The Back Page(3)


Teen Net Use Overshadows Television

A report commissioned by Yahoo! and Carat Interactive found the Internet has surpassed television and other traditional media as the "hub" of choice for today's youth. The study, which combined online surveys and focus groups, revealed that kids ages 13-18 spend an average of 17.4 hours on the Web per week that's not including e-mail while only putting in 13.8 hours watching TV. "Teens and young adults are searching for independence and control," noted researchers, "and the Internet gives it to them like no other media can."

For Many Students, a Difficult Exit

While high school exit exams have encouraged improvements in curriculum, many students are still not passing on the first go-around, according to a new report from The Center on Education Policy. The study, State High School Exit Exams: Put to the Test, found initial pass rates across the 19 states requiring the tests ranged from 65 percent to 85 percent, with 90 percent of students eventually succeeding. Demographic gaps were significant for example, 35 percent of African American students in Indiana passed the math portion of the exam at the outset, compared to 73 percent of their white counterparts.

The Teacher Certification Dilemma

Our latest online QuickPoll asked readers how their schools were dealing with No Child Left Behind's teacher quality mandate specifically, the requirement that new hires at Title I schools must hold state certification and demonstrate subject-specific competency. Forty percent of respondents said it wasn't an issue, while 60 percent felt otherwise. "We are having problems finding qualified and experienced bilingual Spanish-speaking elementary teachers," wrote one reader. Another offered: "In the middle schools, the only solution is to send our elementary-certified teachers back to school. I hope someone is considering grandfathering these folks in."

Hit List


The transformation of Union City Public Schools in New Jersey from struggling urban district to national model has been told many times before, but the George Lucas Educational Foundation has given it a new multimedia twist. Union City's story is explored in a section on GLEF's Web site entitled "Systemwide Change," which in addition to providing an overview of how the district increased math and reading scores by at least 30 percentage points over five years, lets readers click through nuts-and-bolts strategies on everything from revamping the curriculum to restructuring the budget. Punctuating these mini-slide shows are brief video and audio clips of school leaders, parents, and former students providing their perspectives on reform, as well as links to relevant resources. Beyond being an inspirational account, "Systemwide Change" exemplifies how the Web can be uniquely harnessed to convey information.

Worthy Cause

The South Central Youth Project in Los Angeles has been jonesing for an electric pencil sharpener, and the Heelan High School Science Club in Sioux City, Iowa, longs for ten Taylor Precision thermometers. Those are just two of many requests indexed on the teachers' wishlist, a sort of bridal registry for schools launched by cyber-community bulletin board Craig's List two years ago. Signing up is simple: Schools and nonprofits select items they want from the online catalog of San Francisco-based Cole Hardware, then get the word out to potential donors. Contributors can scroll through the registries by city or organization or have one selected at random and choose what to bequeath. To date, about $45,000 worth of supplies and gift certificates has been donated.

Read other articles from the October Issue