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Any which way you slice it, the graduation rate among American high school students is just not cutting it, even given the latest report that claims higher rates than what had been reported.

Two separate reports recently released give varied graduation figures: One claims only half of minority students ever make it out of school with a diploma, which has been reported before, while another one says slightly more than seven in 10 minorities get diplomas.

Going wireless offers a panoply of attractive benefits to school districts. Because you don't have to run cables to every classroom, it's cheaper to deploy a wireless network than an old-fashioned wired network. Wireless makes it more convenient for administrators, teachers and students to connect.

But there's a perilous downside: A wireless network is easier for hackers to break into. Without the proper security measures, going wireless means opening a gaping hole in your computer systems' defenses.

School administrators and teachers now have a choice of smartphone operating systems from Palm, Inc. The new Palm Treo 700p smartphone includes hardware and software innovations centered around usability, connectivity, multimedia and compatibility.

More districts are offering algebra to 8th graders to spur enrollment in higher level math courses during high school. But accelerating the math curriculum represents a complex equation and success hinges on multiple variables.

You'd be hard pressed to find a school district that leaves improving test scores, budgeting for new technology or developing the curriculum to chance. But too many schools do exactly that with parental and community involvement, arguably as important to student success as any of those above activities. It takes work, though, to get past the once-a-year bake sale and some fundraising calls to local businesses.

When Dr. Jim Phares joined Marion County Schools in 2003 as superintendent, he was a bit disappointed that most of the district's administrators, principals and teachers were hardly using any technology to streamline their daily tasks.

When it comes time to divvy up the technology budget, districts have more choices than ever. So it may come as a surprise to hear how fiercely some tech experts defend something as seemingly basic as classroom audiovisual equipment.

Fourth graders in Barbara Preziosi's class at Sebastian Elementary School are so taken with their Palm Tungsten handhelds that they won't let them go. They carry them in holders around their necks, taking them from task to task, and from classroom to library.

Special education teacher Lynn Parsons had some encouragement for a mother that doubted that her high-school daughter would be interested in attending the teacher's after-school social-skills class for students with high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome.

Preparing for a Pandemic

Unsure if or when the next flu pandemic might strike, public health officials are telling school districts to be prepared should the bird flu virus evolve to the point where it can spread easily from person to person.

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"We options available for publishing their work, the project has become even more exciting."

An International Class

. In order to challenge and educate each child, all district schools offer a rich and rigorous curriculum.

Creating Superior Teachers

The skills of 3.1 million teachers in elementary and secondary school classrooms across the nation can make or break school reform, according to a recent report from The Brookings Institution.

"Without the right people standing in front of the classroom, school reform is a futile exercise," according to The Hamilton Project, Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance On the Job.

The project, named after the nation's first treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, seeks to advance America's promise of prosperity.