© 2006 Queue, Inc.
In This Issue:
FAILING COLLEGE: WHY WE MUST ALIGN HIGH SCHOOL CURRICULUM WITH COLLEGE EXPECTATIONS
of high school seniors have signed college acceptance letters as of May
1, but does making it into college ensure academic success and a degree?
new Policy Perspectives paper from WestEd argues that high schools and
colleges haven't aligned their separate education systems enough to
eliminate college remedial work, decrease college dropout rates, and
speed the time toward earning a baccalaureate degree.
What We Must Do to Create a System That Prepares for College Success,
David T. Conley, founder and director of the University of Oregon's
Center for Educational Policy Research, outlines the alarming
indicators of a system that is not functioning as efficiently as it
- Between 30 and 60 percent of students now require remedial college courses, an increase over previous years.
- For those who make it to college graduation, on average, it now takes six years to earn a four-year college degree.
- While more companies now expect a college degree as a baseline for
employment, the percentage of high school students who go on to earn
bachelor's degrees has remained relatively constant over the past 25
"If we are to address such problems," says
Conley, "it's going to take a coordinated, concerted reform effort
involving all stakeholders—policymakers, high school educators,
college faculty and administrators, parents, and students."
Conley proposes several actions to smooth the transition between high school and college and ensure academic success:
- States should align high school exit exams and other state assessments
with college success standards so that scores on state tests also
provide diagnostic information to students about their college
- College campuses should utilize placement
tests that are consistent across campuses and clearly connected with
success in entry-level coursework, and then communicate to high schools
the content, the cut scores, and the justification for these tests.
- College and high school faculty should collaborate more, sharing course materials and student work across institutions.
- High schools should prepare students for the independent,
self-motivated learning environment they will encounter in college, and
create environments that develop the intellectual maturity of secondary
students in areas such as critical thinking, analytic thinking,
persistence, and inquisitiveness.
- High school
students should learn how to actively monitor their own knowledge and
skills and seek courses that ask more of them in writing, reasoning,
research, and other key areas required in college.
- Parents should be familiar with the general expectations for knowledge,
skill, and work quality that their high school children should
demonstrate to be college ready. For those parents for whom this is
challenging or impossible, high schools should make a greater effort to
make these determinations and to communicate to parents regarding their
children's readiness for college.
According to Conley,
such changes would send a consistent message to high school students
about what they should be doing to prepare for college success, rather
than setting up students for possible failure in a poorly aligned K-16
A free PDF download of this Policy Perspectives paper is available at http://www.WestEd.org/collegeknowledge
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ACHIEVING QUALITY MIDDLE-LEVEL EDUCATION
National Middle School Association (NMSA), the nation's largest
organization focusing exclusively on the education of young
adolescents, ages 10 through 14, has announced a national campaign to
build collaboration between educators, families, and policymakers at
the national, state, and local levels. The campaign is based on a
just-released report, "Success in the Middle: A Policymaker's Guide to
Achieving Quality Middle Level Education."
type of educational reform to happen and be lasting, it must be based
on a shared vision between educators, policymakers, and
family/community members," said Sue Swaim, NMSA executive director in
announcing the report. "The United States still does not have a
cohesive national policy for the middle grades, which represents
one-third of a student's K-12 education.
"While policymakers have focused on high school reform they have skipped over
critical middle-level reform, which is the gateway to successfully
achieving high-performing schools at both the middle and high school
"If No Child Left Behind legislation is to
succeed, it must address the needs of these young adolescents and the
educators who work with them. Middle level education policy can not be
an add-on to either elementary or high school. The issues of middle
level education are a distinct part and a crucial link of the K-12
The report sets five goals for policymakers
and provides specific action steps at the federal, state, and local
levels. The goals are to:
- ensure that all middle-level
students participate in challenging, standards-based curricula and
engaging instruction, and that their progress is measured by
appropriate assessments, resulting in continual learning and high
- support the recruitment and hiring of
teachers and administrators who have strong content knowledge and the
ability to use research-based instructional strategies and assessment
practices appropriate for middle-level students;
- support organizational structures and a school culture of high
expectations that enable both middle-level students and educators to
- develop ongoing family and community
partnerships to provide a supportive and enriched learning environment
for every middle-level student; and
- facilitate the
generation, dissemination, and application of research needed to
identify and implement effective practices that lead to continual
student learning and high academic achievement at the middle level. The
campaign, which began yesterday with a number of meetings on Capitol
Hill, includes NMSA members and other middle-level educators taking
this message directly to state legislators, departments of education,
local school schools, governors, and other policymakers.
message in this report is essential for the 20 million young
adolescents who attend our middle level schools every day," said Patti
Kinney, NMSA president and principal of Oregon's Talent Middle School,
during the briefing. "We know putting these recommendations on paper
won't do the job. We must put them in the minds and hearts of the
policymakers who are impacting middle schools."
A copy of "Success in the Middle: A Policymaker's Guide to Achieving Quality Middle Level Education" is available at
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LEADING EARLY CHILDHOOD LEARNING COMMUNITIES
early childhood education is not just an ideal; it's an essential
investment. Yet, some 30 percent of all American children begin school
unable to maximally profit from the educational experience they will
encounter. The percentage is higher for poor children. School readiness
is extremely important; nearly every educational benchmark—from being
on grade level to staying in school—is related to school readiness.
Given the critical nature of learning in the first five years of a
child's life, it is imperative that school leaders are actively
involved in their communities' early learning programs before students
arrive for kindergarten or first grade. Missed opportunities from
conception to school entry can put children behind when they start
school and create barriers to achievement that can last through high
school. Strong early learning leads to better educated and more
employable individuals, as well as less remediation throughout the
education system, benefiting all of society.
The Challenge: Expand the Continuum
The bar for principal
performance continues to rise. No Child Left Behind, the Bush
administration's education reform act, has increased principals'
accountability for student learning. Over the past 15 years, the
National Association of Elementary School Principals has partnered with
schools, education organizations, and policymakers to study, discuss, and
address new ways to support principals in improving education practice.
In the coming years, NAESP will continue to work with innovative
individuals and organizations to upgrade practice and culture in
schools to reflect what we know about how children learn and develop.
NAESP also calls on policymakers to support principals' efforts in
improving early learning opportunities. In this guide's Call to Action,
we identify eight ways principals can work with policymakers and
community leaders to create and lead early childhood learning
communities. High-quality early childhood education is more than an
admirable goal; it is fundamental to making sure all children have the
opportunity to succeed. We are committed to helping school leaders
ensure that every child can reach academic proficiency and achieve
intellectual, social and emotional success—starting with
Recent brain research makes it clear that children's
learning is enhanced by their early childhood experiences. Therefore,
educators are shifting their approach to support children's learning
well before they arrive at elementary school. Research shows that
children who finish pre-K programs are half as likely to need special
education services in later grades. Other studies have found that
children from low-income families who attend high-quality pre-K
programs are more likely to graduate from high school and attend
college and less likely to go to jail, become teen parents, or qualify
for welfare. Many elementary schools are familiar with the 21st Century
Community Learning Centers program, which provides $1 billion for
after-school programs for children of elementary school age. The same
opportunity should be offered to all preschoolers. As schools work to
ensure that all children develop as proficient students, they need to
include three- and four-year-olds in pre-kindergarten experiences,
provide rich full-day kindergarten programs, and build new connections
to the many early childhood educators across communities. Early
childhood education does not need to be based in a school, but should be
connected to local schools. Elementary school principals understand how
many children start school unprepared, and they are in a key position
to define school readiness. That's why NAESP believes that elementary
school principals should be at the forefront of discussions and
activities that reach beyond the elementary campus. Everyone involved
in pre-K programs should understand what it takes for students to be
ready to succeed on the first day of school.
of High-Quality Early Childhood Programs
NAESP endorses accreditation
criteria for early childhood programs developed by the National
Association for the Education of Young Children and professional
standards developed by Head Start. The following indicators are not
meant to replace or replicate that work. Instead, they are meant to be
a jumping-off point for principals to begin to define quality in early
childhood programs and to engage in conversations about the quality of
early childhood programs where they live.
Supportive Interactions Between Teachers and Children
Safe, Supportive, and Engaging Learning Environments
The most important indicator
of quality is likely to be the nature of the interaction between
teacher and child. Indeed, how teachers relate to and interact with
children appears to matter more than curriculum in early childhood
education. Teachers facilitate interactions among children to provide
opportunities for development of self-esteem, social competence, and
Young children learn best in environments that
are physically and emotionally safe. High-quality programs recognize
the role of play in children's learning and provide environments that
encourage play as an important opportunity for children to learn
through their own experimentation and exploration. The health, safety
and nutritional needs of participants are met to promote all phases of
Focus on the Whole Child
approach should include a variety of areas of a child's learning and
development, such as the eight factors identified by Head Start, which
include: language development, literacy, mathematics, science, creative
arts, approaches toward learning, physical health and development, and
social and emotional development.
for the Individual Child
High-quality programs provide learning
experiences that are grounded in children's interests and that are
developed around learning in several disciplines. High-quality teaching
reflects the knowledge that young children are active learners, drawing
on direct physical and social experience as well as culturally
transmitted knowledge to construct their understanding of the world
Connections to Families and Community Organizations
A Culture of Authentic Assessment and Continuous Learning
Young children learn and develop at different
rates, and their learning cannot be defined by any single assessment.
High-quality programs pay attention to all aspects of children's
development: physical, social, emotional and cognitive. In addition,
systematic assessment of the programs themselves helps ensure that the
programs are continually improved.
Strong connections to families
stimulate a child's development. They include parents' classroom
participation, two-way communication with families and opportunities to
incorporate ideas and languages from a child's home and culture into
the school environment.
Efficient and effective administration focuses on the needs and desires
of children, families, and staff. High-quality programs are sufficiently
staffed to address and promote children's physical, social, emotional,
and cognitive development.
Call to Action
eight policies for which principals can advocate at the federal, state,
and local levels to ensure that every child in the United States has an
opportunity to start school ready to learn:
- Provide universal opportunity for children to attend high-quality early
childhood education programs. All states should provide free universal
preschool programs, staffed with qualified, certified, and well-paid
early childhood teachers and specialists.
- Fully fund Head
Start to include all eligible children and maintain it as a federal
government program. Federal policymakers need to increase funding for
Head Start by adding $1 billion for the next fiscal year and additional
amounts in the subsequent years until it reaches full funding. NAESP
also calls for improvement or at least maintenance of Head Start's
comprehensive and quality performance standards and an expansion of
Early Head Start.
- Create transition programs that
ensure close contact among Head Start programs, preschools, daycare
programs and public schools. State and local policies must focus on
school readiness as a comprehensive concept, including early learning,
social development, nutrition, health and family support. We must
support the transition of children from home to preschool, from
preschool to kindergarten and from third to fourth grade.
- Provide full-day kindergarten for all five-year-olds and
after-school programs for children from kindergarten through middle
school. Research backs up the concept of full-day kindergarten that
supports five-year-olds academically, socially and emotionally. We must
also commit to after-school programs that provide wraparound services
for children from kindergarten through middle school.
- Ensure that early childhood programs meet the needs of the whole
child. Programs must be well-designed and developmentally appropriate.
All developmentally appropriate classrooms have one thing in common:
The focus will be on the development of the whole child. Such programs
will encourage the growth of children's self-esteem, their cultural
identities, their independence and their individual strengths.
- Keep a teacher-student ratio of not more than 15-to-1 in early
childhood programs, kindergarten and grades one through three. Reducing
class size can increase educational effectiveness. All states should
set research-based standards that jointly address class size, adult-to-
child ratios, teacher qualifications and teaching practices.
- Provide professional growth programs for principals in all areas of
early childhood instruction. Federal, state, and local education
agencies should promote efforts to build the capacity of principals to
ensure an understanding of the important linkages between preschool and
K-12 education and provide resources and flexibility to help them
connect these integral elements of learning.
- Train parents to be stronger participants in their child's early
learning. All preschool programs should include parent education.
Parents must be empowered to be their child's most important teacher,
and schools can help them to foster parent leadership skills,
self-esteem, and support their connection to community resources.
To see complete executive summary please go to:
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NATIONWIDE SURVEY SHOWS TODAY'S KIDS ARE ENVIRONMENTALLY SAVVY
across America are turning off the lights, shutting off the water, and
recycling their trash! According to the findings of the "Caring About
America" survey conducted on behalf of Doubletree Hotels (NYSE:HLT),
ninety-nine (99) percent of kids ages six to eleven surveyed across the
country believe that it's important to take care of the environment.
to the survey, unlike previous generations, today's kids are quick to
conserve energy by turning off the lights when they leave a room (83
percent), conserve water by turning off the tap when they're brushing
their teeth (84 percent), and recycle (82 percent), giving Mom and Dad
fewer things to remind them about. A majority of those kids surveyed
(65 percent) even report bringing their lunch to school in a reusable
Given that 96 percent of those parents whose
kids were surveyed believe it's important to teach kids about caring
for the environment, it's no surprise that third graders are getting
the message—and viewing themselves as an active part of the process.
When kids were asked during the survey who helps protect the
environment, parents came in first (31 percent), while kids and the
President of the United States were close ties (27 and 26 percent,
Additional survey findings include:
About the Doubletree "Caring About America" Survey
- What Do Kids Worry About?—Most kids surveyed worry about pollution
(68 percent), animal extinction (62 percent), and trash (59 percent), as
well as acid rain (31 percent) or the ice caps melting (26 percent).
- Who Is Teaching Them?—Students are learning just as much about
environmental education from their teachers as from their parents. Kid
respondents reported that it's just as likely to be Mom and Dad (79
percent), who's teaching them that caring for the environment is
important, as a teacher (78 percent).
- Over the River
and Through the Woods—While almost half the kids surveyed (47
percent) rank an ocean or lake as their favorite part of the
environment, more than one-third (37 percent) prefer trees; a smaller
group (11 percent) meanwhile, counts the sky as their favorite part of
- Listen Up!—Grade-school kids are
also listening in science class. A whopping 84 percent understand that
trees are important to the environment because they provide oxygen for
us to breathe.
Doubletree "Caring About America" Survey was conducted in March 2006 by
Kelton Research. The survey polled 400 parents and 400 pre-teens (ages
six to eleven years old) across the U.S. to learn more about the attitudes
and actions of parents and kids on the environment and taking care of
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NEARLY 60 PERCENT OF DROPOUTS GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND EARN A HIGH SCHOOL CREDENTIAL, SAYS NEW REPORT FROM JOBS FOR THE FUTURE
to the popular notion that high school dropouts are unmotivated and do
not value education, a new report from Jobs for the Future (JFF) finds
that most dropouts are remarkably persistent in their drive to complete
their education. Nearly 60 percent of dropouts eventually earn a high
school credential—in most cases a GED—according to Making Good on a
Promise: What Policymakers Can Do to Support the Educational
Persistence of Dropouts. In addition, almost half of those that earn
secondary credentials later enroll in two- or four-year colleges. Yet
for all their effort, less than 10 percent of those dropouts who enroll
in postsecondary education earn a degree, a critical factor in securing
a good paying job in today's economy.
system is failing these young people twice," said Marlene B. Seltzer,
president and CEO of JFF. "Too often, schools do not keep them engaged
in learning the first time around; then, when they try to go back and
complete their education, the system provides inadequate options.
Anyone who demonstrates such persistence ought to have every
opportunity to better themselves and contribute something positive to
society. And everyone deserves the quality education promised to them."
commonly held belief, that minority students are more likely to drop
out than their white peers, is also shown to be false according to data
analyzed for the report. Socioeconomic status, not race, is the key
indicator for dropping out. Black and Hispanic youth are no more likely
to drop out of high school than their white peers of similar family
income and education. In fact, black students in the lowest
socioeconomic group are actually less likely to drop out than their
white and Hispanic peers. About 30 percent of black students in this
group drop out compared with 37 percent of Hispanics and 41 percent of
whites. However, dropping out affects black and Hispanic communities
more because they are overrepresented in the lowest income groups,
while whites are underrepresented.
Other findings from
Making Good on a Promise show that the dropout problem is far more
pervasive than many believe. Nearly 20 percent of all students drop
out, and the problem is most severe in central cities and other
low-income communities. Close to 40 percent of students in the nation's
lowest socioeconomic group drop out. However, students from middle- and
upper-class households are not immune. About 10 percent of young people
from families at the two highest socioeconomic levels also drop out.
public perception is that there is little anyone can do to help young
people who leave school get back on track," said Adria Steinberg,
associate vice president of JFF and one of the authors of the report.
"In fact, we could do so much more by building educational pathways
that give them a legitimate second chance."
recommendations offered in Making Good on a Promise are refocusing K-12
education accountability systems to emphasize both higher academic
standards and higher graduation rates, and redesigning "recovery"
programs for dropouts to catch up with student aspirations and the
demands of the knowledge-based economy. Several such programs have
already demonstrated success in cities like Boston, New York, and
Making Good on a Promise was authored by
Cheryl Almeida, Cassius Johnson, and Adria Steinberg. It is based on an
analysis of data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study,
which tracked 25,000 students over 12 years beginning in 1988, their
Jobs for the Future (http://www.jff.org
a Boston-based nonprofit that seeks to accelerate the educational and
economic advancement of youth and adults struggling in today's economy.
JFF partners with leaders in education, business, government, and
communities around the nation to: strengthen opportunities for youth to
succeed in postsecondary learning and high-skill careers; increase
opportunities for low-income individuals to move into family-supporting
careers; and meet the growing economic demand for knowledgeable and
To see the full report, please go to:
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RESEARCHERS CALL FOR SPATIAL THINKING IN K-12 CURRICULA
The National Research Council (http://www.nas.edu/nrc
the federal government on critical issues in science and technology. It
has issued a report calling on schools to incorporate "spatial
literacy" into their curricula. Spatial thinking is an increasingly
important skill for living and working in the 21st century, the council
said, and geographic information system (GIS) technology can help
schools teach this skill to their students.
spatial thinking is "not systematically instructed in the K-12
curriculum, despite its fundamental importance," the report notes,
calling this omission "a major blind spot in the American educational
The report defines spatial thinking as the
ability to understand spatial relationships, the knowledge of how
geographic space is represented, and the ability to reason and make key
decisions about spatial concepts. These skills are essential to a wide
range of tasks and fields, the report says, and yet "there are neither
content standards nor valid and reliable assessments dedicated solely
to spatial thinking."
Spatial literacy is not a
stand-alone subject in the way that physics, biology, and economics are
subjects, NRC said. Instead, it's a way of thinking that cuts across
most other disciplines. To foster spatial literacy in students, the
academy's report recommends that schools take an approach similar to
the movement to teach writing "across the curriculum"—that is, to
integrate it into instruction in all appropriate content areas.
report urges federal agencies and education leaders to encourage the
development of spatial literacy standards and curriculum materials to
help educators teach students how to think spatially. It also calls on
technology developers and educators to tailor GIS technologies to the
needs of students, giving them easy-to-use tools to explore and
practice spatial thinking both inside—and outside—the classroom.
Dunne Catholic School in Dallas is a leader in using GIS technology to
enhance student learning. The school's GeoTech Research Lab allows
students to become the researchers and creators of geographic and
environmental solutions in an authentic, problem-based approach to
For example, Bishop Dunne students have
partnered with the Dallas Police Department for several projects. In
the early stages of the partnership, students produced maps for
neighborhood crime-watch organizations. The maps illustrated where
crimes were and what types of crimes were occurring on a monthly basis.
Later projects have included producing maps to help determine where the
Dallas Police Department should deploy its Robbery Task Force.
For more information on Bishop Dunne's GeoTech Research Lab: http://www.bdhs.org/gis
To see the complete article, please go to:
To read or buy the complete study, go to:
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SCIENCE CONTENT IN THE NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS
(NAEP) 2000 AND TRENDS IN INTERNATIONAL MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE STUDY
(TIMSS) 2003 ASSESSMENTS
This report describes a study
that was undertaken to compare the content of two fourth- and
eighth-grade assessments in science: the National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP) and the Trends in International Mathematics
and Science Study (TIMSS). The report provides information that will be
useful for interpreting and comparing the results from the two
assessments, based on an in-depth look at the content of the respective
frameworks and assessment items. The report draws upon information
provided by the developers of the assessments, as well as data obtained
from an expert panel convened to compare the frameworks and items from
the two assessments on various dimensions.
To see the full report, please go to:
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NON-SCHOOL FACTORS AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
report describes differences in non-school factors that are related to
student achievement. The data are from the Program for International
Student Assessment (PISA) 2003, an international assessment of
15-year-olds in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science
The report focuses on data from 20 countries that are considered to be
the most developed (based on the World Bank High Income Group). The
report investigates six non-school factors that are related to student
achievement: highest level of education attained by either of the
students' parents; the highest occupational status of either of the
students' parents; the number of books that students have access to in
the home; whether students speak the native language of the country at
home; students' immigrant status; and students' family structure. The
PISA data indicate that the observed variation in the distribution of
student characteristics across countries does not place the United
States at a disadvantage in international assessments compared with
other highly developed countries; students with high levels of
socioeconomic status had an educational advantage over their low SES
counterparts across all 20 countries, even after considering the
differences in the percentage of students who are immigrants, from
less-advantaged homes, non-native language speakers, and other factors.
To see the full report, please go to
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NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF TITLE 1: INTERIM REPORT TO CONGRESS
part of NCLB, the Congress mandated a National Assessment of Title I to
evaluate the implementation and impact of the program. This is a huge
report, full of fascinating data. Two key findings:
- only 17
percent of eligible students nationwide signed up for free tutoring, and
- of the four million students in the country eligible for school
choice, only 38,000 students—less than one percent—actually transferred
to a higher-performing school.
Volume I contains key
findings on the implementation of Title I under No Child Left Behind.
Volume II is a report on the findings from Closing the Reading Gap, an
evaluation of the impact of supplemental remedial reading programs on
1. Remedial Reading Interventions
Three large-scale evaluations were
undertaken. The first is examining the effects of remedial reading
programs for 3rd and 5th graders. The second evaluation will look at
the effectiveness of reading comprehension interventions for 5th
graders. The third evaluation will assess the effectiveness of
mathematics curricula that are widely used in the early elementary
grades. The rationales for these three large-scale evaluations of
specific interventions are described briefly below.
to the NAEP, nearly 4 in 10 fourth graders read below the basic
level. Historically, nearly three-quarters of these students never
attain average levels of reading skill. To address this problem, many
school districts have created remedial programs that aim to improve the
skills of students reading below grade level. However, it is very
difficult for these students to close the reading gap and become
average readers. We know very little about the effectiveness of
remedial reading programs for struggling readers in regular school
Closing the Reading Gap, the evaluation of remedial reading programs, is addressing three broad questions:
- What is the impact of being in any of four promising remedial reading
interventions, considered as a group, relative to the instruction
provided by the schools? What is the impact of being in one of the
remedial reading programs that focuses primarily on developing
word-level skills, considered as a group, relative to the instruction
provided by the schools? What is the impact of being in each of the
four particular remedial reading interventions, considered
individually, relative to the instruction provided by the schools?
- Do the impacts of programs vary across students with different baseline characteristics?
- To what extent can the instruction provided in this study close the
reading gap and bring struggling readers within the normal range,
relative to the instruction provided by their schools?
Volume II of this Interim Report contains the full report on this study.
2. Reading Comprehension Interventions
decision to conduct an evaluation of the efficacy of reading
comprehension interventions for informational materials in content
areas such as social studies or science resulted from a series of
discussions between the IRP and reading experts, as well as from the
advice of a subsequent expert panel convened to identify important and
policy-relevant evaluation questions to study in reading. The expert
panel's advice was that there are increasing cognitive demands on
student knowledge in middle elementary grades where students become
primarily engaged in reading to learn, rather than learning to read.
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds lack general vocabulary as well
as vocabulary related to academic concepts that enable them to
comprehend what they are reading and acquire content knowledge. They
also do not know how to use strategies to organize and acquire
knowledge from informational text in content areas such as science and
social studies. The panel advised that strategies for improving
comprehension are not as well developed as those for decoding and
fluency. While there are multiple techniques for direct instruction of
comprehension in narrative text that have been well-demonstrated in
small studies, there is not as much evidence on teaching reading
comprehension within content areas.
This evaluation of reading comprehension is addressing the following questions:
- Can promising reading comprehension interventions improve student reading achievement of informational text?
- What are the most effective reading comprehension interventions for
improving student reading achievement of informational text?
- Under what conditions and practices do reading comprehension
interventions improve student reading achievement of informational text?
supplemental interventions have been selected by an expert panel and
are being piloted in 5th-grade classrooms during the 2005–2006 school
year. Selection of the interventions was based on existing research
evidence, quality of the intervention design, capability to implement
the intervention, and appropriateness of the intervention for the
target population. All of the selected interventions teach reading
comprehension of text containing information such as science or social
studies content. The interventions being piloted and their publishers
- CRISS (Project CRISS): CRISS teaches a
wide array of comprehension and note-taking strategies using science
text. Students then apply the stradea, summarizing) through a set of workbooks and practice
activities in science and social studies. Teachers are expected to use
the program for about 30 minutes per day. They receive one day of
initial training and an additional 16 hours during the school year.
reading comprehension interventions that are successfully piloted will
be randomly assigned to a total of 100 participating elementary schools
during the 2006–2007 school year. The impact of the interventions on
reading comprehension of informational social studies texts will be
assessed. The first report on the effectiveness of the reading
comprehension interventions is planned for Spring 2008.
3. Mathematics Curricula
decision to conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of mathematics
curricula resulted from a series of discussions with and
recommendations from the IRP, the Office of Elementary and Secondary
Education (OESE), and an expert panel convened to provide advice on
policy-relevant questions it would be important to address in an impact
evaluation focused on mathematics. Information on the effectiveness of
mathematics curricula is crucial to improving performance on state
mathematics assessments under NCLB. There is considerable controversy
about what mathematics children should learn and how it should be
taught, but there is very little reliable information available to
educators and policy makers about which curricula are most likely to
improve mathematics achievement.
will focus on early elementary grades because disadvantaged children
fall behind their more advantaged peers in basic mathematics
competencies even before entering elementary school. If basic concepts
are not mastered in early elementary grades, students have great
difficulty understanding more advanced mathematics concepts in upper
elementary grades. The evaluation will compare different approaches to
teaching early elementary mathematics, since there are many mathematics
curricula that are being widely implemented without evidence of their
- What is the relative
effectiveness of a variety of mathematics curricula on mathematics
achievement for early elementary school students in disadvantaged
- Under what conditions is each mathematics curriculum most effective?
to five mathematics curricula will be competitively selected during the
2005–2006 school year. The selected curricula will be randomly assigned
to participating schools. Teachers will be trained and the curricula
will be implemented during the 2006–2007 school year. Data will be
collected on implementation of each curriculum and student mathematics
achievement at the beginning and end of the 2006–2007 school year. The
first report on the relative effectiveness of the mathematics curricula
is planned for Spring 2008.
To see the complete report, or the Executive Summary, please go to:
To order print copies of the Executive Summary:
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- Write to ED Pubs, Education Publications Center, U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398.
- Call in your request toll-free to 1-877-4ED-Pubs. If 877 service is not
yet available in your area, call 800-872-5327 (800-USA-LEARN). Those
who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a
teletypewriter (TTY) should call 800-437-0833.
- Fax your request to 301-470-1244.
- Order online at http://www.edpubs.org
PRAXIS EXAM CHALLENGED
pair of long-term studies presented at the annual meeting of the
American Educational Research Association challenge longstanding
policies in 48 states that require teachers to pass standardized exams
to get jobs.
In one, Marc Claude-Charles Colitti of
Michigan State University examined data going back to 1960 and found
teachers' scores had almost no correlation to principals' evaluations
of their classroom performance.
"How smart a teacher is
doesn't necessarily tell us that they're a good teacher," he says.
Teachers' SAT or ACT college entrance exam scores, or even their own
scores on fifth-grade skills tests when they were children, would be as
accurate at telling whether they'll be good teachers, he says.
University of Washington researcher Dan Goldhaber warns that passing a
general-knowledge or even a specific-subject-matter test isn't a silver
Goldhaber matched North Carolina teachers'
scores with their students' skills on standardized tests and found
almost no correlation.
The new studies echo one
released last week by the Brookings Institution that recommended
requiring fewer credentials for new teachers, but increasing
requirements for teachers to keep their jobs and earn higher salaries.
To see the complete USA Today
article, please go to:
To see Dan Goldhaber's report, please go to:
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THE EDUCATION INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
The Education Intelligence Agency (http://www.eiaonline.com/index.htm
) publishes an interesting newsletter. Here is a sample:
- Per-pupil spending in the U.S. increased by 13.77% in the three-year period.
- Twenty-six states had fewer students in 2003–2004 than they had in 2000–2001.
those 26 states, per-pupil spending increased an average of 17.6% over
those three years, well beyond the national average. All the states
with spending increases of more than 20% (Hawaii, Louisiana,
Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Vermont)
lost students in the last three years.
The reverse is
mostly true, with some notable exceptions. Large enrollment increases
in Nevada, Texas and Florida led to lower-than-average per-pupil
spending increases, but Arizona and New Jersey managed to raise
per-pupil spending substantially even with burgeoning enrollments.
this suggests is that there is a lag in the time it takes money to
follow the pupil. States with booming enrollment increase spending
quickly to accommodate the new students, but not rapidly enough to keep
up with the national average. Meanwhile, states with falling enrollment
at the very least continue to spend the same total amount among fewer
students, thereby increasing per-pupil spending substantially.
also fits political reality. The public education establishment has a
tough time raising new revenues, even when increasing enrollment
demands it. On the other hand, school officials and advocates are very
good at keeping the money already built into the formula, even when
falling enrollment calls for cuts to be made."
Here is more:
"enrollment lag" when it comes to per-pupil spending appears to hold
true everywhere. School districts that lose students—particularly if
the loss is 6% or more over three years—show a higher than average
increase in per-pupil spending over the same time period. This suggests
that districts at least maintain the same level of spending, spread out
among fewer students. How long this effect endures would require
research over a longer time frame.
There are notable
exceptions: Oakland, Atlanta and Baltimore all had substantial drops in
enrollment and lower-than-average spending increases. But more typical
were districts like Flint, Michigan, which saw a 9.2% drop in
enrollment, coupled with an 18.2% increase in per-pupil spending.
Michigan tables also provide what is so far a unique opportunity for
comparisons. The U.S. Census Bureau included Michigan charter schools
as "districts" for data collection. They are included individually in
EIA's Michigan table, ranked along with school districts by enrollment.
Since charter schools take on many school district duties, this
juxtaposition isn't as jarring as it seems.
the top 89 school districts in enrollment did not spend 65% on
instruction. In Michigan, the top 72 did not. In Colorado, the top 93
did not. In Florida, none of the state's 67 county-wide school
districts reached the 65% plateau.
In Michigan, only
one school district in the top 10% in enrollment was a 65% instruction
district. Of the districts in the bottom 10% in enrollment, 27 reached
the 65% level.
In other states, the picture is murkier.
Cobb County School District in Georgia had more than 102,000 students,
but still spent 65% on instruction. Bridgeport is the largest district
in Connecticut, but it managed to spend 65% on instruction.
are a host of explanations for the relationship between district size
and spending priorities. I have my theory, but others are legitimate.
But 65% solution advocates have another, more pressing, question to
answer. Does it really matter? Maryland is the place where this
question absolutely needs to be answered.
Can the case
be reasonably made that the Baltimore school district—subject of an
Oprah tirade—is making better instructional spending decisions than
the Montgomery County school district? Baltimore is a 65% district.
Montgomery County is not.
The Education Intelligence Agency offers tables that list overall state statistics:
They also offer information on districts within each state along with their enrollment
figures, per-pupil spending, labor costs, and "65% solution" status for
the 2003–2004 school year (based on U.S. Census Bureau data). The tables
also contain the percentage changes in each category since the 2000–2001
From another great newsletter by the Education Intelligence Agency:
"In order to draw attention to National Teacher Day, the National Education Association released a lengthy press statement (http://www.nea.org/newsreleases/2006/nr060502.html
"five main trends that have emerged over the past five years." They
were that public schoolteachers are the most experienced and educated
ever, that the work of teachers is being transformed, that the number
of teachers leaving the profession is increasing, that the teaching
force is not as diverse as the student body, and that there are fewer
male teachers than in the past.
NEA is to be commended
for providing citations to the numerous claims it makes in its press
release, because the footnotes undermine the union's analysis and
Thirty-one statistics in the press release cite the same source: NEA's Status of the American Public School Teacher
has a load of information, but was released in August 2003, describing
the status of the American public school teacher in 2000–2001.
Comprehensive education statistics do have a significant lag in
reaching the public, but five-year-old information tells us little
about where we are now, and even less about where we're going.
Even worse, NEA cites a 1998 study on teacher shortages and a 1996 study on teacher retention.
there is newer information on at least some of the topics NEA
addresses, in the form of Characteristics of Schools, Districts,
Teachers, Principals, and School Libraries in the United States:
2003–04 Schools and Staffing Survey
on March 23, 2006 by the National Center for Education Statistics. NEA
states that "more than half (57%) hold at least a master's degree." But
the newer data show that number is reduced to 48.1 percent in 2003–2004.
A majority of teachers hold only a bachelor's degree.
The newsletter also analyzes data on teacher retention and on charter schoolteachers.
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FINANCIAL LITERACY SHOWS SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT AMONG NATION'S HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
has been an increase in the number of survey questions that students
answered correctly on the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial
Literacy nationwide biennial survey of financial literacy. The students
taking the Jump$tart survey demonstrated an increased aptitude and
ability to manage financial resources such as credit cards, insurance,
retirement funds, and savings accounts at a level slightly higher than
"We also experienced increased participation this year,
both in the number of students and the number of high schools," said
Laura Levine, executive director of the national coalition.
increased levels of participation indicate that educators across the
country are beginning to recognize the importance of financial literacy
and the need for financial literacy education. I hope we see more
improvement in performance in the near future. And, I hope that more
state education departments and state governments move financial
literacy to the top of the priority list."
The comprehensive written survey of 5775 high school students in 37
states measured 12th graders' level of knowledge of personal finance
basics and compared the results with those from similar surveys
conducted in 2004, 2002, 2000, and 1997. The survey was administered by
individual teachers in classes other than finance and management,
mostly English and Social Studies classes.
score for the 2005–2006 survey was 52.4 percent, up marginally from 52.3
percent in the 2003–2004 survey. After falling from 57.3 percent in the
1997–1998 survey, financial literacy scores are up from the low of 50.2
percent in 2002, but now seem to hover in the low- to mid-50 percent
"This indicates that, despite the attention
now paid to the lack of financial literacy, the problem is not about to
resolve itself any time soon," said Lewis Mandell, Ph.D., professor of
finance and managerial economics at SUNY Buffalo School of Management,
who conducted the survey for Jump$tart.
problem of low financial literacy scores is their distribution. In the
current survey, white students scored an average of 55 percent, while
African Americans scored significantly lower at 44.7 percent and
Hispanics, 46.8 percent. It is interesting to note that students from
the highest income families, more than $80,000 per year, have widened
their margins over the next highest group, those with incomes from $40,000
Prior to 2002, financial
literacy scores dropped for students from the highest income families,
presumably because family affluence shielded them from having to take
much responsibility for their lives and immediate futures.
has apparently changed, but we don't know whether it is due to more
focus on this issue on the part of more affluent families and school
districts or perhaps to the rapidly rising costs of higher education
and the necessity for even the affluent students to bear more of the
responsibility for their financial futures," Professor Mandell
A number of important concepts are not well
understood by the next generation. Only 14.2 percent felt that stocks
are likely to have higher average returns than savings bonds, savings
accounts, and checking accounts over the next 18 years in spite of the
fact that there has never been an 18-year period when this was not
true. This year's percentage was the lowest since the Jump$tart
surveys began and probably indicates why so few young people invest in
stocks, even through their 401(k).
"We target students
in classes other than finance and money management because we are
testing general financial literacy and not what students can recall
from a financial management course," Levine pointed out. "Clearly the
survey demonstrates the large gap between what students know and learn
from life-experiences and the need on the part of adults to find the
right combination that will make financial literacy meaningful to young
adults leaving the safety of high school."
- Only 22.7 percent understand that interest on savings accounts may be taxable if one's income is high enough.
- Only 40.3 percent realize that they could lose their health insurance if their parents become unemployed.
- On the positive side, more than half know that a just-enacted federal
law allows them to check their credit rating for free once a year.
- The proportion of students who reported having taken an entire course
in money management or personal finance was 16.7 percent, up from 14.6
percent in 2002, but down from a high of 20.1 percent in 2004.
Unfortunately, the mean financial literacy score for students who had
taken such a course was 51.6 percent, slightly below the average for
Some previous Jump$tart surveys have shown this
figure to be slightly above the national average and some slightly
below, but it is clear that students don't appear to be learning or
retaining those things that are needed for making important financial
decisions in their own interest.
To see whether
financial literacy, as measured by the Jump$tart survey, is even useful
in making important financial decisions, the 38.7 percent of students
who reported having a checking account were asked whether they ever
bounced a check. Those who have never bounced a check had average
financial literacy scores of 53.4 percent, while those who had bounced a
check averaged just 45.8 percent showing that this behavior, at least,
is strongly related to financial literacy.
"It is also
possible that students don't focus much on financial literacy and don't
retain what they have learned because they don't think it is relevant
to their lives," Dr. Mandell stated.
To test this,
three new questions were added. The first asked students to choose the
greatest cause of serious financial difficulty, where families can't
pay their bills. Those who blamed it on bad luck, such as unexpected
illness or job loss, had average financial literacy scores of 49
percent. Those who felt that it was due to buying too much on credit
had average scores of 55 percent.
question asked how bad they thought it was for families who don't have
enough money to pay their bills. Those who said it was "not so bad, a
lot of families go through this," had average financial literacy scores
of 43.2 percent.
A third question asked
students what they think happens to older people when they retire if
they haven't saved much money and don't have a good pension from their
former jobs. Those who feel that such people live pretty well on
Social Security had average scores of 39.9 percent. Those who felt
that "they find it tough to live on Social Security" averaged 56
The Jump$tart survey, conducted
primarily this past December and January, consisted of a written
examination administered to 12th graders in 305 schools across the
A copy of the survey questionnaire is available at:
Jump$tart Personal Finance Clearinghouse, which lists more than 580
titles of financial literacy materials available, can be found at
More information about Jump$tart and its biennial survey can be found at http://www.jumpstart.org
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SCHOOL NUTRITION EFFORTS UNDERMINED BY PARENTS; STUDY REVEALS THAT PARENTS ARE CONTRIBUTING TO SODA CONSUMPTION AT SCHOOL
to the Electronic Share of Intake Panel (eSIP™) study, among six- to
ten-year-olds, about half of the Carbonated Soft Drinks (CSDs) and
Sports Drinks consumed at school are brought from home or purchased off
school grounds. Parents are supporting the consumption of these
products by making them available to young children and allowing them
to bring CSDs and sports drinks into school.
finding is in contrast to a Clinton Foundation announcement that the
beverage industry is supporting new guidelines regarding the sale of
CSDs and other high-calorie beverages in school environments.
calories from soda heavily contribute to obesity issues in the U.S.,
and the Clinton announcement supports the school initiatives to reduce
the amount of soda that is made available to students. Yet, while
efforts to reduce opportunities to purchase soda at school are having
an impact, children are continuing to consume large amounts of CSDs
Startling statistics from the study reveal:
- Among 6- to 10-year-olds, more soda is consumed at dinner than at any other time of day (35 percent);
- 13 percent of CSDs consumed by children under the age of five are drunk before lunchtime;
- 11- to 14-year-olds drink almost twice as much CSD as water (24 percent to 12 percent); and
- the most heavily consumed beverage among 6- to 14-year-olds is soda.
looking at data regarding the consumption of CSDs and sports drinks
among 15- to 19-year-olds, the study indicates that this age group is
drinking the equivalent of at least two 12-ounce servings of these
drinks per day. This amounts to approximately 120 teaspoons or 1 1/2
pounds of sugar in a week, five pounds in a month. Even 6- to 10-year-olds
are consuming, on average, the equivalent of 12 ounces of CSD or sports
drinks every day.
Overall, the study confirms the
reported trend of declining consumption of CSDs. In addition to today's
announcement, government mandates, such as the recent legislation
passed by the State Senate in Connecticut on April 20th are making a
positive impact on schools by removing machines with unhealthy
beverages and educating students about nutrition. Over the past several
years, nearly every state has taken similar steps to reduce the threat
of childhood obesity, including Arizona, Arkansas, California,
Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New
Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas,
and West Virginia in 2005.
State legislation regarding
CSD consumption has also been expanded to include sports drinks. While
CSD sales have decreased, sports drink consumption has skyrocketed,
increasing by 200 percent at home and over 100 percent at school over
the past five years. Sports drinks are commonly misperceived as healthy
alternatives to CSDs, but in fact contain high amounts of sugar and
carbohydrates. Experts agree that parents should encourage their
children to reach for healthy beverages, including water, milk,
100-percent fruit juice, and fruit juice with at least 50 percent real
and no added sweeteners.
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MORE THAN 29% OF STUDENTS DRINK ALCOHOL AND OVER 16% SMOKE CIGARETTES DAILY
to America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2005
following indicators depict our children's behavioral and social
environment and focuses on illegal or high-risk behaviors such as
drinking alcohol, using forbidden drugs, smoking cigarettes, and
involvement in serious and violent crimes:
- In 2004, the
students reported as having more than five drinks in a row are at 29%
among 12th graders, 22% of 10th graders, and 11% of 8th graders.
percentage of students reported smoking cigarettes daily in 2004 are
16% of the 12th graders, 8% of 10th graders, and 4% of 8th graders.
- Illicit drug use between 2003 and 2004 was 8% among 8th graders.
2003, the rate of teens who became victims of violent crimes such as
rape, robbery, homicide, and aggravated assault is 18 per 1,000, while
15 per 1,000 youths were reported to have committed such crimes.
percentage of children in 2003 that were reported by parents as having
severe emotional, concentration, and behavior difficulties as well as
having issues getting along with other people were 5% of ages 4–17.
Sixty-five percent of them have sought professional help.
To see the complete report, please go to:
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LEADING READING MEASUREMENT COMPANIES TO LINK EARLY LITERACY ASSESSMENT TO MOST WIDELY ADOPTED READING MEASURE
Inc., developer of The Lexile Framework(R) for Reading; Dynamic
Measurement Group, developer of Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early
Literacy Skills (DIBELS®); and Wireless Generation, an educational
software and services company, have announced plans to conduct a
linking study during the 2006–2007 school year that will make Lexile®
measures from DIBELS data available in summer 2007.
the most widely adopted reading measure in use today, The Lexile
Framework provides a common scale for matching reader ability and text
difficulty, allowing easy monitoring of student progress and ensuring
reading comprehension. Recognized as the most accurate way to match
readers with text, there are currently Lexile measures for more than
100,000 books and more than 80 million articles. More than 20 million
students will receive a Lexile measure during the 2005–2006 school year.
linking the DIBELS and Lexile reading measures, teachers and parents
will be able to connect very young readers with targeted materials from
the more than 100,000 books and more than 80 million articles with
Lexile measures," said Malbert Smith III, Ph.D., president,
MetaMetrics. "By reading materials that are ability-appropriate, more
children will be able to build strong literacy skills and increase
their chances of becoming lifelong readers."
a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early
literacy development. The measures assess skills that are consistent
with the essential early literacy domains discussed in both the
National Reading Panel (2000) and National Research Council (1998)
reports in the areas of phonemic awareness, alphabetic understanding,
accuracy and fluency, vocabulary development, and comprehension. Each
DIBELS measure has been researched and has demonstrated to be a
reliable and valid indicator of early literacy development and
predictor of later reading proficiency.
III, Ph.D., co-author of DIBELS and associate professor at the
University of Oregon, said that understanding a child's reading ability
at the earliest age and working to develop skill levels are keys to
building strong readers. "It is natural to link DIBELS to Lexiles so
students have reading measures that follow them throughout their
educational careers, and are used to connect them with materials that
promote reading comprehension both at school and at home," he said.
will join other nationally recognized experts on reading and assessment
as a keynote speaker at the 2006 Lexile National Reading Conference,
June 19-21, in Atlanta. Also slated to present at the conference is
Susan Hall, Ed.D., president of 95 Percent Group. Hall is the author of I've DIBEL'd—Now What? and has developed instructional activities
linked to DIBELS data available through the mCLASS:DIBELS "Act" feature.
conference theme is "Developing Tomorrow's Readers . . . Today." To
register or for more information, visit http://www.lexile.com/conference2006
For more information on DIBELS, visit http://dibels.uoregon.edu
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