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NYC Ends Teacher Bonuses

balanceNew York City will eliminate a performance-bonus program for teachers and principals in light of new research showing that the three-year-old program did not improve student achievement at any grade level or teachers’ morale. “A lot of the principals and teachers saw the bonuses as a recognition and reward, as icing on the cake,” explained Julie Marsh, lead researcher of the RAND report.

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Many STEM Teachers Lack Majors

Magic BusTeacher layoffs nationwide threaten to make a bad STEM education situation worse, as more educators must cover subjects they are not certified to teach. A new survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that fewer than half the chemistry and physical science teachers in public high schools had degrees in those fields, with about 30 percent lacking certification in those subjects.

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Will Tech Doom Teachers’ Unions?

Tech WorldForget politics and budget battles. Digital learning, not legislatures, represents the biggest threat to teachers’ unions, argues Stanford political science professor Terry Moe in his new book, Special Interest. Part history, part analysis of education trends, the book details the rise of the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers.

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Feature: Finland, A Model for Success

FinlandFinland enjoys a surprising claim to fame: world-class K-12 education. Only a handful of nations come close to matching Finland in math, science, and literacy, and none boasts such uniformly high achievement rates across regions and income levels. How could the country produce 15-year-olds on par with Asia’s whiz kids? The answer may reside in teacher training and approach.

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Foundations Go For Gaming

GamingCan digital media and video games boost student learning? The Bill and Melinda Gates and Pearson foundations clearly think so. The pair announced a $20 million effort to create online reading, math, and science courses tied to new Common Core state standards that will use video, interactive software, games, social media and other digital materials.

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Chemistry Teacher Named Top in Nation

Michelle ShearerWho says science is for nerds? Not the Council of Chief State School Officers, which just named Michelle Shearer, an AP chemistry teacher from Frederick, Md., the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. President Obama will honor her and other state teachers of the year at the White House on May 3.

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States Eye Teacher Performance Pay

Chalkboard ABCFor nearly a decade, schools have been held accountable for student performance on federally mandated state tests. Now, with some 80 percent of U.S. schools in danger of failing next year, states and districts are revamping teacher evaluation plans and making growth the centerpiece for pay and tenure.

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Ham It Up and Pack Them In

WinnSan Diego teacher Jonathan Winn has done what some would say is impossible: He’s inspired high school students to get excited about math. His AP calculus class is the most popular course in a school with a large number of low-income students for whom English is not their native language.

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Feature: Pioneer of Green Learning

Mike TownMike Town has worked in steel factories and forests, tricked out a “green” house, persuaded legislators to save the wilderness, and started a student-run “Cool Schools” energy audit, saving his district $30,000 a year. Now, the Redmond, Wash., teacher is turning an environmentalist’s eye toward federal STEM education policy.

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