GRADING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Grades earned by many students at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College will soon factor in “soft skills,” such as whether they show up for class on time or work well in groups. And next year the college will issue workplace readiness certificates alongside conventional credentials to recognize those skills. Located in Asheville, N.C., A-B Tech, as it is commonly known, has developed a template that helps faculty members determine how to incorporate eight primary workplace expectations into grading, including personal responsibility, interdependence and emotional intelligence. Soft skills should count for 8 to 10 percent of grades in courses that adopt those guidelines, college officials said. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
FIVE WAYS TECHNOLOGY WILL IMPACT HIGHER ED IN 2013
2012 was a transformative year in education. Between the introduction of the MOOC (the ‘Massive Open Online Course’), and the explosive growth in the number of online offerings, all eyes were on higher ed. In the past twelve months, students were increasingly able to learn from leading faculty at elite institutions beyond the four walls of their classrooms, and soon, professors will be collaborating across universities to collectively create and distribute for-credit curriculum for an online semester. New high growth players entered the online education marketplace, and universities began to align around interactive platforms. As online certificate programs became more robust and hyper-targeted towards professional development, more and more students looked to gain these credentials as a differentiator in the work force.After such a dynamic year, the discussion naturally turns to what the higher education environment of 2013 will look like and to what extent it will be impacted by technology. The article is in Forbes.
K-12 EDUCATION MAY NOT BENEFIT FROM BRIGHTER FISCAL OUTLOOK
Despite some positive signs that could help school budgets, states are still facing a shaky financial environment as they head into the new year--a circumstance that could disappoint advocates hoping that even sluggish economic progress could give K-12 funding a boost. The article was in the Huffington Post.
ED DEPARTMENT FOCUS ON ENGLISH LEARNERS SEEN WANING
As the number of English learners continues to grow faster than that of any other group in the nation's public schools, concerns are mounting that the distinctive needs of those students and the educators who work with them are receiving diminishing attention from the U.S. Department of Education. The article is in Education Week.
U.S. NEWS Using Chips to Track Students Faces Test
A federal judge in Texas next week will consider whether a San Antonio high school can force a student to take part in a program that equips students with microchips to track their attendance, despite the student's protests that the surveillance system violates her religious views.
Some of the News Fit to Print
LOS ANGELES TEACHERS' EVALUATION VICTORY BUCKS A TREND
The recent groundbreaking agreement over evaluations for educators in the Los Angeles school district is a major victory for the teachers union because it limits the use of a controversial — but increasingly widespread — measurement of teacher effectiveness. The tentative pact puts the nation's second-largest school system at odds with a national trend to gauge the effect of teachers on student achievement by using a value-added analysis. The new system was to include an individual growth rating as a key measure of teachers, along with a rigorous new observation process, parent and student feedback and an instructor's contribution to the school community. Instead of the growth rating for individual teachers, the district and United Teachers Los Angeles agreed to use a mix of individual and schoolwide data, such as raw state test scores, district assessments and high school exit exams, along with rates of attendance, suspension, graduation, course completion and other indicators. The article is in the Los Angeles Times.
IT’S THE CURRICULUM, STUPID
Sociologist Aaron M. Pallas writes in The Hechinger Report: If some districts are using an older curriculum not aligned with the new standards and assessments, while others are using a newer curriculum that is aligned, then there’s a risk that differences in student performance on the new assessments will be improperly attributed to differences in the quality of the students’ teachers, rather than differences in the curriculum to which students were exposed. That’s the inference that would be drawn from a value-added model that doesn’t take into account variations in curriculum. And value-added models rarely, if ever, do so.
U.S. STUDENTS STILL LAG GLOBALLY IN MATH AND SCIENCE, TESTS SHOW
Fourth- and eighth-grade students in the United States continue to lag behind students in several East Asian countries and some European nations in math and science, although American fourth graders are closer to the top performers in reading, according to test results released on Tuesday. Fretting about how American schools compare with those in other countries has become a regular pastime in education circles. Results from two new reports, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, are likely to fuel further debate. South Korea and Singapore led the international rankings in math and fourth-grade science, while Singapore and Taiwan had the top-performing students in eighth-grade science. The United States ranked 11th in fourth-grade math, 9th in eighth-grade math, 7th in fourth-grade science and 10th in eighth-grade science. The article is in The New York Times.
GOT A PROBLEM? STUDENTS CAN FIND THE SOLUTION
Schools are the perfect breeding ground for fostering students’ questions, a place to spark students’ interests and ideas for designing innovative solutions to real problems. Everyday, educators have opportunities to help kids develop the tools, skills and habits to come up with meaningful, lasting solutions to problems. Take, for example, an incident that occurred in a first-grade teacher’s classroom at Marin Country Day School in Northern California, which provided an opportunity to understand design thinking. Students were struck by the sound of a bird that crashed into the classroom window and died. After the teacher brought in a lower school science specialist to give an in-depth look at the qualities and characteristics of the bird, from sight to body structure, she challenged students to come up with designs to prevent another bird from crashing into the window. The teacher took her students through the design thinking process to figure out a way to save the birds. The article is in the MindShift blog.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
5 WAYS TECHNOLOGY WILL IMPACT HIGHER ED IN 2013
2012 was a transformative year in education. Between the introduction of the MOOC (the ‘Massive Open Online Course’), and the explosive growth in the number of online offerings, all eyes were on higher ed. In the past twelve months, students were increasingly able to learn from leading faculty at elite institutions beyond the four walls of their classrooms, and soon, professors will be collaborating across universities to collectively create and distribute for-credit curriculum for an online semester. New high growth players entered the online education marketplace, and universities began to align around interactive platforms. As online certificate programs became more robust and hyper-targeted towards professional development, more and more students looked to gain these credentials as a differentiator in the work force. After such a dynamic year, the discussion naturally turns to what the higher education environment of 2013 will look like and to what extent it will be impacted by technology. The article is in Forbes.
THE FLIPPED ACADEMIC: TURNING HIGHER EDUCATION ON ITS HEAD
Education models are turning inside out. First came the concept of the 'flipped classroom' in schools: pupils completing course material ahead of lessons to free up time with their teachers and apply the knowledge they have just learned. Now a related philosophy is developing in higher education. Can we also flip academics – or even academia itself? Alex Bruton, associate professor in innovation and entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University in Canada, thinks so. The 'flipped academic', as he sees it, is an academic who informs first and publishes later, seeking usefulness as well as truth in their research and striving to publish only after having had an impact on students and society. This is an opportunity, says Bruton, "to reinvent the brand of the academic (ie. the perceived promise an academic makes to society) as more than just a teacher and academic publisher; as someone who also wants to engage deeply with communities and find new ways of developing, delivering and discussing knowledge." The article is in the Guardian.
Over the past 20 years, the teaching force has become larger, grayer, greener, more female, more diverse and less stable, according to a study published by Richard Ingersoll and Lisa Merrill of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education. The report identifies seven major trends and changes shaping the teaching profession in the United States. Their “exploratory research project” relied on data from six cycles of the Schools and Staffing Survey and the Teacher Follow-Up Survey, which were both collected by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education between 1987 and 2008. In each cycle, NCES administers questionnaires to a nationally representative sample of about 50,000 teachers, 11,000 school-level administrators and 5,000 district-level officials. The article is in the Huffington Post.
MORE TEACHERS FLIPPING THE SCHOOL DAY
Welcome to the 21st century classroom: a world where students watch lectures at home — and do homework at school. It's called classroom flipping, and it's slowly catching on in schools around the country. The piece was on NPR’s All Things Considered.
CLASSES A LA CARTE: STATES TEST A NEW SCHOOL MODEL
Some states -- including Louisiana, Michigan, Arizona, and Utah -- have adopted or are considering a new education model that allows students to build a custom curriculum by selecting from hundreds of classes offered by public institutions and private vendors. Backers of the concept acknowledge there will be challenges but say the one-size-fits-all "factory model" of public school is woefully outdated. The article is from Reuters.
ALASKA TEACHERS TO BE EVALUATED ON SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT
The Alaska State Board of Education on Friday approved a controversial rule change that adds, for the first time, "student learning data" to teachers' job evaluations. The action moves forward a plan to base 20 percent of a teacher's assessment on their students' growth and performance using criteria that includes at least one standardized test, starting in the 2015-2016 school year. By the 2018-2019 school year student learning will make up 50 percent of the evaluation, a move state officials say is in direct response to a public request by Gov. Sean Parnell. The article is in the Anchorage Daily News.
RACE TO THE TOP FINALISTS INCLUDE NEW HOPEFULS
The list of 61 finalists for the latest Race to the Top competition shows that the U.S. Department of Education was successful in enticing high-scoring applications from districts in rural America and in states that had not shared in the Race to the Top bounty before. The article is in Education Week.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
HOW POLICY AFFECTS ACCESS
Brian L. Durham, with the Illinois Community College Board writes: Policymakers, higher education leaders, foundations, and others, including President Obama, have touted the completion agenda as a requirement to maintaining the nation’s economic and intellectual dominance across the world (see, for example, Lumina Foundation, 2010). Indeed, President Obama and his administration have advanced completion as the primary measure of community college performance (Obama, 2009). Though well meaning, this environment creates a danger of institutions increasing student completions by limiting access, particularly for those who lack readiness for postsecondary education. If community colleges sacrifice access in lieu of completion, greater inequity is certain to emerge. If policy leaders fail to recognize the link between access and completion, the community college is potentially jeopardized in the public dialogue (Goldrick-Rab, 2010). This is particularly troubling because of the role community colleges play as the primary entry point for diverse learners and the traditionally underserved (Bailey & Morest, 2006). The piece is from the Community College Review.
POLL: MAJORITY WANT EDUCATION FUNDS PROTECTED FROM CUTS
A majority of Americans want education programs protected from the possible deep, mandatory spending cuts that will go into effect at the end of this year if Congress does not reach a budget deal, according to a poll released Friday by the Committee for Education Funding and the Foundation for Education Investments. The poll, conducted by YouGov, found 55 percent of Americans thought education spending should be protected from the cuts. The Pell Grant was considered among the most important education programs: 53 percent of respondents said it should be protected. (In fact, the Pell Grant program is not immediately threatened by sequestration, as the mandatory budget cuts are called.) Scientific research, another priority for many colleges and universities in the federal budget crunch, fared less well. Only 34 percent of respondents said they believed research should be protected from cuts. When asked about specific education programs, only 30 percent said it was very important to protect scientific and biomedical research at universities. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
HOW TO SOLVE THE COLLEGE DROPOUT CRISIS
The biggest hindrance to completing college isn't financial preparedness, but academic preparedness. Half of the students in community colleges need high-school-level courses when they enroll. Notably, half of the students in community colleges and 20 to 30 percent of those in four-year schools need a remedial, high-school-level course when they enroll; having to spend time and money without accumulating credits toward a degree prompts most of them to quit. Complete College America prefers the idea of "corequisites" that combine remedial tutoring, sometimes using software, with college-credit work. The article is in The Atlantic.
U.S. COLLEGE DEGREE HOLDERS SLIDING AMONG GLOBAL COMPETITORS
For the U.S. to improve on its No. 5 world ranking in the number of 25- to 64-year-olds possessing some form of college degree, it must boost the number of two-year degree holders by instilling a national focus on enrollment and success in community colleges and trade schools, according to a new report. America ranks 18th when it comes to two-year degree graduates. The article is in the Huffington Post.
COLORADO CREATES MASTER PLAN FOR IMPROVING HIGHER EDUCATION
The Colorado higher education department released its expectations for each of the state's colleges and universities in the form of performance contracts signed by administrators. This master plan will measure areas such as retention and access, and it calls for school's results to be announced annually. In time, the hope is that schools will be rewarded financially by the state for reaching their benchmarks. The article is in the Denver Post.
A LOOK AT MASTERY-BASED APPROACHES TO TEACHING
A new report from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation looks at schools in the Proficiency-Based Pathways Project (PBP), which implements mastery-based approaches to teaching in rural, suburban, and inner-city regions in New England. Competency education is rooted in mastering a set of skills and knowledge rather than simply moving through a curriculum. Students work on skills or knowledge until they demonstrate understanding and ability to apply them; they then move on. They cannot advance simply by showing up to class a sufficient number of days and earning a grade just above failing. The report finds time-based policies and systems -- from schedules to contracts to credit systems, at both the district and state level -- often impede implementation of competency-based designs, yet educators find ways to create flexibility, starting within familiar structures but locating strategies to support individualized pacing. The biggest logistical challenge to competency-based initiatives is the lack of high-quality data and technological tools to assess and monitor student progress. Expansion of competency education will likely be aided by evolving state policies that allow districts or schools to opt out of seat-time requirements. Adoption of the Common Core standards will encourage consistency in developing competencies grounded in high-quality college-readiness standards, and the assessment systems being developed for these by multi-state consortia will support the need to measure complex knowledge and skills. This information is from the PEN NewsBlast.
STUDENTS FALL FLAT IN VOCABULARY TEST
U.S. students knew only about half of what they were expected to on a new vocabulary section of a national exam, in the latest evidence of severe shortcomings in the nation's reading education. Eighth-graders scored an average of 265 out of 500 in vocabulary on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, the results of which were made public Thursday. Fourth-graders averaged a score of 218 out of 500. The results showed that nearly half of eighth-graders didn't know that "permeates" means to "spread all the way through," and about the same proportion of fourth-graders didn't know that "puzzled" means confused—words that educators think students in those grades should recognize. The article is in The Wall Street Journal.