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Legislative Update: House Republicans Introduce Bill That Would Allow States to Opt Out of NCLB

More than 50 Republican members have signed on to a bill, the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act of 2007 (A-PLUS Act), that would allow states and districts more flexibility in implementing state-based initiatives using federal education funding. If passed, this legislation would fundamentally alter the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

The A-PLUS Act would allow states to “opt out” of NCLB if it held a referendum or if two out of three state entities—the governor, the state legislation, and the state’s highest-elected education official—decided the state could no longer meet the law’s accountability mandates. States that elect to opt-out would still get federal funding and could combine funds from certain education programs into one funding stream. They would be freed from the requirements of each federal education program and could use the funds to advance their initiatives.

To read more from the front page article in the Washington Post, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/14/AR2007031402741.html; to read a one-page description of the A-PLUS Act, visit http://www.nsta.org/nstaexpress/aplussummary.pdf; to read the section-by-section summary of the bill visit http://www.nsta.org/nstaexpress/aplus.pdf.

In other legislative news, Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) are seeking support for a Dear Colleague letter to appropriation leaders asking for at least $450 million in funding for the Math and Science Partnership program at the Department of Education.

Call or e-mail your member of Congress and ask him/her to sign on to the Ehlers/Holt Dear Colleague seeking additional funding for science and math education in the FY2008 budget. To send your representative this information, visit http://www.nsta.org/nstaexpress/dearcolleague.pdf. For phone calls, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, and ask for your Representative’s office. To send an e-mail, visit http://www.house.gov.


Scientists Crack the Humor Code

Robert R. Provine of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and others’ recent research opens an understanding of the science of laughter. To read the New York Times article (free registration required), visit http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/science/13tier.html


Teaching Science in the 21st Century: Part 7 in a Series from NSTA Reports

The seventh installment in NSTA Reports’ series is titled “Formative Assessment Improves Student Learning”. Written by Karen E. Irving, the piece begins “A fundamental tenet in the school accountability debate assumes that high-stakes testing will improve student learning. But the purposes of assessment depend on who is doing the assessing and what they intend to use the data for. Groups outside the classroom such as politicians, principals, or parents often use assessment to compare student scores on one-time tests. These data can be used in auditing schools; monitoring achievement; comparing groups by age, ethnicity, and gender; appraising teachers; evaluating curricula; and exerting pressure for improvement. Besides one-time summative assessments, teachers regularly conduct assessments within their classrooms and analyze them to make decisions that guide their instructional practices. This article describes the information that teachers gather during instruction, the use of that information to guide decisions, and the role of classroom technology in formative assessment.”

This series offers opinion pieces by many of the leaders in science education today. To read the seventh installment in the series, visit http://www.nsta.org/main/news/stories/nsta_story.php?news_story_ID=53559. To find out more about the book by the same name that inspired the series, visit http://store.nsta.org/showItem.asp?product=PB195X.


Exhibit Floor Excitement at the NSTA National Conference on Science Education!

Things are really heating up as we get closer to the start of the NSTA National Conference on Science Education…

We have some sneak peaks from the exhibit floor…

  • NOAA (booth 980) will be celebrating its 200th anniversary,
  • Sea World (booth 389) will be introducing attendees to many unique animals and their habitats at their booth throughout the conference,
  • Vernier Software and Technology (booth 3144) will be introducing a new product,
  • NSTA (booth 1968) will be introducing a new resource for professional development,
  • AND you may just get to meet Buzz Aldrin who will be signing his latest book on the exhibit floor!

For more details on the conference visit http://www.nsta.org/stlouis.


NASA Announces Two New Student Challenges

NASA Space Pennant Design Challenge

Capture the imagination of your students as NASA prepares for the historic first spaceflight of an Educator Astronaut, Barbara Morgan.

Spark the curiosity, creativity, and imagination of your students with the NASA Space Pennant Design Challenge. Participating students will create a design, conduct research, and write an essay about the design’s connection to exploration. Six finalists will be announced and one overall winner will be selected through online voting at KOL, AOL’s service for kids. The winning design will be flown aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour during the STS-118 mission.

The contest begins on March 15, 2007, and entries are due by April 10, 2007. Online voting will take place May 3-17, 2007. For more information, visit:

NASA Quest HiRISE Image Targeting Challenge

Help NASA on the quest for signs of water on the Red Planet.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, now orbiting Mars, is helping NASA search for signs of water on Mars. Students are invited to help choose regions of Mars for HiRISE to image. The HiRISE team will pick several suggestions and image them with the camera in the coming months. The winning team will represent the first people on Earth to see the resulting image and will have the chance to search for signs of water in the image.

Background information, teacher guides, student activity books, and tutorials are available online to help students choose a region. Interested teachers and students are encouraged to log on to a training webcast taking place on March 21, 2007.

Challenge entries are due April 7, 2007. For more information, visit http://quest.nasa.gov/challenges/hirise/index.html.


And Don’t Forget…

  • Membership Means You Belong! Join NSTA for these essential benefits that will enhance your marketability in the teaching profession and build your professional knowledge. Being a member of NSTA means you’re part of an international community of practitioners dedicated to improving science education.
  • The NSTA Science Store for an outstanding array of bestselling books and teaching resources: http://store.nsta.org. This month’s featured book special is Linking Science and Literacy. For 30% off, visit http://www.nsta.org/onlinespecial2!
  • NSTA is offering more Web Seminars in March. Visit http://www.nsta.org/pd/institute.aspxweb_seminars.asp for topics and registration information.




Professional development courses in your future?
Online options give you a world of choice.
Take a look at these institutions offering courses for science educators!


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