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October 19, 2009
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News for the Education Profession

  Eye on Curriculum 
  • Research to look at college preparedness in Nevada district
    Researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, are studying Clark County students to learn why so many college freshmen need remedial English and math classes. Skills tests will be given to incoming students to identify gaps in college preparedness, and the results will be shared with the school district, which can trace patterns to schools and classrooms. Despite concerns from the local teachers union, UNLV's president said the study is "not about blaming teachers, it's about revealing the problems we have and then honestly developing strategies to resolve them." Las Vegas Sun (10/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • New mathematics guidelines focus on critical thinking and reasoning
    The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is urging high-school teachers to focus on "reasoning" and "sense-making" in classroom lessons and engage students in open-ended conversations about math whenever possible. The council released new teaching guidelines this month and says it hopes that reintroducing critical thinking -- which has become a victim of standardized testing -- will lead more students to careers in math-related fields. The Washington Post (10/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Texas works to increase college enrollment among Latinos
    Texas education officials are working on a plan to increase college enrollment among Latinos, particularly men, who are "vanishing from our higher education ranks" because they choose work over college to support their families, said an assistant professor at the University of Texas. Initiatives being considered include hiring more counselors at certain high schools, improved outreach with Hispanic parents and enacting "bridge programs" to ease students into college over the summer. The Dallas Morning News (free registration) (10/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
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  Professional Leadership 
  • District may use national program to address leadership deficit
    Citing disparities in teacher training among schools in Kansas City, Mo., the district superintendent is seeking the help of a national training program to help build leadership among principals and other educators across all schools. School board members, who must approve the $830,000 program, expressed concerns about possible gaps between training and program implementation and asked for more information about what the program will "look like on the ground." The Kansas City Star (Mo.) (10/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Hot Topics 

Top five news stories selected by ASCD SmartBrief readers in the past week.

  • Results based on number of times each story was clicked by readers.
  Technology Solutions 
  • Arizona virtual learners hit roadblocks to receiving credit
    An Arizona high-school student is worried about not graduating on time after discovering that he must pass district competency tests to receive credit for courses he took online, a concern of his virtual charter school as the number of students taking online courses statewide grows. While the Arizona Department of Education requires public schools to give credit for online electives taken at that state's 14 virtual public schools, it allows districts to decide how to evaluate online work in core-curriculum classes. The Arizona Republic (Phoenix) (10/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Educators are held to "higher standard" on social-networking sites
    Administrators in Florida's Brevard County are advising teachers to be cautious when using online social-networking. "When you take this job, whether you agree with it or not, teachers are held to a higher standard," said a principal. An associate education professor at the University of Central Florida, who incorporates guidelines for social networking into teacher-training classes, says educators should be wary when posting personal information but should use technology in a positive way, such as using Twitter as a way for students to follow current events. Florida Today (Melbourne) (10/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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  Policy Watch 
  • Teachers union agreement in Connecticut may be model for the future
    The teachers union in New Haven, Conn., has agreed to a contract that includes stricter measures for evaluating teachers and fewer protections for teachers not making the grade. The agreement was praised by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who said it showed "a willingness to go into areas that used to be seen as untouchable." Many teacher unions nationwide have been resistant to the adoption of such measures, which are part of President Barack Obama's plan to improve student achievement. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (10/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • "Value-added" evaluation system gains support despite concerns: Educators nationwide are talking about "value-added" teacher-evaluation systems that measure individual student progress on standardized tests from year to year instead of comparing raw test results to other students and schools. The system -- praised by the Obama administration -- also has been used as a gauge of effective teaching. However, teachers unions have resisted "value-added" evaluation systems, saying that student progress and teacher effectiveness cannot be measured by standardized tests. Los Angeles Times (10/18), Los Angeles Times (10/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News

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  In the Field 
  • Illinois districts vary widely on academic guidelines for athletes
    The Illinois High School Association requires high-school athletes to maintain a 1.0 grade-point average to participate in sports, a standard that in most cases would not put a student on track to graduate. Districts have the freedom to impose their own standards but have found limited success with raising the bar. One district received minimal support from parents and coaches when it required students to maintain a 2.0 average to play sports; the district reverted to the state standard because it was losing too many athletes. Chicago Tribune (10/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Association News 
  • How to Start Eliminating Fear from Your Classroom
    Many teachers still intentionally create an atmosphere of fear in their classroom to manage student behavior and encourage academic achievement -- despite compelling evidence against such strategies. Fear compromises our ability to learn and in one of ASCD's new books, "The Motivated Student," author Bob Sullo explains why and how to create a classroom that minimizes fear, and he gives teachers six tips to get started.
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  • Research on School Organizational Restructuring and Collegiality
    Because a significant number of teachers spend their time either with students or alone planning and grading papers, it is not surprising to hear them say they feel isolated from their colleagues. The latest case study in the International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership tells the story of a Canadian elementary-school staff that decided to address their perceived problem of teacher isolation by transforming the internal organization of their school into a collaborative environment designed to foster collegial practices among themselves.
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