October 21, 2014

3:16 PM | Louisiana, Do Your Homework: Student Absenteeism, Not Ebola, is the Real Epidemic
As a preventative measure to protect against the spread of Ebola, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education made new emergency changes to the state’s governing handbook. However, there is no emergency — just an Ebola scare, which the board simply contributed to by making changes to sound policy. There is currently no epidemic of the Ebola virus in the U.S., where three cases have been reported, with one fatality. The best preventative measure schools can take […]

October 20, 2014

2:11 PM | Twenty Five Percent of Low-Income Urban High Schools Beat the Odds
It won’t surprise anyone to learn that wealthier high schools send more students to college than low-income high schools. But a October 2014 report from the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse, which tracks college students, reveals that a quarter of low-income urban high schools are doing better than a quarter of their high-income counterparts. On average, low-income urban high schools with high concentrations of minority students sent about half, or 51 percent, of […]
1:08 AM | Private Loans: Still the Most Dangerous Form of Student Loan Debt
At a time of low interest rates, our guard may be down when it comes to the dangers of taking out private student loans. After all, families with excellent credit may be able to obtain loans with interest rates lower than those available in the federal loan program. Perhaps that helps explain why more than 40 percent of college admissions directors who responded to a recent Inside Higher Ed survey said that it was “a good idea for students to take out private loans to pay for […]

October 18, 2014

3:53 AM | Here's One Way to Cut Student Debt
Just stop offering the loans. President Barack Obama has a plan to rate colleges based on things like tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of poor students in the colleges. Eventually he intends that the federal government will distribute federal money at least partially based on this information. One of the concerns some in higher education have raised about this is that there are different ways colleges can react to a system that gives them higher […]

October 17, 2014

2:34 PM | Comments on the CollegeNET-PayScale Social Mobility Index
The last two years have seen a great deal of attention being placed on the social mobility function that many people expect colleges to perform. Are colleges giving students from lower-income families the tools and skills they need in order to do well (and good) in society? The Washington Monthly college rankings (which I calculate) were the first entrant in this field nearly a decade ago, and we also put out lists of the Best Bang for the Buck and Affordable Elite colleges in this year’s […]
2:26 PM | Tracing School Funding Inequities All the Way Down to the School
Almost every education policy debate serves as a partial proxy for something else. Debates about expanding pre-K access are often really about disagreements regarding the scope of the federal government and/or money. Debates about school choice are often about protecting the real estate-based privileges of neighborhood school boundaries or efforts to blur church-state boundaries. Debates about the Common Core State Standards are often secretly about the Muslim Brotherhood, the United Nations, […]

October 16, 2014

6:00 PM | The Public School Execution Strategy
What’s the future of American public elementary and secondary schools going to look like? For most of America’s history the story has been one of increasing access to free public school. It’s now offered to everyone, and everyone has to go. Concern about equity, particularly in the last century, now means that the country at least aspires to providing reasonably high quality instruction to children, regardless of their class, race, or geographic location. But maybe this is […]

October 15, 2014

8:30 PM | Harvard Professors Object to New Sexual Assault Policy
Professors at Harvard Law School are urging the university to revoke new procedures addressing on-campus sexual misconduct, saying the rule goes too far. In July, Harvard announced a new university-wide policy to prevent sexual violence, lowering the burden of proof necessary to find someone guilty. It also created a central office to investigate sexual assaults. Since then, the federal government has been pushing all universities receiving public funds to embrace similar policies, and this […]
7:13 PM | The Video Game Scholarship
Well, finally this happened. There's now an academic scholarship in that thing you spent your afternoons doing instead of homework. According to an Associated Press article, we now have scholarships for video games: Once regarded as anti-social slackers or nerds in a basement, gamers have become megastars in what are now called esports. In professional leagues, they compete for millions of dollars in prizes and pull in six-figure incomes for vanquishing their enemies in what have become huge […]
4:44 PM | Do Student Loans Result in Tuition Increases? Why It’s So Hard to Tell
One of the longstanding questions in higher education finance is whether access to federal financial aid dollars is one of the factors behind tuition increases. This was famously stated by Education Secretary William Bennett in a 1987 New York Times editorial: “If anything, increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase. In 1978, subsidies became […]
4:10 PM | John Deasy and Keeping Students Front and Center in the Political Battles of LA
Los Angeles Unified School District recently announced a 15-point increase in its graduation rate. This is cause for immense celebration as more students are on their pathways out of poverty. George David Kieffer Yet the headlines in Los Angeles are consumed not with recent successes but with reports of board and superintendent conflict. RELATED: When it comes to school leaders, stop waiting for Superman What gets lost in all of the political maneuvering is the very real progress that Los […]

October 14, 2014

5:00 PM | Being Black Is Not a Risk Factor
I participated in the National Black Child Development Institute’s State of the Black Child report forum and release on Oct. 11. The report, “Being Black is Not a Risk Factor: Statistics and Strengths-Based Solutions from the State of Michigan,” responds to disquieting numbers in ways the title suggests. Black people aren’t broken; systems and policies are the risky propositions. We still hear the insidious misnomers “endangered species,” “at-risk […]

October 13, 2014

7:10 PM | New Research Suggests Repeating Elementary School Grades - Even Kindergarten - is Harmful
The already muddy research on whether it’s better to hold back struggling students or promote them to the next grade just got muddier. A new study ,“The Scarring Effects of Primary-Grade Retention? A Study of Cumulative Advantage in the Educational Career,” by Notre Dame sociologist Megan Andrew, published Sept. 26, 2014, in the journal Social Forces is an empirically solid analysis that adds more weight to those who say retention — what education wonks call […]

October 09, 2014

6:00 PM | That Homework Kids Have Is Pointless
New research indicates that homework may not really be that important. This is not exactly groundbreaking—no one’s ever really been able to show that time spent doing homework mattered much for standardized test scores—but this study may perhaps be more rigorous because it looked at grades. One might expect to find a correlation between time on homework and grades, even if more time on homework doesn’t actually cause higher grades, because one might think that harder […]
6:30 AM | New Standards Seek to Measure What Students Actually Know
As students, employers, and policymakers continue to question whether earning a college degree really proves that graduates are ready for work, a new set of voluntary standards proposes to set out what they should be learning—and measure whether or not they have. The Degree Qualifications Profile specifies what students should know and be able to do at every level of their higher educations—what a bachelor’s or master’s degree actually represents, in other […]

October 08, 2014

7:36 PM | New Jersey's Plan to Shut Down For-Profit Colleges
President Barack Obama has a plan to rate colleges based on things like tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of poor students in the colleges. Eventually he intends to distribute federal money at least partially based on this information. It’s somewhat controversial (intrusion of federal power and all that) but one state, New Jersey, appears to have a plan to be even more punitive, at least to for-profit colleges. According to an Associated Press […]
1:51 PM | President Obama Announces Pre-K Goal - But Is it Attainable?
Last week, President Obama took the stage at Northwestern University and announced a mission to improve the workforce with universal pre-K, saying, “By the end of this decade, let’s enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool.” The line was buried in a speech rich with rhetoric on a whole range of policy areas, but the president was light on details. (For more reporting on the speech, check out Education Week’s Lillian Mongeau.) The details, though, are actually […]

October 07, 2014

8:48 PM | How Gay-Friendly Does Gordon College Have to Be?
One Christian college in Massachusetts is having a hard time trying to address homosexuality today. The problem is the school's accreditation. According to an article in the Boston Business Journal: The higher education commission of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges met last week and "considered whether Gordon College's traditional inclusion of 'homosexual practice' as a forbidden activity" runs afoul of the commission's standards for accreditation, according to a joint […]
3:28 PM | Let's Incentivize Colleges to Reduce Costs and Educate Students
If colleges want to reverse the declining number of teachers of color, create more STEM teachers, and calibrate teacher supply with district demand, then teacher preparation programs need to become less dependent on individuals’ tuition. The current tuition-driven system is incentivizing teacher preparation programs to prioritize quantity over districts’ needs. The country needs more effective STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teachers as well as teachers of […]
3:22 PM | How Tuition Tracker Helps Kids Compare Colleges - and Other Tips for Overwhelmed Parents
New York - It’s the thick of college application season, and your child is diligently churning out common application essays while simultaneously studying for four or five advanced placement exams and researching scholarships, right? Well, maybe not. Click to find out how much college might cost you In households across the U.S. right now, (including my own) there’s likely a good deal of procrastination - along with frustration and anxiety about the endless array of essays and […]
3:09 PM | Ending Higher Ed's Tuition Addiction to Produce Teachers We Need
If colleges want to reverse the declining number of teachers of color, create more STEM teachers, and calibrate teacher supply with district demand, then teacher preparation programs need to become less dependent on individuals’ tuition. The current tuition-driven system is incentivizing teacher preparation programs to prioritize quantity over districts’ needs. The country needs more effective STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teachers as well as teachers of […]

October 06, 2014

1:39 PM | Even Education Data Geeks Agree That Education Data is Completely Inscrutable and Inaccessible to Parents
One of the many provisions of the 2001 federal education act, known as No Child Left Behind, was a requirement that states had to issue a “report card”  for every public school. The report cards include things you might expect like student test scores and test score changes, but also a laundry list of data from graduation rates to school demographics. Part of the purpose of making this data available was to help parents see how the students in their children’s school […]

October 04, 2014

3:59 PM | Reclassification Rules for Dual Language Learners Matter
My elementary school had a separate classroom for students who were non-native speakers of English. As far as my friends and I were concerned, it was another planet. Though it was located immediately next door to my third grade classroom, we knew almost nothing about the students or their teachers. Even at the tiny school (approximately eight classrooms across K–3), the room’s inhabitants were somehow invisible to us. Insofar as we acknowledged the arrangement at all, it was in the […]

October 03, 2014

7:00 PM | How to Offer For-Profit College on the Cheap
The for-profit Rasmussen College has a plan to try and offer a cheaper business degree than local public colleges. The financials of this are a little unclear but, according to a piece at Minnesota Public Radio: The Bloomington-based chain's plans for the low-cost alternative program are in the very early stages. But if it succeeds, by the end of next year Rasmussen will offer what amounts to a $24,000 bachelor's degree. That's less than half of the school's $54,000 standard course, not […]

October 02, 2014

4:16 PM | Helping Disadvantaged People Succeed in College Doesn't Have a Damn Thing to Do with Admissions
What can we do to help more disadvantaged students attend and succeed in college? This has been a question behind many education policy reforms of the last half century. This is why we have affirmative action in admissions. This is why we have community colleges, the work-study program, and federally-backed student loans and grants. This is even, arguably, why we have online and for-profit colleges. But, according to a new piece from the New America Foundation, we’re doing it wrong. […]
Editor's Pick
2:49 AM | Pharmacy School is the New Law School
For many years that I worked at the Monthly I rather enjoyed covering the demise of the law school. Law school was the go-to professional option for reasonably ambitious but ill-focused college graduates. It offered the promise of making good money to think. And then the economy collapsed. In the aftermath of the great recession all of these highly indebted law school graduates floundered in the job market. No longer were there lots of law firms interested in hiring them for lucrative careers. […]

September 26, 2014

9:00 PM | Sometimes a Community College Degree Is Actually Worthless
This perhaps shouldn’t come as much of a surprise at this point, but now it’s official: there are some college degrees that don’t improve earnings whatsoever. At least as far as community colleges go, some degrees just really aren’t worth it. According to an article at the Hechinger Report: The research, conducted under the aegis of the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment and focused on community colleges, confirms the widely accepted belief […]
4:00 PM | It's Time to Reform Work-Study Programs
The Federal Work Study program, which provides money to American colleges to hire students to do campus jobs, has long been a source of crucial spending money for students. It provides them with a reasonably convenient way to earn money while taking classes. Often they can even integrate the jobs with their studies, particular by working for professors or in academic departments where they also major. But the program isn’t really working very well, according to a new paper by Rory […]
3:08 PM | Yes, Some Colleges Are Hurt by College Rankings. That's How It's Supposed to Work.
For the last year or so we’ve heard a great deal about President Barack Obama’s proposed college rating system, the basic outlines of which are, according to a 2013 piece in the New York Times: A plan to rate colleges…based on measures like tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of lower-income students who attend. The ratings would compare colleges against their peer institutions. If the plan can win Congressional approval, the idea is […]

September 25, 2014

2:29 AM | The Onion Predicts the Future
With so much discussion about what we’re going to do about university athletics, this piece of satire from the Onion a few years ago is rather refreshing: Bowing to pressure from alumni, students, and a majority of teaching professors of Florida State University, athletic director Dave Hart Jr. announced yesterday that FSU would completely phase out all academic operations by the end of the 2010 school year in order to make athletics the school's No. 1 priority. "It's been clear for a […]
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