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How is ABC Elementary doing compared to XYZ Elementary across town, or JKL Elementary in that district across the river?

Schools, districts and even classrooms are stacked up against each other all the time. During meetings. In the media. At the supermarket. Yet, "very few comparisons are actually appropriate," says Richard J. Wenning, director of operations and accountability at the Colorado League of Charter Schools.

All the teachers in Cheltenham Township School District were clamoring for new desktop PCs, convinced that it was old, slow processors making their classroom computing crawl. But Gary Bixby, director of support services and facilities management, knew that new machines wouldn't solve their problems.

Would you pay someone to tell you what to do? This millennium, K-12 administrators are increasingly answering in the affirmative.

When parents come to hear Ruth Parker of Mathematics Education Collaborative speak on quality mathematics education, they're expecting some answers. But what they may well get is a heavy dose of confusion and frustration.

Quick--think special education. The typical district leader groans at high costs, paperwork and inefficiency. The assessment is frighteningly accurate, but a few districts are bucking the status quo by embracing technology.

Sitting in his one-story office in the town of Brandon, nestled among the Green Mountains of Vermont, William Mathis stares out his rain-splattered window as he contemplates education in the nation and his district, a few miles north of Rutland.

For most education watchers, Connecticut's recent foray into the fight over No Child Left Behind began the moment state Commissioner of Education Betty J. Sternberg sent a letter to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. That letter asked, in part, that Connecticut receive a waiver to avoid the law's required annual tests.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools (Maryland)