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Faculty Books: From Career Magnet Schools to Standardized Tests

The Effects of Academic Career Magnet Education on High Schools and Their Graduates
A new study from the National Center for Research in Vocational Education (NCRVE) indicates positive results for graduates of New York City academic career magnet schools. These programs offer college prep courses and vocationally oriented classes focused on a broad career theme.

Many of the conclusions of the NCRVE study are based on a comparison of a large number of students who had been randomly assigned through a lottery to magnet programs and to comprehensive schools. The results were published in The Effects of Academic Career Magnet Education on High Schools and Their Graduates, written by Robert L. Crain, Professor of Sociology and Education, along with essays by six other researchers.

Crain, the study's lead author says: "If the dropout rate can be lowered, career magnets may prove to be an ideal strategy for urban high schools. They have been able to introduce the career focus and all its attendant benefits on adolescent development without test scores declining. And by promising both college and career, career magnets allow students to make a choice without foreclosing their options."

Most significantly, academic career magnet graduates report that they smoke less, drink less, study more, and have lower pregnancy rates. In addition, compared to graduates of comprehensive high schools, academic career magnet graduates earn at least a third more college credits and are more likely to have chosen a college major within two years of graduation. These successes hinge, the NCRVE study's authors argue, on the schools' ability to help students through the processes of adolescent identity development. The one negative finding is an important one: career magnets have a higher dropout rate than comprehensive high schools.

Headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley since 1988, NCRVE is committed to finding innovative ways to connect education to work. Through research and direct assistance to schools, NCRVE promotes education that prepares students for college, careers, and lifelong learning.

The Institute on Education and the Economy at Teachers College is one of the members of the NCRVE consortium. For more information about the Institute, visit its Web site at www.tc.columbia.edu/iee.

A Parent's Guide to Standardized Tests in School
More than 100 million standardized tests are given to elementary and middle school children each year. In 1999, new national reading and math exams were given to all fourth grade and eighth grade students, respectively. But right now parents of elementary and middle school children are confused about what these tests are and how to interpret them.

Peter Cookson, Director of the Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation (CEO&I) and Professor of Education, and Joshua Halberstam, Ph.D., who heads CEO&I's Character Education Project, have written A Parent's Guide to Standardized Tests in School (Learning Express) as a resource to answer questions that surround standardized testing.

The authors say they have written the guide "because we believe that accurate and accessible information is the family's best resource for ensuring that their child's testing experience is positive and educationally productive_It is our hope that this book will bring families and schools together."

A Parent's Guide prepares and brings parents closer to the classroom by involving them in the learning process. While it addresses the controversies and issues, the focus is on preparing for the tests and interpreting the scores.

Cookson and Halberstam encourage parents to first identify the type of learner their child is: a visual, auditory or tactile learner. Common problems are explored: the poor test taker, the anxious child, the overachiever, the underachiever, the child who has time-management problems. Specific strategies and test-taking tips are offered that help each type of learner better understand and perform each kind of test.

Additionally, A Parent's Guide suggests questions to ask teachers and school systems: how are the scores used, do the results affect whether a child is promoted or tracked into an accelerated learning program, do the results indicate a need for remedial or enrichment programs?

A reader who reviewed the book online, commented, "I found the book to be a saving grace for me and my family. It is a practical guide for preparing, understanding and explaining the tests and the scores."

In Pedagogies of Resistance, Women Educator Activists,1880-1960
In Pedagogies of Resistance, Women Educator Activists,1880-1960 (Teachers College Press), we see how building a career in education served as leverage for six extraordinary women to live their lives as agents of change--change for themselves, for schools and universities, and for society at large.

By profiling women as educational activists--Margaret Smith Crocco, Associate Professor of Education at TC, and her two co-authors, Petra Munro, Associate Professor of Education and Women's and Gender Studies at Louisiana State University, and Kathleen Weiler, Associate Professor at Tufts University--challenge historical interpretations that have cast women as passive in the face of educational change.

In this book, you will read about:

  • Jane Adams, founder of Hull House, and Ida B. Wells, the anti-lynching advocate, who worked together in Chicago to enact their own vision of democratic education.
  • two New Jersey women: Elizabeth Almira Allen, who prepared a plan for the first statewide teacher pension in the country, and Marion Thompson Wright, who promoted school integration.
  • Helen Heffernan and Corinne Seeds, both of whom advocated the child-centered approach of progressive education for all children in California.

All of these women resisted the conventional wisdom of their--including gender roles--to make education and society more equitable and humane. The authors maintain that "These stories support the contention that all women must continue to recognize their solidarity with all those the culture defines as lesser or marginalized."

Nel Noddings, former Professor of Philosophy and Education at TC, in the Foreword to Pedagogies of Resistance, writes, "Readers will meet women who espoused racial equality before the civil rights movement of the 1960s, who took up the cause of children and pressed it ceaselessly, who advocated and promoted Deweyan methods of education even when they were unpopular, who opposed war in the midst of war fever, who maintained beautiful and generous friendships...Their courageous stories encourage me to believe in democratic methods of education are feasible and that we may yet turn aside the great wave of coercion that now engulfs our schools."

Inclusive Schooling
Inclusive Schooling (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), is edited by Stanley J. Vitello of Rutgers University, and Dennis E. Mithaug, Professor of Education at TC. The volume is based on original papers, presenting the American perspective on the schooling of disabled children within an international framework.

The book, according to the editors, is a "status report on what inclusive education has achieved and what it may achieve in the future for children and youth with disabilities. It describes the philosophical, legal, and practical terrain covered by inclusion policy in general and inclusive schooling in particular. The book provides new information on how various inclusion policies have been implemented in different schools and school districts, and in different countries."

Although inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classes has been embraced by politicians and educators calling for equal opportunity in our society, and is being incorporated into national and international education laws, it continues to be controversial and the debate is sometimes heated.

The goal of Inclusive Schooling is to shed some light on this debate. Is inclusion mostly about student placement? Are students with disabilities attaining social and learning membership in general classrooms? Have they benefitted from inclusion? How about students without disabilities? What have been the benefits? Must learning take second priority to socialization and friendship? Are teachers getting the training they need? How do parents feel about inclusion programs? How do students feel? What kind of curricular accommodations should be made? These and other questions are addressed.

Business Climate Shifts: Profiles of Change Makers
Globalization, new technologies, the emergence of e-business and growing electronic connectivity among far-flung every industry--are making today's business environment increasingly complex and hard to predict.

Add deregulation, political instability, emerging new economies in the Pacific Rim, and exploding new scientific discoveries (which lead in many cases to new products and commercial applications) and you have a recipe not just for marketplace turbulence, but for what the authors of Business Climate Shifts: Profiles of Change Makers (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2000) describe as "disruptive phase shifts" in how business is conducted.

In this compelling new book, authors W. Warner Burke, Professor of Psychology and Education at TC, and Bill Trahant, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, reveal that today the "craft of change leadership" is as much human art as it is a management science. It requires imagination and emotional involvement on a leader's part as much as it does discipline and focus. And it relies as much on the leader's personal openness to new learning--as change efforts proceed--as it does on enthusiastic employees. More than anything however, it requires that a change leader create a compelling "climate of alignment" inside his or her organization to support and sustain success with transformation efforts over time. And that's exactly what each of the "change makers" profiled in this book has done.

Readers learn how Lord Colin Marshall transformed British Airways from a tired, demoralized air carrier into one of the world's most profitable airlines. They hear former SmithKline Beecham CEO Bob Bauman describe how he successfully orchestrated a complex "merger of equals" between U.S. based SmithKline Beckman and British-based Beechman. They "listen in" as U.S. Postmaster General Bill Henderson outlines to the authors his efforts to transform the U.S. Postal Service into a highly successful and customer responsive business enterprise. And, they hear AlliedSignal President Fred Poses talk about how his company ingeniously uses employee development as an "engine" to drive continuous business improvement, knowledge transfer, and organizational renewal.

In Business Climate Shifts: Profiles of Change Makers, readers meet these and other highly successful change makers--among them Sir Richard Evans, CEO of British Aerospace, and Errol Marshall, CEO of Shell South Africa. But this book contains more than probing profiles of highly successful transformational leaders. It also contains powerful tools and techniques to manage and sustain change efforts in companies today. Of particular interest is the "business climate modeling" methodology the authors outline for understanding the "climatic forces" at work in today's business environment. Also of interest is the "change readiness" assessment instrument that the authors often use with their clients, before these organizations embark on massive corporate transformation efforts.

Business Climate Shifts: Profiles of Change Makers is a fascinating and informative read. In writing the book, authors Burke and Trahant (with assistance from collaborator Richard Koonce) took a refreshing approach: they interviewed some of their most interesting and challenging clients, and present those interviews here as "conversations" on which they invite readers to listen in. Packaged in a fast-moving, conversational style, these interviews contain a wealth of executive insights that are key to the success of transformation efforts in any organization. At the same time, they bring an immediate "you-are-there" flavor to the transformation stories they tell.

For more information about Business Climate Shifts: Profiles of Change Makers you may want to visit the PricewaterhouseCoopers Web site (pwcglobal.com) which includes video clips from several of the interviews the authors conducted for this book.

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