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 […]
3:00 AM | Pipeline to Prison: How the Juvenile Justice System Fails Special Education Students
Caledonia Miss. — Toney Jennings was illiterate when he was arrested at age 16. In the six months he spent at the Lowndes County Jail in Eastern Mississippi, he says he played basketball, watched TV and “basically just stayed to myself.” A special education student, Jennings qualified for extra help in school. Those services should have carried over to the justice system, but Jennings said he never even attended class while in jail. Now 20, he is still unable to read or […]
2:53 AM | Pipeline to Prison: Special Education Too Often Leads to Jail for Thousands of American Children
GRENADA, Miss.— Cody Beck was 12-years -old when he was handcuffed in front of several classmates and put in the back of a police car outside of Grenada Middle School. Cody had lost his temper in an argument with another student, and hit several teachers when they tried to intervene. He was taken to the local youth court, and then sent to a mental health facility two hours away from his home. Twelve days later, the sixth-grader was released from the facility and charged with three counts […]

October 24, 2014

8:08 PM | Opportunity Gap Narrows in Mississippi
The latest national survey that looks at the ability of young people to better their lives through economic opportunity and education comes with some good news for Mississippi: More students are graduating from high school and more people are going to college. But even with these positive measures of upward mobility, the state lags behind much of the nation in key areas, according to the 2014 “Opportunity Index.” The state’s overall education score — a count of 3 and 4 […]
6:00 PM | Be Worried About Adjunct Professors, Even if You Aren't One
American professors are a vaguely resented lot. Critics, particularly conservatives, often see them as a coddled, inefficient group of people, luxuriating in their tweed and their generous pensions and studying something like gender issues in Shakespearean times, while the rest of us worker much harder to earn a living. The reality is that the secure professor, free to explore what he wishes while earning a reasonably good living, is rather rare. Only about 30 percent of college instructors […]
Editor's Pick
6:28 AM | Transforming innovation policy
With a new European Commission about to take office, and an updated UK strategy for science and innovation expected in the next few weeks, this is an important moment to debate the future of innovation policy.For followers of innovation policy, these are interesting times. On 1 November, President Juncker and his Commission take up their new desks in Brussels. And while flagship programmes, such as the 80 billion Horizon 2020, which is giving increasing prominence to the idea of responsible […]

October 23, 2014

7:07 PM | Lottery Losers: Poor Kids
In the past few decades many, many states have instituted state lottery systems, often as a way of paying for education without having to hike taxes on voters. The problem with state lottery systems designed for education funding, however, as Jamal Abdul-Alim puts it over at Diverse Issues in Higher Education, is that this lottery cash is mostly most used, not for general education funding, but scholarships for rich people. As he writes: Lotteries make inequities in higher education worse, […]

October 22, 2014

11:58 PM | How the United Kingdom Stopped Grade Inflation
Grade inflation, the long-term increase in the average GPA earned by American college students, has worried education observers for years. While the ultimate drawback is perhaps a little unclear (are people really getting hired for jobs or being admitted to law schools who don’t really know what they’re doing because admissions officers and human resource professionals were hoodwinked by high grades?), inflation is a very real thing. In 1991 the average college GPA was 2.93. In 2006 […]
3:49 PM | Private Companies Increasingly Drive Innovation at Public Research Universities
The new Raytheon-UMass Lowell Research Institute is housed inside the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, home to cutting-edge advances in nanotechnology, plastics engineering, optics and more. (Photo Courtesy of UMass Lowell). The amount of research dollars public colleges and universities receive from federal and state governments is dwindling. Private companies are picking up the slack, driving innovation at public research universities. Starting next semester, […]

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 […]
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