Entries in Education (39)


College-Bound Students Not Prepared in Basic Subjects

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Only one in four college-bound high school graduates is adequately prepared for college-level English, reading, math, and science, according to report released Wednesday by the ACT college admissions test.

Some 28 percent of the members of the high school class of 2011 failed to meet readiness benchmarks in any of the four core subject areas.

"ACT results continue to show an alarmingly high number of students who are graduating without all the academic skills they need to succeed after high school," the report stated.

The study also revealed a wide "achievement gap" between racial and ethnic groups.

  • In English, 77 percent of white students and 76 percent of Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark compared with 47 percent of Latinos and 35 percent of African-Americans.
  • In Reading, 62 percent of both white and Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark compared with 35 percent of Latinos and 21 percent of African-Americans.
  • In Mathematics, 71 percent of Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark compared with 54 percent of white students, 30 percent of Latinos and 14 percent of African-Americans.
  • In Science, 41 percent of Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark versus 37 percent of whites, 15 percent of Latino students and 6 percent of African-Americans.
  • Some 41 percent of Asian-Americans met the readiness benchmarks in all four subjects, compared with 31 percent for whites, 11 percent for Latinos and 4 percent for African-Americans.

"There's still a significant and an actually growing gap both at incomes levels and at racial/ethnic levels in the achievement of those benchmarks," said Jon Erickson, interim president of ACT. "This is a national imperative and a national concern."

Readiness was defined as a student having a 50 percent chance of getting a B or a 75 percent chance of getting a C in first-year courses English Composition, College Algebra, Biology, and social sciences.

There was some good news in the report. The percentages of all students meeting the benchmarks in mathematics and science increased from 2010 to 2011 by 2 percentage points in math and 1 percentage point in science. They remained the same for English (66 percent) and for reading (52 percent)

More than 1.6 million 2011 high school graduates -- 49 percent of the entire national graduating class -- took the ACT exam.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tornado-Scarred Joplin, Mo., Students Return to School

Edwin Wilson, OETA(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- For a town desperately seeking a return to some sense of normalcy, the ringing of school bells is more welcome than even the high-tech gifts being handed to many of Joplin's students on their first day back in school.

"You can judge a community by the way it takes care of its kids," said C.J. Huff, a Joplin schools superintendent. "We take care of our kids. Every student in ninth- through 12th-grade will have a computer on their first day."

Huff is somewhat of a hero in this Missouri town, which is still coping from the aftermath of one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S history. The twister obliterated a third of the community and killed 159 people in a matter of minutes.

Two days after the May storm, he promised that school would be back in session Aug. 17 as originally scheduled, despite the destruction or damage to the main high school and nine other schools.

"Did you think this would be possible three months ago," ABC News' David Muir asked? "Yes," Huff said emphatically.

In Kelsey Norman Elementary, the halls were filled with smiling faces as its young greeted fellow classmates and teachers for the first time since their last school year was cut abruptly short.

"It's nice to see everyone walking through the halls smiling," said Natalie Gonzalez, standing next to Augie Ward, her 9-year-old son, who was hit with flying debris as he cowered with his mother in their bathroom during the storm. Augie survived because he was wearing a bike helmet. "He hasn't seen his best friend all summer," said Gonzalez. "It's needed."

As Augie goes through a book bag filled with donated notebooks, markers and crayons, as well as a paper bag stuffed with the things he had to abandon last school year, his mom, who is still recovering from a broken vertebrae, reflects on their new life as one of Joplin's displaced.

"It's just scars now," she said. "It's nice to see the school open. Everything seems normal again, a little bit. We might not live in this neighborhood right now but at least we can come back and be a part of it."

Like so many displaced by the storm, this family has had to leave Joplin because of a lack of homes. But the school system, which lost seven students and one staff member, is encouraging all of its own both near and far to return in an effort to get its students back on track.

There are many hurdles left for Joplin's students and staff, such as the bigger issues including psychological trauma, to the smaller but not mundane -- like how to act during a tornado drill.

But for a community that lost so much in minutes, the overwhelming message to the outside world is one of gratitude to those across the country and around the world who helped them achieve the seemingly unbelievable task of starting school on time.

"What goes around comes around," special education teacher Carla Sheets said. "Someday, if it's somebody else's turn, we will be there for them. That's what we believe here in Joplin."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Students Slacking in the Geography Department

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Geography is more than just maps -- and the majority of U.S. students need to spend more time learning that.

That was made clear as the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) on Tuesday released the results of its Nation's Report Card: Geography 2010. According the the NAEP, about 30 percent of U.S. students scored at or above the "proficient" level in 2010.

"Geography is a rich and varied discipline that, now more than ever, is vital to understanding the connections between our global economy, environment and diverse cultures," said David P. Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP.

Representative samples of nearly 7,000 fourth graders, 9,500 eighth graders and 10,000 12th graders were tested. While fourth graders showed improvement since 2001 -- the last time the test was administered -- eighth graders' scores remained flat, and 12th graders showed a decline from 1994.

The good news: scores for the lowest-performing students in grade 8 increased and test performance improved for black and Hispanic students in grades 4 and 8.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teacher Cheating Scandal Shakes Atlanta

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Atlanta Public Schools are under investigation after having been accused of systemic cheating over 10 years that involves about 180 educators, including more than three dozen principals.

A report released Tuesday by the Georgia governor's offices alleges that there was widespread doctoring of state curriculum tests and that much of the academic progress the school system bragged about was bogus.

Furthermore, investigators say that Superintendent Beverly Hall either knew what was going on or, at the very least, should have been aware that many of Atlanta's educators were guilty of perpetrating fraud.

State investigators began looking into the results of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in 2009, which showed suspicious score changes.

The report contends that improprieties were regularly covered up while wrong-doers were rewarded and whistle-blowers punished.  Far worse, the report finds that tens of thousands of students came out as the real victims because their abilities were wrongly appraised.

Besides the expected reprimands and firings, criminal charges could be brought against some higher-ups, since destroying government records and lying to investigators carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

As for Hall, she left her job a week ago and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, although she recently said others were to blame.  In 2009, she was named Superintendent of the Year for the nation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Porn Prompts School Yearbook Recall

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(BIG BEAR CITY, Calif.) -- Yearbooks are supposed to house happy high school memories, not child pornography. But that's what officials believe they found amid the annual photos of Big Bear High School students.

"It appeared the male's hand was under the woman's clothing," San Bernardino County Sheriff spokesperson Cindy Bachman told ABC News.

On page 85, a photo of a school dance at the school in Big Bear Lake, Calif., shows a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy who appear to be engaged in a sex act that may have involved penetration.

The school and San Bernardino County detectives began recalling the yearbooks Tuesday and cutting out the picture. The school also offered to reimburse students if they choose to return the yearbook.

Bear Valley Unified School District issued a statement saying: "It was discovered that a background of one of the pictures contained material that was inappropriate. School and district administration are conducting an investigation into the matter and will take appropriate action based on their finding."

Child pornography is "the visual depiction of a person under the age of 18 engaged in sexually explicit conduct" according to federal law.

Most of the students have returned the yearbook for editing.

The Bear Valley School District declined further comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Only 12 Percent of High School Seniors 'Proficient' in History

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Only 12 percent of American 12th-graders know enough history to score "proficient" in the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Only 17 percent of eighth-graders and 20 percent of fourth-graders achieved similar levels of grade-appropriate knowledge.

The good news is that all three groups did fare better, on average, than those who took the test in 1994, according to the Nation's Report Card released Tuesday.

The most significant gain was for the bottom 10th percentile of fourth-graders, with a 22-point increase when compared with student scores from 1994.

The assessment tested representative samples of more than 7,000 fourth-graders, 11,000 eighth-graders, and 12,000 12th-graders.

The NAEP has periodically conducted similar education assessments in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography and other subjects since 1969.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Conn. Mom, Accused of Stealing Son's Education, Arrested on Drug Charges

Creatas/Thinkstock(BRIDGEPORT, Conn.) -- Tanya McDowell, the Connecticut woman charged with stealing her son's education after sending him to a school allegedly outside of her district, was arraigned on drug charges Monday.

McDowell, 33, is being held on $200,000 bond. She was arrested Friday after she allegedly sold crack cocaine and marijuana to undercover officers.

McDowell's arrest came three days after she participated in an education reform rally with Rev. Al Sharpton that was organized by the NAACP. In April, McDowell was charged with first-degree grand larceny and conspiracy for allegedly stealing $15,686 in educational services from Norwalk Public Schools because she sent her six-year-old son to Brookside Elementary School, a school allegedly outside of her district.

Sharpton told ABC News that his appearance at the rally was not in response to McDowell's case and that he is not familiar with the intricacies of her case.

"My position is this young man, the son, should be treated like any other kid if their parent didn't live in the district," Sharpton said. "We don't play politics with the boy. If this mother is unfit to be a mother, it doesn't solve what happens to the boy."

McDowell claims that she registered her son in Brookside despite not being a resident there because she was homeless at the time and floating between a shelter, a friend's apartment in Norwalk and a home in Bridgeport when she registered her son for school.

Under federal law, children can continue to attend classes in a school district where they began their education if the family was homeless.

Her story became fuel for education activists, sparking reform rallies and garnering national attention. The Connecticut chapter of the NAACP, which flocked to McDowell's support in April, would not comment on the drug charges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Georgia Teacher Allegedly Pregnant with Student's Twins

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga.) -- A judge in Georgia has denied bond for a former teacher arrested and accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student in her class, according to ABC News Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV.

Police say the teacher, Rene Frank, 27, is now pregnant with twins after engaging in sex with the student at an off-campus location.

Authorities say the student's father asked Frank to drive his son to school and that's when, the teacher says, the relationship started.

Another student told police that he too had a sexual relationship with Frank. She has denied that allegation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Principal on Leave After Suicide of Student He Hypnotized

Hemera Technologies/Photos[dot]com(NORTH PORT, Fla.) -- A popular school principal in Florida has been placed on administrative leave after a student whom he hypnotized committed suicide.

George Kenney, principal since 2001 at North Port High School, had been using hypnosis for years and made podcasts on reducing test anxiety and improving sports performance through the technique. He also has a website that promotes hypnosis to "banish fear and insecurity from your life."

But his use of the practice came under scrutiny after Kenney acknowledged he had hypnotized Wesley McKinley, 16, the day before the teenager killed himself in April.

When the executive director of Sarasota high schools learned a couple of years ago that Kenney was using hypnosis, he told the principal to restrict the practice to psychology class and only use it with parents' permission, according to Scott Ferguson, spokesman for the school district.

He said Kenney is on paid administrative leave while an outside agency, Steele Investigators, looks into the matter.

Kenney trained in hypnosis at the Omni Hynosis Training Center in DeLand, Fla., according to its director, Gerald Kein. He said the program involves 100 hours of training and "teaches all the safety parameters."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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