Archive for September, 2009

Charter school students in New York outperform their peers

A New York Times story reports that charter school students in New York City outperform their peers who applied for admission to the charters but did not get in. (New York City uses a lottery to admit students to its charter schools so the charge can’t be lodged that charters select only the cream of the crop.)

This is one of the strongest findings in favor of charter schools.  The study, which is being released today, was done by Stanford economist Caroline M. Hoxby.

Here’s a link to the study itself.

While localized to New York schools, this study will likely be cited as evidence of the efficacy of charters, which are a critical plank in the Obama-Duncan education reform blueprint.

I know there’s been a lot of debate on Gwinnett’s Ivy Preparatory Academy on this blog. (It’s in the entry below on charter schools.)  But I think we will continue to see more charters here and across the country.

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National standards: Has the time finally come?

A topic that leads to great speechifying and chest beating in state legislatures is “national standards.”  Georgia lawmakers practically sneer when they say the words. They don’t them them.

Why? Most Western European countries follow national curricula in their schools and chart their students’ progress through national testing. And those countries typically outscore the United States on achievement measures.

Yet we remain wary of  national standards and tests, insisting that American parents can gauge their children’s skills through the hodgepodge of   local standards and tests.  Without national benchmarks, Georgia parents can’t compare their children’s performance with students in New York or Maryland. Yet their children will be competing with those kids for college slots and jobs.

The issue is now on the forefront since National Governors Association Center for Best Practices  and the Council of Chief State School Officers released a public draft of the college- and …

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School of hard shocks: Do all kids need college today?

Public Agenda and the Urban Institute sponsored an interesting panel last week on the “School of Hard Shocks.” In listening to the debate, I found both sides made excellent points on whether college for all is the right approach.

On one hand, we are sending many students to college who do not finish. (Later this week, I am going to write about a new book that suggests part of that problem is that many low-income students with high potential are going to colleges that are too easy for them and that don’t move students along to graduation.)

On the other hand, what kind of future is there today for an 18-year-old without a college degree? Are the alternative programs effective in giving kids the lifetime job skills they need?

“As a nation, we prided ourselves in expanding the opportunity to attend college and have held out a college degree, usually a bachelor’s degree, as an appropriate goal for everyone,” said Urban Institute president Robert D. Reischauer, former head of the …

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Cursive cursed. Texting and e-mail trump handwritten notes

I haven’t written a note by hand in a long time. And I hardly receive any handwritten notes any more.

So is there any point in teaching children cursive?

A story in the AJC today discusses the decline of cursive, noting that longhand has become a lost art in the era of text messaging, e-mail and Twitter.

“I am not sure students have a sense of any reason why they should vest their time and effort in writing a message out manually when it can be sent electronically in seconds,” says Cheryl Jeffers, a professor at Marshall University’s College of Education and Human Services.

The article notes that handwriting skills still come in handy for the SAT, which began including a written essay portion in 2005. (When they did, I attended the press conference announcing the essay and asked whether students with terrible handwriting would be hurt. The College Board said that it expected only a small percent — I think it may have been 2 percent -  of the essays to be unintelligible due …

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Porn & pizza for middle and high school students — at church, no less

You learn something new every day reading the paper.  I just learned about Porn Talk.

We have a news story on Porn Talk, a church-based movement to educate parents and children about the dangers or pornography in the Internet age.  There is a program this weekend and 1,500 people are expected at Victory World Church in Norcross  for the three-day dialogue about porn’s effects on families, marriages and children.

Speaker are conducting sessions tailored to specific groups: Porn & Pastries (women), Porn & Pancakes (men), Porn & Parents (parents) and Porn & Pizza (middle and high school students).

Among the facts in the story: “Statistics show that the average child first views pornography at age 11, that 40 million U.S. adults regularly visit pornographic Web sites, and that 47 percent of families say pornography is a problem in their home.

Those of you who either have middler schoolers or teach middle school can educate the rest of us: Are kids as young as 11 turning in to porn …

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Swine flu and boosting test scores to reward good attendance.

Several parents and teachers have sent me notes about their schools’ attendance incentives in the wake of our discussions this week about perfect attendance awards and their implications for Swine flu prevention.

I can understand giving kids a Popsicle or smoothie party but one middle school is taking it to extremes, at least to me.

A middle school in Cherokee is putting kids names in a hat for a weekly drawing for aMP3 player if the students have no absences, no tardies or no early checkouts.

But even more unusual, the same school is giving kids “passes” to earn points on the grades of their final exams each semester.

-If a student has O absences, they can earn five passes worth 15 points each.

-If they have one absence, they can earn four passes worth 10 points each.

-If they have two absences, they can earn one 10-point pass and two 5-point passes.

-If they three absences, they can earn two 5-point passes.

In the note to parents about the incentives, the school explains …

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Morning bell: UGA hazing, imperiled library, Morehouse honors

Education stories of note today: (Mostly higher education stories in the local news today.)

UGA hazing

Mike Adams headed to the NCAA?

Morehouse honored

Save Dacula library

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The achievement gap: Trade basketballs for books

Etienne LeGrand, president of the W.E.B. Du Bois Society in Atlanta, has an interesting AJC guest column today in which she discusses the stubborn academic achievement gap between black and white students.

She notes significant gaps between blacks and whites in NAEP math and reading test scores, high school completion rates, college enrollment and college completion rates. She says the answer goes beyond the classroom to a potent “sub-culture” within the black community that is not interested in school.

It is time, she says, to recognize “the reality that African-American children are growing up in a peer culture and community network that celebrates achievements in sports and entertainment more than academic achievement.”

“Consider the time and energy many parents invest in their sons’ and daughters’ athletic careers, yet they may not take 60 minutes to review their child’s academic standing or assist with homework…Parents must choose after-school activities that …

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If Mike Adams goes to NCAA, what is his UGA legacy?

Michael Adams has had a stormy tenure as president of UGA. His public battles with UGA coaching legend Vince Dooley have not endeared him to the Bulldog nation.

But UGA has seen its academic standing and its national reputation rise during Adams’ time, a fact that his critics prefer to attribute to the HOPE Scholarship than to his leadership or vision.

Now, with Adams on the short list to head the NCAA, it seems a good time to ask how he would be remembered as UGA’s president and what his legacy will be if he does leave. (See AJC story on the NCAA job.)

A consumate politician, Adams managed to keep on good terms with the Gold Dome, despite tensions with UGA alums

How will UGA history remember Michael Adams?

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DeKalb: Parents, please keep your sick kids at home

FYI; In reference to our discussion earlier this week on perfect attendance awards and students coming to school sick:

From DeKalb schools

Parents, Teachers, Staff and Other Stakeholders:

Novel H1N1 influenza is here in our community, and has affected every area of DeKalb County. According to the DeKalb County Board of Health (DCBOH), not all people who are ill with H1N1 actually get tested for the virus, so we may not know exactly when a particular school has a confirmed case. What we can report is that we are seeing an increase in the number of students with influenza-like illness throughout our school system, which is unusual for this time of year. As a result, we are working closely with the Board of Health to ensure that our students and our school environments stay as healthy as possible. The Board of Health is working closely with the state and The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to monitor and stay abreast of the H1N1 and seasonal flu information, as well as …

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