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What We’re Reading | April 5, 2013

April 5, 2013 5 minute Read by Jacqueline Lowe

Education Reform News:

U.S. middle-class students beaten on international test

A new report from America Achieves reveals America’s middle class students are lagging behind other nations. This Ed Source article examines the report which shows “a new perspective to beliefs that low-income students are most in need of better educational opportunities”. The report found that while “many assume that poverty in America is pulling down the overall U.S. scores, when you divide each nation into socio-economic quarters, you can see that even America’s middle class students are falling behind not only students of comparable advantage but also more disadvantaged students in several other countries.” The Education Reform Initiative’s Global Report Card can show you where your school district ranks compared to other OECD countries. Find out if your student is attending a school that is lagging behind.

We Need Better Principals

In her recent Op-Ed, We Need Better Principals, high school teacher Brittany Clark advocates for strong leadership in America’s schools.  Providing a teacher’s perspective, Clark opines, “effective leaders guide their teachers to become leaders” and highlights that great teachers are more likely to stay in schools when they are led by great principals.  The Bush Institute’s AREL is focused on school leadership and appreciates Clark’s first-hand insight.  As the Bush Institute’s Director of Education Reform, Dr. Kerri Briggs recently said during a panel on education, “a great education is possible with great leadership.”

Calif. Districts' Waiver Bid Now in Review Phase

Education Reform Director Dr. Kerri Briggs weighs in on waiver applications from nine districts in California that want flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act even though their state's bid for a waiver was unsuccessful in this Education Week article. The waiver application is for the group of districts known as CORE, for California Office to Reform Education. “Ms. Briggs pointed out one of the hallmarks of the NCLB law: It created an accountability and testing system that applied to every student in every district in every state. If the CORE waiver gets the green light, she said, questions of equity arise: "It's the precedent of having different standards for different kids within a state," she said.”

States Use School Score Cards to Target Climate Problems

Accountability may include more information about student achievement and engagement than just reading and mathematics scores.  Some schools across the country have been addressing school climate-related topics in a school environment where in the past, academic initiatives driven by student-achievement data have been the main focus.  According to this article, 11 states, have designed a “new score report card” for high schools to measure school climate in an attempt to put safety and discipline, student engagement, and students' connection to school on the same footing as their academic performance. Education reform’s Middle School Matters highlights research-based practices that assist middle grade teachers and campus administrators in not only addressing the academic lives of today’s middle grades students, but some of the topics that these 11 states are also focusing on.

New LiveBlog:

Bush Center Dedication Updates

Stay updated with photos, event updates, news articles and videos about the upcoming dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The Dedication Ceremony – set to take place at 10:00 a.m. on April 25th – commemorates the completion of the Bush Center by presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum to the National Archives and Records Administration. Read daily updates from the liveblog here.

What We’re Watching:

Chen Guangcheng's Conversation with Ambassador James K. Glassman

On Wednesday, April 3, the Freedom Collection broadcast a live discussion between Ambassador James K. Glassman and freedom advocate Chen Guangcheng about his continued advocacy for the rule of law and basic freedoms in China.  In case you missed it, their full conversation can be viewed here.