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The Answer Sheet: April 18, 2010 - April 24, 2010

Senior slump: A cautionary tale

College admissions consultant Bruce Vinik writes about how hard it is for many 12th graders to focus on their school work. As May approaches, even high achieving students give serious consideration to skipping their Advanced Placement exams and heading to the beach. But senior slump is serious business to colleges. Here's a cautionary tale.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 24, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Bruce Vinik, College Admissions, Guest Bloggers, High School  | Tags:  college admissions, getting into college, grades and college, senior slump, senior year grades  
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Straight talk about charter schools

A hearing held in New York City this week about sounded more like a brawl than the information-gathering session it was intended to be. Read some of the testimony given by education historian Diane Ravitch, which was received by charter advocates as heresy.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 24, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Charter schools  | Tags:  Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch, Ravitch and book, bill perkins and charters, charter schools, charter schools and hearing, new york city charter schools  
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Even more education trouble in Florida

The Florida Legislature doesn't give up trying to drastically change the public education system: Now it is considering legislation that, if ultimately approved by lawmakers and then the voters in a referendum, would allow direct public funding of religious schools.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 23, 2010; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  Florida and education, Florida and teachers, Florida vouchers, church and state and Florida, referendum on Blaine Amendment and Florida, teachers tenure bill and Florida  
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NFL draft: Top schools and their graduation rates

With the NFL draft underway, here's a look at the schools that have had the most players drafted over the years-- and each team's graduation rates. Some of them are well below 50 percent.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 23, 2010; 10:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Higher Education, Sports  | Tags:  NCAA, NFL and drafted players and schools, NFL draft, Ohio state and graduation rate, UCLA and graduation rate, University of Miami and graduation rate, football team graduation rates, graduation rates, higher education, schools with the most drafted players  
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Who’s afraid of the TerraNova 2 test?

A Montgomery County mother writes about trying not to get stressed out about the standardized tests -- the TerraNova2 -- being given to public school kids next week. But, she finds, it isn't so easy.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 23, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Montgomery County Public Schools, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  Montgomery County schools, TerraNova2, montgomery county schools and terranova, standardized tests  
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Should professor be allowed to run a sex Web site?

A tenured California university professor is operating a Web site that caters to people interested in Thailand's sex tourism and school officials say they can't do anything about it.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 22, 2010; 12:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  BigBabyKenny.com, California State University at Northridge, Kenneth Ng, higher education, sex website, tenured professor  
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Volcanic ash may disrupt college admissions process

Add one more thing that may be disrupted by the eruption of a volcano in Iceland and the ash cloud spreading above Europe: U.S. college admissions.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 22, 2010; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Civics Education  | Tags:  association for college admissions counseling, college admissions process, effects of volcano eruption, may 1st acceptance date, nacac, volcano and college admissions  
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Obama should call an education summit

By Mark Phillips. President Obama should call an education summit meeting if he wants to have credibility as a leader of school reform. It should include our most eminent educational leaders as well as teacher organization heads. It is not too late to reshape his policies but this must happen in a hurry.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 22, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, Guest Bloggers, Race to the Top  | Tags:  Arne Duncan and schools, President Obama and schools, Race to the Top, school reform  
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Bill Gates's college tour

Bill Gates just finished his three-day 2010 College Tour, during which he went five of the country's most elite schools and urged the brightest minds to work on overcoming the world's biggest problems. In the United States, urban education is one of those problems, but Gates's own record on school reform is hardly stellar.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 22, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Tags:  Bill Gates, Bill Gates and college tour, gates foundation, gates foundation and education reform  
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Should public schools teach gun safety? Virginia schools may

What with the deep concern in the country that too many kids can’t read or write on grade level, and that most kids don’t know anything about financial literacy or can’t name the first five presidents, guess what subject the Virginia General Assembly wants public elementary schools to teach? Gun safety.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 3:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Elementary School, Health  | Tags:  National Rifle Association, National Rifle Association and gun safety program, Virginia General Assembly and schools, Virginia schools, Virginia schools to teach gun safety, teaching gun safety, the NRA and gun safety  
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Student: Do, kids, teachers on Facebook really want privacy?

A high school student writes about just how much privacy kids and teacher on Facebook really want.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Student Life, Technology  | Tags:  Facebook privacy, Facebook privacy changes, bishop mcnamara high school, teachers on facebook  
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Race to Top winners chosen arbitrarily -- new report

A new report by an independent institute says that the first winners in President Obama's "Race to the Top" education funding competition were chosen through “arbitrary criteria," rather than through an objective process.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, Race to the Top, Research  | Tags:  RTTT criteria, Race to the Top, Race to the Top criteria, criteria for race to the top, education blueprint and obama, race to the top point system, report on race to the top, rttt point system, the blueprint, winners of Race to the Top  
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Is it really harder to get into top colleges?

Here's a new look at whether it really is harder for students to get into the nation's top colleges and universities at a time when the institutions' acceptances rates are exremely low and the number of applications they receive are skyrocketing.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 7:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Admissions  | Tags:  college acceptance rates, college admissions, getting into Harvard, jay mathews, selectivity rates, the class struggle, the education sector, the quick and the ed  
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College Tour '10: Princeton University

My daughter didn’t want to go at first. She thought that Princeton was going to be snooty. But we were in the region and I thought we should visit, so we went and took a tour. She got a huge surprise.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 12:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10, Princeton University, college tour, planning a college tour, taking a college tour, visiting colleges, visiting schools  
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College Tour '10: Penn State University

Starting with the admissions presentation and continuing all the way through the tour, the constant theme was about the University’s sports programs and that they are a ’Big Ten’ school. The mock dorm room size was OK but the residences lack Wi-Fi, the buildings are very dated (60’s), except for the Sports facilities, with no visible upgrades and are not air conditioned. The dorm common rooms were sparse, cold and empty. The actual classroom was very small, and, my daughter noted, was poorly equipped compared to her current high school classrooms.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 12:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  Big Ten schools, College Tour '10, Penn State University, campuses that have wireless, college tour, wired campuses  
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College Tour '10: Vassar College #2

From a dad’s perspective it felt a little frou frou, as the kids talked about dorm competitions for seniors. I kept thinking, ‘My God, they are going to go out of their minds doing dorm competitions when they are 22 years old.’ But the [coeducational] school is beautiful, and my daughter loved it.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 12:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10, Vasser College, campus visits, college visits, visiting schools  
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College Tour '10: Haverford College #2

My daughter had a different kind of reaction... This selection process is happening just the way I dreamed. She’s getting the gestalt, and rather than going on what kids are saying in the hallway at school, or what all those college books say, she is starting to see the reality of the schools and seeing where she fits in.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 12:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10, College of William & Mary, Haverford College, Princeton University and visiting, college visits, visiting Haverford College, visiting campuses  
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Obama repeals Bush-era Title IX policy

The Obama administration is throwing out a Bush-era policy under the Title IX gender equity law that critics said made it easy for schools and colleges to avoid offering equal opportunities for women in athletics. Critics say the change is unwarranted.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 20, 2010; 12:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Sports  | Tags:  Obama administration, Obama and Title IX, Title IX, athletics in schools, discrimination against women  
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Did DOE get memo on school desegregation?

Century Foundation scholar Richard Kahlenberg asks why the U.S. Education Department is not forcefully addressing the profound challenge to equal opportunity today – the de facto economic and racial segregation of America’s suburban and city schools

By Valerie Strauss  | April 19, 2010; 10:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Equity, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  DOE, Education Department and segregation, Justice Department and school segregation, Walthall County and schools, civil rights, desegregation of schools, school busing, school desegregation, school resegregation  
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Maryland’s big education mistake

Education officials in state after state are moving to contort their elementary and secondary school systems to align with the priorities of Education Secretary Arne Duncan to win some of the $3 billion being dangled by the Obama administration in its Race to the Top competition. It is especially unfortunate to Maryland, a state with a well-regarded education system, promote reforms that include some that have no basis in research--or in common sense.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 19, 2010; 10:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Race to the Top, Teachers  | Tags:  Duncan and Race to the Top, Maryland Race to the Top proposal, Maryland schools, Obama and Race to the Top, Obama and schools, Race to the Top, performance pay and teachers, teacher pay, teacher pay for performance, teachers, value added models  
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An analysis of pay-for-grades schemes -- Willingham

Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham from the University of Virginia writes about the results of experiments in school districts to pay students for their work, and explains the psychological reasons it sometimes works--and sometimes doesn't.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 19, 2010; 10:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Daniel Willingham, Grades, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  Daniel Willingham, Harvard project and paying for grades, grades, guest bloggers, paying for grades  
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College Tour -- St. Mary's College

I liked everything about it, and didn’t expect to. On line it doesn’t look like the other schools I had visited. I wasn’t expecting it to be so beautiful. There’s lots of green going on, with fields and a lot of open space.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 19, 2010; 9:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10, St. Mary's College, campus visits, visiting colleges  
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College Tour '10 -- Lafayette College

The freshman year curriculum, and even in the years afterward, seems to be very writing-centric. They demand a lot of writing and want to teach you to be a better writer. That’s really cool.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 19, 2010; 9:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10, Lafayette College, college visits, visiting campuses  
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How writing improves reading skills--study

It is often said that reading can improve a student’s writing. A new study says the reverse--that writing can improve reading skills as well as content learning--is equally true, and identifies three ways that teachers and even parents can help students make the connection.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 19, 2010; 9:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Reading, Research, Writing  | Tags:  new study on reading, new study on writing, reading research, study in reading, study on writing, teaching reading skills, teaching writing skills, writing research  
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New analysis of violence on campus

Colleges and universities should strategically review their threat assessment capacities because some of the conventional beliefs about these attacks are not accurate, a new report issued by the federal government says. For example, while much attention is given to the “traveling” attacker, such as the student who killed 32 students in a shooting spree at Virginia Tech in 2007, only 3 percent of the attackers acctually move from building to building.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 19, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Higher Education, Research  | Tags:  campus violence, research on campus violence, school violence, study on campus violence, violence at school  
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GWU, Princeton among colleges rejecting iPad

Some colleges embrace Apple's new iPad, but some are rejecting it for now. And Israel is confiscating iPads at customs.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 18, 2010; 11:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Higher Education, Technology  | Tags:  Cornell and iPad, GWU and iPad, IPad, Princeton and iPad, colleges reject iPad, iPads  
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