Daily News Roundup, December 7, 2012

Perspectives: News You Can Use
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Some of the News Fit to Print

ABOUT HIGHER ED

HOW TO SOLVE THE COLLEGE DROPOUT CRISIS
The biggest hindrance to completing college isn't financial preparedness, but academic preparedness. Half of the students in community colleges need high-school-level courses when they enroll. Notably, half of the students in community colleges and 20 to 30 percent of those in four-year schools need a remedial, high-school-level course when they enroll; having to spend time and money without accumulating credits toward a degree prompts most of them to quit. Complete College America prefers the idea of "corequisites" that combine remedial tutoring, sometimes using software, with college-credit work. The article is in The Atlantic.

U.S. COLLEGE DEGREE HOLDERS SLIDING AMONG GLOBAL COMPETITORS
For the U.S. to improve on its No. 5 world ranking in the number of 25- to 64-year-olds possessing some form of college degree, it must boost the number of two-year degree holders by instilling a national focus on enrollment and success in community colleges and trade schools, according to a new report. America ranks 18th when it comes to two-year degree graduates.  The article is in the Huffington Post.

COLORADO CREATES MASTER PLAN FOR IMPROVING HIGHER EDUCATION
The Colorado higher education department released its expectations for each of the state's colleges and universities in the form of performance contracts signed by administrators. This master plan will measure areas such as retention and access, and it calls for school's results to be announced annually. In time, the hope is that schools will be rewarded financially by the state for reaching their benchmarks. The article is in the Denver Post.

ABOUT K-12

A LOOK AT MASTERY-BASED APPROACHES TO TEACHING
A new report from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation looks at schools in the Proficiency-Based Pathways Project (PBP), which implements mastery-based approaches to teaching in rural, suburban, and inner-city regions in New England. Competency education is rooted in mastering a set of skills and knowledge rather than simply moving through a curriculum. Students work on skills or knowledge until they demonstrate understanding and ability to apply them; they then move on. They cannot advance simply by showing up to class a sufficient number of days and earning a grade just above failing. The report finds time-based policies and systems -- from schedules to contracts to credit systems, at both the district and state level -- often impede implementation of competency-based designs, yet educators find ways to create flexibility, starting within familiar structures but locating strategies to support individualized pacing. The biggest logistical challenge to competency-based initiatives is the lack of high-quality data and technological tools to assess and monitor student progress. Expansion of competency education will likely be aided by evolving state policies that allow districts or schools to opt out of seat-time requirements. Adoption of the Common Core standards will encourage consistency in developing competencies grounded in high-quality college-readiness standards, and the assessment systems being developed for these by multi-state consortia will support the need to measure complex knowledge and skills. This information is from the PEN NewsBlast.

STUDENTS FALL FLAT IN VOCABULARY TEST
U.S. students knew only about half of what they were expected to on a new vocabulary section of a national exam, in the latest evidence of severe shortcomings in the nation's reading education. Eighth-graders scored an average of 265 out of 500 in vocabulary on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, the results of which were made public Thursday. Fourth-graders averaged a score of 218 out of 500. The results showed that nearly half of eighth-graders didn't know that "permeates" means to "spread all the way through," and about the same proportion of fourth-graders didn't know that "puzzled" means confused—words that educators think students in those grades should recognize. The article is in The Wall Street Journal.
 

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