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December 1, 2000
Vol. 58
No. 4

Web Wonders / Education Reforms

The current abundance of educational reform movements poses new challenges for educators. The following Web sites will help clarify pertinent issues and provide valuable resources.

How Are Schools Changing?

Many of today's schools are subscribing to new reform movements. Find your way through the reform forest at the "Educators' Guide to Schoolwide Reform" (www.aasa.org/reform). This American Association of School Administrators (AASA) study evaluates 24 schoolwide reform programs—including Accelerated Schools, America's Choice, ATLAS Communities, and the Coalition of Essential Schools. It looks at evidence of positive student achievement, the support that developers provide schools during the adoption process, and first-year adoption costs. Cosponsors of the study include the American Federation of Teachers and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. The "Current Issues and Ideas" page of the AASA site (www.aasa.org/Issues/currentissues.htm) can keep you abreast of such topics as assessments and standards, class and school size, parental involvement, reading instruction, and report-card reform.
If you want to surf for information about the way education is evolving, the Educational Resource Network site (www.ernweb.com) can save you time. Click "Ed Links" and choose such topics as bilingual education, international comparisons, multicultural education, and special education.
The most comprehensive education site in the United States, the U.S. Department of Education site (www.ed.gov) provides an impressive array of substantial information. For example, in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement section (www.ed.gov/offices/OERI/ResCtr.html), you can find links to the National Research and Development Centers, including the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk, codirected by EL author Robert Slavin (p. 22).
How does new technology fit in the mix of reforms? Find out on EdWeb (www.ibiblio.org/edweb/resource.cntnts.html), a site that examines technology and school reform. Follow the pencils to site author Andy Garvin's views on many topics in education, including reform movements and the information highway, and his advice on how to use the Web as an educational tool. You will find links to online resources and descriptions of student projects that use computers in the classroom, including those that combine the use of new technology with more traditional learning experiences.

How Are Student Populations Changing?

For a picture of the demographics of modern society and schools, the site of the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov) provides extensive data, including the Encyclopedia of ED Stats. Check out descriptions of the publications and programs of the Institute for Educational Leadership (www.iel.org), where EL author Harold Hodgkinson (p. 6) is director of the Center for Demographic Policy.
For other authoritative demographic information, visit the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (www.childstats.gov), which provides easy access to all U.S. government Web sites with statistics about children and families. Full-text reports on this site include America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, a source cited byEL author Mara Sapon-Shevin (p. 34).
Also visit the Teacher Explorer Center at the University of New Orleans College of Education, where the "Student Diversities and Exceptionalities" site (http://ss.uno.edu/SS/homepages/DiversePopLKs.html) provides links to many useful resources for educating students with diverse backgrounds and abilities. Topics include understanding cultural, ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic diversity and the needs of students who have cognitive or physical disabilities. You can also find links to relevant historical and current issues, such as the desegregation of schools and the English-Only movement.
A classic resource on student diversity, the Teaching Tolerance project was created by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1991 and provides teachers with low-cost or free resources to develop students' understanding of and respect for others. Resources described on the project's Web site (www.splcenter.org/teachingtolerance/tt-index.html) include posters, videos, and books, plus the free, semiannual magazine Teaching Tolerance. Also at the site are suggestions for tolerance-related activities submitted by educators nationwide.

Amy Eckman has contributed to Educational Leadership.

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