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TEST SCORES ARE IMPROVING IN URBAN SCHOOLS

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"Enough cities are now improving to begin asking why some are not."

In a study of 57 urban school districts in 35 states, the Council of the Great City Schools has found that test scores are climbing and the achievement gap between white students and their minority peers is narrowing on state tests. The new report, Beating the Odds II, is part of an ongoing plan to track cities’ student-achievement results annually.

In four school systems, Albuquerque, N.M.; Anchorage, Alaska; Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Hillsborough County, Tampa, Florida; math and reading scores exceeded or matched statewide averages. Of all the eighth grade classrooms tested in math, 90 percent reduced the white-Hispanic achievement gap. The biggest gap closure-78 percent-between white and African American students was in fourth-grade reading.

Council executive director Mike Casserly said that although there is some improvement, there is more work to do. “Enough cities are now improving to begin asking why some are not,” he said.

Read the complete Beating the Odds II report.

$2 Million Education Program to Train Inner-City TeachersThe Chattanooga Public Education Foundation (PEF) announced a new $2 million program to help teachers in nine inner-city Chattanooga, Tenn. schools to earn their master’s degrees in inner-city education. The program, titled the Osborne Fellows Project, was made possible by an award of $1.5 million by the Osborne Foundation of Nashville, Tenn., which PEF will supplement with an additional $500,000.The innovative master’s program, which will be hosted cooperatively by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, will focus on the skills and issues particular relevant to inner-city education. Dr. Bill Stacy, Chancellor of UTC explained to The Chattanoogan.com, “Traditionally teacher preparation programs have prepared teachers as generalists to work in classrooms where the majority of students are suburban, middle class, white, and performing on par with peers […] these educators need and deserve to opportunity to participate in master’s level preparation focused specifically on the unique elements of education in urban settings.” The goals of the program are to educate teachers on how to manage the classroom, improve student performance within the urban setting and ensure that all students are reading at or above grade level.

The Osborne Fellows Project hopes to endow the program so that funds will be available to get 20 teachers master’s degrees each year for as long as the project is needed. The program will consist of 36 credit hours of coursework over a two-year period. It is hoped that if the program is successful it may serve as a model for the creation of similar programs across the country.

The Public Education Foundation was established in 1988 by an effort of the Chattanooga and Hamilton County schools. PEF works to provide professional development and training for teachers and future leaders and to build stronger partnerships between families and schools.

To read the article in Chattanoogan.com.
Visit the PEF Chattanooga Web site.

During the month of August, the Alliance for Excellent Education will temporarily suspend its publication of Straight A’s: An Update on Public Education: Policy and Progress. The next issue will be dated September 9. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit our newly revamped Web site, and have a happy and safe month of August.

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