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Some of the News Fit to Print
EDUCATOR CADRES FORMED TO SUPPORT COMMON ASSESSMENTS
One of the groups designing tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards has launched a major effort to help state teams of educators understand—and be able to translate for their peers—what the new assessments will entail for classroom instruction. The Educator Leader Cadres, as the initiative is known, is effectively a nod by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers to respond to the concerns of scholars and practitioners. They say that teachers' practices are unlikely to change without widespread understanding of the standards' new academic demands, as well as how those demands will be measured. The article is in Education Week.
EDUCATION RESEARCH: THE OTHER BLACK-WHITE GAP
A plethora of recent education research and policy discussion focuses on the academic and social plight of black boys in American schools, but black men make up comparatively few of the academics on the other end of those studies. In the 30 years from 1977 to 2007, the number of black men earning postbaccalaureate degrees more than doubled, according to Shaun R. Harper, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education in Philadelphia. That sounds good, until he notes that during the same time, the degree-earning rate rose 242 percent for Latino men, 425 percent for Asian-American men, and 253 percent for black women. As of 2008, little more than a third of doctoral degrees awarded to black students went to men. The post is from Education Week’s Inside School Research blog.
EDUCATION FUNDING DROPS IN MORE THAN HALF THE STATES
According to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 26 states will spend less per pupil in fiscal year 2013 than the year before, and 35 are still spending at levels lower than before the recession, after adjusting for inflation. Several states are increasing funds this year over last year, but are, for the most part, not enough to restore the cutbacks from previous years. The article is in the Huffington Post.
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HOUR BY HOUR
A philanthropist, one of America’s wealthiest men, was worried about faculty pensions. The solution he successfully pushed, with the largesse of his foundation, led to the creation of the credit hour, which has become higher education’s de facto standard unit of measuring academic work. Andrew Carnegie never intended for the time-based credit hour to be used to measure student learning, according to a new report from the New America Foundation and Education Sector, which tracks the standard’s history. But it has become a measure and a proxy for what students are supposedly learning. An over-reliance on the credit hour, which links the awarding of academic credit to hours of contact between professors and students, has led to many of higher education’s problems, according to the report. “There is pretty compelling evidence that what we have right now isn’t working,” said Amy Laitinen, deputy director for higher education at the New America Foundation and the report’s author. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE REFORMS HEADED TO GOVERNOR
California’s community colleges began the fall term this week on a low note, having slashed course offerings in response to severe funding cuts and with thousands of students on waiting lists for classes. But the system received a dose of good news Thursday when a bill aimed at improving graduation and transfer rates was approved by the state Legislature. The bill, SB 1456 and known as the Student Success Act of 2012, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 36 to 1 after having passed the Assembly on Tuesday by a unanimous vote. It is now headed to the governor’s desk. The article is in the L.A. Times.
CALIFORNIA TEACHER EVALUATION BILL ON HOLD
A controversial bill revamping teacher evaluation requirements in the Golden State was put on hold at the last minute yesterday by its sponsor, state Rep. Felipe Fuentes. "After working on this bill in a transparent and collaborative manner for more than two years, I could not in good conscious allow the proposed amendments to be voted on without a full public hearing," Fuentes said in a statement. "There would not be sufficient time for myself or the stakeholders I've been working with, to review the amendments that were being proposed. I believe this issue is too important to be decided at the last minute and in the dark of night." The post is from Education Week’s Teacher Beat blog.
GALLUP FINDS AMERICANS PREFER PRIVATE SCHOOLS TO PUBLIC
Americans believe that a better education is to be had in private and charter schools rather than home or public schooling, according to the latest Gallup poll. When asked to assess each type of education provider separately as either excellent, good, only fair or poor, private schooling rated the highest percentage of excellent or good votes, followed by parochial schools, charters, and home schools — with public schools bring up the rear. The article is at EducationNews.org.
REFLECTING ON AMBITIOUS EDUCATION PLAN
Francisco G. Cigarroa, the University of Texas chancellor, says his plan to improve graduation rates and lower education costs has produced tangible results, but some groups are rethinking their support. The article is in The New York Times.
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PANEL OKAYS DRAMATIC CHANGE IN FUNDING FOR NEVADA COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Nevada public universities would be funded based on completion metrics rather than how many students they enroll, under a policy change recommended by a legislative committee. It would allocate 100% of the state's base higher education budget by calculating the number of completed credits. The plan also would provide financial incentives for universities to concentrate on high-demand fields that could help revive the economy. The article is in the Hechinger Report.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MOOC’S
Call it the year of the mega-class. Colleges and professors have rushed to try a new form of online teaching known as MOOC’s—short for "massive open online courses." The courses raise questions about the future of teaching, the value of a degree, and the effect technology will have on how colleges operate. Struggling to make sense of it all? The Chronicle of Higher Education coverage of MOOC's is now in a special section aggregated for convenience.
NEW ACCOUNTABILITY SCHOOL PLAN MAKES COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS A FOCUS
College and career readiness will become an increasingly important factor in judging performance of South Dakota high schools under the new accountability system approved by the state board. For the next two years, ACT scores will be the only measurement for college and career readiness. But the board charged the education department with developing a more accurate measure of career readiness. The article is in the Mitchell Daily Republic.
EDUCATORS EVALUATE ‘FLIPPED CLASSROOMS’
A growing number of educators are working to turn learning on its head by replacing traditional classroom lectures with video tutorials, an approach popularly called the "flipped classroom." Interest in that teaching method was in full view this summer at the International Society for Technology in Education annual conference in San Diego, where almost every session on the topic was filled to capacity. The article is in Education Week.
ARIZONA STUDENT TEST SCORES BECOME PART OF TEACHER EVALUATIONS
Arizona districts and charters must start using quantifiable proof of student improvement as part of teachers' evaluations starting in 2013-14. Beginning in 2014-15, up to 40% of all teachers' performance pay will be tied to the evaluations. A state board framework requires that one-third to one-half of a teacher's evaluation be based on student data, but beyond that, districts and charters can create their own assessments. The article is in the Arizona Republic.
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CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE APPROVES A BILL TO HELP COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS SUCCEED
As California’s crowded community colleges struggle to serve some 2.4 million students amid devastating budget cuts, the State Legislature on Thursday approved a bill designed to help students stay on track toward completing a degree or transfer certificate, the Los Angeles Times reported. If signed into law, the bill, known as the Student Success Act of 2012 would put in place a number of policy reforms affecting students and campuses. Among other things, campuses would provide more orientation and counseling services, and students would be required to identify their educational goals. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
JOB PROSPECTS POOR FOR MOST RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATES
The post-graduate employment market has gotten so bad that only 64% of the kids graduating between 2011 and 2012 have been able to find a job of any kind — and the majority of jobs didn’t require a bachelors degree to qualify. An online survey of over 500,000 young workers between June 2011 and July 2012 showed that those with a degree are typically filling slots meant for students with only a high school diploma or those who dropped out. The worst news is that the jobs for which students were working their way through college are now being given to older and more experienced Americans who would have typically retired or progressed within their company, but are being held back by the severe and ongoing employment crunch. The article is from EducationNews.org.
BILL TO OVERHAUL CALIFORNIA TEACHER EVALUATIONS ADVANCES
In a showdown pitting unions against education reformers and school districts, a bill to overhaul teacher evaluations passed a major legislative hurdle late Wednesday when it was approved by the Senate Education Committee. If passed by the legislature, AB 5 would revamp teacher evaluations and would force each district to negotiate how they review teachers. It would add one performance level -- excellent -- to the current satisfactory and unsatisfactory categories. And instead of being required, state standardized test scores would be optional in measuring teachers. The article is in the San Jose Mercury News.
VIRGINIA TO REVISE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT GOALS
Virginia intends to revise its new goals for student achievement in public schools, after state and federal officials agreed that those goals did not do enough to narrow the gap between students with the worst and best scores on annual state exams. But the federal government continues to support perhaps the most controversial feature of the state plan, which calls for different achievement goals for students according to race, family income and disability. The article is in The Washington Post.
NOT ALL INNOVATIONS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Rick Hess blogs in Education Week: We throw around the phrase "innovation" a lot in education. When talking about new sector providers, new school models, or education technology, there's a tendency to use "innovation" as a lazy, all-purpose label. Of late, I feel like I've been pitched a wave of "innovations" by would-be reformers thrilled by their visions of new school models, community programs, professional development strategies, or ed tech applications. Not all innovations are created equal. Rather, their value depends on the degree to which they promote new efficiencies, address unmet needs, or perform consistently at high levels.
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EXAMINING IMPACT OF STUDYING AT TWO-YEAR FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES
New research finds if a student can finish a degree at a two-year for-profit college, the financial rewards are about the same as for their peers who graduate from a public community college. But for those who fail to complete a program, dropping out from a proprietary school can be more of a setback because of the increased cost of attending. The article is in Education Week.
PELL GRANTS NOW COVER THE SMALLEST PORTION OF COLLEGE COSTS IN HISTORY
The federal Pell Grant program was designed to help college students coming from low-income families afford the high cost of going to college without getting buried in debt. But the Pell Grant now covers less than one-third of the cost of attendance at public four-year university, the lowest in its history. The commentary is from the Huffington Post.
STUDY: MINORITY OF PARENTS FOCUS ON ALL OF COLLEGE COSTS
A new survey of parents by Fidelity has found that only 31 percent with college-bound children are considering "the total cost" of college, defined as including graduating with debt, and the impact of college attended and program completed on earnings potential. Of families looking broadly at those issues, a majority are changing their plans due in part to concerns about student loan debt. More than a third are opting for less expensive colleges than they might have considered earlier. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
WHY COMPLEX TEACHER EVALUATIONS DON’T WORK
Author Mike Schmoker writes: Here they come: those complex, bloated, evaluation templates that are now being dumped on teachers and administrators. These are supposed to make schools perform better. Once again, we are rushing into a premature, ill-conceived innovation—without any solid evidence that it promotes better teaching. The commentary is in Education Week.
SHOULD ANYTHING BE DONE TO INTEGRATE SCHOOLS?
Integration efforts, from busing children out of district to opening charter schools, have proven controversial. David Karp, author of Kids First and Sheryll Cashin, author of The Failures of Integration discuss why some schools are segregated and what, if anything, should be done about it. The piece ran on NPR’s Talk of the Nation.
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SURVEY OFFERS DIRE PICTURE OF CALIFORNIA’S COMMUNITY COLLEGES
More than 470,000 community college students are beginning the fall semester on waiting lists, unable to get into the courses they need, according to a survey of California's two-year colleges that captures a system struggling amid severe budget cuts. The survey, to be released Wednesday, quantified the myriad problems affecting the system, many of which have been anecdotally reported by students on many campuses. The colleges expect steep declines in enrollment and class offerings compared with last fall. The article is in the L.A. Times.
GAPS IN ACCESS AND PERSISTENCE
A federal report released Tuesday highlights significant gaps that exist in access to and persistence in American higher education by race and gender -- but has little to say about the sizable inequities that divide Americans from low-income backgrounds from those higher up the income ladder. The statistics in the report track the progress of students by race and gender from early education through their performance in college. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
RULES THAT EAT YOUR BRAIN
Language Log discussions of what is categorized as “prescriptive poppycock” often refer to zombie rules: Though dead, they shamble mindlessly on. The worse thing about zombie rule is not the pomposity of those advocating them, or the time-wasting character of the associated gotcha games, but the way they actually make people’s writing worse. They promote insecurity, and nervous people worrying about their language write worse than relaxed people enjoying their language. The post is from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Lingua Franca blog.