By Gay Clyburn
Some people refer to Carnegie’s pathways—Statway™ and Quantway™—as college courses. And while students do register for them as a course, they are actually an instructional system. This system includes some key components:
1. Ambitious learning goals leading to deep and long lasting understanding;
2. Lessons and out-of-class materials to advance these goals;
3. Formative and summative assessments, including end of module and end of course assessments;
4. Productive Persistence – an evidence-based package of practical student activities and faculty actions integrated throughout the instructional system to increase student motivation, tenacity and skills for success;
5. Language and literacy component which interweaves necessary supports in instructional materials and classroom activities so that learning is accessible to all;
6. Advancing teaching component to provide instructors with the knowledge, skills, and habits necessary to experience efficacy in initial use and develop increasing expertise over time. This dimension is essential in seeking to reduce the variability in outcomes; and
7. Analytics to support the continuous improvement of teaching and of the materials.
For developmental math students, having an instructional system with these components more effectively addresses their social and emotional barriers to learning. For the faculty member, it means, among other things, sharing in the development of curriculum and instructional materials across the Network. For the institution, it means there is data collection and analysis of their students’ progress, down to each class section.
As illustrated by the components of the system, Carnegie is combining the worlds of research and practice in cognitive science, psychology, mathematics education, and pedagogy. To ensure the success of the pathways, campus teams participate in monthly conference calls with other teams and are supported by the Network. Faculty members integrate the instructional system components and assume the role of co-developers in a process that supports continuous improvement.
The key to Carnegie’s work is that members of the NIC work together toward one goal: the transformation of developmental mathematics education.
By Gay Clyburn
Teams from 40 colleges and 10 states will travel to Santa Cruz, California, starting July 22nd to participate in Carnegie’s first National Forum on the community college mathematics pathways. Working with Carnegie staff and faculty members who have already taught Statway™ and Quantway™, new teams will delve into the curriculum, get comfortable with the student online out-of-class platform, and dig deeper into how to implement new productive persistence activities and interventions into their teaching and remove language and literacy barriers. Experienced teams will be able to examine data from their classrooms and colleges and understand how to use the data to improve student success. They will talk through the expectations and benefits of being a part of the Carnegie Networked Improvement Communities, and they will get more comfortable with Carnegie’s online collaboration tools. I will be blogging throughout the Forum, so stay tuned.
RECENTLY ON THE PATHWAYS BLOG
Carnegie Invites Researchers to Work on Student Success Problem in Community Colleges
‘BETTER THAN WE USED TO HAVE’
The vast majority of American schoolchildren may be taking standardized math and English tests online in three years, according to Sarah Garland in The Hechinger Report. Some are hailing this revolution that promises better-rounded tests, less cheating, and immediate feedback, and a format that will let states test as often as four times a year. Forty-four states and Washington, D.C. plan to adopt new tests by 2014-15 under a program funded by the Obama administration. Yet others point to shrinking school budgets and to the experiences of states that pioneered online tests. Wyoming's technical problems were such that voters threw the state superintendent out of office and the state sued NCS Pearson Inc., the company who designed and administered the test. Virginia's rollout was gradual, over ten years, yet in 2007, 10,000 students were unable to complete online exams -- again administered by Pearson -- after a series of glitches. Moreover, some worry online testing might widen the achievement gap for low-income students who lack computers at home. But, says Don Davis, a principal in Delaware's Appoquinimink district who voiced this concern, "It's better than what we used to have." This information is from the PEN NewsBlast.
THE FRAGILITY OF SCHOOL-WIDE PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Stanford Emeritus professor Larry Cuban writes for the National Education Policy Center’s blog: The fact is that school-based professional learning communities are fragile. A change in principals, retirement or transfer of teacher leaders, unexpected shifts in student demography, and unmindful district mandates, singly or in combination, impact the structures of school-wide collaboration and joint inquiry that have slowly matured. In some cases, after a founding leader has left the school, a visitor who had seen the school while the founder led the staff and praised it earlier would be startled by the erosion in norms and classroom practices that had occurred after the founder exited. No matter how many years the founder had been there.
WAIVERS WON’T GET STATES OUT OF REPORTING
Just because 26 states have been granted waivers from certain accountability requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act doesn't mean they will be able to avoid the reams of student achievement data reporting required by the law. The Education Department is in the process of changing its requirements for the federal EDFacts system, which consolidates data from various education programs including Title I grants to districts and the School Improvement Grant program, to adapt to the varied state accountability systems which will be created by the waivers, Ross C. Santy, the Education Department's deputy assistant secretary for data and information, told state and district officials at the annual STATS-DC conference here Wednesday afternoon. To the obvious surprise of many of the officials who packed the room, Mr. Santy noted, "There are no exceptions to the reporting rules in the statute; the components of [adequate yearly progress] are still required." The post is from Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog.
NEA RETOOLS MISSION
Faced with arguably the biggest crisis of its 155-year history—the loss of at least 100,000 full-time members—the nation’s largest union plans to respond by organizing thousands of new members and transforming itself into an even more politically potent force. Whether the National Education Association can accomplish those goals while simultaneously advocating improvements to the teaching profession—a role publicly supported by its leaders, but contested among rank and file—remains an open question. Nothing less than the entire organization’s future appears to hinge on the answer. The article is in Education Week.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
SHOULD COMMUNITY COLLEGES GIVE FOUR-YEAR DEGREES?
Jay Mathews blogs for The Washington Post: A detailed and thoughtful piece by two scholars at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York suggests one way to improve the mediocre reputation of two-year community colleges: Allow them to grant four-year bachelor degrees. It is not as odd as it sounds. Just because community colleges — which, at the moment, have nearly half of the nation’s college students — are designed as a halfway house to four-year schools doesn’t mean they couldn’t give out BAs in some subjects. In a few cases, it is already being done.
NEW FEDERAL DATA ABOUT TUITION, ENROLLMENT AND DEGREES
The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released preliminary data Thursday about types of degrees offered and conferred, tuition and fees rates, and enrollment head counts. Provisional data will be released in about three months, and final data will be available in 2012-13. The article is in Inside Higher Ed. ABOUT HIGHER ED
DUNCAN SAYS COLLEGE COMPLETION INCHES UP
The number of Americans with college degrees is inching up slowly, with about 100,000 more students holding post-secondary degrees in 2010 than the year before, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan plans to tell the National Governors Association's annual gathering in Williamsburg, Va., on Friday. “Every capable, hard-working, and responsible student should be able to afford to go to college. That’s not a Democratic dream or a Republican one. It’s the American Dream,” Duncan will say, according to prepared remarks. The article is in The Huffington Post.
COLLEGE ISN’T SO UNAFFORDABLE
You know all those newspaper headlines and television talking heads saying that college is unaffordable? They're flawed, a new report argues. Okay, so that's a significant oversimplification of the nuanced (and slightly tortured) arguments of “Is College Affordable? In Search of a Meaningful Definition,” a white paper published Wednesday by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a nonprofit research group. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES MUST MEET STANDARDS
There are great benefits for society when more Americans are able to get an education, and for-profit institutions could provide that opportunity for less traditional students. But institutions that aren't providing any value don't deserve the support of the federal student aid program. The editorial is in the San Francisco Chronicle.
THE COLLEGE GRADUATE GLUT
Richard Vedder writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Innovations blog: The price system works marvelously to allocate resources in our society, but in higher education, prices often do not reflect the true value society places on resource usage, as they are often distorted by a variety of policies. The price of elite colleges, for example, is actually well below what demand-and-supply conditions would warrant, while the price of college in general has been distorted upward by extravagant federal student financial-assistance programs (although some would argue with that contention).But labor markets are largely free of these distortions, and very recent evidence from them on the whole supports the hypothesis that the huge gains from obtaining a bachelor’s degree may be diminishing for a simple reason: Supply has been rising faster than demand for college graduates.
NEXT UP IN TEACHER EVALUATIONS: STUDENT SURVEYS
The search for reliable methods of gauging teacher effectiveness—a dominant education policy issue over the last several years—has centered on classroom observation tools and value-added measures. But another potential indicator has emerged and is starting to pick up momentum: student surveys. The post is from Education Week’s Teaching Now blog.
Michael Krasny covers some of the same ground today on KQED’s Forum piece on engaging students. He reports that America's kids are overworked and stressed-out. At least, that's become the conventional wisdom. But a report published this week by the Center for American Progress finds that many students say their school work is actually too easy. Krasny asks: What are schools doing to improve academic engagement?
ED LAW CHALLENGES LOOM AFTER HEALTH CARE RULING
Legal analysts say that part of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the federal health-care law will encourage states to challenge education laws and other federal aid programs and legislation passed under Congress’ spending power, a pivotal aspect of the historic ruling. The article is in Education Week.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
COMPETENCY LOVES COMPANY
Northern Arizona University has inked a deal with Pearson to co-develop three fully online baccalaureate degree programs based on the increasingly popular and somewhat controversial “competency based” model of higher education. Beginning in January, the university plans to offer competency-based courses and bachelor’s degrees in business administration, computer information technology and liberal studies. The courses will be aimed largely at adult students who are looking to earn credit for professional and life experience and close the remaining distance to a college degree. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
MORE THAN FACTS AND FORMULAS
Educators should not teach only facts and formulas -- they should also teach students how to use that subject knowledge to remain academically motivated, think critically, and communicate ideas to others, according to a report about education and life skills released Tuesday by the National Research Council. The report -- "Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century" -- promotes “deeper learning,” a process through which students learn how, when and why to apply specific situational knowledge to solve problems in other areas within a discipline. This is called “transferable knowledge.” The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
TEACHERS WANT ROLE OF UNIONS TO CHANGE, SURVEY SAYS
Critics have portrayed teachers unions as impediments to reform efforts around the country because they have fought against changes such as pay-for-performance and the abolition of tenure. But stories of unions working with school district officials to craft new teacher quality initiatives are slowly becoming more common. And, according to a new study that surveyed more than 1,000 teachers, that’s exactly what a growing number of teachers think unions should be doing. “Trending Toward Reform: Teachers Speak on Unions and the Future of the Profession,” released Tuesday by Education Sector, a nonprofit education think tank located in Washington, D.C., reveals that teachers are more likely to think unions should help with and even lead reform efforts than they were five years ago. The post is from the Hechinger Report.
NEW LAW EXCLUDES CHARTER SCHOOL TEACHERS FROM REVISED EVALUATIONS
Under legislation approved by the Pennsylvania House, schools will be required to consider student performance when evaluating teachers — except for charter schools. The law requires half of a teacher's evaluation to be based on observation and half on various measures of student performance. The article is in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
SCHOOL IS TOO EASY, STUDENTS SAY
Millions of kids simply don't find school very challenging, a new analysis of federal survey data suggests. The report could spark a debate about whether new academic standards being piloted nationwide might make a difference. The findings, out from the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank that champions "progressive ideas," analyze three years of questionnaires from the Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress, a national test given each year. The article is in USA Today.