Standards-based report cards in Illinois elementary schools get thumbs-down from parents. In lieu of letter grades, these report cards contain "performance" evaluations of students' skills, such as "[student is] making satisfactory progress towards meeting grade level standards" or, "[student] understands basic concepts of multiplication and division." Parents say the new report cards contain "too much jargon." Many prefer letter grades that clearly indicate a child's academic progress.
Channel One is paying teachers to recruit more schools. The commercial television program that shows two minutes of advertising every day to captive student audiences in 12,000 schools has begun a new marketing push aimed at teachers. Channel One's parent company, Primedia Inc., will pay $500 to any teacher or administrator at a participating school who enrolls a neighboring school in the program. Groups opposing such commercialization of schools have asked officials in all 50 states to review Primedia's marketing offer for a possible conflict of interest. A letter signed by these groups, quoted in the Wall Street Journal (8-28-01), states that "It is not the proper role of public school employees to be a roving sales team for Channel One."
A homeschooled student wins 4th gold medal in the International Mathematical Olympiad. Eighteen-year-old Reid Barton of Arlington, MA, became the first student in 42 years of the competition to win four gold medals in a row. The United States team tied for second place with the Russian team; China took first place. More than 80 countries participated in the global competition in July.
A new report shows more than half of college students drop out. Researchers at the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) found that last year's graduation rate at four-year public colleges and universities was just under 42%, while slightly more than 55% of students at private institutions graduated.
The Tulsa public schools have a new dress code. The school board has outlawed some popular girls' styles: tops with the backs cut out, midriff styles, halter tops baring backs and shoulders, very short shorts, pajama pants, and rubber "flip-flop" sandals. For boys, pants that sag below the waistline showing the top band of their briefs or boxers are a no-no, as are bandanas and hats in class. Body piercing is out, except for ears, and some tattoos are acceptable, as long as they're not obscene or drug-related.
Bilingual fight looms in Colorado. "English for the Children of Colorado," a group started by California entrepreneur Ron Unz, is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to ban bilingual education in the state. Former Denver school board member, Rita Montero, is spearheading the effort. Unzís national organization, English for the Children, has led successful campaigns banning bilingual education in California and Arizona. Studies show students are doing better in English immersion programs in both states than they did in bilingual programs.
Female students fell further behind males on this year's SAT. On average, male students scored 42 points higher than females on the popular college entrance exam, with math scores making up most of the difference. Last year, males scored 38 points higher than females. The test results have prompted renewed charges of gender bias, but the Educational Testing Service, which owns the SAT, maintains that the exam is fair.