November 18, 2014

3:51 PM | Student Support Services: When 2% is Not a "Radical Policy Shift"
Only in Washington, D.C. can a tiny change of emphasis be portrayed as a “radical policy shift.” At least that’s the message some advocacy groups are making about a proposal that the U.S. Department of Education has made that would slightly alter the criteria it uses to award new Student Support Services grants to colleges. Student Support Services (SSS) is a federal program that gives grants to institutions of higher education so they can help low-income and first-generation […]
3:47 PM | Graduation Rates Are Down, Not Up, Since Economic Downturn
University and college graduation rates have declined since the beginning of the economic downturn, according to a new report, even as policymakers prod universities and colleges to turn out more people with degrees. While enrollment has gone up since 2008, the proportion of students who graduated has gone down, the report, by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, found. What happened to students who entered college in 2008. Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research […]
3:43 PM | Black Kids Lose When Democratic Ed Reformers Act Like Republicans
NEW ORLEANS – Republicans are winning the support of black Americans. But don’t give the GOP too much credit. Democrats have themselves to thank. And poor, black schoolchildren have little to be thankful for at all. Through the rhetoric of “choice,” “competition,” and “accountability,” the education-reform clique of the Democratic Party have been campaigning for Republicans since Obama arrived in office. Democratic education reformers have become […]

November 17, 2014

6:18 PM | The Sorry State of Vocational Training
Source: OECD Skills Beyond School Synthesis Report Nov 2014. Click on the chart to see a larger version. I had long been under the impression that the United States had a particular problem in providing technical and specialized professional training for students who maybe aren’t academically inclined. But it turns out the United States isn’t alone, and even nations with once vaunted apprenticeship programs are no longer properly training students to enter the workforce. A new […]
6:10 PM | Colleges and Universities Charge More, Keep Less, New Report Finds
Forced to keep discounting their prices as enrollment stagnates, U.S. universities and colleges expect their slowest growth in revenue in 10 years, the bond-rating company Moody’s reports. The squeeze could threaten further cuts in services even as tuition continues to increase. A quarter of colleges and universities are projecting declines in revenue, according to a closely watched annual Moody’s survey. Half of public and 40 percent of private institutions say they will take in […]
2:28 PM | In Mississippi, Lack of School Nurses a Threat to Health, Education
GREENWOOD, Miss. — On any given day, school nurse Samaria Stevenson is traveling between at least three schools in this rural Delta town. She counts the carbohydrates in lunch for a student with diabetes at one elementary school every day, while providing medical care for students at two others. She teaches health classes and presents the district’s abstinence education curriculum to middle school students. And all the while, she’s […]

November 14, 2014

9:34 PM | Computer Sci Continues to Reshape Higher Education
Harvard is significantly boosting its computer science faculty at a time when increased demand for the major continues to reshape higher education. The Harvard Crimson reports the college will add 12 professors. That's a 50 percent increase. On Thursday, the university announced a major donation from Microsoft CEO and Harvard alum Steven Ballmer. The goal, Ballmer says, is to compete with other elite universities that have recently expanded their computer science departments. “Right now I […]
8:00 PM | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Takes on College Athletics
This is perhaps not quite as entertaining as the time Babe Ruth wrote an article for the New Republic about Harry Truman's healthcare plan, but former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently penned a piece for the Jacobin, the socialist magazine of ideas, about the labor conditions of college athletes. It's definitely worth reading. College athletes are often exploited. They often generate big money for the schools that they attend, even while they can’t get paid (and are in many ways […]

November 13, 2014

9:00 PM | What Happens to Higher Education Policy after the 2014 Elections?
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities has a brief looking at what changes are in store for colleges given the 2014 elections, in which the GOP swept into control across Congress, governors’ offices, and, perhaps most importantly for higher education, state houses. But it doesn’t appear too many dramatic changes are likely to occur. Leadership of the U.S. House isn’t going to change. Leadership of the Senate will, but while many interesting new people […]
12:56 PM | How to Save Teachers From Burning Out, Dropping Out and Other Hazards of Experience
An abundance of recent books, research and headlines present growing evidence that our nation’s schools can and must do a better job of preparing teachers for the experiences they’ll face in the classroom. They show that if educators really knew how to address the challenges of teaching in high poverty areas, they would increase their impact and make a longer career out of teaching. Certainly, better preparation is a crucial element to solving our teacher quality and retention […]
4:00 AM | Education Department Asks States to Improve Teacher 'Distribution'
How to improve education by fixing teacher quality is an important policy discussion when discussing where to make changes. Recently the U.S. Department of Education directed states to improve their distribution of teachers, to try to improve the number of poor students who have qualified teachers, or make the number of poor students who have qualified teachers equivalent to ratio at which non-poor kids enjoy them, or something. According to a piece at Education Week: The Obama […]

November 11, 2014

1:41 PM | Can Sex Ed Help Common Core Make the Grade? What Lena Dunham Might Say
NEW ORLEANS — Education reform minus a comprehensive sex-education platform is an incomplete agenda. What is more “Common Core” than sex and sexuality? But you never hear school leaders demand academic accountability around students’ sexual knowledge. Like it or not, school-aged students are still having sex. We should test what students know. Educators actually could, but we haven’t adopted national sex education standards to make those proper assessments. A lack […]

November 10, 2014

3:58 PM | Spiraling Graduate Student Debt Raises Alarms
An Army veteran, Anthony Manfre paid for his associate’s and bachelor’s degrees mostly with his GI Bill benefits, although he also took out $4,000 worth of student loans. “At the time, I thought that was a lot,” he said. “And now I look back and wish I only owed that much.” That’s because Manfre went on to graduate school, picking up a master’s degree before setting off on the long road to a doctorate in marriage and family therapy while borrowing […]

November 07, 2014

8:37 PM | Simmons Joins Growing List of Women's Colleges to Accept Transgender Students
Simmons College in Boston is the third U.S. women’s college - and the second in Massachusetts - to officially accept applications from transgender students.  Simmons has long admitted gender nonconforming students, but is now formalizing its admissions policy and accepting students born female, regardless of their current gender identity, as well as those who were born male and now identify as female. Related: Mount Holyoke's New Transgender Policy Redefines Women's Education […]
7:15 PM | Is It Time for the End of the Common App?
The Common Application for college admissions, used by an increasingly large number of colleges as a way to help ambitious students streamline the admissions process (these days a lot of students apply to at least six colleges; filling out multiple applications is just unnecessary), might now be the new has-been application process. According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: Admissions officials at some of the nation’s most-selective colleges seek to create a new […]

November 06, 2014

5:38 PM | Why Can't We Fire Bad Teachers? There's a More Important Question to Ask Here.
Erstwhile Washington Monthly editor Haley Sweetland Edwards has written a great article about teachers’ unions. I urge you to read it because it's a balanced and compelling piece that looks seriously about what's going on in education policy and how the profession is going to change. It was also a highly controversial piece, but largely because of the cover treatment and headline it received from Time, where Haley now works. It was called "Rotten Apples: it's nearly impossible to fire a […]
5:20 PM | What Removing Default Rates Means For Gainful Employment
The most controversial change from the Department’s proposed version of the gainful employment regulation in the spring and the one released at the end of October is no longer judging programs based upon the percentage of borrowers that defaulted on their loans within three years of entering repayment. Removing this program cohort default rate got a lot of attention because it was the only measure that looked at all borrowers, regardless of whether they dropped out. In […]
5:17 PM | Financial Benefits of Popular Short-Term Certificates Questioned
Hugely popular short-term certificates—educational credentials designed to be completed within one year, and being pushed by community colleges and other higher-education institutions—provide almost no financial return to students, according to new research. While earning an associate’s degree or long-term certificate results in a higher likelihood of finding a job, and at a higher salary, short-term certificates generally resulted in neither of those, the research, by the […]

November 05, 2014

9:15 PM | Federal Policy Can Help Avoid Tragedies of Unlicensed Child Care
The dirty underbelly of child care sometimes has the worst possible outcome: the injury or death of a child. A report by the Washington Post earlier this year found that 60 children had died in child care programs, with several more since, according to an op-ed published last week by the executive director of Child Care Aware of Virginia. Worse yet, some of those deaths might have been preventable: The Washington Post report found that more than 7 in 10 of the deaths occurred in child care […]

November 04, 2014

10:15 PM | The Halloween 'Sexy' Treatment Goes Horribly Awry, Again
Halloween is that wonderful, fun time of year every possible professional or existential quality and can be reduced down to a (mildly to incredibly) offensive "sexy" costume for young women. Some professions, however, are rather more likely to generate outrage than others. And so I give you: the sexy PhD graduate (right). According to an article at Inside Higher Education: The “Delicious Women's Phd [sic] Darling Sexy Costume,” sold by Amazon, received a lot of virtual eye […]
7:06 PM | For Boys, Present Laws Can't Substitute for Absent Fathers, and I Should Know
Editor’s Note: Son of a Saint is a support group for boys whose fathers are incarcerated or dead. At the organization’s annual gala Nov. 1, Hechinger Report columnist Andre Perry delivered a keynote speech in which he revealed that as a child, he faced the same situation as the boys helped today by this group: Good evening family. My lovely wife and I thank Sonny Lee and the boys of Son of a Saint for asking me to be the keynote for tonight’s important event. I’m deeply […]

November 03, 2014

7:30 PM | Teach For America, Public Relations, and the Haunting Specter of Education Conspiracies
It’s Halloween, that cursed day when spooks and apparitions lurk around darkened corners and the line between real and fantasy blurs for a moment. To a degree, every day is Halloween in education policy. Conspiracies and evil spirits haunt coverage of the Common Core State Standards, state assessment contracts, and most any reform efforts. But a story published this week in The Nation traces out a particularly fantastical yarn about Teach For America (TFA). Most of the article is […]

October 31, 2014

2:38 PM | What's Different, What's New in Final Gainful Employment Rule
The Department of Education finally released its final gainful employment rule this morning. This is a high-profile attempt to address concerns about the quality of career education programs, particularly those offered by private, for-profit institutions. This version is the fourth major version of the text we’ve seen, after a proposed version back in March, as well as a proposed and final version that came out during a prior effort that was finalized in 2011 only to be struck […]
2:35 PM | Gainful Employment and the Federal Ability to Sanction Colleges
The U.S. Department of Education’s second attempt at “gainful employment” regulations, which apply to the majority of vocationally-oriented programs at for-profit colleges and certain nondegree programs at public and private nonprofit colleges, was released to the public this morning. The Department’s first effort in 2010 was struck down by a federal judge after the for-profit sector challenged a loan repayment rate metric on account of it requiring additional student […]

October 30, 2014

9:00 PM | How States Stopped Funding Higher Education
The Great Recession was pretty terrible for higher education. In state after state legislatures cut funding for public colleges. The economy has recovered, but the damage is permanent, particularly for poor students. According to this piece at Inside Higher Ed: A new report from the Center for American Progress details -- on a state-by-state basis -- the extent to which recession-driven reductions in public college financing since 2008 have sent tuitions soaring, and how disproportionately […]
2:00 PM | The Two Sides of TFA: An Internal Memo Shows the Teacher Group's Defensiveness Over a Story About How it Changed in the Face of Criticism
EDITOR’S NOTE: Last year, The Hechinger Report published a story about a group of idealistic young Teach For America recruits who arrived in Seattle hoping to start jobs teaching in some of the city’s most struggling schools. Many of them remained unemployed, however, because Seattle didn’t really need more teachers. In fact, the district had an oversupply: “13,800 teachers had applied for just 352 full- and part-time positions,” Alexandra Hootnick reported in her […]

October 29, 2014

7:00 PM | What Happens If You Just Pay Teachers a Hell of a Lot of Money?
One of the reform ideas proposed by education advocates—though not, admittedly, one of them that’s seen much implementation in policy—has been just paying teachers really well. Maybe if we paid teachers like small business executives they’d perform a lot better. Well the Equity Project (TEP) Charter School actually tried this. The results are pretty interesting. TEP is located in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood and enrolls mostly low-income, […]

October 28, 2014

8:00 PM | Education Doesn't Matter in the 2014 Election
Despite the fact that education issues matter a great deal in policy discussions lately, and despite the fact that, as a reader of this blog, you’re probably pretty interested in education reform, it turns out politicians mostly don't care. An article in the Washington Post explains that candidates for election mostly aren’t saying much about education. This shouldn’t really surprise us, however. According to the piece: A systematic analysis of campaign Web sites for the 139 […]
4:38 AM | Summarizing the Research on Dual Language Learners
It’s impossible to have a conversation about dual language learners in the United States without being drawn into questions about their “difference,” and just how much it should be taken into account at school. For years, English-only advocates have argued that these differences should be ignored or erased, that we need to educate DLLs much as we educate monolingual English students — with English instruction. Others have suggested that we should treat the instruction of […]

October 27, 2014

2:29 PM | Three Lessons From the Science of How to Teach Writing
What’s the best way to teach writing? The experts have many answers — and they often contradict each other. In contrast to the thousands of studies on effective methods for teaching reading and mathematics, there are relatively few rigorous studies on writing instruction. That’s partly because it’s time-consuming and expensive to assess writing quality in a way that can be quantitatively measured. Commonly, researchers come up with an eight-point scale. They write […]
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