• Waiving our way to failure
    That’s very pretty talk, but rebranding and waiving the requirement to make progress is not going to help students at failing schools. Parents would be happy with merely enforcing the helpful parts of the NCLB law. Millions of families have no recourse: They live in rural and suburban communities where there are no charter schools, voucher systems or non-religious private schools at which to use them. Unless parents can afford to move to a better school district, their kids are stuck in schools that are, indeed, failing them. For all the lip service about needing excellent education to drive the economy, there’s no leadership in the White House or in Congress to actually do anything about school failure besides observing a lame waiver scheme that will whitewash the negative “f” word. Meanwhile, millions of students are still left behind in failing schools. America, that leaves us all behind.
  • Poll: Parents give thumbs up to local schools
    Nearly eight in 10 Americans — 79% — give an “A or B” grade to the school their oldest child attends, according to findings released today by Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International, an educators association. But he says parents’ willingness to like their child’s school may stem from a kind of guilt — especially if parents can afford to pay for a private school or have moved to a neighborhood with higher-performing schools. “Who’s going to give their kid’s school a low grade unless they’re poor and they’re trapped?” he says. “There’d just be too much cognitive dissonance to admit that your child’s school” isn’t up to par. The overall drop in opinion of U.S. schools coincides with reports that the quality of schools in the USA is slipping compared to other nations.
  • Public schools must adapt to choice or die off
    The coming threat is very real. Losing 100 kids to charter schools is fine when you have 1,000 more walking in the door. Losing them now is another matter, especially given the massive education infrastructure in place to serve them. Unused space is very expensive to maintain. Fighting school choice ultimately will be as fruitless as dinosaurs whining about mammals. Public schools need to compete for every student, fill niches that aren’t being met and market their product. That is what their competitors are doing. The only way to survive is to become the choice in school choice.
  • 2011 ACT scores show problems with college readiness
    Newly released ACT scores on tests used for college admissions show that only 1 in 4 graduates of the class of 2011 who took the exam met four key benchmarks that supposedly show readiness for success in the first year of college. ACT reported that this year’s pool of ACT-tested high school graduates was the largest and most racially diverse in its 52-year history, with 1.62 million, or 49 percent of the entire U.S. graduating class, taking the ACT.
  • Alternative certification growing for new teachers
    About 500,000 of the nation’s 3.3 million teachers in 2010 joined the classroom through novel methods, the report says. The new way of preparing teachers is called alternative certification. It is geared for those who already have an undergraduate degree and want to teach. Alternative certification programs allow college graduates with degrees in math, English and other subjects to enter the classroom without taking the traditional steps. The national report said research shows there is no significant difference in achievement between students taught by traditional and nontraditional teacher preparation graduates.
  • ACT Deems More Students College-Ready
    The proportion of American students meeting all four of the ACT’s college-readiness benchmarks continued to rise this year, driven largely by improvements in performance on the mathematics and science portions of the exam, according to data released today.
  • Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete?
    In this paper we view the proficiency of U.S. students from a global perspective. Although we provide information on performances in both reading and mathematics, our emphasis is on student proficiency in mathematics, the subject many feel to be of greatest concern.Given the integration of the world economy, a global perspective is needed for assessing the performance of U.S. schools, districts, and states. High-school graduates in each and every state compete for jobs with graduates from all over the world. We are about to be hit by the full force of global competition. If we continue to ignore the obvious task at hand while others beat us at our own game, our children and grandchildren will pay the price. We must now establish a sense of urgency.
  • Parents Snatching Up Vouchers and K-12 Scholarships for New School Year
    Parents are responding in droves for school vouchers and K-12 scholarships, as more have been made available in 2011 than ever before. Politicians – left, right, and center – are recognizing there is growing demand among American families who want a range of schooling options for their kids. Nine out of 10 random-assignment studies, the gold standard in the social sciences, have found statistically significant learning gains among some or all students who use school vouchers. Fiscal evaluations of existing school choice programs are also worth mentioning. School choice programs offer fiscal flexibility for policymakers, but more importantly, school vouchers and scholarships can present frontiers of opportunity for American families.
  • TN students score near bottom on ACTs
    Tennessee continues to linger near the bottom of the U.S. in ACT scores, which hovered between 19 and 20 points in all four subject areas for a second year. Its composite score for 2011 graduates was 19.5, compared with 21.1 for the nation. The highest score possible is 36. A report out today from the group that administers the college admissions test also shows only 15 percent of 2011 Tennessee graduates hit all four benchmarks that indicate career and college readiness. But Tennessee is one of eight states that require all students to take the ACT before graduation, which drops its average score.
  • State encourages public input on school textbooks for 2012-13
    Tennessee education officials said Tuesday they are seeking public input on textbooks proposed for the 2012-13 school year. Those interested in reviewing the textbooks should contact the director of the textbook collection site in their area. Forms are available at each site for input and must be completed by Sept. 2.

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