2002 Archive‎ > ‎

Vol. 3, No. 32 - 1 November 2002



ARTICLES & ANNOUNCEMENTS (CALIFORNIA FOCUS)

"Education Is Put in Hands of Teenagers" by David Pierson

Source: Los Angeles Times - 16 October 2002

URL:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-class16oct16,0,827799.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dcalifornia

...As part of a technology experiment, Highland High School in Palmdale gave [32] students hand-held computers to keep track of homework, download research material and complete classroom assignments. They are part of a growing national trend at high schools to use similar devices, the size of a calculator with a 2 1/2 inch-by-2 inch screen.

With a pencil-sized pointer, users can write on the screen or tap on it to open programs and issue commands. At close range, messages can be beamed from one hand-held computer to the next, much like a wireless pager. The computers can store textbooks, even though some say the screens are too small to read...

School spending on hand-held computers, whether Palm Pilots, Handsprings or other brands, is predicted to increase from $5 million during the 2000-01 school year to $310 million by 2005-06, according to a study by International Data Corp., a market research company.

Hand-held computers cost as little as $99 and are considered a less fussy option to lap-tops, which generally cost more than $1,000. Highland's hand-held program cost $4,000 for 35 devices and was paid for by the Antelope Valley Union High School District's educational technology office.

"The way you get productivity out of technology is when it's ubiquitous," said Elliot Soloway, a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who has developed educational software for the hand-held computers.

"Education changed when every kid was given a paper book," he said. "Education will change again when every kid has a computer, and the only way to do that is with a hand-held computer" because of its low cost.

At Highland High, the Palm Pilots are being tested on students in Spanish teacher Jim Trumps' class. The instructor has the technological savvy and passion that experts say is essential to getting new computer programs up and running. Trumps, who pitched the hand-held computer idea to the school district, designed his own Web site where students can check their grades and download assignments.

"The problem with lap-tops is students have to carry them from class to class and they already have 70 pounds of books..." Trumps said. "But kids don't mind holding Palm Pilots. You can do most of the work on a hand-held that you would do on a lap-top."

The Antelope Valley district has had a lap-top program for five years. Currently, 600 of the district's 20,000 students carry lap-tops they own or borrow from the schools. Kent Tamsen, director of educational technology, said the Palm Pilots might replace lap-tops, but a study first must determine the effects both technologies have on student achievement...


ARTICLES & ANNOUNCEMENTS (NATIONAL FOCUS)

(1) "Hansen Releases New Guide to Federal Education Funding"

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Public Affairs (Contact: Dan Langan, 202-401-1576) - 24 October 2002

URL: http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/10-2002/10242002.html

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Bill Hansen today released a new guide to education funding, Resources + Reforms = Results: President Bush's Commitment to Our Nation's School Children, to help better explain the Bush administration's financial commitment to the nation's schools and students.

"There recently have been several reports that distort the president's record on education funding," Hansen said. "And the American people need to hear the facts about his and Secretary Paige's strong commitment to our children and our schools."

Referring to the new education legislation, Hansen said: "The reality is that under the No Child Left Behind Act, the president promised that we will reform our schools with the resources necessary to achieve results -- improved student achievement for all our children."

The 14-page document highlights the major overall increase in Education Department funding, as well as historic investments in key programs, such as Title I, special education, teachers and teacher quality, reading, English language acquisition and higher education.

"The fact is, the president's requested increase for the Education Department for 2003 will build upon an extraordinary and unprecedented $15 billion or 41 percent increase since fiscal year 2000," Hansen said. "Plus, much of this new money is just reaching our schools for the first time because the massive increase for 2002 is for the school year that began this fall."

"So it's disingenuous for some to make the case that the federal government isn't doing its share when it comes to dollars for education," Hansen concluded.

The new guide was prepared by the Office of the Deputy Secretary [and is available for download (pdf: http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/10-2002/102402BudgetResourcesandReforms.pdf and MS Word format: http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/10-2002/102402BudgetResourcesandReforms.doc)]

(2) ED Department Publishes NCLB Desktop Reference Manual

Source: NCTM Legislative Update - 28 October 2002

The Department of Education has published a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Desktop Reference Manual, intended to assist educators in implementing the NCLB Act of 2001.  This 180 page document is a comprehensive and straightforward guide to each of the major reforms under the new law.  The manual covers Titles I through X explaining the purpose of each program, how that program works, its fundamental requirements, and what performance and accountability measurements are required.

Copies of the reference manual can be obtained by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS.  Copies are also available online at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/reference.html .

[The NCTM Legislative Update is a weekly report of public policy issues affecting mathematics education. To subscribe to the free online Update, send an e-mail message to legnet@nctm.org.  Please include your e-mail address, name, grade you teach or teaching specialty, and state.]

(3) "End Creative Teaching, Official Says" by Victor Balta

Source:  - The [Stockton, CA] Record - 25 October 2002

URL:  http://www.recordnet.com/daily/news/articles/102502-gn-2.php

Susan Neuman said the new federal No Child Left Behind Act, if implemented the right way, will put an end to creative and experimental teaching methods in the nation's classrooms.

"It will stifle, and hopefully it will kill (them)," said Neuman, U.S. assistant secretary of education. "Our children are not laboratory rats."

Neuman, who is principally responsible for implementing President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, was in Stockton on Thursday night to speak at University of the Pacific's Faye Spanos Concert Hall. Earlier in the day, she visited Clairmont Elementary School in Lodi and spoke to reporters at Pacific.

Neuman mainly discussed the sweeping law, which is the first major federal educational reform since President Lyndon Johnson's 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The law aims to improve student performance by making schools accountable and giving aid to schools that need it most. It also calls for states to have fully credentialed teachers in every classroom by 2006 and directs federal funding toward "research-based programs that have been proven to help most children learn."

"I think the federal government in the past has done a little of this, a little of that," said Neuman, who received her doctorate in reading education from Pacific in 1977. "It seems like we were into a new trend every other year. No Child Left Behind is a bold change in the way we do business."

Neuman acknowledged that the federal mandate is a "complex law," but she said state education departments already should have been doing much of what it requires.

"They shouldn't be shocked," Neuman said, noting that her first day on the job, she was welcomed by a stack of 18 letters from states and territories asking for waivers on various federal education policies. "The previous administration was waiving this and waiving that. This administration is serious. We don't intend to waive any of the requirements."

Neuman explained that No Child Left Behind seeks to give parents alternatives before taking action against a school. The law gives parents the opportunity to move their children out of low-performing schools or to have the schools pay for special tutoring or other additional help. Sanctions include audits by the U.S. Department of Education, state takeovers of schools and, ultimately, closing schools.

Neuman said the law is a new phenomenon in that teachers have never been trained in terms of getting results.

"There doesn't seem to be a good grasp of accountability for our profession," Neuman said, adding that good teachers can overcome other historically negative circumstances, such as violent, run-down neighborhoods.

"One of the key variables (in a student's educational environment) is good instruction," Neuman said. "If you have good instruction, children can learn regardless of what the neighborhood looks like."

(4) "Creative Minds at Work" by Ellen Sung

Source: The [Raleigh, NC] News & Observer - 2 October 2002

URL:  http://newsobserver.com/news/triangle/story/1780846p-1788687c.html

Imagine a classroom where the teacher never lectures. Imagine a school where students don't watch videos or work from textbooks in class, but instead experiment to solve problems. Imagine administrators who ask parents what kind of learner their child is, then assign them to teachers with the same style.

Those strategies have made East Clayton Elementary School a top performer on the state's school accountability test and a model for hands-on, creative instruction. The school earned its first School of Excellence designation from the state for 2001-02, when 90.7 percent of all students earned passing scores.

Since the state began using the ABCs test to hold schools accountable for student performance, more schools have begun using hands-on teaching to bolster student achievement, said Wandra Polk, assistant director of instruction services at the state Department of Public Instruction.

"Not only does it enhance student achievement, but it does that because students are more interested in the curriculum," Polk said. "Students learn more when it's not just theory but it's put into application and they can link it to past experiences"...

"It's not just memorizing -- it's learning the facts and applying the facts," Moore said later. "Instead of giving them all the answers, it makes you make them think about how to get the answers themselves."

Throughout Johnston County schools, the message is trumpeted by top brass and first-year teachers alike: "Teaching to the test" is out, and tailoring lessons to students' needs is in.

"Some people believe the best way to [improve scores] is to drill, drill, drill, and that's the worst way to do it, because they forget it," said Jim Causby, Johnston County schools superintendent.

The move toward hands-on teaching has come at the same time that schools are paying greater attention to individual students' achievements and learning styles, Polk said...

East Clayton, opened in 1997, wanted its teachers to recognize children's individual styles, so the administration gives them wide latitude in planning lessons, Principal Peggy Smith said.

"We empower teachers," Smith said. "If I say, 'This is how I want it taught,' teachers who are comfortable will have no problem, but that may not be the way for all teachers...

"The [ABCs] test score is really just the validation to what they've done. It's not the end-all, be-all," Smith said. "But it comes if you've done your job well."

(5) Special OERI Summary

Source: NCTM Legislative Update - 28 October 2002

Reauthorization of the Office of Education Research and Improvement

The passage of H.R. 3801, a bill reauthorizing the Office of Education Research and Improvement (OERI), was one of the last acts of the 107th Congress prior to recessing for the mid-term elections in November.  The President has not yet signed H.R. 3801 into law.  The following is a summary of the key provisions in this significant revision of the federal government's role in education research, a revision intended to increase the scientific credibility of education research and to model the enterprise after the prestigious National Institutes of Health.

Title I

Known as the "Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002," this Title creates the Institute of Education Sciences.  A Director, appointed to 6-year term, will head the Institute. As in the past, the Director will be advised by a Board, whose members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  The Board, working in concert with the Director, will establish the annual priorities that will drive the work of the Institute. The scope of research for the Institute is broadened to encompass early childhood through adult education, with specific mention of postsecondary education included for the first time.  The goal of the Institute is to expand knowledge and understanding of education by supporting high quality research.  Other functions of the Institute include the collection and analysis of relevant data and statistics, developing educational products based on research findings, and the dissemination of this information.

The work of the Institute is further divided into three National Centers: the National Center for Education Research; the National Center for Education Statistics; and the National Center for Evaluation and Regional Assistance.  Each Center will be headed by a Commissioner.  The Director will appoint the Commissioners to head the National Center for Education Research and the National Center for Evaluation and Regional Assistance.  The head of the National Center for Education Statistics is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

National Center for Education Research

The Research Commissioner is charged with establishing peer review standards and standards for conduct and evaluation of all research funded through the Institute. This charge also includes making sure the research supported by the agency is relevant to educators. At least eight Research and Development Centers must be funded and the agenda for these entities must include the following topics: adult literacy; assessment, evaluation and accountability; early childhood education; English language learning; improving low-performing schools; innovations in education; state and local policy; rural education; teacher quality; and reading and literacy.  Though at least eight R & D Centers must be funded, minimum grant sizes were not included in the legislation.  The terms of these awards are for up to five years.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

The Statistics Commissioner is charged with the collection, analysis, reporting and dissemination of education data of interest and relevance to schools and teachers throughout the nation.  Furthermore, the Commissioner is directed to assist the states in the development of longitudinal data systems and more accurate collection of critical data such as graduation rates. Competitive grants to States are authorized to assist with this data collection activity. The existing NCES is greatly respected by educators for the high quality of the reports that is produces and releases periodically to public. These responsibilities are not altered by the legislation.

National Center for Evaluation and Regional Assistance

This division within the Institute oversees the regional education laboratories, the National Library of Education and the national clearinghouses. The ten geographically distributed regional laboratories competitively funded under current law will continue to be authorized.  (This was an issue of intense debate during the reauthorization process).  The awards for the regional educational labs are for five years.  The work of the regional labs focuses on research and development-conducting applied research that leads to the production of new educational products.  Technical assistance is also provided through the regional labs.

Title II

A major topic during the development of H .R. 3801 was how to strengthen the link between local and regional needs and interests regarding education research and development and the work of the OERI.  This new bill directs the Secretary of Education to convene Regional Advisory Committees throughout the nation.  Each Regional Advisory Committee must conduct a needs assessment for their region.  This information must be provided to the Secretary to guide the development of RFPS for next award cycle for Comprehensive Centers in 2004.

Prior to that award cycle, the law authorizes continued funding through 2004 for the Regional Technology in Education Consortia (R-TECS)--the Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Consortia and the Comprehensive Centers.  The competition in 2004 will be for at least 20 Comprehensive Centers directs the awardees.  As providers of technical assistance to local school districts, comprehensive centers that emphasize reading, mathematics, science and technology will receive priority.  In consideration of these foci, the new law does not reauthorize either the R-TECS or the Eisenhower Consortia.  Though not explicitly stated in the law, it is assumed that the needs assessment information presented by the Regional Advisory Committees will also be used to develop the next competitions for regional labs.

Title II also reasserts the autonomy of the National Assessment of Governing Board (NAGB) and directs the NAGB to release the data collected on an ongoing basis by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The authorized funding levels for H.R. 3801 include $400 million for research; $100 million for the regional education laboratories; $80 million for the comprehensive centers; and $112.1 million for the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the National Assessment Governing Board.

Definitions Related to Research   

Title I includes several new definitions related to research. Both the terms "applied research" and "basic research" are defined.  Applied research means research "to gain knowledge or understanding necessary for determining the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met and that is specifically directed to the advancement of practice in the field of education."   In contrast, basic research is defined as research "to gain fundamental knowledge or understanding of phenomena and observable facts, without specific application toward processes or products and for the advancement of knowledge in the field of education."  The Institute is authorized to conduct both applied and basic research.

Scientifically valid research is defined as applied, basic and field-initiated research, which is developed in accordance with, scientifically based research standards.  Scientifically based research standards are standards that:

i) apply rigorous, systematic, and objective methodology to obtain reliable and valid knowledge relevant to education activities and programs

ii) present findings and make claims that are appropriate to and supported by the methods that have been employed.

Furthermore, the law indicates that the following are included as a part of the standards, as appropriate to the research being conducted:

i) employing systematic, empirical methods that draw on observation or experiment

ii) involving data analyses that are adequate to support the general findings

iii) relying on measurements or observational methods that provide reliable data

iv) making claims of causal relationships only in random assignment experiments or other designs (to the extent such designs substantially eliminate plausible competing explanations for the obtained results)

v) ensuring that studies and methods are presented in sufficient detail and clarity to allow for replication or, at a minimum, to offer the opportunity to build systemically on the findings of the research

vi) obtaining acceptance by a peer-reviewed journal or approval by a panel of independent experts through a comparably rigorous, objective and scientific review

vii) using research designs and methods appropriate to the research question posed.

Finally, the law provides a definition of scientifically valid education evaluation as evaluation that:

i) adheres to the highest possible standards of quality with respect to research design and statistical analysis

ii) provides an adequate description of the programs evaluated and, to the extent possible, examines the relationship between program implementation and program impacts

iii) provides an analysis of the results achieved by the program with respect to its projected effects

iv) employs experimental designs using random assignment, when feasible, and other research methodologies that allow for the strongest possible causal inferences when random assignment is not feasible

v) may study program implementation through a combination of scientifically valid and reliable methods.

(6) Tom Lehrer's "New Math" Recording is Available Online

Source:  Shirley B. Gray and Stewart Venit (California State University, Los Angeles)

URL:  http://curvebank.calstatela.edu/newmath/newmath.htm

The National Curve Bank (http://curvebank.calstatela.edu/home/home.htm) has recently added a recording of Tom Lehrer's composition "New Math" to its Web site. [The complete lyrics can be found at http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/SongUnid/EE27EF26A4F581BE48256A7D002575E1]. The following information is also included on the NCB Web site:

Tom Lehrer entered Harvard at the age of 15 where he majored in mathematics.  Along the way he started writing and performing short ditties to be played at parties.  His reputation spread beyond Harvard Square to campuses, first in the greater Boston area and then across the US.  No respectable US grad student would have been caught without a Lehrer "record" in his "stereo" collection.   By the 1960s he had become a much loved cult figure known from Sproul Hall Plaza to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and especially Great Britain.

His success also brought the need to decide between the fun of entertaining audiences and the demands of graduate study in mathematics.  Tom left Harvard to pursue a life as varied as performing on the Ed Sullivan show and working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.  He also joined the US Army in 1955 saying "I figured I'd better do it while there was a hiatus between wars."  But the Army assigned him to work in the National Security Agency, a treasury of mathematical talent.

Today Tom teaches a course for liberal arts majors at UC Santa Cruz entitled "The Nature of Mathematics."  He calls the course "Math for Tenors."

Tom suggested we remind National Curve Bank viewers that Art Garfunkel has an MA in mathematics from Columbia University.

For a biography of Lehrer:

http://home.teleport.com/~osh/leher.htm 

For a 1997 interview with Lehrer:

http://s2n.org/Articles/Lehrer.html  

[From http://curvebank.calstatela.edu/home/home.htm:]

The National Curve Bank is a resource for students of mathematics.  We strive to provide features - for example, animation and interaction - that a printed page cannot offer.  We also include geometrical, algebraic, and historical aspects of curves, the kinds of attributes that make the mathematics special and enrich classroom learning.

We welcome participation.  We encourage you to submit your best web animation as a "deposit" in the National Curve Bank.  Also, we welcome information about other outstanding sites that deal with the same subject.  We will provide links to your home site and thus give your work a wide audience.  Please see "Submit Your Curve" on the left for details.



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