First, there is an article from last week's New York Times on the differences in student achievement across cultures (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/education/07education.html?emc=eta1). I certainly agree with Arne Duncan that these scores should be a wake up call.
Second, there is a fascinating article in today's New York Times on the high correlation between students' perceptions of teachers and student achievement (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/11/education/11education.html?_r=2&hp). I believe the research described in this article provides more evidence that we really should listen to what students say about the education they experience.
Third, I'm giving links to three pieces from the Hampshire Gazette.
- The first describes continuing discussions by the Northampton School Committee in terms of start times (http://www.gazettenet.com/2010/12/10/discussion-continue-later-start-time-nhs), an issue that is also under discussion in Amherst (I'm not sure of the status of this discussion in Amherst, but will ask for an update at the next regional meeting).
- The second describes goals discussed by the Amherst School Committee at our last meeting (http://www.gazettenet.com/2010/12/10/class-size-offerings-issue-amherst-budget-talks). As noted in this article, we will have a preliminary budget presented at our December 21st meeting--I strongly encourage parents interested in issues with budget implications (e.g., Spanish language program, instrumental music, math curriculum) to watch and/or attend this meeting and share their thoughts with the School Committee.
- The third and final article describes the state of the elementary Spanish program in our schools (http://gazettenet.com/2010/12/11/amherst-spanish-program-receives-mixed-reviews). As noted in this article, I am really pleased that we have finally implemented a world language program in our elementary schools (something the community has requested for a decade), but am concerned -- based on comments made by Sean Smith, the head of world language in our schools -- that the current 40 minutes a week provided may not be adequate to achieve the level of fluency he believed was important. I look forward to getting more clarity on this issue, and the future plans for implementing this program, soon.