Some of the News Fit to Print
ABOUT HIGHER ED
NEW SCORECARDS SHOW CHALLENGES FOR STATE’S COMMUNITY COLLEGES
Students who start community college prepared to take college-level courses have a better than 70 percent chance of earning a degree or certificate or transferring to a four-year college within six years. The outcome is significantly worse for students placed in remedial math or science, with barely 41 percent achieving those goals, according to the first-ever student success scorecards released Tuesday by the systemwide chancellor’s office. The scorecards provide in-depth information for each of the state’s 112 community colleges including student demographics, completion rates, career technical education, and indicators of likely success, such as the percentage of students who completed 30 units after six years. Some of this data is already available; community colleges know their remediation rates and the consequences for students who have to spend several semesters just to catch up to college-level math or English. But the scorecards provide more robust and refined data, said state Community College Chancellor Brice Harris, allowing schools to do deeper analyses. The article is from EdSource.
CALIFORNIA STATE U. SYSTEM WILL EXPAND MOOC EXPERIMENT
San Jose State University plans to widen its relationship with edX, the nonprofit provider of massive open online courses, and the California State University system is encouraging similar experiments on 11 other campuses. The moves were announced on Wednesday, just two semesters after San Jose State began a pilot project with edX to improve teaching and learning in its own classrooms. The university will incorporate three to five new edX courses into its local curriculum next fall, including courses in the humanities and social sciences. San Jose State last fall used material from an edX course, “Circuits & Electronics,” as part of a “flipped classroom” experiment in its own introductory course in electrical engineering. The university offered three versions of the course: two conventional face-to-face sections and one “blended” section, in which students watched edX videos on their own and then participated in group activities, sans lecturing, during class time. The pass rates in the two conventional sections were 55 percent and 59 percent. In the “flipped” section with the edX videos, 91 percent of students passed. The second semester of trials, currently under way, has also produced encouraging results, said Mohammad H. Qayoumi, president of San Jose State, in an interview. But data from those trials are not yet available because the courses are still in session. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog.
COMPUTERS CAN'T REPLACE REAL TEACHERS
Wendy Kopp writes this commentary for CNN: As a founder of two organizations that recruit top college graduates to expand educational opportunity, I've spent a lot of time examining what's at work in successful classrooms and schools over the past two decades. In every classroom where students are excelling against the odds, there's a teacher who's empowered her students to work hard to realize their potential. Whenever I ask the leaders of successful schools their secret, the answer is almost always the same: people, people, people. They are obsessed with recruiting and developing the best teams. Research confirms that great teachers change lives. Students with one highly effective elementary school teacher are more likely to go to college, less likely to become pregnant as teens and earn tens of thousands more over their lifetimes. Faced with the choice between giving every child in a school his or her own laptop or putting 30 of them in a classroom with one exceptional teacher, there's no question which is the better investment. So it's disappointing to see more and more people herald technology as an educational panacea while dismissing the indispensable role of people.
QUALIFIED MATH TEACHERS ELUSIVE FOR STRUGGLING STUDENTS, STUDIES FIND
In many schools in the United States, students struggling the most in mathematics at the start of high school have the worst odds of getting a qualified teacher in the subject, new research finds. Succeeding in freshman-level mathematics is critical for students to stay on track to high school graduation, with students who make poor grades in math in 8th and 9th grades more likely to leave school entirely. Yet two new studies presented at the Association for Education Finance and Policy meeting here last month suggest that students who enter high school performing below average in math have a lower chance of getting a teacher who is well-qualified to teach math than do higher-achieving students. The problem, the research concludes, exacerbates gaps in teacher access between schools with different performance and wealth levels. The article is in Education Week.
TEXAS CONSIDERS BACKTRACKING ON TESTING
In this state that spawned test-based accountability in public schools and spearheaded one of the nation’s toughest high school curriculums, lawmakers are now considering a reversal that would cut back both graduation requirements and standardized testing. The actions in Texas are being closely watched across the country as many states move to raise curriculum standards to meet the increasing demands of employers while grappling with critics who say testing has spun out of control. The Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill this month that would reduce the number of exams students must pass to earn a high school diploma to 5, from 15. Legislators also proposed a change that would reduce the required years of math and science to three, from four. The State Senate is expected to take up a similar bill as early as this week. The proposed changes have opened up a debate in the state and beyond. Proponents say teachers will be able to be more creative in the classroom while students will have more flexibility to pursue vocational or technically oriented courses of study. The article is in The New York Times.