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Articles: Assessment

Our country's Advanced placement programs are booming and have been for some time. In May 2000, approximately 769,000 students took 1.3 million AP exams in this country. By May 2009, approximately 1.7 million students took nearly 3 million exams—a growth rate of 130 percent in nine years. The 1990s saw an even greater rate: 145 percent. What's behind this impressive growth?

With each year comes a fresh crop of college-bound students pressured by the headlines to overcome the increasingly competitive nature of college admissions. However, a new study from the Center for Public Education (CPE) illustrates that the perception that an average applicant faces more challenges each year may be nothing more than mere myth.

Like other districts with schools that are not meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals for five consecutive years, Hawaii is restructuring its low performing schools as required by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Unlike most other districts, however, Hawaii, a single statewide district, has been doing it for five years with the support of three independent education consulting firms working directly with administrators and teachers in the failing schools.

Seventy-seven percent of high school students nationwide are missing the core benchmarks necessary to prepare them for their first year in college, according to a new study conducted by the research and policy arm of ACT, which conducts curriculum based college entrance exams similar to the SAT.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has released the Milestones for Improving Learning and Education (MILE ) Guide, a new tool for K12 leaders to assess where their district falls in providing their students with critical 21st century skills.

The MILE Guide is the most recent release from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an organization that promotes the integration of these critical skills into core academic subjects.

Mayoral control of public schools is nothing new. Boston pioneered the practice in 1992, replacing elected school committee members with mayoral appointees. Since then, a dozen urban districts—including Cleveland, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.—have undergone a similar change in school governance that has shifted some or most of the power to mayors, with some cities having mayors make appointments to the school board and others having mayors outright manage the district budget and spearhead large-scale initiatives.

What constitutes a 21st-century education? The answers vary (Walser, 2008), but 10 states have already adopted the framework used by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (www.21stcenturyskills.org), and more states are preparing to do so. The Partnership’s Framework for 21st Century Learning specifies student outcomes in four areas:

 

Cookie Academy Project

Antwerp (Ohio) Local School District

 

Learning Cafe

Phoenix (Ariz.) Elementary School District #1

As public elected or selected officials, board members must be accountable to the community. The evaluation instrument is an excellent accountability tool. The board must answer various questions, such as: What are the legal requirements of superintendent evaluation? What is an evaluation's purpose? How can we measure performance? Is an evaluation instrument a measure of growth? How does it serve to improve superintendent-board relations? What is the board's ethical responsibility to the community regarding student learning? What documents are needed to perform the evaluation?

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