NO MATTER WHO WINS, CONGRESS FACES ROCKY PATH ON ED ISSUES
No matter who wins the congressional and presidential elections next month, lawmakers will return to Washington in November to sort out a tangle of tricky budgetary issues—and will face a legislative logjam that includes almost every major law that touches on education. The article is in Education Week.
STATES PUNCH RESET BUTTON ON WAIVERS
Given the flexibility to revise their academic goals under the No Child Left Behind Act, a vast majority of the states that received federal waivers are setting different expectations for different subgroups of students, an Education Week analysis shows. That marks a dramatic shift in policy and philosophy from the original law.The waivers issued by the U.S. Department of Education let states abandon the goal of 100 percent proficiency in reading and mathematics for all students and instead hold schools accountable for passing rates that vary by subgroup—as long as those schools make significant gains in closing gaps in achievement.
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The Chronicle of Higher Education imagines new ways to solve some of academe’s persistent conundrums: how to staff the faculty and improve teaching, how to produce research that will connect with the public, how to bring in more money, and how to help students and families pay for it all — to name a few of the challenges.
HIGHER EDUCATION IS WORKING
Laura Anglin, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, writes in the Huffington Post: Beyond the economic benefits, higher education prepares students to be responsible citizens and to engage with the world around them. On the whole, college graduates volunteer more, vote more often, and participate more in their communities. Getting to the win-win that comes from increasing the number of college-educated individuals in the United States will take a renewed commitment to an historical partnership. Thanks to a unique combination of federal, state, philanthropic and college-based student aid programs, millions of students have become the first in their families to complete college, just like my father. These investments have benefited all Americans with the creation of new technologies, products and industries; greater civic engagement; and less reliance on the commonweal.
BLACKBOARD’S NEW BAG
Blackboard has become the latest company to get into the business of helping colleges and universities build online programs. The company, which built its education technology empire on selling software and implementation support, has upped investment in its “online program management services” in an effort to compete with a growing number of entities that are taking aim at the many colleges that are scrambling to reassert, or reinvent, their brands on the increasingly crowded frontier of online higher education. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
MY VIEW: SCHOOL DISTRICTS NEED TO STOP LOSING ‘IRREPLACEABLE’ TEACHERS
Educator and Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow Robert Jeffers writes in CNN’s Schools of Thought blog: It takes a lot to make a successful teacher: Hard work, a generous support network and faith from colleagues and administrators all play a role. I’ve been lucky to have those things, and have seen some professional success — success that’s evident in my student growth data, their college acceptances and the outstanding hands-on projects they’ve completed. My students have published a book of original food writing and artwork, completed award-winning films, established an on-campus recycling program recognized as one of the best in Los Angeles County and planted more than 60 trees around our inner-city campus. I’m proud of what we’ve done together. But I would never call myself “irreplaceable.” That’s a word that has been tossed around a lot since TNTP, a teacher quality nonprofit, used it to describe top teachers in a new report, “The Irreplaceables: Understanding the Real Retention Crisis in America’s Urban Schools.” As my former student pointed out, and as TNTP’s report suggests, motivated and highly effective teachers are not easily replaced. In fact, according to TNTP’s research, when top-performing teachers leave their schools, as few as one in 11 possible replacements will be of similar quality.
WHY THE ‘MARKET THEORY’ OF EDUCATION REFORM DOESN’T WORK
Mark Tucker, president of the non-profit National Center on Education and the Economy, writes this commentary in The Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet blog: Years ago, Milton Friedman and others opined that the best possible education reform would be one based on good old market theory. Public education, the analysis went, was a government monopoly, and, teachers and school administrators, freed from the discipline of the market, as in all government monopolies, had no incentive to control costs or deliver high quality. That left them free to feather their own nest. Obviously, the solution was to subject public education to the rigors of the market. Put the money the public collected for the schools into the hands of the parents. Let them choose the best schools for their children. Given a genuine choice among schools, parents would have a strong incentive to choose the ones that were able to produce the highest achievement at the lowest possible cost, driving achievement up and costs down. The theory is neat as pin and as American as apple pie. But what if it is not true? What if it does not predict what actually happens when it is put into practice?
IT'S NOT JUST WRITING: MATH NEEDS A REVOLUTION, TOO
Barry Garelick writes this commentary in The Atlantic: The world of reform math is where understanding takes precedence over procedure and process trumps content. In this world, memorization is looked down upon as "rote learning" and thus addition and subtraction facts are not drilled in the classroom--it's something for students to learn at home. Inefficient methods for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing are taught in the belief that such methods expose the conceptual underpinning of what is happening during these operations. The standard (and efficient) methods for these operations are delayed sometimes until 4th and 5th grades, when students are deemed ready to learn procedural fluency. The idea is to teach students to "think like mathematicians." They are called upon to think critically before acquiring the analytic tools with which to do so. More precisely, they are given analytic tools for "understanding" problems and are then forced to learn the actual procedural skills necessary to solve them on a "just in time" basis. Such a process may eliminate what the education establishment views as tedious "drill and kill" exercises, but it results in poor learning and lack of mastery.
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MOOCS AND THE REST OF 'ONLINE'
The men and women who attend the Sloan Consortium's annual meeting have been toiling in the fields of online learning for many years, so they could be forgiven for having a wee bit of skepticism (if not resentment) about "MOOC mania," the hubbub of hyper-attention that has been paid in recent months to the massive open online courses developed by Harvard, MIT, Stanford and other elite universities. "MOOCS will change the world and make the rest of higher education obsolete. Hyper-prestigious universities are driving all the change. Umm, I don't think so, folks," Jack Wilson, president emeritus of the University of Massachusetts system and Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, and Innovation at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, said during the conference's opening plenary Wednesday afternoon. "They're certainly not the first movers; they're not even the fast followers," he added, to applause from some in the audience. "It's great to have them on board. But that is not who has led online learning, or who is going to lead online learning." The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: GLASS HALF EMPTY OR HALF FULL?
Malbert Smith III, president of MetaMetrics, an education research firm; Jason Turner, director of professional development at MetaMetrics; and Steve Lattanzio, a research engineer at the company, write in Education Week: This year, Gallup's Confidence in Institutions survey revealed a disheartening lack of faith in U.S. public schools. The percentage of participants indicating "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in public K-12 education fell to an all-time low of around 29 percent—a drop of 29 percentage points from 1973, when Gallup first began including public schools in its survey and public confidence in schools measured 58 percent. Unfortunately, faith in the public schools has been steadily eroding since 1973. But are things really this dismal?
ARE NEW ONLINE STANDARDIZED TESTS REVOLUTIONARY?
New high-tech tests for the Common Core standards are being developed, but will these exams really revolutionize how we measure whether children are learning? The two coalitions that are designing the new tests, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), have posted examples of what's coming on their websites. The article is in the Hechinger Report.
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THE CANARY IN THE COALMINE?
Community college enrollments dropped in the fall 2011 for the first time since 2007. It’s a decline worth noting since American community colleges are the most important educational safety net for low-income and first-generation college students preparing for or retooling themselves for the knowledge economy. And yet, the media and policymakers paid little attention to the data, released late last year by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the National Clearinghouse). (Figures for this year are not yet public.) The decline is surprising since community college enrollments typically run countercyclical to the economy. Also, the data show that the decline is among full-time students with an increase in enrollment of part-time students. It is hard to imagine that increased employment opportunities are the cause of this decline. Furthermore, job projections call for increased certificate and degree learning, not less. The post, by Joni Finney, is in The Quick and the Ed.
DISAPPEARING LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGES
A new article in Liberal Education looks at what happened in the 20 years after David W. Breneman asked in a much discussed article "Are We Losing Our Liberal Arts Colleges?" For the current article, three authors checked up on the 212 institutions and found that today, only 130 of them meet the criteria Breneman used for liberal arts colleges -- a decline of 39 percent. The piece is in Inside Higher Ed.
TRANSFER AND THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE MISSION
College completion gets plenty of attention these days. But the challenges many students face in transferring from community colleges to four-year institutions is less visible, according to a new report from the American Association of Community Colleges. In addition to examining those challenges, the report looks at the role of transfer as a pathway to the bachelor's degree and the mobility of credits between institutions. For example, students are almost twice as likely to earn a bachelor's degree when all of their community college transfer credits are accepted by four-year institutions, according to the report, which was written by Christopher M. Mullin, the association's program director for policy analysis. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
THE EXHAUSTION OF THE AMERICAN TEACHER
With the 2012-2013 American school year in full swing, it’s worthwhile to note that the people doing the actual educating are down in the dumps. Many feel more beaten down this year than last. Some are walking into their classrooms unsure if this is still the job for them. Their hearts ache with a quiet anguish that’s peculiarly theirs. They’ve accumulated invisible scars from years of trying to educate the increasingly hobbled American child effectively enough that his international test scores will rival those of children flourishing in wealthy, socially-advanced Scandinavian nations and even wealthier Asian city-states where tiger moms value education like American parents value fast food and reality TV. The post is from the The Educator’s Room online magazine.
FIVE THINGS TEACHERS WANT PARENTS TO KNOW
(CNN) - During the average school day, teachers are with children as many waking hours as parents are. But many educators believe there's a short in the communication lines between themselves and parents. When asked what they'd want parents to know about education, many common concerns were voiced from the classroom.
14 N.J. SCHOOL DISTRICTS BAND TOGETHER TO SAVE MONEY ON STATE-MANDATED TRAINING
State-mandated, standardized teacher evaluations start next year in New Jersey. In one county, 14 districts formed a consortium that may have saved the group hundreds of thousands of dollars in start-up costs alone. Districts can choose from one of five research-based evaluation models or develop their own that can be validated through research and data. The article is in the Hunterdon Democrat.
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HIGHER ED SHRINKS
It's official: Higher education is shrinking, for the first time in at least 15 years. Total enrollment at American colleges and universities eligible for federal financial aid fell slightly in the fall of 2011 from the year before, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FISHER V. TEXAS
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments this week in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case that centers on the questions of whether and how race may be used in college-admissions decisions. Wondering what this case means for colleges and state policy? The Chronicle of Higher Education has pulled together the basics and history of the case.