August 30, 2014

5:33 PM | Research on Making Policy Reforms Work for Dual Language Learners
If there’s any unifying thread in the story of the last several years of education debates, it’s that policy changes are education reform’s first, not final, steps. Given American education’s unwieldy, chaotic governing institutions, legal and regulatory changes are almost always susceptible to being watered down—or even reversed. For instance, while it seemed like a settled victory when the Common Core State Standards were adopted by 46 states, recent […]

August 29, 2014

8:01 PM | Are "Affordable Elite" Colleges Growing in Size, or Just Selectivity?
A new addition to this year’s Washington Monthly college guide is a ranking of “Affordable Elite” colleges. Given that many students and families (rightly or wrongly) focus on trying to get into the most selective colleges, we decided to create a special set of rankings covering only the 224 most highly-competitive colleges in the country (as defined by Barron’s). Colleges are assigned scores based on student loan default rates, graduation rates, graduation rate […]
8:00 PM | The Misguided #PayMyTuition Challenge
In a sort-of piggy back on the famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge going on now, many college students are working on a challenge of their own. It’s called the #PayMyTuition challenge. According to a piece at Inside Higher Ed: Students… have taken to Twitter… [and] challenging various celebrities to help finance their higher education. There are lots of requests to the usual suspects -- President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, etc. Also there have been some notable responses. At […]
6:10 PM | Transfer Students Are Losing Time and Money
As I explained over on The Hill today, a new report from the Department of Education confirms that nearly 40 percent of students who transferred colleges at least once lost all of the credits they’d earned in the process. That’s a significant issue, given that almost a third of college students transfer schools at least once after enrolling. I wrote, For state and federal policymakers, those lost transfer credits translate into lower college attainment […]
3:12 PM | Going to a For-Profit College Doesn't Help at All When Looking for Job
I’m sure most people have seen this advertisement by now . I’m talking about Red Socks, the really rather charming commercial featuring a man going about his day before ending with his big job interview While red socks are in general not quite appropriate job interview attire, we can forget about that for a minute. The marketing campaign suggests Phoenix graduates have entered some sort of exclusive fraternity that helps them get the job because now they’re in this select […]
1:45 PM | More Research On Precisely What Works for English Language Learners
As I’ve pointed out in recent posts, there are considerable limits to what education research can do on its own—because of political realities and implementation challenges. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should stop researching education, or that we should ignore existing research findings. It just means that we should: 1) be mindful of the limits of what research can do for politics and policy, and 2) even the best research usually has limited prescriptions for policy […]

August 28, 2014

5:00 PM | Today's College Freshmen Were Born in 1996, and Other Unsettling Facts
Today in Things That Make You Feel Old, Beloit College this week released its annual "mindset list" of who today’s college freshmen are and what their perception of the world is. The list has come out every year since 1998. This year most of the freshmen were born in 1996. For them: Tupac Shakur, JonBenet Ramsey, and Carl Sagan have always been dead. Their first weeks of kindergarten were interrupted by the World Trade Center explosions of September 11th. Hard liquor has always been […]
3:29 PM | What Makes Charter Schools Work?
As politically polarizing as charter schools can be, doubts about their efficacy are being steadily put to rest. There’s increasing evidence that they can drive impressive academic gains for students—especially in the presence of strong accountability regulations. But because of the polarized politics surrounding them, charter schools are often misrepresented and misunderstood. So I’ve written a piece for The Daily Beast about what makes charters distinct—and […]

August 26, 2014

10:23 PM | I'd Rather Black, Superhuman Student-Athletes Just Be Human
What happens when prep athletes take off their uniforms? The same black males who are beloved heroes on schools’ playing fields can be treated as violent trespassers off of them. Between being a celebrated superhero and a profligate thug, black students just need to be seen - as human. Last week, Jackie Robinson West became the first all black Little League team to win the American title and to advance to Little League World Series. My heart raced like my sons played on Jackie Robinson […]
10:18 PM | Lessons from Hawaii: Tracking the Right Data to Fix Absenteeism
Good school attendance is associated with all sorts of good educational outcomes, especially higher grades and higher test scores. It’s obvious: if you’re not showing up for school, you’re not going to learn as much. But only 17 states track and report chronic absenteeism data, according to the Data Quality Campaign and Attendance Works, a non-profit organization that advocates for more focus on absenteeism data and ideas for getting students to come to […]
10:15 PM | The Tensions Between Pre-K Politics and Research
With the federal government rancorously gridlocked for the last four years, some folks have taken to a familiar—and understandable—way of expressing their frustration. Why, they ask, can’t politicians just “listen to the research?” Why must every policy argument descend into ideological bickering when we already know what works? We especially hear this a lot in the early education world. The tension between democracy and expertise is a longstanding theme. […]

August 25, 2014

4:26 PM | How One Ohio Mother is Trying to Take Down Common Core
CINCINNATI - The several hundred people that filled the sanctuary of Faith Christian Fellowship Church on the outskirts of Cincinnati on a Monday evening in July murmured their indignation as Heidi Huber blasted a book that taught that homosexuality was normal. The book wouldn’t be important except it had popped up on a Catholic school association’s website as an example of what elementary school students might read under the Common Core State Standards. “We are arming the […]
1:28 PM | A Lot of College Students Are Living with Their Parents. That's Normal.
According to a piece in Forbes, more college students are now living at home while in college. This might sound a little depressing, for those of us who had the traditional dorm-frat-apartment college living experience, but it’s maybe not so important. What does this mean? Well, probably not much. The story explains that: More than half of college students (54%) chose to live at home to make school more affordable, according to Sallie Mae’s most recentHow America Pays for […]

August 22, 2014

5:42 PM | Michelle Rhee Leaves the Education Reform Trenches
Just about no one has a mixed view of former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Even the announcement that she’s stepping down from leadership at the education reform organization Students First prompted a firestorm of commentary. So I decided to add a few (quieter) thoughts about Rhee’s departure in a TPM column this week: ...if Rhee’s departure feels like a surrender, her critics have badly misunderstood the state of American education debates. There are […]
4:00 PM | Transfer Students Often Don't Get Credit
A frequent recommendation of financial planners is that for parents want to save money on college they should sending their kids to inexpensive community colleges and then transfer to a four-year schools after two years. That way the student gets the name brand degrees at half the price. While I’ve long questioned how appropriate a solution this really is to the cost problem—If more students want to go to community colleges, how do the community colleges cope? They don’t have […]
3:01 AM | Mills College: Now a Women’s College Any Way You Slice It
Women’s colleges have for the last few years had a little trouble with how to address transgender students. Historically these schools were created to help address discrimination and gender imbalances in higher education. Many of the country’s colleges back in the 19th century only admitted men. The reason we have women’s colleges is to fix that, and give women an education. But with transgender students the question became a little more complicated. Many women’s […]

August 20, 2014

8:52 PM | Thousands of California Kids Don't Get Past Middle School
LOS ANGELES - Devon Sanford’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when he was in the eighth grade. After barely finishing at Los Angeles’s Henry Clay Middle School, he never enrolled in high school. Instead, he spent what should have been his freshman year caring for his mother and waiting for the police to show up asking why he wasn’t in school. No one ever came. “That was the crazy part,” he said. “Nobody called or nothing.” Although the […]

August 19, 2014

5:04 PM | Teacher-School Match: Education Needs Long Relationships, Not 'One-Night Stands'
Teacher preparation programs should see themselves as matchmakers. We match professionals with schools and students who’ll hopefully consider their arranged partnership happy, healthy and productive. Communities benefit when new teachers share their fates with their surroundings. Matriculation and graduation are the few separation rates teacher prep programs should celebrate; in the very least, the public should expect students, schools and districts to get their dowries back. In order to […]

August 18, 2014

11:17 PM | How Much Did Students Really Gain on Common Core Tests in New York? Data Don't Say
The main reason for annual standardized tests is to figure out how much kids are learning each year. But when New York released its 2014 Common Core test results on August 14, state education officials were selective in their data reporting and did not disclose actual student scores. Instead they released only the percentage of children hitting various proficiency thresholds. That makes it difficult for outsiders to understand how much New York students improved after their second year of […]
11:09 PM | Getting Kids into College is One Thing, Getting Them Through is Another
NEW ORLEANS —When Pamela Bolton searched for a middle school for her daughter seven years ago, convenience, not college, was on her mind. She ended up enrolling her daughter at a new and untested middle school called New Orleans College Prep largely because she could get there easily. But New Orleans College Prep, and its partner high school, Cohen College Prep, ended up providing much more than an easy commute. Last spring a large poster of Bolton’s daughter, Imani, then a […]
10:55 PM | Paying College Players- Cost of Attendance Stipends
The Raleigh, N.C. News and Observer had a front pager yesterday on the changes that are coming to college sports regarding paying players. There are so many issues, and so many questions, but a key one is understanding a key University concept, “the cost of attendance (COA).” Duke University’s COA for 2014 is shown below: Historically, the NCAA has prevented University’s from covering the full COA via an athletic scholarship, but the ruling in […]
6:30 PM | Lawmakers Dabble in Early Education Reform
In our recent report, Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education, we put forth dozens of recommendations for federal, state, and local policymakers; teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities; community organizations; and school leaders to help the field better meet the needs of young children and their families and improve access to high-quality early education opportunities. New America is just one of many groups with ideas for how to improve […]

August 15, 2014

8:50 PM | Increased Child Poverty Rate Disproportionately Impacts the Nation's Youngest Learners
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is out with its 25th KIDS COUNT Data Book, which has been providing the public with an annual glimpse into the well being of American children for the past quarter-century. As big anniversaries do, this one provides a natural opening to look at how we have fared. Trends were both positive and troubling during a time of major demographic shifts: The nation’s population of children climbed from 64 million to 74 million. The percentage of white children […]
8:48 PM | How Long Does Med School Need to Take?
So much of the discussion of health care in America, at least lately, centers around insurance, and how to make the medical industry more efficient and cost-effective. But another potential reform holds a lot of promise as well. Should we be trying to get doctors thorough medical school faster? According to a piece at NPR: Some doctors in the state of California will soon be able to practice after three years of medical school instead of the traditional four. The American Medical […]

August 14, 2014

3:00 PM | Kentucky State University President Takes a Salary Hit for his School
It’s odd that this happens so rarely given the financial constraints of academic institutions, but sometimes college administrators really do make big sacrifices for their institutions. Raymond Burse (below), since June the interim president of Kentucky State University, recently decided to give up part of his own generous salary to ensure that school’s lowest-paid employees can get raises. According to an article by Lillian Cunningham in the Washington Post: The 24 school […]

August 13, 2014

3:00 PM | The Education Silver Bullet
Standard and Poor’s, the very non-partisan financial ratings agency, recently warned the country that we were soon facing big problems if we didn’t address inequality. No longer is inequality just a problem for American poor people, because they don’t have very much money. No, it’s actually going to start to be a problem for the economy as a whole. According to the agency: Standard & Poor's sees extreme income inequality as a drag on long-run economic growth. We've […]

August 12, 2014

1:32 PM | Getting Boys - and Girls- Interested in Computer Coding
Thanks to the glorification of Silicon Valley riches and a desire to inspire more of the next generation of children to pursue science and technology careers, computer coding instruction for children is spreading like wildfire around the United States. , an industry-financed group that is promoting computer coding in schools, says that 31,000 kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms are using its course, reaching 1.3 million students. It plans to train another 10,000 teachers […]

August 11, 2014

9:17 PM | Teach for America Shows it's Learned a Lesson About Diversity: Now, What's Next?
Teach for America is browner than ever before. This week, the organization announced that 50 percent of its incoming corps of 5,300 identify as people of color. This compares to the less than 20 percent of all teachers nationwide. Whether friend or foe, all should be encouraged by the news that a mainstream organization is responding to the needs of our communities and country. The question I have is, how good does TFA look now that it’s beige? Click to read more Andre Perry. Not only is […]
4:42 PM | Q & A With Author Elizabeth Green: Great Teachers Need ‘Specialized Skills and Knowledge’
In her new book Building a Better Teacher, Chalkbeat CEO Elizabeth Green obsessively explores what good teaching looks and sounds like - and whether the most effective teachers are “born for the blackboard,” in her words. Green’s quest takes her to schools of education and to classrooms in the United States and Japan, where she observes an array of methods and practices. Elizabeth Green Green finds that good teaching is “a complex craft,’’ but that “far […]

August 08, 2014

6:00 PM | MOOCs Will Never Replace Real College. They'll Just Fix It
Unbundled! Revolution! Disruptive technology! For the last decade or so education futurists have been predicting radical changes to the structure of American colleges as a result of advances in technology. While certainly students use more new and innovate gadgets in college —indeed, many of these gadgets are a crucial part of their courses—the revolution hasn’t really happened. The basic structure of college, and its pricing, remains unchanged. As Benjamin Winterhalter puts […]
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