Against the Odds

This month's cover feature, "Stepping Up to AYP," is all about innovative approaches to jogging schools and students out of the failing track. We've revisited this topic on a regular basis over the years, so it was not surprising to find the theme of strong leadership emerging during interviews. The different twist today is that the odds leaders face when challenging the status quo are considerably reduced when the teeth of a federal law are involved. The administrators we profile here did, and do, face the traditional barriers — resistant staff, isolated environments, crashed local economies, rigid attitudes toward established practices — yet they are going into districts and effecting change with dispatch. NCLB may continue to remain controversial and fraught with practical problems (see "The Politics of AYP"), but the bottom line is it appears to be empowering pockets of progress at an unprecedented speed in public education. Let's hope such programs lay the groundwork for broader and speedier interventions down the line and that adequate resources will be available to make such initiatives within the reach of more districts. Moving toward that ideal one-to-one environment continues to remain a priority in education, but it's a goal that's more attainable for some than others. To help out districts on the fence about how, what, and where to buy laptops, Managing Editor Mark Smith gives you the lowdown in this month's product guide In addition, science teacher Mike Brown test drives Fourier Systems's Nova5000 tablet PC, the latest tool for "in the field" science data collection. This issue also kicks off the new Integration department, with Al Doyle offering key uses and tips for folding video-on-demand into lessons across the curriculum. Also new is the expanded How To column, which takes a deep look at creating a Windows environment on the Mac. Look for more upcoming features that will offer more intermediate and advanced tips from regular columnist Jeff Branzburg.