I got word of the following story from a fellow reporter in Oregon:
The Register-Guard newspaper published an interesting profile today on Thomas Payzant, who led the Oklahoma City School District from 1979 to 1982. Payzant recently visited Eugene, Oregon, where he was a superintendent before coming to the Sooner State. He’s now a professor at Harvard University.
State test scores were released Thursday, for which student performance in part determined which schools landed on the NCLB-mandated 2008 Needs Improvement list.
Here’s a little more detail on how students fare on the different tests (click to enlarge):
Also Thursday, I ran across a story about how New York City officials want to give math assessments to kindergarteners. As you might imagine, there’s some debate over whether that’s too young an age for standardized testing. The full story is here.
Feel free to share your thoughts on these assessments or the Needs Improvement list below.
We don’t live on the bus route, or within walking distance of school, so I drive her to kindergarten each day. I tell her she’ll ride the bus on field trips.
When I was a child, I walked with other kids to elementary school and rode the bus to middle school. Both options scare me for my child. I worry — maybe unreasonably — about accidents, strangers, mad dogs and dew-soaked shoes. So for now, I’m happy to drive.
The Associated Press gives some tips for parents wondering when their children are “ready” to walk to school without their parents. Here they are:
—Know your child. Some 10-year-olds are mature enough to handle the responsibility that goes with independence. Others are not.
—Consider the route. Are there major streets to cross? Will the child be walking or biking alone or with schoolmates?
—Set clear rules, such as whether your child must come straight home from school.
—Talk with other parents in your neighborhood about having kids walk or bike to school together. There is safety in numbers.
Do you have any suggestions? Comment here or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
An Oklahoma State University researcher wants to know how you deal with the terrible twos.
Bob Larzelere is seeking volunteer mothers of tots between ages 18 months and 30 months. You could get paid $60 to tell how you handle your toddler’s misbehaviors.
Contact Dr. Larzelere at (405) 744-2053 and (405) 338-8094.
Susan Simpson, Education Writer
Let a cow be your compass.
You’ll know this if you’ve already read today’s issue of “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” Some German and Czech researchers found that most cows align to the north and south, seemingly drawn to magnetic poles.
Ummm, give me a minute to call cowpies on this study. I grew up on a dairy farm, and our cows didn’t seem to have a directional preference. Maybe they were directionally challenged. Maybe they were rebels.
I even called a relative to make sure I hadn’t missed something in my bovine-bound past. Nope, as usual, the cattle were facing any which way.
I hope no one is lost out there.
Susan Simpson, Education Writer
Michael Phelps did his job, collecting eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics that ended yesterday. But back in Maryland, his mom’s job is just beginning. The Flypaper blog by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute reports that Debbie Phelps is the principal of Windsor Mill Middle School there.
Flypaper also mentions the 2008 Education Olympics, where the U.S won a single medal, compared to a 35-medal showing by the top contender: Finland. You can check out http://edolympics.net for a recap, whether you’re tired of Phelps reruns or whether they’re not playing often enough to satisfy your Olympic spirit.
Wendy Kleinman, Education Reporter
Do you know math well enough to teach the third grade? Deborah Ball, dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan, posed this question to about 30 education reporters, myself included, at a recent workshop in New York.
38 / 4 = 9.5, Ball said. Write four distinctly different word problems that correspond to this division expression, representing different interpretations of the meaning of division, and with different possible numerical answers, depending on the context.
So how do you ask a kid to solve 38 / 4 and get a different answer?
This was a word problem I came up with: Johnny helps his mom sort the family’s laundry. There are 38 pieces of laundry and they are making four piles. How many items will be left if all the piles have an equal number of clothes? (The answer is 2 — I asked for the remainder.)
Ball and University of Georgia professor Jeremy Kilpatrick used the example as a springboard for a discussion about conflict over how to teach math and what it takes to teach it successfully. The Evansville Courier & Press had a compelling story on the issue last month, focusing on moms who aren’t happy with “new math” curriculums and who are giving their children a second math lesson at home in the evenings.
I’d like to know your thoughts. Is this a conflict at your school? In general, what do you think of changing methods of teaching? And if you’re a teacher, how do you learn to teach something an entirely different way than you learned it in the first place?
The U.S. News and World Report annual ranking of colleges is out today, and nods are made to several Oklahoma campuses. The ranking formula takes account of factors such as SAT scores, peer reputation, selectivity and alumni giving. Predictably, the Ivy Leagues schools dominate the top spots nationally.
Here’s a story from The Associated Press about the Oklahoma rankings:
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The best college in the state is the University of Tulsa, according to rankings released Friday by U.S. News and World Report magazine.
TU ranks 83rd on the list of the nation’s top universities, up eight spots from 2007, while the University of Oklahoma in Norman is tied for 108th, the same as last year.
Oklahoma State University in Stillwater remained in the third tier of the magazine’s ratings, while Oral Roberts University in Tulsa remained in the fourth, and last, tier. The magazine does not numerically rank schools in those two tiers.
Nationally, Harvard University topped the magazine’s rankings, followed by Princeton University and Yale University. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University tied for fourth.
TU said that a 25 percent decrease in its acceptance rate — which notes a more selective university — was the biggest change made by the school in the last year.
TU officials said the school has a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and an average class size of 19 students.
“Our deliberate actions during the past decade have allowed TU to select a student body from among the nation’s top students while creating a vibrant, residential campus experience for these students once they arrive in Tulsa,” TU President Steadman Upham said in a statement.
Among Oklahoma colleges that focus primarily on bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, Oklahoma City University was tops in the state, ranking 25th in the West region, two spots lower than last year.
Oklahoma Christian University of Oklahoma City and Southern Nazarene University of Bethany both improved their ranking, finishing in a six-way tie for 53rd in the region.
Among baccalaureate universities, Oklahoma Baptist University of Shawnee tied for second in the West region, up one spot from 2007, while Oklahoma Wesleyan University of Bartlesvile and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha ranked 11th and 15th, respectively.
I didn’t sleep well last night. Must’ve been those first-day-of-school jitters.
And though my husband grinned last night to ask if I had my backpack ready and my coworkers joked I should get a note with my lunch, I was only a visitor this morning in Oklahoma City Public Schools.
It was interesting to see what hasn’t changed (air conditioning problems left some areas uncomfortably warm, even for someone like me who’s cold natured) and what has (metal detectors and flat-screen computer monitors).
I’d like to know what stands out most to you about the first day of school. Share your thoughts here.
Be mindful where you park. In the rush of parents walking their children into school this morning, my car was blocked by another vehicle. Thanks to the kind dad that helped me maneuver out of the tight spot!
Lesson No. 2: No photos please! My daughter was not at all interested in having her picture taken. How will I scrapbook this momentous day? I’ll try again tomorrow.
Lesson No. 3: Don’t forget the ice pack in the sack lunch. I did and then had to remove an item that needed to be kept cool. Luckily that still left a cookie and a peanut butter sandwich (crusts removed.)
Lesson No. 4: Take a deep breath. Smile big when you wave goodbye. Don’t cry until you get to the car. You’ll be stuck there for a while anyway.
Susan Simpson, Mom of a KINDERGARTENER! (Can you believe it?)