Although the Board of Regents is letting schools use 55 as the passing grade on state exams for two more years, a few Buffalo-area districts have stuck with the 65 threshold to challenge their students to excel. Most districts, however, have opted to use the lower standard to maximize the number of students passing the exam.
Many urban charter schools have made impressive gains on the MCAS and are outperforming their parent districts' regular schools. Some attribute the charters' success to the drive of their highly motivated founders, small size and greater scheduling flexibility.
Students at Peter Burnett Elementary School, where 100% of the student body qualifies for subsidized lunches, are raising $12,000 to build a modern, one-room schoolhouse in Malawi, Africa. School librarian Mitch Stricker devised the project, after much debate with school staff, to teach students to reach out to those less fortunate.
A report by the London School of Economics on children's Internet use says schools and parents need to teach young people to spend their online time more creatively. The study advocates encouraging children to engage in online political discussions and create their own Web sites.
Seattle teens are flocking to after-school Arabic and Chinese classes sponsored by the nonprofit group OneWorld Now! The organization, founded after the Sept. 11 attacks to increase young people's awareness of global issues, hopes to attract economically disadvantaged students to the program.