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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 4, January/February 2008

Reported elsewhere

League tables pressure, drives staff to cheat

This article, by Anthea Lipsett, in The Guardian newspaper, reports on the extreme prescsure of standardized testing on teachers and students in Britain. "Teachers have denounced the excessive pressure government league tables place on schools to perform, claiming they drive some staff to cheat... Four schools had their results wiped out in all three subjects [English, math and science]. A fifth school was stripped of its English results."

Go to: www.tinyurl.com/2qp5a9

Ontario pins hopes on practices, not testing, to achieve

This excellent article, by Lynn Olson, in Edweek.org (Education Week) examines Ontario’s efforts at improving student achievement in its schools. "...the province’s education strategy focusses less on public ratings and rankings of schools and more on identifying and spreading effective practices from the ground up." The province "...provided nearly $34 million to local school boards for some 250 ‘lighthouse projects’—promising local initiatives that could be evaluated and spread across the province if they produced results."

To register with Education Week, and get access to the article (archived at 10/24/2007), go to: www.tinyurl.com/yusd5w

Extra playtime shown to help preschoolers focus, UBC research finds

This very interesting piece by Chad Skelton, in The Vancouver Sun examines the research of UBC’s Adele Diamond, an expert in "executive function" or EF—the ability of the brain to control itself." The key to improving discipline and self-control among preschoolers—and reducing the incidence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder—lies, in part, says Diamond, in giving kids more time to play. A test group of students were taught a new curriculum called Tools of the Mind that includes, among other things, more play time. The researchers found that students enrolled in the program performed far better at tests that measured their ability to maintain focus and avoid distraction.

For the full article go to: www.tinyurl.com/2vm127

Five assessment myths and their consequences

The article, by Rick Stiggins, in Edweek.org (Education Week) starts off with the claim: "America has spent 60 years building layer upon layer of district, state, national, and international assessments at immense cost and with little evidence that our assessment practices have improved learning."

Stiggins then examines what he considers to be five myths about achievement: (1) The path to school improvement is paved with standardized tests. (2) School and community leaders know how to use assessment to improve schools. (3) Teachers are trained to assess productively. (4) Adult decisions drive school effectiveness. (5) Grades and test scores maximize student motivation and learning.

To register with Education Week, and get access to the article (archived at 10/17/2007), go to: www.tinyurl.com/yusd5w

Lansing Christian School parents open store to fund pay raises

Some parents, at Lansing Christian School in Michigan, have opened a thrift store with the intention of donating proceeds to fund a pay increase for the school’s 53 teachers. Christian Schools suggests private Christian schools have a starting salary of $31,000, increasing to $60,000 after 30 years. At LCS the starting salary is $27,000, with the chance of making $40,000 after 30 years.

For full story go to: http://tinyurl.com/257aun

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