Thinking Long Term

Data and student achievement is clearly the bottom line in education under NCLB. And while we may bemoan aspects of its associated mandates-such as the motivation-dampening impact of too much testing-making all this work for kids remains our final challenge. In this month's cover feature, "Data: Maximize Your Mining", author and data expert Todd McIntire steps you through the first two stages of a three-stage program essential to setting up a successful system for achieving sustained, long-term results. In part two of this series, appearing in our June Leadership Guide, we'll examine stage three, which points us toward the future role of data in transforming schools for the 21st century. Also asking us to think long term about what schools should look like is Alan November, who laments what he terms the current "spray and pray" approach to integrating technology into the curriculum. He shares his vision for the direction of education in this month's Back Page.

Also this month, Peter Weinstein looks at the issue of school-home connections, providing expert advice on the questions you should be asking vendors, and also a very practical chart describing what 20 different communication systems have to offer. More expert advice comes from Jeffrey Branzburg, who reviews the pros and cons of Voice over Internet Protocol ("How To"), and from Rob McCarthy who in an additional guest "How To", details six action steps for keeping your computer infection free in the case of a "zero hour attack." The accompanying kitschy photo may push the envelope a bit on the danger symbolism, but it's nevertheless an entertaining way to continue bringing the security issue to your attention.

In "Real-Time Science," we hear from high school teacher Mike Brown, who evaluates five of the newest probeware packages that allow kids to "do real science" beyond the classroom walls. More insider perspectives come from Mickey Revenaugh, with a state-by-state update on the status of the swiftly progressing online learning adoptions ("Virtual Schools,") and from Marc Bainbridge ("Miracle Workers"), who reports from a Marin County, Calif. classroom on the latest technology devices empowering disabled youngsters to communicate with the outside world.

And finally, we're looking forward to meeting many of you in person at our April 29th Tech Forum event in Itasca, Illinois. We've got a rich, packed program in place, and you're certain to leave the day inspired and with a range of practical solutions and new professional contacts.

Susan McLester
Editor in Chief