District Administration - July 2008 - (Page 12)

BRIEFINGS NewsUpdate Report Slams Reading First, But Others Defend It PRESIDENT BUSH’S $1 BILLION a year initiative to teach critical reading skills to low-income children has not improved their reading comprehension one iota, according to a new study from the program’s own champion, the U.S. Department of Education. The interim report, carried out by the DOE’s research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), found no significant differences in comprehension scores between students who participated in No Child Left Behind’s federally subsidized Reading First (RF) program and those who did not. But there are some experts who claim that the non-RF schools examined in the study—which applied for the federal grants but did not receive them—do not differ enough from the RF schools for the conclusions drawn from the comparisons to be valid. Also, “IES may have overlooked the fact that many states used up to 20 percent of the federal funds for low-achieving schools to adopt the same instructional reforms mandated for the RF schools,” Sol Stern, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a policy research group, wrote in the political magazine City Journal. The study’s possibly flawed findings notwithstanding, many RF administrators around the country are standing by the program’s effectiveness. In Florida, for instance, where 583 elementary schools in 45 districts use the program, educators are “very happy” with its results of significantly increasing the number of K3 students reading at or above grade level and reducing the number of students with serious reading difficulties, says the state’s executive director of reading programs, Evan Lefsky. “The study has motivated us to go beyond the question of ‘Does Reading First work’ to examining the conditions under which it works and why,” says By Zach Miners Lefsky. He adds that administrators are currently visiting the schools that have made the biggest improvements so they can learn about the characteristics associated with achievement gains. And in California, the 200 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District that use the program have utilized a variety of professional development, teacher coaching and principal training initiatives that have helped to raise district achievement levels, says LAUSD deputy superintendent Ronni Ephraim. New York City school officials, none of whose 64 RF schools were evaluated in the study, say the report didn’t shed any new light for them on the effectiveness of the Reading First program. Did You Know? HALF OF PRINCIPALS VIEW BULLYING as a serious problem at their schools, but they appear to underestimate the extent of harassment that lesbian, gay, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students (LG experience, acex cording to a new co study released st by the Gay, Lesbian and Le Straight EducaS tion Network t (GLSEN). (G For another unique perspective on the problem of bullying, see this issue’s Conversations article. 12 July 2008 Effective Board Meetings WANTING TO HAVE effective school board meetings is one thing; actually having them is another. And knowing what makes board meetings “effective” is something else entirely. So says the new edition of Becoming a Better Board Member: A Guide to Eff ective School Board Service, a publication from the National School Boards Association (NSBA). With a 22-page chapter devoted just to board meetings, this resource offers vital information not just on how the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of your boardroom deliberations affects your school system, but on all aspects of effective meetings, such as gaining control, planning an agenda, and increasing public participation. It also includes a checklist of essential meeting policies and practices. Go to www.nsba.org for purchasing information. District Administration http://www.nsba.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration - July 2008

District Administration - July 2008
Contents
Editor’s Letter
Letters
News Update
Curriculum Update
Administrator Profile
Conversations
Getting Mobile
School Supplies on a Budget
The Silent Issue
How Well Does This Web Site Work?
New Products
Management Books
Speaking Out
Calendar of Events
Research Center

District Administration - July 2008

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