Content

Across the Nation
Failing Schools See a Solution in Longer Day
To Be AP, Courses Must Pass Muster
Restrooms Awash in Trouble for Schools
Special School Programs for Blacks: Racist or Essential?
Cheating Can Tempt Test Givers
Removing Schools' Soda Is Sticky Point
Experts: Testing Companies "Buckling" Under Weight of NCLB
Many Teachers See Failure in Students' Future

In Federal Policy
Striving Readers Act Introduced to Improve Adolescent Literacy
Science Lab Experience Necessary for Success
No Child Left Behind Act Losing Steam

In the States
MD Plan Targets Middle Schools
More Michigan Students Earning Diplomas, Degrees
Plan Bans Illinois Schools' Immigration Question
Kentucky Task Force Approves Steps to Ease "Crisis" in Science, Math
Texas Educators Split on Bilingual Classes
Ohio Could Become Eighth State to Reject Abstinence-Only Money

Other News and Highlights
NASSP Seeks Principal to Lead Middle Level Center
Remember Victims of the Holocaust

 


Across the Nation

Failing Schools See a Solution in Longer Day
States and school districts nationwide are moving to lengthen the day at struggling schools, spurred by grim test results suggesting that more than 10,000 schools are likely to be declared failing under federal law next year. New York Times, 3/26/07

To Be AP, Courses Must Pass Muster
The College Board, publisher of the AP exams, is auditing every AP course in the nation, asking teachers of an estimated 130,000 AP courses to furnish written proof by June 1 that the courses they teach are worthy of the brand. An explosion in AP study has bred worry, particularly among college leaders, of a decline in the rigor for which the courses are known. Washington Post, 3/25/07

 

Each year, Newsweek magazine publishes the Challenge Index, which ranks schools on the basis of the number of AP and IB tests students take. Jay Mathews, creator of the index, discussed the project in an article for Principal Leadership magazine, "Meeting the Challenge." (Member log-in required. Not a member? Join now!)

Restrooms Awash in Trouble for Schools
Water or urine covers the floor. Toilet paper clogs the toilets. Graffiti, sometimes gang symbols, shout from the walls. This is what a restroom in many schools looks like. The problem isn't new, but it's getting a lot of attention lately. One high school made the national news after locking most restrooms during class in response to someone scratching swastikas on the walls. It's a dilemma that pits personal health and comfort against safety concerns, and a student's desire for privacy against the school's right to protect its property. St. Petersburg Times, 3/23/07

 

During the last month of school, student behavior can deteriorate. Sign up for the April 4 Web seminar, Dealing With Bad Behavior From Good Kids: Surviving Spring While Preparing for Fall, featuring renowned school safety consultant and Safe &Civil Schools Director Randy Sprick, for specific tips on mitigating such behavior with five categories of simple, commonsense behavior intervention. Implementing these five categories can result in a productive (as opposed to destructive) end of the school year.

Special School Programs for Blacks: Racist or Essential?
For decades, school districts have organized around a simple idea: Whatever you give to White students, give it to Black students, too. Put both groups of students in the same schools. Expose them to the same teaching. If they struggle, give them the same help. Now, the plaintiffs of a class-action lawsuit say the policy of equal access has failed the Pinellas County school district's 20,000 Black students. St. Petersburg Times, 3/25/07

Cheating Can Tempt Test Givers
As pressure grows for students, teachers, and administrators to increase performance on high-stakes standardized tests, so has the temptation to cheat. It led the Maryland Department of Education to randomly dispatch monitors to 45 schools to ensure security of the annual Maryland State Assessment tests. Baltimore Sun, 3/21/07

Removing Schools' Soda Is Sticky Point
Less than a year after the nation's largest beverage companies pledged to remove high-calorie drinks and limit sugary beverages in all schools, districts across the country are finding that they may not be able to afford the switch because of contracts they signed several years ago with bottlers for the companies. Washington Post, 3/22/07
Related items:
Lunch Lady With a Mission: Getting Kids to Eat Healthy
Lawmakers and Industry Examine Nutrition in Schools
A How-To Guide for School-Business Partnerships

Experts: Testing Companies "Buckling" Under Weight of NCLB
A handful of companies create, print, and score most of the tests in the United States and they're struggling with a workload that has exploded since President Bush signed the education reform package in 2002. CNN.com, 3/25/07

Many Teachers See Failure in Students' Future
In a wide-ranging survey, nearly one in four teachers in urban schools paint a sobering picture of students there. They say most children "would not be successful at a community college or university." Even more say students "are not motivated to learn." USA Today, 3/27/07

 

The Principal's Book Club
Looking for guidance on supporting your new teachers? Join The Principal's Book Club by June 14 and receive the July book, Leading the Teacher Induction and Mentoring Program, 2nd Edition.

In Federal Policy

Striving Readers Act Introduced to Improve Adolescent Literacy
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Striving Readers Act to provide grants to states and districts to create literacy programs specifically for middle and high school students. The legislation will help ensure that students at risk of dropping out because they read below grade level receive the literacy interventions they need to earn a high school diploma. Principal’s Policy Blog, 3/26/07

Science Lab Experience Necessary for Success
Students across the country may be losing out on valuable laboratory experience that would prepare them for careers in science and mathematics, warned witnesses at a March hearing of the Research and Science Education Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee. "For our country to compete in the global marketplace, our students must be provided with an education that prepares them for college and eventually to compete for high-tech jobs," said subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA). Principal’s Policy Blog, 3/21/07

No Child Left Behind Act Losing Steam
Support for the No Child Left Behind Act is fraying as it heads into reauthorization this year. The heaviest criticism is coming from within President Bush’s own party. Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate introduced bills that allow states to opt out of most of the law's requirements, while keeping federal funding. Backers of NCLB say that move would gut the law. But even supporters say that changes are needed. Christian Science Monitor, 3/21/07

 

Consensus is growing that changes are required in the reauthorization of NCLB. Familiarize yourself with NASSP’s recommendation for NCLB reauthorization and use the Principal’s Legislative Action Center to make sure your elected officials are familiar with them as well.

 

In the States

MD Plan Targets Middle Schools
Anne Arundel County school officials hope new recommendations to overhaul middle schools through smaller classes, mentoring programs, and more counselors will help curb an alarming statistic the district has struggled with for years: More than a third of high school freshmen have D-averages or are failing. Baltimore Sun, 3/23/07

 

Transitions to ninth grade challenge schools across the nation. If you missed the Web seminar, "Ninth Grade: Our Last Chance," you can still purchase the archived Webcast. Visit www.nassp.org/webseminars for more information.

More Michigan Students Earning Diplomas, Degrees
While Michigan's economic forecast has been quite gloomy recently, a new census report offers a break from the clouds. An increasing percentage of Michigan residents have earned high school diplomas and college degrees, according to education data released from the U.S. Census Bureau. Detroit News, 3/26/07

Plan Bans Illinois Schools' Immigration Question
It's a no-no for Illinois public schools to deny enrollment based on a student's immigration status or to ask if they're here illegally, state officials say, but apparently some schools didn't get the memo. Chicago Sun-Times, 3/22/07

Kentucky Task Force Approves Steps to Ease "Crisis" in Science, Math
A statewide task force approved eight recommendations to address what it called a "national crisis" in science and mathematics that is damaging the United States' ability to compete in a global economy. The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Task Force's recommendations include professional development and incentives for teachers and partnering with businesses. Lexington Herald-Leader, 3/21/07

Texas Educators Split on Bilingual Classes
In a school district with the region's highest percentage of children with limited English skills, a rift has emerged over the best way to educate them. The Irving, TX, school board president proposed a pilot program in English immersion. But his idea was quickly shot down. The superintendent told him it was against the law; the state requires bilingual education. Dallas Morning News, 3/21/07

Ohio Could Become Eighth State to Reject Abstinence-Only Money
Ohio might become the eighth state to reject federal money for abstinence-only sex education—a decision that public-policy groups say is part of a nationwide shift toward more-comprehensive sex-ed programs. Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/27/07

Other News and Highlights

NASSP Seeks Principal to Lead Middle Level Center
NASSP seeks an experienced middle level principal to fill the position of Principal for the Center for Middle Level Leadership. Candidates must have considerable experience as a middle level educator and must demonstrate an understanding of the connection between school reform and strong middle level concepts.

Remember Victims of the Holocaust
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has created a Web site with tips on organizing a Day of Remembrance at your school around the 2007 theme, Children in Crisis: Voices from the Holocaust. This year's observances will take place April 14–22.