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Keys to improving low-income schools

WASHINGTON - Low-income students are making significant academic gains in schools that offer more personal instruction, parent involvement, and teacher accountability, says a report by Education Trust, a nonprofit group in Washington. The trust based its conclusions on a survey of 366 elementary and secondary schools in 21 states that had scored above average on standardized tests but had poverty levels of more than 50 percent. The results, reported The New York Times, found schools that had improved or were doing well shared five common traits: increased learning time for reading and math; money devoted to continuing education for faculty; systems to monitor student progress and provide extra help; efforts to involve parents; and state or district accountability requirements.

States plan tough new math test

WASHINGTON - A group of governors and corporate leaders said last week they will create a new eighth-grade math test to help US students perform as well as their peers in other countries. At least 10 states have agreed to give the exam, which would tie middle-school testing and teaching of math to levels of top-performing nations, says education-reform group Achieve Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass. The math test would focus on two-dimensional geometry, exponents, and other skills that prepare students for high school. Most current state math tests address simple skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplication, and fractions. It would take a year and $2 million to develop the test, they said.

Choose your college major carefully

BOSTON - Your major in college will influence your earning power, a new study finds. "The College Majors Handbook," written by three professors at Northeastern University in Boston, surveyed the work experience of 150,000 college graduates.

Among their conclusions: those who majored in professional fields, with the exception of education, earn much more than liberal-arts and social-sciences majors. They also found that the more people's jobs have to do with their major, the more they earn. Unless a liberal-arts major finds a professional, managerial or technical job, he or she will be no better off, in terms of earning power, than someone with a high school diploma.

College Students: Interested in writing for us? We are always looking for college students to write for our "On Campus" column. To contribute a column, e-mail Kim Campbell at: campbellk@csps.com Or, write to The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

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