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The Answer Sheet: September 13, 2009 - September 19, 2009

6 Things I Learned This Week

1) Most U.S. workers with advanced math skills never actually have to put them to work in their jobs. American University Economics Professor Robert Lerman told this to a panel at the Washington D.C.-based Urban Institute this week during a discussion of whether everyone should go to college.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 18, 2009; 4:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Tags:  AARP, Bruce Springsteen, Dartmouth College, University of Richmond, frogs, math, puncutation  
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Dorothy Rich: What Really Matters (And Is Overlooked) for Educational Success

By Dorothy Rich--A young mother called for my advice on what public school to choose for her entering kindergartener. “The school across town,” she explained, scored two points higher on test scores. “Does that mean that is where I should send my child?” I said that I considered other factors more important than those two points, and that to worry about that is to worry about the wrong things when it comes to the real bottom line in education.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 18, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Tags:  Dorothy Rich, MegaSkills  
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THE LIST: College Courses I Want to Take

Sometimes I daydream about returning to college and enrolling only in courses that I really want to take. Thanks to on-line catalogs, I designed an academic load that includes math, music, chemistry, writing, space exploration, history and physical education--with courses in tree climbing, chocolate making, videogames, stupidity and more. All are being offered this fall at colleges and universities.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 18, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  college courses, the list  
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The Same Story in D.C.

Here we go again: The D.C. school system starts the new year with high hopes, and in just a few weeks questions are raised about suspicious erasures on standardized test scores, and, now, there are budget problems that may force teacher layoffs. So who in the city government could have and should have foreseen this financial situation in time to stop principals from filling teacher vacancies this past summer and making other decisions that may now have to be reversed?

By Valerie Strauss  | September 17, 2009; 5:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  D.C. Schools  | Tags:  chancellor michelle a. rhee, d.c. schools, mayor adrian fenty  
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More on Grades: A Case Study in Change

Yesterday’s discussion on grades sparked a discussion worth continuing. Let’s take a close look at a school that overhauled its grading policy. Principal Joel McKinney of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis--an urban school with more than 3,000 students--explains the...

By Valerie Strauss  | September 17, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Grades  
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THE GROUP: Getting Kids to Sleep at Night So They Don’t Nod Off in Class

Today's Group of five moms and a dad--the new president of Dartmouth College (the first Asian-American to head a school in the Ivy League ) talk about how hard it is to get kids to bed in time for a full night's sleep and share tips on how to get reluctant kids to go to bed.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 17, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Tags:  being tired in school, sleep issues  
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Sniper's Execution Set;Talking to Your Kids About Capital Punishment

The sniper who terrorized the greater Washington region with random killings in 2002 that left 10 people dead is now set to be executed Nov. 10--and you may find yourself in an unexpected conversation with your child about capital punishment. This is one of those tough discussions whose timing is dictated by events outside the world of school, but it is no less important than any you have about science or math. Experts in child psychiatry say that this is one of those conversations that can and should be shaped by your own beliefs.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 16, 2009; 3:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Tags:  D.C. sniper, capital punishment, john allen muhammad, lee boyd malvo  
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After Cheating Concerns, Should Students Retake Standardized Test?

My colleague Jay Mathews called me last week and suggested I look at his latest column, which argued that students should retake a D.C. standardized test after questions were raised about too many erasures were found on the exam. He predicted I would disagree with him. Jay, you were right. I do disagree.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 16, 2009; 11:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  D.C. Schools, Diane Ravitch, Michelle Rhee, Standardized Tests  
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SPOTLIGHT: How Unfair Are Grades?

If you have ever rolled your eyes in disbelief when your child tells you a teacher gave him or her an unfair grade, you may want to think again. Your child might be right. An expert on grading systems conducted an experiment with more than 10,000 educators that he says proves just how subjective grades can be.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 16, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Grades  | Tags:  Douglas Reeves, Fairfax County Public Schools, Grades  
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Students: What Makes a Good--and Bad--Teacher

Now that school is in full swing, The Answer Sheet asked some smart teenagers to answer this question: What are the qualities that you see in teachers you like the best, and the teachers you think are ineffective?

By Valerie Strauss  | September 15, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  bad teachers, good teachers, teachers  
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CHECKING IT OUT: Studies on Homework and The Value of Parent Involvement in Education

THE ISSUE: A new study challenges the notion that students are bogged down in too much homework. DISCUSSION: The research was led by Professor Kenneth A. Kiewra, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He...

By Valerie Strauss  | September 15, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Homework, Parents  | Tags:  education research, harris cooper, homework, parental involvement  
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Readers: Should Teacher Pay Be Linked to Student Test Scores?

Please post your answer, and I will blog on the best reader comments them later this afternoon. The Issue: Most public school teachers are paid today under a system that is close to 90 years old and involves allowing teachers to earn salary increases through experience and additional coursework. There is a "pay for performance" movement that would allow teacher salaries to be linked to how well a teacher does his/her job--especially by how well their students do on standardized tests and on their evaluations.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 14, 2009; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  pay for performance, school reform, teachers  
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Willingham: Student "Learning Styles" Theory Is Bunk

Guest Blogger Daniel Willingham: The Big Idea behind learning styles is that kids vary in how they learn: Some learn best by looking (visual learners), some by listening (auditory learners), and some by manipulating things (kinesthetic learners).

By Valerie Strauss  | September 14, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, Learning  | Tags:  Daniel Willingham, auditory learner, kinesthetic learner, learning styles, visual learner, visual-auditory-kinesthetic theory  
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Why Don't Kids Talk About School to Parents? .... Is It O.K. That My Kid Reads The Same Book Over and Over?

The Answer Sheet likes to start the week by answering questions from readers. Email The Sheet with any school- and kid-related question you would like to see answered here. Q) Why do kids always say “Nothing,” when parents ask...

By Valerie Strauss  | September 14, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Parents, Reading  | Tags:  parents, reading, rereading  
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