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The School Readiness Gap For decades now, educators, researchers, and policymakers have puzzled over so-called achievement gaps—the disparities in academic performance by race and ethnicity that consistently show up on standardized tests, grade-point averages, and a host of other measures. The No Child Left Behind Act seeks to narrow these gaps by mandating standards-based tests in elementary, middle, and high school, and holding schools accountable for raising scores not just overall, but among racial and ethnic subgroups. A growing body of research, however, suggests that any serious effort to eliminate disparities at the primary and secondary school levels must also address what some researchers call the school readiness gap—the variations in academic performance and certain social skills among children entering kindergarten and first grade.
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The “Data Wise” Improvement Process The package containing data from last spring’s mandatory state exam landed with a thud on principal Roger Bolton’s desk. The local newspaper had already published an article listing Franklin High as a school “in need of improvement.” Now this package from the state offered the gory details. Roger had five years of packages like this one, sharing shelf space with binders and boxes filled with results from the other assessments required by the district and state. The sheer mass of paper was overwhelming. Roger wanted to believe that there was something his faculty could learn from all these numbers that would help them increase student learning. But he didn’t know where to start.
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What Does Effective PreK Teaching Look Like? The new requirement that preK teachers in New Jersey’s Abbott districts hold a bachelor’s degree is based on the assumption that this credential makes a difference in the quality of instruction a teacher provides. Experts differ on whether a bachelor’s degree by itself can make someone a better teacher. But a number of studies have pointed to specific benefits of the degree when it is combined with specialized instruction in early childhood education.
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Bridging the PreK–Elementary Divide: Concerns about early achievement gaps prompt programs that link prekindergarten with elementary school Nap time is over, and most of the students in Miwa Takahashi’s prekindergarten class at T. T. Minor Elementary School have put away their sleeping mats and split into two groups. Eight youngsters take seats at a table with their teacher, while nine others gather around an instructional assistant a few yards away. It’s time for one of their favorite daily activities: Plan-Do-Review.
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Three Promising Initiatives: From "Bridging the PreK–Elementary Divide" States and districts throughout the country are experimenting with innovative approaches to preschool and its relationship to early elementary education.
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High School Reform the San Jose Way: It wasn't about testing, says the district's former superintendent Although high school improvement in response to California’s test-based accountability system has generally been slow, the San Jose Unified School District has stood out by showing impressive gains. Yet according to former superintendent Linda T. Murray, the improvement has had little to do with the state’s accountability system.
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Volcanoes and Huesos: An Intelligent Museum in El Paso On a recent weekday afternoon, a purple bus filled with excited three- and four-year-olds pulls up outside the new Head Start IntelliZeum on El Paso’s sprawling North Side. With the help of teachers and parents, the youngsters clamber down the steps and are ushered in groups of eight inside the sparkling, 2754-square-foot facility to an interactive exhibit known as the Dinosaur Time Zone.
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Making the Case for Heroes What made Abraham Lincoln rise from poverty and obscurity to become a wise, cunning, and compassionate president? How did he carry on during the Civil War when his son died and his generals failed? After southerners offered $40,000 for Harriet Tubman's capture, why did she repeatedly return to Maryland to rescue slaves she did not know? Why did the villagers of Le Chambon risk their lives to hide Jews from the Germans? What made Sir Thomas More defy his friend Henry VIII and die for the Catholic Church?
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The Happy Meeting of Multiple Intelligences and the Arts Contrary to what you may have heard, there is no part of the mind/brain that is dedicated specifically to the arts. Indeed, I don't believe that our species evolved over thousands of years to be able to be able to participate in the arts, except for the obvious fact that most of us are able to carry a tune or draw a house or dance in time, more or less. However, we are the kind of species that can learn to carry on those activities that are valued by our culture. And so, when we find ourselves in an environment where certain activities are held in high regards, and where we are given the opportunity to engage in those activities, most of us will turn out to be pretty good.
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Facts, Not Fads in Title I Reform It requires hard work to foster and keep good schools in poor communities, and that work has never been so important. With the trend toward resegregation and with the virtual abolishment of affirmative action, Title I remains one of the few means to narrow the achievement gap between affluent and disadvantaged children.
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