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BENEFITS OF A COLLEGE DEGREE IN A RECESSION OUTLINED
Young adults have long faced a rough job market, but in the last recession and its aftermath, college graduates did not lose nearly as much ground as their less-educated peers, according to a new study. The study, published on Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts, shows that among Americans age 21 to 24, the drop in employment and income was much steeper among people who lacked a college degree. The article is in The New York Times.
NEW LOOK FOR LUMINA
The big goal for the Lumina Foundation hasn’t changed, but the powerful foundation has come up with a new set of strategies to boost America's proportion of college graduates to 60 percent by 2025. The foundation’s leaders said times have changed in the four years since they assumed their role in helping to push the completion agenda. And they have new ideas about how to spend $300 million over the next four years, with focuses on building a social movement, targeting metropolitan areas and encouraging innovations based on student learning and competencies rather than the credit hour. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
POSTSECONDARY ENROLLMENT GROWTH PROJECTED TO CONTINUE TO SLOW
Postsecondary enrollments will grow by 15 percent between 2010 and 2021, far less than the 46 percent increase that occurred between 1996 and 2010, the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics said in an annual report released Wednesday. The report, "Projections of Education Statistics Through 2021," provides a slew of data that anticipate how key K-12 and higher education indicators (enrollments, degrees conferred, etc.) will change over the next decade. By comparison, last year's report projected a 13 percent increase in college enrollments between 2009 and 2020; whether the uptick is a sign that the "completion agenda" is having an effect will be a subject for debate. This year's report also projects a 21 percent increase in the number of associate degrees awarded by 2021-22, a 21 percent increase in the number of bachelor's degrees, a 34 percent rise in the number of master's degrees, and a 24 percent upturn in the number of doctoral degrees. In all cases those numbers are roughly half the number awarded in the 1996-97 to 2009-2010 period. The information is from Inside Higher Ed’s Quick Takes.
STATES SHOW SPOTTY PROGRESS ON EDUCATION GAUGES
The 17th edition of Education Week's Quality Counts continues the report's tradition of tracking key education indicators and grading the states on their policy efforts and outcomes. Each year, Quality Counts provides new results for a portion of the policy-and-performance categories that form the framework for the report's State-of-the-States analysis. The 2013 edition presents updated scores and letter grades, for the states and the nation as a whole, in three of the six major areas tracked in the report. A majority of states fell near the middle of the overall grading curve, with 38 states earning grades between a C-minus and a C-plus. Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia earned the highest overall grades.
GEORGIA’S NEW TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEM DISAPPOINTING
The trial run of Georgia’s new teacher assessment system is not returning the results that lawmakers and education experts were hoping for, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. According to preliminary results made available earlier this month, only a small percentage of teachers evaluated under the new system were found to be performing below par – making observers skeptical that those who are administering new evaluations were doing so correctly. The pilot covered about 5,800 teachers from around the state, and fewer than 1% received the worst scores while nearly 20% were graded as exemplary – the highest score possible. According to state education officials, this is a strong indication that the way the program is being implemented needs to be adjusted to make sure that the outcomes are realistic by the time it rolls out to the entire state during the 2014-2015 academic year. The article is in EducationNews.org.
COMBINED MEASURES BETTER AT GAUGING TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS
Student feedback, test-score growth calculations, and observations of practice appear to pick up different but complementary information that, combined, can provide a balanced and accurate picture of teacher performance, according to research released today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A composite measure on teacher effectiveness drawing on all three of those measures, and tested through a random-assignment experiment, predicted fairly accurately how much high-performing teachers would successfully boost their students’ standardized-test scores, concludes the series of new papers, part of the massive Measures of Effective Teaching study launched three years ago. The article is in Education Week.
CALIFORNIA SHOULD SUSPEND SOME TESTS
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has proposed suspending several non-No Child Left Behind tests for the 2013-14 school year, as part of a proposed overhaul of the state testing system to prepare for the Common Core State Standards. On Jan. 8, Torlakson released his recommendations for changing California's testing regimen. Suspending those tests, which are part of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, for the next academic year is among the more prominent ideas—many of the tests that wouldn't be administered next year are end-of-course exams in high school, as well as some 2nd grade tests in English and math. However, federally mandated tests like those in English/language arts and math for students in grades 3-8 would remain to satisfy NCLB requirements. (The U. S. Department of Education recently denied California's request for a waiver from NCLB.) The post is from Education Week’s State EdWatch blog.
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COURSERA ANNOUNCES DETAILS FOR VERIFYING IDENTITIES
How is a major provider of free online courses going to tell whether you are who you say you are? By how you type. The company, Coursera, plans to announce on Wednesday the start of a pilot project to check the identities of its students and offer “verified certificates” of completion, for a fee. A key part of that validation process will involve what Coursera officials call “keystroke biometrics”—analyzing each user’s pattern and rhythm of typing to serve as a kind of fingerprint. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
MAKING THE CASE FOR ADJUNCTS
Adjunct faculty now make up the majority of the higher education work force. As recently as 1969, 78 percent of instructional staff comprised tenured or tenure-track professors, with adjunct faculty making up the rest, according to information from the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. By 2009, the figures had nearly flipped, with a third of faculty tenured or on the tenure track and two-thirds ineligible for tenure. Of those non-tenure-track positions, just 19 percent were full-time. "To meet some [emerging] financial exigencies, it was decided that it was in everybody's best interest in the short term to drop the cost of academic labor," beginning in the 1980s, said Richard Boris, director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College of the City University of New York. "But, of course, it became a lure or a drug that they couldn't wean themselves from." The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
AASCU NAMES TOP 10 POLICY ISSUES FOR 2013
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities has released its list of the top 10 state-policy issues that will have consequences for colleges and universities this year. The topic of pushing colleges to improve their performance, sometimes through increasingly common formulas that would link state financing to student completion, topped the group’s selections for 2013. That choice knocked state higher-education financing out of the top spot for the first time in the six years that the list has been compiled. The change reflects “the broadening acceptance that state reinvestment in public higher education will be slow in coming—and institutions must readjust both their operations and revenue mix accordingly,” the group noted. Other topics on this year’s list include tuition prices and tuition policy, ranked third; college readiness, ranked fifth; and competency-based and online education, ranked seventh. Completing the list in the 10th spot is consumer protection involving for-profit colleges, with the U.S. Senate and several state legislatures expected to continue scrutinizing such institutions, the group said. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
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STUDENTS RUSH TO WEB CLASSES, BUT PROFITS MUST BE LATER
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — In August, four months after Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng started the online education company Coursera, its free college courses had drawn in a million users, a faster launching than either Facebook or Twitter. The co-founders, computer science professors at Stanford University, watched with amazement as enrollment passed two million last month, with 70,000 new students a week signing up for over 200 courses, including Human-Computer Interaction, Songwriting and Gamification, taught by faculty members at the company’s partners, 33 elite universities. In less than a year, Coursera has attracted $22 million in venture capital and has created so much buzz that some universities sound a bit defensive about not leaping onto the bandwagon. All of this could well add up to the future of higher education — if anyone can figure out how to make money. The article is in The New York Times.
CORNELL OFFERS MOOC THAT STEERS STUDENTS TO PAY
Cornell University’s online spinoff is moving into MOOCs, with a free marketing course in its hospitality program starting on Tuesday. But the program will be designed to steer students toward a follow-up course for $1,200 to get a professional certificate. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
GROWTH FOR ONLINE LEARNING
MOOCs may have snared most of the headlines, but traditional, credit-based online learning continued to chug along just fine last year, thank you very much. More than 6.7 million, or roughly a third, of all students enrolled in postsecondary education took an online course for credit in fall 2011, according to the 2012 iteration of the Babson Survey Research Group's annual Survey of Online Learning. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
WHAT HAPPENS IN CALIFORNIA MATTERS
Jeff Selingo writes in The Quick and the Ed: California’s public colleges enroll one out of nine college students in the country. So what happens there matters. More than fifty years ago the Master Plan had a positive impact on higher education in the country. Let’s hope that California can figure out the next big innovation for this century.
NEW EVALUATION PILOT ‘SKEWED,’ WITH TOO FEW UNSATISFACTORY TEACHERS
A pilot study of Georgia's new teacher evaluation system showed only a tiny fraction of the state's teachers are ineffective. A report found that less than 1% of teachers classified as ineffective and one in five getting the top rating of exemplary. State officials say they expect more realistic outcomes as teachers and principals are better trained and have more time to adapt to the new evaluation system. The article is in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
READING THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION POLICY
With education having played a relatively minor role in the 2012 campaign, with Arne Duncan expected to continue as secretary (at least for now), and with federal budget battles, health care, and other national concerns likely to divert attention from education issues, it's easy to see why most projections suggest—with a few minor changes in nuance and inflection—essentially more of the same. But while changes in the White House will be subtle, the fundamental landscape of education politics has been shifting steadily beneath our feet. The commentary is in Education Week.
KEEPING GOOD TEACHERS FROM LEAVING
The first time Rachel Spector taught in the Ravenswood City School District, she quit out of frustration. Spector was hired at a K-8 school in 2007 as a Teach for America corps member. During her four years there, she said, she felt “squashed” by educational pressures to raise student performance on standardized tests, resulting from Ravenswood’s status as a failing district under the No Child Left Behind Act. Spector said the rigidity sucked the creativity and fun out of teaching, so last year she began looking for a new job. Committed to serving the most needy kids, she took a position in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, closer to her home in the city. The move left her feeling even more constricted. “There was such an emphasis on test scores, I couldn’t teach anything else,” she said. Now Spector is back in Ravenswood, as a seventh-grade English and social studies teacher at Costaño School in East Palo Alto. Her return is the result of a promise from Principal Gina Sudaria, who told her, “As long as you’re teaching the standards and you’re teaching at a rigorous level, you can teach however you want to,” Spector said. “That’s exactly what I wanted.” Greater input is just one strategy that schools in Ravenswood are exploring to boost teacher retention, which has been a priority for the past five years. The article is in the Peninsula Press.
11 STATES GET FAILING GRADES FROM ADVOCACY GROUP
StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee’s advocacy group, issued a report today that ranks states based on how closely they follow the group’s platform, looking at policies related not only to tenure and evaluations but also to pensions and the governance of school districts. The group uses the classic academic grading system, awarding states A to F ratings. With no states receiving an A, two states receiving B-minuses and 11 states branded with an F, StudentsFirst would seem to be building a reputation as a harsh grader. Ms. Rhee said that the relatively weak showing reflected how recently statehouses had begun to address issues like tenure and performance evaluations. The article is in The New York Times.
THE EDUCATION OF MICHELLE RHEE
Another look at Rhee and her work is covered by FrontLine correspondent John Merrow, who was granted unprecedented access to Rhee, former chancellor of the Washington, DC public schools as she attempted to fix a broken school system. Merrow is a former scholar-in-residence at Carnegie. The FrontLine piece runs Tuesday on PBS.
TEACHERS IRATE AS BLOOMBERG LIKENS UNION TO THE N.R.A.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg embarked on a lengthy stream of consciousness on the need to negotiate a new teacher evaluation plan with the United Federation of Teachers. Toward the end, Mr. Bloomberg, almost as an aside, likened the teachers’ union to groups like the National Rifle Association and others in which he said a few leaders were out of sync with large numbers of rank-and-file members. “It’s typical of Congress, it’s typical of unions, it’s typical of companies, I guess, where a small group is really carrying the ball and the others aren’t necessarily in agreement,” Mr. Bloomberg said to the program host, John Gambling. “The N.R.A. is another place where the membership, if you do the polling, doesn’t agree with the leadership.” The article is in The New York Times.
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PH.D. WITHOUT COVERAGE?
BOSTON -- It was hard to find any graduate students here, at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association, who disagreed with the idea being put forth by many of the association's leaders that Ph.D.s shouldn't take 9.5 years to earn in language and literature fields (the current average).And there was widespread enthusiasm among graduate students and many faculty members for a related idea of broadening the purpose of the doctoral education to include training for careers at academic institutions that are not research universities or for relevant work outside of the professoriate. But at a hearing on the ideas, it was also clear that not all of the professors who teach in graduate departments are ready to move away from the current way of doing business. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
EDUCATOR OR HISTORIAN?
NEW ORLEANS -- Much attention has been devoted in recent years to the the question of whether humanities graduate programs adequately prepare students for careers outside academe. But panelists at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting also focused on another question: whether Ph.D. programs adequately prepare students for “the oldest alternative profession”: teaching. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
TWO-YEAR TECH DEGREES OFFER MIDDLE-CLASS PAY
Joanne Jacobs blogs for The Hechinger Report: Recent graduates with a technical or vocational associate degree average higher earnings than four-year graduates in three states analyzed by CollegeMeasures. In Virginia, the average technical associate degree graduate earned $49,000 a year between 2006 and 2010. Community college degrees “are worth a lot more than I expected and that I think other people expected,” said Mark Schneider, president of CollegeMeasures and a vice president at the American Institutes for Research.
Some of the News Fit to Print
THE YEAR IN EDUCATION: A LOOK BACK
In 2012, new teacher-evaluation systems and merit pay spread across the country. Technology continued to transform classrooms, and presidential candidates made education an unexpected focus on the campaign trail. Yet widespread problems in America’s education system persisted, and the nation remained behind much of the international competition. The Hechinger Report traveled from coast to coast to examine new approaches to improving U.S. schools and to answer important questions about what’s working and what isn’t. On the eve of 2013, they selected 13—a baker’s dozen—of the top stories from the past year to highlight what they found in 2012. These stories provide insight into some of the most staggering problems facing U.S. public education today, and look at promising strategies for solving them.
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COLLEGE EDUCATION EXPECTED TO REMAIN A HIGH PRIORITY FOR STATES
While state tax coffers are projected to be in the black in most states, public colleges shouldn't expect that appropriations will be on the rise anytime soon. Even in places where fiscal conditions are improving most quickly, legislators are looking for ways to squeeze the most efficiency out of the tax dollars they appropriate to higher education and, at the same time, keep college affordable. That could lead to more lower-cost degrees delivered by public colleges online or effort. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
HARVARD LAW TO OFFER NOT QUITE A MOOC
Harvard Law School is preparing to offer a free course through edX -- the platform Harvard University uses for MOOCs (massive open online courses). But as The National Law Journal reported, the law course (on copyright) won't be totally open or massive. Enrollment will be limited to 500. The course description explains the rationale behind the limit: "Enrollment for the course is limited, in keeping with the belief that high-quality legal education depends, at least in part, upon supervised small-group discussions of difficult issues. Fidelity to that principle requires confining the course to the number of participants that can be supervised effectively by the 21 teaching fellows. The limit on the enrollment does not mean, however, that there will not be access to the course materials. On the contrary, all of the readings and recorded lectures used in the course will be made available to the public." The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
DEFERRING HIGH SALARY TO TEACH
Four years after the financial crisis, Wall Street hiring has remained weak, and many college graduates have searched for jobs and even careers in other fields. In the last several years, hundreds of such would-be finance professionals and management consultants have taken their high-powered ambitions and spreadsheet modeling skills to the classroom. Teach for America, the 22-year-old nonprofit organization that recruits high-achieving college graduates to teach in some of the nation’s poorest schools for two years, in particular has garnered renewed interest among the business-oriented set. Teach for America says that its 2012 class contained about 400 recent graduates with a major in business or economics. Of those with professional experience, about 175 worked in finance. The article is in The New York Times.
BIRTH TO COLLEGE EDUCATION MODEL
What if teachers, administrators and family support staff could collaborate on delivering a seamless education to prepare at-risk kids for college starting with preschool and following through to high school? Might that help these children achieve success in school and life? Those are the big questions that the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute and the Ounce of Prevention Fund are exploring through a series of case studies they are conducting on building a birth-to-college model of public education. Since 2009, the two organizations have primarily been carrying out that work at the Ounce of Prevention's Educare School in Chicago. Part of the Educare Learning Network, the school is one of 17 funded by public and private partnerships and serving low-income, at-risk infants, toddlers and preschoolers up until kindergarten. The post is from Education’ Week’s Early Years blog.