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Author Archives: Alex Moon


4 Myths About School Bullying And The ‘Trump Effect’

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On Thursday, Hillary Clinton packaged a major new school policy proposal as an attack on her rival, Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump has made no apologies to the growing list of people that he has attempted to bully since the launch of his hate-filled campaign,” read the press release from the Clinton campaign about a new $500 million initiative called “Better than Bullying.”

In order to get the money, states would have to pass comprehensive anti-bullying laws and form plans to use school-based interventions like social and emotional learning curricula, or hiring more school counselors.

Under the proposal, the federal government would help pay for those programs by contributing $4 for every $1 put up by states.

The emotional resonance is clear. But how good is the evidence for calling bullying an “urgent crisis,” as the Democratic nominee’s campaign did? Never mind blaming a presidential candidate for a day-to-day increase in bullying?

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National Science Test Scores Are Out, But What Do They Really Tell Us?

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The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, is called The Nation’s Report Card for good reason; the tests are administered the same way year after year, using the same kind of test booklets, to students across the country.

That allows researchers and educators to compare student progress over time. NAEP tests serve as a big research project to benchmark academic achievement in subjects like science, math, reading, writing, civics, economics, geography and U.S. history.

Science results were out Thursday for 4th, 8th, and 12th graders.

Among seniors, achievement was flat, and performance gaps by race, ethnicity and gender persisted.

But fourth- and eighth-graders showed modest progress: each up four points since 2009.

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The Return Of Bilingual Education In California?

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Students at Las Familias Del Pueblo, an after-school program in Los Angeles, practice sentence structure and language.

Morgan Walker for NPR

Nearly two decades after California banned bilingual education, voters next month will have a chance to restore it. Proposition 58 would officially end the era of English-only teaching and re-introduce instruction in English and a second language as an option.

About 1.4 million English Language Learners, or ELLs, make up roughly 23 percent of California’s public school students. Most are Spanish-speakers.

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How The Barber, And Other Caring Adults, Help Kids Succeed

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In a working-class city in southeast Michigan there’s a barbershop where kids get a $2 discount for reading a book aloud to their barber.

“Any help these kids can get with reading and … comprehension is a big thing,” said Ryan Griffin, the veteran barber who instituted the program. “You know, maybe someday some kid will grow up and be a journalist, be a writer, and he’ll say, ‘You know what, when I was young, my barber used to make me read.’ ”

We published a story about Griffin and the shop two weeks ago and ever since they have been overwhelmed with praise, donations and requests for interviews from all over the country and the world. That left of us wondering why exactly this story went viral.

Maybe it’s because Griffin’s sentiment, about helping kids succeed, resonates with a lot of us.

Take this recently released first-of-its-kind study that found for every 1 percent increase in the adult-to-youth ratio in a given community, there was a 1 percent decrease in the rate of young people dropping out before graduating high school.

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What Are The Main Reasons Teachers Call It Quits?

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For Ross Roberts, it was a lack of resources that drove him from the classroom. For Danielle Painton, it was too much emphasis on testing. For Sergio Gonzalez, it was a nasty political environment.

Welcome to the U.S. teaching force, where the “I’m outta here” rate is an estimated 8 percent a year — twice that of high-performing countries like Finland or Singapore. And that 8 percent is a lot higher than other professions.

The teaching force is “a leaky bucket, losing hundreds of thousands of teachers each year — the majority of them before retirement age,” says a recent report from the Learning Policy Institute.

Why are so many teachers leaving?

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How We Teach English Learners: 3 Basic Approaches

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In a small room in Philadelphia’s school administration building, Rosario Maribel Mendoza Lemus, 16, sits in a corner, rubbing sweaty palms on her jeans.

In front of her is a binder with a test she has to take before she’s assigned to a new school. A counselor hovers over her shoulder, pointing to a drawing of a book.

She asks, in English: “Do you know what that is?”

“No,” says Rosario, who arrived this summer from Honduras, where she made it no further than the sixth grade. She keeps shaking her head, and it’s clear that Rosario does not understand anything the counselor is saying.

There are 5 million students like Rosario — English Language Learners or ELLs — living in the U.S., and we’re going to spend much of the next year reporting on them. They raise one of the biggest questions facing educators: What’s the best way to teach English without losing time on the content students need to learn?

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