GATES FUNDED EDUCATION REFORM GROUP TO CLOSE
The Gates Foundation, the country's most influential education-policy organization, has quietly ended financial support for a national group formed to push for favored reforms, including an overhaul of teacher evaluations. Communities for Teaching Excellence, headed by former L.A. school board member Yolie Flores, is planning to close its doors next month. Although based in Los Angeles, the group had a presence in Hillsborough County, Fla.; Memphis, Tenn.; and in Pittsburgh — all locations where the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded the development of new teacher-evaluation systems. The article is in the L.A. Times.
NOT JUST EARLY, BUT IN-DEPTH
An article in the latest issue of Voices in Urban Education profiles the College Readiness Indicator System (CRIS) initiative, which is developing a menu of signals and supports on students' academic progress, tenacity, and college knowledge at the individual, school, and district levels. Working with certain districts to address the college-readiness gap, the John W. Gardner Center employs the CRIS framework, which enhances early warning systems in three ways. Its indicators look beyond academic preparedness to include student knowledge and attitudes for successfully accessing college and overcoming obstacles to college graduation. CRIS. The article is from PEN NewsBlast.
COALITION ADVANCES DEFINITION OF CAREER READY
What skills are necessary for a young person to be considered "career ready?" And are those the same skills necessary to do well in college? That's been one of the most debated questions in education policy in the last few years, and yet the answer still depends on who you're asking. In the hope of guiding education policy, more than two dozen business and education groups have come together as the Career Readiness Partner Council to try to forge a shared definition of what it means to be ready for good jobs. The article is in Education Week’s Curriculum Matters blog.
COLLEGE COURSES IN HIGH SCHOOL YIELD STUDENTS MORE LIKELY TO ATTEND, GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE
A Jobs for the Future report urges policymakers to expand dual-enrollment programs given their success in boosting college completion. The report's findings show that Texas high school students who completed a college course before graduation were nearly 50% more likely to earn a college degree from a state two- or four-year college within six years than students who had not participated in dual enrollment. The article is in the Huffington Post.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
COMMUNITY COLLEGES RETHINK PLACEMENT TESTS
College-placement tests can make or break a student's career. Yet there is little evidence to suggest the tests do what they're designed to do. Now, some community colleges are switching to high school grades or revamping assessments, while others are working with high schools to figure out students' college readiness early so they have time to catch up if necessary. The article is in Education Week.
STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS $26,500 IN DEBT ON AVERAGE
The average student-loan debt of borrowers in the college class of 2011 rose to about $26,500, a 5 percent increase from about $25,350 the previous year, according to a report by the Institute for College Access and Success’s Project on Student Debt. The article is in The New York Times.
PRESSED TO BRIDGE SKILLS GAP, COLLEGES AND CORPORATIONS TRY TO GET ALONG
Business officials complain that too many college students aren’t learning what they need to get jobs. Academics retort that their job is to provide knowledge, not vocational training—and that what future workers really need isn’t job-specific preparation, but the ability to think critically that comes from a well-rounded education. “There’s been something of a rupture,” said Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. “On the higher-education side, we have sometimes not thought enough about how best to prepare our students for the jobs that will be available when they graduate. And employers haven’t always communicated clearly enough to universities what skills employees need.” It’s not for lack of prodding. The article is from the Hechinger Report.
UNCONVENTIONAL TUITION VOTE
Students rarely get the opportunity to vote on whether they want a tuition hike. But that is exactly how California politicos are framing a vote on Proposition 30, a measure pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown that would temporarily raise income taxes on high-income individuals and increase the state sales tax to fund various state services. The proposition is the marquee contest on California’s ballot this November. It will likely affect not just higher education funding, but also state support for K-12 education and public safety. Advocates of the measure have already raised more than $50 million in support of the cause, and opponents have raised roughly $30 million. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
HOW MUCH IS YOUR COLLEGE DEGREE WORTH?
Psychology tells us that human beings tend to overestimate themselves. We think we're smarter, more popular, and better at our jobs than any objective measure would suggest. So with that in mind, direct your attention to these neat charts tracking college majors and average lifetime earnings from the Census Bureau. They just might tell you something about your future (even if you secretly believe you're way above average). The article is in the Atlantic.
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POLL FINDS HIGHER EDUCATION IN CRISIS
The American public and senior administrators at U.S. colleges and universities overwhelmingly agree that higher education is in crisis, according to a new poll, but they fundamentally disagree over how to fix it and even what the main purpose of higher education is. According to a survey sponsored by TIME Magazine and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, 89% of U.S. adults and 96% of senior administrators at colleges and universities said that higher education is in crisis and nearly four in 10 in both groups considered the crisis to be “severe.”
HIGHER ED ON THE BALLOT
Higher education is hardly dominating the political airwaves this election season, but a number of ballot initiatives across the country could significantly impact colleges and universities.
Dan Hurley, director of State Relations and Policy Analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities sees the ballot measures as falling into four buckets: revenue impacts, college access, capital improvements, and autonomy. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
FLORIDA OFFICIALS DEFEND ETHNIC AND RACIAL LEARNING GOALS
MIAMI — When the Florida Board of Education voted this month to set different goals for student achievement in reading and math by race and ethnicity, among other guidelines, the move was widely criticized as discriminatory and harmful to blacks and Hispanics. But the state, which has been required to categorize achievement by racial, ethnic and other groups to the federal government for more than 10 years, intends to stand by its new strategic plan. Education officials say the targets, set for 2018, have been largely misunderstood. The article is in The New York Times.
TEST SCORES JUMP AFTER LOW-INCOME KIDS GET SMART PHONES
Although smartphones are verboten in many schools, when used properly they may become powerful learning tools. When Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative, an effort aimed at bringing internet access to families that can not afford it, put smartphones into the hands of low-income students, the students’ standardized test scores improved — sometimes by as much as 30%. Peggy Johnson, Qualcomm’s president of global market development, believes that the improvement comes because students using smartphones have easier access to information at any time of day or night. They are also able to keep in contact with their classmates and even their teachers, which helps them stay on top of everything that goes on in school. The article is in EducationNews.org.
IES TO SEED NEW METHOD FOR STUDYING SCHOOLS
It can be tough to translate evidence into action in education research. A principal or superintendent might sift through academic journals or vendors' pamphlets for an effective reading program, but even a seal of approval from the federal What Works Clearinghouse is no guarantee that what helped students in one district will be successful with another. To better inform that knowledge base, the Institute of Education Sciences is crafting a new research program, called "continuous improvement research in education," to go beyond "what works" and add more context to education findings. "Knowing what works plays a very important role in school improvement, but alone it's not enough," said John Q. Easton, the director of the IES, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education. "There are questions about building the capacity to implement what works, building the capacity to measure, check, and adapt to changes." Carnegie’s approach to educational research and development is featured in this Education Week article.