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Articles: Reform

Students from the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin walk at graduation.

Two of Austin ISD’s middle schools will begin operating as single-gender schools next fall. The Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Garcia Middle School and the Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Pearce Middle School will enroll 600 sixth, seventh and eighth graders, and will focus on college readiness.

Teacher-turned-activist Sabrina Stevens is executive director of Integrity In Education.

In mid-January a new organization called Integrity In Education was launched with the goal of “exposing the corporate and profit-motivated influences working to control public education across the country.”

Former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue is leading a new digital education nonprofit called the Digital Learning Institute.


Former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue is leading a new digital education nonprofit called the Digital Learning Institute, which aims to expand technology use in the classroom and increase instructional opportunities for teachers. Perdue, who was a teacher before entering politics, received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Students at the GSA Network’s Queer Youth Advocacy day last spring in California advocated for the School Success and Opportunity Act. (Photo: GSA Network)

A first-of-its-kind law in California addressing the rights of transgender students in public schools has set guidelines for administrators on how to ensure safety and equality for these students, who are at an increased risk for bullying.

Fourth grade teacher Joan Meehan works with student Erica Moye. Meehan had the same students in third grade and says they’re making progress.

Crowds of students who’d left their classes without permission used to prowl the halls of the K8 Clemente Leadership Academy in New Haven, Conn. Students fought, used profanities and verbally abused staff. Teachers spent more time on discipline than instruction. Clemente, long known as a place to send troubled students, sunk under the weight of low expectations to become one of New Haven’s lowest-performing schools.

Education expert Will Richardson says schools must teach students to be successful learners in a world of information.

In his new book, Will Richardson says schools aren't keeping up the tech that drives today's students.

New York City’s expansive charter school network may be in trouble. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who takes office this month, says he plans to charge charters rent for using space in school buildings and to stop new charters from opening. De Blasio says he will focus instead on improving traditional public schools, but the details of his plan for charters remain unclear.

Diane Ravitch, once a top supporter of testing and school choice, is now leading the fight against those policies.

Diane Ravitch is outspoken in her criticisms of education in this country. Her latest book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (Knopf, 2013), pulls no punches in its arguments against testing, the charter school movement, and federally driven mandates.

Twenty-one students graduated in 2013 from the Peabody Learning Academy in Peabody, Mass., a Simon Youth Academy alternative high school located inside a shopping mall.

Students attending alternative high schools located in shopping malls nationwide are succeeding academically, with an average graduation rate of 90 percent in the nontraditional setting.

Until recently, only rural districts hoping to save money on busing geographically spread-out students had cut the school week down to four days. But now, while some districts are leaning toward year-round schedules, some are actually shortening the week as budgets continue to drop and state officials allow scheduling flexibility.

High school students in Fairfax County, Va., may soon get to hit the snooze button, as the district partners with sleep specialists to delay school start times in hopes of raising academic achievement and improving student health.

“Sleep is absolutely critical to learning,” says Fairfax County Public Schools board member Sandy Evans. “Our adolescent students simply aren’t getting enough sleep for their physical, mental, or academic health.”

Even before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the city and the state had been the focus of school reform. The Recovery School District project aimed to turn around underperforming schools on a grand scale. But Katrina gave officials a reason to wipe the slate clean in poverty stricken New Orleans. Hope Against Hope (Bloomsbury Press, 2013), by Times-Picayune reporter Sarah Carr, examines those reform efforts from the perspective of the teachers and families they affected.

Superintendent Jim McIntyre interacts with Knox County elementary school students.

Knox County Schools is a flourishing district in Tennessee, with most of its 15 high schools having graduation rates above 90 percent. Within the last five years, the district has also has also seen modest gains in reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies as measured by the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests for grades 3 through 8.

Jack Martin took the helm of Detroit Public Schools in July as the district’s new emergency manager, with goals of getting the academically and financially troubled district back on track. Three days after his appointment, Detroit filed for bankruptcy.

It is the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, with roots in the decline of the auto industry and racial tensions that drove residents out to the suburbs.

Education Commissioner Terry Holiday says Kentucky students have made gains in college career readiness.

Terry Holliday knows something about what makes a school district work. Having come up through the ranks, from band director and assistant principal to principal, superintendent, and, in 2009, to Kentucky’s commissioner of education, Holliday has seen first-hand how schools and districts can get on track for success. He spoke to District Administration about what Kentucky has done to turn around low-performing schools.