• Student test scores in Indianapolis proves that teacher seniority means less than ability
    How did this turnaround occur?  By purging the school of ineffective educators and bringing in a fresh batch of eager college grads from the Teach for America program, according to media reports.
  • Ex-Washington, D.C., schools chief Michelle Rhee gives take on education
    In her 90-minute talk, Rhee said three things need to be accomplished immediately to help turn around public education in this country, an issue of particular importance in Memphis. Tops on her list, Rhee said, was to stop rewarding all children, regardless of achievement, because it dulls this country’s competitive spirit. For her second point, Rhee argued that legislators must abandon party dogma, illustrating her point with controversial school vouchers. Finally, Rhee said educators and legislators should make decisions based on “what is good and right for kids.”
  • 10,000 Tennessee pupils may have to repeat third grade
    If the 2011 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program data is any indication, almost one in 10 area third-graders in 2012 faces either repeating a year of school or attending a summer intervention program for reading. They would be among about 10,000 students affected statewide, including between about 35 and 75 students in each of seven area school systems.
  • Education Issues Take Spotlight in High Court
    The U.S. Supreme Court term that ended in June produced rulings significant for the rights of children, school employees, and those who would challenge government aid to religious schools. Ruling on a matter of significance for school choice, the justices held 5-4 in April that taxpayers who objected to an Arizona tax credit that benefits religious schools lacked standing to challenge it as an unconstitutional government establishment of religion. Any benefit to religion was not the result of government spending choices, the court said, and thus taxpayers were not legally harmed.
  • New England Project Aims to Use ‘i3’ Aid for Innovative Learning Approaches
    The goal of the five-year i3 grant is to change schools so that every student will have participated in at least two personalized, inquiry-based learning experiences and demonstrated mastery of knowledge and skills through performance assessments. Inquiry-based learning is a student-centered, teacher-guided instructional approach in which students research questions of their own choosing. Lessons are designed to stimulate thinking rather than determine a right or wrong answer.
  • Wait! So competition works?
    Competition is spurring action. The status quo is being jettisoned in the process and thousands of students lost over the years are getting a second chance. IPS may be more concerned with incomes than outcomes, but at least the kids are the beneficiaries.
  • The Next Charter Battlefront: Suburbs
    This debate is just warming up. We’re going to see more and more of these types of articles because even in good districts not every need is met. Regardless of whether you’re rich or poor, some kids still struggle with school.
  • Memphis exploring virtual academy
    MEMPHIS – Denita Alhammadi has taken her son out of Memphis City Schools and enrolled him in Tennessee Virtual Academy, a new online school that makes home the classroom and puts parents in charge. State tax dollars for her son’s education will now flow 414 miles east of Memphis to Union County Public Schools, the tiny school district in East Tennessee acting as fiscal agent for K12 Inc., the largest for-profit purveyor of online education in the nation. “The reason I pulled him from Memphis City Schools is because he had to deal with bullying,” Alhammadi said after an informational meeting K12 hosted last week in Memphis. “My son is an advanced learner. Of course he’s going to be bored if he finishes way ahead of everyone else and has to just sit there,” she said.
  • Our view: Don’t blame tests for school cheating scandals
    The greater danger is that the scandals are being used by teachers’ unions and others who have been trying for years to block the accountability tests have finally provided, particularly under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires states to administer annual reading and math tests to students in grades 3-8. The law, built on state testing initiatives, became necessary because for decades millions of students graduated without being able to read or do basic math. Inept teachers kept their jobs, and failing schools stayed open. The law exposed the severity of the problem, particularly in poorer, minority dominated districts. Besides, “high stakes” tests have been around for decades — the SAT and ACT to get into college, high school graduation exams, advanced placement exams to determine college credits — but only students faced the consequences. To be sure, standardized tests shouldn’t be the only measure of a student’s knowledge or an educator’s performance. But given the depth and breadth of the school reform movement they’ve ignited, it’s hard to deny their value.
  • Easing test pressure won’t save kids
    Who is to blame for tampering with tests in Atlanta and Baltimore? Why are there so many suspicious testing irregularities in Washington, Philadelphia and other cities? School administrators and teachers who changed answers did something worse than cheating. They lost faith in the ability of their students to learn. But teachers and students, like all of us, must learn how to deal with some forms of pressure. Reducing stress in the either/or dynamic of public schools can lead to eliminating it altogether, which is bad. If we don’t have a chance to fail, no one will know that we need help. We won’t be able to improve. Then we will be back where we were before, patting some kids on the head, deciding they weren’t up to anything tough and passing them on to the next grade until they are fit for nothing better than the unemployment line.

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