All Hail Greg Toppo, Education Reporter Extraordinaire

Much as I don't always like USA Today, I've always liked USAT education reporter Greg Toppo's stuff. And this week at the AERA conference, he's put out a ton of interesting pieces -- about bullies preferring text messages, the spread of the 65 percent solution, the ineffectiveness of laptop programs, and the mismatch between Praxis and what teachers need to know.

At the very least, you gotta give him credit for being hard working. That's a lot of stories in a week, especially with free drinks and San Francisco in the background. But I think you'll see it's more than that.


High-tech bullying may be on the rise
In a small-scale study presented at a meeting of the American Educational Research Association here this week, researchers surveyed 65 girls ages 15-18 in an upscale Sacramento suburb in 2004 and found that self-identified female bullies most often text-messaged harassment by cellphone, preferring it nearly 2 to 1 over e-mail, websites and instant messaging. About 45% had been victims of cyber-bullying.

States sign on to '65% solution' for funding schools
Versions of the "65% solution," so dubbed by columnist George Will, have been adopted in four states and are being considered in another six. Department of Education research shows that 61% of school dollars now go directly to the classroom for items such as teacher salaries, chalk, textbooks and computers.

Computers may not boost student achievement
Give a kid a laptop and it might not make any difference. That's the message from research presented here Monday, which suggests that spending millions of dollars to bring technology into kids' homes and schools has decidedly mixed results.

Skills tests for teachers miss mark, studies find
The skills tests that most public school teachers must pass to get a job are poor predictors of whether they'll actually be good teachers — and in some cases may even keep good ones from entering the classroom, new research suggests.


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