March 30, 2015

7:52 PM | I Would Send My Daughter To The University of Everywhere
Teacher, education writer, and fellow SUNY alum Robert Pondiscio has written a generous critique of my book, The End of College. Of my arguments that modern colleges and universities are “operating on a deeply flawed and increasingly unsupportable model,” he grants that “I’m sure this is true, and worse.” Yet now that his daughter has reached college age, he is “following a well-worn path trod by countless other parents and high school juniors touring […]
7:51 PM | Early Assessment of Common Core Standards Shows Small Gains
In a very early assessment of how Common Core standards may be influencing how much students learn, a new Brookings report finds small math and reading test score gains for students who live in states that embraced the new standards early. The researcher, Tom Loveless, looked at how fourth-grade reading scores changed between 2009 and 2013 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a trusted national test taken by students across the United States every two years. He found […]
7:42 PM | Why is it So Difficult to Sanction Colleges for Poor Performance?
The U.S. Department of Education has the ability to sanction colleges for poor performance in several ways. A few weeks ago, I wrote about ED’s most recent release of financial responsibility scores, which require colleges deemed financially unstable to post a bond with the federal government before receiving financial aid dollars. ED can also strip a college’s federal financial aid eligibility if too high of a percentage of students default on their federal loans, if data are not […]
7:40 PM | How to Measure English Learners' Development More Accurately
The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously posited that it is impossible to step into the same river twice. That is, by the time you go back for the second dip, the water you touched the first time is long downstream. This makes it challenging to get clear understanding of the river: is it full of fish? What’s its temperature? Etc. Each splash into the water is simply one slice of time. To get more complete knowledge, you’d need to measure it over a longer period of time. […]

March 27, 2015

7:00 PM | Did Jeb Bush's Education Reforms Work in Florida?
One of the positive points of a potential Jeb Bush presidential candidacy is that he has some claim to success as governor of Florida, particularly with regard to education. Some of his education reforms (support for school privatization and more accountability) are unpopular among liberals. Some (particularly Common Core) are unpopular with conservatives. But at least he can claim to be actually moderate. What’s more, according to this article at Newsweek his reforms don’t seem […]
3:00 PM | We've Got Education Reform All Wrong
Everyone knows that American education is in crisis. Education is one of the few fields where an obsession with failure can be good for a career. Education secretaries get applause when they talk about the great and immediate need to make radical changes. It is unacceptable that our country performs like Latvia. Our schools are bad. Our teachers are bad. Our children are stupid. And so we’ve enacted near-continuous reforms, and spent truckloads of money, trying to improve American […]
2:41 PM | One of the Biggest Threats to Student Privacy​? Failure to Communicate
Lorrie Faith Cranor, a professor of computer science and of engineering and public policy in her office at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Online programs bring new educational resources to classrooms and homes. And with them comes the responsibility to ensure children are safe when they log in to play games, chat with friends and explore the world. Policymakers, businesses and educators continue to debate appropriate controls. The U.S. Department of […]

March 26, 2015

5:50 PM | Education Technology Hasn't Worked Yet. Why's It Going to Work Now?
It’s tempting to think technology can fix most of education’s problems. There have, in history, been lots of problems that seemed intractable and in need of vast complicated policy initiatives to address them. And then, in an instant, technology makes them disappear. During the 19th century, for instance, the streets of America were covered in horse excrement. Public health reformers puzzled for years about how to fix this problem, how to get the horse poop out so children could […]
2:33 PM | Three Cheers for Failure! Wait, What?
ATLANTA, Ga. - A faux evergreen tree set up inside a convention center hotel here last week was festooned with hand-written confessions from school leaders. “Inadequate WiFi density caused classroom technology to crash during Open House!” “Teacher technology stipends: All pain, no gain.” “Did not check references.” “Poor construction management destroys existing network.” Of course, most of the events at the annual conference for the Consortium […]

March 25, 2015

6:24 PM | What if a High School Diploma Guaranteed a Highly Paid Job?
WACO, Texas — At first glance, there’s nothing revolutionary about the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy, a vocational school opened in 2013 to serve students in and around this central Texas city. The machines are fancy and gleaming, but the students here learn skills for the sorts of jobs that fueled America’s economy last century: welding, manufacturing, building homes. Around Waco, though, those jobs are still heavily in demand. And the academy offers a unique […]
3:01 PM | A 'Promising' Way to Help Low-Income Students To and Through College
Maryville College, Photo: Maryville College Why do so few low-income students go to college? Is it simply because there is not enough federal financial aid available? Or are there other factors at play? These are vital questions to answer considering that the federal government spends about $35 billion a year on the Pell Grant program, which annually provides low-income students up to $5,730 each to help pay for college. Despite the government’s huge investment in the program, the […]
2:51 PM | Tools That Use Student Data Show Promise, but Concerns About Student Privacy Remain Hotly Debated
On Monday, two Representatives, one a Democrat, the other a Republican, were putting final touches on a proposed new Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, thus joining the White House in efforts to update federal data privacy law. Almost immediately after a draft of the legislation began to circulate Monday, some people said it did not alleviate all of the concerns. Generally speaking, the proposal would limit the ability of companies to tailor marketing or advertisements to students […]
5:23 AM | Amid March Madness, Americans Express Concern About College Sports Spending
Sixteen men's basketball teams are still alive in the N.C.A.A. March Madness tournament, including No. 7 Wichita State which knocked off No. 2 Kansas over the weekend. Today March Madness brings to mind more than big upsets and broken brackets, though. The multi-billion-dollar college sports industry is increasingly answering questions about academic standards, player safety and growing inequities between coaches and athletes.With tuition and fees on the rise, a poll from Monmouth University […]
4:16 AM | Moving Young Learners Forward
Last month, Conor Williams and I wrote a series of posts on how young learners, PreK-3rd grade, could be better supported in a newly reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. An ESEA reauthorization is eight years overdue. No Child Left Behind waivers are the temporary law of the land, and Congress is attempting to find common ground in a mostly partisan process. Over the past several years, interest in pre-K and other early […]

March 24, 2015

2:24 PM | How Common Core Serves White Folks a Sliver of the Black Experience
In this Feb. 12, 2015 photo, Marquez Allen, age 12, reads test questions on a laptop computer during in a trial run of a new state assessment test at Annapolis Middle School in Annapolis, Md. The new test, which is scheduled to go into use March 2, 2015, is linked to the Common Core standards, which Maryland adopted in 2010 under the federal No Child Left Behind law, and serves as criteria for students in math and reading. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky The sky hasn’t fallen and the […]

March 23, 2015

6:33 PM | Newer Studies Say Online Instruction Neither Harms Nor Benefits the Average University Student
More than 5 million college students took an online class during the 2013-14 school year (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin of a college student in a St. Mary’s College dormitory in Lexington Park, Md.) Does online learning work? Do college students learn better, or at least as well, from computer instruction as they do from a human teacher? That’s a question asked over and over again by not only students, parents and professors, but also by academic researchers. It’s […]
2:37 PM | Online Learning Goes the Distance
Over the past ten years, online education has become an increasingly mainstream part of the higher education landscape. Since 2002 – when roughly 1.6 million college students had taken at least one course online - enrollment in online education has more than tripled. Nearly three-fourths of all four-year colleges now offer online classes, including at elite schools, and the vast majority of public two-year colleges now offer online coursework as well. Casual observers may equate online […]

March 20, 2015

9:35 PM | Why Full-Day Kindergarten is a Key Piece of the Early Ed Puzzle
In recent years, early education has been on federal and state policymakers’ radar more than ever before. The Obama Administration has introduced several early learning initiatives, from Preschool Development Grants and Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge, to the ambitious Preschool for All proposal. Meanwhile, a growing number of red and blue states across the country are taking the initiative to pilot and expand public pre-k programs for four-year-olds without the help of the […]
9:28 PM | Investing in Immigrants in Minnesota & the Midwest
During the 1980s and 1990s, I lived in a corner of Michigan that was particularly buffeted by the pressures of globalization. Our area’s auto plant closed and the local pharmaceutical company gradually left town through a series of buyouts and corporate mergers. Our town was nothing unique in this regard—just another Rust Belt community at the mercy of macroeconomic forces well beyond its control (though things appear to be changing for the better). Nor was it unique in terms of […]
8:00 PM | Moses in U.S. History
For hundreds of years, Old Testament prophets have been absent from American history narratives. That might seem entirely appropriate to, say, historians, but it was apparently somewhat annoying to religious conservatives. Well, no more. The strange and very conservative board that approves instruction materials in the state of Texas has long dominated the textbook market across the United States. Because the Texas State Board of Education gets to approve state textbooks, and because Texas is […]
4:15 PM | What this Spring's Common Core Tests Promised, and What They Will Actually Deliver
Muslim Alkurdi, 18, of Albuquerque High School, joins hundreds of classmates in Albuquerque, N.M, Monday, March 2, 2015, as students staged a walkout to protest a new standardized test they say isn't an accurate measurement of their education. Students frustrated over the new exam walked out of schools across the state Monday in protest as the new exam was being given. The backlash came as millions of U.S. students start taking more rigorous exams aligned with Common Core standards. New Common […]
3:00 PM | Pace Law School's Tuition Matching Program
Many law schools are having trouble attracting students to apply. They’re trying to get creative. There’s the LSAT optional gimmick. There’s also a plan to put law school online. Recently Pace University Law School, in New York, announced a new one. According to the school: Pace Law School today unveiled a first-in-the-nation tuition matching program designed to make legal education more accessible to students across the country. The program, which will save students tens of […]

March 19, 2015

6:25 PM | Yale Law School Secret Decisions
Apply to Yale law school and want access to your student records? Is there a mistake in them you need to correct? Well, too bad; the school can’t help you anymore. According to an article in the New Republic: That was the takeaway from Yale Law School Dean Robert Post’s annual “State of the School” address last Tuesday. In frank terms, he explained that students who requested access to their educational records under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) […]
12:05 AM | Why 'The Cotton Picker's Minstrel Review' is Part of Higher Ed History
Five women in blackface in the 1945 Terrapin. You don’t have to hope for a “snitch” to find racist traditions. If you want to learn more about bigoted customs of fraternities and sororities like the chant captured in a video of University of Oklahoma students, just look in back yearbooks. Racist traditions are simply part of higher education’s segregated past. For most of the twentieth century, Asians, Blacks, Latinos/as, and Native Americans were excluded from the […]

March 17, 2015

6:35 PM | Colleges Need to Put Students First
For parents and high school graduates, one of the biggest decisions they will ever make is where to attend college - a must in today’s economy. And the competition among schools for students is stiff. Some build new student unions, X-Games-style climbing walls, and state-of-the-art dorms. They advertise during college football games and on subway platforms. Colleges want you, your tuition dollars, your loans and your grants—but will they actually teach you? Two out of every five […]
1:19 PM | Can a Small, Rural College That Eliminated Merit Aid Survive -- and Thrive? Hamilton College President Makes the Case
Hamilton College President Joan Stewart was the first in her family to go to college, and feels strongly about expanding opportunity for low-income students." When Sweet Briar College in Virginia announced it would close this year and cited “insurmountable’’ financial challenges, a collective shudder went through the world of higher education — especially among small, private liberal arts institutions in rural settings. The news may have seemed shocking, but it followed […]

March 16, 2015

6:04 PM | Pell Grant Budget: The Not-So-Rosy Scenario
Earlier this week we wrote that the Congressional Budget Office has again lowered its expectations for cost growth in the Pell Grant program. In particular, the agency showed that lawmakers don’t need to start increasing the annual appropriation for the program until 2018 if they want to keep the program going in its current form. CBO’s new estimate says Congress and the president will need to provide a $2.3 billion increase to the appropriations bill they enact for that year and […]
5:56 PM | The Student Debt Crisis May Be Largely About the Smallest Borrowers
This chart from “How much is too much?…” by Beth Akers, May 2014, shows that financial distress spikes among those who have only $2000 in loans. Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that student loan balances rose to $1.16 trillion dollars and that 11.3 percent of that is in delinquency — that is, not being paid back.  The New York Fed is worried that this debt is preventing students from becoming self-sufficient adults who can live on […]
3:09 PM | The 2015 Net Price March Madness Bracket
Every year, I take the 68 teams in the 2015 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament and fill out a bracket based on colleges with the lowest net price of attendance (defined as the total cost of attendance less all grant aid received). My 2014 and 2013 brackets are preserved for posterity, with Louisiana-Lafayette and North Carolina A&T emerging victorious for having the lowest net price without having won a single game. In 2015, the final four teams standing (based on net price) […]

March 13, 2015

8:00 PM | This Is the Koch Brothers Going Too Far
When someone has a lot of money, and I mean a hell of a lot of money, he can basically determine how we talk about policy in American. Billionaire Bill Gates, for instance, has a major influence on health and education, for good or ill, based entirely on which reform ideas are exciting enough for him to throw money at. By this point everyone knows that billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who own the highly diversified multi-national group of companies collectively known as Koch […]
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