April 08, 2014

3:06 AM | "Unprecedented" Numbers Opt Out of State Tests-What's Next?
Today students in New York State begin three days of state-mandated tests in English language arts.  But thousands of families across the state, from Syracuse and Buffalo to the Hudson Valley, Long Island to New York City, will sit out the tests, citing concerns with their relevance and the sense that the curriculum has been taken over by preparation. “It shifts the entire focus of the classroom,” says Jeannette Deutermann, the organizer behind Long Island Opt Out, a Facebook […]

April 04, 2014

8:11 PM | A New Model for For-Profit Education?
In the last decade for-profit colleges have come under extensive scrutiny for their low graduation rates, their former students’ high loan default rates, and the fact that many former students appear to have getting a job once they leave these institutions. One of the major problems is that a success of large for-profit schools doesn’t have anything to do with the success of their students, profit comes from just getting more people to enroll. More students (and their federal […]
3:08 AM | PLUS Loans are not Grants
Last week, during the U.S. Department of Education’s Program Integrity negotiated rulemaking, UNCF released a policy report–The Parent PLUS Loan Crisis: An Urgent Crisis Facing Students at the Nation’s HBCUs–about the effect of the change in the credit check criteria for Parent PLUS loans. In this report, PLUS loans are treated almost as if they are the same as other federal student aid options. Parent PLUS loans, however, are not like other forms of federal student aid […]

April 03, 2014

6:53 PM | The Black Hole of PLUS Loan Outcomes
Much of the debate about improving federal higher education data quality has focused on whether a student unit record dataset is necessary in order to give students, their families, and policymakers the information they need in order to make better decisions. Last month’s release of College Blackout: How the Higher Education Lobby Fought to Keep Students in the Dark by Amy Laitinen and Clare McCann of the New America Foundation highlighted the potential role of the higher education lobby […]
2:41 PM | New Columns on Urban Education Reform: Politics and Segregation
Urban education reform fights have a way of driving the national policy conversation. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ongoing efforts to change the trajectory of the Big Apple’s public schools have taken on importance well beyond the five boroughs. Of course, the political feedback system is a loop: if de Blasio’s push for pre-K influences media coverage of early education, it also brings new attention from outside. For instance, a recent UCLA report claiming that the state of […]

April 02, 2014

10:42 PM | U.S. Students Rank Better Internationally On New Problem Solving Test Than They Do On Conventional Math and Reading Exams
Here’s a modest test result to bolster the argument of those who say the American educational system isn’t so terrible. On a new creative problem-solving test taken by students in 44 countries and regions, U.S. 15-year-olds scored above the international average and rank at number 18 in the world. That’s much better than the below-average performance of U.S. students on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) reading and math tests conducted by the […]
8:00 PM | Janet Napolitano: Online Won't Fix Our Problems
In general, I’m sort of ambivalent about the University of California’s decision to hire former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as its president. The trends impacting the university system (declining state funding, increasing administrative costs, changing state demographics) are probably so strong that her impact and ability to fix things will be pretty limited. But sometimes her perspective is rather refreshing. Her latest comments come in reaction to the ambiguous […]
7:12 PM | Ryan Budget Brings Little New to the Table on Education
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Budget Committee, this morning released his own fiscal year 2015 proposed budget. The budget, if the House adopts it, would serve as that chamber’s 2015 budget resolution, establishing spending and revenue targets for the upcoming fiscal years. (The Senate has already decided not to pass a budget resolution, so even if the House version passes, there will be no joint fiscal year 2015 resolution.) There are few differences between Ryan’s […]
1:16 PM | College - Worth It or Worth Less?
College has never been worth so much – or so little. New research from the Pew Center shows the wage gap between those with a college degree and those without is at an all-time high. Moreover, the college wage premium has actually been widening. Yet at the same time, real average earnings for young college graduates are at historic lows – down 6 percent from 2007 levels, even as the labor market recovers. Average student debt per borrower has climbed to a staggering $29,400. Does […]

March 31, 2014

10:10 PM | Assigning One's Own Books to One's Students
The Ethicist has a problem that will interest Henry: I am a graduate student at a state university. One of four required texts for a course was written by the professor, and the subject matter of the text is also the content of his lectures. A significant portion of my grade is based on a ‘‘review’’ I write of his text. Is it ethical to require students to buy a book that you wrote? Aren’t I already paying tuition for this professor’s expertise and […]

March 28, 2014

6:36 PM | The New G.I. Bill Is Sort of Not Working
A few years ago, after President George W. Bush signed the New G.I. Bill into law in 2008 to help and reward veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, people started to suspect that this program was being abused, by colleges. But it was hard to tell how effective the program was, because no one knew the graduation rateof those attending college using New G.I. Bill funds. Now we've got answers. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin was a major critic of the program. According to an article in the Los […]
2:55 AM | Should Payscale's Earnings Data Be Trusted?
Despite the large amount of money spent on higher education, prospective students, their families, and the public have historically known very little about the earnings of students who attend college. This has started to change in recent years, as a few states (such as Virginia) began to publish earnings data for their graduates who stayed in state and the federal government publishes earnings data for certain programs through gainful employment rules. But this leaves out many public and […]
2:43 AM | Doing Right by Dual Language Learners in New York City's Pre-K Expansion
After nearly three months as head of New York City’s “ship of state,” Mayor Bill de Blasio is still finding his sea legs. From his approach to snow removal to his (ongoing) attempts to tamp down the controversy over his administration’s treatment of charter schools, de Blasio has had little time to craft and drive political narratives of his own choosing. This has even been true for his top political priority: establishing universal pre-K. For a variety of reasons, the […]

March 27, 2014

7:39 PM | University of Southern Maine Students vs. Their President
Well this is unusual. According to an article at The Free Press, the student paper of the University of Southern Maine, students at the college have apparently issued a vote of no confidence in the school's president and administration. What does this mean? Well, it’s not going to topple the administration, but it sure doesn’t mean good things. According to the piece: The student senate voted no confidence tonight in President Theo Kalikow and her council following a series of […]

March 26, 2014

1:37 PM | The Big Bang Fair puts PR above education
The science and engineering community fails young people by letting events like the Big Bang Fair be led by PR rather than teachersTwo minutes in the NEC auditorium and there was already a large explosion. It boomed around the halls. I stood still, as did a few people around me. Then we realised it was just part of a kids science show, laughed, and felt silly. We were there for something called the Big Bang Fair a massive annual science and engineering event for 7-19 -year-olds so we should […]
3:05 AM | Bama Totally OK With That Big Racism in its Greek System
The University of Alabama, in an astounding display of cultural insensitivity, has decided it has no business reforming the Greek system despite the fact that it still seems to maintain essentially segregated fraternities and sororities. According to an article in the Crimson White, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama: At the final session of the 2013-14 SGA Senate, a proposed resolution in support for full integration of the University of Alabama Greek system was sent to […]

March 25, 2014

2:37 PM | The Myth of the Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage
Given how crowded policy commentary is these days, with blogs, articles, e-books, and the like, the surest way to break through and get attention is to write the “man bites dog story.” And that is exactly what we have seen with the issue of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and skills. While the evidence shows that the United States is not producing enough STEM workers, a cottage industry of STEM shortage naysayers has emerged. Most recently, Michael […]

March 24, 2014

6:52 PM | Schools Struggle to Count Algebra Classes
Politico posted a nice roundup of new data from the U.S. Department of Education on March 21, 2014 that highlights racial inequities in education. They led with the provocative statistic that more than 8,000 three- and four-year olds were suspended from preschool in 2011, but most of the story covers how minorities have less access to important math and science classes and experienced, well-trained teachers. Deep into the story, there’s a critique of the data that made me pause. The […]
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