TED/ ABOUT K-12, ABOUT HIGHER ED
Some of the News Fit to Print
TED TEAMS WITH PBS TO TALK EDUCATION
On April 16, PBS will air the very first televised TED event, TED Talks Education. The event, which will be filmed in New York on April 4, will bring together an hour of speakers and performers with a deep-rooted passion for education. The first three speakers booked: Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone, plus TED favorites Bill Gates and Sir Ken Robinson — and watch for more announcements in coming weeks of dynamic teachers, speakers and performers to take the stage. With fresh thinking and bold ideas, the speakers onstage will discuss how we can curb the high school dropout crisis. TED Talks Education will be broadcast nationally in the U.S. and will be produced by WNET in conjunction with TED. The program is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate Program. It promises to be an exciting, thought-provoking hour of television.
PROBING THE SCIENCE OF VALUE-ADDED EVALUATION
Author and educator R. Barker Bausell writes in Education Week: Value-added teacher evaluation has been extensively criticized and strongly defended, but less frequently examined from a dispassionate scientific perspective. Among the value-added movement's most fervent advocates is a respected scientific school of thought that believes reliable causal conclusions can be teased out of huge data sets by economists or statisticians using sophisticated statistical models that control for extraneous factors. Another scientific school of thought, especially prevalent in medical research, holds that the most reliable method for arriving at defensible causal conclusions involves conducting randomized controlled trials, or RCTs, in which (a) individuals are premeasured on an outcome, (b) randomly assigned to receive different treatments, and (c) measured again to ascertain if changes in the outcome differed based upon the treatments received. The purpose of this brief essay is not to argue the pros and cons of the two approaches, but to frame value-added teacher evaluation from the latter.
HOW MATH GOT ITS GROOVE BACK
Carrie Lewis and Kelly Steele's fifth grade students slide and spin across the classroom floor, doing the hustle, the robot and the running man. While it may look at first glance like goofing off, these students are actually dancing for a higher cause...math. Lewis, a STEM specialist for Virginia's Lynchburg city schools, and Steele, who teaches gifted education in Bedford county, Virginia, are both math enthusiasts eager to instill in their students a love of the subject. And dancing, they hoped, might be just the thing to help tackle a common fifth-grade learning deficit -- number patterns. The piece and video are on the PBS NewsHour website.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
‘NON-COGNITIVE’ MEASURES: THE NEXT FRONTIER IN ADMISSIONS
Over the last decade, a handful of colleges have designed "noncognitive" assessments to measure attributes—like leadership and the ability to meet goals—that content-based tests do not. Succeeding in college often requires initiative and persistence, or what some researchers call "grit." Noncognitive measures are an attempt to gauge such qualities. If the SAT asks what a student has learned, these assessments try to get at how she learned it. Long an afterthought in academe, alternative indicators of student potential have captured the interest of instructors, testing companies, and enrollment chiefs. As science unspools the secrets of how we learn, it inspires new approaches to assessment. The way most colleges have long evaluated applicants reflects beliefs about what counts most. If those beliefs evolve, it follows, so, too, should the admissions process. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
NOWHERE TO TURN
If colleges and universities thought they could ride out the current revenue challenges by becoming more like some other institution, Moody's Investors Service has a bit of bad news for them: The grass isn't greener on anybody else's quad. Not even Harvard University's. In a report released Wednesday, the ratings agency outlines how every traditional revenue stream for colleges and universities is facing some sort of pressure, a finding Moody's uses as grounds for giving the whole sector a negative outlook. The agency has been pessimistic about much of the sector since its annual outlook in 2009 after the economic downturn began, but Wednesday's report contains a downward shift in how analysts view even market leaders, the elite institutions with high demand and brand recognition. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
UC REGENTS PLEDGE TO EXPAND ONLINE EDUCATION
SAN FRANCISCO — University of California leaders pledged Wednesday to sharply expand online education over the next few years, possibly aiming to have UC students take about 10% of all their classes online — averaging four courses toward their degree. UC administrators also floated the idea of establishing a fully online academy that might allow students to earn the equivalent of a community college degree before transferring to a University of California campus. The article is in the L.A. Times.
NEW YORK: NO DEAL ON TEACHER EVALUATIONS
The Bloomberg administration and New York City’s teachers’ union said Thursday that they had failed to reach a deal on a new system for evaluating 75,000 public school teachers, putting the city into immediate danger of losing out on up to $450 million in state and federal money and raising the possibility of cuts to staff and programs. The article is in The New York Times.
COMMON ASSESSMENTS HOLD PROMISE, FACE CHALLENGES, STUDY FINDS
Tests now being designed for the Common Core standards are likely to gauge deeper levels of learning and have a major impact on instruction, according to a new study. The report concludes that the assessments hold promise for improving teacher practice and student learning. But the authors caution that the test-making projects face key financial, technical, and political challenges that could affect their success. The post is from Education Week’s Curriculum Matters blog.
SEATTLE HIGH SCHOOL'S TEACHERS TOSS DISTRICT’S TEST
An entire school of teachers in Seattle is refusing to give students a standardized test that's required by the district. The teachers say the test is useless and wastes valuable instructional time. Meanwhile, individual teacher protests of standardized tests are popping up nationwide, and the Seattle case may make bigger waves. The piece is from NPR’s All Things Considered.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
MEASURING THE SUCCESS OF ONLINE EDUCATION
One of the dirty secrets about MOOCs — massive open online courses — is that they are not very effective, at least if you measure effectiveness in terms of completion rates. If as few as 20 percent of students finishing an online course is considered a wild success and 10 percent and lower is standard, then it would appear that MOOCs are still more of a hobby than a viable alternative to traditional classroom education. The post is from The New York Times’ Bits blog.
WHAT IS MERIT?
LOS ANGELES -- After a morning here in which admissions leaders and legal experts discussed strategies for colleges to look beyond the grades and test scores of applicants, Art Coleman said that it was time to acknowledge the "proverbial elephant in the room." That's the issue of merit. Coleman is a lawyer who has worked with numerous colleges and higher education groups to craft admissions policies that promote diversity and can also survive legal challenges. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
NEW PRESSURE ON COLLEGES TO DISCLOSE GRADS’ EARNINGS
Efforts to disclose the earnings potential of degrees in specific majors from colleges and universities are picking up steam, promising to bring competitive pressure to bear on institutions by steering students away from programs with lower market value and colleges whose graduates fare poorly. Wage information has been made available in several states and a bill in Congress would require every college to disclose such data. The article is from the Hechinger Report.
A FEW POINTS ABOUT THE INSTABILITY OF VALUE-ADDED ESTIMATES
Mathew Di Carlo writes for the Shanker blog: One of the most frequent criticisms of value-added and other growth models is that they are “unstable” (or, more accurately, modestly stable). For instance, a teacher who is rated highly in one year might very well score toward the middle of the distribution – or even lower – in the next year (see here, here and here, or this accessible review). Some of this year-to-year variation is “real.” A teacher might get better over the course of a year, or might have a personal problem that impedes their job performance. In addition, there could be changes in educational circumstances that are not captured by the models – e.g., a change in school leadership, new instructional policies, etc. However, a great deal of the the recorded variation is actually due to sampling error, or idiosyncrasies in student testing performance. In other words, there is a lot of “purely statistical” imprecision in any given year, and so the scores don’t always “match up” so well between years. As a result, value-added critics, including many teachers, argue that it’s not only unfair to use such error-prone measures for any decisions, but that it’s also bad policy, since we might reward or punish teachers based on estimates that could be completely different the next year.
Note: the “accessible review” refers to Susanna Loeb’s and Christopher Candelaria’s piece posted on the Carnegie Knowledge Network website.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
CSU WILL EXPERIMENT WITH OFFERING CREDIT FOR MOOCs
California universities are turning to low-cost online course options for students. San Jose State University announced a pilot project with Udacity, a for-profit provider of the massive open online courses, to jointly create three introductory math classes. The courses will be free online, but students can pay a reduced rate to earn credit. The California State University project began when Governor Jerry Brown contacted Udacity's founder. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
ACE TO STUDY ‘DISRUPTIVE’ POTENTIAL POSED BY MOOCs
The American Council on Education (ACE) is studying MOOCs, with a research project that will look at the demographics of students who take Udacity courses and attempt to identify “effective pedagogies and practices that can help students succeed when enrolled in MOOCs,” the council said in a written statement. It is also working with college leaders to consider the “disruptive” potential posed by MOOCs. “As the postsecondary landscape continues to evolve, assessing where MOOCs may fit into that landscape for credit purposes is an important part of the national completion agenda,” said Cathy A. Sandeen, vice president of ACE’s Center for Education Attainment and Innovation, in a written statement. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
WHAT ABOUT COMMUNITY COLLEGES?
Author and educator Rob Jenkins writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education: Recently, we were treated to dire predictions regarding "The End of the University as We Know It," as Nathan Harden put it in The American Interest. Largely missing from the discussion of catastrophic changes facing academe is any mention of how community colleges might fare. Harden argues that residential campuses will basically cease to exist over the next few decades—except, perhaps, at elite universities—replaced by MOOCs and other technology-driven forms of mass learning. But he says very little about two-year colleges, except to suggest, briefly, that they, too, could "outsource many of their courses via MOOCs."
GLOBAL ACHIEVEMENT STUDY CASTS U.S. SCORES IN BETTER LIGHT
U.S. student achievement looks more favorable on the global stage when comparisons take into account the especially large share of American adolescents who come from disadvantaged social backgrounds, concludes a new study. The gap, for instance, between U.S. students and those from top-scoring nations on one global assessment would be cut in half in reading and by at least one-third in math. The post is from Education Week’s Curriculum Matters blog.