG provides this Web site as a
public service to help all families and students achieve their
educational and career dreams.
State of Student Aid and Higher Education in Texas 2006; National
Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Students Whose Parents Did Not
Go to College: Postsecondary Access, Persistence, and Attainment, by
Susan Choy, 2001About TG
is a public, nonprofit corporation that helps create access to higher
education for millions of families and students through its role as an
administrator of the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). As
a public service, TG provides Edufacts, a publication containing
current information about education issues, on a monthly basis.
Edufacts is one of the many ways in which TG promotes awareness of
education issues, advising the public on national and state trends in
education and student aid, and serving as a premier source of
information.back to top
EDUCATIONAL IMPACT OF VIDEO
GAMES: INDIANA TEACHER REPORTS FINDINGS
group of Indiana high school students traded in their textbooks for a
multi-player video game and achieved higher test scores than students
learning the exact same material the old-fashioned way.
the watchful tutelage of David McDivitt, an enterprising Social Studies
teacher at Oak Hill High School in Converse, 64 sophomore
students played "Making History," the historical simulation game from
Muzzy Lane Software. Another group of students used their standard
history textbooks along with the usual lectures and assignments that
define a typical day in high school.
Both groups were attempting to learn the same material: the
political and economic causes of World War II.
groups were tested on their knowledge of key events, such as the 1938
Munich Conference and their general knowledge of European geography.
group—the students who played "Making
History"—learned more facts
and wrote more sophisticated essays in tests conducted after a week of
game play. According to Mr. McDivitt, "Making History" also addresses
several key components of Indiana's state curriculum guidelines for
"For every teacher using a
video game in the classroom there are probably a hundred others
and wondering about the real educational impact of this technology,"
"I am not an expert in statistics unless
it has to do with points allowed by my defense on the Oak Hill Golden
Eagle football team. But what I am seeing here is the game players are
doing better on assessment. The kids who played the game scored as well
or better on every single test question we administered."
McDivitt applied a common set of questions to both groups of students
prior to game week, and then tested the students with the same
questions after each group had completed their learning cycles.
he found was a noticeable and in some cases stunning difference in the
degree to which the game-play students improved compared with the
Here are some of the highlights
(percentages indicate the relative increase in performance from the
pre-lesson test to the post-lesson test):
- Identify the countries of Europe on a
blank map outline:
- Game Players: 70%
- Explain the significance of the 1938 Munch
- Game Players: 90%
- Define the reasons for the start of World War II:
- Non-Game Players: 35%
am not saying that games are the panacea for all of education's
problems," says Mr. McDivitt. "But there is no doubt anymore that the
right video game integrated properly with traditional curriculum has a
clear and meaningful impact on the quality of learning."back to top
K-12 STUDENTS WANT MORE
TECHNOLOGY IN MATH AND SCIENCE
students across the U.S. say they'd find math more engaging if teachers
infused more technology into their lessons. They also say they want to
explore the sciences through technology simulations, field trips, and
"CSI"-like problem-solving exercises rather than textbooks.
are among the insights revealed in the third annual NetDay Speak Up
survey sponsored by Dell and BellSouth Foundation. NetDay, a nonprofit
organization focused on preparing today's students to be tomorrow's
innovators, collected viewpoints from more than 185,000 students and
15,000 teachers from all 50 states in the study, held in fall 2005.
learn a lot by listening to students and teachers about how they
use—and how they want to use—technology for
teaching and learning," said
Karen Bruett, vice president of Dell's K-12 business. "This kind of
real-world feedback is a great tool to help us deliver what technology
users will value."
The student survey
- 62 percent of students in
grades 6-12 said a mobile computer is
integral to a 21st-century classroom. More than 40 percent of this
group said a modern classroom should include cell phones, interactive
whiteboards, televisions, digital cameras, video cameras, scanners and
- 60 percent of 6-12-grade
said they teach their parents how to use new technology, and more than
half teach their siblings (55 percent) and their friends (60 percent).
- Nearly half (48
percent) of teachers said they've seen technology
enhance student achievement; and 59 percent said technology is
enhancing students' engagement in school.
half (46 percent) of the respondents identified "not enough computers"
as their top barrier to integrating technology into curriculum. Others
feel restricted by "lack of time in the school day" (57 percent) and
"not all students and families (having) computer access at home (43
- Nearly 60 percent of respondents said
they'd like more professional development and training in integrating
technology into the curriculum. For the most part, respondents say they
use technology as a productivity tool for recording grades and
attendance, word processing, teaching materials and preparing lessons.
year's Speak Up data findings demonstrate that students of all ages are
'pushing the envelope' in their innovative use of technology for
learning, communications and networking," said Julie Evans, NetDay CEO.
"The Speak Up data provides education, business, community and policy
leaders with a unique opportunity to learn from today's students and
use that information to create 21st-century learning environments."
additional results from this year's NetDay Speak Up survey, visit: http://www.dell4k12.com/netdayback to top
NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS FOOD,
EXERCISE AVAILABLE TO CHILDREN IN NATION'S PUBLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
of American public elementary schools offer physical education more
than one day a week, and 8 out of 10 have daily recess, according to a
report released by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center
for Education Statistics (NCES) in the Institute of Education Sciences
But the report, Calories In, Calories Out: Food
and Exercise in Public Elementary Schools, 2005
found that seven
percent of these schools have no daily recess. Fifteen percent sell
candy at school, and 29 percent do not weigh students. The study,
prompted by concern over the rate of obesity among school-age children,
was designed to obtain current national information on the availability
of food and opportunities for physical activity in public elementary
The report includes findings on the types
food sold in schools and in their cafeterias or lunchrooms; the types
of food dispensed by vending machines and school stores or snack bars,
and the times when foods are available at those locations; food service
operations and contracts with companies to sell food at schools; the
amount of scheduled recess and physical education; and the extent to
which schools measure students' height and weight and calculate body
Other highlights of the report:
In 2005, schools offered both
healthy and less nutritious foods for
sale outside of full school meals, although a higher proportion of the
schools offered nutritious than less nutritious items. For example,
schools were more likely to offer 100-percent juice (53 percent),
bottled water (46 percent), and green salad or fruit (40 percent) than
less nutritious items such as french fried potatoes (17 percent).
percent of public elementary schools sold candy at one or more
locations in the school, and 5 percent sold candy in the cafeteria or
lunchroom. In addition, 9 percent of the schools sold soft drinks and
about 5 percent sold snack foods at vending machines.
percent of public elementary schools had school store or snack
bar foods available to students during mealtimes, and 11 percent had
foods available at school stores or snack bars at other times during
the school day.
schools (94 percent) offered foods for sale outside of full school
meals. Of these schools, 36 percent indicated that the foods were sold
to generate funds to support food service operations at the school or
Schools were more likely to report the
availability of foods in the school stores or snack bars at mealtimes
if foods were sold to generate funds than if the foods were not sold
for this purpose.
Almost a quarter (23 percent) of
public elementary schools indicated that one or more companies had a
contract to sell drinks or snack foods at the school.
public elementary schools reported daily recess, with the
proportion of schools reporting this schedule ranging from 83 to 88
percent across elementary grades. The average number of minutes per day
of scheduled recess ranged from 27.8 for first grade to 23.8 for sixth
all public elementary schools
(99 percent) reported that they scheduled physical education for
elementary grades, the proportion of schools that provided daily
physical education ranged from 17 to 22 percent across elementary
At least half of all elementary schools
scheduled physical education one or two days a week.
percent of public elementary schools offered school-sponsored
before- or after-school activities that emphasize exercise, such as
walking or running, sports, dance, or group games.
full text of Calories
In, Calories Out: Food and Exercise in Public
Elementary Schools, 2005
is available online at
copy of the report can
be ordered by calling toll free 1-877-4ED-Pubs (1-877-433-7827)
(TTY/TDD 1-877-576-7734); via e-mail at email@example.com
or via the Internet at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.htmlback to top
COMPARISON OF THE EFFECTS OF
NBPTS CERTIFIED TEACHERS WITH OTHER TEACHERS ON THE RATTE OF STUDENT
Summary National Board Certification is a voluntary process established
by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) to
measure what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do.
Certification is achieved through a rigorous performance-based
assessment that takes between one and three years to complete. As of
November 2004, approximately 40,200 teachers had earned National Board
Certification. This study was undertaken as part of the National
Board's continuing effort to measure the impact of National Board
Certification and the effects of National Board Certified Teachers
(NBCTs) on the quality of teaching and student achievement in America's
schools. End-of-grade mathematics and reading test scores from two
large North Carolina school districts (Charlotte-Mecklenberg and Wake
County) from the 1999–2000 through 2002–2003 school
years, grades 4
through 8 were analyzed to compare NBCTs with other teachers. Over
260,000 student records (about half in mathematics and half in
reading), representing over 4600 teacher-subject-grade-year
combinations, were included in the analyses. Of that 4600+, 281
represented National Board Certified mathematics teacher-years, 306
represented National Board Certified reading teacher-years.
were fitted to each of the ten subject-grade combinations (1) using
end-of-grade scores as the response variable with end-of-grade scores
from the previous year as covariates, and (2) using gain scores
(end-of-grade score minus previous year end-of-grade score) as the
response variable. Additional explanatory variables included: teacher
certification status (the factor of interest), teacher
years-of-experience, and the gender and race of the student. A
hierarchical model was used to account for the fact that students were
nested within teachers. For comparison with other recent studies,
non-hierarchical models were fitted as well.Findings
planned comparisons assessed the differences between NBCTs and other
teachers: (1) NBCTs versus teachers who have never been involved in the
certification process, (2) NBCTs versus teachers who planned to attain
certification in the future, (3) NBCTs versus teachers who failed in
their attempt at certification.
based on the hierarchical models, students of NBCTs did not have
significantly better rates of academic progress than students of other
teachers and estimated effect sizes were relatively small. The more
relevant and important finding was that the variation among teachers
within the same certification status was sufficiently large that
whatever small average differences there were between teachers in
different certification status categories were rather meaningless in
comparison. As a result, a student randomly assigned to a NBCT is no
more likely to get an "effective" (or an "ineffective") teacher than a
student assigned to a non-NBCT.
full report, please go to:http://www.nbpts.org/pdf/sas_final_report.pdfback to top
NATIONAL AMERICAN INDIAN/ALASKA
NATIVE EDUCATION STUDY—READING RESULTS SUMMARY
following is a brief summary of performance results of American
Indian/Alaska Native students at grades 4 and 8 on the 2005 National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment.National
representative samples of about 166,000 grade 4 and 159,000 grade 8
students participated in the assessment. Of these, approximately 3,800
American Indian/Alaska Native students participated at grade 4 and
approximately 3,400 American Indian/Alaska Native students participated
at grade 8. The national sample includes students from both public and
nonpublic schools (i.e., Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA], Department of
Defense Education Activity [DoDEA], and private schools).
are presented for the nation, for regions, for selected states, and for
student groups. The regions included in the study are Atlantic, North
Central, South Central, Mountain, and Pacific. In addition to the
national sample, states with relatively large populations of American
Indian/Alaska Native students were selected for this study. Those
states whose results are included in this report—Alaska,
Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South
seven states with the largest proportions of American Indians and
Alaska Natives as a percentage of the state's total population. The
state samples included only public and BIA schools.
grades 4 and 8, American Indian/Alaska Native students had
lower average scale scores in reading than all other students in the
nation (students who are neither American Indian nor Alaska Native).Regional
percentages of students performing at or above Basic and at or
above Proficient were also lower for American Indian/Alaska Native
students than those for all other students at both grades.
At grade 4,
American Indian/Alaska Native students had lower average
scores than those of all other students in all the regions.Selected States
grade 8, American Indian/Alaska Native students in the North
Central, Mountain, and Pacific regions had lower average scores than
all other students in the same regions.
At grade 4,
American Indian/Alaska Native students in Oklahoma had a
higher average score and a higher percentage of students performing at
or above Basic than their peers in the nation and in the other selected
Compared to their peers in the nation,
Indian/Alaska Native students at grade 4 in Alaska, Arizona, New
Mexico, and South Dakota had lower average scores.
grade 8, compared to American Indian/Alaska Native students in the
nation, American Indian/Alaska Native students in Oklahoma had higher
average scores, and those in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, and South
Dakota had lower average scores.
Native students at grade 8 in Oklahoma had higher average scores than
their peers in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, and South Dakota.
grades 4 and 8, compared to Black students in the nation,
American Indian/Alaska Native students had higher average scores and
higher percentages performing at or above Basic. American Indian/Alaska
Native students had lower average scores and lower percentages
performing at or above Basic than White and Asian/Pacific Islander
students. No significant difference was found between the performance
of Hispanic students and American Indian/Alaska Native students on
At grade 4, the average scores and
percentages of American Indian/Alaska Native students performing at or
above the Basic and Proficient levels were higher in urban fringe/large
town and central city locations than in rural/small town locations. For
other students at both grades 4 and 8, reading performance was higher
in urban fringe and rural locations than in central city locations.
see the Math Summary and/or complete report, please go to:http://220.127.116.11/nationsreportcard/nies/
back to top
REPORT ON ADULT LITERACY
LEVELS, FIRST SINCE 1992,
SHOWS NEED FOR HIGH SCHOOL REFORM
overall math skills rise.
Washington, D.C.—American adults can read a newspaper or
magazine about as well as they could a decade ago, but have made
strides in performing literacy tasks that involve computation,
according to the
first national study of adult literacy since 1992.
The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL),
released December 15th by the National Center for Education Statistics
found little change between 1992 and 2003 in adults' ability to read
understand sentences and paragraphs or to understand documents such as
"One adult unable to read is one too many in
America," said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who
announced plans to coordinate adult education efforts in 2006 across
federal agencies. "We must take a comprehensive and preventive
beginning with elementary schools and with special emphasis in our high
schools. We must focus resources toward proven, research-based methods
ensure that all adults have the necessary literacy skills to be
African Americans scored higher in 2003 than in 1992 in
all three categories, increasing sixteen points in quantitative, eight
in document, and six points in prose literacy. Overall, adults have
document and quantitative literacy with a smaller percentage of adults
in the Below Basic category compared to 1992. Whites, African
Asian/Pacific Islanders have improved in all three measures of literacy
smaller percentage in 2003 in the Below Basic category compared to
Hispanic adults showed a decrease in scores for both
prose and document literacy and a higher percentage in the Below Basic
category. The report also showed that five percent of U.S. adults,
million people, were termed "nonliterate" in English, meaning
could not communicate with them or that they were unable to answer a
number of questions.
NAAL in 2003 assessed a nationally representative sample
of more than 19,000 Americans age 16 and older, most in their homes and
prisons. NCES, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education's
Education Sciences, conducted the assessment in both 1992 and 2003.
NAAL uses three categories to define English-language
literacy: prose, document, and quantitative. Prose literacy includes
needed to understand continuous text, such as newspaper articles.
literacy is the ability to understand the content and structure of
such as prescription drug labels. Quantitative literacy involves using
in text, such as computing and comparing the cost per ounce of food
NAAL reports literacy in each category using a 0-500
scale score. Scores are then grouped in four literacy levels: Below Basic
, and Proficient
Basic is the lowest level and
indicates having "no more than the most simple and concrete literacy
skills." Those who can perform "complex and challenging" tasks
are considered at the Proficient level.
The report, A
Look at the Literacy of America's
Adults in the 21st Century
, analyzed literacy results
based on a variety of
factors, including race/ethnicity, gender, age, and level of
attainment. A companion report, Key
Concepts and Features of the 2003 National
Assessment of Adult Literacy
, describes the assessment's
key features and major
data types. It was also released today.
Other report highlights:
adults' scores were up nine points in quantitative, but were unchanged
and document literacy.
adults' scores declined in prose and document literacy 18 points and 14
respectively, but were unchanged in quantitative literacy.
Islanders' scores increased 16 points in prose literacy, but were
document and quantitative literacy.
those who spoke only Spanish before starting school, scores were down
in prose and document literacy between 1992 and 2003.
back to top
To put its findings in
perspective, NAAL also reported on
U.S. population changes between 1992 and 2003. During the decade, the
percentage of white adults decreased from 77 to 70 percent, while the
percentage of Hispanic adults increased from eight to 12 percent. The
percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander adults doubled (to 4 percent). The
percentage of adults who spoke only English before starting school
from 86 to 81 percent.
To view the reports and for more information, visit http://nces.ed.gov/naal
SCHOOL DISTRICT CENTRAL OFFICES
HOLD THE KEY TO REFORM
new report released by Springboard Schools turns conventional wisdom on
its head by revealing that school districts, previously thought to be
roadblocks to reform, can play a key role in boosting student
achievement. The report identifies "promising practices," including
reporting publicly on progress and creating a balance between
centralization and decentralization, that have enabled some
high-poverty districts to succeed.
were identified through a statewide survey and studied in depth in
three high-performing, high-poverty districts profiled in the report:
Elk Grove Unified (Sacramento), Rowland Unified (Los Angeles), and Oak
Grove (San Jose). Each of these districts defies the odds by
successfully serving high populations of English-language learners and
low-income students. Research included a combination of a survey of
principals, site visits, and interviews with district leaders.
report, entitled "Minding the Gap: New Roles for School Districts in
Era of Accountability," identifies five key ways that high-performing,
high-poverty districts play an active role in student achievement.
- Seek Transparency.
Set explicit goals, identify key strategies to achieve those goals, and
report publicly on progress.
- Balance Centralization and
Decentralization. Find a clear and workable
balance between what will be centralized and where to maintain autonomy
Testing to Drive Improvement.
Testing is not an end, but a way to identify and respond as part of a
larger improvement process.
- Invest in Professional
Development. Invest in professional development so that
and teachers' knowledge is continually updated.
- Build Infrastructure.
Build structures and processes by which teachers can be part of a
these practices may seem like common sense, many school districts in
California have not embraced them. Too many California school districts
stick to their old roles—managing plant and human resources
setting goals without linking those goals to appropriate actions.
Schools is a nonprofit and non-partisan network of educators committed
to raising student achievement and narrowing the achievement gap. To
accomplish this, Springboard Schools functions both as a research
organization and a provider of support for schools
the full report, "Minding the Gap: New Roles for School Districts in
the Era of Accountability," at: http://www.springboardschools.orgback to top
NEW RESOURCE FOR TEACHING AND
ASSESSING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
keeping with the goal of ensuring that all students achieve to high
standards, the U.S. Department of Education announced the availability
of a new tool kit to help states fully implement the accountability
provisions of No Child Left Behind for students with disabilities.
"Tool Kit on Teaching and Assessing Students with Disabilities" was
released by John H. Hager, assistant secretary of the Office of Special
Education and Rehabilitative Services, and Henry Johnson, assistant
secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
collaborative effort of OSERS and OESE, the Tool Kit is a publication
that provides up-to-date guidance on assessing the achievement and
progress of students with disabilities.
includes a set of technical assistance products that offer practical,
research-based approaches to the challenges schools are facing in the
areas of assessment, instruction, behavioral interventions, and use of
accommodations for students with disabilities.
addition, the Tool Kit offers information about research now under way
to further expand educators' knowledge in this area.
Tool Kit is being disseminated to the state leadership so that they can
share these materials with those in their states who have
responsibility for improving teaching and assessment of all students.
The Tool Kit is also accessible athttp://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/reports.htmlback to top
DOES AN IVY LEAGUE EDUCATION MEAN
A BETTER SALARY?
to the U.S. Census Bureau, a college degree adds about a million
dollars to your lifetime earnings—compared to the earnings of
with only a high school degree.
But does it matter
which college you attend? If you spend $200,000 to go to Harvard or
Yale, does that mean you'll make more money when you get out?
Robert Binion is finding out,
His SAT score was 1580, his GPA 4.27. He
had no problem getting into college.
"I got into
Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Virginia, and then in-state school," he lists
So he had to decide: at a cost of over $40,000
per year, is an elite college a good investment?
to some of the studies and the articles I've read," says Lorraine
Hastings of The College Board, "I think the research is showing that
there's really not a big difference in money."
a Princeton economist looked at the wages of adults who, 20 years
earlier, were in college—and found that annual income didn't
on where you went to school, but how hard you work. "It really depends
on how you perform when you get there," explains Hastings.
She says what really matters is
who you are—your talent, effort and attitude. . . .
the other hand, she says, because of their huge endowments, elite
schools are a good choice for qualified kids who are poor.
you're a low-income student, you may have a better chance getting an
education paid for at Harvard than at a state school, where you have
more students that look like you, that are in the same financial
category," Hastings says.
To see the
complete report, please go to:http://wcco.com/local/local_story_155160047.htmlback to top
INCREASE IN ADVANCED PLACEMENT
STUDENT SUCCESS ACHIEVED IN ALL 50 STATESPresident in State of the Union
Calls for More AP TeachersNew
York, Maryland, Utah, California, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts,
and Florida Lead the Way; Record-Breaking Gains in Arkansas
College Board, the not-for-profit membership association that
administers the AP Program, has released the second annual Advanced
Placement Report to the Nation, showing that all 50 states
District of Columbia have achieved an increase in the percentage of
high school students earning a grade of 3 or higher in college-level AP
courses since 2000.
In the nation's public schools,
14.1 percent of students in the class of 2005 demonstrated mastery of
an AP Exam by earning an exam grade of 3 or higher—the grade
of college success—on one or more AP Exams while in high
is up from 13.2 percent for the class of 2004 and 10.2 percent for the
class of 2000.
35 states and the District of
Columbia have lower results than the nationwide average of 14.1
percent, every single state and the District of Columbia saw a greater
proportion of its class of 2005 score a 3 or higher than occurred
within its class of 2000. AP achievements for each state's class of
2000 and class of 2005 are detailed in the report.
achievements are noteworthy because, over the last five years, the U.S.
public high school population has increased by more than 100,000
students. U.S. schools have done more than maintain the proportion of
students who succeed on an AP Exam before graduating from high
school—they have increased that proportion from 10 percent to
The achievement in spreading AP
elevating the quality of our nation's secondary school classrooms. The
Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (formally known
as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study) found that
while the rest of U.S. students ranked at the bottom of advanced math
and physics achievement among developed nations, the U.S. AP Calculus
and AP Physics students, even those who failed to earn a successful AP
Exam grade, were competitive in math and science achievement with
students from the top-performing nations.
take AP math and science courses in high school are much more likely
than other students to continue a course of study in science,
technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) majors than students who
do not take such courses in high school. In his State of the Union
address on January 31, President George W. Bush called for the training
of 70,000 high school teachers "over five years" for Advanced Placement
science and math courses.
"Educators and leaders at the
federal, state, district, and school levels deserve tremendous credit
for enabling a wider segment of our nation's youth than ever before to
achieve success on an AP Exam," said College Board President Gaston
"Participation in AP has
for students; most notably, AP math and science courses are enabling
American students to develop a level of math and science expertise that
exceeds that of students from all other nations; the AP world language
courses are developing our students' capacity to engage with Asian and
European cultures, while AP English and social science courses develop
the skills necessary for students to write effectively, think
critically, and engage with great minds from the world's cultures."Maintaining Quality in the AP
The report shows that the
quality of learning in AP classrooms has remained
steady as schools have invited more students to take on the challenge
of an AP course. AP Examinations use standards that are set by college
and university professors who administer AP Exam questions to their own
students and identify the knowledge and skills that must be
demonstrated on each question. To ensure that each AP Exam, from year
to year, is of equivalent difficulty and rigor, selected
multiple-choice questions, which are not disclosed, are woven back into
subsequent AP Exams, enabling psychometricians and statisticians to
ensure that an AP Exam grade one year represents the same level of
content mastery as in previous years.
includes graphs for four high-volume AP Examinations and shows that the
students who took AP Exams in 2005 are achieving learning outcomes
equivalent to those experienced by the smaller, less diverse AP student
population who took AP Exams in earlier years.
AP Exams, there are no statistically significant increases or decreases
in content mastery from 2001 to 2005, indicating that educators have
done a tremendous job of preserving quality and learning outcomes even
while increasing the number of students who have access to AP," said
To assist schools in
maintaining the quality
of courses labeled "AP" as these opportunities continue to expand,
beginning in fall 2006 [in the soon-to-be-published AP Policy Guides],
the College Board is implementing an AP Course Audit designed to ensure
that each course labeled "AP" provides students with the content
knowledge and resources needed for them to have a successful,
college-level experience while still in high school.Equity Gaps in Advanced Placement
increased diversity in the AP classroom, African-American and
Native-American students remain significantly underrepresented in AP
classrooms. Nationwide, African-American students make up 13.4 percent
of the student population, but only 6.4 percent of AP Exam takers, and
Native Americans make up 1.1 percent of the student population, but
only 0.5 percent of the AP examinee population.
students are well represented in AP classrooms
represent 13.4 percent of the student population and 13.6 percent of AP
Examinees. However, Latino students remain underrepresented in AP
programs in many states.
The report warns that
the strides that have been made by educators to provide traditionally
underrepresented students with AP courses, lower performances on AP
Exams indicate that many high-potential teachers and students are not
receiving adequate preparation for the rigors of an AP course. As a
result, traditionally underrepresented students currently demonstrate
significantly lower performances on AP Exams.
initiatives are needed to ensure that all students are adequately
prepared starting in middle school so that students will have a fair
shot at AP success when they reach high school," said Caperton. "And
just as important, as America's classrooms continue to diversify, new
programs must be initiated to build schools' capacities to offer AP
courses to all student populations, especially underserved minority
students and young people from rural America."
initiatives, based in legislation designed to expand access to AP
courses, have been successful in many states. In Arkansas last year,
policy legislation resulted in record-breaking improvements in AP
participation, particularly among traditionally underrepresented
African-American, Hispanic, and low-income students. Beginning with the
2008–2009 school year, Arkansas legislation mandates that all
districts provide AP courses in each of the four core areas of
mathematics, English, science, and social studies. Thereafter, the
districts must add at least one core course each year. Arkansas is
covering the cost of the AP Exams for all students and is providing
schools with professional development funds.
results of Arkansas's initiatives are unparalleled; in just one year's
time, Arkansas doubled the number of students participating in AP, more
than doubled the number of Hispanic students and low-income students
participating in AP, and more than tripled the number of
African-American students participating in AP. Across the entire
history of the AP Program, there have never been such large increases
in participation, particularly among traditionally underserved
students, achieved in a single year.Celebrating Exemplary AP High
II of the Advanced
Placement Report to the Nation uses data from all
schools participating in AP worldwide to identify schools currently
leading in AP participation and performance. This year California,
Florida, and Texas have the most schools (public and independent) cited
in the report.
Part II also includes performance
information for each of the AP subject areas and feedback on student
learning from past AP Exams so AP teachers and administrators can
revise and refocus their syllabi to address weaknesses or deficiencies
in their curricula.
The College Board's Advanced
Placement Program enables students to pursue college-level studies
while still in high school. Thirty-five courses in 20 subject areas are
offered. Based on their performance on rigorous AP Exams, all of which
require students to craft written responses to open-ended questions
that are scored by current college faculty and AP consultants, students
can earn credit, advanced placement, or both for college.Leading the Nation
benefits students, educators, and schools," said Caperton. "The number
of students participating in AP has more than doubled in 10 years, and
today almost 15,000 U.S. schools offer AP courses. Students who succeed
on an AP Exam are more likely to complete college. More often than not
they have achieved a mastery of writing, sophisticated study habits,
and a penchant for critical reasoning. Teachers who participate in AP
professional development improve as teachers in general, not just as
teachers of AP classes. And it is often the case that schools that
participate in AP experience a diffusion of higher academic standards
throughout their entire curriculum."
The Most Improvement
York leads the nation: Nearly 23 percent of students in New York's
class of 2005 earned an AP Exam grade of 3 or higher while in high
- This year Maryland and Utah joined New York
in seeing more than 20
percent of their students achieve such AP results.
Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Florida are all
poised to achieve that milestone soon, perhaps with this year's
Eliminating Equity Gaps
North Carolina, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, and
Florida have seen the greatest amount of positive change since 2000 in
the proportion of students who succeed on an AP Exam in high school.
states that achieved the largest expansion of successful AP Exam
performance from 2004 to 2005: Oregon, Delaware, Alaska, Arkansas,
Maine, Maryland, New York, Virginia, and Washington.
Maryland, and the District of Columbia have each achieved the
significant milestone of seeing Latino student representation in AP
courses outpace Latino student representation in non-AP courses.
and Texas, states with large Latino populations, are within reach of
The full report is available
ap-report-nation.pdfback to top
NCLB ENHANCING EDUCATION THROUGH
State Educational Technology Directors Association has released its
third annual Trends Report on educational technology. In addition to
reporting trends on the NCLB Enhancing Education Through Technology
(EETT) program, the 2006 report also includes general state policy
trends in educational technology. The findings in the 2006 report are
based on surveys from 50 states and the District of Columbia. Seven
trends were reported across the first three years of the program.Finding 1: Promising Interim
Results at 3-Year Mark Warrant Continued Investment
have been targeting NCLB EETT funds on the three program goals:
increasing student achievement, closing the digital divide, and
integrating research-based technology practices into learning.Finding 2: States Have Set the
Bar High for Professional Development
With the states exceeding the
required 25% of NCLB II D funding mandated
for professional development, over $159 million was dedicated to
building the capacity of teachers to use technology effectively. Many
states established criteria for professional development that have been
met by LEA grantees.Finding 3: States Are Leveraging
Resources through Collaborations and Partnerships
The states are leveraging
resources across federal, state, local private and public funding to
advance NCLB goals.Finding 4: The Large Volume of
Small Formula Grants Diminishes Overall Impact
noted in the first and second Trends report, approximately 48% of the
formula grants are under $5,000. That means that less than 4% of the
funds require almost 50% of the administrative support for formula
grants. Grants that small have very little impact on the advancement of
the NCLB goals.Finding 5: States Are Grappling
with Evaluation and Impact Research
few funds available at the state level for evaluation and research,
states are grappling with the challenge of conducting high-quality
evaluations of their NCLB programs. Most are requiring that LEA
grantees conduct local evaluations and many are building the capacity
of LEAs to do so. In addition, nearly 25% of the states are funding or
commissioning research studies on the impact of educational technology
on learning in schools.Finding 6: Through Leadership, a
Knowledge Base Is Emerging
directors are beginning to develop wide-scale efforts to establish a
common knowledge base of sound research practices or to conduct
research studies that will establish that common knowledge base for
technology-enriched programs.Finding 7: In Many States, NCLB
II D is the Only Source of Funding for Technology
following states report that NCLB II D is the only source of funding in
their state for educational technology: Arizona, California, Delaware,
Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New
Hampshire, Oklahoma, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
see the full report, please go to:http://www.setda.org/resources/SETDA%20Nat%27l%20Trends%20Final%202006%2Epdf
you would like a hard copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to top
POWERFUL LIBRARIES MAKE POWERFUL
Curry Lance of the Library Research Service in Denver, Colorado is the
author of the study, "Powerful Libraries Make Powerful Learners: The
Study of Illinois School Libraries."
sampled 661 Illinois public elementary and secondary schools, compared
Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and Prairie State
Achievement Examination (PSAE) scores with the presence of school
libraries and librarians.
"The study confirms that
strongest library predictor of high student achievement scores is a
staff that includes at least one trained librarian, as well as support
staff," says Lance. "Reading, writing, and ACT scores rise when
students have larger, more current book collections and computers
connected to library databases and catalogs."
research findings of the study include:
with better-staffed libraries have more students who succeed
- High schools with computers that connect
to library catalogs and
databases average 6.2% improvement on ACT scores.
that visit the library more frequently receive improved
reading and writing scores.
- Students with access to
larger, more current book collections
achieve higher reading, writing, and ACT scores.
study was commissioned by the Illinois School Library Media Association
with a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant awarded by the
Illinois State Library, a division of the office of Jesse White,
Secretary of State and State Librarian. Funding for the study was also
provided by the 21st Century Information Fluency Program, a grant
funded project that trains teachers, librarians and students in
enhancing their ability to locate, evaluate and use digital information
resources. The study is endorsed by the Illinois State Board of
Education, who provided data for the research.
Illinois School Library Media Association, based in Canton, was created
in 1988 to provide leadership and support for the development,
promotion, and improvement of the school library media profession and
programs in Illinois.
information, including the executive summary, video, and fact sheets go
to:http://www.islma.org/news.htmback to top
BOOSTING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: THE
IMPACT OF COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL REFORM ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
preliminary report is available at:http://www.crpe.org/hot/PDF/BookerGrossGoldhaberAEFA06.pdfback to top
NATIONAL BOARD TEACHERS NO BETTER
AT RAISING SCORES THAN OTHER EDUCATORS, LONG-AWAITED STUDY FINDS
long-awaited study using North Carolina data concludes that Students of
teachers who hold certification from the National Board for
Professional Teaching Standards achieve, on average, no greater
academic progress than students of teachers without the special status.
study was conducted by William L.Sanders. He is the statistician who
pioneered the concept of "value-added" analysis of teaching
effectiveness. The study found that there was basically no difference
in the achievement levels of students whose teachers earned the
prestigious NBPTS credential, and those who didn't. The study examined
more than 35,000 student records and more than 800 teachers in the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Wake County districts in North Carolina.
amount of variability among teachers with the same NBPTS certification
status is considerably greater than the differences between teachers of
different status," says the report.
Mr. Sanders, who
manages the value-added assessment and research center at the private
SAS Institute in Cary, N.C., said one way to think about the
implications of the study would be to envision two teachers with
identical experience and education applying for the same
holding national board certification and one not. To choose the
board-certified teacher over the teacher without the credential would
be "only trivially better than a coin flip," the researcher said.
Rotherham—co-founder and director of Washington-based
a nonprofit think tank—posted on his Eduwonk blog a note that
privately organized national board had apparently been "sitting on" the
results because they were not favorable.
board, which had commissioned the study, then posted an "overview" of
the research on its Web site last week, though officials there denied
the posting was prompted by Mr. Rotherham's blog entry. They said they
did not intend to provide a link to the full study.
overview is largely critical of the study, citing methodological
problems. For instance, the overview said the study lacked a sufficient
number of teachers.back to top
WHAT WORKS FOR YOUNG READERS?
McDonald Connor, professor at Florida State University and research
faculty member for the Florida Center for Reading Research; Frederick
J. Morrison, developmental psychologist at the University of Michigan;
and Leslie E. Katch, graduate research assistant for Loyola University,
Chicago School of Social Work, share the International Reading
Association's 2006 Dina Feitelson Research Award for their article,
"Beyond the Reading Wars: Exploring the Effect of Child-Instruction
Interactions on Growth in Early Reading," published in Scientific
Studies of Reading.
Twenty years of accumulating
research suggests most children become better readers when they receive
explicit phonics instruction in combination with meaningful language
activities, an approach commonly referred to as balanced instruction.
What Connor, Morrison, and Katch explore is the next step. Given the
range of students' abilities coming into the classroom, are there
specific instructional approaches that seem to work best?
in children's early literacy development, such as phonological
awareness, vocabulary, and word decoding, emerge early and set children
up for very different experiences, even though they are in the same
classroom. For example, a first-grade student who has poor phonics
skills and a limited vocabulary is likely to make more progress over
the course of the year when the teacher explicitly teaches decoding
and, only gradually, increases the amount of time the child spends in
self-managed learning, as would happen when reading silently or
completing a worksheet. By contrast, explicit decoding instruction has
virtually no effect on a child with strong decoding skills and a high
vocabulary. That child will experience the greatest growth when the
classroom provides a consistent amount of time for child-managed
"Beyond the Reading
Wars: Exploring the Effect of Child-Instruction Interactions on Growth
in Early Reading"
demonstrates the effectiveness of individualized instruction, while
conceding that classroom management becomes more complex when students
demonstrate a range of skills. The researchers suggest studying
classroom instruction at multiple levels, given the interaction between
classroom practices and the characteristics of the children in the
Patricia G. Mathes of Southern Methodist
University, Carolyn A. Denton of the University of Texas, Jack M.
Fletcher and David J. Francis at the University of Houston, Jason L.
Anthony of the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, and
Christopher W. Schatschneider of Florida State University, are
recipients of IRA's 2006 Albert J. Harris Award for their co-authored
article, "The effects of theoretically different instruction and
student characteristics on the skills of struggling readers," published
in Reading Research
Quarterly. They received their award, including
the $1,000 prize, on May 1st during the International Reading
Association's 51st annual convention in Chicago, Illinois.
study focuses on the 5–7 percent of students who struggle
even though they are receiving high quality instruction in either their
regular classroom or in supplementary one-on-one or small group
situations. The researchers examined the impact on reading when these
approaches are combined, and further examined two supplementary
programs—Proactive Reading, derived from a Direct Instruction
and Responsive Reading, which follows a cognitive instruction model.
Another design element of the study examined the interaction between
student characteristics and specific interventions.
"The Effects of Theoretically Different Instruction and Student
Characteristics on the Skills of Struggling Readers," Mathes, Denton,
Fletcher, Schatschneider, Francis, and Anthony demonstrate the
importance of providing struggling first-grade readers with both
supplementary intervention and enhanced classroom reading instruction.
While the combined services did not eliminate struggling readers, more
students achieved better results than they would have if offered only
The findings do not support the
there is "one best approach" or a theory that is right. Instead, the
gains by children were generally comparable. Instead, the award-winning
researchers noted, "Time is better devoted to determining how to
overcome the great challenges that exist in getting effective
interventions placed into schools. Likewise, our findings support the
idea that schools can be allowed to choose from among good choices
those interventions that best fit personal philosophies and personnel
talents."Improving Middle School Reading
middle school reading performance for all students may require building
instructional capacity, note Judith A. Langer and Arthur N. Applebee,
University of Albany, State University of New York. Building on the
work of the National Research Center on English Learning &
Achievement, Langer and Applebee have been involved in a two-year study
assessing the impact of professional development on curriculum,
instruction, and student achievement. Known as the Partnership for
Literacy, the intervention provides teachers with a framework for
thinking about how to increase students' literacy skills, plus specific
curriculum and instruction approaches associated with higher
The Partnership study involved 21 urban
schools in high poverty neighborhoods, 69 classroom teachers, eight
support teachers, and 119 classes in two states, New York and
Wisconsin. Through it, teachers were encouraged to change how they
taught so that students would be more likely to become cognitively
engaged in challenging subject matter. The professional development
focuses on five components that make a difference in student learning
and achievement: strategic curriculum; knowledge from discourse and
thought-in-action; thinking and learning in a social context;
coherence, connections, and continuity; and generative learning.
analysis indicates that this approach to professional development does
result in classrooms where students, including low achievers who
typically zone out, are more cognitively engaged. Soon after
involvement in the Partnership, teachers changed how they taught,
increasing both the time spent in instruction and the extent to which
they built on student responses during instruction. Other teaching
practices changed more slowly as practice evolved over the course of
the two-year study. Some aspects of teachers' beliefs and attitudes
changed as well, although there was little movement on the key issue of
whether all students are capable of learning. But learn they did.
Although the study design meant that most students would have only one
year of instruction in a cognitively engaged environment, a comparison
of fall and spring measures of reading comprehension showed significant
For more information, please see:http://cela.albany.edu/publication/IRAResearch.pdf
andhttp://cela.albany.edu/research/partnerB6.htmback to top
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES NEED
SIMILAR MATH, READING SKILLS WHETHER ENTERING COLLEGE OR WORKFORCE
school students who plan to enter workforce training programs after
they graduate need academic skills similar to those needed by students
planning to enter college, according to a new study conducted by ACT.
The findings suggest that the math and reading skills needed to be
ready for success in workforce training programs are comparable to
those needed for success in the first year of college.
on these results, ACT recommends that all high school students should
experience a common academic program, one that prepares them for both
college and workforce training, regardless of their post-graduation
"We can't afford to have one expectation for
students who plan to attend college and another for those who plan to
enter the workforce or workforce training programs after high school,"
said ACT CEO Richard L. Ferguson. "If we educate some students to a
lesser standard than others, we narrow their options to jobs that, in
today's economy, no longer pay well enough to support a family."
landmark report makes it clear that we must ensure high school is
relevant and rigorous for all students," said Minnesota Gov. Tim
Pawlenty, chair of the National Governors Association Education, Early
Childhood, and Workforce Committee. "We need to bring accountability
and focus to our classrooms in order to prepare graduates for the
fiercely competitive global economy, whether their next step is college
or a career."
In the study, ACT looked at the
occupations that offer a wage sufficient to support a family of four,
as well as potential for career advancement, but that do not require a
four-year college degree. These occupations—which include
construction workers, upholsterers, plumbers, etc.—typically
some combination of vocational training and on-the-job experience or an
The academic skill levels
in the study were based on job profiles from ACT's WorkKeys program and
the company's College Readiness Benchmarks on its ACT college admission
and placement exam. The results show that the levels of math and
reading skills needed for success in the first year of college are
comparable to those needed by high school graduates to enter the vast
majority (90 percent) of these profiled jobs.
today's increasingly technological society, more and more jobs that
offer the potential for good wages and future growth are requiring at
least some type of training or education beyond high school," said
Ferguson. "Students who graduate from high school without the skills
they need for college are also likely to lack the skills they need to
successfully complete job training programs."
report emphasizes that the context within which these important skills
are taught and tested in schools may differ for students with different
goals. However, the level of expectation for all students should be the
"Our education system should
give every student
the knowledge and skills they need to have meaningful options when they
finish high school," said Ferguson. "These skills can be taught within
rigorous high school classes, whether they be academic- or
The report offers a number of
recommendations to policymakers, including the following:
a statewide commitment that all students will be prepared
for college and workforce training programs when they graduate from
- Require that all students take a
rigorous core preparatory course program in high school.
schools and states accountable for preparing all students for
college and workforce training through rigorous core courses.
that state standards reflect the skills needed for college and
workforce training readiness for all students.
measuring student progress with aligned assessments as early as
the eighth grade to monitor progress, make appropriate interventions,
and maximize the number of high school graduates who are ready for
college and workforce training programs.
workforce training readiness as a prerequisite for entry into funded
training or development programs and offer remediation for those who do
not meet established expectations.
the ACT report: Ready
for College and Ready for Work: Same or Different?http://www.act.org/path/policy/reports/workready.htmlback to top
THE VALUE OF MENTORING AND
mentors are trained to do coaching, the impact of the coaching on the
mentors is as profound as it is on the new teachers. Mentors usually
choose to mentor for altruistic reasons: they want to help a rookie
have a less stressful beginning, they want to give back to the
profession, or they simply want to be a good neighbor. Mentors are
frequently surprised at how much they themselves gain, reporting that
the experience of promoting another's reflection enhances reflection on
their own practice. Some mentors continue to do peer coaching with
other mentors and colleagues after they are no longer mentors.
Reflection on practice, self-esteem, and new learning are just a few
rewards of mentoring. Regularly scheduled meetings also help to
alleviate the isolation teachers sometimes feel and enhance the sense
of the school as a community of learners.
see the complete article, please go to:http://www.mec.edu/mascd/docs/villani2.htmback to top
IS CHEERLEADING, STUDENT
GOVERNMENT LIKELIEST PATH TO ELITE SCHOOL?
in dance classes and music classes are associated with an increased
chance of a student pursuing a college degree, but art classes or
visits to the public library are not, according to recent research by
Jay Gabler, a Harvard University
student, and Jason Kaufman, a professor of sociology at Harvard
University, looked at which extracurricular activities and attributes
increase students' likelihood of attending college, including elite
institutions, and which do not. They found that some extracurricular
activities increase a student's probability of attending college and
prestigious institutions, but grades, test scores, and family
background matter more.
Gabler and Kaufman's
uses data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS),
which asked thousands of students hundreds of questions about their
activities and achievements at home and at school. The NELS also
gathers information about students' families and communities.
and standardized test scores matter a great deal, as do parents' income
and education," said Gabler and Kaufman. "Even when we consider these,
however, we find that participation in some extracurricular activities
in high school makes it much more likely that a student will go on to
Participation in varsity team sports makes
matriculation to college more likely, but attributes such as English as
a student's first language or whether parents limit TV do not matter
The results changed somewhat when the
looked at admission to highly selective colleges (according to rankings
from U.S. News
& World Report for the year respondents were
college-shopping). Surprisingly few extracurricular activities increase
students' likelihood of college matriculation. When it comes to elite
schools, participation in sports, student council, and music or dance
lessons do not matter, but involvement in the yearbook or the school
newspaper do make a difference. Participation in a school hobby club
makes a student much more likely to attend a selective school, too.
interesting finding, according to Gabler and Kaufman, is that
"students whose parents visited art museums regularly were much more
likely to attend an elite college than students whose parents did not.
It does not even matter whether the students themselves visit museums."
This was one of the strongest effects the researchers observed.
finding is related to what the eminent sociologist Pierre Bourdieu
called cultural capital, said Gabler and Kaufman. In other words,
knowledge about elite cultures (for example, fine art) is an asset as
much as money or social connections are. Even on a college application
or a college interview, these differences are likely to be apparent.
They also hypothesize that cultural taste may increase their likelihood
of applying to elite schools in the first place.
research focuses on college matriculation, which requires that students
must complete these steps: apply to, gain admission to, and enroll in
college. Gabler and Kaufman are currently following up with additional
research (with Harvard graduate student Nathan Fosse) to examine each
of these steps individually. "We're interested in what predicts
students' admission to college," say the researchers, "but it may be
more important to understand why most students never even apply."
and Kaufman conclude by noting, "There are no magic bullets.. Only a
few activities matter, and the most important predictors in our data
have to do with family background rather than extracurricular
activities."back to top
STUDY ENDORSES CALLING ON
a feeling nearly everyone remembers experiencing at least once: sitting
in class unprepared, silently praying the teacher won't call your name.
those students, the days of quiet safety may be numbered.
new University of Florida study suggests that when teachers use a
hand-held computer that randomly chooses whom to call on, even the
quiet student in the back won't be missed.
not be a bad thing. It turns out students actually do better in class
when they know their number could come up at any time.
Allison, who did the research for her dissertation in educational
anthropology at UF, found that students at one North Central Florida
high school where she conducted her research reported they were more
engaged in the activities of school success when teachers used the name
"The interview data from the teachers and
students shows this technique helped students do those things that we
know help them to be successful in school—paying attention,
prepared for class, staying focused and doing homework," Allison said.
who teaches high school math, said she became interested in doing the
study after listening to a radio report describing how math teachers
call on boys more than girls.
"There is real, although
subtle intimidation that takes place in the classroom reinforcing the
idea that women and minority students cannot do math as well as white
male students," she said. "Research has shown that teachers not only
tend to call on white male students more frequently than other
students, but they respond to their questions and requests for help
differently and provide them with entirely different experiences in the
One reason girls can get less
math class is that teachers may find themselves calling on boys, who
tend to be more assertive in class, Allison said.
aren't aware of how hard a teacher physically has to work, not only to
manage but to actually teach 150 children a day," she said. "As in any
activity, the natural tendency is to want to conserve energy. It's
easier and faster to let the student who knows the answer respond for
you. So the quiet person in the corner who doesn't raise a hand doesn't
get called on as much."
Often, teachers may call on
students as a way to keep them on task or stop misbehavior, Allison
said. "In an effort to maintain order in the classroom, teachers
respond to this kind of pressure," she said. "When I became aware of
the research on this subject, I noticed that I called on boys more than
girls as kind of a behavior control management device."
is important because it is a gate-keeping course for many college
preparatory courses that lead to high-paying scientific and technical
fields, yet math-related careers are not sought by females and
minorities to the same extent as white males, she said.
test the effectiveness of a random naming system, Allison compared
participation rates of students in 15 math classes where the device was
used with students in 11 math classes where it was not used.
to expectations, the study found no significant difference between
classes that used the new experimental technique and those where
teachers called on students according to their own methods, Allison
said. This showed that teachers at this particular school did not show
bias in calling on one gender or ethnic group more than another, she
The random questioning device was effective,
said, because students who participated in a series of focus groups
afterward said they were more likely to show up for class prepared and
to concentrate on what was being said when they knew the computer could
spell out their name at any time.
"Both students and
teachers reported that students paid more attention in class," she
said. "They felt they had to tune in more because they knew they had a
chance of being called on for every question."
the computerized name-generating system non-threatening, Allison
allowed students who were called on to take a free "pass" without
penalty if they did not know the answer or did not wish to respond for
Jerome Dancis, a University of
math professor emeritus, said Allison's research is important because
only a small number of students are willing to raise their hands in
class, usually the best students. "It's important for teachers to
realize that students need to be encouraged to speak in class,
especially high school students because this is a shy age," he said.back to top
BLOCK SCHEDULING DOES NOT HELP
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PERFORM BETTER
who had block scheduling enjoyed no advantage in college science
compared to peers who had traditional class schedules in high school,
according to Robert Tai, assistant professor of science education at
the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education. In fact, they
performed worse, he said.
In an article published in
the April/May issue of the
High School Journal, Tai and co-authors
Kirsten Dexter, a biology teacher in Greene County who earned her
master's degree at the Curry School, and Philip Sadler of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, looked at a national
sample of 8,000 introductory college science students from 31 states,
many of whom went to high schools that use block scheduling.
scheduling is a way of structuring the school day so that students have
fewer classes for longer periods of time. The most common type
comprises classes that last for 90 minutes alternating two or three
days a week, in contrast with the traditional schedule of classes that
run 45–55 minutes and are held every day. Increasingly
adopted over the
past 15 years, the schedule remains a subject of debate. Claimed as a
way to help prepare students better for college, Tai found that was not
the case when students in introductory biology, chemistry and physics
courses were surveyed.
Final college course grades
a real-world measure with long-term impacts," Tai said. "Even when
students had teachers who used instruction methods specifically geared
toward block scheduling, the students who had a traditional schedule
had better grades in college."
With the additional
pressure of the No Child left Behind Act, schools are trying to help
all students graduate and pursue an education beyond high school,"
Dexter said. "We need to create an educational environment that helps
facilitate success in college, and if something is inhibiting the
preparation, it needs to be fixed."
was sold as a way that students would learn much better, especially in
the sciences, Tai said, but they're doing worse.
be harder for some students to grasp the material in a longer block of
time, Tai said. Plus, if a student misses a class, he or she misses
more of the subject matter. Even peer tutoring didn't end up helping
the students in block scheduling.
"An hour and a
is a long time for high school students to stay in one class," said
Dexter, who teaches high-school biology and has taught in a variety of
The 90-minute classes also are hard on
teachers, she added. It takes more energy and more time to plan enough
activities to fill the period. Although many teachers regard longer
laboratory sessions as beneficial, students report that teaching
methods differ little whether in long or short classes.
the school year, block scheduling also costs the students class time,
the researchers found. A 50-minute class held every day for two weeks
equals 500 minutes of class time, whereas a 90-minute block class held
five times in two weeks (on alternate days) equals 450 minutes. In
addition, more time may be lost in the class period as a teacher
changes from one activity to another.
is not advantageous," Tai said.
survey sample includes the higher-performing students who went to
four-year colleges and controls for students' backgrounds. And if these
top high school students are doing worse, Tai continued, we could
extrapolate that it must be even harder for struggling students. Block
scheduling does not appear to be a better option. When schools go
through all the changes of switching to block scheduling, even if there
was no difference, it wouldn't be worth it.
Sadler adds, "Instead, schools should invest in changes that have been
shown to produce large student gains and that are backed by rigorous
The April/May 2006 issue of the High
is available online at:
http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/high_school_journal/toc/hsj89.4.htmlback to top
A NEW LOOK AT PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
SCHOOLS: STUDENT BACKGROUND AND MATHEMATICS ACHIEVEMENT
Sarah Theule Lubienski and Christopher Lubienski
RECENT report of mathematics results from the National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP) highlighted this "major finding":
"Public-school students scored lower on average than non-public-school
students at both grades 4 and 8." Of course, this finding is nothing
new. Indeed, it is part of the common wisdom in the United States that
private school students outscore public school students on standardized
tests. Furthermore, studies have suggested that this is true even when
researchers account for the fact that the enrollment at public schools
differs from the enrollment at private schools.
belief is based, in part, on past studies involving the 1980 High
School and Beyond dataset that found that private schools are more
effective than public schools at boosting student achievement,
including that of disadvantaged students.2 These studies of test
performance, which controlled for some potentially confounding
variables such as socioeconomic status (SES), affirmed widespread
assumptions about the superiority of private schools. These
assumptions, in turn, have influenced recent reform efforts promoting
various forms of privatization of public schools, including the No
Child Left Behind Act, which makes use of a variety of private sector
sanctions for "failing" public schools.
SES quartile, the public school mean is actually higher than that of
the corresponding private school mean at both grades 4 and 8.
Specifically, public school fourth-grade means were 6 to 7 points
higher than private school means within each SES quartile, and
eighth-grade differences favoring public schools ranged from 1 to 9
This situation is a classic case
Paradox: although within each subgroup, public school means are higher
than private school means, the overall private school means are higher
than public school means because of the larger proportion of higher-SES
students in private schools. These results call into question common
assumptions about public and private school effects and highlight the
importance of carefully considering SES differences when making
comparisons of school achievement.
To see the full
report, please go to:http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/k_v86/k0505lub.htmback to top
IN STATE ACADEMIC STANDARDS,
WORLD HISTORY GETS LOST IN TRANSLATION
new report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute finds that at a time of
rapid globalization, most states don't even try to provide young
Americans with a solid grounding in world history.
historian and foreign policy expert Walter Russell Mead, the Henry A.
Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on
Foreign Relations, conducted this first ever review of states' academic
standards for K-12 world history—the blueprints that outline
students are expected to know in a given subject. Fully two-thirds of
states earn a "D" or an "F," while only eight (California,
Massachusetts, Virginia, Indiana, Georgia, New York, Minnesota, and
South Carolina) earn an "A."
"At a time when the
States faces threats and competitors around the globe, and when our
children's future is more entangled than ever with world developments,
our schools ought not treat world history so casually," said Institute
president Chester E. Finn, Jr. "Nations that once were little more than
curiosities to most Americans have transformed themselves into places
of vital interest and concern. No one can be considered adequately
prepared for life in the 21st century unless they understand the
history and culture of the world's major civilizations. The National
Geographic Society recently reported that students don't think learning
about the world is all that important. Sadly, state officials don't
seem to think so, either. It's as if Americans were wearing
blinders—and happy about it."
that only a
handful of states require students to pass a world history test to
graduate or get promoted to the next grade. Given educators'
preoccupation with subjects tested under the No Child Left Behind Act,
this only increases the chances that world history will be "narrowed"
out of the curriculum.
"A working knowledge of world
history is socially, politically, economically, and culturally
indispensable for young Americans," said Mead. "The failure of public
schools to teach world history amounts to denying equal opportunity to
our most vulnerable populations. Millions of low-income and minority
students are being denied basic cultural and economic rights."
problems were ubiquitous in the standards of poorly performing states:
or no historical content;
- Alternatively, so much
content that teachers couldn't possibly begin to cover it all;
excessive focus on modern European history and neglect of
significant non-Western cultures in Latin America and Asia;
an extreme multiculturalism that treats all nations and cultures as
- Standards that are buried in
the murky non-subject of "social studies."
that provide students with no logical timeline, relying
instead on trendy "themes" without regard to the story of history.
notes that states get their lowest marks for their coverage of Latin
America. Only nine states directly reference Simon Bolivar, perhaps the
most well-known figure in Latin American history. And only six states
make mention of famed explorer Hernando Cortez.One Bright Spot: World History
time when we're in the middle of a great national debate about how to
assimilate the massive influx of immigrants from Latin America, it's
unconscionable that the states would consider a student well-educated
without knowing much of anything about the history of this region,"
said Mead. "Today's students will be critical players in working out
terms of accommodation and assimilation between Latin-American culture
and Anglo-American culture. They desperately need a firm grounding in
the history of our hemisphere."
also reviewed three major world history exams: the Advanced Placement
(AP), the SAT II, and the New York Regents exam. In 2005, more than
64,000 students took the AP World History exam, and a stunning
220,000-plus took the New York Regents Exam in World History. (Some
15,000 took the SAT II World History test in 2004.) While the AP exam
is the best, all three tests earned an "A" rating.Recommendations
exams in world history can and should put pressure on the states to get
their heads out of the sand and produce sound world history standards,"
said Finn. "The number of young people taking these exams is soaring,
and they deserve the chance to do well on them. States could go far
toward improving their world-history standards if they modeled them on
the syllabi of exams like these."
can take several actions to improve their world history standards,
- Follow the lead of high-scoring
states, using the A-rated standards as a model;
the importance of world history by requiring students to
pass a test in the subject to graduate, and/or hold schools accountable
for their pupils' performance in the subject; and
the state's high-school world history program around the
excellent Advanced Placement syllabus in this subject.
state and exam reviews, as well as the full text of the report, can be
found at http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/publication/publication.cfm?id=356&CFID=