Composite Set of Grades 1-6 Asian Math Standards


Study Focuses on the Features of High-Performing Hong Kong,
South Korea and Singapore

As the United States moves toward developing common education standards in reading and mathematics, a new report by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) examines the composite standards in mathematics used in grades 1-6 by three Asian countries with high-performing students – Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore.

The Asian countries were chosen for international benchmarking because of their high performance on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessments.

The analysis finds a number of features that can inform an international benchmarking process for the development of K–6 mathematics standards in the United States, including:

• The composite standards of the Asian countries concentrate the early learning of mathematics on numbers, measurement, and geometry, with less emphasis on data analysis, and little exposure to algebra.

• The composite standards sequence topics within strands in ways that support in-depth and efficient development of mathematics content following a logical development of mathematical knowledge. “While any given state may have a coherent set of learning progressions within its own standards, the hodgepodge of different state standards results in textbooks that rarely provide this coherent development,” said Steven Leinwand, principal research analyst at AIR and co-author of the report.

• The composite standards sequence mathematical competencies within a topic across the grades according to a mathematically logical progression. “This focus on mathematical development by topic across grades, or vertical alignment, is often missing from a grade-by-grade delineation of the content across topics,” explained Leinwand.

• The ordering of content for one topic is frequently aligned to reinforce the content of another topic for the same or prior grades.
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Work, Family = Low College Completion Rates

National Survey Finds Work, Family Responsibilities Fueling Low College Completion Rates

Most young adults who started college but didn’t finish left because they needed to work more to make ends meet, according to a recent survey of more than 600 individuals aged 22 to 30 by Public Agenda. Managing work, school, and family was their biggest challenge.

That’s just one of many surprising new realities facing America’s college students, according to “With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them,” a report based on a new Public Agenda survey of more than 600 young adults. The study compared the views of students who started, but did not finish, their college education with those who received a degree or certificate. The national survey, which also included focus groups in five cities, was underwritten by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

When it came time for these students to consider going back to college, it was again their work and family responsibilities that kept them from reenrolling. For 56 percent of the survey participants, their need to work full-time was a “major” factor preventing them from going back to school. Family commitments were also cited as “major” factors for more than half of those surveyed. More than one third of former students who said they wanted to return also said they wouldn’t be able to even if their tuition and books were fully covered.

“The conventional wisdom is that students leave school because they aren’t willing to work hard and aren’t really interested in more education,” said Jean Johnson, director of Education Insights at Public Agenda. “What we found was almost precisely the opposite. Most are working and go to school at the same time, and most are not getting financial help from their families or the system itself. It is the stress of this juggling act that forces many of them to abandon their pursuit of a college degree.”

For 40 years, the United States has worked to ensure all young people have access to college, and over that time enrollment has increased by 13 million students. But nationwide, less than half of all college students graduate within six years, according to the U.S. Department of Education. At public community colleges, the numbers are even more grim: only 20 percent graduate within three years.

Last February, President Obama set a goal to again make America first in the world in the percentage of adults with a postsecondary credential. “With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them” provides insight into the lives of those students, and helps identify solutions that could help solve the nation’s college completion problem.

For example, those who failed to complete a degree said financial aid for part-time enrollees, more classes at night and on weekends, steep tuition reductions, and child care assistance, and would be most beneficial to helping them reenroll and graduate.

“Getting more and more students into college means nothing if we don’t also provide them with the support they need to graduate,” said Hilary Pennington, the director of Education, Postsecondary Success and Special Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This report is another piece of evidence that our college-going students today are nothing like those that the system was built to serve.”

The survey results showed that while the college selection process is frenetic and unnerving for many college goers, those who failed to graduate faced more limited options and took a much more haphazard and uninformed route. Generally, they chose their college based on “convenience” factors, such as location, cost and how well classes meshed with their work schedules.

Moreover, those who failed to graduate were not getting financial support from their family and the system. Of those who did not graduate, 58 percent did not receive support from parents or other relatives, and 69 percent did not receive support from a scholarship or financial aid.
Despite that, 89 percent of those who failed to complete a degree said they have thought about returning to college, and nearly all (97 percent) said it is important that their own children attend college.

About the survey:

“With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them” is based on a survey including a nationally-representative sample of 614 22- to 30-year-olds who have at least some postsecondary education, including 200 who did not finish their degree. Interviews were conducted via landline and cellular telephone from May 7 to June 24, 2009, and respondents had the choice of completing the interview in English or Spanish. The margin of error for the report is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. The survey was preceded by five focus groups conducted in St. Louis, Seattle, Erie, Pa., New York and Phoenix.
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Best and Worst In Education, 2009


In the past year, the bad news is that federal policies have been mostly underwhelming, with a focus on charter schools and merit pay for teachers, which some are calling a "Bush III" agenda . By contrast, good news comes from a few local districts that have taken important steps on their own to address what research suggests matters most in education - reducing the separation of rich and poor children.

The Worst: Federal Emphasis on Charter rather than Magnet Schools

There have been two main theories about what drives inequality. Liberals, backed up by extensive research, focus on fundamental issues like family poverty and economic school segregation. Conservatives, relying on a much thinner research basis, blame teachers and their unions for promoting inequality.

Unfortunately, the early policies of the Obama Administration, for which many of us had very high hopes, have embraced the conservative world view about teachers and unions: lifting the cap on charter schools, turning around failing schools by firing teachers and bringing in new ones, and instituting performance pay based on test score gains. The chief distinguishing feature between most charters and regular public schools is their nonunionized teaching force. Turnaround efforts aimed at firing teachers suggest that they - not segregated schooling - are primarily to blame for failure in high poverty schools. And performance pay is predicated in part on the idea that if only teachers worked harder they would achieve far better results.

Mountains of research, however, have found that high poverty schools are extremely difficult to fix because they concentrate students with the smallest dreams, parents who are least likely to volunteer in class, and teachers who quickly burn out in extremely challenging environments. The best approach to turning around failing high poverty schools seeks to attract an economic mix of students through special magnet offerings that generate positive peer influences, active parental involvement, and high quality teachers.

Instead of talking about magnets, however, the administration emphasizes charter schools, which are usually even less integrated than public schools. The administration's Race to the Top Fund gives extra points for embracing performance pay and charter schools, but none for promoting economically or racially integrated schools. When administration education officials talk about Brown v. Board of Education, they generally use it metaphorically to describe unequal opportunities, and rarely if ever embrace Brown's vision of integrated schooling.

The Best: Local Efforts to Combat Economic School Segregation

Although rhetoric and funds from federal education officials mostly focused on policies embraced by the Bush Administration, a number of school districts, to their credit, have recognized the inequality inherent in high poverty schools and are acting on their own to reduce concentrations of poverty. As outlined in a November article in USA Today, more and more districts are seeking to integrate student bodies by economic status. At the beginning of the decade, only a few districts, led by La Crosse Wisconsin considered socioeconomic status in student assignment. By 2007, there were 40 and today there are roughly 70.

The growth is due in part to the desire of districts to preserve racial integration indirectly in a manner consistent with a 2007 Supreme Court decision curtailing the use of race in Seattle and Louisville. And, in part, districts know that all students do better in middle class schools. Low-income students in more affluent schools, for example, are two years ahead of low-income students in high poverty schools on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 4th grade math. In Cambridge, which sought to integrate schools by race, and since 2001, by socioeconomic status, low-income, black, and Hispanic graduation rates are close to 90 percent, compared with 65 percent statewide for low-income students, and comparable percentages statewide among blacks and Hispanics.

Not all districts are moving forward. Wake County (Raleigh), North Carolina, a leader in the socioeconomic integration movement and subject of a recent book outlining the district's gains, saw a setback in 2009 as school board elections elevated a 5-4 conservative majority in the district. Even so, however, the magnet schools in Wake remain highly popular, and there may be a third way moving forward in the district that emphasizes more choice for parents.

Moreover, the general trend is positive. This year, a number of districts, including Kalamazoo Michigan, Amherst, Massachusetts, and Champaign, Illinois, adopted socioeconomic integration plans. The biggest likely addition is Chicago, Illinois, whose school officials proposed an innovative new socioeconomic plan in November for the system's magnet and selective enrollment schools. The effort recognizes that trying to make separate schools for rich and poor equal has a long track record of failure, and that it is imperative that we address the fountainhead of inequality itself.

One can only hope, in 2010, that the news from Chicago reaches two important figures in the District of Columbia: the former Chicago superintendent, who now sits as Education Secretary and the Hyde Park resident who lives in the White House.

Adopted from an article by Rick Kahlenberg. The Century Foundation
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Principal Performance Assessment Instruments

Measuring Principal Performance: How Rigorous Are Publicly Available Principal Performance Assessment Instruments?

This brief reviews the publicly available principal assessments and points superintendents and policy makers toward strong instruments to measure principal performance.
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7 Out of 10 Gen Y Teachers Open to Incentive Pay


A new study paints a national picture of Generation Y teachers revealing an openness to incentive pay. Seventy-one percent of Gen Y teachers are open to rewarding teachers based on incentive pay, whereas only 10 percent of Gen Y teachers think that student performance on standardized tests is an “excellent” measure of teacher success. The nationwide study, Supporting Teacher Talent: The View From Generation Y, from Public Agenda, a nonprofit research organization, and Learning Point Associates, a nonprofit education research and consulting organization, offers a comprehensive and nuanced look at the question of whether different generations bring different aspirations, concerns, and perspectives to teaching.

“Traditionally, teachers have strongly opposed differentiating pay based on student performance, but we found evidence that those attitudes may be changing among Gen Y teachers,” said Jane Coggshall, Ph.D., coprincipal investigator for the Supporting Teacher Talent study. “However, young teachers, like teachers of all ages, are concerned about using standardized test scores as the principal criterion.”
According to Sabrina Laine, Ph.D., chief program officer for educator quality at Learning Point Associates, “The study findings send a strong message to school leaders who need to recognize that to retain our best teachers, it is imperative to support teacher effectiveness through improved teaching and learning conditions because teachers, more than anything, want to make a difference for their students.”

The study explores the attitudes of all teachers toward how they wish to be compensated, examines how they view their unions, and expands on the following findings:

1.Most Gen Y teachers support incentive pay for teachers who consistently work harder and put in more time and effort than other teachers. Seventy-one percent of Gen Y teachers favor giving financial incentives to teachers who consistently work harder, putting in more time and effort than other teachers, with 25 percent “strongly” in favor.

2.Gen Y teachers are deeply concerned about using standardized test scores to measure their performance. Only 10 percent of Gen Y teachers think that how well students perform on standardized tests is an “excellent” measure of success as a teacher, and 72 percent of them believe it is unfair to tie teacher pay to how well students perform when so many things that affect learning are beyond their control.
Despite openness to incentive pay, it is not Gen Y’s first choice as a strategy for improving teaching. The idea of tying teacher rewards to student performance ranked last among 12 proposals, including requiring new teachers to spend more time teaching in classrooms under the supervision of experienced teachers, requiring teachers to pass tough tests of their knowledge of the subjects they are teaching, and ensuring that the latest technology is available in each classroom to aid instruction.

3.Teachers’ concerns that unions sometimes protect seriously underperforming teachers have risen in recent years. Sixty-six percent of all teachers agreed that unions sometimes fight to protect teachers who should not be in the classroom, as compared with 48 percent of teachers who agreed with this statement in 2003.
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Review concludes that the conclusions reached by Friedman Foundation series on voucher program benefits "are not trustworthy."

A new report issued last week by the Friedman Foundation and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is part of a series of reports asserting that dropout rates could be reduced with the implementation of private-school voucher programs, but all of these reports "cherry-pick" research authority and ignore an abundance of relevant research on high school graduation, according to a review of the first five of these reports. The review, by Professor Sherman Dorn of the University of South Florida, was published in January of 2008, and covered reports released from early 2006 through late 2007.

Find Sherman Dorn's review here.

The five reports, each specific to a given state -- Missouri, Indiana, Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina -- are written in a parallel structure, with only "the details of the arguments chang[ing] in a formulaic manner for each state in question," according to Professor Dorn, who reviewed the reports for the Think Tank Review Project. The Georgia report follows the same formula, making the same arguments, and citing the same sources. All these reports were written by researcher Brian Gottlob.

Among their more serious flaws, Dorn finds that all the reports he reviewed:

• inadequately use existing research on dropping out and school competition;

• present a superficial calculation of the costs of dropping out;

• improperly rely on a single, imperfect 1998 article as the entire basis for their calculations on the purported impact of voucher programs on improving graduation rates; and

• ignore possible alternative approaches for raising graduation rates, instead focusing exclusively on private school voucher programs. Dorn writes: "Without a comparative analysis of alternative proposals to increase high school graduation, the reports are of little practical use to policymakers who have no means by which to gauge the value of vouchers versus other alternatives."

On their argument for vouchers as a remedy to reduce dropout rates, Dorn found that the reports "cherry-pick" a 1998 article to support the association while ignoring other, contradictory research. Moreover, these reports lack appropriate transparency in their calculations that apply that earlier article's formula to each state's dropout data. Absent the necessary statistical details, "the reports' conclusions about the benefits of school voucher programs are not trustworthy," Dorn says. The Georgia report cherry picks the same 1998 article and has precisely these same defects.

At the same time, Dorn adds, "the reports make no mention of the extensive literature exploring graduation, dropping out, and the factors that shape educational attainment." As a result, "each report obscures other program options that policy-makers could consider." These other options include preschool programs and intervention in elementary and high school grades. The Georgia report repeats these mistakes.

In addition, the reports offer only an oversimplified analysis of the costs of dropping out, both to individuals and to society. In doing so, Dorn explains, they ignore the "extensive, published debate among economists" who have found that understanding the impact of dropping out is much more complex. Dropping out is a real problem, he notes, and it deserves serious rather than superficial analysis.

Dorn notes that while dropout rates should indeed be cause for concern, the Friedman Foundation reports are not credible. He concludes by advising state policy makers who are interested in increasing graduation to bypass these reports and instead seek out "the available, well-researched scholarship on the topic," much of which he identifies in the review.
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Review Claims Charter Report Overstates Results


'Everyone Wins' ignores factors besides competition to explain marginally improved public school achievement in NYC, according to reviewer

A recently released Manhattan Institute report looks at the competition effects of New York City's charter schools and concludes that "students benefit academically when their public school is exposed to competition from a charter." A new review of that report finds that the report's findings are minimal and may be explained by factors other than charter-school competition.

The report, Everyone Wins: How Charter Schools Benefit All New York City Public School Students, was reviewed for the Think Twice project by Patrick McEwan, professor of economics at Wellesley College.

McEwan's complete review is here.

The report's focus reflects an important premise behind the market-competition approach to education reform. While critics of market theory contend competition from charter schools or other alternatives will end up penalizing the public schools that must educate most children, market advocates contend competition will help the entire school population. Competition, this argument runs, doesn't just expand choices for parents; it also prods existing public schools to improve in order to avoid losing students.

Everyone Wins draws on three years of test score data in mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) from New York City public schools as well as data on the percentage of students leaving public schools for charter schools. As McEwan explains, the report uses the rate of departures for charter schools as a proxy to measure increased "pressure on public school administrators to 'compete,' improve test scores, and staunch the flow of students to charter schools." Using appropriate statistical controls, the report finds that increasing competition does not appear to be associated with improved math test scores, while it has "small positive effects on ELA scores" that are "slightly larger among public school students with lower levels of achievement."

In his review, McEwan observes that the report itself is modest in its conclusions and that it "correctly notes that the statistical findings do not necessarily imply that increases in the measure of competition cause test scores to rise..." However, the report's title suggests a much more positive definitive outcome, and the nuances are lost as well in the executive summary.

McEwan praises the report on several counts: its use of "a high-quality, longitudinal dataset of student achievement," its use of appropriate statistical methods, and its contribution to "an established literature that finds roughly consistent effects of 'competition' that are often zero or slightly positive, depending on the state and method."

But he also points out important limitations. The statistical methods used, "while appropriate...cannot control for several potential biases," McEwan writes. "As a result, the measured effects of competition could also reflect the influence of shifting peer quality, declining class size, or other unobserved variables." Other sources of market pressure, such as private schools or schools of choice, are also not considered in this report.

The report notes in passing some of those limitations, but "does not make a serious attempt to assess their validity," the reviewer concludes. In the end, then, it does not deliver what it claims, and we do not know whether, in fact, "everyone wins."
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Reviewer finds flaws in research on NYC charters


A recent report on New York City charter schools which found achievement results at the charters to be better than traditional public schools relies on a flawed statistical analysis, according to a new review.

The report, How New York City Charter Schools Affect Achievement, was written by Caroline Hoxby, Sonali Murarka, and Jenny Kang. When it was released, it was enthusiastically and uncritically embraced by charter advocates as well as a number of major media outlets across the country as being the definitive word on charter school effectiveness.

Because of the proclaimed importance of the new report, Sean Reardon, an expert on research methodology, was asked to review the report's strengths and weaknesses for the Think Twice think tank review project. Reardon, like the report's lead author Hoxby, is a professor at Stanford University.

The complete review is here.

The Hoxby report estimates the effects on student achievement of attending a New York City charter school rather than a traditional public school. A key finding, repeated in press reports throughout the U.S., compares the cumulative effect of attending a New York City charter school for nine years (from kindergarten through eighth grade) to the magnitude of average test score differences between students in Harlem and the wealthy New York community of Scarsdale. The report estimates this cumulative effect at roughly 66% of the "Scarsdale-Harlem gap" in English and roughly 86% of the gap in math.

In his review, Reardon observes that the report "has the potential to add usefully to the growing body of evidence regarding the effectiveness of charter schools." New York charter schools' use of randomized lotteries to admit students to charter schools offers the possibility that the study of those schools can roughly approximate laboratory conditions.

But Reardon points out that the report's key findings are grounded in an unsound analysis--an inappropriate set of statistical models--and that the report's authors never provide crucial information that would allow readers to more thoroughly evaluate "its methods, results, or generalizability."

Reardon's review notes these shortcomings in the report:

• In measuring the effects of charter schooling on students in grades 4 through 12, the study relies on statistical models that include test scores from the previous year, measured after the admission lotteries take place. Yet because of that timing, those scores could be affected by whether students attend a charter school. As a consequence, the statistical models "destroy the benefits of the randomization" that is a strength of the study's design. (The use of a different model makes the results for students in grades K-3 more credible, he notes.)

• The report's claims regarding the cumulative effects of attending a New York City charter school from kindergarten through eighth grade are based on an inappropriate extrapolation.

• It uses a weaker criterion for statistical significance than is conventionally used in social science research (0.05), referring to p-values of roughly 0.15 as "marginally statistically significant."

• The report describes the variation in charter school effects across schools in a way that may distort the true distribution of effects by omitting many ineffective charter schools from the distribution.

Reardon explains that, as a result of the flaws in the report's statistical analysis, the report "likely overstates the effects of New York City charter schools on students' cumulative achievement, though it is not possible -- given the information missing from the report -- to precisely quantify the extent of overestimation" This, as well as the lack of detailed information in the report to assess the extent of that bias, make it impossible for readers to know whether the report's estimated charter school effects are in fact valid.

"Policymakers, educators, and parents should therefore not rely on these estimates until the bias issues have been fully investigated and the analysis has undergone rigorous peer review."
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Elimination of Curricular Stratification Supported

Universal Access to a Quality Education:
Research and Recommendations for the Elimination of Curricular Stratification

This policy brief makes the case for schools across the country to put an end to policies that cast off students into unchallenging, low-track classrooms. The authors recommend a clear process for the phasing out of curricular stratification in grades K-10, beginning with the lowest track and granting meaningful access to AP and IB courses to all students. The brief includes model statutory language to implement its recommendations.
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After School Needs More Professional Workforce

The After-School Corporation is a nonprofit organization based in New York City. Its latest report is Room to Grow: Tapping the After-School Workforce Potential

In this Policy Brief, TASC proposes creating a sequenced, articulated system of professional development for the after-school workforce.

The brief documents promising approaches and contains recommendations for leaders in after-school and workforce development.
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Teachers Score Highest in Well-Being

Teachers rate their lives higher in four of six well-being indexes

A career in teaching might be good for your well-being. While the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index previously revealed that business owners were richer in well-being than other job types, further research isolating teachers from other professionals finds teachers fare as well as or better than business owners in overall well-being.

Gallup typically includes teachers in the "professional worker" occupation category, but asks an additional question --"Are you currently a teacher in a public or private school (at any level, secondary, elementary, college, pre-school)?" -- to distinguish teachers from non-teaching professionals.

An analysis of data collected between July 2008 and June 2009 finds that teachers score highest (or tied for highest) among all 12 job types on how they evaluate their lives, access to resources needed to lead a healthy life, emotional health, and their the likelihood of engaging in healthy behaviors. Overall, the findings reveal numerous benefits and some drawbacks related to the teaching profession.

Teachers View Their Lives in Positive Terms

The Life Evaluation Index, which is based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, is one of four sub-indexes on which teachers rank first. People are asked to evaluate their present and future lives on a scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst possible life and 10 is the best possible life. Based on their scores, teachers are at the top of the list, expressing far more optimism than all other professions.

Next on the list, non-teaching professionals were nearly seven percentage points lower on this index than their fellow professionals in the education ranks. Business owners lagged 10 points behind teachers. Workers in many other job types had scores more than 15 points below teachers, suggesting that they tend to see their lives much less positively.

Teachers Have What They Need for a Healthy Life

Teachers are also in the top spot, tied with managers/executives/officials and non-teaching professionals, on the Gallup-Healthways Basic Access Index. The Basic Access Index measures access to resources and services needed to lead a healthy life (based on 13 indicators gauging access to food, shelter, healthcare, and a safe and satisfying place to live, among other things).

Clerical/office workers, business owners, and sales workers also report a high degree of access to basic resources. Workers in the farming/fishing/forestry and construction/mining industries rank lowest on this sub-index.

Teachers Share the Top Ranking in Emotional Health

In terms of emotional health, teachers share the top spot with numerous job types including farming/fishing/ forestry workers (who topped the list in a previous analysis), non-teaching professionals, business owners, and managers/executives/officials, all of which have index scores within two points or less of teachers. A high level of emotional health involves positive daily experiences (e.g., smiling or laughter, learning or doing something interesting, being treated with respect), more positive than negative emotions, and no history of depression.

Underscoring the level of positive emotion teachers experience on a daily basis, when surveyed, 87% of teachers said they smiled or laughed a lot yesterday. Sales workers were next in line with 86% reporting smiling or laughing a lot the day before the survey. Manufacturing/production and transportation workers smiled and laughed least often with 82% reporting that they did so a lot yesterday.

Teachers Make Healthy Choices

Teachers also rank near the top on the Healthy Behavior Index, again sharing a comparable score with farm/fishing/forestry workers and business owners; non-teaching professionals follow. The Healthy Behavior Index measures four behaviors strongly linked to health: eating healthy, smoking (scored in reverse), weekly consumption of fruits and vegetables, and weekly exercise frequency. Manufacturing/production, transportation, installation/repair, and sales workers rank lowest on the Healthy Behavior Index.

Teachers Do Not Report the Best Work Environments

Teachers and fellow professionals lag far behind business owners, who hold the top spot on the Work Environment Index. The Work Environment Index asks people if they are satisfied with their jobs, if they get to use their strengths at work, if their supervisor treats them more like a boss or a partner, and if their work environment is open and trusting. Given that conditions in an employee's work environment are directly related to his or her engagement level, the finding may have implications for students and administrators. Teachers who are given the opportunity to do what they do best at work (91% say they get to use their strengths at work) may be more likely to engage students in the learning process.

Business owners, despite working longer hours than people in other job types, report having the best work environments -- likely buoyed by the fact that many business owners are their own supervisors. Farming/fishing/forestry workers have a higher score on the index than teachers, but teachers score higher than people in construction/mining, sales, installation/repair, clerical/office work, service, manufacturing/production, and transportation.

Teachers Are as Physically Healthy as Most Workers in Other Professions

Construction/mining workers, managers/executives/officials, professionals, and business owners lead the way on the Physical Health Index, and teachers along with sales workers and installation/repair workers are close behind. This index includes nine items addressing chronic or daily illnesses, including colds and flu. When asked if they were sick with the flu yesterday, 1.2% of teachers (and business owners) said "yes," whereas the percentage of flu sufferers was as high as 2.9% for individuals in the farming/fishing/forestry industry. Teachers were more likely to report having a cold yesterday (7.0% said "yes" to this item). Service workers were most likely to report having a cold (7.4%), and business owners were the least likely (4.6%).

Bottom Line

Teachers score highly on many aspects of well-being, even when compared with non-teaching professionals and business owners. It is unclear whether the relatively higher scores of teachers on several measures of well-being are because working in that profession enhances one's well-being, or if people who have higher well-being in general seek out teaching professions.

While teachers reap the personal benefits of high well-being, this level of well-being may also prove beneficial to their students and the broader community. At the same time, community leaders and administrators would do well to improve teacher's work environments not only to help boost teacher well-being, but also to boost student and community well-being even higher.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with adults, aged 18 and older, who are employed in one of the 11 job categories Gallup typically uses to assess occupation. A total of 409,261 interviews were conducted July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. However, because many Americans are not in the workforce and because some Americans work in jobs that do not fit any of these job classifications, the final sample was 179,007.

Each occupational group has at least 3,336 respondents, which means that for most occupations and most indexes the margin of sampling error is always less than ±2 percentage points. However, because farmers and small business owners often could not answer questions about their supervisors, sample sizes for these two groups on the Work Environment Index drop as low as 1,327. The margin of error for this smallest sample size (incorporating the design effect) is ±3 percentage points. Rankings, and ties within rankings, were determined using margins of error.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only). In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
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School classroom air may be more polluted

with ultrafine particles than outdoor air

The air in some school classrooms may contain higher levels of extremely small particles of pollutants — easily inhaled deep into the lungs — than polluted outdoor air, scientists in Australia and Germany are reporting in an article in ACS' semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology:"Ultrafine Particles in Indoor Air of a School: Possible Role of Secondary Organic Aerosols"

Lidia Morawska and colleagues note increasing concern in recent years over the health effects of airborne ultrafine particles. Evidence suggests that they can be toxic when inhaled into the lungs. Much of the scientific research, however, has focused on outdoor sources of these invisible particles, particularly vehicle emissions. Little research has been done, however, on indoor sources, and even less on ultrafine particles in school classrooms.

In an effort to fill those gaps in knowledge, the scientists studied levels of ultrafine particles in 3 elementary school classrooms in Brisbane, Australia. They found that on numerous occasions ultrafine particle levels in the classrooms were significantly higher than outdoors. The highest levels occurred during art activities such as gluing, painting and drawing when indoor levels were several times higher than outdoor levels. There also were significant increases in ultrafine particle levels when detergents were used for cleaning.
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Preschoolers in Child Care Not Active Enough

Many young children in child care centers are not getting as much active playtime as they should, according to new research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A study published in the December 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics found only 13.7 percent of child care centers in North Carolina offered 120 minutes of active playtime during the school day.

Researchers at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention observed and reviewed physical activity and playtime practices and policies in 96 centers across the state. An earlier study by the same group developed the 120 minute benchmark as part of best practice guidelines for promoting healthy weight in young children.

"We think that our guidelines are a starting point for child care centers looking to develop physical activity policies," said Christina McWilliams, a research associate at the center and lead author of the study. "Unfortunately, a lot of the best practice guidelines are not being met in North Carolina."

However, the study also showed positive signs. In 82 percent of the centers, children were not sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time and about 56 percent of centers had a written policy on physical activity.

The investigators began studying activity in child care settings in response to the United States' rapidly increasing rates of childhood obesity. Nationwide, the percentage of obese children aged 2 to 5 years increased more than 30 percent between 2001 and 2004.

"What happens in child care centers is a very important indicator of preschoolers' physical activity levels, since children spend on average 25 hours a week in such centers and physical activity protects against obesity during the preschool-age period," said McWilliams. "More specific physical activity recommendations for centers will be a positive step in fighting childhood obesity."

Meanwhile, another study published by the same group in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that research into finding effective ways to increase physical activity in child care centers is still a new field.

The study, led by Dianne Ward, a research fellow at the center and a nutrition professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, is the first to systematically review research databases for such papers. Ward and her colleagues found that only nine studies, all conducted since 2003, have tested ways to help young children in child care centers become more physically active.

Ward's team recommended that researchers look at all areas of the child care environment, not just the amount of time children are provided for play. For example, other areas that relate to physical activity at preschools include the physical environment (such as fixed and portable play equipment), sedentary environment (such as television viewing time and the presence of TVs and computers in classroom), staff training and behaviors (such as staff joining in active play and providing verbal prompts to increase active play) and a written physical activity policy.
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Report on Supplemental Education Services

U.S. Civil Rights Commission Releases Report on Supplemental Education Services Under The No Child Left Behind Act

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced that it has released "Supplemental Educational Services Under the No Child Left Behind Act," its report on school districts' implementation of supplementary education services (SES) to students under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The NCLB Act, among other things, provides for individual services including additional tutoring in school districts that fail to make adequate yearly progress three years in a row.

Expert witnesses testified that many eligible students were not receiving these services, information consistent with a 2006 GAO report. The Commission's report recommends a number of steps that school districts could take to improve delivery of services, including providing parents of SES-eligible children with timely notification of SES availability, developing individualized strategies that take into account the socioeconomic demographics of student families, and modeling services on the best practices of successful school districts. Most importantly, the Commission recommends that school districts take steps to ensure that parents are free to choose the best SES provider for their children, and not pressured to choose district providers over private ones.
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Dyslexia defined: New Yale study

Contrary to popular belief, some very smart, accomplished people cannot read well. This unexpected difficulty in reading in relation to intelligence, education and professional status is called dyslexia, and researchers at Yale School of Medicine and University of California Davis, have presented new data that explain how otherwise bright and intelligent people struggle to read.

The study, which will be published in the January 1, 2010 issue of the journal Psychological Science, provides a validated definition of dyslexia. "For the first time, we've found empirical evidence that shows the relationship between IQ and reading over time differs for typical compared to dyslexic readers," said Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D., the Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development at Yale School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics, and co-director of the newly formed Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.

Using data from the Connecticut Longitudinal Study, an ongoing 12-year study of cognitive and behavioral development in a representative sample of 445 Connecticut schoolchildren, Shaywitz and her team tested each child in reading every year and tested for IQ every other year. They were looking for evidence to show how the dissociation between cognitive ability and reading ability might develop in children.

The researchers found that in typical readers, IQ and reading not only track together, but also influence each other over time. But in children with dyslexia, IQ and reading are not linked over time and do not influence one another. This explains why a dyslexic can be both bright and not read well.

"I've seen so many children who are struggling to read but have a high IQ," said Shaywitz. "Our findings of an uncoupling between IQ and reading, and the influence of this uncoupling on the developmental trajectory of reading, provide evidence to support the concept that dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty with reading in children who otherwise have the intelligence to learn to read."

Typical readers learn how to associate letters with a specific sound. "All they have to do is look at the letters and it's automatic," Shaywitz explained. "It's like breathing; you don't have to tell your lungs to take in air. In dyslexia, this process remains manual." Each time a dyslexic sees a word, it's as if they've never seen it before. People with dyslexia have to read slowly, re-read, and sometimes use a marker so they don't lose their place.

"A key characteristic of dyslexia is that the unexpected difficulty refers to a disparity within the person rather than, for example, a relative weakness compared to the general population," said co-author Bennett A. Shaywitz, M.D., the Charles and Helen Schwab Professor in Dyslexia and Learning Development and co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.

Sally Shaywitz estimates that one in five people are dyslexic and points to many accomplished writers, physicians and attorneys with dyslexia who struggle with the condition in their daily lives, including Carol Greider, the 2009 Nobel laureate in medicine. She hopes to dispel many of the myths surrounding the condition.

"High-performing dyslexics are very intelligent, often out-of-the box thinkers and problem-solvers," she said. "The neural signature for dyslexia is seen in children and adults. You don't outgrow dyslexia. Once you're diagnosed, it is with you for life."

Shaywitz also stresses that the problem is with both basic spoken and written language. People with dyslexia take a long time to retrieve words, so they might not speak or read as fluidly as others. In students, the time pressure around standardized tests like the SATs and entrance exams for professional schools increases anxiety and can make dyslexia worse, so the need for accommodations is key in helping those with the disorder realize their potential, she says.
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Benefits of Playing Video Games

According to a new study in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, regular gamers are fast and accurate information processors, not only during game play, but in real-life situations as well.

In the study, psychological scientists from the University of Rochester, Matthew Dye, Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier, looked at all of the existing literature on video gaming and found some surprising insights in the data. For example, they found that avid players got faster not only on their game of choice, but on a variety of unrelated laboratory tests of reaction time.

Many skeptics agree that gamers are fast, but that they become less accurate as their speed of play increases. Dye and colleagues find the opposite: Gamers don’t lose accuracy (in the game or in lab tests) as they get faster. The scientists believe that this is a result of the gamer’s improved visual cognition. Playing video games enhances performance on mental rotation skills, visual and spatial memory, and tasks requiring divided attention.

The scientists conclude that training with video games may serve to reduce gender differences in visual and spatial processing, and thwart some of the cognitive declines that come with aging.
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HS Need To Know: How Grads Are Doing in College

How College Proficiency Information Can Help High Schools Drive Student Success

Given the 21st century workforce’s demands, educators and policymakers agree that high school’s purpose has changed. Whereas the goal of high school used to be graduation, now it strives to launch students to college and career success.

Unfortunately, high schools’ tools have not caught up with their mission. While schools have spent decades learning to measure and manage toward graduation, they now need the data and measurement tools that will demonstrate their college proficiency rate—or how well their students are doing the year after high school. Without this information they must rely on anecdotes at best and guesswork at worst.

And that seems risky, given education’s importance to people’s lives and to the economy. Indeed, asking schools to deliver postsecondary success without enabling them to measure postsecondary performance is to demand the impossible. After all, we wouldn’t ask air traffic controllers to land planes with radars that shut down at 10,000 feet. We wouldn’t let surgeons operate if they could only guess at how previous patients had done. And yet at the moment we are asking high schools to deliver students who can perform in college without giving schools the tools to know whether or how their current efforts are paying off.

Throughout America, districts, schools, and nonprofits are starting to see postsecondary data’s value, and they are improving their offerings based on whether, where, and how successfully their graduates are enrolled the year after high school. The federal government, too, has begun to see the value of this data and is moving the needle forward, especially with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s call for better data systems and college proficiency reporting.

This paper is about helping every high school in America learn in a systematic, methodical way how its graduates are doing, whether in four-year colleges, two-year colleges, vocational programs, or apprenticeships. And it’s about making sure high schools can use that information every day to make sound, strategic decisions to launch their students to postsecondary success.
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Adding technology to geometry class

A new study co-written by a University of Illinois expert in math education suggests that incorporating technology in high school-level geometry classes not only makes the teaching of concepts such as congruency easier, it also empowers students to discover other geometric relationships they wouldn’t ordinarily uncover when more traditional methods of instruction were used.

Gloriana González, a professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education at Illinois, says when students used dynamic geometry software they were more successful in discovering new mathematical ideas than when they used static, paper-based diagrams.

The study, published in a recent issue of the International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, analyzed how students solved geometry problems over four days, with two days spent using static diagrams and the other two with dynamic diagrams drawn using a calculator with dynamic geometry software.

“There’s been a big push to have teachers use technology in the classroom, and there’s a lot of incentives for them to use it, the chief one being the motivation kids get from using technology,” González said. “But the powerful thing is that integrating technology in the classroom allows teachers to provide students more opportunities for learning, which gets students thinking about mathematical ideas in a new light.”
González, who co-wrote the study with Patricio G. Herbst, of the University of Michigan, said that teachers like to use technology in the classroom not only because it’s stimulating for students, but also because it’s a more efficient use of resources for teachers.

For example, instead of drawing 20 different diagrams on a chalkboard by hand, teachers can create one diagram on a computer and manipulate it using the dynamic geometry software.
Without the software, the teacher is drawing 20 different variations of the same diagram, “which can get very boring very quickly,” González said.

“The technology allows teachers to do many things that they couldn’t ordinarily do or would be very hard to do by hand, such as call attention to a particular geometrical pattern or configuration that the students may not have seen otherwise,” she said.

But students shouldn’t get too excited: González says there’s no need for them to throw away the protractors and compasses just yet.

“What we found is that students who did things by hand, although they didn’t formulate the same conjectures as when they used the dynamic geometry software, just having the experience with the manual tools really helped them to understand what happens when you try to do the same thing using the dynamic geometry software,” González said. “So there is some transference between the two.”

The technology, González said, pushed students to think about mathematics in a completely different way.

“Compared to the two days of using static diagrams, students didn’t find anything as sophisticated as they did when they used the computer,” she said. “The dynamic geometry software really helped them make connections that they hadn’t made before.”

For teachers, integrating technology into a lesson plan can bring about unanticipated complications.

“Sometimes students may understand the tool, but not the underlying mathematics behind the tool,” González said. “Students can play, but teachers are trying to teach mathematics, not a particular tool. As a teacher, you want your students to go beyond the tool. The heart of mathematics is proofs, and only teachers are able to ask students to go beyond the tools and provide a proof.”

González said educators have a difficult job gauging how students will react to a lesson, while simultaneously teaching the content they need to learn and keeping students engaged and focused.

“If we help teachers try to understand what kind of thinking students will have when using technology, then we can help students to have a deeper understanding of mathematical ideas,” she said. “Whatever we can do to support teachers’ work in terms of having a better understanding of student thinking about mathematics, the better, because teachers have a challenging job,” she said.
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Learning styles debunked

There is no evidence supporting auditory and visual learning, psychologists say

Are you a verbal learner or a visual learner? Chances are, you've pegged yourself or your children as either one or the other and rely on study techniques that suit your individual learning needs. And you're not alone— for more than 30 years, the notion that teaching methods should match a student's particular learning style has exerted a powerful influence on education. The long-standing popularity of the learning styles movement has in turn created a thriving commercial market amongst researchers, educators, and the general public.

The wide appeal of the idea that some students will learn better when material is presented visually and that others will learn better when the material is presented verbally, or even in some other way, is evident in the vast number of learning-style tests and teaching guides available for purchase and used in schools. But does scientific research really support the existence of different learning styles, or the hypothesis that people learn better when taught in a way that matches their own unique style?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, according to a major new report published this month in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The report, authored by a team of eminent researchers in the psychology of learning—Hal Pashler (University of San Diego), Mark McDaniel (Washington University in St. Louis), Doug Rohrer (University of South Florida), and Robert Bjork (University of California, Los Angeles)—reviews the existing literature on learning styles and finds that although numerous studies have purported to show the existence of different kinds of learners (such as "auditory learners" and "visual learners"), those studies have not used the type of randomized research designs that would make their findings credible.

Nearly all of the studies that purport to provide evidence for learning styles fail to satisfy key criteria for scientific validity. Any experiment designed to test the learning-styles hypothesis would need to classify learners into categories and then randomly assign the learners to use one of several different learning methods, and the participants would need to take the same test at the end of the experiment. If there is truth to the idea that learning styles and teaching styles should mesh, then learners with a given style, say visual-spatial, should learn better with instruction that meshes with that style. The authors found that of the very large number of studies claiming to support the learning-styles hypothesis, very few used this type of research design. Of those that did, some provided evidence flatly contradictory to this meshing hypothesis, and the few findings in line with the meshing idea did not assess popular learning-style schemes.

No less than 71 different models of learning styles have been proposed over the years. Most have no doubt been created with students' best interests in mind, and to create more suitable environments for learning. But psychological research has not found that people learn differently, at least not in the ways learning-styles proponents claim. Given the lack of scientific evidence, the authors argue that the currently widespread use of learning-style tests and teaching tools is a wasteful use of limited educational resources.

To read further on teaching and learning practices science does support, see the following articles:

"Increasing Retention Without Increasing Study Time" by Doug Rohrer and Hal Pashler in Current Directions in Psychological Science.

"The Read-Recite-Review Study Strategy: Effective and Portable" by Mark A. McDaniel, Daniel C. Howard, and Gilles O. Einstein in Psychological Science.

"Test-Enhanced Learning: Taking Memory Tests Improves Long-Term Retention" Henry L. Roediger, III, and Jeffrey D. Karpicke in Psychological Science.
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Sand Playground Surfaces Reduce Risk

of Arm Fractures from Falls, Study Shows

School playgrounds fitted with granite sand surfacing significantly reduce the risk of children fracturing arms in comparison with wood fibre surfaces, according to a randomized trial published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine.

Even in well maintained playgrounds there is always a risk of injury -- in the United States alone, 200,000 children are treated for playground injuries a year. Andrew Howard (of the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada) and colleagues examined the rate of arm fracture as a result of falls on to two types of playground surface -- granite sand and engineered wood fibre. Despite standards for the type and depth of surfaces used in school playgrounds, there is little information about the ability of different surfaces to prevent injuries. The researchers took advantage of planned playground replacement by the Toronto School District Board in a number of schools to perform a randomised controlled trial of the two surfaces in preventing injuries.

Over two and a half years, the researchers found that of the 19 schools that complied with the surface they were randomly assigned to, falls from height onto wood fibre surface resulted in more arm fractures than falls from height onto granite sand. The risk of an arm fracture was 4.9 times higher on a wood fibre surface compared to a granite sand playground. The rate of arm fracture and other injuries that were not as a result of falling from height did not vary between the surfaces.

These findings are limited by the small number of fractures that occurred in either group during the trial. Nonetheless, the researchers conclude that updating playground safety standards to recommend granite sand "will reduce the most common and severe injuries seen on modern playgrounds, without limiting children's access to healthy outdoor play."
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The availability and use of educational technology

This First Look report presents data from a fall 2008 district Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) survey on the availability and use of educational technology. This report from the National Center for Education Statistics within the Institute of Education Sciences includes information on networks and Internet capacity, technology policies, district-provided resources, teacher professional development, and district-level leadership for technology. Findings include:

* Some 92 percent of districts offered access to online district resources to all elementary or all secondary teachers. About 82 percent of schools offered server space for posting web pages or class materials to all teachers.

* Districts had written policies on acceptable student use of email (84 percent), social networking websites (76 percent), wikis and/or blogs (52 percent), and other Internet use (92 percent).

* Of the districts surveyed, 100 percent kept student data in an electronic data system. The percentage of districts that used an electronic system to keep each type of student data asked about in the survey ranged from 80 percent for transportation data to 100 percent for attendance data.

Full report
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Reading Recovery® Research Evaluation

No studies of Reading Recovery® that fall within the scope of the English Language Learners (ELL) review protocol meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards. The lack of studies meeting WWC evidence standards means that, at this time, the WWC is unable to draw any conclusions based on research about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of Reading Recovery® on ELL.

Reading Recovery® is a short-term tutoring intervention designed to serve the lowest-achieving (bottom 20%) first-grade students. The goals of Reading Recovery® include: promoting literacy skills; reducing the number of first-grade students who are struggling to read; and preventing long-term reading difficulties. Reading Recovery® supplements classroom teaching with one-to-one tutoring sessions, generally conducted as pull-out sessions during the school day. The tutoring, which is conducted by trained Reading Recovery® teachers, takes place for 30 minutes a day over a period of 12 to 20 weeks.

The WWC identified 13 studies of Reading Recovery® for English Language Learners that were published or released between 1997 and 2008.

Three studies are within the scope of the ELL review protocol but do not meet WWC evidence standards. These studies do not establish that the comparison group was comparable to the treatment group prior to the start of the intervention.

Eight studies are out of the scope of the ELL review protocol because they have an ineligible study design. These studies do not use a comparison group.

One study is out of the scope of the ELL review protocol for reasons other than study design. The study does not include a primary analysis of the effectiveness of an intervention.

One study uses a single-subject design for which the WWC is currently developing standards and, therefore, could not be reviewed at this time.
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Interactive animations give science students a boost

For a generation of students raised and nurtured at the computer keyboard, it seems like a no-brainer that computer-assisted learning would have a prominent role in the college science classroom.

But many difficult scientific concepts are still conveyed through dry lectures or ponderous texts. But that could change if science professors take a cue from a new study on the use of interactive animations in the college science classroom. The findings, presented here today (Dec. 14) at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, show that university students who supplement their studies with interactive, game like computer animations retain a much better understanding of a scientific concept than those who don't.

"It works, which is a bit of a surprise," says Steve Ackerman, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences who led the new study. "We didn't expect this kind of impact on the understanding of fundamental concepts."

Ackerman and UW-Madison graduate student Tim Wagner conducted the study using an introductory meteorology course of 400 students as a crucible for testing the efficacy of short animations that can demonstrate such things as tracking hurricanes and ice bergs, heat transfer, and how rain or snow form in the atmosphere.

The animations, which in actuality are small computer programs called applets, can be manipulated by students to adjust real-world variables that may come into play. For example, in the case of precipitation formation, such things as temperature or altitude can be tweaked to change rain to sleet or snow.

Seeing how the different variables come into play and how changing them can alter the type of precipitation you get is a hard demonstration of the physics of weather, says Wagner.

"Meteorological education is sometimes a little tricky," Wagner explains. "There are not a lot of things you can demonstrate in front of the classroom."

The animations reside on a Web site, and visits by individual students are recorded. Some animations are required for homework while others are optional. Class instructors can look at the Web site visitor data and can see which students are using the programs and for how long.

At exam time, the students who used the animations demonstrated greater mastery of concepts included on the test.

"The students who used the applets performed much better on those questions," notes Wagner.

The new findings by Wagner and Ackerman are important because they begin to inform the use of interactive teaching materials in the science classroom and how teachers can take better advantage of their students' deep familiarity with computers and computer games.
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The Status of the Teaching Profession 2009

New Report Examines Mismatch Between Changing Needs of Reforming High Schools and Systems of Teacher Development and Support

Faced with increasing demands to help more students succeed in college and the workplace, many California high schools are engaged in ambitious efforts to increase academic rigor, make instruction more relevant, and create learning environments that are more personal and supportive. But many teachers lack the preparation, skills and support needed to help students and fulfill the demands of the state’s reforming high schools, according to a new report, The Status of the Teaching Profession 2009, released today by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.

“The 3R’s of reforming high schools -- rigor, relevance and relationships -- set a high bar for teachers and principals alike and have implications for teacher preparation, professional development and the ways in which high schools are organized,” said Margaret Gaston, Executive Director of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. “But there is a mismatch between the needs of these high school teachers and the state’s systems of teacher preparation and support.”

While many teachers have the expertise they need to succeed in California’s reforming high schools, data from a new survey of high school principals commissioned by the Center and conducted by SRI International finds that nearly all schools have some teachers who lack knowledge or skills in areas now considered key for success in college and the workplace. For example, just 68 percent of California high school principals reported that a substantial majority (two-thirds) of their teachers had the pedagogical skills to promote critical thinking and problem solving, or the interpersonal skills needed to connect with students.

The research also finds that teacher knowledge and skills differ substantially by school poverty level. Principals in affluent schools were more likely than those in less affluent schools to report that their teachers had the knowledge and skills needed to implement reform strategies. For example, 78 percent of principals in the state’s most affluent high schools reported that a substantial majority of their teachers have the pedagogical skills to promote students’ critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. By comparison, just 48 percent of principals in the state’s least affluent schools said their teachers had those skills.

“California’s poorest communities are where reforms are most urgently needed, but they are also where teachers are likely to be the least prepared or supported to deliver what their students need,” says Gaston.

These and other findings are detailed in The Status of the Teaching Profession 2009, the latest in a decade-long series of annual examinations of California’s teaching workforce produced by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning with research conducted by SRI International. In addition to the latest available data on the supply, qualifications and distribution of the state’s teaching workforce, this year’s report focuses on what is happening in high schools and examines the capacity of the teaching workforce and systems of teacher development to meet increasing demands. The report includes the results and analysis of a new statewide survey of high school principals, case studies of a sample of reforming high schools, and additional background research on education policy and practice.

The new report finds that California’s teacher development system is not adequately aligned with high school reforms that seek to increase rigor, make school more relevant and foster more personal and supportive learning environments for students. Teachers who come to reforming high schools without the preparation they need find it difficult to handle the complexities of the new programs and, for new teachers, induction programs are not able to provide adequate support throughout the first and often the most difficult years of teaching. School principals struggle to recruit, hire and retain teachers needed to carry out reforms and note the lack of fit between the professional development teachers receive and what is needed to develop the collaboration and communication skills required for success in changing high schools. Further, what progress has been made in professional development and cohesive staffing may be undermined by budget cuts and teacher layoffs.

“Teacher development in California has not kept pace with increasing expectations for students and demands on teachers,” said Patrick Shields, Director of the Center for Education Policy at SRI International. “If the state wants to produce more high school graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and the workforce, California needs to create the capacity to recruit, train and support teachers in ways that ensure they have the skills and knowledge needed to implement these strategies. Unfortunately, at a time we should be strengthening the capacity of teachers, teacher development is threatened by additional budget cuts.”

While revealing weaknesses in the teacher development system, case studies in the report highlight school-level efforts to build closer alignment between the demands of reforms and the knowledge and skills of teachers. These efforts could serve as models to other educators and to policymakers. For example, some schools have adopted recruitment and hiring practices that produce a better match between job candidates and open teaching assignments, crafted professional development programs that provide reform-specific supports and learning opportunities, or partnered with local teacher preparation programs to better support new teachers.

In addition to its analysis of high school teaching, The Status of the Teaching Profession 2009 examines the supply, demand and distribution of California’s teaching workforce. California has made significant progress in reducing the number of underprepared teachers from over 42,000 at the beginning of the decade to under 11,000 in 2008–09. Across the K-12 system, the percentage of underprepared teachers is highest in high schools, where 5 percent of teachers are underprepared. While fewer students face underprepared teachers, those in the lowest-achieving schools remain much more likely to have underprepared teachers. In California high schools serving mostly Latino and African-American students, students are six times more likely to face an underprepared teacher as their peers in schools with few minority students.

The report also documents a weakened teacher pipeline. The teaching workforce is shrinking slightly, but the supply of future teachers may not be sufficiently robust to replace teachers likely to retire in the next few years. Nearly 100,000 teachers are age 50 or older, but the number of candidates enrolling in teacher preparation programs has declined by one third in recent years, from over 77,000 in 2001-02 to under 52,000 in 2006-07. The production of teacher credentials mirrors that decline.

“There is a broad consensus that students need to leave high school prepared for postsecondary education and the world of work,” concluded Gaston, “but this will only happen if California substantially strengthens the capacity of the teaching force to deliver high quality instruction to each and every student. Right now the state has a patchwork of policies for secondary education, but more ambitious high school reform efforts are largely an unsupported local endeavor. We must find a way to make smart investments in our teaching force if we are to ensure that high school graduates develop the skills and knowledge that colleges, business and industry demand and the students themselves deserve.”

To assist educators and policymakers, the report also includes recommendations that specify ways that state policymakers and education leaders can help close the gap between the preparation and support teachers need to succeed in reforming high schools and what they currently receive. The recommendations recognize California’s budget context and are designed to be realistic, drawing upon existing, realigned, or earmarked federal resources.
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Guide for Preventing School Violence

The Guide for Preventing and Responding to School Violence, 2nd Edition addresses the roles of the school, the community, families, law enforcement, and the justice system and details how groups can work together effectively to take action and prevent school violence.

AUTHOR: Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs,
U.S. Department of Justice in coordination with the International
Association of Chiefs of Police
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Student self-testing gets high marks as study tool

College students who pore over their notes again and again as they prep for finals could use their studying time more wisely, according to new learning research from Purdue University.
"We know that self-testing, which happens when students practice retrieving knowledge, drives learning," says Jeffrey D. Karpicke, an assistant professor of psychological sciences. "Students can really benefit from testing themselves as they study by using something as simple as flashcards. However, the key is to not drop a flashcard once you feel you have mastered the material. Keep it as part of your rotation and keep practicing retrieval of that information."

Karpicke found in his study that college students are more likely to invest their time in repetitive note reading, and those who do practice retrieval spend too little time on it.

"My research found that this happens because there is an illusion about how much a person is actually learning while they are self-testing," said Karpicke, who is a cognitive psychologist and memory expert.

The illusion takes root when students feel answers come to them easily as they practice testing. For example, students using flashcards to study may eliminate certain cards when they believe they know that material well.

"This is called retrieval fluency," he said. "If you practiced recalling information even a few more times, it would produce big gains in learning and long-term retention. The reason people don't keep testing themselves is because they are tricked by retrieval fluency. The answer comes to mind so easily the first time that they think they know it and drop the card from further self-testing. But this is not a recipe for good long-term learning."

The research findings appeared in last month's Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Karpicke conducted four experiments with 150 college students in various studying situations on Swahili-English vocabulary words. Students in each experiment learned vocabulary words from a computerized flashcard format, and then the conditions were varied based on studying techniques assigned by Karpicke or selected by the participant. The students returned a week later for final testing.

No matter if the students selected their own studying strategy or it was assigned, they all learned better when self-testing all of the material from the electronic flashcard format. Students didn't do as well on the final test if they dropped material as they learned it during self-testing.

The students whose studying techniques were assigned received computer prompts on what to study and even how to study it at times. Some of the students in the experiment could select how they wanted to study, and they were likely to drop the vocabulary words they felt they knew well. As a result, many could not remember the words when they returned a week later for the final test.

"What is surprising is that we know practicing retrieval by self-testing is really powerful, and yet people don't use it, or don't use it well," he said. "These are college students who are generally successful academically, so this just shows how powerful the illusion can be."

Karpicke's work was funded by a dissertation research award from the American Psychological Association and a graduate research scholarship from the American Psychological Foundation/Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology. He will continue studying learning techniques, and his next project will focus on evaluating how course instruction relates to the studying strategies students select.
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Expanded Time Schools in America

The National Center on Time & Learning has released a report documenting the state of expanded-time schools in America. The report, Tracking an Emerging Movement: A Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America, draws from their new national database of schools that have broken from the conventional school calendar in order to improve educational outcomes. The database and report represent the most comprehensive attempt to define and describe this growing and much watched field.

The report comes at a time of great momentum for the issue of expanded time nationally. Both President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have consistently called for expanded learning time as part of their ambitious effort to reform the nation’s schools. The guidelines for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), including the highly competitive Race to the Top grant, highlight lengthening the school day and year as a key strategy for improving low-performing schools.

The report draws from their database of the 655 schools thh3ey identified across 36 states serving more than 300,000 students. The report analyzes the schools’ key characteristics, as well as survey data on a subset of 245 schools on how the added time is utilized and funded.

Notable findings include:

• On average these schools offer about 25 percent more time than the national norm of 180 six-hour days;
• While a majority of the schools included are public charter schools, more than one-quarter of the schools identified are standard district public schools;
• Compared with national averages, schools with expanded time serve a more heavily minority and poorer student population; and
• Data suggest that more time is associated with higher academic achievement, as students in schools with an expanded school day were found on average to outperform their district peers.
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Tracking and Detracking in Massachusetts

Tracking and Detracking: High Achievers in Massachusetts Middle Schools

What are the implications of "tracking," or grouping students into separate classes based on their achievement? Many schools have moved away from this practice and reduced the number of subject-area courses offered in a given grade. In this new Thomas B. Fordham Institute report, Brookings scholar Tom Loveless examines tracking and detracking in Massachusetts middle schools, with particular focus on changes that have occurred over time and their implications for high-achieving students. Among the report's key findings: detracked schools have fewer advanced students in mathematics than tracked schools. The report also finds that detracking is more popular in schools serving disadvantaged populations.
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1.5 million crimes at school in 2007

Students age 12-18 were victims of about 1.5 million crimes at school in 2007, with about 55 percent of these crimes reported as the thefts and the rest reported as violent crimes ranging from simple assault and serious violence.

A joint effort by the National Center for Education Statistics of the Institute of Education Sciences and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2009" provides the most current detailed statistical information on crimes occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school. This annual report includes data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the School Survey on Crime and Safety and the School and Staffing Survey. Other findings include:

* Preliminary data show that among youth ages 5 to 18, there were 43 school-associated violent deaths from July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008. In each year during the period 1992–93 to 2006–07, there were at least 50 times as many homicides of youth away from school than at school and generally at least 150 times as many suicides of youth away from school than at school. For example, in 2006-07, there were 30 homicides of school-age youth at school, and 1,718 homicides of school age youth away from school. In addition, there were 8 suicides of school-age youth at school, and 1,288 homicides of school-age youth away from school.

* In 2007, 4 percent of students ages 12 to 18 reported being victimized at school during the previous 6 months: 3 percent reported theft, and 2 percent reported violent victimization. Although there was an overall decline in the victimization rates for students ages 12 to 18 at school between 1992 and 2007, there was no measurable difference in the rate of crime at school between 2004 and 2007.

* During the 2007–08 school year, 85 percent of public schools recorded that at least one violent crime, theft, or other crime occurred at their school. One-quarter of schools recorded no violent crimes, and 24 percent of schools recorded 20 or more violent crimes.

* During the 2007–08 school year, a greater percentage of teachers in city schools (10 percent) reported being threatened with injury than teachers in town schools (7 percent) and suburban or rural schools (6 percent each).
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Behavioral training improves function in the brain

Children with poor reading skills who underwent an intensive, six-month training program to improve their reading ability showed increased connectivity in a particular brain region, in addition to making significant gains in reading, according to a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The study was published in the Dec. 10, 2009, issue of Neuron.

"We have known that behavioral training can enhance brain function." said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "The exciting breakthrough here is detecting changes in brain connectivity with behavioral treatment. This finding with reading deficits suggests an exciting new approach to be tested in the treatment of mental disorders, which increasingly appear to be due to problems in specific brain circuits."

For the study, Timothy Keller, Ph.D., and Marcel Just, Ph.D., both of Carnegie Mellon University, randomly assigned 35 poor readers ages 8󈝸, to an intensive, remedial reading program, and 12 to a control group that received normal classroom instruction. For comparison, the researchers also included 25 children of similar age who were rated as average or above-average readers by their teachers. The average readers also received only normal classroom instruction.

Four remedial reading programs were offered, but few differences in reading improvements were seen among them. As such, results for participants in these programs were evaluated as a group. All of the programs were given over a six month schooling period, for five days a week in 50-minute sessions (100 hours total), with three students per teacher. The focus of these programs was improving readers' ability to decode unfamiliar words.

Using a technology called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), the researchers were able to measure structural properties of the children's white matter, the insulation-clad fibers that provide efficient communication in the central nervous system. Specifically, DTI shows the movement of water molecules through white matter, reflecting the quality of white matter connections. The better the connection, the more the water molecules move in the same direction, providing a higher "bandwidth" for information transfer between brain regions.

At the outset of the study, poor readers showed lower quality white matter than average readers in a brain region called the anterior left centrum semiovale. Six months later, at the completion of the intensive training, the poor readers showed significant increases in the quality of this region. Children who did not receive the training did not show this increase, suggesting that the changes seen in the remedial training group were not due to natural maturation of the brain.

In an effort to further pinpoint the mechanism underlying this change, the researchers deduced that a process called myelination may be key. Myelin is akin to electrical insulation, allowing for more rapid and efficient communication between nerve cells in the brain. However, the directional association between brain changes and reading improvements remains unclear —whether intensive training brings about increased myelination that results in improved word decoding skills, or whether improved word decoding skills leads to changes in reading habits that result in greater myelination.

"Our findings support not only the positive effects of remediation and rehabilitation for reading disabilities, but may also lead to improved treatments for a range of developmental conditions related to brain connectivity, such as autism," noted Just.
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Early Exposure to Language in Babies

Leads to Easier Acquisition of the Language as Adults

Most scientists agree that the earlier you expose a child to a language, the easier it is for that child to learn it.

California State University, Northridge assistant professor of psychology Janet S. Oh wanted to take that concept a step further. She wondered whether early experience with a language - say before the age of one - can still help an adult many years later to acquire that language more easily that an individual who has not had such early exposure.

"Early indications are that it does," said Oh, who published the results of her pilot study in the latest issue of the Journal of Child Language.

Oh's pilot study compared 12 adults adopted from Korea by U.S. families as young children to 13 participants who had no prior exposure to Korean. All but one of the 12 adopted Koreans were brought to the U.S. prior to age one. Because their adoptive families were European Americans, the adopted Korean adults had little to no exposure to Korean after adoption. Oh wanted to find out whether relearning can aid in accessing early childhood language memory.

All 25 participants in the study were recruited and tested during the second week of the first semester of college Korean language classes. They completed a language background questionnaire and interview, a childhood slang task and a Korean phoneme identification task. Phonemes are the smallest contrastive units in the sound system of a language.

"The results revealed an advantage for adopted participants in identifying some Korean phonemes, suggesting that some components of early childhood language memory can remain intact despite many years of disuse, and that relearning a language can help in accessing such a memory," Oh said.

Oh had a suspicion that the adopted adults might have had some advantage in learning Korean as adults, but she didn't expect the results she got.

"The average age of adoption was five months, so we really weren't sure what the study would find," she said. "They were infants when they came to the United States so they weren't even speaking yet, and all exposure to Korean language and culture was pretty much cut off. Yet, when they started studying Korean as adults they clearly mastered learning the sounds that make up the language much easier than those who never had exposure to the language."

Oh said she chose Korean in part because the sounds that make up the language are so different from English. The distinctions between the speech sounds initially can be quite difficult for non-native speakers to hear, much less produce.

She said French researchers have studied adult adopted Koreans in France who left their native country between the ages of five and eight to see if they retained any vestiges of their first language.

"Those researchers concluded that there was no memory for their childhood language," she said. "But they didn't study whether relearning the language as adults would help in accessing that childhood language memory."

The pilot data were submitted with a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation, which awarded her and her collaborators - Rich Lee of the University of Minnesota, Sun-Ah Jun of UCLA and Terry Au of the University of Hong Kong - a $477,640, five-year grant to conduct a more extensive study on the impact of early language exposure.

The larger, more comprehensive study will examine the nature of childhood language memory; the kind of early linguistic experience necessary to aid in language learning; the nature of adoptees' perception of speech sounds of their childhood language and how it differs from language learners who have not had any prior experience with the language; and how social, cultural and emotional factors play a part in adoptees' success in learning their childhood language.

Oh pointed out that language plays a crucial role in how people identify themselves and connect with their culture.

She said her study could have implications for those who want to learn a second language as well as for those who teach them. It also could provide insight into the acquisition of language and on very early childhood language memory.
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4 Out of 5 Older Children Academically on Track

Nearly 80 percent of students ages 12 to 17 were academically on track in 2006, up 8 percent from 1998, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau. Students were considered to be academically on track if they were enrolled in school at or above the grade level appropriate for their age.

The report, A Child's Day: 2006 (Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being), relies on
in-person household interviews to examine how well children are progressing into adulthood, using indicators like academic performance and school engagement.
For children ages 6 to 11, the odds of being on track were 36 percent higher if they had never changed schools and 26 percent higher if they participated in a club. For 12 to 17 years olds, the odds of being on track were 48 percent higher if they were in a gifted class and 34 percent higher if they had never been suspended or expelled from school.

Parents' educational attainment, family income, place of residence and parental expectations also contributed significantly to children being academically on track.
Other trends examined in the report include school engagement, parental interaction with children and participation in extracurricular activities.

In 2006, 59 percent of children ages 6 to 11 were highly engaged in school, up 3 percent from 56 percent in 1998. Likewise, 52 percent of 12 to 17 year olds were highly engaged in school, up 5 percent from 47 percent in 1998.

The index for measuring a child's engagement in school is based on three questions: whether a child is interested in schoolwork, whether a child works hard in school and whether the child likes school. Parental interaction, school experience, participation in extracurricular activities and parental expectations for students played a significant role in school engagement.

"The report highlights the choices parents make in the amount and quality of interaction they have with their children," said Jane Dye, a demographer in the Census Bureau's Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. "If they are available to praise, play with or eat dinner with their child more often, they will potentially increase the odds that their child will be highly engaged in school."

The data show that the percentage of parents who praised their children three or more times per day increased from 48 percent in 1998 to 58 percent in 2006. Over the same period, the percentage of parents who talked or played with their children three or more times in a typical day increased from 50 percent to 59 percent.

Participation in sports was the most popular extracurricular activity, regardless of a child's age. From 1998 to 2006, the percent of children who participated in sports rose 7 percent, from 34 percent to 41 percent.

This is the fourth report since 2001 examining children's well-being and their daily activities both at home and at school based on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The report highlights trends in parental interaction with children and children's participation in extracurricular activities, focusing on two outcome measures, whether children are academically on track and school engagement. It also considers the relative importance of characteristics such as race, Hispanic origin and parental education on those outcomes.

SIPP produces national-level estimates for the U.S. resident population and subgroups, and allows for the observation of trends over time, particularly of selected characteristics, such as income, eligibility for and participation in transfer programs, household and family composition, labor force behavior and other associated events.

These data were collected from June 2006 through September 2006 in the Survey of Income and Program Participation. As in all surveys, these data are subject to sampling and nonsampling error.

For further information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals.
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