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Curiosity in the Classroom Designed to Get Students and Teachers Excited about Science and Math

If you ask a student if he or she were interested in math and science, statistics say they would more than likely give a resounding no over a yes. However, if you ask them if they are curious, they might be more apt to give a positive answer. A new site, CuriosityintheClassroom.com, capitalizes on this spirit of inquiry that children have by providing engaging learning materials for them, their parents, and their teachers.

Curiosity in the Classroom, a venture between Discovery Education and Intel Corporation, encourages students in grades 6-12 to ask questions and find ways to answer them.

Does our brain store all the memories we’ve ever had?

How many texts does an average teen send per month?

Are robots “intelligent”?

The answers may surprise you, and this website answers all of these questions and more.

This interest in scientific findings is more than just a way for kids to pass the time, it may be essential to their later success in finding employment, a career, and the good of the country as a whole. Resources on the website for teachers include troubling research about students’ perceptions of their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills, which are fields in which the demand is increasing, the unemployment rates are low, and the pay is great. Read the rest of this entry »

Amidst Testing Scandal Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson Resigns

Florida’s education commissioner Gerard Robinson announced his resignation and will leave his post by August 31 of this year. This news comes amid a lot of controversy in Florida surrounding some issues with the state’s standardized test-based accountability system. Robinson has only been in office for a year after being recruited from Virginia where he served as education secretary.

Although the reason cited for Robinson’s resignation is that he missed his family that never relocated to Florida with him, many suspect that he was the fall guy for several scandals associated with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test exams, or the FCAT. Some may be thinking that if Robinson is gone the suspicion around the testing scandal will quietly fade away with him. Read the rest of this entry »

Charter School Mogul Dorothy Brown is Charged with Misusing Funds

Residents in Philadelphia must certainly be looking at charter schools a little differently today after Dorothy June Hairston Brown – a charter school mogul in the city – was charged with defrauding more than $6.5 million in taxes from three of her charter schools. Brown and four of her colleagues were charged on July 24, 2012 and have been indicted with more than 60 counts of wire fraud, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.

In the past, Brown had earned a reputation for improving students’ test scores. However, she was also known for suing parents who questioned her practices and claiming large salaries.

“The indictment in this cases alleges that June Brown and her four co-conspirators used the charter school system to engage in rampant fraud and obstruction,” said U.S. Attorney Zane David Merneger. “My office will continue to vigorously investigate and pursue those charter school operators who defraud the taxpayers and deprive our children of funds for their education.” Read the rest of this entry »

Florida Schools Should Quit Focusing on Grades to Evaluate Success

Continuing its streak for not being accountable, the Florida Department of Education recently announced that it incorrectly graded hundreds of schools across the state. In fact, 40 out of 60 school districts in the state were affected by this miscalculation of grades.

This error occurred when the FDOE omitted one part of the newly revised and very complex grading formula that is used to evaluate the schools. Since the error was discovered, the grades have been corrected, resulting in 116 schools seeing their grades increase from a B to an A, 55 seeing their grades increased from a C to a B, and 35 schools seeing their grades increase from a D to a C.

School grades are important to students, parents, teachers, principals, administrators, and the community,” said Gerard Robinson, Commissioner of Education. “And, while I am pleased that the continuous review process has resulted in better grades, we will continue to look for ways to improve the grade calculation process.”

The school grades are based mainly on a standardized test that focuses on reading, writing, math, and science called the FCAT. The results of these grades are used for a number of purposes, including determining which schools receive financial rewards. However, many people are saying this test is too rigorous for most students and that students might feel too discouraged after taking it.

Rick Roach, an educator who took the FCAT and did not pass, made his results public.

“It seems to me something is seriously wrong here,” he said about the test. “If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.”

Roach currently has two master’s degrees and is a member of the Orange County School Board.

So, it seems that perhaps the Florida Department of Education should take a look at what it has been doing lately, concerning standardized tests and grading of schools in the state. Perhaps grades are not all they are cracked up to be.

“Moving forward, we need to focus our attention on the quality of the work produced and student achievement, not just a letter grade,” said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.

Via The Huffington Post

Also Read:

Students in Florida Attend Virtual Schools with No Teachers

It’s the End of No Child Left Behind: Now What?

Later Start Times in High School Would Help Student Performance

Chicago Schools Implement Longer School Days without Angering Teachers’ Union

How do you make two parties who want opposing things happy? Well, if one party is a mayor who wants a longer school day and if the other is a teachers’ union that wants to keep their work day the same length of time, you can look to Chicago to find the answer.

Instead of forcing the current teachers to work a day that is 20 percent longer than the days they worked last year, the city has decided to hire more teachers to make up the extra time. The extra time in the school day will be filled with extracurricular classes, such as art, music, and PE.

Just where will these teachers come from? That’s another brilliant part of the solution: the teachers will be selected from a pool of teachers who were laid off since 2010.

However, the question still remains as to where the school district will find the $40-$50 million required to pay all of these new/returning teachers. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s the End of No Child Left Behind: Now What?

Five months ago, President Obama began releasing schools from the requirements set out for them in the No Child Left Behind education law. Today, more than half of the schools in the nation are free from these requirements. This is leading some to ask whether No Child Left Behind has been nullified.

On July 6, the Department of Education released two more states – Washington and Wisconsin – from the law. This means that now 26 states do not have to meet the requirements set forth by No Child Left Behind in order to receive federal funding. An additional 10 states and the District of Columbia are on the waiting list to be released from No Child Left Behind.

“The more waivers there are, the less there really is a law, right?” said Andy Porter, dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Read the rest of this entry »

NYC Pre-Kindergarten Program Funds Being Misused by Contractors

New York City obviously thinks that providing special education for pre-kindergarten students is very important, since the city just agreed to pay private contractors $1 billion to teach the kiddos. This amount is almost twice as much as they paid in 2006.

Around 25,000 students will benefit from this program. All of these students suffer from various developmental, learning, physical, or other disabilities. Although the number of students who benefit from these pre-k special education programs have been slowly increasing, the costs per child have been increasing more rapidly. The average cost per child is now about $40,000 each year. However, the expenses for some students can be as high as $200,000.

Where is the money going? The city pays private contractors to offer classes at day care centers, nursery schools, and even in the students’ homes. The classes consist of physical, occupational, and speech therapy sessions that last 30-minutes.

Although this is obviously an important and valuable resource for pre-kindergarten students, education and budget officials are not thrilled with the cost of these programs. Read the rest of this entry »

At Brooklyn’s Intermediate School 318, Chess is King

If you had walked into Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn early last week, you would have heard a loud roar coming from the classrooms. You might have thought it was pep-rally for the school’s football team, or something like that. However, if you had walked into the classroom where the most noise was coming from, you would have seen that instead of cheerleaders and a marching band, it was six high-speed chess matches that were making all of the ruckus. At Intermediate School 318, chess is serious business. Why, you might ask? Because this middle school is the winner of the United States Chess Federation’s national high school championship.

On April 8, 2012, I. S. 318’s chess team – which is composed of mostly 8th grade students – traveled to Minneapolis to compete in the tournament against high schools that are notoriously good at the game. They won the tournament, which is great for them, but it is far from being their first major win. In every stairwell at I. S. 318, you can find a chess trophy from various tournaments. The kids are good. Read the rest of this entry »

Students in Seattle Will Have More Art in Their Futures

Kate Baker is a celebrity of sorts. Every day when she walks into her place of employment, she is greeted by delighted screams from her fans: a group of elementary school students at Beacon Hill’s Maple Elementary in Seattle, Washington. Why is Baker so popular with her students? It’s very simple: she’s the art teacher.

“They’re always so excited,” Baker said about her students. “They want to know if they have art that day. Because they get joy from it.”

So it seems somewhat wrong and confusing that one of the most popular teachers at Maple Elementary is fearful for her job due to budget cuts in the district. Also, many schools are feeling the pressure to place more emphasis on math and reading skills, which means that any extra funds go to these programs instead of to the art programs.

“If your school has money or if you have a principal who’s a real proponent of the arts, then you get it,” said Baker about which schools have arts departments. “And if you’re not in one of those two groups, then you don’t.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Study Says Students Should Study at Least 2 Hours Daily

How much time do you spend doing homework each night? If your answer is less than two hours, you might want to start studying more until you reach that number.

According to a study from the UK that followed 3,000 students during the past 15 years, students who spend two hours studying each night do better in English, math and science. The study by the United Kingdom’s Department of Education found that studying between two and three hours had the best results for students.

“That’s one of the reasons Indian and Chinese children do better [in school],” said Pam Sammons, an education professor at University of Oxford, about the findings of the study. “They tend to put more time in. It’s to do with your effort as well as your ability.”

So does this mean that you should start studying for 10 hours every day? After all, if a little bit is good, then a lot must be better, right? Well, not exactly.

“What we’re not saying is that everyone should do large amounts, but if we could shift some of those who spend no time or half an hour into [doing] one to two hours [it would be better],” Sammons continued. “One of the reasons private schools results are better is that there’s more expectation of homework.”

Read the rest of this entry »


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