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The Answer Sheet: December 6, 2009 - December 12, 2009

Oh joy: Thomas Jefferson tops all other high schools--again

Here we go again: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., sits atop yet another list of the nation’s best high schools. This is, in fact, the third year in a row that U.S. News & World Report has determined that Thomas Jefferson is, in fact, the best high school in America based on a process the magazine concocted that essentially is based on standardized test scores of various kinds for different populations of students. As if test scores alone determine the quality of a score. Sigh.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 11, 2009; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  High School  | Tags:  high school rankings  
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Broaddus: Between the lines of the college admissions process

By Henry Broaddus. During a particularly stirring scene in "Dead Poets Society," the teacher played by Robin Williams asks one of his students to read from a textbook about how to evaluate poetry. The student recites, "If the poem’s score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness." By the end of the scene, at the behest of Williams, the students gleefully tear these very pages from their books and throw them in the air. Says Williams, "We’re not laying pipe. We’re talking about poetry." I feel the same way each time I disappoint a parent or student with my inability to articulate the specific GPA and test scores necessary for gaining admission to William and Mary.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 11, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Admissions, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  college admissions  
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Warning signs of violence at school

The Justice Department just issued a new guide for school communities with strategies to help prevent and respond to school violence. Here are some of them: • Has engaged in violent behavior in the past • Has tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts abnormal for someone that age • Continues exhibiting antisocial behaviors that began at an early age • Forms or maintains friendships with others who have repeatedly engaged in problem behaviors • Often engages in name calling, cursing, or abusive language • Has brought a weapon or has threatened to bring a weapon to school • Has a substance abuse problem • Seems preoccupied with weapons or violence, especially weapons associated more with killing humans than with target practice or hunting

By Valerie Strauss  | December 11, 2009; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Bullying, Health, Parents  | Tags:  signs of potential violence  
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New school crime statistics: 32% of students reported being bullied

The federal government just released the latest available statistics on crime and violence in the nation’s public schools. Here are some of the findings: *Among youth ages 5-18, there were 43 school-associated violent deaths, including 21 homicides and five suicides. *Eighty-five percent of public schools recorded at least one violent crime, theft or other crime. *--Twenty one percent of students said that they had experienced bullying that consisted of being made fun of

By Valerie Strauss  | December 11, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Tags:  crime at school  
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The effects of tracking students in school

A new report out today makes the case that students do better when they are in separated in school into groups based on their achievement. Do they?

By Valerie Strauss  | December 10, 2009; 3:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Tags:  tracking students  
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Real role models: Kids who use adversity to help others

Heard enough about Tiger Woods as a fallen role model? My colleague Tracee Hamilton, in her Post column today, makes definitive mincemeat out of anybody who thought Woods was a role model in more than great golfing technique. How about teenager Brryan Jackson as a role model for kids? When he was 11 months old, his father intentionally injected him with HIV-tainted blood, hoping to avoid paying child support. Brryan got AIDS but survived and is doing amazing things to help others.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 10, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Civics Education, Learning  | Tags:  kids as role models, role models  
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High School Report: Montgomery Blair is world champ in knowledge competition

It seems wrong that the only discussion of Montgomery Blair High School on The Sheet has been about the unfortunate closing bathrooms during lunch. Here’s something else you should know about the school: Blair came out on top in the 53rd biannual Knowledge Master Open--out of 678 teams from around the world.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 10, 2009; 8:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  High School, Montgomery County Public Schools  | Tags:  montgomery county public schools  
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An excellent mistake

A Virginia school handed out to students certificates of excellence for academic achievement with the word EXCELLENCE spelled incorrectly.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 9, 2009; 12:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  High School  | Tags:  Lake Braddock Secondary School  
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An anti-bullying program that works

An elementary school teacher describes the steps his school took to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention program. "It paid off," he said.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 9, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Bullying  | Tags:  bullying  
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Paying kids to attend school is not always a bad idea

I began to reconsider my opposition to paying kids for school attendance and high grades when I heard Geoffrey Canada, the maestro of the Harlem Children's Zone, laugh about that position and then explain why he does it.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 9, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Tags:  Harlem Children's Zone, school reform  
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Talking Out of School with.... southern cooking guru Paula Deen

Paula Deen is a self-educated success story who learned the secrets of Southern cooking from her grandmother and turned it into an empire using common sense. Here's an interview about her formal--and not so formal--education, and what she thinks people who want to go into the food industry should learn.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 8, 2009; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Talking Out of School  | Tags:  Paula Deen, Talking Out of School  
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Maryland seeks parents who are superstar school volunteers

See if you know anybody who is as involved in public schools as Kristen Ruiz, who served as president of three PTA organizations in Prince George’s County--in elementary, middle and high schools--at the same time because she had a child in each one. The state of Maryland is looking for nominations for its 2010 parent involvement award.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 8, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Parents  | Tags:  parent involvement  
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An education job you may want

I want this education job. Here’s what Assistant Education Secretary Peter Cunningham is doing today while you are in your office: He’s continuing his “Pacific Islands Listening and Learning” tour in Hawaii. Yes, he’s listening and learning in Hawaii.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 8, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  | Tags:  Education Secretary Duncan, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  
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Willingham: An online teaching surprise

By Daniel Willingham. The benefits of online schooling have always seemed obvious to me: A student can work at his or her own pace and desired time and will likely have a larger selection of courses from which to choose. The chief drawback of online schooling was equally obvious to me: The teacher-student relationship, funneled through an Internet connection, would necessarily suffer. How could a teacher really get to know students when all of the interactions were via email and webcams?

By Valerie Strauss  | December 7, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, Teachers  | Tags:  online learning, teachers  
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Debating the value of the SAT, ACT

Last month a critic of standardized tests, blasted the SAT and the ACT college admissions tests, calling them biased, inaccurate and misused. Today a critic of the critic takes issue with some of the criticism. The argument is revealing about the nature of these exams and how they are used by admissions offices.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 7, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  College Admissions, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  ACT, SAT, college admissions  
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