Some of the News Fit to Print
STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT COULD BE PART OF TEACHER EVALUATIONS
A new rule proposed by the Alaska Department of Education would add student achievement -- in the form of test scores or other data -- to the criteria on which teachers are evaluated each year. The regulation, which is up for public comment, would require districts to make what the department terms "student learning data" worth 20% in a teacher's evaluation. The article is in the Anchorage Daily News.
DATA SHOW TEACHERS MORE LIKELY TO JUGGLE MULTIPLE JOBS
In the midst of a continuing recession, beginning K-12 teachers are considerably more likely to be working multiple jobs, according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics. The data show that 22 percent of secondary teachers and nearly 24 percent of elementary teachers worked multiple jobs simultaneously as of 2009, compared with only 14.5 percent of those not in teaching. Teachers were also more likely to be enrolled in college or graduate school classes while working, 24.3 percent compared to 21.2 percent of nonteachers. That echoes reports from teachers in Palm Beach County, Fla., and elsewhere that new teachers in particular are having more difficulty living on their teaching salary alone. The post is from Education Week’s Inside School Research blog.
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GRADUATE, TRANSFER, GRADUATE
Only one in five community college students transfer to a four-year institution. But 60% of those who do so earn a bachelor's degree within four years, according to a National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report. Another 12% remain enrolled after four years. Further, 71% of students who transfer after completing an associate degree earned a bachelor's degree within four years of transferring. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
WHAT FOUR MORE YEARS MEANS FOR EDUCATION
President Barack Obama’s victory on Tuesday gives him a chance to build on the education policies he has pushed since 2009 and ensures that the federal government’s role in education will not diminish over the next four years. In his victory speech, he promised to expand “access to the best schools and best teachers” and spoke broadly about hope for America’s future, particularly for children, but did not offer specific policy ideas. The article is from the Hechinger Report.
SURVEYS GAUGE GENERATIONAL DIVIDE IN TEACHING
Newer teachers are more likely than their veteran counterparts to support controversial education policy changes such as using student growth in teacher evaluations, differentiating pay based on performance, and decreasing tenure protections, according to the findings from two recent national surveys. The article is in Education Week Teacher.
FINAL COLLEGE-READINESS DEFINITION GUIDES TEST CONSORTIUM
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, has approved a set of descriptors for the tests it's designing for the Common Core State Standards. They lay out how many levels of achievement there will be on the test, specify what level a student has to reach to be considered college ready, and describe the level of expertise students must show to merit that title. The post is from Education Week’s Curriculum Matters blog.
STUDY CHIDES D.C. TEACHER TURNOVER
The District of Columbia has higher-than-desirable teacher turnover, but a new report finds that the school system is succeeding in holding onto its best teachers at nearly twice the rate as its lowest performers. Still, far too many excellent teachers are leaving each year. The report examined reasons for the high teacher turnover rates. The article is in the Washington Post.
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HOW ‘OPEN’ ARE MOOCS?
DENVER — MOOCs are on the tip of everyone’s tongue here at the annual Educause meeting, presumably because of their scale and the technologies their recent champions have built to support that scale. But in his opening keynote, Clay Shirky, an author and assistant professor at New York University, said the most provocative aspect of MOOCs is not their massiveness; it is their openness. Or, in some cases, their lack thereof. Shirky’s framing of MOOCs as a phenomenon of the open educational resources (OER) movement -- rather than of the online education or instructional technology movements -- comes shortly after Coursera struck a content licensing deal with Antioch University that drew a line on the extent to which the company would allow outsiders to use its resources without paying to do so. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
CALIFORNIA COLLEGES NOW LOOK TO REBUILD
The administrators of California's state higher-education system awoke Wednesday morning to unexpectedly good news: Against predictions, the ballot measure known as Proposition 30 had been approved by voters on Tuesday, warding off nearly $1-billion in looming cuts in state support. Administrators reached by telephone were clearly pleased that the "trigger cuts" written into Gov. Jerry Brown's 2013 budget were no longer a worry, thanks to the tax revenue that will be raised by Prop 30. But each was also clear-eyed about the challenges he or she faces in starting to rebuild colleges that have reeled from slashed state support since the economic downturn began. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
TAX HIKE PASSES IN CALIFORNIA, K-12 DODGES CUTS
With almost all the votes counted out on the West Coast, California Gov. Jerry Brown is one of Election Night's biggest winners. By a margin of nearly 54-46, voters approved Proposition 30, a tax hike on individual earners of $250,000 and up in California. Brown, a Democrat, signed a fiscal year 2013 budget into law that assumed Proposition 30 would pass. If voters had rejected it, that budget would have collapsed like a house of tissue paper, and the implications for K-12 public schools would have been staggering. According to Brown, $4.8 billion in cuts to schools in the middle of the school year were looming if voters said no to the tax hike. The article is in Education Week.
WILL GRIDLOCK ON K-12 CONTINUE?
The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to stay in GOP hands and the Senate under Democratic control, according to the Associated Press. Over the past two years, that combination has meant a lot of sniping and not much action on big issues, including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. So does two more years of a divided Congress mean two more years of gridlock on key issues? Lawmakers will get their first test soon. Even before the new Congress takes office, lawmakers must figure out a plan to head off "sequestration," a series of planned, 8.2 percent trigger cuts to nearly every federal K-12 program, including special education and money for disadvantaged students. The article is in Education Week.
EDUCATION REFORM LAW TURNED BACK
South Dakota voters rejected Governor Dennis Daugaard's education reform law, which sought to overhaul how teachers are evaluated, rewarded, and offered tenure. Daugaard promised to hand out bonuses to competent math and science teachers, college scholarships for those who take hard-to-fill teaching jobs, and bonuses for top-rated teachers. But half of every teacher's rating was to be based on student achievement. The article is in the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader.
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COLLEGES ANTICIPATE FOUR MORE YEARS OF REFORM
American voters re-elected Barack Obama as president on Tuesday, extending the White House stay of an administration that has focused on expanding federal student aid as well as tightening regulations on colleges and universities. Economic concerns took center stage over the course of the 2012 presidential race, as both campaigns sought to make the case for why their candidate was best equipped to lead a nation still recovering from an economic recession. Higher-education issues were often embedded in broader economic narratives. Both campaigns responded to anxiety over the cost of a college education, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates, and the burden of student-loan debt, which reached the $1-trillion milestone as the campaign was beginning this year. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
A STATUS-QUO CONGRESS
WASHINGTON — After months of vicious campaigning, the Congressional elections Tuesday maintained the status quo. Democrats held on to their majority in the Senate, and Republicans to their majority in the House of Representatives on Tuesday night. In the coming weeks, Congress will face a monumental task with ramifications for many higher education programs. The “fiscal cliff,” mandatory spending cuts and expiring tax breaks that take effect Jan. 2, needs to be dealt with. How a Congress that was unable to reach an agreement on deficit reductions a year ago might do so now is still unclear. But in the next year, the legislators will tackle several higher education budget problems, including a shortfall in the Pell Grant program and a scheduled doubling of the subsidized student loan interest rate in July. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
CLOSING THE TEACHER DEVELOPMENT GAP
While teacher-preparation standards have risen in most states, and more institutions provide clinically based programs, the task of teaching, especially teaching well to every student, takes both advanced support and practice. But once induction support is over, it is a rare school that continues to provide in-class coaching support, which is unfortunate for those educators wanting to grow their craft in order to be effective for every one of their students. Pressures for increased student outcomes are rising sharply, much faster than supports for teacher development. Spurred by the federal Race to the Top competition, student achievement is now a major consideration in the performance evaluations of a growing number of teachers, even as they face greater variance among their students. The commentary is in Education Week.
THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IN MATH
Michigan State Professor William Schmidt writes in the Huffington Post: The new Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) represent a major change in the way U.S. schools teach mathematics. Rather than a fragmented system in which content is "a mile wide and an inch deep," the new common standards offer the kind of mathematics instruction we see in the top-achieving nations, where students learn to master a few topics each year before moving on to more advanced mathematics.
GRADUATION RATES LATEST NCLB WAIVER FLASHPOINT
A growing chorus of education policy advocates is urging the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen graduation-rate accountability in states that have earned waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act. In separate letters last month to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a group of 36 civil rights, business, and education policy groups, along with U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., say they are concerned that many states' approved flexibility plans violate the spirit—if not the letter—of 2008 regulations that require all states to calculate the graduation rate in the same way and make those rates an important factor in high school accountability. The article is in Education Week.
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ADJUNCTS BUILD STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Across the nation, colleges have undergone shifts in whom they employ to teach students. About 70 percent of the instructional faculty at all colleges is off the tenure track, whether as part-timers or full-timers, a proportion that has crept higher over the past decade. Change has occurred more rapidly on some campuses, particularly at regionally oriented public institutions and mid-tier private universities like Saint Joseph's. Community colleges have traditionally relied heavily on nontenure-track faculty, with 85 percent of their instructors in 2010 not eligible for tenure, according to the most recent federal data available. But the trend has been increasingly evident at four-year institutions, where nearly 64 percent of the instructional faculty isn't eligible for tenure. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION
Michael Greenstone, director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, writes in Education Week: Improving K-12 education in the United States is imperative to building a foundation for broad-based economic growth. New economic evidence points to a variety of promising approaches, none of which is a silver bullet, but each of which can help pave the way toward a broader solution. Policymakers should look to targeted practices in successful charter schools, which have shown dramatic improvements in student achievement and could provide lessons for the broader education community. Small-scale interventions also present opportunities for raising student achievement through cost-effective organizational changes.
COMMON CORE: 7 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION
Conflicting reform efforts, poor communications, and "initiative fatigue" are among the factors presenting challenges to Common Core State Standards implementation. A new ASCD report suggests that to overcome these potential barriers, states, districts, and schools need to take new approaches to professional development, technology adoption, and reform efforts. The article is in the Journal.
NEW PLAYER JUMPS INTO STATE ELECTIONS TO PUSH EDUCATION OVERHAUL
A dozen states are poised to pass significant education reforms depending on the outcome of the election. A slate of state-level candidates want to abolish teacher tenure and tie teacher evaluations to student tests. StudentsFirst, founded by former Washington D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, has infused cash and grassroots organizing into many of these races with a platform that is anathema to teachers unions. The article is in the Hechinger Report.
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RECORD NUMBER OF YOUNG AMERICANS EARN BACHELOR’S DEGREE
Although the United States no longer leads the world in educational attainment, record numbers of young Americans are completing high school, going to college and finishing college, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available census data. This year, for the first time, a third of the nation’s 25- to 29-year-olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. That share has been slowly edging up for decades, from fewer than one-fifth of young adults in the early 1970s to 32 percent last year. The article is in The New York Times.
THE YEAR OF THE MOOC
MOOCs have been around for a few years as collaborative techie learning events, but this is the year everyone wants in. Elite universities are partnering with Coursera at a furious pace. It now offers courses from 33 of the biggest names in postsecondary education, including Princeton, Brown, Columbia and Duke. In September, Google unleashed a MOOC-building online tool, and Stanford unveiled Class2Go with two courses.The article is in Education Life in The New York Times.
PEARSON’S OPEN BOOK
If you can’t beat them, join them. That is Pearson’s latest approach to open educational resources (OER) — the free online learning materials that have proliferated over the last decade and a half, posing a threat to traditional publishers. The education and media company today will unveil Project Blue Sky, a search engine to help instructors locate free materials from popular OER repositories. The service, which Pearson has built with help from Gooru, a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit that specializes in search, will allow instructors to search for e-book chapters, videos and online exercise software. It will return aggregated results from Harvard Open Courses, Connexions, OER Commons, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Open Courseware, Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative, and Wikiversity, among others. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.