News and Trends(5)

Mastering No Child Left Behind

Helping educators crack No Child Left Behind's bureaucratic code is the goal of a program that was recently released by the New York company Frameweld. The Web-based software NCLB Query Master lets users easily comb through NCLB legislation and related documents. "You're talking about 2,500 pages of content," says Frameweld cofounder Sam Cartsos. "Managing that volume of information, along with new information that comes out of the Department of Education (DOE), is challenging."

A section of the legislation about Adequate Yearly Progress, for example, includes links to all relevant DOE policy guidance letters.

Of course, knowing what the law says is one thing; interpreting it is another, a reality that led Frameweld to build in opportunities for discussion. "If you are working with a part of the law and there are others in your office you want to make aware of your interpretation, you can add your comments [to the online document]," explains Cartsos, who sees the Query Master's initial users as Title I administrators and state education agency staffers. NCLB Query Master costs $295 annually per user (volume discounts available) and is available as a Web subscription or CD-ROM. —Amy Poftak

NCLB Query Master provides all information related to Adequate Yearly Progress in one place.

The (Virtual) Path of Totality

As most of us learned in high school, a total solar eclipse occurs when the sun, 400 times farther away from the Earth than the moon, appears small enough for the moon to block it completely. A total eclipse, which happens about twice a year, can only be seen if you happen to be in what's called the path of totality, the route the moon's shadow traces across the Earth. The path of totality is generally never more than 165 miles wide, which means most of us on Earth won't be fortunate enough to catch the total eclipse this March. Luckily, educators and students who don't live in the path can watch the solar eclipse in real time via Web and satellite thanks to the San Francisco-based museum The Exploratorium, which will broadcast the eclipse live from Turkey. See the Exploratorium's Web site for more details about this March 29 event. —Susie E. Meserve

Get up early to watch a total solar eclipse.

Quotation of the Month

"To understand how today's cars work, you need tech-nical computer skills. Like it or not, the world is now demanding that we educate all students to higher levels." -Jack O'Connell, California's state superintendent of public instruction, at the State of Schools address, February 7, 2006 (Source: San Francisco Chronicle).

E-Book Deja Vu

The Sony Reader has a battery life equivalent to 7,500 page turns.

Take a stroll down memory lane with the Sony Reader. The Reader, shipping this spring, is Sony's second attempt at releasing an electronic book-reading device since the heady days at the turn of the century, when companies like NuvoMedia, SoftBook Press, and Gemstar were hawking readers for $300 to $700 a pop. On the surface, the Sony Reader doesn't sound dramatically different than its predecessors; it's a lightweight, ultraportable gadget that can hold dozens of books and costs about $350. But there's a new technical ingredient: E Ink display technology, which Sony says "provides clarity and resolution that rival paper itself." Beyond making the reading experience better, Sony plans to offer titles from major publishers through an online store akin to Apple's iTunes.

But will the Sony Reader be a bestseller in schools? Eric Walusis, who was behind the first K-12 e-book pilot in 1999, is skeptical. "If [Sony has] nothing more than bestsellers and popular 'bookstore' titles, this device will have little impact in the educational environment," he says, also noting that the Sony Reader's battery charge time ("as little as four hours"), internal storage (64 MB), and price are underwhelming when compared to iPods and other flash players. According to Walusis, the ability for users to load their own content to the Reader will make it or break it. "[The Sony Reader's success] will all hinge on the ability to convert, store, and share personal documents...Sony has a track record of ignoring this fact but it remains to be seen how this will play out."

Sony officials were not available for comment at press time. —Amy Poftak

Fighting Words

Official reaction to the proposed elimination of the federal Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program:

"Given the president's emphasis in the State of the Union on the importance of developing math and science skills in America's students in order to keep America competitive globally, we do not see how eliminating federal education technology funding advances his global competitiveness agenda or helps our students." —Donald G. Knezek, CEO, International Society for Technology in Education

"All evidence points to the fact that our states and school districts consistently use federal education technology dollars to improve student achievement in core curricular areas such as math and science and to engage in professional development-the central pillars of No Child Left Behind and of the president's new science and math initiatives." —Keith Krueger, CEO, Consortium for School Networking

Bridging the Divide

Classrooms in developing nations are getting a boost with the donation of 100,000 PCs from Intel, which recently announced plans to scale up its Teach to the Future professional development program to train an additional 10 million teachers during the next five years. Since 2000, the program has worked with more than 3 million teachers in 35 countries, and Chairman Craig Barrett says it hopes to reach a billion students in developing nations by 2010. Intel reps say Teach to the Future will continue its efforts in the United States, as well. —Susan McLester