Some of the News Fit to Print
A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education argues that as students of color and diverse ethnicities become the leading population of public school systems in numerous states, closing achievement gaps can secure the country's future prosperity. Given that two-thirds of our economy is driven by consumer spending, the report makes the case that raising individual education levels will boost purchasing power and by extension, the national economy. Students of color make up more than half of the K–12 population in 12 states and between 40 and 50 percent of students in an additional ten states. Yet the high school graduation rates of students of color trail whites' by an average of 20 percentage points. Disparities continue into higher education where in 2011, 31 percent of whites age 25 and older held at least a bachelor's degree, compared to just 20 percent of blacks and 14 percent of Hispanics. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show dropouts more than three times as likely to be unemployed, and when employed and at the peak of earning capacity averaging only $9 per hour compared to high school graduates and those with bachelor's degrees, who earn $13 and $25 per hour, respectively. The report notes that if every state had graduated 90 percent of its students for just the Class of 2011, America would have more than 750,000 additional high school graduates -- many of whom would have pursued postsecondary education – who would have earned an additional $9 billion each year. This information is from the PEN NewsBlast.
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KHAN ACADEMY FOUNDER PROPOSES NEW TYPE OF COLLEGE
Salman Khan’s dream college looks very different from the typical four-year institution. The founder of Khan Academy, a popular site that offers free online video lectures about a variety of subjects, lays out his thoughts on the future of education in his book, The One World School House: Education Re-imagined, released last month. Though most of the work describes Mr. Khan’s experiences with Khan Academy and his suggestions for changing elementary- and secondary-school systems, he does devote a few chapters to higher education. The post is from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog.
A $10,000 PLATFORM
With state budgets still constrained, college costs are a growing concern for the electorate, Republicans holding 30 governor’s offices, and many of these lawmakers poised for higher profile in the next four years as they contemplate higher office, it seems likely that the proposals seen in places such as Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin will spread, and could even form the backbone of a Republican agenda for higher education from the states up through the national government. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
STEM WORKER SHORTAGES
CEOs of the companies listed on the Inc. Magazine 500 have one wish this Christmas: They want Santa to bring them more tech workers. It has been nearly 8 years since the National Academy of Engineering published a report – titled Rising Above the Gathering Storm – about the ongoing shortage of STEM graduates, yet not only have American schools not made any strides to catch up with the demand for tech-savvy professionals, but they’ve actually dropped even further behind. The article is in EducationNews.org.
DAVID COHEN ON TEACHING AND ITS PREDICAMENTS
For at least twenty-five years now, reformers in the United States and other developed countries have attempted a variety of strategies to ramp up the quality of teaching and learning. Yet little of it has had the desired effect. Tracking these efforts for just as long has been David Cohen, one of the most thoughtful, and dogged, education scholars in the country. In this episode of the Education Next Book Club podcast, Ed Next talks with Professor Cohen about this depressing track record, what went wrong, and also why he’s hopeful that we might finally get it right—topics addressed in his latest book, Teaching and its Predicaments.
WIRELESS GENERATION WINS CONTRACT FOR COMMON ASSESSMENTS
As the two consortia developing assessments around the Common Core State Standards move closer to the tests' adoption, for the 2014-15 school year, they are starting to award contracts that will shape how the assessments look and operate. On Wednesday, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium announced that the software used to report and analyze results from its assessments will be developed by Wireless Generation, the education software company. Wireless Generation will partner with Educational Testing Service (ETS) on the contract. The terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the Request for Proposal stipulated the project could not exceed $4.9 million. Smarter Balanced's projects are funded through a four-year, $175 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. (Larry Berger, a co-founder and executive chairman of Wireless Generation, serves on the board of the Carnegie Foundation.) The article is in Education Week.
DUNCAN STRESSES TEACHER QUALITY
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan continued to lay out his priorities for the next four years in a speech today, emphasizing that he thinks teacher preparation is broken and that the best educators need to be teaching the highest-need children. In remarks at the two-day forum in Washington of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, run by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Duncan said he has an "ambitious" second-term agenda that includes holding the line on initiatives he started during his first four years. He cited specifically the tough road ahead for common standards, common tests, and teacher evaluations. "Do we have the courage to stay the course there?" he asked during his 30 minutes of remarks, which included a question-and-answer session. The post is from Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog.
MICHIGAN UNVEILS TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS RATINGS
A first look at how effective teachers are across the state provides a clear picture of just how far school districts must go to have strong evaluation systems in place that give teachers the kind of feedback they need to improve. The new state data find that about 97% of the state's 96,000 teachers were rated effective or highly effective during the 2011-12 school year—the first year districts had to assign one of four ratings to teachers. Those ratings were: highly effective, effective, minimally effective or ineffective. The article is in Education Week.
HIGH STANDARDS HELP STRUGGLING STUDENTS
In 2014, the United States will take a bold step toward improving the learning of all students: 46 states and the District of Columbia will begin to implement the Common Core State Standards, the rigorous new benchmarks aimed at raising achievement in English language arts and mathematics. While most scholars, policymakers, and educators embrace the higher standards and their commitment to deeper learning, many have also raised concerns about the fairness of raising the academic bar for students who are struggling to meet the standards that already exist. Because these students are often poor and attending subpar schools, it is reasonable to worry that they will suffer disproportionately when the new standards take effect. The analysis is from Education Sector.
ONLINE SCHOOLS SPEND MILLIONS TO ATTRACT STUDENTS
An analysis by USA TODAY finds that online charter schools have spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising over the past five years, a trend that shows few signs of abating. The primary and high schools -- operated online by for-profit companies but with local taxpayer support -- are buying TV, radio, newspaper and Internet ads to attract students, even as brick-and-mortar public schools in the districts they serve face budget crunches. Virtual schools have become lightning rods for critics who say their operators are profiting from students' dissatisfaction with neighborhood schools, but don't produce better results. Supporters say the schools, operating in more than 30 states, are giving kids and families second chances.
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WHY MINORITY STUDENTS’ COMPLETION RATES LAG
College-completion rates for minority students tend to lag behind overall averages, and a report released on Wednesday by the American Council on Education examines why. The report—"The Education Gap: Understanding African-American and Hispanic Attainment Disparities in Higher Education," the first in a series on diversity and inclusion—explores some well-documented patterns, including in academic preparation, and points to entrenched discrepancies in access. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
WISCONSIN SYSTEM’S COMPETENCY-BASED DEGREES
The University of Wisconsin System on Wednesday released details about its new competency-based degree offerings, an effort the system first announced in July. Next year campuses will offer degree and certificate programs that are grounded in a series of assessments designed to test student mastery. And the UW Colleges, which are the system's two-year institutions, will offer general education courses in the new competency-based "UW Flexible Option" format. Students will be able to take assessments based not just on self-paced coursework, but on knowledge gained through military and on-the-job training as well as other learning experiences, including MOOCs, the system said. The information is from Inside Higher Ed’s Quick Takes.