• Math Matters
    American mathematic proficiency levels leave a lot to be desired if we’re to maintain competitiveness. For blacks and Hispanics, it’s a tragedy with little prospect for change, but the solution is not rocket science. During my tenure as a member of Temple University’s faculty in the 1970s, I tutored black students in math. When they complained that math was too difficult, I told them that if they spent as much time practicing math as they did practicing jump shots, they’d be just as good at math as they were at basketball. The same message of hard work and discipline applies to all students, but someone must demand it.
  • School Choice and the Silver Screen
    Here at School Choice Now!, we’re not usually in the business of movie reviews, but lately we’ve been seeing a lot of films about education reform.  This education film movement is led by breakout hit Waiting for Superman, but now has many documentaries and a few dramas to bolster this new “education refilm” genre. So want to grab some popcorn and watch a few films on education reform?  Here’s a roundup of some of our favorites:
  • What Research Says About School Choice
    Among voucher programs, random-assignment studies generally find modest improvements in reading or math scores, or both. Achievement gains are typically small in each year, but cumulative over time. Graduation rates have been studied less often, but the available evidence indicates a substantial positive impact. None of these studies has found a negative impact.
  • States Address Problems With Teacher Evaluations
    Spurred by the requirements of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition, Tennessee is one of more than a dozen states overhauling their evaluation systems to increase the number of classroom observations and to put more emphasis on standardized test scores. But even as New York State finally came to an agreement last week with its teachers’ unions on how to design its new system, places like Tennessee that are already carrying out similar plans are struggling with philosophical and logistical problems.
  • Muslim families turn to home-schooling
    Muslim home-schoolers is growing, as are the support networks, conferences and faith-oriented curriculum to support the community. In its most recent statistics, the Department of Education put the number of home-schooled elementary and high school students in 2007 at about 1.5 million.
  • Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011
    Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2011 examines crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school and presents data on crime and safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, and principals, drawing from an array of sources. This report provides the most current detailed statistical information on the nature of crime in schools and school environments and responses to violence and crime at school. It also presents data on crime away from school to place school crime in the context of crime in the larger society. The report covers topics such as victimization, bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, and student perceptions of personal safety at school. Findings include:
    • In 2010, students ages 12–18 were victims of about 828,000 victimizations at school, including 470,000 thefts and 359,000 violent victimizations, 91,400 of which were serious violent victimizations.
    • In 2010, a greater number of students ages 12–18 experienced victimizations (theft and violent crime) at school than away from school. That year, 32 victimizations per 1,000 students occurred at school, and 26 victimizations per 1,000 students occurred away from school.
    • The total crime victimization rate of students ages 12–18 at school declined from 43 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2009 to 32 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2010.
    • During the 2009–10 school year, 85 percent of public schools recorded that one or more crime incidents had taken place at school, amounting to an estimated 1.9 million crimes. This figure translates to a rate of 40 crimes per 1,000 public school students enrolled.
    • In 2009, about 28 percent of 12- to 18-year-old students reported having been bullied at school during the school year and 6 percent reported having been cyber-bullied.
    • During the 2009–10 school year, 39 percent of public schools took at least one serious disciplinary action against a student for specific offenses. Of the 433,800 serious disciplinary actions taken during the 2009–10 school year, 74 percent were suspensions for 5 days or more, 20 percent were transfers to specialized schools, and 6 percent were removals with no services for the remainder of the school year.
    To view the full report please visit:
  • Singapore Students Are Ahead of Those in the West
    American parents looking to send their children to the world’s best schools might want to start looking East. And by that, we don’t mean the East Coast. East Asia is now home to the world’s best primary and secondary schools, producing students who are able to outperform their counterparts in the Western world, according to a recent report from the Grattan Institute, a think tank based in Australia. The report said that the top education systems in the world were all in the Asian region – namely Hong Kong, South Korea, Shanghai and Singapore. The average 15-year old in Shanghai is performing math at levels that are two or three years ahead of students in the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Europe, according to the report, which was based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment. Hong Kong students are at least one year ahead in reading and math when compared to U.S. and European children, the report said. Results of the study underscore a global shift that has been occurring both economically and, according to Grattan, academically. East Asian primary and secondary schools are better at addressing their own weaknesses and know how to improve the classroom through policy, the study said. In 2006, Hong Kong raised the reading levels of its students to No. 2 in international assessments, up from 17th just five years earlier. Singapore has cut courses for teachers that don’t result in higher performance for their students. Educational institutions in East Asia are also doing more with less, the study says. South Korea spends around half of what the U.S. spends on its primary school students, yet South Korean pupils outperform their U.S. counterparts in reading, math and science.
  • Republicans for Education Reform
    So the Race to the Top was good for education reform. But the 2010 election, it turns out, was much, much better.

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