Dell brings back XP

CNET reports that consumer demand was such that Dell announced on Thursday that it returned to offering Windows XP as an option on some of its consumer PCs. Like most companies in the PC market, Dell switched to Vista-based systems following the launch of Microsoft’s OS in January. However, Dell says that its customers have been requesting XP as part of its IdeaStorm project, which solicits the help of customers to help the company come up with product ideas…

http://news.com.com/Dell+brings+back+XP+on+home+systems/2100-1046_3-6177619.html?tag=nefd.lede

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Supes call for wholesale changes to NCLB

As Congress sets about the difficult task of revamping the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the six-year-old education law once considered a hallmark of President Bush’s presidency, several school superintendents are calling for wholesale changes to the bill.

Speaking at the American Association of School Administrators’ annual Legislative Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., on April 20, members of Public Schools for Tomorrow (PSFT), a group of current and former school administrators in favor of educational reform, said NCLB, though well-intentioned, has failed to close the achievement gap between rich and poor students and has not delivered on its promise of measurable academic gains for all children.

“In fact, we are convinced that NCLB is harming the education of many of the children it is intended to help,” wrote the group in a statement.

Like many of the law’s critics, members of PSFT–led by Columbia Teachers College President Tom Sobol–say NCLB places too great an emphasis on standardized testing, while doing little to measure students’ progress effectively over time.

Rather than continue along a path they deem destructive, reformers have identified six core problems with the law and, in each case, have offered potential remedies.

Their suggestions come about two months after a high-profile bipartisan commission co-chaired by former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, a Republican, who served for 14 years as the governor of Wisconsin, and former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, released a report outlining some 75 recommendations for lawmakers to consider as they reform the legislation. (See story: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showstory.cfm?ArticleID=6871.)

Though many Washington insiders believe it’s unlikely Congress will vote on a new education bill before the 2008 presidential election, members of PSFT say now is the time for educators in favor of change to voice their concerns.

“The goal really is to marshal a bully pulpit of superintendents everywhere to make sure NCLB represents what it means to be an effective citizen,” said PSFT member Judith Johnson, superintendent of the Peekskill City Schools in Peekskill, N.Y.

Among the problems identified by the group are standards, testing, teachers and teaching, sanctions for struggling schools, community involvement, and funding.

“We believe in standards, but the existing system does not work,” declares the PSFT statement handed out during the April 20 event. “In many places, standards are not aligned with testing and accountability, thus frustrating their purpose. Further, standards vary from state to state, making comparisons useless.”

To better align existing federal testing and accountability rules with state benchmarks, the group suggests that a commission be established to craft a set of national standards for learning. Set by leaders representing various educational groups, with participation from state and local governments, these national standards “should be broad and challenging enough to encourage a wide variety of curricular and instructional practice,” PSFT says.

Unlike past proposals, the group says, this is not something the federal government should have a hand in. “Nothing in what we say suggests that this should be turned over to the federal government to create these things,” said Robert Rochelle, superintendent of the Ossining Union Free School District in Ossining, N.Y.

Testing is another prominent aspect of the law the superintendents’ group takes issue with.

“Too much testing is corrupting the educational process and is driving the curriculum downward, especially in middle and high school grades,” it said.

Rather than rely almost exclusively on students’ standardized test scores, as is the case with NCLB, these superintendents suggest that states employ new and different means of assessing educational progress, looking at students’ success on a longitudinal basis as well as through grade-by-grade comparisons.

An outspoken critic of the law–and the federal Education Department in general–writer and independent researcher Gerald Bracey told attendees during a morning presentation that there is little scientific evidence to suggest students’ performance on standardized test scores is an effective indicator of future success.

Though U.S. students often test in the middle of the pack when compared with students in other industrialized nations on standardized tests for such core subjects as reading and mathematics, he says, a host of other factors contributes to a student’s ability to succeed in life–few of which can be accurately predicted by existing forms of academic measurement.

“A lot of what we value in this society is difficult to measure in the form of a standardized test,” noted Bracey, who said students in other countries often are not encouraged to develop certain intangible traits such as creativity, diplomacy, and entrepreneurship–even though these attributes are known to be just as, if not more, critical to their ability to live and work in the 21st century.

Bracey chided U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings for encouraging American educators to teach to the test. He said much of what sets U.S. schools apart from their counterparts in other nations is the inquisitive nature of their classrooms. It is teachers encouraging students to speak out, to voice their opinions and engage in a form of two-way dialogue that fosters higher-order thinking, he said, adding: “Taking a test is almost the exact opposite of asking a question.”

As a supporter of NCLB and one of the legislation’s founding architects, Danica Petroshius, senior vice president of Collaborative Communications Group in Washington and former chief of staff to Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was scheduled to refute Bracey’s argument that the law is ineffective. But a scheduling conflict reportedly kept her from presenting.

PSFT also criticized NCLB for failing to train and promote a larger number of high-quality instructors.

“The quality of students’ achievement is closely related to the quality of their teachers, but we lack the number of well-trained teachers that we need, especially in difficult teaching situations,” explained the group’s report.

Despite an increased effort to train and retain high-quality teachers, critics say, schools must do more to ensure the best teachers are up to the challenge of working in America’s toughest classrooms.

As part of its movement, PSFT is asking Congress to fund a nationwide campaign “to recruit, train, support, and retain” a larger crop of experienced, committed, high-impact instructors.

The group also came out strong against the law’s current policy of leveling sanctions– including withholding federal funds–on schools that fail to meet its stringent requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a controversial stipulation that sets national benchmarks for students in reading, math, and more recently, science.

“The sanctions for not achieving AYP are flawed and unfair … No serious person believes that all children will be proficient in reading and math by 2014,” wrote the group in its outline.

Presenters went on to criticize the federal government for singling out and “embarrassing” struggling schools and said a better approach would be to revise AYP to reward schools for “substantial progress,” as opposed to punishing them for perceived failures.

Whereas schools are the “chief instruments” of any student’s formal education, PSFT said, local communities also have a responsibility to help students become better learners. As part of its reform effort, the group is encouraging schools to work with health and social services to better meet students’ needs and, in turn, improve the mental and physical conditions under which they are expected to learn.

As a final condition of its report, PSFT says Congress should work to fund NCLB at the level originally intended. Since the law’s inception in 2001, educators have criticized NCLB for saddling historically cash-strapped schools with what amounts to a bevy of unfunded mandates, arguing that the amount of money schools receive to implement NCLB programs still is billions of dollars less than what originally had been promised.

“Money alone will not reform the schools, but the schools will not be reformed without it,” said the report.

Links:

Public Schools for Tomorrow
http://www.publicschoolsfortomorrow.org

American Association of School Administrators
http://www.aasa.org

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Schools ride emerging trend: Bus-based connectivity

School buses and other vehicles are being equipped with wireless internet access in an emerging trend that has enormous implications for students. Proponents of the trend say wireless connectivity on buses could turn what is often a dull ride into another opportunity for learning.

In one example of this trend, a Vanderbilt University professor is helping rural students with long commutes to school by turning their buses into mobile classrooms. Students will be able to download lessons from the internet via cell-phone towers.

Billy Hudson, a professor of medicine and biochemistry, got inspiration for the project from his own childhood in rural Arkansas.

He said he never took a science or math class in high school and dropped out after 11th grade, planning to work on a cotton plantation until he was old enough to join the Army. But his life changed when a teacher intervened, arranging for him to take summer classes at a small college in a distant town.

Children in his hometown of Grapevine, Ark., still are so isolated that, for some, the bus ride between their homes and school lasts 90 minutes each way. But Hudson plans to turn those long hours to the students’ advantage by using technology to give them science and math instruction while they ride.

Hudson returned to his hometown recently to launch a three-year pilot study of what he calls the Aspirnaut Initiative.

In a ceremony at their school, students who have chosen to participate in the program received video iPods they will use to view educational videos and podcasts. A select group of 15 students received laptop computers that will allow them to have a back-and-forth exchange with Vanderbilt professors who are designing individualized lessons for them.

In one test of the system, a videoconference connected researchers in Nashville at Hudson’s Vanderbilt laboratory to the ceremony in Arkansas. Hudson gave a quick virtual tour of the lab to the group of fidgeting students, all dressed in white T-shirts with the Aspirnaut motto: "Aspire. Seek. Achieve."

"We can be doing experiments there and talking with the children live," Hudson explained by way of the videoconference. "Two Nobel laureates have endorsed this program, and they both said we need to get children engaged in the real world of science."

The idea is not only to improve rural education, but also to counter the decreasing number of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers the country produces by inspiring students with a dynamic curriculum.

Fewer than one-third of American fourth- and eighth-grade students performed at or above proficiency in mathematics, according to a November 2005 report from the National Academies of Science and Engineering.

While not a school initiative, Chattanooga, Tenn., buses will provide free wireless internet access by this fall, a move aimed partly at filling seats.

"People very well may say, ‘Hey, if I can sit on the bus and do work to and from home, that gives me an extra hour of time I can use productively, other than driving,’" said Tom Dugan, executive director of the Chattanooga Area Regional Transit Authority (CARTA).

CARTA officials plan to launch the wireless access on at least three-fourths of its bus routes this fall.

The Wi-Fi system is part of CARTA’s long-term plan to turn its buses into "intelligent transportation systems," vehicles that rely on computers–not people–to gather and distribute information.

Jill Veron, CARTA’s director of planning, said University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students have asked for wireless access on buses.

"I think a lot of the commuters would like to have access to the internet," she said. "We’re going to really promote it and just use it as a trial to see how it’s accepted."

A system that allows passengers to access the internet on a vehicle’s video screens also could have interesting implications for school buses nationwide.

Launched in September by Middletown, R.I.-based KVH Industries Inc., TracNet brings the internet to the installed screens in a car, truck, RV, or boat. It also turns the entire vehicle into a wireless hot spot, so passengers can use their laptops to go online.

If installed on school buses, students could use the internet to do homework or research projects.

Product development and marketing officials at KVH Industries say they plan to target TracNet to school districts–specifically for installation on school buses–in late 2007 or early 2008.

In the meantime, the company is marketing TracNet to parents as a back-seat educational tool for children.

Links:

Aspirnaut Initiative
http://www.aspirnaut.org

TracNet
http://www.kvh.com/Products/product.asp?id=123

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The New School Purchases 8 GY-HD110 Pro HD Cameras for Department of Media Studies and Film

Las Vegas, NV (April 16, 2007),–JVC Professional Products Company today announced that The New School, a university made up of 8 schools, located in New York City, has purchased eight ProHD GY-HD110Us for use in the school´s new graduate certificate in Documentary Media Studies.

"The GY-HD110 allows our students to produce professional documentaries and integrates perfectly with our existing film equipment and our new digital editing lab," said Dawnja Burris, Associate Chair, Department of Media Studies and Film, The New School. "We looked at many different cameras and chose the GY-HD110 because we wanted to shoot in HD at 24fps progressive scan. JVC´s camera was the only model with all these features plus the Fujinon lens and Anton Bauer battery pack was a huge bonus."

The New School´s Documentary Media Studies program provides intensive, graduate-level training to aspiring documentary filmmakers. Using New York City as its laboratory, students learn about documentary history, theory, and video and film production and then produce, direct and edit an original 30-minute documentary. With just 20 students enrolled each year, the program allows for extensive one-on-one instruction from a core faculty of working professionals as well as renowned visiting artists such as D.A. Pennebaker and Peter Davis.

"JVC is very excited with the implementation of our ProHD professional video equipment at The New School," said Craig Yanagi, National Marketing Manager, Creation Products, JVC Professional Products Company. "The Documentary Media Studies curriculum is ideal for taking advantage of the synergy that has brought together the latest in camera, lens and editing technology designed for HD independent production. The experience gained from using these tools can be immediately applied to their future careers as this equipment is being used by production professionals today."

Burris also commented on the camera´s manual lens. "Being fully manual and including back focus is a very important feature to us; it enables our students to experience real world lens work."
For more information and high-resolution photos of the JVC´s ProHD camcorders, visit JVC´s Web site at http://pro.jvc.com.

ABOUT JVC PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTS COMPANY

JVC Professional Products Company, located in Wayne, New Jersey, is a leading manufacturer and distributor of a complete line of broadcast and professional equipment. For more information about this, or any other JVC Professional Products Company product, contact JVC at (800) 582-5825; or Candace Vadnais at PFS Marketwyse 973-812-8883, ext. 430 or visit JVC´s Web site at http://pro.jvc.com.

ABOUT THE NEW SCHOOL

Located in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City, The New School is a legendary, progressive university comprising eight schools bound by a common, unusual intent: to prepare and inspire its 9,300 undergraduate and graduate students to bring actual, positive change to the world. The New School educates economists and actors, fashion designers and urban planners, dancers and anthropologists, orchestra conductors, filmmakers, political scientists, organizational experts, jazz musicians, scholars, psychologists, historians, journalists, and above all, world citizens-individuals whose ideas and innovations forge new paths of progress in the arts, design, humanities, public policy, and the social sciences. In addition to its 70 graduate and undergraduate degree-granting programs, the university offers certificate programs and more than 1,000 continuing education courses to 25,000 adult learners every year.

The New School offered its first film course in 1926. Today The New School Media Studies and Film program offers a master´s degree in media studies, which is one of the few in the country that integrates coursework in media theory, media production, and media management. In addition, the university offers certificate programs in film production, screenwriting, media management and documentary media studies. Throughout its 36-year history, the Media Studies and Film program has been committed to the essential relationship between media theory and practice. In a world defined by rapidly changing information and communication technologies, the program is focused on innovation yet respectful of the integrity and potential contributions of all media formats, providing state-of-the-art instruction in audio, video, film, and multimedia. For more information, visit http://www.newschool.edu/mediastudies.

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Guide to Improving Reading Instruction Published by National Association of State Boards of Education

ALEXANDRIA, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A new brief on strategies to turn state literacy policies into effective classroom reading instruction is being published and distributed to state education leaders, reading experts, and local educators by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).

The recommendations are the latest initiative by state boards of education to address the nation´s growing literacy crisis. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), nearly two-thirds of 8th and 12th graders cannot read at a proficient level and about one-quarter score below basic.

"This guide is aimed at helping states develop comprehensive plans to improve reading instruction for middle and high school students. States need to establish policies and practices that infuse reading and writing instruction into every subject and every grade being taught. It is intended to bridge the chasm between what we know from reading research, what is in place in state policies, and what actually happens in the classroom," said Brenda Welburn, NASBE Executive Director.

The brief was developed by NASBE´s Adolescent Literacy Network, funded by the Carnegie Corporation, to create a national network to inform state board of education leadership in promoting state literacy initiatives across core academic subjects and as part of larger school improvement strategies. In 2005, NASBE convened a year-long study of the status of adolescent literacy in public schools that culminated in a report, Reading at Risk, which issued a national call and recommendations for states to combat the student literacy crisis.

On April 19-20, 2007, NASBE will host a conference of national reading experts, researchers, and state leadership teams to highlight critical literacy issues and describe successful initiatives that will help states adopt comprehensive approaches to improving adolescent literacy.

A free PDF copy of the brief, From State Policy to Classroom Practice: Improving Literacy Instruction for All Students, is available at http://www.nasbe.org/Adolescent_Literacy/.
NASBE, www.nasbe.org, represents America´s state and territorial boards of education. Our principal objectives are to strengthen state leadership in education policymaking; advocate equality of access to educational opportunity; promote excellence in the education of all students; and assure responsible lay governance of education.

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Speech Recognition Technology Improves Reading Fluency at Rosemont Elementary

Orlando, Fla. April 23, 2007–This year, Rosemont Elementary´s sixty struggling readers in the third, fourth and fifth grades have dramatically increased their reading fluency level by using the Soliloquy Reading Assistant, an interactive, speech-enabled educational software program. Diligent use of the program has lead to considerable improvements in their reading skills and comprehension abilities.

The students began using the program in October 2006 after they took the fall DIBELS assessment, a nationally recognized set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development. The participating students tested out at the lowest level of literacy, defined as the Intensive level. In order to raise their fluency level, Soliloquy Reading Assistant was incorporated into their day for fifteen minutes, four days a week in a computer lab. The program is used in addition to the students´ daily 90 minute reading block.

After two months of usage, the majority of the students reached the next level of literacy, the Strategic level, based on the winter DIBELS assessment.

"We´ve implemented many other programs at Rosemont, and we´ve never seen such great results so quickly," said Jacqueline Oester, Reading Support Teacher at Rosemont. "The students love it because it allows them to practice reading in a neutral setting, in which they are not judged by peers. This has also helped to boost their self esteem. Our hope is that when our students take the spring DIBELS at the end of this month, they will continue to show increased improvement in their reading fluency," she continued.

Some of the children in the program are English as a Second Language (ESL) students. One of these children started school in the U.S. in January 2006 and required extra assistance with her English reading. In the fall, when she began using Soliloquy Reading Assistant, she was reading at 48 words correct per minute (WCPM). Since then, she has increased her reading fluency by almost 40 words to 85 WCPM.

"The Spanish translation for key vocabulary in the Reading Assistant has helped her to build her English vocabulary, and listening to the modeled readings has helped her with her intonations and pronunciation. She is so dedicated to using Soliloquy and the positive change in her reading skills is truly remarkable," said her fourth grade teacher Ms. Amanda MacKay.

"Rosemont Elementary is an excellent example of a school combining technology and traditional methods to help its students to become better readers," said Jon Bower, CEO of Soliloquy Learning. "Our technology provides students with valuable feedback on their reading, while the individualized reading time allows the students to enjoy the skills they are learning by reading books from their classroom library."

Students use Soliloquy Reading Assistant by reading e-books into a computer using a standard headset and microphone. Through Soliloquy Reading Assistant´s proprietary speech-recognition technology, the program is able to "listen" and recognize when readers stumble or make mistakes on specific words. When a student struggles, the program assists or corrects him/her by reading the word clearly, meanwhile making records in the background for teacher review. Vocabulary assistance and comprehension questions are other features of the program. When students do not know a word´s meaning, they can click it to gain access to a context-sensitive definition, pronunciation and photographic memory aid. When students reach the end of a reading passage, comprehension questions are presented to ensure understanding and to focus students on acquiring meaning in addition to speed. Students can then have the program read the story to them, and compare the model with their own readings to improve their pronunciation.

Soliloquy Reading Assistant is available for students in grades 1-12, plus adult remedial reading programs. For elementary students (grades 1-5), reading content is drawn from children´s stories, poems and expository passages to build literature appreciation. For secondary students (grades 5-adult), content is drawn from science and social studies subjects covered by many state tests, providing experience with the content to improve comprehension later on. Since its launch in 2002, various versions of Soliloquy Reading Assistant have been used by over 5,000 schools across the country. For more information, visit www.soliloquylearning.com, or call 1-877-235-6036.

About Soliloquy Learning, Inc.

Founded in 2000, Soliloquy Learning has pioneered new and effective methods for improving reading and spoken language skills. The company´s flagship product, Soliloquy Reading Assistant, provides one-on-one reading support, using proprietary speech recognition technology to monitor and assist students through Guided Oral Reading, the research-proven best practice for fostering reading progress beyond the basics. Design has been led by literacy expert, Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams. Research on the efficacy of Soliloquy Reading Assistant has been sponsored through research grants from NICHD and IES . Soliloquy Learning is a privately held company based in Waltham, Mass. For more information visit: http://www.soliloquylearning.com.

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Leading Media and Education Organizations Partner to

Santa Barbara, CA–April 19, 2007–Three prominent history organizations–ABC-CLIO, National History Day, and The History Channel–joined together today to open up a comprehensive collection of resources for educators on the 400th anniversary of Jamestown´s founding. These resources help enrich students´ understanding of the first successful British settlement in North America and honor the colony´s anniversary.

Assembled in a high-quality website that will be available through May 31st, the collection provides everything students and teachers need for a meaningful study of Jamestown and focuses on the event that shaped the European settlement of North America and the ongoing debates surrounding it.
The Jamestown Colony website includes:

*A complete database from ABC-CLIO on the Jamestown Colony, covering all the personalities, political intrigue, and conflict with Native Americans that came with the colony´s founding. The database offers the complete text of Frank E. Grizzard, Jr. and D. Boyd Smith´s just-released encyclopedia–Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History.

*A video clip library from The History Channel
*Recommended classroom activities from National History Day that help illustrate the relationship between the Powhatan People and the Jamestown settlers

*Primary source documents including the first Virginia charter, John Smith´s account of an expedition to meet the area´s American Indians, and a description of the American Indians encountered by the early settlers

*Perspectives from ABC-CLIO scholars on the interaction of Jamestown residents with the surrounding Native American population, including one from James Horn, Vice President of Research for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and author of numerous books and articles on colonial America

This comprehensive online resource is part of a cooperative venture between ABC-CLIO, National History Day, and The History Channel, aimed at advancing history education.

"We are pleased to join these highly-regarded organizations in developing this valuable website," said Becky Snyder, President of ABC-CLIO. "Helping students better understand the link between the Jamestown colony and the founding of our country while also thinking critically about the impact it has had and continues to have on our lives is essential."

The colony of Jamestown, Virginia, was the first permanent English settlement in America. In June of 1606, the Virginia Company of London was granted a charter to establish a colony in the New World in order to exploit the area´s mineral resources. Three ships, the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed, carried 108 adventurers and indentured servants across the Atlantic Ocean to the North American continent. The expedition first anchored at Cape Comfort (present-day Old Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia) on April 30, 1607.

To access the Jamestown Colony website, please click the link below. The website will be available from April 19, 2007, through May 31, 2007.
www.jamestown.abc-clio.com
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About ABC-CLIO Schools

ABC-CLIO Schools provides history teachers and students with authoritative reference information and teacher resources that help students hone the skills of historical inquiry and inquiry-based discussion as they master historical content and develop a deeper understanding of history´s major themes and lessons. The ABC-CLIO Schools award-winning subscription databases–American History, World History: The Modern Era, World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras, State Geography, World Geography, American Government, United States at War: Understanding Conflict and Society, and Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society–provide a comprehensive collection of references, curriculum, and current events that together simplify historical research and help students make sense of world events as they unfold. ABC-CLIO Schools is a division of ABC-CLIO, a premier history publisher for over 50 years based in Santa Barbara, California.
For more information or a list of available titles, visit:
www.abc-clio.com/schools

About National History Day

National History Day, Inc. (NHD) is an education organization that is transforming the way history is taught and learned. National History Day helps teachers meet educational standards; disseminates high quality curriculum materials; and sponsors challenging contests that teach students critical skills for the 21st century. National History Day improves education EVERY day. Through NHD, students develop critical thinking and research skills by creating exhibits, performances, documentaries and papers they may enter in competitions at the district, state and national levels.

For additional information on NHD visit:
www.nhd.org

About The History Channel

The History Channel is one of the leading cable television networks featuring compelling original, non-fiction specials and series that bring history to life in a powerful and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. The network provides an inviting place where people experience history in new and exciting ways enabling them to connect their lives today to the great lives and events of the past that provide a blueprint for the future. The History Channel has earned three Peabody Awards, six News and Documentary Emmy® Awards and received the prestigious Governor´s Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network´s Save Our History® campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education. The History Channel reaches more than 89 million Nielsen subscribers.
The website is located at:
www.history.com

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The College Board Recognizes America´s Most Improved High Schools

NEW YORK–Three outstanding high schools have been named College Board 2007 Inspiration Award winners for improving the academic environment and helping students achieve equitable access to higher education despite social, economic, and cultural challenges. Each winning school receives a $25,000 award, and each of the four honorable mention schools receives $1,000 to apply toward programs that encourage students to attend college.

Remarking on today´s announcement, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said, "In today´s competitive economy, a college education is becoming a necessity. Schools like these should be commended for helping more students achieve and pursue higher education. They´re setting a great example for other schools–proving that hard work and high expectations help students succeed."

The Inspiration Awards honor those high schools that initiate unique programs and create partnerships among teachers, parents, community organizations, and local businesses to help more students pursue a college education.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said in a statement, "This is the second consecutive year a Virginia public high school has been recognized by the College Board with the honor of an Inspiration Award. I have long maintained that if students in Virginia are challenged and supported, they will soar past competence to excellence. This school is a model for that ideal."

This year´s College Board Inspiration Award winners are:

*Denbigh High School, Newport News, Virginia

*G.W. Brackenridge High School, San Antonio, Texas

*Stranahan High School, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

"The College Board is honored to recognize these exemplary schools that inspire their students to work toward college success, despite economic challenges," said College Board Senior Vice President for College Readiness Eric Smith. "These dedicated administrators, teachers, and community leaders go above and beyond to set remarkably high expectations for all of their students and provide exceptional academic opportunities."

Denbigh High School

Denbigh High School is located in Newport News, Va., a medium-sized city with a large military presence. The school has a diverse enrollment of more than 1,640 students, of whom 52 percent are African American, 6 percent are Hispanic, and 6 percent are Asian; 45 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The school is constantly adapting to the needs of its students through various activities focusing on preparation for college.

Denbigh High School engages a student before he or she attends high school by partnering with "feeder" middle schools to provide a five-week summer transition program for rising freshmen, including courses in English, writing, algebra, and character development. The school´s Patriot Passport Program was created to help decrease the dropout rate and help students through their ninth-grade transition. This includes providing students with mentors and other means of support throughout their first year in high school.

"Denbigh High aimed well beyond the Standards of Learning and challenged students to reach higher, to strive for more, and to achieve more, and they have met that challenge," Kaine said. "I want to thank Principal Michael Evans and his outstanding faculty and staff for providing excellent instruction and support. I would also like to thank the College Board for recognizing hard working schools that defy the odds, increasing the number of students participating in Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) and go on to attend institutions of high education."

In addition to the Patriot Passport Program, Denbigh High School created the First Generation Project, again with the help of middle schools. Working in tandem, the schools identify rising freshmen who are the first in their immediate families on track to graduate from high school or apply to college. The program provides much-needed guidance and direction on the college application process through after-school and evening programs. Parents and students of all grade levels meet with school officials to discuss information on postsecondary education, each year focusing on different topics including career development and financial aid.

Denbigh High School has open enrollment in honors and Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) courses, and provides after-school tutorial support. As such, the faculty attends professional development classes when possible to learn new teaching techniques to meet the ever-changing needs of Denbigh´s diverse student population.

In addition to preparing students for the academic challenges of college, Denbigh administrators are also focused on the overall well-being of their students. One mother, who is also a nurse, said, "I informed Denbigh of the unusually high pockets of teen pregnancy in the district, and the Health and Physical Education teachers worked with Principal Evans to include a Virginia Department of Health class that specifically addresses reproductive health and pregnancy prevention." She continued, "This brave step will surely preserve college aspirations for many vulnerable students." This is just one example of varied efforts Denbigh High School makes to ensure student success and aspirations for higher education.

G.W. Brackenridge High School

This school year, G.W. Brackenridge High School, located in San Antonio, Texas, has ten Advanced Placement Program (AP) scholars, one National Commended Scholar, six Hispanic Scholars, and one African American Scholar. Last school year, five of its students were accepted to Notre Dame, more than any other high school in Texas. Although Brackenridge is 100 percent Title I and a school with a diverse enrollment of more than 1,850 students, of whom 97 percent are from minority backgrounds, nearly 70 percent of its seniors are accepted to colleges and universities, earning $22 million in scholarships in the past two years.

G.W. Brackenridge High School has the challenge of moving incoming students from a barely passing rate of 40 percent on the state tests in eighth grade to preparing them for the rigors of honors and AP courses. Brackenridge prepares its traditionally underserved students for higher education by requiring all students to follow a college-preparatory curriculum. Beginning in ninth grade, students are required to take a focused Freshmen Prep course that promotes study skills, career exploration, and goal setting to help students graduate and achieve their goals. Tenth-graders campuswide take the PSAT/NMSQT® and PLAN tests, and resulting data are used to design and implement a master schedule with an intensive curriculum.

With the Inspiration Award funds, G.W. Brackenridge High School students will conduct a career interest inventory, matching their career interests with campuses both in and outside of Texas. Instructional coordinators and the principal will network with businesses in the community to facilitate career-shadowing opportunities for students. Staff will coordinate financial aid information workshops for parents in both Spanish and English, as nearly 90 percent of students are Hispanic. Additionally, Brackenridge plans to use the Inspiration Award grant to allow students to visit at least two college campuses as they research opportunities.

Stranahan High School

Stranahan is a school with an enrollment of more than 1,750 students, of whom nearly 88 percent are from minority backgrounds and 57 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Yet almost 25 percent of Stranahan´s students took an AP Exam in 2006, with 720 AP Exams scheduled to be administered this May. The second oldest high school in Broward County, Stranahan´s groundbreaking work with a traditionally underserved population has been cited in the National Association of Secondary School Principals´ Breaking Ranks II and the Pathways to College Network´s A Shared Agenda.

Stranahan High School´s DragonFest, a schoolwide weekly advisory where students learn about college guidelines and postsecondary education, has become a model for other area high schools. Created and guided by teachers, this program encourages excellence with a goal of successful transitions. Stranahan also participates in Broward County´s Urban Teacher Academy Program (UTAP), designed to prepare high school students for careers in education and to support them as they matriculate through postsecondary education with the goal of becoming urban school teachers in their own communities.

Stranahan´s small learning communities also promote opportunities for students to be exposed to the world of work and careers with frequent internships at local businesses and hospitals. Stranahan´s ninth-grade academy, known as the Community Career Research, Exploration, and Successful Transition (CREST), was created to help ninth-graders successfully transition to high school while exploring careers. Additionally, CREST provides students with a Human Resources Day and a Career Day during which students are introduced to more than a dozen professionals from various fields. The other four academies, serving tenth- through twelfth-graders, have a diverse board of directors who ensure that these academies are career-focused, technology-enhanced, student-centered, and outcome-based.

As Devin Avery, of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners says, "The commitment to ensuring equity and excellence from every stakeholder at Stranahan High School is unparalleled. Stranahan High School certainly deserves this recognition."

Awards Reflect Importance of Access to Higher Education

"The 2007 Inspiration Award winners are models of excellence with proven success in closing the achievement gap. They are an inspiration to all those working hard to provide the opportunity of college success to all students," said Caperton.

A distinguished panel of Inspiration Award judges selected this year´s winners based on the school´s success in increasing the number of students (from all school demographic groups) being prepared for college.

The 2007 Inspiration Award judges included:

*Brian Cashman, general manager of the New York Yankees

*Edwidge Danticat, Miami-based writer

*Sarah Jones, playwright, actor, and poet

*Randy Siegel, publisher, PARADE magazine

*Chauncey Veatch, 2002 National Teacher of the Year

College preparedness gains were measured based on a variety of factors, including the percentage of students taking college-preparatory core curriculum courses; the percentage of students accepted to two- or four-year colleges; and growth in student participation in rigorous classes such as AP, International Baccalaureate, or other honors programs. Beyond meeting basic eligibility requirements, the Inspiration Award?winning schools were selected for their innovative ability to inspire student success.

The following schools are recipients of the College Board 2007 Inspiration Award Honorable Mention and each school has received a $1,000 award:

*Edinburg High School, Edinburg, Texas

*Hogan Preparatory Academy, Kansas City, Missouri

*Paramount High School Senior Campus, Paramount, California

*Eastside College Preparatory School, East Palo Alto, California

More information about the College Board Inspiration Awards is available at www.collegeboard.com/inspirationawards.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6566749.stm

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/18/AR2007041802375.html

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