The last couple months' worth of ECS' e-Connection may be accessed
below. Please note that key items from previous issues appear in various
places on the ECS website. For example, "Good Reads" have been
placed in the "Research and Readings" category of the Education
Issue sites to which they pertain. Items from "What States Are Doing"
also appear in the Education Issue sites under the category by the same
Improving College Workforce Readiness
Business thrives on the sure thing—the in-demand product, the new technology, the well-educated worker. Yet while new technologies and products have revolutionized the economy and our way of life, college graduates' workforce readiness has not kept pace. This issue of the Progress of Education Reform explores new models of business involvement that could substantially decrease private sector training costs and presents ways that policymakers can integrate these approaches into a coherent statewide engagement strategy.
Difficult to Overcome Effects of Low Birth Weight
This study finds that the effect of birth weight on cognitive development from kindergarten through schooling is significant, and that there is a limit to the effect remediation by schools or parents can have on lowering those negative effects. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)
Why Some Low-Income, High-Achieving Students Don't Apply to Prestigious Colleges
Low-Income, high-achieving students who don't apply to selective colleges come from districts too small to support selective public high schools, according to this study. Also, they are not in a critical mass of fellow high achievers and are unlikely to encounter a teacher or schoolmate from an older cohort who attended a selective college. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)
State delegations from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands will be there. Will you? The ECS National Forum on Education Policy is June 25-27 in St. Louis, Missouri. Check out the program here.
What States Are Doing
Skilled Worker Shortage
The shortage of workers to fill advanced manufacturing jobs has captured the attention of lawmakers in states across the nation. Colorado Governor and ECS 2011-13 Chair John Hickenlooper signed legislation in May aimed at addressing this shortage. H.B. 1165 directs the state board for community colleges and occupational education, after consultation with various K-12 and postsecondary partners, to design a career pathway for students in the manufacturing sector. The pathway must include industry-validated stackable certificates, multiple entry and exit points, and allow a student to earn income while progressing through the pathway.
Making High School More Relevant Vermont legislation recently enacted is aimed at making the secondary school experience more relevant through college and career exploration, including opportunities for students to roll up their sleeves in real college courses and work experiences. S.B. 130 (relevant bill text starts on page 22) creates the Flexible Pathways Initiative, which creates statewide dual enrollment and early college programs, amends the state's high school completion program (both for at-risk students and returning dropouts) to allow for flexible pathways, and allows students to pursue pathways to graduation that include applied or work-based learning opportunities, including internships.
Community Colleges Develop Classes for Local Industry in 90 Days
Ten Massachusetts community colleges were awarded "Rapid Response" grants to respond to education and workforce training needs within 90 days of a company's request. Recipients will work with health care, manufacturing, engineering, and clean energy companies. The announcement was made at Web Industries in Holliston, where 14 MassBay Community College employees signed up for on-site training in English as a second language and computer literacy.
Most Latinos Who Begin College Do So at Community Colleges
Latinos make up the fastest growing population group in the country, yet their completion of an associate's degree or higher is half the rate of all U.S. adults. Latinos are thwarted by college cost, lack of college knowledge, increased family responsibilities, and the need to work. A report released last week argues that if the United States wants to increase its percentage of degree-carrying citizens, policymakers and institutions will need to consider strategies to raise the rate of Latino completion. Authors suggest federal policymakers use Higher Education Act reauthorization to encourage colleges to implement student services aligned with retention, completion, and employment. Information about financial aid and services should be better targeted, and antiquated eligibility rules should be addressed. (Excelencia in Education, Single Stop USA)
Open Advanced Placement Classes to Everyone
Of 75 school districts whose demographics make them eligible for the Broad Prize for Urban Education, only six have student populations in which African-American students are improving their passing rates for Advanced Placement (AP) exams while keeping participation levels steady: Cobb and Fulton counties in Georgia, Garland Independent in Texas, Jefferson County in Kentucky, Orange County in Florida, and California's San Diego Unified. Garland was the only district increasing participation and pass rates for African-Americans and Hispanics at levels outpacing their white peers. This brief explores strategies used by all six, among them: cast a wider net for academic potential, impose a rigorous curriculum in elementary school, apply gifted strategies to all children, open AP to everyone, offer a broad array of support, and place a premium on teacher training. (Broad Prize for Urban Education)
Policymakers' Guide to Using Early Warning Data
Early warning systems (EWS), the subject of a session at the ECS National Forum on Education Policy, will be helpful in alerting teachers, parents, and students that a youth is veering off the path to college- and career-readiness. According to this release, state policymakers can take action now to encourage the use of EWS, support the development of research-based warning indicators, ensure that early warning data are timely, and establish a culture in which stakeholders have timely access to early warning data. States are in various stages of building capacity to develop and implement EWS; a map is provided to see what different states are doing. (Data Quality Campaign)
Fewer Unwelcome Surprises over Textbook Costs
Because textbooks add to the overall cost of college, Congress put requirements in the Higher Education Opportunity Act that included publisher and school disclosures. While most publishers have disclosed textbook information such as price and format options, interviews revealed these disclosures made little difference to faculty, who said they prioritize appropriate materials over pricing though they were aware of the textbook affordability issue. From a GAO sample, 81% of schools provided students with textbook information online. (GAO)
June 5, 2013
New from ECS
Service-Learning Can Fuel an Interest in STEM fields
Based on a project that examined 19 schools, the National Center for Learning and Citizenship (NCLC) gathered information on the relationship between STEM-focused service-learning and student interest and performance in STEM-related courses and careers. The findings of this evaluation suggest that STEM-related service-learning is a powerful tool for schools to use to drive student performance and interest in STEM fields.
What States Are Doing
What Happens to First-Generation College Students?
Legislation enacted in Maine this session is intended to improve postsecondary outcomes for students who are the first in their families to attend college. H.P. 294 requires two- and four-year postsecondary governing bodies to report to the legislature on enrollment and graduation rates of first-generation college students compared to other college students, strategies and activities to enhance enrollment and graduation rates of first-generation college students, and recommendations or plans for new strategies to increase first-generation college students' enrollment and graduation.
Real-World STEM Coursework
A new provision in Iowa will expand access to high-school STEM coursework with real-world applications. H.F. 454 provides an additional student weight to a district that collaborates with a community college to offer activities-based, project-based, and problem-based learning in collaboration with a nonprofit, nationally recognized provider of rigorous and innovative STEM curricula.
Help for the Cost of a GED
With the cost of taking the GED set to double in January 2014, some lawmakers are rightly concerned that low-income adults will be priced out of a credential seen as a pathway to postsecondary education for high school dropouts. Nebraskalegislation sent to the governor's desk last month offers one solution. The Diploma of High School Equivalency Assistance Act appropriates $750,000 for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years to the department of education to assist institutions offering high school equivalency programs. Addressing the GED's 2014 transition to only computer-based assessment, the bill offers a one-time payment to program providers for purchasing and upgrading equipment and software for administering the assessments.
Work Readiness Skills Not Well Documented
A new release ventures into territory that is largely uncharted: postsecondary work readiness standards and benchmarks. While many now have a grip on what college readiness looks like, comparable standards for work readiness—the skills involved in workplace success—are less well understood. According to the author, work readiness skills are foundational and occupation specific, vary in importance and level for different occupations, and depend on the critical tasks identified via a job analysis or an occupational profile. Examples of skills required for accountants and welders are profiled. (ACT)
Recession Tough on Architects
Though the authors conclude a college degree still pays, they add that not all degrees are equal. Here are some factoids: Recent college graduates with a bachelor's degree or better still bear the greatest risk with unemployment rates ranging from 4.8% to a high of 14.7%. Nurses and elementary education majors have the lowest unemployment rates at 4.8% and 5.0% respectively; architecture and information systems majors have the highest at 12.8% and 14.7%. Unemployment rates decrease as recent college graduates gain experience and graduate education. (Center on Education and the Workforce)
Bullying on the Rise
An analysis of 10 years of worldwide child helpline data yields some interesting information. The number of contacts that helplines receive on the issue is increasing. Because children as young as 13 now access social networking websites, cyber bullying also has become a major issue. Children face four forms of bullying: emotional, physical, exposure (as witnesses to bullying), and theft. While most bullying is perpetrated by peers, over a third of perpetrators are adults, and 21% are teachers. (Child Helpline International)
Results in for Longer School Day
A demonstration started in 2011 in 11 elementary and middle schools in New York City, Baltimore, and New Orleans shows that after adding three hours to the school day, elementary and middle school students improved their academic achievement, attended school more often, and benefitted from improvements in school culture. The ExpandED Schools framework offered some structure but allowed school communities to customize the learning day. (TASC)
Community College Enrollment a Hindrance to Bachelor's Completion?
This is part of a series of reports tracking Illinois college students' postsecondary outcomes longitudinally from 2003 through 2010. In this study, matched students who transferred from Illinois community colleges were compared to students who entered and matriculated through Illinois four-year institutions to determine if there was a disadvantage for transfer students in terms of bachelor's degree completion. Policy implications with regards to community college transfer students and the Illinois longitudinal data system are presented. (Illinois Education Research Council)
May 29, 2013
New from ECS
A Beleaguered Rural Community Comes Together for Its Children
When coal mining left in the 1950s, McDowell County, West Virginia, went from a population of 100,000 to 22,000, according to the first installment of an ECS series on rural economic development. As a result, more than 70% of the county’s children live in households where no adult is employed; the median income is $21,000. The state’s southernmost county has the highest rate of accidental deaths from narcotic pain killers in the United States and the highest rate of teen pregnancy in West Virginia—more than twice the state average, according to the KIDS COUNT Data Center. Yet McDowell, once considered a wasteland, may become a beacon for other rural communities in dire straits.
Not Only What Works, But What Works at What Cost?
To describe determination of cost effectiveness, the authors took a series of high school graduation improvement programs which had passed muster by the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearing House, then tried to figure out how much each intervention cost. Underlying the undertaking was the importance of spending public monies wisely in difficult economic times. (New to the ECS Research Database)
State delegations from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands will be there. Will you? Early bird registration for the ECS National Forum on Education Policy ends Friday! Register now and save $100 (www.ecs.org) June 25-27, 2013, Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel –- St. Louis, Missouri
What States Are Doing
Teachers’ Prep Gets an Upgrade Texas legislation sent to the governor’s desk for action would create a teacher residency program at a public institution of higher education. If enacted, the program would include competitive admission requirements, rigorous master’s level coursework, a guided apprenticeship at the partner school district or charter school, a team mentorship approach to expose residents to a variety of teaching methods and classroom environments, and a livable stipend for teaching residents.
Accelerating STEM Careers Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley launched a $2 million Early College Innovation Fund to support the creation and expansion of early college access programs that provide accelerated pathways for students seeking science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers or STEM-related career and technical education programs. The Maryland Department of Education will make competitive grants available to partnerships of local school systems and two- or four-year higher education institutions that are formed to create or expand early college high schools.
Achievement Gaps Between Students at Lowest Levels Narrowing, Gaps at Higher Levels Rising
The achievement gap will never be closed by focusing only on bringing up the bottom students. Today, while gaps between the lowest-performing students have narrowed, researchers say gaps at the advanced level have widened. At the advanced level, the gap also is more pronounced between white students and students of color from higher income groups. Educators must set goals for students at different levels, raise the bar for all students and be on the lookout for signals from every source of data. (Education Trust)
Six Winning Research Universities in a Sluggish Economy
Even as demand increases and the country needs more postsecondary degrees, many public universities are responding to budget pressures by becoming more selective and recruiting more out-of-state and international students. This brief focuses on six public research institutions which have expanded enrollment and achieved higher graduation rates in a cost-effective manner as revenues declined. Similarities and differences among them are discussed as well as what must be done on institutional, state, and national levels. (Education Policy Program, New America Foundation)
Navigating New SEAs
At a crossroads, State Education Agencies (SEAs) are having to reinvent themselves. Federal reform efforts threw light on the nation's lowest-performing schools and districts which, in turn, engaged state legislatures, governors, advocacy groups, and citizens who want to see school improvement. This study addresses ways of leveraging performance management to support school improvement, build a better system of support and do that in tough economic times. It ends with implications for governors and legislators. (BSCP)
Student Bodies Students should get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, advises a bulletin, and half of those minutes should be within the school day through recess or dedicated classroom time. The rest can be in before- or after-school programming and intramural sports. Other recommendations include renovating schools in existing neighborhoods rather than locating new schools away from where children live and designating physical education as a core subject. (Institute of Medicine)
May 22, 2013
New from ECS
Teacher Training, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement
While research points to the critical role of teacher quality in improving student achievement, little consensus exists on which factors best enhance educator effectiveness. This research study found that the impact of professional development, advanced degrees, and in-service experience varied dramatically based on whether a teacher taught in an elementary, middle, or high school. As a result, state policymakers should consider their investments based on which factors most affect teacher productivity in each school context. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)
What States Are Doing
Investing in California's Future
In addition to higher ongoing funding for public education, California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.'s state budget revision proposes to invest $1 billion in one-time revenues to fund professional development, instructional materials, and enhancements to technology to support implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Toward High School Competencies Oklahoma legislation enacted this spring brings high schools one step closer to adopting a competency-based model. H.B. 1038 clarifies that graduation requirements for the default college preparatory/work ready curriculum may be fulfilled by either course completion or "sets of competencies." The bill also makes clear that instruction in these skills and competencies is to be without regard to instructional time, and it permits districts to adopt high school course schedules other than block or period schedules to allow for instruction in sets of competencies.
How Do We Know We're Making Progress?
Last week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed S.B. 5491, which calls for the identification of data points to determine the health of the educational system and progress toward achieving student and system outcomes. As the legislation notes, "By monitoring these statewide indicators over time, it is the intent of the legislature to understand whether reform efforts and investments are making positive progress in the overall education of students and whether adjustments are necessary." The bill also expresses legislative intent to align education reform efforts across state agencies to hold all stakeholders "accountable to the same definitions of success."
Brave New World: Using Student Data to Evaluate PreK-3 Teachers
If teacher evaluation is a hot-button issue for teachers in fourth through 12th grades, imagine the difficulties of assessing the impact of someone who's dealing with much younger children. To a great extent, it's new territory, but this study presents problems already encountered in five states and three districts. Most use one or a variety of three approaches: student learning objectives, shared assessments, and shared attribution. Opportunities and risks for each are listed. (Early Education Initiative, New America Foundation)
What Makes a Successful GED Program?
The GED Bridge to Health and Business at La Guardia Community College program was the subject of a small, multi-year study by MDRC comparing Bridge students with those in traditional GED programs. Bridge students were more likely to finish the course, pass the exam, and enroll in college. Why? Bridge instructors are full-time and don't focus solely on passing the test. The Bridge GED curriculum incorporates areas of student interest—health care or business—students were intensively advised, and they spent more time in class. (MDRC)
Play a Piano, Do Better in Math
Arts Education Partnership (AEP) created ArtsEdSearch.org, the nation's first clearinghouse of research concerning ways the arts prepare students for success in school, work, and life. This brief shows how art education affects students of all ages. In school, research indicates the arts boost literacy and English language arts, and students who study the arts, especially music, do better on math assessments. (AEP)
How High Schools Influence Ninth Graders' College Attitudes
The United States now is 16th out of 36 developed countries in percentage of workers aged 25 to 35 who hold a postsecondary degree, so attention is turning to high school guidance counselors and their influence on ninth graders' interest in college attendance. The National Center for Education Statistics surveyed 24,000 of them in public and private high schools, their parents, math and science teachers, school administrators, and lead school counselors. The average student-counselor ratio was 250 to 1 and about half the counselors spent 21% or more of their time on college counseling. Among ninth graders, only 18% had spoken with a counselor about college. (National Association for College Admission Counseling)
Career and Technical Education (CTE) Is No Longer Just Preparation for Entry-Level Jobs
Preparing students for a more complex future, modern CTE pathways must ensure that coursework involves applied, contextual learning so students can see relevance in their studies and a relationship to their goals, according to this report. Evolving into an academically rigorous course of study, CTE now is seen as preparation for both college and careers. States can move CTE along by providing alternative certification options for industry experts to become CTE instructors, professional development for current and would-be CTE instructors, and soliciting feedback from workforce stakeholders. (American Institutes for Research)
Cost of Teacher Evaluation
This report presents case studies of the efforts by three school districts—Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS), Memphis City Schools (MCS), and Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS)—to launch, implement, and operate new teacher evaluation systems as part of a larger reform effort called the Partnership Sites to Empower Effective Teaching. This calculates what the programs cost to implement. (RAND Education and American Institutes for Research)
College Readiness Assessments in High School
Thirty-eight states offer some form of early college readiness assessments that can inform students of additional skills they need to gain in mathematics, reading, or writing to enter college without having to take remedial courses. Of these, 25 are implemented through state initiatives and 13 are initiated locally. Some states combine assessments with structured interventions—transition curricula—which are often under development in states affiliated with the Southern Regional Education Board. (Community College Research Center)
May 14, 2013
New from ECS
Learning Time Expands Across the United States
An overview of federal, state, and district efforts to expand student learning time and close achievement gaps suggests significant headway has been made across the country at every level. State legislatures in New York and Florida have passed bills to expand learning time. Seven states created turnaround districts to empower districts or schools to control budgets, staffing, and school schedules. Chicago expanded the school day and the school year for all of its 340,000 students. “We are seeing a policy convergence today like no other,” said Jeremy Anderson, president of the Education Commission of the States (ECS). “Expanding learning time is one proven solution to help all students reach greater levels of achievement.” (National Center on Time & Learning and ECS)
When Schools Get Fs
Assigning failing grades to low-achieving schools as an accountability tool can have a positive, substantive effect. Other grades, however, do not appear to have the same effect. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)
Early Warning Signs as Predictors
Equipping schools to implement interventions to address chronic absenteeism and course failure in 9th grade is a crucial strategy for increasing both high school graduation and college enrollment. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)
What States Are Doing
Simulated Funding Formula Includes Readiness Outcomes Arizonalegislation enacted this spring creates a four-year outcome-based funding simulated pilot program. Through the program, the department of education will estimate what funding the participant districts and charter schools would have received if 50% of funding were based on attainment of outcomes (to be determined by a joint legislative committee, but related to academic outcomes for grades K-12 and college- and career-readiness outcomes for grades 7-12). Districts and charter schools would receive an additional $250 simulated dollars for each student who earned a minimum 3.0 grade-point average on a dual or concurrent enrollment math or science course.
Once Enrolled, Preschoolers Considered of Compulsory Age IowaH.F. 351, signed into law in April, adds a new section to require a child who has reached the age of 4 by September 15 and who is enrolled in the statewide preschool program to be considered to be of compulsory attendance age unless the parent or guardian of the child submits written notice to the district of the parent's or guardian's intent to remove the child from enrollment in the preschool program.
Latino College Enrollment Exceeds Whites’
For the first time, Latino high school graduates passed whites in college enrollment rates. In the fall class of 2012, according to a report, 69% of Latino high school graduates enrolled in college compared to 67% of their white counterparts. The achievement gap hasn't closed, however. Latinos are still less likely to enroll in a four-year institution, more likely to be part-time students, and less likely to complete a bachelor's degree than whites. The original data source is the October school enrollment supplement of the Current Population Survey collected by the Census Bureau. (Pew Hispanic Center)
Economically, Things Don’t Look So Good
State and local sectors will see a gap between revenue and spending that will grow through 2060 “absent any policy changes,” according to simulations released last month. Near term, the good news is that state and local governments saw an increase in tax receipts after 2008’s decline, which went into 2009. Long term, the decline is mostly due to rising health-related costs of state and local expenditures on Medicaid and health care compensation for state and local government employees and retirees. The simulations are in the aggregate and cannot be used to predict outcomes in individual states and localities. (U.S. Government Accountability Office)
Bullying Harassment and Violence
Bullying—a major health risk for children, youth, and young adults—has its epicenter in schools, colleges, and universities. Focusing on bullying in educational settings, a task force examined bullying in educational settings and as it related to school reform, teacher education, administrator education, special education, and cultural diversity. Practical short- and long-term recommendations are presented in 11 briefs. (American Educational Research Association)
As the World Shrinks
Just as the Education Commission of the States was created in 1964 so states could know what other states had done in each education area, the Organization for European Cooperation and Development (OECD) has launched the OECD Education Policy Outlook, which reviews policies and practices that have been initiated across OECD member countries focusing on key policy areas: raising student outcomes, supporting school improvement, and organizing education systemsto deliver education policy more effectively. Country-specific education profiles will be published online with four new countries added every six months. Each profile provides a snapshot of how individual countries’ are tackling their key education challenges by reviewing their context, challenges, and policy responses. They started with Australia, Czech Republic, Ireland, and New Zealand. (OECD)
What Exactly Is a College Education Worth?
As tuition goes up, the long-unquestioned value of a college degree is being questioned. Factors to consider include education's cost and returns on investment, which vary widely by college and major. Authors look at new ways to measure tuition cost against other variables using College Scoreboard, state databases, U.S. News, and College Reality Check, for example, and call for the postsecondary system to give better information on the value of a college education. (Education Sector)
Accelerating Students through Developmental Math
So many community college students end their educations in the veil of tears that is remedial math that the Lumina Foundation launched a national initiative called Achieving the Dream, a network of some 200 colleges dedicated to remediation reform, among them Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas. Broward compressed traditional 16-week courses into eight; Tarrant compressed a series of modules into courses that are largely self-paced. How has it worked out? Both programs were scaled up and resulted in higher success rates and lower withdrawal rates. (MDRC)
May 8, 2013
New from ECS
What Is Happening this Legislative Season?
The 2013 legislative sessions have been on fire! Check out what’s happened so far this year.
What States Are Doing
Counselor-Coaches Address Readiness
Enacted last month, ArkansasH.B. 2039 creates a College and Career Coaches Program to improve counseling in high-needs middle and high schools. Trained adults will offer critical counseling supports; for example, high school students will be exposed to career options and experiential learning with academic planning. The program will be evaluated on increases in graduation rates, completion of the rigorous Smart Core Curriculum, financial aid applications, and college-going rates.
Mountain State Aligns High School, Higher Ed, Community/Technical Colleges West VirginiaS.B. 359, also passed this spring, is intended to improve college and career readiness in the Mountain State. Among its numerous provisions, the bill directs the State Board of Education, the Higher Education Policy Commission, and the Council for Community and Technical College Education to collaborate on adopting uniform college- and career-readiness standards in English language arts and math. The measure likewise requires all teacher preparation programs to train teachers in grades 8-12 on the college- and career-readiness standards, and directs the state board to hold all high schools and districts accountable for increasing the percentage of students who demonstrate college-readiness.
Governor’s Teacher Cabinet Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issued an executive order establishing a Governor’s Teacher Cabinet to advise him on short-term action and long-term strategy to improve teaching. According to an announcement issued May 1, the Cabinet will include up to 20 non-legislative educators and two legislators with backgrounds in education. The Teacher Cabinet will recommend strategies for greater parent and community engagement; the improvement of K-12 education, higher education, and workforce collaboration; and ways to close the achievement gap and assist disadvantaged students.
Rethink One Teacher One Classroom
Here’s how to use blended learning to drive improvements in digital instruction, transform teaching into a highly paid career, and improve student learning on a large scale, according to the authors. If, as they assert, the top 25% of teachers can produce a year and a half of learning annually, they can, with blended learning, reach more students. That in turn can close achievement gaps and help average students “leap ahead.” It’s a promise, not a guarantee, they say. Excellent teachers must be better deployed, “playing instructional and team leadership roles that maximize technology’s impact with their own.” A school can pick up “better blend” immediately, but to achieve excellence on a grander scale, state policies must be changed in the areas of funding, people, accountability for learning, technology and student data, and timing and scalability. (Public Impact)
Per Pupil Spending Varies Widely by State
For regular school districts, the national median current expenditure was $9,989 in FY 2010, an increase of 1% over FY 2009, according to a recent federal study. States with the highest median per-pupil spending were Alaska ($24,244), District of Columbia ($18,667), New York ($17,583), Wyoming ($16, 213), and New Jersey ($15,468). Looking at the 100 largest public school districts, the range was from $5,528 in Alpine School District, Utah, to $19,184 in New York City. Total revenues reported in FY 2010 by school districts were $599.9 billion, 12.5% from the federal government, 43.1% from state governments, and 44.3% from local governments. (National Center for Education Statistics)
What Works: New York City’s Small Schools of Choice
Students in New York City's 123 Small Schools of Choice (SSCs) are 10% more likely to graduate from high school on time, a key finding from a recent evaluation. Originally created to replace underperforming public schools, the SSCs have about 100 students in each grade 9-12. Students are admitted on the basis of choice and seat availability. (Promising Practices Network)
Principals under the Gun
Typically, principals spend 30% of their time on administrative activities, 20% on operations, and less than 10% on instructional-related activities such as classroom observation and professional development for teachers and staff. It’s reality versus the ideal situation, suggests a recent brief which analyzed a decade of school leadership research. To be more effective, principals might delegate responsibility for running a school, perhaps to an assistant principal if the principal is instruction-oriented, or to teacher-led teams for curriculum and instruction if he or she is focused on operations. Twenty-seven states have principal evaluation standards that are aligned with research. In Massachusetts, principals will be judged on instructional leadership, management and operations, family and community involvement, and professional culture. One challenge will be how district leaders who work outside schools will capture and document school leadership. (The Rennie Center)
Variations in Compulsory Education by European Country Check out which European countries require the highest amount of “taught time” and how many hours students spend on specific core subjects. Readers may find the “Country specific notes” section interesting—Belgium–French Community and Belgium–Flemish Community, for example—or that in Ireland, attendance isn’t required until the age of 6, though most 5-year-olds and many 4-year-olds attend. Facts and figures are updated annually. (Eurydice)
Underperformers Improve Economics Scores
National results are out for 12th-grade economics students who were tested in market, national, and international economies. Compared to 2006, the first-year students were tested in the subject, Hispanic students scored higher, and a larger percentage performed at or above basic. Students with parents who didn’t finish high school scored higher as did lower performing students. The average score for 12th-graders didn’t change significantly. (National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP)
Equity in Teacher Education
A Brown Bag seminarRe-Opening a Silenced Dialogue: Placing Equity, Quality, and Educational Opportunity at the Center of Teacher Education, will be conducted by Stanford University education professor Arnetha Ball at noon May 20 in Stanford’s 101 CERAS Learning Hall. Unable to make it in person? The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education is now webcasting their Brown Bag seminars. Open the seminar link to go there and also to check if the required Silverlight is installed.
May 1, 2013
New from ECS
Service Learning and the Common Core
New case studies from the National Center for Learning and Citizenship (NCLC) at ECS examine whether and how four diverse sites utilize high-quality service-learning as a teaching strategy for implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The report also includes recommendations for the types of supports teachers and administrators need to effectively implement the Common Core using service-learning, which is a proven strategy for deeper learning.
Equal in STEM Interest, Unequal in Completion
Strengthening the STEM educational pipeline has been a key priority for policymakers. This research study found that interest in math and science is the primary indicator of whether students enter a STEM major. Once students entered such programs, however, academic preparation, socioeconomic status, and institutional choice (e.g., two-year versus four-year institutions) play a more significant role in whether students complete a degree or certificate. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)
With increasing demand for services related to the Common Core, Race to the Top, and i3, this study should give state and district leaders pause. Its major finding: schools tend to contract with providers used by other schools in their districts in the past, regardless of past performance [emphasis added]. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)
What States Are Doing
Credit for Proficiency
Many states have adopted policies allowing students to earn graduation credit by demonstrating proficiency in lieu of seat time, but UtahH.B. 393 takes things to a whole new level. The legislation directs the state board to develop a course-level funding formula for distributing dollars to districts and charter schools that establish a competency-based education approach (which could apply to courses well before high school). The state board’s formula would need to distribute funds based partially on initial course enrollment as well as on a student’s successful course completion by demonstrating subject mastery. The bill allows participating schools to adjust class sizes to maximize the value of course instructors and mentors.
Delaware’s Teaching Force Analyzed
A two-year effort to better understand a wealth of education data from Delaware has yielded results that will inform state policy on educator recruitment, placement, development, evaluation, and retention. Among the findings by Harvard researchers: teacher impact on student mathematics achievement can vary widely, up to a year of learning for students with a teacher in the 90th percentile compared to teachers in the 10th percentile. Also, newest teachers are likely to be assigned to the least-prepared students, and a large share of new teachers leave teaching in Delaware within four years.
New Accountability System in Texas
Four components—student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps, and postsecondary readiness—comprise Texas’ new accountability system for school districts, campuses, and charters. Commissioner of Education Michael L. Williams made the announcement and said, “The new system makes use of multiple indicators to provide parents and taxpayers a more detailed view of the successes, as well as areas of necessary improvement, for each district, charter and campus.” They will receive one of three ratings: Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard (for alternative education campuses or districts), or Improvement Required. The first ratings under this system will be issued August 8, 2013.
Higher Education Payback
Talk about a game changer. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board with College Measures gathered and disseminated research on first-year salaries of graduates of its two- and four-year institutions who are working in Texas with a diploma or certificate. Among their findings: students with two-year technical degrees have first-year salaries of more than $50,000—$11,000 more than graduates of bachelor degree programs and $30,000 more than students with two-year academic degrees. Community college graduates’ first-year earnings vary widely depending on the institution—$10,000 for an academic associate’s degree from one institution, $30,000 from another, and from $20,000 to $65,000 for technical associate’s degrees, depending on the institution. Meeting immediate workforce need, technical certificate holders’ first-year earnings can exceed those who hold academic and technical associate’s degrees. (College Measures)
Statewide Recovery Districts
Relatively new, statewide recovery school districts represent another effort to turn around underperforming schools. This paper looks at Tennessee's Achievement School District (ASD). Created with Race to the Top funds won in 2010, ASD runs some schools directly and uses charters for others. The goal is to take schools at the bottom 5% and turn them to top 25% in five years. (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
Business for Early Childhood
America's business leaders are familiar with extensive evidence-based research on what works in early childhood and they are investing in it. By doing so, they also know they are investing in the future workforce and the U.S. economy. In this study, four types of business organizations were surveyed: state chambers of commerce, the largest city chambers, all state business roundtables, and a sampling of smaller, local chambers. Momentum appears to be growing and existing executive voices may become the framework for a bigger early childhood movement. (ReadyNation)
State U Online
While for-profit higher education systems quickly embraced online coursework, public two- and four-year institutions were slower to see online instruction as a way to grow enrollment and revenue, contribute to economic development, and fulfill original missions. Five steps can launch a successful online state system, according to this paper: create a clearinghouse of state institutions so all students can enter through one portal to see what's available, purchase shared contracts, share provision of student services, share credit and credentialing, and share credentials beyond state borders. (New America Foundation and Education Sector)
Tackling the hot-button issue of teacher evaluation, the authors of this brief point out the inevitability of mistakes because teacher performance isn't totally observable and measures are imperfect. Still, they believe better measurement of teacher performance is possible. While teacher classification error rates based on student test scores may be high, that error rate might be lower than classifications based on traditional methods. They call for "caution and for a better understanding of new systems in action." (Carnegie Knowledge Network)
Improving K-3 Reading Comprehension
WestEd has developed four free professional development modules for the U.S. Department of Education which contain everything necessary to conduct four two-hour professional development sessions on implementing Doing What Works (DWW) K-3 Reading Comprehension Practices. Module 1 is an overview of DWW and K-3 reading comprehension, Module 2 is on teaching reading comprehension to beginning readers, Module 3 is a focus on text structure to support comprehension, and Module 4 is on engaging students with text. WestEd recommends the modules for professional development and technical assistance providers, principals and reading specialists, teacher leaders and coaches, and classroom teachers. (WestEd)
April 24, 2013
New From ECS
Increased Text Complexity for Primary Grades Questioned
A study recently added to our Research Studies Database looks at curriculum implications of the Common Core. The Common Core State Standards for the English Language Arts (CCSS) provide explicit guidelines that accelerate text expectations for students across grades 2-12. This is often described as a text complexity staircase. The authors of this study raise cautions about the staircase so that potential, unintended consequences do not occur for students in the primary grades. In fact, they find that it is middle and high school levels of text that have decreased over the past 50 years—not the texts of the primary grades. (New to the ECS Research Data Base)
What Laws Have States Passed This Legislative Season?
Don’t miss the opportunity to browse (by issue) what’s happening across the legislatures so far in 2013!
What States Are Doing
New Mexico’s Early Dropout Warning System
Using information already compiled by the New Mexico Public Education Department, reports on students at risk for dropping out will be generated for schools statewide so early support can be provided. “We shouldn’t wait until high school to have the discussion with our students about graduation,” said Governor Susana Martinez, who made the announcement. The warning system weighs 3rd-grade reading proficiency, middle school truancy and course failures, 9th-grade truancy, a 9th- grade GPA below 1.5, and failure of any core courses during the 9th-grade year. It will be the foundation for the “Next Step” plan which now is in place and serves as a road map to graduation developing year-by-year class requirements based on a student's post-secondary plans. The early warning system begins in August.
Do Postsecondary Grads Get Jobs?
A new law enacted in South Dakota requires the Department of Labor to work with the Board of Regents in determining job placement outcomes for graduates of institutions under control of the Board of Regents.
Legislators’ Guide to Educator Effectiveness Policy
Of those factors influencing student achievement within a school, teacher effectiveness is the most significant. As the pace of education reform quickens, this guide for legislators offers a road map as they continue to support and improve educator effectiveness in the areas of: teacher and principal preparation; licensing, recruitment and retention;, induction and mentoring;, professional development; and educator evaluation. Each section features an overview of policy, lists questions legislators might ask about their own state’s policy, offers policy options states are considering, then lists additional resources. Created by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the guide encourages legislators to approach teacher and principal policy within the same context, to consider policies within the larger career continuum rather than piece by piece, and to ask how a change in one area might affect another.
All Politics Are Local
Though the public view of federal government is at a low, citizens continue to hold state and local governments in higher esteem, according to a brief from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Just 28% rate the federal government favorably, down five points from a year ago and the lowest percentage ever in a Pew Research Center survey. By contrast, state governors get a positive rating: 55% view their governors favorably compared to 30% who give their governors an unfavorable rating. State economic ratings show modest improvement.
Using Data to Improve Workforce Training
Course for course, workplace outcomes of career training can rival or even outstrip outcomes from select universities, yet only 31% of community college students earn a degree. The problem, authors of a recent report assert, is that prospective students have little information to make wise career training decisions. They offer a plan to fix that which would raise students’ completion rates, raise their earning capacity, and act as a statewide economic generator. Proposing a competition among states, they say states can use longitudinal data systems they already have to provide better training choices for students taking into account their academic preparation, facility with using data, workplace skills, and interests. User-friendly report cards would be generated with information on best-paying jobs for trainees based on personal characteristics. (Brookings, 36 pages)
Authorizing Charter Schools
Upbeat, the annual survey of charter school authorizers, says the profession is moving in the right direction as more authorizers adopt practices that will lead to better schools and as states improve accountability standards. Produced by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the survey of 157 active authorizers indicates more authorizers are implementing NACSA’s essential practices, and Independent Chartering Boards are more likely to have essential practices in place. After a two-year decline, the percentage of charters closed at renewal time shot up again in 2012 with a 12.9% closure rate. Room for improvement: as failing schools are closed, authorizers should work to replace them with excellent schools, according to NACSA.
A teacher’s first year shouldn’t be a “warm-up lap,” but a time to provide feedback, encourage emerging strengths, and make assessments about whether teaching will be a career or considering a different profession is in order. A paper from TNTP emphasizes the first year’s importance and describes its first-year teacher evaluation system, Assessment of Classroom Effectiveness (ACE). Using classroom observations, student surveys, student academic growth data, and principal ratings ACE begins to “make teacher certification decisions based on classroom performance and growth, instead of paper qualifications and coursework,” according to the authors. This paper includes recommendations for policymakers. (TNTP, 24 pages)
Parents: What Roles Do They Seek?
Researchers surveyed parents of children in Kansas City Public Schools, which lost accreditation in 2012, to discover the degree to which parents are prepared to take on more active school roles. Parents were divided into three groups: potential transformers who said they would be comfortable serving on committees to decide school policies but who had yet to act, school helpers who already volunteered at their children’s schools but in more traditional ways, and help seekers who were most dissatisfied with schools yet were present in the schools. Recommendations follow. (Public Agenda, 60 pages)
April 17, 2013
New From ECS
Civic Learning Is Not Flat Learning
This issue of The Progress of Education Reform, authored by Paul Baumann and Molly Ryan of the National Center for Learning and Citizenship (NCLC), provides a close look at the new civics—how it differs from previous practices, what it includes, how it is supported by research, and its implications for policy. Additionally, NCLC will conduct a webinar, A Natural Fit: Service-Learning and the Common Core, that will discuss what implementation of the Common Core State Standards means for service-learning. Join ECS’ Guilfoile, Ryan, and Emily Workman at 11 a.m. MDT/1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 18 (registration required).
While dual enrollment serves as a means to raise academic preparation for a wide range of students, these programs may especially benefit those lower in socioeconomic distribution, according to this study. (New from the ECS Research Studies Database)
Tests for Admission to Teacher Preparation
Starting in September, prospective teachers will take a test for admission into undergraduate education programs at Missouri colleges and universities. The test will include sections on English language arts, writing, mathematics, science, and social science. They also will take a test that measures their aptitude for teaching. A year later, exit exams will be introduced for future teachers, counselors, librarians, principals, and superintendents in the areas of certification they are seeking. Finally these candidates for certification must have an overall GPA of at least 2.75 and a 3.0 GPA in professional education classes and in content classes they intend to teach.
Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker Signs an Agreement with Counterpart in France, Marie Reynier
The agreement, signed via video conferencing, establishes a cooperative program that will include collaboration between schools, student exchanges, teacher exchanges and professional development. Kansas has had a similar agreement with Spain since 2001 and one with China since 2006.
Education/Career Alignment in Indiana Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed two bills into law that will advance career education statewide, aligning workforce needs with high school education. One creates regional work councils that will connect businesses and educators for student apprenticeships, internships, and enhanced vocational education in high schools. The other launches a career council to bring together all job creation and education efforts.
Identify States’ Best Practices
Digital Learning Now! created the Digital Learning Report Card to evaluate each state’s progress in advancing reforms aligned to 10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning. The intent is to provide an annual summary of state laws and policies to better understand what states are doing to create policies that embrace new education models, promote the use of technology to meet the needs of all children, and break down barriers that constrain student-centric innovation. For a look at how your state is doing, call up Digital Learning Report Card 2012.
What Works in Mentoring
Child Trends looked at 19 mentoring programs for children and youth, including Big Brothers and Big Sisters, to see which worked by a variety of measures: mental health, social-emotional health, education, self-sufficiency, substance abuse, relationships, reproductive health, and behavior problems. These are arranged in a handy grid with “not found to work,” “mixed findings,” and “found to work.” Researchers found programs that helped with education, social skills, and relationships were more effective than those directed at problems such as bullying or reducing teen pregnancy. Thirteen programs had at least one positive impact; three were found to be ineffective.
Classroom Physical Activity Bursts
With decreasing budgets for physical education and worrisome rates of childhood obesity, in-class activity breaks are gaining in popularity. This brief summarizes the research on activity break programs, some of which feature 10-minute bouts through the day; others tie physical activity to class learning. One is grade-specific and tied to the core curriculum. By checking pedometers, researchers found the kids did move more; also, some programs resulted in improvement in on-task behavior, less need for ADHD and asthma medications, and fewer visits to the school nurse.
Addressing the Needs of English-Language Learners
When the U.S. Department of Education began to grant waivers to states chafing under the demands of the 2002 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the department asked for certain principles to be met in exchange for flexibility. This “pocket” guide from the American Institutes of Research focuses on English-language learners (ELLs). The authors reviewed plans of 34 states and offer possible recommendations for implementation. To meet the goal of achieving college- and career-ready expectations for all students, for example, they suggest building ELLs’ capacity for academic language in content-area classrooms and giving them multiple ways to acquire grade-level content and skills.
Very little postsecondary student learning can be measured in ways that allow comparisons to students at other colleges or to fellow students in different sections of a class taught by different instructors. This Brown Center on Education Policy report makes four recommendations aimed at moving forward efforts to assess and improve the quality of postsecondary instruction, and ultimately to increase the number of students who earn high-quality credentials.
Meetings and Webinars
Paraprofessional Computer-Based Pilot Test
Consider encouraging paraprofessionals in your state to participate! The Evaluation Systems group of Pearson is seeking individuals serving as paraprofessionals in K–12 schools and Missouri Special Education Paraprofessionals to participate in a pilot test of multiple-choice items that may appear on future Paraprofessional test forms. Pilot test participants will receive compensation upon verification of participation. Click here for more information.
April 10, 2013
New from ECS
State Pre-K Funding: 2012-13 School Year
With increasing awareness of the impact quality early learning has on 3rd -grade reading proficiency, many states are preserving or even boosting their funding for pre-K. The Education Commission of the States reviewed policies across all 50 states to determine 2012-13 state expenditures on pre-K programs serving 4-year-olds. The goal of this analysis was to determine how state commitment to pre-K programs serving 4-year-olds fared during a flat budget year. Findings indicate that while 26 states cut K-12 funding in 2012-13, state funding for pre-K programs serving 4-year-olds increased by 3.6%.
Inequalities at the Starting Line: State Kindergarten Policies
The Education Commission of the States (ECS) reviewed policies across all 50 states—policies that ECS believes are significant markers in the quality of a state's kindergarten program. The kindergarten report's findings highlight the significant diversity that exists in state kindergarten policies across and within states. The results reveal a system of providing the next generation with high-quality, full-day, everyday kindergarten that is highly unequal across the states. The goal of the report is to illustrate the implications of such diverse kindergarten policies, to raise questions about the implications of that diversity, and to encourage policymakers to consider the impact their state's policies have on children's future educational success.
What States Are Doing
Early Warning System for Middle School Students Pennsylvania is launching a middle-school early warning system in several districts this fall to identify students at risk for dropping out. The intention is for the system to go statewide. Secure and web-based, the program will search for at-risk students by using measures of academic standing, attendance, and behavior. First Lady Susan Corbett, the state Department of Education and Robert Balfanz, co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, developed the system. “Pennsylvania's early warning system places the commonwealth at the forefront of states that are creating statewide systems of tools and supports to help enable all students to stay on the path to high school graduation and be college and career ready,” Balfanz said.
Teachers Leading Teachers Tennessee’s teachers—704 of them—will help their peers manage the transition to the Common Core State Standards. Chosen after a rigorous application process, they will receive training throughout the spring to conduct summer sessions in math, English/language arts, and literacy for more than 35,000 teachers statewide. Last year, 200 coaches were trained to guide their colleagues in Common Core math for grades 3 to 8. Emily Barton, assistant commissioner for curriculum and instruction at the Tennessee Department of Education, said, “We believe the transition to Common Core will be most effective if our own teachers lead the way.”
Think It's Only the Demographically-Challenged Schools Lagging? Middle-Class Schools Are Too
Looking at scores across the second highest quarter of socio-economic advantage, 24 countries outperformed U.S. students in math and 15 countries outscored them in science, according to a report released last week by America Achieves. The results are from a study comparing international scores on the PISA test with results from 105 American high schools who voluntarily administered the OECD Test for Schools (based on the PISA). Clearly, say the authors, “a large percentage of American middle class high schools have not kept pace as countries like Singapore, Finland, Korea, and Germany have raised standards, invested in teachers, and lifted their overall performance.” The report concludes that the United States’ poor performance is not just a poverty problem, but an American problem, and looks with hope to higher expectations, more active family engagement, and the Common Core.
Early Learning = College/Career Readiness
Advocating for a rich curriculum from Day One of early learning, even if that richness doesn't produce a quick pay off in test scores, this ACT report points out that early learning allows student interests to develop at an early age, to grow over time, and provides a basis for learning in the later grades. Playing catch up is difficult indeed. Students "far off the track in eighth grade had only a 10% chance in reading, 6% chance in science, and 3% chance in mathematics of reaching ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks by twelfth grade," according to the report. Also covered are components of a strong early learning program and several common beliefs that hold quality programs back.
Citizenship through Service
"YES Prep is one of the premier high-poverty/high achievement charter schools," according to Robert Maranto, author of an AEI brief which is part of a series on citizenship education. The Houston-based YES (Youth Engaged in Service) Prep focuses on citizenship through service to the community, distinguishing it from the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). Distinguishing YES Prep charters from public schools is a 100% high school graduation and college placement rate with credit going teachers—often trained by Teach for America—hard-working college counselors, helpful deans, and committed parents, among other positives.
What Principals Need to Know about New, More Rigorous State Standards
The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) hosts its annual leadership forum, Deepening Student Learning through Teacher-Focused Principal Leadership, May 9-10 at the Renaissance Atlanta Concourse Hotel. The Annual Leadership Forum brings together teams of state educational leaders and policymakers to focus on progress and challenges in providing every school with effective leaders who can help improve student achievement.
Federal Student Loan Debt Burden of Students Who Didn’t Finish College
Looking at noncompleters with a debt burden equal to or exceeding 100% of their annual income: “Among non-completers who started in for-profit institutions, nearly one-third (31 percent) carried such a high debt burden in 2009, compared with 7 percent to 21 percent among those who first attended other types of institutions. Moreover, the percentage of noncompleters with a debt burden of at least 100 percent of annual income was greater in 2009 than in 2001 for those who started in for-profit institutions (31 percent vs. 13 percent).”
Source: Wei, C., and Horn, L. (2013). Federal Student Loan Debt Burden of Noncompleters (NCES 2012-155). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. Retrieved April 9, 2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013155.pdf.
April 2, 2013
New From ECS
Four Kindergarten Policy Areas: State by State
This report presents 50-state data on four kindergarten policy areas. Policy areas addressed include whether districts are required to offer a kindergarten program and if so, is it full-day or half- day; if students are required to attend kindergarten; at what age a student can enter kindergarten; and at what age a student is required to attend school. The author highlights the significant variations found in kindergarten policies across states.
What States Are Doing
Transparency of Special Education Litigation Costs
We were intrigued with this section of Minnesota Law and have been unable to find similar provisions in other states. If you know of others, let us know. Or simply check out the latest report to the legislature via the link that follows. Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.75, Subdivision 9, states: (a) By November 30 of each year, a school district must annually report the district’s special education litigation costs, including attorney fees and costs of due process hearings, to the commissioner of education, consistent with the Uniform Financial Accounting and Reporting Standards. (b) By January 15 of each year, the commissioner shall report school district special education litigation costs to the house of representatives and the senate committees having jurisdiction over kindergarten through grade 12 education finance. http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/mdeprod/groups/communications/documents/basic/050159.pdf
Common Core in Spanish
A Spanish-language version of the English language arts portion of the Common Core is now complete. The announcement was made by California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson who said, “At its heart, Common Core is about ensuring that all children—no matter where come from or where they live—receive a world-class education that’s consistent from school to school, and graduate ready to contribute to the future of our state and our country.” In California, one in four students needs to learn English. The translation will be free to all 45 states and three territories that have adopted Common Core. Next comes the Spanish-language version of mathematics standards.
Inventory of Connecticut’s Publicly Funded Preschool
A Kindergarten Entrance Inventory (KEI) conducted by the Connecticut Department of Education found that kids who’d attended public preschool are approximately 10% less likely to need substantial support entering kindergarten. Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly added 1,000 additional preschool slots last year.
Promising Occupations for At-Risk Youth
Amazingly, there are quite a few. Mathematica researchers first identified four features for job consideration: median earnings level, education and training requisites, projected growth in labor-market demand, and potential for individual advancement. Imagining a client who lived with a partner and a child, they figured he or she would contribute 60% of household income and came up with a minimum salary of $25,000. They looked for jobs requiring only brief training, apprenticeship, or education up to an associate’s degree. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they searched out fields that forecasters predicted would have “faster than average” or “much faster than average” growth between 2010 and 2020. Finally, they looked for fields in which employees could advance with additional education, training, or work experience. For their brief’s purposes, they chose health care and construction. Take a look at the two charts on each field with occupations, annual median projected growth, education requirements, and work experience/on-the-job training requirements.
Public Higher Education Financing Unsustainable
Business as usual in funding public higher education no longer is possible, according to a report issued by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). The Great Recession caused state funding to retract and most public universities made up for that loss by charging more tuition. That has got to stop or at least slow down, says NASBO, which offers interesting ways public universities across the country have found ways to save. Among those solutions: target funding to improve performance, create incentives for increasing access, develop transparent information on higher education spending and results so families can make more informed decisions, and increase productivity and efficiency.
Could Math Skills at 10 Affect Earnings as an Adult?
Yes, say researchers from the University of London. In Reading and Maths Skills at Age 10 and Earnings Later in Life: A Brief Analysis Using the British Cohort Study, a one standard deviation increase in 10-year-olds’ reading scores translated to a 4.4% to 4.8% increase in earnings during their thirties. A one standard deviation increase in math scores translated to a 10.2% to 10.8% increase in earnings. The authors suggest the gap may be due to employers who value math skills more than reading skills.
Common Definition of English Learner
It sounds so simple. All consortia creating assessments for the Common Core State Standards must define English Learner. However, a brief from the Council of Chief State School Officers advises it will be a very difficult endeavor requiring “a carefully coordinated, multiyear effort within and across consortia.” Massive variation now exists across states in identifying ELs, classifying degrees of proficiency, annual assessments to determine progress, and assessments that reveal when a student is proficient enough to exit.
Engaging Young People with STEM
In the same STEM situation as the United States, the United Kingdom has a shortage of STEM skills in the midst of the recession. One source estimates the UK will need 82,000 engineers and technicians up to 2016 just to replace retirees. What to do? In Improving Young People’s Engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the authors suggest attracting young people to STEM at an earlier age because interest in science decreases from the end of elementary school through secondary as the perception that STEM subjects are difficult increases. The authors also recommend enrichment activities, linking STEM subjects to everyday situations, and making links between STEM subjects. Teachers need professional development focusing on practical activities and real-life examples.
March 27, 2013
New from ECS
Between 1979 and 2010, half of U.S. states adopted performance funding systems for higher education. These models reward institutions for achieving specific student success indicators (e.g., first-year retention, degree completion, credit accumulation, job placement). This research study examines the conditions that impact where these funding approaches succeed or fail. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)
State requirements for minimum days of instruction and minimum hours to be considered a school day vary. ECS offers an updated state-by-state chart of those rules and start dates where relevant.
What States Are Doing
Florida’s Investment in Higher Education Florida’s College System is a sound investment for students and the state’s economy, according to a report released this month by Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. (EMSI). A highlight: residents with an associate’s degree have a mid-career income of $40,700, 35% more than those armed only with a high school diploma. Further, those higher earnings expand the Florida tax base by $3 billion a year and another annual $158.6 million is saved by avoided social costs in improved health, reduced crime, and reduced welfare and unemployment.
On PACE in Utah Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s integrated 10-year plan to raise the state’s postsecondary degree/certificate rate to 66% has been released in booklet form, Governor’s Education Plan on PACE. Organized into themes—Prepare Young Learners, Access for All Students, Complete Certificates and Degrees, and Economic Success—each theme features specific strategies.
Progress in Tennessee and More on the Way
In 2012, students in Tennessee made the most academic progress in the history of the state and the state was one of two in the country that improved graduation rates by double digits over the last decade. According to “The State of Education in Tennessee 2012-2013,” they did it by implementing teacher and principal evaluations, ensuring that as higher standards are introduced into classrooms, instructional practice changed, and they revised identification of high- and low-performing schools so those that needed the most help got it. The report looks carefully at how progress can continue to be made in the coming school year. This report comes from the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), an independent collaborative group working on moving education forward in Tennessee.
State-Funded Pre-K in Indiana? Indiana is one of the few states that doesn’t publicly fund early childhood education; 60% of its 3- and 4-year-olds do not attend preschool. Researchers at the Center for Evaluation & Education Policy reexamine the issue after their previous 2006 brief and review the literature on the efficacy of quality early childhood programs and preschool’s return on investment, findings which may have broad implications for other states. They urge Indiana stakeholders to consider the compelling case for starting a high quality state-funded program that would target at-risk 4-year-olds.
From the Institute for the Study of Labor, two interesting studies, the first of which involved giving computers to 1,123 California school children who had none at home. Did this accelerate academic achievement? No. The children, grades 6-10 in 15 schools, showed no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, standardized tests, credits earned, attendance or disciplinary problems. The second considered the relationship between school starting age and crime. Because Danish children start 1st grade in the calendar year they turn 7, the authors were able to access starting dates and outcomes. Higher age at school start lowered the propensity to commit crime, mainly because students were still in class when the inclination to misbehave might have kicked in. “Individuals who benefit most from being old-for-grade are those with high latent abilities where as those with low latent abilities seem to be unaffected by being old-for-grade in school,” the authors wrote.
Assessments of Deeper Learning
With Common Core State Standards comes a demand for higher-order thinking skills and a second demand for assessments that measure those skills. Two consortia—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)—have been working on those advanced assessments and the authors recommend drawing on their work. But how to pay for these advanced tests and their scoring? States now spend, on average, $50 per pupil for statewide, interim and benchmark tests which still cost less than 1% of per pupil spending. That would just about do it if state consortia took advantage of economies of scale, and teachers and computers scored open-ended tasks, which, the authors say, would have the double advantage of resulting in improved instruction.
Nation’s School Facilities Get a Low Grade
The American Society of Civil Engineers released its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure and schools got a D. Because schools are a local and state responsibility, little national information is available—the U.S. Department of Education’s last report was in 1999. Experts consulted estimated it would take some $270 billion to renovate and maintain today’s school buildings.
New Ohio State Superintendent
Ohio’s Board of Education voted to select Richard Ross to be State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ohio’s chief education official and executive in charge of the Ohio Department of Education, according to a press release from the Ohio Department of Education.
March 19, 2013
New From ECS
Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) Is PAR a Good Investment? Understanding the Costs and benefits of Teacher Peer Assistance and Review Programs – This study examines the costs and benefits of PAR, both financial and organizational. The authors find that PAR can save districts money through increased teacher retention and lower arbitration and dismissal costs; operates through several avenues to raise student achievement; offers organizational benefits that include building a positive organizational culture centered on instruction, improving labor-management relationships at the district and school levels, alleviating burdens on principals, and providing professional development and career opportunities for CTs; and serves to strengthen the human capital system by developing both teacher leaders and future administrators. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)
Ideal Mathematics and Science Teacher Preparation
Charles Coble's Ten Key Questions emerged from his work on the Analytic Framework, a continuum of teacher development strategies from recruitment to professional development. As the Framework became more complex, leaders asked for the most critical components of a quality teacher preparation program. Hence the questions, among them: Does the selection process into teacher preparation attract candidates with demonstrated academic success? Do the programs blend disciplinary and pedagogical content? Do teacher education programs include formal support to their novice teachers through an induction period as a part of their formal program?
Fewer Private School Students
Private school enrollment has been on the decline for a decade, with various reasons offered: the recession, homeschooling, the rise of charter schools. Stephanie Ewert of the U.S. Census Bureau has crunched a lot of numbers that shed light on the phenomenon. In The Decline in Private School Enrollments she indicates “recessions and periods of economic growth do not drive changes in private school enrollment.” While homeschooling is a difficult call, she says there is some evidence that the rise of charters has led to a decline in private school enrollment.
Common Core Meets State Policy: This Changes Almost Everything
Though Michael Kirst’s outline describes the Common Core’s impact on California, it gives an idea of the broad implications for the other 44 participating states and the District of Columbia. The enormity, the complexity of the process is breathtaking. He describes how all key state education policies will change in fundamental ways: assessment, accountability, teacher evaluation, instructional materials, professional development, career and technical education, alignment between early childhood and college—an anxiety attack on six pages. However, he points out the Common Core also offers the possibility of a “great opportunity for improving student attainment” and a “new vision for teaching and learning.”
Which Texas High Schools Encourage FAFSA Applications?
Here’s a nifty tool for Texas high schoolers who want to know how their school measures up when it comes to the percentage of graduates who fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It will also tell students and their families how many of the submitted applications were not rejected by the Department of Education’s Central Processing System. Not only could a successful application qualify a student for federal financial aid, but for Texas financial aid as well. Students can use the same tool to see the colleges graduates of their school will attend in the fall.
What States Are Doing
Educators Invited to Create New Schools
Though progress has been made, some 135,000 students in Louisiana attend “D” schools and almost 63,000 are in schools rated “F.” To address the problem, the Louisiana Department of Education announced a strategy that empowers educators to establish a new vision. Called “Believe and Succeed,” the initiative invites teachers, principals, districts, and nonprofits with specific plans to apply for one of two types of grants: a new school development grant, and an expanding excellence grant which would fund expansion of high-performing schools to serve at-risk students who would otherwise attend a “D” for “F” school. Funding will be achieved by repurposing $5 million in existing grant dollars.
Closing Completion Gaps
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education resolved this week to close its college completion gap between underrepresented student groups and the state’s college student population taken as a whole. The commission set a goal that the gap would be cut in half by 2018 and eliminated by 2025. It called upon its colleges and universities to publicly set targets for closing gaps and declared that completion rates for student demographic groups would be published annually as would successful strategies for closing the gap.
A program to train future female and male minority construction workers in Kentucky was launched this week by Governor Steve Beshear. Called Bridges to Opportunities, the program intends first to fill a need for women and minority workers in the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges project. When that is done, “those who complete our program will be armed with the skills for a life career,” Beshear said. The program features three training tracts: Track 1 is for already skilled journeymen who will be directed to opportunities in their trades. Tract 2 is a skilled laborer apprenticeship which will include classroom work. Track 3 is a short- or long-term certificate program.
Toward a More Rigorous Curriculum
Five Mississippi school districts won $50,000 each from the Mississippi legislature to establish Excellence for All, which uses a more rigorous curriculum and assessment process. The Mississippi Department of Education announced that the program is based on research of international student assessments and the expectation is, students who pass lower level exams will be ready for community college with no remediation and those who pass upper level exams will be prepared for a four-year institution.
Can Friends Influence Friends' Grade-Point Average (GPA)?
The authors of Spread of Academic Success in a High School Social Network used social network analysis to gain insight into correlations between high school students' academic progress and their friendship network. Students whose friends' average GPA were greater (or less) than their own had a higher tendency toward increasing (or decreasing) their academic ranking over time. Correlation was most significant (and had the highest level of influence) at a basic friendship level (friends, but not best friends). Correlations at acquaintance and best/close friendship levels were not as significant. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database.)
Passing Through Science
In 1997, Chicago Public Schools changed graduation requirements from one science course to three. More students were exposed to more science, but college-going and retention rates did not improve, according to researchers at the Consortium on Chicago School Research. They find little evidence that students learned substantially more, that graduation rates declined, and the percentage of students taking advanced coursework failed to increase. The authors conclude that requiring more science was a good first step, but educators also should cultivate an engaging environment and strong academic behaviors among students. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database.)
What States Are Doing
Volunteers Advise Kentucky’s 8th- and 10th-Graders Kentucky'sOperation Preparation College/Career Advising Month is underway, a time when 8th- and 10th-grade students meet with trained community advisors to review college and career plans, go over what education/training will be required, and see whether students are on track. Statewide, the student-to-counselor ratio is 450 to 1, so parents, volunteers, Kentucky Masons, and employees from Kentucky Area Health Education Centers are recruited for the effort.
Small Business Development Centers Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy launched an economic development tool this month, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). A partnership between state and federal government, the MetroChambers of Commerce and higher education institutions, the SBDCs will be in 11 locations to serve small businesses, which make up 93% of Connecticut employers.
What the Recession Did to Higher Ed
It's official—hard hit by the recession, higher education is in poor fiscal shape. The State Higher Education Finance report (2012) by State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) finds the recession's effects continue, with state and local support for public colleges down 7% from 2011, the lowest level in 25 years. Meanwhile, according to the report, net tuition revenue per student climbed from 23.3% in 1987 to 47% in 2012. State education appropriations vary widely. Take a look at Table 5, page 31, to compare states.
Florida Charters vs. Traditional Schools
Charter schools offer parents and policymakers a viable option for improving education in Florida, says a report produced by the Florida Department of Education. Using student achievement data from 2011-12, the study concludes charter students outperformed traditional students in 55 of 63 proficiency comparisons. In learning gains, charters were ahead in 83 of 96 comparisons.
Sixty percent of recent high school graduates entering community colleges are already behind, so developmental education and its failure rate are of concern. To speed successful reform, the authors of a recent Community College Research Center report figured out three sets of tensions in the reform movement and show how different community colleges reconciled those conflicts. The tensions are system-wide consistency versus institutional autonomy, efficient versus effective assessment, and supporting student progression versus maintaining academic standards, all conflicts which can hold back reform.
A wealth of information on Reforming Underperforming High Schools is available and MDRC reduces it to a dense two pages. Authors tout the smaller, themed schools created in New York City that came with universal choice for 9th-graders. They add that, short of new-school creation, reform by a unified school staff is possible, citing such programs as Talent Development and Diplomas Now. The authors like a combined college and career model called Career Academies, but are not enthusiastic about reform that targets a specific subset of the student population.
Who's Accelerating Latino Student Success?
Submit your nomination for Examples of Excelencia, the only national initiative to recognize programs and departments with evidence of effectiveness in accelerating Latino student success at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels. Selected programs will receive recognition at several October 2013 events in Washington, D.C., get $5,000 to support program efforts, and be featured in the edition of What Works for Latino Students in Higher Education. Learn more at www.EdExcelencia.org.
"This fourth annual update on America's high school dropout crisis shows that for the first time the nation is on track to meet the goal of a 90% high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020—if the pace of improvement from 2006 to 2010 is sustained over the next 10 years. The greatest gains have occurred for the students of color and low-income students most affected by the dropout crisis."
Source: Balfanz R., Bridgeland, J., Bruce, M., & /fix, J. Hornig (2013). Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic—2013 Annual Update. Washington D.C.: Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, America's Promise Alliance, and the Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved here.
March 6, 2013
New from ECS
Not Your Father’s Vocational Education
States are adopting new approaches to support career-readiness for students. This issue of The Progress of Education Reform clarifies how these approaches differ from Career Technical Education and career-readiness in the not-too-distant past, and identifies states that are moving forward.
Relocation Programs, Opportunities to Learn, and the Complications of Conversion
Since1976, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has relocated low-income children of color from public housing to less racially and economically isolated neighborhoods to improve their developmental opportunities. The authors look at seven relocation programs and examine why six of them failed to replicate the educational successes of the inaugural Gautreaux program.
Moving the Needle on Degree Completion: The Legislative Role
The ECS College Completion Agenda hinted at how legislators could initiate effective reform. This document, produced with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, provides a roadmap that state leaders can use to reach their goals and presents action-oriented policymaking models that could sustain reform.
What States Are Doing
Rebooting Idaho Schools Using Khan Academy
Idaho will be the first state in the country to pilot the Khan Academy statewide in 47 schools serving more than 10,000 K-12 students. Grantees will use nearly $1.5 million for training, technology, technical assistance, and assessment from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation. Kahn Academy is a free online education source started in 2008 by Sal Khan to help a cousin with math. He put the videos on YouTube and his gentle lessons soon became a sensation.
Deal Suspends Six School Board Members
With DeKalb County’s school district on the verge of accreditation loss, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal suspended two-thirds of the district’s board, then created a nominating committee to replace the six members.
Classroom Support Toolbox
In an effort to support teachers in their transition to Common Core State Standards, the Louisiana Department of Education created an online toolbox. There are online sample curriculums, instructional videos, and guidance on setting goals for student achievement. Assessment guides clarify how state tests align with the new standards.
Boosting K-8 Math
Also in anticipation of the coming Common Core, the U.S. Department of Education awardedArizona State University’s Teachers College $948,440 to join with Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona to provide teacher training and resources to improve mathematics achievement among Arizona’s K-8 students.
How Can Urban Districts Recruit, Support Good Principals?
First, attract well-qualified applicants with clear job descriptions, according to a new report. Improve pre-service training, establish selective hiring procedures that identify the best candidates, then match them to the right schools, ensuring hard-to-staff schools get quality leaders. Once hired, novice principals need mentoring and all principals need professional development throughout their careers. Give them good data, and training on how to use it.
Criteria and Metrics for Quality Career Pathways
Interest in career technical education continues to build. This working paper identifies criteria that define high-quality career pathways and ways to measure and manage their success. Guiding principles for a local/regional career system are included. For example, ensure that career pathways are demand-driven, deeply engage employers, and use and promote data for continuous improvement strategies. Interventions mark good career pathway programs: assessment of participants' skills and needs, supportive services, and quality work experiences.
Strengthening Low-Income Families
In its continuing series of succinct reports on ways to make progress on critical issues, MDRC addresses what works for beleaguered young families. Strengthening Low-Income Families: A Research Agenda for Parenting, Relationship, and Fatherhood Programs says there are two challenges for policymakers in early childhood: helping parents create stimulating and responsive environments for their very young children, and, second, supporting fathers’ engagement with their children whether or not they live with them. They give a nod to Early Head Start , the new Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, and the Healthy Marriage Promotion and Responsible Fatherhood Grants Program. Next, they advise continued investment backed by rigorous research, developing new approaches to supporting fathers, and informing family strengthening programs with research that is already underway. (MDRC)
Request for Proposals
In launching an Education Philanthropy Initiative, Business Roundtable (BRT) plans to leverage corporate philanthropy to identify a few K-12 successful education programs to see if they can be scaled up. BRT seeks proposals that focus on its priorities, including teacher quality, STEM, early reading, and Common Core State Standards. Application deadline is May 31, 2013.
Achievement Gaps Grow Over Time
“Achievement gaps by race and socioeconomic status widen over the course of elementary school; the gap between black and white children nearly doubles between kindergarten and fifth grade.”
Source: Center on Children and Families at Brookings. February 2013. Middle Childhood Success and Economic Mobility. Brookings. Washington DC. (Retrieved March 1, 2013.)
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February 26, 2013
New from ECS
Moving the Needle on Degree Completion: The Legislative Role
The ECS College Completion Agenda hinted at how legislators could initiate effective reform. This document, produced with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, provides a roadmap that state leaders can use to reach their goals and presents action-oriented policymaking models that could sustain reform. All ECS Commissioners will receive a copy of the brief in the mail.
A statewide online fair for Kentucky college students who want to transfer credits or transfer an associate degree to a four-year university will be from 10am-10pm on March 6. Called Transfer Madness, the fair features transfer help with scholarship searchers, downloadable materials and advisors who can chat with students. Gov. Jerry Abramson said the idea is to promote awareness of a seamless transition from high school to community and technical colleges to four-year institutions. “The best way to improve the quality of Kentucky’s workforce and give our companies strong employees is through a top-notch education system that aggressively promotes a college-going culture that has no barriers in credit transfer,” Abramson said.
Financial Literacy Funded by High-Interest Loans
In an effort to promote financial and economic literacy for the citizens of Delaware, Gov. Jack Markell announced a third round of grants totaling $350,000. Non-profits and schools are eligible. The state is interested in funding proactive, preventive, and forward-thinking programs for Delawareans of all ages with an emphasis on reaching out to military, senior, and minority communities. License fees charged to businesses that make high-cost payday loans and car title loans provide the funding.
Waivers and Accountability
Many states granted Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waivers by the U.S. Department of Education are implementing policies that depart from the 2008 regulations on reporting high school graduation rates and graduation rates of student subgroups that are traditionally underserved, according to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education. This results in a possible loss of accountability, the authors argue. A state-by-state chart of highlights and recommendations follows.
Portability or Security
How would prospective teachers feel about 401K-type pensions, which could save states and districts money, as opposed to traditional pensions? The authors of When Teachers Choose Pension Plans : The Florida Story looked at Florida because new teachers there have 401K-style pensions as options, but get traditional pensions if they don't choose the 401K model. A quarter to a third of new Florida teachers opted for the 401K-style pensions. Teachers with more career options—those with advanced degrees or STEM specialties—also were apt to choose 401K-type pensions, as were charter teachers. The attrition rate was much higher for those choosing 401Ks.
Math and Only Math
“Recent nonexperimental scholarship by (Greg) Duncan and colleagues suggests that, as important as social and emotional development may be for other aspects of children’s development, early math skills may be the key to later academic achievement and economic success. They show that math is the only one of a range of skills and behaviors during the preschool period that predicts higher levels of achievement in both math and reading in later elementary school and children who maintain math skills are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. Unfortunately, research suggests that preschool teachers place the lowest priority on teaching early math skills to children.”
Source: Delivering on the Promise of Preschool: Investing in Social and Emotional Development and Early Math Skills. (New York: MDRC, 2013). Retrieved February 21, 2013 from: http://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/Preschool_020113.pdf.
With Common Core State Standards (CCSS) scheduled to kick in next year, here’s a state-by-state look at how implementation is coming along in teacher professional development, teacher evaluation, and curricular resources. Among chief findings in Moving Forward: A National Perspective on States’ Progress in Common Core State Standards Implementation Planning are that states are furthest along in teacher professional development, most states have plans in place to align teacher evaluation systems to the Common Core, and 30 states have fully-developed plans for changing instructional materials. The District of Columbia is treated as one of the 47 CCSS-adopting states. Four states—Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia—are not participating.
Third Grade Reading Guarantee
Last summer Ohio legislators further strengthened the Third Grade Reading Guarantee law to enhance reading instruction and intervention in the early grades. Districts and community schools will diagnose reading deficits in students from kindergarten through the third grade, create individualized reading improvement and monitoring plans, and provide intense interventions. The Ohio Department of Education has put together a set of helpful resources, including details on special credentials.
Pell’s Impact in the South
A report released last week argues that community college students in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi are “highly sensitive” to changes in Pell Grant eligibility. When Congress enacted new restrictions last June, enrollments dropped in 47 of 62 community colleges in those three states. More than 5,000 students lost Pell in the fall of 2012; the authors estimate over 17,000 will lose Pell in 2012-13. They write that financial aid administrators favor fewer regulations, the year-round Pell grant, and a lower maximum Pell grant with fewer restrictions instead of a higher Pell with more restrictions.
Community Colleges Under the Gun Developmental Education: A Barrier to a Postsecondary Credential for Millions of Americans is one of several “memos” produced by MDRC in its Looking Forward series for policymakers. These briefs lay out in two pages the bottom line, what is known, and what is next. Bottom line, community colleges are under the gun from two directions: too many students arrive unprepared, and expectations are higher than ever for the colleges to produce educated, career-ready workers. What do we know? Completion rates are low because students don’t survive developmental ed. Short-term reforms have short-term results. Comprehensive reforms are hard to scale up. Showing promise: letting student enroll in regular classes with a companion developmental class. Next? Aligning common core high school standards with college standards so students come in better prepared.
May the Learning Never Stop
Instead of putting the entire burden of educating America’s youth on schools, why not recognize the richness of education outside the classroom and spread the wealth? That is, spread the school day and spread the summer so learning is year-round. Do it with a coordination of public, nonprofit, and private budgets and it’s possible all parties will save money. The third in a series on Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs), this brief from the Harvard Family Research Project and the National Conference of State Legislatures suggests such a plan allows amplification of school learning with hands-on activities, it allows for an individualized learning plan that recognizes a student’s needs and interests, and it prevents summer learning loss.
“Cheating reflects a willingness to lie at children’s expense…”
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote that in the Washington Post in July of 2011. Months later, the department hosted a symposium on testing integrity and now findings are in written form: Testing Integrity Symposium: Issues and Recommendations for Best Practice. The paper is organized by prevention, detection and analysis of irregularities, response and investigation, and testing integrity practices for online and technology-based assessments.
Who Pays for Dual Credit?
“When high schools with students enrolled in dual credit courses with an academic focus were asked whether most students (and their parents) generally paid out of pocket for these courses, 45% reported that students paid full or partial tuition, 46% reported that students paid fees, and 47% reported that students paid for books (table 12). When high schools with students taking dual credit courses with a career and technical/vocational focus were asked the same question, 28 % reported that students paid full or partial tuition, 34% reported that students paid fees, and 31% reported that students paid for books.”
Source: Thomas, N., Marken, S., Gray, L., and Lewis, L. (2013). Dual Credit and Exam-Based Courses in U.S. Public High Schools: 2010–11 (NCES 2013-001). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved February 19, 2013 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013001.pdf.
February 11, 2013
New from ECS
State Kindergarten Policies
ECS has launched a new Kindergarten Database that provides state policy information as of December 2012 on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, including: whether a Child Must Attend Kindergarten, Kindergarten Entrance Age, Compulsory School Age, Kindergarten Readiness Assessments, Curriculum, Minimum Required Days/Hours for Kindergarten, Kindergarten Standards - General Information and Teacher/Student Ratios.
What States Are Doing
Aligning High School and College in CTE Nebraska has revamped its Career Technical Education (CTE) standards, aligned them with high school academic standards, and also aligned them with courses taught at the state’s two- and four-year colleges so CTE students can earn college credits in high school. As a result, according to the state’s Department of Education, school districts can organize curriculum into sequences in six career fields: agriculture, food and natural resources; business, marketing, and management; communication and information systems; health sciences, human sciences, and education; and skilled technical sciences.
Office of Early Childhood
Streamlining programs previously housed in five state agencies, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy established an Office of Early Childhood (OEC). Four new positions will be created and 71 staff will move into the new office. The OEC builds on initiatives in 2012 that invested $9.8 million in early childhood and created a 1,000 new spots for early learners. “There are very few things government can do that are more important than ensuring our children develop reading and math skills early in life,” said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (RETELL) RETELL is a Massachusetts initiative meant to close the achievement gap for English language learners with a massive professional development program for their teachers. Tens of thousands of Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) teachers and their supervisors will be required to complete updated SEI professional development that will enable them to make rigorous content accessible to English learners.
What School Is Like for Teachers
There’s RETELL and then there’s TELL—Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning. Between February 6 and March 6, Colorado teachers will have the chance to go online and anonymously share their perceptions of school life: conditions in their schools; and issues of time, resources, community engagement, discipline, leadership, and professional development. Governor John Hickenlooper and Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond urged all school-based educators to participate in the survey.
Innovation High Schools
In Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon announced a $1.3 million grant program called Innovation High Schools in partnership with St. Louis Community College and local businesses. Students at several schools in the St. Louis area will earn college credit and get experience in advanced manufacturing, skilled trades, health sciences, and information technology before they graduate. The program is part of the Paths to Prosperity pilot run by Harvard University and Jobs for the Future.
College Dropouts Cost Their Schools $16.5 Billion
A first-time examination of the relationship between attrition and lost revenues, The Cost of College Attrition at Four-Year Colleges & Universities looks at 1,669 four-year public, private and for-profit colleges and universities. Each time a student leaves, school revenue from tuition is lost. Collectively, these institutions of higher learning lose close to $16.5 billion annually. Publicly assisted colleges and universities averaged $13,267,214. Surveyed students gave four reasons for leaving which accounted for 84% of attrition: the college doesn't care, poor service and treatment, the college isn’t worth it, and schedule (not being able to find courses at times that fit their needs). All 1,669 institutions are listed with attrition rates and amounts of lost revenue. Caution! Study is 269 pages long. Readers should look online for the attrition rates of colleges that interest them.
MDRC put out a series of briefs this month called “Looking Forward” to provide policymakers with memos that suggest ways to move forward on tough issues. Among them is Building Better Programs for Disconnected Youth which lays out the problem, lays out what’s known now, then what the future might hold. In our 50 largest cities, the dropout rate is close to 50%. Youth unconnected to school or work are a diverse lot and no one program will help them connect, but there are several that have had promising results. A growing focus is on models that connect youth with postsecondary education and training.
Recognizing that the current “non-system” is not working well for Indian— First Nation—students, Canada is moving ahead with a proposed First Nation Education Act. In Developing a First Nation Education Act: Discussion Guide the authors argue that only such an act would provide a full range of support, stable and predictable funding, and accountability for First Nation students while still allowing for shared governance.
Transitioning ELLs to Common Core State Standards
The Alliance for Excellent Education is hosting a panel discussion and later webinarBuilding on the Common Core State Standards to Improve Learning for English Language Learners February 26. The panel discussion is from 8:30-10:30am EST at the Hyatt Regency in Washington D.C. The webinar is from 1- 2:30pm. Among the guests are Kenji Hakuta, cochair of the Understanding Language initiative at Stanford University; and Susan Pimentel and Carrie Heath Philips, developers of the Framework for English Language.
Most Popular Degrees
Of the 1,650,000 bachelor's degrees conferred in 2009-10, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (358,000); social sciences and history (173,000); health professions and related programs (130,000); and education (101,000). At the master's degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of education (182,000) and business (178,000). SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2012) Digest of Education Statistics, 2011 (NCES 2012-001), Chapter 3. Retrieved February 11, 2013 from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=37.
February 5, 2013
New from ECS
ECS 2012 Collection
Lively and weighty topics alike may be found in the 2012 compilation of ECS policy analysis, online databases, and publications. Check out service learning in the states, the 50-state survey of mathematics requirements for a high school diploma, and producing quality credentials, among many others. Want a longer version with bookmarks? It’s here.
What States Are Doing
State Charter Law Rankings
Showing progress for the public charter school movement, this year’s Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter Laws has been released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Of 43 states with charter laws on the books, the top five states with laws closest to the alliance’s models are Minnesota, Maine, Washington, Colorado, and Florida. A few states dropped in the ranks, not because they’re doing worse, but because some states leapt ahead of them.
El Dorado Promise
On January 22, 2007, residents of El Dorado, Arkansas learned the Murphy Oil Corporation would pay college tuition for district students who’ve been there since 9th grade. Most reports about the El Dorado Promise have focused on how it affected students, such as feeding college-going expectations, but the latest news is the Promise has changed test scores. El Dorado high school students score higher than their peers in other south Arkansas districts. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 38.7% of Promise students graduate from college in six years or less.
Governor Rick Scott launchedAlgebra Nation last week, a free 24/7 online program to help students pass Florida’s Algebra 1 End-of-Course exam, required for high school graduation. A creation of the University of Florida and Study Edge, an educational technology firm, the preparation resource also will be a supplemental teaching tool. Students can work problems and ask questions; teachers can connect with other teachers.
Changing the Perception of Manufacturing
“Manufacturing is critically important to Maine’s economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage, who announced a statewide two-year outreach to students, parents and teachers to lure workers into manufacturing jobs. These are high-tech, high-skills jobs that pay well, he said—average production salary is $46,000 and engineering averages $62,000. Yet 1,000 of these jobs go unfilled in Maine because of a skills gap. Perhaps students are daunted by the perception of the dirty, noisy mills and factories of previous eras, but today’s facilities are clean, well-lit, safe, and state of the art. The outreach is a joint effort supported by the Manufacturers Association of Maine, the Office of the Governor, and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
Community Colleges as Economic Development Engines
The year 2018 looms and while it might seem unlikely now, 46.8 million jobs will need to be filled between now and then, jobs that will require training and education, according to a brief released by the American Association of Community Colleges. That’s where community colleges come in, offering credentials, degrees, and retraining for workforce development. Nearly half of undergraduates are in community colleges. In 2007, state and local return on investment in community colleges was 16.1% but historically they receive only 20% of state tax appropriations for higher education.
Food in the Classroom
Weave agriculture into curricula with help from the gorgeous Agriculture in the Classroom website. Helping students understand where food comes from, the site is for preK-12 teachers who can enliven classes from mathematics (bean counting!) to STEM. Click on the state program map to find out what’s going on in your state.
Retail Clerks with College Degrees
The facts are grim, at least for now. In Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed? the authors write that 48 percent of employed college graduates are in jobs that require less than four-year college degrees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For example, 15% of taxi drivers and 15% of firefighters have college degrees. Rising college costs and the possible prospect of earning less may lead to more certification for certain occupations.
January 30, 2012
What States Are Doing
Educators and Business Leader Together in Alabama Alabama Governor Robert Bentley issued an executive order establishing a College & Career Ready Task Force comprised of educators and business leaders to close the skills gap between the knowledge and skills of the workforce and the needs of business and industry. Initially, the intent is to launch an Industry Needs Forecast, explore possible collaborations with industry across the education pipeline, and identify ways to apply student and workforce data to program decisions and monitor Task Force initiatives.
Career and Technical Education
Game design, behavioral health, green energy, and international business are among the fields affected by sweeping updates to California’s career technical education standards, announced Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of Public Instruction. More than 300 representatives of business, industry, labor, and education had input. Written for grades 7 through 12, the new standards lay out 59 pathways in 15 industry sectors.
Thirty-one grants totaling $1.64 million for equipment have been awarded to 25 career and technical education programs in Pennsylvania through the Career and Technical Education Grant progam. Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis made the announcement and said, “training students to be prepared to enter the workforce after high school requires advanced, hands-on training with the materials and equipment they are likely to face their first day on the job.”
Higher Education Collaborative
In an effort to accelerate Rhode Island’s economy, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and a diverse group of Rhode Island leaders announced that $200,000 in public and private funding would create a College and Research Collaborative. Using data and research, the collaborative will consider consensus state economic policy issues introduced by Rhode Island’s executive and legislative branches. Ten presidents from Rhode Island postsecondary institutions are involved in developing the collaborative.
Top Ten Issues
The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education has published Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2013: Race to the Top, elevating low-performing schools, K-12 funding, the predicted shortage of 250,000 new college graduates, STEM, NCLB waiver grades, technology in learning, flexibility and choice, and changing demographics in Georgia schools. Each issue comes with an overview, its significance for Georgia, and Action Steps.
Digital Learning Day: February 6 Digital Learning Day on February 6 is a national celebration of K-12 educators that shines a light on successful technology practice in public schools across the country. Hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the day also launches Project 24 with which the Alliance and its collaborators will extend Digital Learning Day through the next 24 months to highlight success, make progress, and work with district-level leaders across the nation. For this campaign, the Alliance has developed a rich set of resources and a team of experts to provide comprehensive district-level planning tools for integrating digital learning to achieve college and career readiness.
Rich Possibilities in Noncognitive Learning
In his provocative essay, Rethinking the Notion of ‘Noncognitive’, David T. Conley suggests that in elevating content-cognitive knowledge above noncognitive attitudes and beliefs, we miss a richer, more nuanced view of learning that includes all learning processes and behaviors. Gaining insight into noncognitive issues “would enable educators to teach students how to learn, as well as what to learn,” he writes, advocating for the term metacognition instead of noncognitive.
Better Teacher Preparation
While states are in the throes of crafting teacher evaluations, here’s a look at how those states can produce better teachers in the first place. In its 2012 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, the National Council on Teacher Quality provides state policymakers with a framework for teacher preparation that includes making sure new teachers can teach to the Common Core State Standards, that they have good content knowledge of the subjects they’ll teach, and that they complete their student teaching with a mentor who has proven to be effective. Financial Aid Reform
As higher education becomes more necessary and more expensive, our financial aid system needs to be reassessed, argue the authors of Making Sense of the System: Financial Aid Reform for the 21st Century Student. They offer recommendations in four categories: promote early and coordinated preparation for college; restructure or repurpose grant and loan delivery systems (maintain the Pell Grant system for need-based aid and make it an entitlement); provide incentives for completion; and reduce debt burden and include better debt repayment options.
“There are approximately 5,000 chronically underperforming schools; half are in big cities, a third are in rural areas, and the rest are in suburbs and medium-sized cities.” Source: Turning Around the Lowest Performing Schools, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 2012). Retrieved January 28, 2013 from: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/esea-flexibility/resources/turn-around.pdf.