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Class Struggle: December 20, 2009 - December 26, 2009

How fashion frustrates school improvement

In the music and clothing industries, ideas have a shelf life. New approaches are embraced for their novelty. Fashion rules. Changes occur often. That’s fine for those enterprises. But is it a good idea to write off successful school programs just because they have been around for awhile?

By Jay Mathews  |  December 25, 2009; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags: Direct Instruction, James P. Comer, School Development Program, Success for All, child and adolescent development, school improvement  
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What are you doing here? Go be Christmasy.

You will also find a new Friday column as usual here on Christmas day. It is exclusive to the Web site. I can do pretty much what I want with it. My editors seem to worry less about it since it doesn't appear in print, an old-fashioned view, but there it is.

By Jay Mathews  |  December 23, 2009; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Extra Credit  | Tags: Christmas Eve, Jay Mathews is a dork, No Local Living column, family oriented editors  
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One way to reduce standardized test load--make them shorter

If the common core standards are ready this spring, Paul says, the first tests based on them should be given to everyone the following spring. This can be done by including in the first tests just those elements that are ready to go, and add more complex features later.

By Jay Mathews  |  December 23, 2009; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Accelerated Reader, Terry Paul, computer adaptive tests, formative tests, shortening tests, state tests, summative tests  
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U.S. in decline--where's the evidence?

"In 2006, nearly 500,000 15-year-olds in 57 countries took a two-hour test, PISA," Glass wrote. ""PISA 2006 had its share of absurdities and inconsistencies. The United States scores above Israel and Norway in science but below Azerbaijan and Ireland in math. From 2003 to 2006, Mexico gained 21 points in math while France lost 15 points. What possible policy implications could such data hold?"

By Jay Mathews  |  December 22, 2009; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: America in decline, Gene V. Glass, PISA tests, Thomas L. Friedman  
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When teachers reject the Internet

Thompson’s daughter announced on Thanksgiving break she had no homework. Her mother was suspicious. She emailed the teacher. No answer. Two days after school resumed, she sent another message, cc’ing the principal. The teacher was discontinuing the web site, the principal replied. She felt it was not a useful tool, too much of a bother when she had different assignments for gifted and regular kids.

By Jay Mathews  |  December 20, 2009; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (61)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: 21st century education, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, homework online, section 504, teachers fail to post assignments  
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