By the time they get to kindergarten, children in this well-to-do suburb already know their numbers, so their teachers worried that a new math program was too easy when it covered just 1 and 2 — for a whole week. “Talk about the number 1 for 45 minutes?” said Chris Covello, who teaches 16 students ages 5 and 6. “I was like, I don’t know. But then I found you really could. Before, we had a lot of ground to cover, and now it’s more open-ended and gets kids thinking.”
In an experiment published last month, researchers recruited schoolchildren, ages 9 and 10, who lived near the Champaign-Urbana campus of the University of Illinois and asked them to run on a treadmill. The researchers were hoping to learn more about how fitness affects the immature human brain. Animal studies had already established that, when given access to running wheels, baby rodents bulked up their brains, enlarging certain areas and subsequently outperforming sedentary pups on rodent intelligence tests.
This past year my wife and I home-schooled our eighth-grade son. One school day, he and I decided we would make fire the old way — out of nothing but plant materials and our own hustle. Our son watched a seemingly endless series of instructional survival videos on YouTube as part of his research. He chose the bow method based on our physics class about friction. He then constructed a bow from a branch in the woods, carved a stick for the spindle and added a fiber string. It was mighty tough going. We spent hours refining the apparatus.
One morning last winter I watched a middle-school teacher named Al Doyle give a lesson, though not your typical lesson. This was New York City, a noncharter public school in an old building on a nondescript street near Gramercy Park, inside an ordinary room that looked a lot like all the other rooms around it, with fluorescent lights and linoleum floors and steam-driven radiators that hissed and clanked endlessly.
Here's a scene that 20 years teaching English never quite prepared me for. It's 10:00 a.m., the end of a short break between classes on a bright fall morning. My 11th-graders trickle into literature class, chatting while finishing off peanut butter bars and sugar donuts. In marches a perfectly likable young person who announces to all within earshot: "Good morning, Ms. Schnog. Oh, I can't study today. I didn't take my meds."
Since No Child Left Behind was made law in 2001, school systems have been fighting to meet increasingly higher passing rates on Standards of Learning tests in reading and math. This year, the task was made more difficult by changes in the passing requirements, known as Adequate Yearly Progress.
Average scores on Virginia's Standards of Learning math exams rose slightly and reading performance remained static in the 2009-10 school year, but the vast majority of public schools across the state failed to meet new performance benchmarks for graduation rates and for students with disabilities, according to results released Thursday by the state Department of Education.
Whiteflame128, a participant in my Admissions 101 discussion group, described what happened when he graduated from a Fairfax County high school and showed up for college enrollment with an entire freshman year's worth of credit from Advanced Placement courses and tests. "My advisor had absolutely no idea what to do with my schedule at orientation," he said.
SAT scores of college-bound high school seniors were flat nationwide this year, even as some students in the Washington region sharply improved their performance, according to data released Monday by the College Board and local school officials. Montgomery County public school students posted record-high scores of 1653, and the school system took steps to narrow the persistent achievement gap between white and Asian American students and their black and Hispanic peers. D.C. students' composite scores on the exam were up almost 2 percent, to 1404, out of a maximum of 2400.