May 24th, 2012
04:10 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Arizona Daily Star: Students who didn't pass AIMS can't walk in Tucson Unified graduations
Roughly 100 Tucson seniors will not be allowed to walk in graduation ceremonies after they failed part of a state-mandated test. Some parents argue that the students didn't receive enough preparation for the test or the time to remedy the situation.

The Atlantic: Do Cell Phones Belong in the Classroom?
In many American high schools, teachers and students are at odds over cell phone use. While some teachers consider the devices distractions, others say educators should learn to incorporate cell phones into their lesson plans. Robert Earl argues that whatever philosophy is applied, students have to learn to love learning. The Homework Trap
Clinical psychologist Dr. Kenneth Goldberg has a list of suggestions about how parents should approach the issue of homework with their kids.

Connected Principals: Lessons Learned
A veteran teacher shares 13 lessons learned during a 13-year career in the classroom.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Policy • Practice • Technology • Testing • Today's Reading List
Furloughed Texas college staffers worked months without pay
Lon Morris College employees hadn't been paid in three months, staff members told CNN.
May 24th, 2012
03:15 PM ET

Furloughed Texas college staffers worked months without pay

By Nick Valencia, CNN

(CNN) - Nearly all of the staff at the oldest two-year college in Texas was furloughed Wednesday morning because of "financial and liquidity difficulties," according to a letter sent by the college to its staff and obtained by CNN.

Lon Morris College, a faith-based private school in Jacksonville, Texas, with an enrollment of slightly more than 1,000 students, notified its employees that - with the exception of a core group of 11 - all staff would be furloughed indefinitely. About 100 employees are on the school's payroll, according to local news affiliates.

"Given insufficient cash flow, the college cannot continue to employ personnel and further cannot allow employees to continue to work even on a 'volunteer' or unpaid basis," a letter sent to the Lon Morris staff by Director of Human Resources Carolyn Nanni said.

Before the announcement Wednesday, the staff had not been paid for three payroll periods, according to staff members

"For this to's really hurtful. About three months we haven't gotten paid," Lon Morris defensive line football coach Eric Morris told CNN in a phone interview.

Read the full story

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Filed under: After High School • College • Economy • Teachers
My View:  Can tests motivate students? It depends on the test - and the student
May 24th, 2012
06:16 AM ET

My View: Can tests motivate students? It depends on the test - and the student

By Alexandra Usher and Nancy Kober, Special to CNNCourtesy CEP/Nancy KoberCourtesy CEP/Alexandra Usher

Editor’s note: Alexandra Usher is a senior research assistant at the Center on Education Policy at The George Washington University's Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Nancy Kober is a consultant to the Center. They co-authored the report, “Student Motivation—An Overlooked Piece of School Reform."

(CNN) - We’re taking many steps as a nation to boost student achievement. We’re raising academic standards, revising curricula, revamping low-performing schools and improving teaching and school leadership.

These are all critical elements of school reform, but what often gets the most attention are the tests we’ve put in place to make judgments about schools, teachers, principals and students. These tests are intended to measure how well students are learning and teachers are teaching. They are also supposed to motivate students to study harder.

Student motivation is an important ingredient in school reform, and one that is often overlooked in policy debates. Even with strong accountability, a well-designed curriculum and good teaching, it is difficult to raise achievement for students who lack motivation. But are tests really good motivators?

To draw greater attention to the role of student motivation, the Center on Education Policy has released a series of papers summarizing findings from studies by psychologists, sociologists and other experts. One of these papers looks at research on tests as motivational tools for students - and the findings suggest we have too much faith that all tests will motivate all students.

The same student might be motivated to different degrees depending on the test, the stakes attached to test results, the subject matter and many other factors. The term “high-stakes” testing often brings to mind the standardized state tests used for accountability. But teacher-designed classroom tests may be more effective at motivating students than state tests if the classroom tests have a direct effect on students’ grades.

Even among standardized tests, the stakes and the level of motivation vary. State tests that are used to determine graduation status and grade promotion matter greatly to students and can be motivators for many students. State tests that don’t count toward graduation but are used for school and district accountability can be somewhat motivating for students because they have consequences for educators, who pass along this pressure to students. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is used to track nationwide trends in achievement, has virtually no consequences for individual students or teachers and is often considered a “low-stakes” test.

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Filed under: Testing • Voices