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In This Issue Featured Content Research Headlines Report Roundup Events & Opportunities McREL in the News
McREL expands to Australia
Led by education consultant Ross Dean, McREL Australia offers schools and districts PD and consulting designed to increase student achievement, including
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The New York Times
According to a report by Scholastic Inc. and the Harrison Group, digital reading is rising fast among children ages six to 17. However, this isn’t translating into a greater desire to read. Conducted from August 29 to September 10, 2012, the survey was based on 2,148 children and their parents. The report states that the percentage of children who have read an e-book has almost doubled since 2010, to 46 percent. Yet, during the same time period, the number of girls who reported being frequent readers declined to 36 percent from 42 percent. About one-fourth of the boys who had read an e-book said they were reading more books for fun (boys are traditionally behind girls in reading). Also, half of those in an older range, from nine to 17, said they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to e-books.
The National Education Policy CenterThe National Education Policy Center’s (NEPC) study, Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking-Dropout Prevention, examines how to decrease dropout rates. Statistics show that high-poverty schools graduate less than 70 percent of their seniors; and new research confirms that while no single factor exists as a cause for dropout, it is critical for schools to collaborate with social and health agencies in response. According to the center, “Research continues to show most risk factors influencing student dropout rates are centered outside of school… [and] multiple risk factors must be addressed with multiple strategies.” Other NEPC policy recommendations include: high-quality early education programs; professional development on dropout indicators; increasing compulsory school age to 18 or graduation; and revamping out-of-school suspension, grade retention, and high school exit exam policies. NEPC is a longtime advocate for research-based strategies known to increase graduation rates. NEPC’s action plan for preventing high school dropout calls for increasing compulsory schooling ages, building parental and community involvement, and fostering an engaging school environment.
New from McREL
New Policy Brief
McREL’s latest policy brief, Native-Language Education: Addressing the Interests of Special Populations within U.S. Federal Policy, written by Jane Best and Allison Dunlap, provides an overview of three federal laws that address native-language education and shows how these laws produce different results when coupled with state laws and other regional circumstances.
Two more books in the Common Core series are now available from ASCD: Common Core Standards for Middle School Mathematics: A Quick-Start Guide, written by Amitra Schwols and Kathleen Dempsey, and Common Core Standards for Middle School Language Arts: A Quick-Start Guide, written by Susan Ryan and Dana Frazee.
With every year that passes between 5th and 12th grade, the number of students who are engaged in school declines steadily, according to the Gallup Student Poll. A majority of elementary school students—-almost eight in 10—-qualify as engaged, the poll found. By middle school, however, that number drops to six in 10 students. And when students enter high school, it drops to four in 10. The poll surveyed approximately 500,000 students from 37 states in over 1,700 public schools in 2012. According to Gallup, measuring engagement, hope, and well-being account for one-third of the variance in student success. Director of Gallup Education, Brandon Busteed, posits a few possible causes for the lack of student engagement, including “our overzealous focus on standardized testing and curricula [and] our lack of experienced and project-based learning pathways for students—-not to mention the lack of pathways for students who will not and do not want to go on to college.”
A report from the Center for Digital Education argues that educators can reach K–12 students through the use of “specialized technology” and spark interest in STEM fields. The center defines specialized technologies as tools used in specific areas of education or disciplines. Specialized technologies include everything from medical robots to wind-taking instruments to audio equipment. Leilani Cauthen from the center believes specialized technologies are not only providing students with a deeper understanding of STEM, but are also creating new opportunities for teachers to engage students. For example, 3D printers and rapid prototype machines have led to students collaborating with local businesses to produce prototypes. Another potential benefit: Specialized technologies can help students gain familiarity with technology they will encounter in college and in the workforce, the authors say. The report also explores the uses of specialized technologies in helping students with disabilities make the transition to the workforce. Specifically, assistive technologies, or tech tools that can help students overcome barriers posed by disabilities, bring rewards if teachers and others can find the most appropriate uses tailored to individual students. The authors do warn that school administrators need to be able to choose the most appropriate technology and train teachers on how to use it so it is helpful and not confusing.
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McREL in the News
Review for Teaching Reading in the Content Areas
In the February issue of Middle Ground magazine (available by subscription), Ginni Fair, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Eastern Kenturky University, reviews the third edition of Teaching Reading in the Content Areas for Middle Ground. She notes that the authors, Vicki Urquhart and Dana Frazee, “establish the relevance of content area literacy instruction, noting not only that reading proficiency is in a state of decline, but that a definition of reading proficicency has changed in many ways.”