Education

I started off wondering whether I might be able to spell a few of the words right. I ended up realizing that most of them I had never even heard of before.

Iridocyclitis. Cibarial. Pyrrhuloxia. And so on.

It was one of the many surprises of an evening spent watching the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night near Washington.

Another big surprise was how much I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I had expected to see a bunch of highly trained kids who've spent months and years memorizing the dictionary, essentially regurgitating that information.

Emily Wendler

One way or another, the third grade reading test will be different next school year. The reading committees that lessen the high-stakes nature of the test are slated to dissolve at the end of this school year. But there's a bill in the legislature that could extend them for another three years. However, with that bill comes further changes to the test.

Under Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act, the third-grade reading test is a high-stakes test. Meaning, if students don’t do well, they could be held back.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Spring is standardized test season at most schools. This year in New York State, test critics mounted a boycott. Solvejg Wastvedt of member station WSKG reports on a small school district where over half the parents said no to tests.

Third grade reading scores came out on Friday, and about 85 percent of the test-takers will be promoted to fourth grade based on the preliminary results released by the State Department of Education.

Under the Oklahoma Reading Sufficiency Act, students must attain at least a “Limited Knowledge” score on the third grade reading test to be automatically promoted to the fourth grade.

Are you a glass half-full kind of person? Or glass half-empty?

Depending on your answer, you'll find the new report on state-funded preschool programs from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University either delightfully encouraging or downright depressing.

For example, glass half-full: Pre-K enrollment is up!

Glass half-empty: It's still pretty low.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

As the school year winds down, administrators are ramping up their search for next year’s teachers. But that search is tougher and more competitive than normal. The state is currently in need of 1,000 teachers, according to State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. But there’s a shallow pool of applicants.

Emily Wendler reports on what’s causing the teacher shortage, what schools are doing to fill in the gaps, and how it’s affecting kids.

Robyn Venable has been a teacher in Oklahoma for 31 years. Currently she teaches life skills at Charles Page High School in Sand Springs.

“I always wanted to be a special education teacher. Ever since the third grade.”  

She says she’s loved it, and it’s been a good run, but it’s time to retire. She had cancer, and that influenced her decision to leave, but she also says the teaching profession has changed over the years and the money is no longer worth the headaches.

Part of our ongoing series of conversations with thinkers and activists on education issues

In a year in which we're exploring great teaching, it's a good time to talk with Ken Bain. He's a longtime historian, scholar and academic who has studied and explored teaching for decades, most notably in his 2004 book, What the Best College Teachers Do.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Beyond Sin City's casino strip, what happens in Vegas also includes an education system in crisis. Its schools are severely overcrowded, as we reported Wednesday on Morning Edition. And Nevada and Vegas' schools are ranked at or near the bottom nationally.

Las Vegas is back, baby. After getting slammed by the Great Recession, the city today is seeing rising home sales, solid job growth and a record number of visitors in 2014.stru

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