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The Answer Sheet: March 14, 2010 - March 20, 2010

The dangerous job of DOE's special agents

How dangerous can an assignment be for an Education Department special agent? Pretty hazardous, a department spokeswoman said. That’s why the special agents carry guns. They sometimes deal with pretty

By Valerie Strauss  | March 20, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan  | Tags:  Education Department, guns  
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The Mosquito ring tone: Kids hear it, adults can't

Some kids recently held up a cell phone in the air and asked if I heard anything. I didn’t. Another cell phone went up and, again, I didn’t hear anything. I asked why they were trying to make me look like an idiot. They said they were testing a ring tone advertised as being audible to kids but not adults. I thought they were making it up. They weren't. Kids use it in school and late at night when they are supposed to be sleeping. They said they weren’t; they were testing to see if a ring tone they had downloaded really worked as advertised: Kids and teens can hear it but adults can’t.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 19, 2010; 3:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Student Life  | Tags:  Mosquito ring tone  
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School restructuring and AYP

It’s a good thing that President Obama wants to eliminate the requirement in No Child Left Behind that required schools to prove that students were making “adequate yearly progress.” A new report shows one-third of the nation’s public schools failed to meet AYP targets in the 2008-09 school year. But Obama's faith in restructuring of schools that don't meet AYP is misplaced. An article by Alexander Russo explains some unexpected consequences of restructuring.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 18, 2010; 11:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  No Child Left Behind  | Tags:  NCLB, No Child Left Behind, President Obama, restructuring schools; education reform  
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Teacher who hung Obama in effigy should go

The teacher at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island who hung President OBama in effigy--apparently in reaction to Obama’s support of the firings--should go.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 18, 2010; 5:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, No Child Left Behind, Teachers  | Tags:  President Obama, central falls, rhode island school, teachers fired  
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DOE's pistols and shotguns

After writing last week that the Education Department was buying 29 new shotguns, I asked officials there to explain how many weapons it has, who carries them, why, and whether shots have ever been fired in enforcement actions. Here are the answers.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 18, 2010; 3:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan  | Tags:  ed department guns, education department  
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Video game hurts schoolwork of boys--study

Researchers are trying to tell parents something about video games: New studies show that they can affect test scores in young boys, and violent games can foster aggressive behavior in gamers.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 18, 2010; 1:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Health, Research  | Tags:  video games, violent video games  
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A principal critiques Obama’s education plan

George Wood, principal of Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, Ohio, looks at President Obama's blueprint for rewriting No Child Left Behind. He applauds some of it but is disappointed in major parts, including a continued reliance on standardized testing.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 18, 2010; 9:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  George Wood, Guest Bloggers, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  | Tags:  No Child Left Behind  
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College visits: The ‘East Coast’ thing

A loyal reader writes to ask if I am some sort of an East Coast snob, and further wonders why so many Maryland kids stay on the East Coast for college.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 18, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Admissions  | Tags:  college admissions, college visits  
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Moco schools won't make up snow days

Montgomery County public schools will not have to make up the five days that the schools were closed because of snow, a school official said today.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 17, 2010; 4:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Montgomery County Public Schools  | Tags:  Montgomery County Public Schools  
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New MIT study on student cheating

What surprised me most about a new study on cheating at MIT--which concludes that copying homework can lead to lower grades--was that kids cheat at the prestigious school, which only admits brainy kids who don’t need to cheat.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 17, 2010; 4:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Higher Education, Research  | Tags:  MIT, cheating, education research  
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World premiere of 'Wimpy Kid' movie at Virginia school

An Alexandria, Va., elementary school beat out 5,000 schools in a contest to win the right to host the world premiere of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," which opens Friday. The screening is tomorrow--but only school kids can get in.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 17, 2010; 1:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Tags:  Diary of a Wimpy Kid  
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Texas and its history mess--deja vu all over again

Texas is under scrutiny for silly and historically inaccurate revisions that its state board of education made to its American history curriculum. But it's not the first time Texas has been in a mess with its history textbooks.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 17, 2010; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  History  | Tags:  Texas history standards  
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March Madness: What's the academic effect?

A nationwide independent poll funded and conducted by me strongly suggests that during the three-week NCAA championship tournament, many classes will be cancelled, the minds of many students will wander and very little in the way of academics will get done at dozens of schools across the country over the next few weeks.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 17, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  march madness, ncaa tournament  
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College Tour ’10: Tell us about your college visits

It's that time of year when high school juniors hit the road with their families to visit colleges and universities. We want you to tell us about your experiences, and we'll post them for readers to learn about places they don't have time to visit.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 16, 2010; 4:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Admissions, College Tour '10  | Tags:  college admissions, college tour  
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Terps Coach Williams: Keep college advising to yourself

Terrapins Coach Williams commits a technical foul when he reacts negatively to an annual study that showed that the University of Maryland at College Park has the lowest graduation rate--8 percent--among the 65 teams in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 16, 2010; 1:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  University of Maryland  | Tags:  NCAA, Terps, University of Maryland  
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Jay Mathews (and Obama) vs. me on tests

My unrivaled colleague Jay Mathews says I wrote that standardized tests "are too unreliable to tolerate.” I didn't exactly write that. Here is where Jay and I part company on the issue of how we use standardized tests.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 16, 2010; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, No Child Left Behind, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  No Child Left Behind, standardized tes  
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Latest college trend: Mixed-gender dorm rooms

Men and women are sharing dormitory rooms at about 50 colleges and universities around the country, the latest step in the evolution of dorm living.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 16, 2010; 9:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  College Life  | Tags:  college dorm, college life  
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Principal scolds parents

The principal of Whitman High School scolds a group of parents and community residents for over-the-top opposition to a student-supported proposal to erect a cell tower on the school premises--and then pulls the plug on the project.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 16, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Montgomery County Public Schools  | Tags:  Montgomery County Public Schools  
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Former Bush official backs student loan reform

A former Bush administration official whose job it was to implement No Child Left Behind is urging her fellow Republicans to pass student loan reform legislation that also helps community colleges and early childhood education.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 15, 2010; 7:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  College Costs, Community Colleges, Early Childhood, No Child Left Behind  | Tags:  No Child Left Behind, student loans  
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Willingham on school choice

By Daniel Willingham. The cognitive scientist looks at Diane Ravitch's conclusion on school choice in her new book, "The Death and Life of the American School System" as well as other views on how the experiment has worked across the country.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 15, 2010; 9:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  Daniel Willingham, charter schools, guest bloggers  
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On Obama (and Jay Mathews) and teacher accountability

Let's get real about "teacher accountability." Using student standardized test scores to judge the effectiveness of teachers is wrong--and saying so doesn't make anyone an opponent of holding teachers accountable.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 15, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  No Child Left Behind, Standardized Tests, Teachers  | Tags:  No Child Left Behind, President Obama  
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