The quality of Head Start programs varies widely, according to a study led by Terri Sabol of Northwestern University. Researchers found that differences in class size, student-adult ratio, teacher education level and the instructional support provided to children could affect funding in some cases.
Illinois' Golden Apple Scholar Institutes works to help curb high rates of teacher turnover. The program, which has trained about 800 aspiring teachers over the past year, includes practical teaching experience in the classroom.
John White, Louisiana's superintendent of education, and three other educators testified last week before a joint hearing of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment about efforts to curb high rates of teacher turnover. White pointed to the state's efforts to prepare teachers through mentoring, including a yearlong residency program and pilot programs focused on alternative certification.
A Mississippi school district is using the website TeacherLists to take its school supply lists digital. John Driscoll, president of TeacherLists, says the site helps to relieve some frustrations associated with school supply lists, including forgetting the printout at home when going to the store.
The Federal Trade Commission is considering updates to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act that could have implications for schools. Amelia Vance of the Future of Privacy Forum says the changes could alter restrictions for some mobile apps used by teachers and affect procedures for parental consent.
Advocates for students in special education said last week that they believed the US Department of Education was considering changes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, specifically, to the portion that calls for students to be placed in the "least restrictive environment" that meets their needs. Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said no immediate changes are in the works and "we are not planning to do anything on least restrictive environment."
A RAND Corp. report showed that 52% of lower-income parents said their sixth- to 12th-grade children participated school- or community-based sports activities, compared with 66% of middle- and higher-income parents. Nearly 35% of all families, including 42% of lower-income families, cited financial costs as a barrier to youth sports participation, according to the report.
Texas A&M University is launching a four-year program for students with disabilities that addresses their educational, career and life-skills needs. Students participating in Aggie ACHIEVE will earn certificates and learn how to reach their career goals while living on campus and participating in student life.
The Michigan Education Research Institute will use a five-year, $4.9 million grant to study the effects of a state law that requires retention in third grade for students who are more than a grade level behind their peers who pass state assessments. Part of the study will focus on the effect on students who are retained or who move on to fourth grade but are identified as needing additional support to read.
Student data -- when used effectively -- can help close achievement gaps, among other things, write Tim Cariss and Ted Sullivan of Chico Unified School District in California. In this blog post, they share how their own district leveraged data to boost student equity and success.