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COLLEGES ADAPT ONLINE COURSES TO EASE BURDEN
Nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States arrive on campus needing remedial work before they can begin regular credit-bearing classes. That early detour can be costly, leading many to drop out, often in heavy debt and with diminished prospects of finding a job. Meanwhile, shrinking state budgets have taken a heavy toll at public institutions, reducing the number of seats available in classes students must take to graduate. In California alone, higher education cuts have left hundreds of thousands of college students without access to classes they need. To address both problems and keep students on track to graduation, universities are beginning to experiment with adding the new “massive open online courses,” created to deliver elite college instruction to anyone with an Internet connection, to their offerings. The article is in The New York Times.
DUKE FACULTY SAY NO
Duke University faculty members, frustrated with their administration and skeptical of the degrees to be awarded, have forced the institution to back out of a deal with nine other universities and 2U to create a pool of for-credit online classes for undergraduates.Duke’s Arts & Sciences Council, which represents faculty from Duke’s largest undergraduate college, voted 16-14 on Thursday against plans to grant credits to Duke students who would have taken online courses from the pool. The vote effectively killed Duke's participation in the effort, and it immediately withdrew. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
TRADITIONAL WAYS UPENDED IN COLLEGE OF COMPETENCE
A new program, called College for America and created by Southern New Hampshire University, demolishes one of the most fundamental building blocks of college: course credit. Instead of requiring a graduate to complete a set number of courses, it asks students to master — at any pace — 120 “competencies.” These are concrete skills such as “can distinguish fact from opinion” or “can convey information by creating charts and graphs.” The article is in The Boston Globe.
TURMOIL SWIRLING AROUND COMMON CORE STANDARDS
As public schools across the country transition to the new Common Core standards, which bring wholesale change to the way math and reading are taught in 45 states and the District, criticism of the approach is emerging from groups as divergent as the tea party and the teachers union.The standards, written by a group of states and embraced by the Obama administration, set common goals for reading, writing and math skills that students should develop from kindergarten through high school graduation. Although classroom curriculum is left to the states, the standards emphasize critical thinking and problem solving and encourage thinking deeply about fewer topics. The article is in The Washington Post.
THE NECESSITY OF PROVIDING ALL STUDENTS WITH A QUALITY EDUCATION
Former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise writes for the Huffington Post: Students of color and Native students currently make up the majority of the student population in 12 states; 10 additional states are close behind. Currently, however, many students of color and Native students are being left behind. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, students of color are, on average, 20 percentage points less likely to graduate from high school than their white peers. As these students become the majority and enter the increasingly globalized workforce, the nation must ensure they receive an education that prepares them to compete in the twenty-first century. These students' futures depend on it; and now, more than ever, the future of the U.S. economy depends on it.
WANT TO BUILD A BETTER TEACHER EVALUATION? ASK A TEACHER
Ross Wiener and Kasia Lundy write: Reformers have invested massive financial resources and political capital in new teacher-evaluation systems, but early results show that these policies won’t lead to improvements on their own. To generate more effective teaching through evaluations, teachers, principals, and school system leaders need to embrace a culture of ongoing two-way feedback and a commitment to continuous improvement. Surveys are a critical component of well-designed continuous-improvement systems, which high-performing organizations inside and outside the education sector have adopted as a reliable, cost-effective means of gathering and valuing front-line perspective. This commentary is in Education Week.
NO RICH CHILD LEFT BEHIND
Stanford’s Sean Reardon writes in The New York Times: Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion. Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news.
The more we do to ensure that all children have similar cognitively stimulating early childhood experiences, the less we will have to worry about failing schools. This in turn will enable us to let our schools focus on teaching the skills — how to solve complex problems, how to think critically and how to collaborate — essential to a growing economy and a lively democracy.
EDUCATORS STILL DIVIDED ON ‘A NATION AT RISK’
"A Nation at Risk" recommended that each high school require four years of English, three years each of math, science and social studies, and at least two years of a foreign language for college-bound students. And while many educators thought the report was unnecessarily alarmist, governors did not. Bob Wise, a congressman from West Virginia in 1983 who later became governor, says the report came along "at a time when we were facing real global competition," he says. "We were seeing factories being shuttered. People were beginning to wake up to the fact that the world was changing around us. I did not think it was alarmist then. I don't think it's alarmist now." The piece ran on NPR’s All Things Considered.
INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT QUALITY TIME, NOT QUANTITY
Principals set the tone for academic excellence in their schools, but researchers and policymakers are only just beginning to understand how their leadership affects student achievement. And for harried, time-crunched leaders nationwide, the results might be heartening: It's not quantity, but the quality of time spent on instructional leadership that makes the difference. Here amid the more than 14,500 researchers and educators at the American Educational Research Association conference in San Francisco, a more quantitative view of school leadership is coming into focus. In a meta-analysis of 79 unpublished studies and data sets, University of Alabama researcher Jingping Sun found three areas in which principals could spur student learning by improving teacher practices: through individualized support for teachers, modeling desirable instruction, and providing intellectual stimulation for teachers. The post is from Inside School Research in Education Week.
NEW HIGH SCHOOL PATHWAYS EMERGING
Drawing in part on the practices of other countries, states want pathways from school to industry to make high school more relevant; inform students of the options that await after they remove their caps and gowns; and, most importantly, engage youths in challenging courses that don't close the door to higher education. The article is in Education Week.
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PARENTS’ EDUCATION LEVEL IS WEAK PREDICTOR OF STUDENTS’ LEARNING HABITS
A parent's level of education is often thought to be one of the strongest predictors of a student's future success in college, but a new study upends much of this received wisdom. Parents' levels of education do not directly influence whether students demonstrate behaviors associated with deep learning, according to the study, "Exploring the Effect of Parental Education on College Students' Deep Approaches to Learning," by Amy K. Ribera, a research analyst for the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research. The study was scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association this past weekend, in San Francisco. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
OPEN ACCESS SPREADS
A bill in the California legislature would require state-funded research to be made public free of charge within a year of its publication. If it passes, the bill would create an open access policy for California's state-funded research similar to a policy announced earlier this year by the Obama administration. The federal policy, which is not yet finalized, would apply to most federally supported non-defense research. California is not the only state moving to make public the published research it helps to fund; Illinois is weighing a similar proposal. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
FIXING THE ‘OPPORTUNITY GAP’ TO CLOSE THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP
What would it really take to close the achievement gap? The answer, according to a cadre of education scholars who have just published a new book, is to fix the "opportunity gap" that exists between children born into middle class and affluent families and those who are not. Thirty years after the release of the seminal A Nation at Risk report ushered in an era of academic standards and standardized tests to measure how students were mastering those, "Closing the Opportunity Gap," argues that until federal and state governments, as well as local school districts, devote as much time and attention to making investments in broad access to quality preschool, health care, good teachers, and rich curricula as they have to driving up test scores and graduation rates, the academic gaps between upper and middle-class kids and their low-income peers will never disappear. The post is from Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog.
ACLU SUES CALIFORNIA OVER LACK OF ENGLISH INSTRUCTION
According to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in California, more than 20,000 students enrolled in schools around the state are not getting the level of English instruction they require. California schools are required by law to offer English instruction to those who don’t speak the language, but according to the district’s own records, more than 20,000 people don’t get the help to which they’re legally entitled. The ACLU alleges that this failure to provide language help is instrumental in keeping kids left back and results in low scores on exams that measure student proficiency. The article is from EducationNews.org.
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ONLY SOMETIMES FOR ONLINE
The wholesale replacement of community college curriculums with online courses might not be the best idea, according to new research from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. That’s because community college students prefer face-to-face courses over their online equivalents in certain subjects, the study found, particularly courses they consider difficult, interesting or important. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
TECH TRAINING MAY PROVIDE FATTER PAYCHECKS THAN 4-YEAR COLLEGE DEGREE
When it comes to getting a job that pays good wages, students in Texas might get more bang for their buck by attending a technical, two-year program than they would by earning a four-year bachelor's degree, according to a report presented on Thursday to the state's Higher Education Coordinating Board. The report, which echoes findings released last year by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, was prepared by College Measures, a partnership of two research and consulting groups, the American Institutes for Research, and Matrix Knowledge Group. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
AMBITIOUS UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA REQUIREMENTS COULD BACKFIRE
More California districts are requiring teens to take a course load that exceeds the state's minimum requirements -- the same courses required for admission to the University of California -- to graduate from high school. A new report says these ambitious requirements could backfire by making graduation too difficult for some students, and cause them to drop out or fail to earn diplomas after four years. The article is in the San Jose Mercury News.
SURVEY TEACHERS, NOT JUST STUDENTS, ON EVALUATIONS
There's no question that teachers are unnerved, even suspicious, about the purpose behind the rapid proliferation of tougher new teacher evaluation systems. What's the best way to get them to value these evaluations, or at least not see them as punitive? A new report from the Aspen Institute offers one idea: Surveying teachers about whether the new systems are being used to support and strengthen their teaching. The group reviewed the use of employee feedback by high-performing education systems, including Aspire Public Schools, which embrace surveys to gauge employee satisfaction with its organizational structure, as well as private-sector companies, including Apple and Mercedes-Benz. Both of these corporations value surveys as a tool to regularly gather feedback and implement changes. The post is from Education Week’s Teacher Beat blog.
STATE ED BOSS UNVEILS NEW ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM
Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams unveiled plans for a new accountability system that still rates schools largely on student performance on standardized exams. The rating system will use four measures: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gap, and postsecondary readiness. All will use the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, test. The article is in the San Antonio Express-News.
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MOTIVATION AND STUDENT SUCCESS
Why did you decide to go to college? Asking that question of new students in a more formal way might help colleges find ways to encourage more students to complete their programs, according to a new study from University of Rochester education researchers published in The Journal of College Student Development. The study found that students motivated by a desire for autonomy and competence tended to earn higher grades and show a greater likelihood of persistence than did other students. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
FLORIDA TO OPEN FIRST ONLY ONLINE PUBLIC UNIVERSITY IN THE U.S.
Public university students in Florida next year will be able to start working toward college degrees without actually going to college, under a law Governor Rick Scott signed on Monday in front of educators and business lobbyists. The state-run University of Florida plans to start a series of online bachelor's degree programs next year, with $15 million start-up funds for 2014. Until now full-time online education has just been available to elementary and high schools in the state. The article is in the Huffington Post.
PANEL CALLS FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY
WASHINGTON — The federal government should do more to ensure that prospective college students and their families get better and more timely information about what it takes to get into college and how to pay for it. That was the heart of a message delivered by a panel of experts Wednesday during a U.S. House subcommittee hearing titled “Keeping College Within Reach: Enhancing Transparency for Students, Families and Taxpayers.” The article is in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
BROWN’S HIGHER ED PLAN FACES CRITICISM IN SACRAMENTO
Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to link some extra state funding to how quickly state universities move students to graduation and to other performance measures faced criticism Wednesday at a legislative hearing. Several legislators and university officials said they feared that the plan unfairly forced campuses to chase unrealistic and arbitrary goals when the real problem remained the deep budget cuts schools suffered during the recession. The article is in the L.A. Times.
MIKE SMITH AND DAVID COHEN NAMED TO AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Some of the world's most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities, and the arts have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among those elected this year is Marshall (Mike) S. Smith, Senior Fellow, Education Policy at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and David Cohen, a Carnegie Board member and John Dewey Collegiate Professor of Education, Professor of Education Policy, Professor of Public Policy, University of Michigan.
One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts, and education.
“Election to the Academy honors individual accomplishment and calls upon members to serve the public good,” said Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz. “We look forward to drawing on the knowledge and expertise of these distinguished men and women to advance solutions to the pressing policy challenges of the day.”
Members of the 2013 class include winners of the Nobel Prize; National Medal of Science; the Lasker Award; the Pulitzer and the Shaw prizes; the Fields Medal; MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships; the Kennedy Center Honors; and Grammy, Emmy, Academy, and Tony awards. Carnegie President Anthony Bryk was a member of the 2011 class.
A CRUCIAL FIRST YEAR FOR NEWLY MINTED TEACHERS
The first year of teaching provides vital clues to how a teacher is likely to do over the long haul, concludes a new paper from TNTP, a national alternative preparation program. The paper is based on data collected by the group during its first year under a revamped teacher-training curriculum. With some help from a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, TNTP began to introduce a new model for its trainees in 2011-12. Under it, candidates are assessed during the course of their first year in the classroom and have to show that they're well on their way to being effective. (TNTP appears to be one of the first programs, traditional or alternative, that requires its candidates to meet this kind of bar during their first year on the job.) TNTP scores candidates based on student outcomes, classroom observations, principal ratings, and meeting program requirements such as competing courses. The post is from Education Week’s Teacher Beat blog.
'MARKET-ORIENTED' EDUCATION POLICIES FALL SHORT
A torrent of "market-oriented" policies meant to improve schools, including tying teacher evaluation to tests and promoting charter schools, have not lived up to the promises and hype surrounding them, a new report contends. Those policies and others favored by prominent policymakers today have instead been counterproductive and are "no match for the complex, poverty-related problems they seek to solve," the authors say. The report, "Market-Oriented Education Reforms' Rhetoric Trumps Reality," was released by the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, an organization that sees poverty as a major factor in low student achievement, and one that is too often being discounted today. The post is from Education Week’s Marketplace K-12 blog.
LEGISLATOR’S GUIDE TO EDUCATOR EFFECTIVENESS POLICY
Of those factors influencing student achievement within a school, teacher effectiveness is the most significant. As the pace of education reform quickens, this guide for legislators offers a road map as they continue to support and improve educator effectiveness in the areas of: teacher and principal preparation; licensing, recruitment and retention; induction and mentoring; professional development; and educator evaluation. Each section features an overview of policy, lists questions legislators might ask about their own state's policy, offers policy options states are considering, then lists additional resources. Created by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the guide encourages legislators to approach teacher and principal policy within the same context, to consider policies within the larger career continuum rather than piece by piece, and to ask how a change in one area might affect another. This information is from Education Commission of the States.
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COMMUNITY COLLEGE ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURE STILL HOLDS POLICY-MAKING POTENTIAL
A tool being developed "by community colleges, for community colleges" to measure their effectiveness is still not ready, but its proponents hope wider adoption through its testing phase will give it influence in policy making. The sector decries existing metrics, particularly the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, known as IPEDS, for making community colleges look bad by not counting many of their students and much of their work. According to IPEDS, only 20 percent of students at community colleges graduate within three years, but that figure excludes part-time students and those who transfer, not to mention students pursuing career and technical education, for example, or a GED. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
SYSTEMATIC SORTING: TEACHER CHARACTERISTICS AND CLASS ASSIGNMENTS
Although prior research has documented differences in the distribution of teacher characteristics across schools serving different student populations, few studies have examined the extent to which teacher sorting occurs within schools. A new study in the Sociology of Education uses data from one large urban school district and compares the class assignments of teachers who teach in the same grade and in the same school in a given year. The authors find that less experienced, minority, and female teachers are assigned classes with lower achieving students than are their more experienced, white, and male colleagues. Teachers who have held leadership positions and those who attended more competitive undergraduate institutions are also assigned higher achieving students. These patterns are found at both the elementary and middle/high school levels. The authors explore explanations for these patterns and discuss their implications for achievement gaps, teacher turnover, and the estimation of teacher value-added.
TEACHER GROUPS FAIL BILLS TIED TO NEW EVALUATIONS
While many states in recent years have started to change the way they evaluate teachers, Texas has largely avoided that controversy. But that is changing as lawmakers prepare to debate two bills, both of which would dramatically restructure the 15-year-old framework used by most school districts for teacher evaluations. The article is in the San Antonio Express-News.
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TWO GROUPS DESCRIBE EFFORTS TO PUSH COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS TOWARD DEGREE COMPLETION
Students who enter community colleges with vague goals and shaky academic backgrounds often end up stuck in remedial courses or embarking on "a meandering path through an overwhelming number of course options," according to a new breed of completion crusaders who are seeking to goose more students along the education pipeline. In presentations in San Francisco on Monday during the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges, two groups that are heavily supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation described their efforts, working with state policy makers and higher-education associations, to create structured pathways to graduation. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
WHICH NEW IDEAS TO USE
SAN FRANCISCO -- Some community colleges are exploring ways to use massive open online courses and open educational resources in their curriculums, but plenty are skeptical. Those are among the findings of a new survey of distance education officials at community colleges, released here on Monday. The survey was conducted by the Instructional Technology Council and was released at the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges. The council, an affiliate of the two-year-college association, conducts annual surveys on a range of distance education and technology issues at community colleges. This year's was the first to ask about MOOCs and open educational resources, free online resources that can be used in teaching. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
COLLEGES ARE SLASHING ADJUNCTS’ HOURS TO SKIRT NEW RULES ON HEALTH INSURANCE ELIGIBILITY
Stark State, in North Canton, Ohio, is among a growing number of colleges that have limited the number of weekly hours part-time employees can work to keep them below the level at which employers are required to provide health insurance. Under the new law, which takes effect in January 2014, employees of large companies who work 30 hours or more a week must receive health benefits from their employers. Employers who violate the rule could be fined. Colleges in Ohio, Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are among those that have acted in advance. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
MINERVA PROJECT OFFERS PRIZE TO INNOVATIVE EDUCATORS
The Minerva Project, the San Francisco-based "hybrid university" trying to appeal to top-tier students that plans to open in 2015, announced Monday that it has joined with a Nobel laureate to offer a $500,000 prize each year to a distinguished educator. Roger Kornberg, a Stanford University professor who won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is governor of the newly created Minerva Academy, which will award the prize. The prize is "designed to recognize extraordinary advancements in teaching excellence and impact" in higher education. The information is from Quick Takes in Inside Higher Ed.
BROWN WANTS TO TIE SOME FUNDING TO NEW PROPOSALS
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown wants to tie some state funding for California's public universities to a host of new requirements, including 10% increases in the number of transfer students from community colleges and the percentage of freshmen graduating within four years. The article is in the L.A. Times.