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February 24, 2016
Therapy dogs offer unique incentive for struggling readers at Memphis school
When it comes to reading out loud, it helps to have a good listener. That's why Keystone Elementary School has partnered with Mid South Therapy Dogs.
February 17, 2016
Why can’t Tennessee students read? State officials have a hunch, and a plan
Frustrated by stagnant reading scores, Gov. Bill Haslam and his education commissioner launch a major initiative to help Tennessee students read better.
November 23, 2015
Memphis Head Start leaders seek iPad investment for district’s littlest hands
The proposed purchase of 500 iPads for Head Start students would be a first-of-its-kind technology investment for pre-K students in Shelby County Schools.
journalism in jeopardy
October 8, 2015
Memphis student newspaper’s future uncertain after funder pullout
For almost 18 years, The Teen Appeal has been bringing a form of literacy to students in Shelby County Schools. But its December issue could be its last.
August 20, 2015
Tennessee rolls out sweeping literacy initiatives amid stagnant reading scores
Calling Tennessee's stagnant literacy rates a "true ethical and moral dilemma," Candice McQueen discusses her first major initiative as education commissioner.
August 11, 2015
Six charts showing test scores in schools that Tennessee wants to turn around
A chart-by-chart analysis of efforts to improve failing schools in Memphis and Shelby County, based on the latest TCAP scores
Teaching & Classroom
March 18, 2015
Educators praise decision to leave dyslexia training bill largely unchanged
Educator Denise Lessow spent much of today worried that legislators would amend a bill intended to help teachers recognize students struggling with dyslexia in ways that…
the more things change
May 6, 2014
Colorado third-grade reading scores dip slightly
Colorado's third-grade reading scores took a 1 percent dip in 2014, according to preliminary results released today by the state Department of Educaton
Anatomy of a lesson
April 21, 2014
At Pueblo charter school, teaching literacy hasn’t changed much with new standards
Reading lessons may seem strikingly similar to lessons of yesteryear, even though this is the first year schools are supposed to be teaching to a new set of standards. For some Colorado districts, the new standards have meant a complete instructional overhaul. But at this Pueblo school, teachers began exploring the standards in 2010 and found that in most subjects, they only had to make slight shifts, said Natalie Allen, head of school.
January 28, 2014
Colorado’s achievement gap in reading one of the largest in the nation
The gap in reading ability between Colorado’s low-income and affluent students is the seventh largest in the nation and growing, according to a report released…
August 9, 2013
Close-reading one seventh-grade state English test question
This year's state English language arts exams required more "close-reading" than ever before, in keeping with the priorities of the Common Core learning standards. Back in April, when the exams were administered to students in third through eighth grades, educators said the length of the reading passages and what students were asked to do with them made the tests too onerous for the time allowed. This week, the state released scores showing that only 31 percent of students met the state's proficiency standards, including just 26.4 percent in New York City. We asked three English teachers to apply the same reading strategies that they teach their students to questions that appeared on the state's reading exams. (Breaking from recent past practice, the state released about a quarter of the test questions that students saw. We highlighted math questions on Wednesday.) Zeroing in on the "Earth and Water and Sky" passage on the seventh-grade exam, the educators — Victoria Dedaj, Mark Anderson, and Jen Murtha — said some questions required more than literacy skills, used complex language, and sometimes had no clear answer. Dedaj and Anderson — whom you might remember from our Common Core literacy event last fall — teach at M.S. 228 in the Bronx, where Murtha was a Teaching Matters' consultant before becoming the nonprofit's director of educational services. Here's the passage and what they said about it:
July 15, 2013
Reading Closely For Connection In The Common Core
The Common Core’s reverence for the text as “the master class,” as chief creator David Coleman said in a 2011 speech, means that students’ personal interpretations are deemphasized — and even denounced. That particular pendulum swing has me concerned because, in my experience, students must also bring their own perspectives and experiences to the text if they are to read critically.
March 6, 2013
Common Core has teachers rethinking text, swapping strategies
Sixth graders at KIPP Infinity Middle School discuss a poem. On Tuesday, educators visited the charter school to learn about how it is adjusting…
July 18, 2012
For some charters, 2012 reading test gains began with a struggle
Two years ago, just one in three students at Achievement First Bushwick were rated "proficient" on the state's reading tests. It wasn't exactly the kind of result promised from a high-performing charter school in a "no excuses" network. But the school has nearly doubled that rate in the two years since, according to state test scores released Tuesday. On the 2012 English language arts test, nearly 60 percent of students at the school were rated proficient, compared to 47 percent of students citywide. Bushwick's gains on the reading tests were among the largest made in the charter sector, which improved as a whole by seven percentage points, from 44.5 percent to 51.5 percent. The improvement — from matching the citywide average to scoring well above it — has provided fodder for charter school advocates and the Bloomberg administration to push back against critics who oppose the expansion of charter schools across the state. "Policy makers and legislators should take note" of the gains, said Bill Phillips, president of the New York Charter Schools Association."It’s not only a tougher measure than the host district comparison, it suggests that districts across the state should consider charters as another tool to better educate children." "We can't possibly handle the demand from parents for the charter schools," Mayor Bloomberg said during a press conference Tuesday. "They're just off the charts." Several charter operators announced their schools' test scores in celebratory press releases Tuesday. Deborah Kenny touted the eighth-grade math and reading scores at her schools, the Harlem Village Academies. The Success Academy network announced a 7-point gain in reading proficiency across its four schools with testing grades, more than twice the citywide improvement rate. And Democracy Prep said the low-performing charter school it took over last year had posted the largest reading proficiency gains of any school in the state, with third-grade reading proficiency hurtling from 28 percent in 2011 to 63 percent this year. The charter school sector wasn't nearly as enthusiastic to promote its gains two years ago, when reading scores slumped. Struggles to boost literacy were not unique to Achievement First Bushwick.
May 25, 2012
"Find a Book, Colorado" offers up books to all ages
"Find a Book, Colorado" is a new online tool that allows children and parents to look up high-quality, age-appropriate books to read over the summer. Check it out.
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