Some of the News Fit to Print
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LAW OF AVERAGES
Most high school graduates from Chicago who attend the city's community colleges increase their odds of earning a bachelor's degree, according to a study that challenges a belief that two-year colleges are often dead ends for students who could have aimed higher. That argument draws from the book Crossing the Finish Line, which said social mobility is at risk if too many disadvantaged but otherwise qualified students are pushed toward community colleges. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
ONLINE UNIVERSITY FOR ALL
Naylea Omayra Villanueva Sanchez, 22, lives on the edge of the Amazon rain forest in Tarapoto, northern Peru. "Where I live, there's only jungle," Villanueva Sanchez says through an interpreter. "A university education is inaccessible." And that's true in more ways than one. Villanueva Sanchez is in a wheelchair, the result of a motorcycle accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. She is now enrolled in the University of the People, an online institution that claims it is "the world's first, tuition-free, nonprofit, online university." It's aimed at poor students around the globe who would otherwise not have access to higher education. The piece is on NPR’s All Things Considered.
INVESTORS LOVE ONLINE EDUCATION
Higher education is one of the hottest growing sectors in Silicon Valley, and with good reason. The college premium is enormous. College-educated men have seen their wages increase since the 1960s even as wages for men with some to no college education have dropped. College grads face much lower unemployment rates than other educational groups. The gains among advanced degree holders are even larger. So, unsurprisingly, demand for higher education is increasing. But despite being a great investment, the upfront cost to college in terms of tuition is as high as ever, with real costs increasing by a third over the 2000s. So companies like Minerva, Coursera, and Udemy that promise high-quality courses delivered online are attracting a lot of investor attention. The article is in The Washington Post.
HIGHER EDUCATION REFORM IN MOTION
Ed Crego, George Munoz and Frank Islam provide a Whitman's sampler of some of the approaches that are being discussed or are underway in the areas that they analyzed in prior posts: costs; graduation and placement rates, return on investment, career education and skill development, teacher preparation; technology and education; and the nation's primary and secondary education system. The piece is in the Huffington Post.
Carnegie Senior Partner Tom Toch reviews Paul Tough’s book “How Children Succeed” in The Washington Monthly. Toch notes that Tough maintains that “efforts to engender resilience, persistence, and other character strengths in … students” are integral to student success. This is reinforced in a New York Times book review of the Tough book by Annie Murphy Paul. Paul writes that Tough replaces the assumption “that success today depends primarily on cognitive skills — the kind of intelligence that gets measured on I.Q. tests, including the abilities to recognize letters and words, to calculate, to detect patterns — and that the best way to develop these skills is to practice them as much as possible … with what might be called the character hypothesis: the notion that noncognitive skills, like persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence, are more crucial than sheer brainpower to achieving success.” Both the book and Toch’s and Paul’s reviews underscore research by Carnegie Fellow David Yeager that has shown (as Toch notes) “ that even modest interventions, like teachers writing encouraging notes on student’ essays, motivate children to persevere academically.” Yeager’s research is integral to Carnegie’s work in Productive Persistence, one of the key elements of the instructional system in Carnegie’s two mathematics pathways that aim to get students to and through a college credit math course in one year. Through a package consisting of targeted student interventions that support facul
REPORT OUTLINES STATES’ TEACHER POLICY SHIFTS
While all 21 states require student learning to count in teacher evaluations, some states don't require such evaluations annually or don't specify how much weight student achievement should be given, according to a comprehensive report on teaching quality policies. In general, states have done less to prescribe how the evaluations will affect issues like tenure, seniority, and teacher preparation. The article is in Education Week’s Teacher Beat blog.
DUNCAN: TEACHERS SHOULD EARN MORE
In remarks that elicited applause from 800 Baltimore County English teachers, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday that teachers should earn more and there should be more focus on educating the whole child. The article is in the Baltimore Sun.
BIG CITY DISTRICTS BAIL ON TEACHER INCENTIVE GRANTS
Three big-city districts—Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York—have terminated federal grants aimed at promoting performance-based compensation plans and professional development for teachers and principals. Overall, the 2010 Teacher Incentive Fund grants to the three districts would have provided an $88 million payout over five years—nearly 20 percent of the federal program's five-year budget of $442 million. All three districts aimed to secure union support while meeting grant requirements during the yearlong planning period permitted by the grant, but none was ultimately able to accomplish that task. The article is in Education Week’s Teacher Beat blog.
THE GORDIAN KNOT OF RED TAPE
A new brief from the Broad Foundation lists 75 ways that bureaucracy impedes student achievement. The brief identifies "numerous bureaucratic challenges" for urban-district central offices and state education systems that may explain why well-intentioned efforts to improve public schools have failed. Bureaucratic systems, policies, and practices that have built up over decades in inner-city districts have led to fewer resources actually reaching the classroom, preventing teachers from getting support to meet individual student needs, and disheartening people in and around these systems. No one is to blame, the authors write, but these challenges must be addressed to improve America's public schools. This information is from the PEN NewsBlast.
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WILL DUMPING MATH REQUIRMENTS INCREASE GRADUATION RATES?
HetchingerEd is offering a rather radical proposal to increase the number of American students who graduate college: dump math. Specifically, the argument is that since many college students, a disproportionately large number of them of an African-American or Hispanic descent, are unprepared to tackle college-level mathematics courses, they might be stymied by a requirement that all those receiving a degree from a particular institution must pass the freshman version of the course. A fifth of students entering a four-year college don’t have the needed math skills to pass the course and are forced into remediation. Nearly half of community college freshmen find themselves in a similar situation. This delay makes it much less likely that they will be able to graduate on time — or graduate at all. Only a tenth of community college students who take remedial college courses finish their college programs in 3 years, and only a third of four-year students complete theirs in 6 years. The article is from EducationNews.org.
FOR-PROFIT GROUP FIGHTS TO KEEP STUDENTS IN DARK ON DEBT
For-profit college representatives are fighting in federal court for the right to avoid telling students if they are likely to afford their debts after attending school. In a court filing last week, a key industry trade group pushed back against the Department of Education's attempts to make for-profit colleges disclose statistics that would indicate whether students are likely to take on huge debts they cannot repay. Preliminary data released by the department earlier this year indicates that many of the for-profit programs would be cast in a negative light by making the disclosures, which would reveal that students are shouldering massive debt burdens and are often unable to repay student loans. The article is in the Huffington Post.
Professors occasionally get lampooned as luddites responsible for the famously slow pace of change in higher education. But in truth the majority of professors are excited about various technology-driven trends in higher education, including the growth of e-textbooks and digital library collections, the increased use of data monitoring as a way to track student performance along with their own, and the increasingly popular idea of “flipping the classroom.” However, other technology trends are more likely to make professors break into a clammy sweat. These include the proliferation of scholarship outlets operating outside the traditional model for peer review, the growth of for-profit education, and the intensity of digital communications. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
ty to create more engaging classroom environments and organize meaningful instructional experiences for students, our network faculty have strengthened students’ interest in this subject matter, reduced their anxiety about learning math, and convinced many students that they too can actually come to learn this subject. The latter is what we call developing a growth mindset.