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DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHED THE FIRST-EVER X-FACTOR Student Achievement Awards last spring, with the exclusive sponsorship of AutoSkill International Inc., a company that creates intervention software solutions to help close the proficiency gap in K12 schools.

Like the business world, schools such as Red Clay (Del.) School District count on e-mail to communicate. "It's instantaneous. It's the best way to go," says Judith Conway, instructional technology coach in the district.

Although many first- and second-year teachers will put on a brave face for their colleagues and administrators, a glimpse of professional woes can be found by browsing beginning teachers' online message boards.

Madison Metropolitan (Wis.) School District

www.madison.k12.wi.us

Asking questions is one of the most commonly used instructional strategies in K12 classrooms. Researchers have identified effective questioning as a tool for building students' basic and higher-level skills. Here is what is known and what's new about using questions.

In summarizing research on effective schooling, researcher Kathleen Cotton (1999) identified several ways teachers can ask questions to promote learning:

1. Use questions to engage students and monitor their understanding.

2. Structure questions to focus students' attention on key ideas.

This fall, the 45,000 students in the Seattle Public School system will be encouraged to create and publish pictures, videos and other work to their personal Web pages, where they'll even be able to create communities of "friends" online.

Reflecting on "Let 'Em Cheat"

State Standards Are Low and Vary Considerably, New Report Says

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing and reporting education data in the United States and abroad, recently released the findings of a report, "Mapping 2005 State Proficiency Standards onto the NAEP Scales," that speak to the difficulty in comparing No Child Left Behind test score results across states.

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