The Best of Our Knowledge #813

According to a university study, traditional phonological awareness assessments...basic tests that are widely used to gauge children's
pre-reading skills...have serious flaws. Testing students phonological
awareness is a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act. Study
co-author, Jerrell Cassady, claims the pressure to produce results is
driving teachers to use the existing tests because so much federal
funding is at stake. Cassady is an Educational Psychology Professor
at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He explains to TBOOK that
there's a great deal of confusion about phonological terms.
Jim Horne reports. (9:53)

**(Attention Program Directors. For more details about the above
story, listeners are directed to the Professor Garfield website at And there is currently information available
on Professor Cassady's personal website,>.


- Last month was not a good month for companies that dominate the
testing industry. In our headlines a couple of shows ago, the College
Board admitted it had incorrectly scored thousands of SAT tests.
Subsequently, it has found several hundred more scoring mistakes.

- In a separate case, the Educational Testing Service has agreed to pay
11.1 million dollars to settle a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of
41-hundred people who were told that they had failed a teacher licensing
test, when they had actually passed.

- Now, the Princeton Review has set these tragic tales to music, and just released what it's calling the Rainy Day SAT Blues. The words and
lyrics by Tom Meltzer, tell the story of Billy, a boy modeled after the lives
of students whose college dreams were rained on with the news about the College Board's scoring errors. Here's a short audio clip....(1:31)....In a
footnote, lawyers have begun seeking out affected students as potential
litigants in that SAT mis-scoring case.

- And speaking of litigation, you probably missed this one. Oxford plans to become the first university in Britain to protect itself from litigious students
by introducing legally-binding contracts requiring them to attend lectures. Undergraduates will be told they risk being in breach of contract if they fail
to attend lectures and tutorials in a move certain to be copied by other universities worried that the introduction of 3-thousand pound annual tuition
fees starting next Fall will usher in an era of student litigation. Oxford fears
the new charge will prompt a surge in complaints by students demanding
better value for money from lecturers. Universities also fear that in the increasingly competitive academic world, they could be sued by students
who blame poor results on failings at their university.

- And finally, the NCAA basketball tournament may be over, but recently
release graduation statistics of its players are of great concern. The annual report comes from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the
University of Central Florida. It looked at graduation success rates and academic progress rates for the 65 teams participating in the tournament.
36% did not graduate at least half of their players within six years. Even
more alarming was the racial disparity in graduation rates. Almost twice as
many white athletes graduate, compared with African-American athletes.
Dr. Karen Hitchcock reports. (4:20)

The Striving Readers Grants have been awarded by the U.S. Department
of Education. Over the next five years, eight recipients will receive a
combined total of over 142-million dollars. Education Secretary, Margaret Spellings, says the Striving Readers Grants help more students get the skill
they need to succeed in college, the workforce, and life. One of the first
grants went to the Springfield, Massachusetts Public Schools. Secretary Spellings and Massachusetts Senator, Ted Kennedy, were both there for
the announcement.
Dan Bobkoff reports. (2:08)

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in April, 1996, National
Poetry Month brings together literary organizations, libraries, schools,
and poets. This month, the Academy launches its first-ever poetry
Read-a-thon. Geared for middle school students, the Read-a-thon's
goals are to celebrate the reading of poems, and writing about poems.
Indeed, the Academy hopes to boost students' development of writing
and comprehension skills. Dr. John Cech, Director of the University of
Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture, begins his report
with the first of several recorded examples, including this one from poet,
Rita Dove.
Dr. John Cech reports. (2:36)