Some of the News Fit to Print
FEDERAL GRANT PROSPECT REIGNITES KINDERGARTEN-ASSESSMENT DEBATE
A federal grant program in the works to help states jump-start kindergarten-entry assessments is renewing debate among early-childhood educators about the benefits and pitfalls of evaluating young children. The U.S. Department of Education aims to distribute $9.2 million for the readiness-to-learn initiative through an existing grant program intended to help states devise better tests at all grade levels. The proposal, for which the department is seeking comments through Feb. 25, comes at a time when the White House is paying increased attention to early education. In last week's State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said he would make universal preschool a budget priority. And in 2011, the Education Department launched Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants, awarding about $633 million to 14 states. The article is in Education Week.
EDUCATION PANEL: TO CLOSE ACHIEVEMENT GAP, URGENT STATE, FEDERAL ACTION NEEDED
The nation must act urgently to close the achievement gap between poor and privileged children by changing the way public schools are financed, improving teacher quality, investing in early-childhood education and demanding greater accountability down to the local school board level, according to a report issued Tuesday by an expert panel. Created by Congress in 2010 — with legislation sponsored by Reps. Michael M. Honda (D-Calif.) and Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) — the Equity and Excellence Commission aimed to propose ways to improve public education for poor American children. The 27-member panel included state and federal officials, civil rights activists and academics. The article is in The Washington Post.
FOR TEACHERS, A NEW ATTENTION TO EVALUATIONS
Across Massachusetts, administrators are increasingly visting classrooms this year and amassing a stockpile of notes, lesson plans, and examples of student work as they carefully judge the effectiveness of more than 68,000 teachers statewide. The goal of the new ramped-up evaluation systems — developed under hard-fought state regulations — is to build a more skilled teaching force that can help students reach new heights. The regulations, which also apply to administrators and superintendents, encourage sharing successful teaching strategies, creating improvement plans for unsatisfactory educators, and terminating those repeatedly deemed ineffective. The article is in Boston.com.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
BITING THE BULLET ON COMPLETION
Research has identified several ways for colleges that enroll lesser-prepared students to improve their graduation rates. But college leaders are often wary of those solutions, because they can take a whack at the bottom line and challenge a tradition of open doors. Klamath Community College recently went all in with several measures aimed at improving student retention, including mandatory orientation for students, mandatory advising and the elimination of late registration for courses. The college’s new president, Roberto Gutierrez, said he knew those policies could discourage or freeze out some students. He was right. Klamath saw its enrollment decline roughly 20 percent last fall, when compared to the previous year. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
IT TAKES A B.A. TO FIND A JOB AS A FILE CLERK
The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job. Consider the 45-person law firm of Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh here in Atlanta, a place that has seen tremendous growth in the college-educated population. Like other employers across the country, the firm hires only people with a bachelor’s degree, even for jobs that do not require college-level skills. This prerequisite applies to everyone, including the receptionist, paralegals, administrative assistants and file clerks. Even the office “runner” — the in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and the office — went to a four-year school. The article is in The New York Times.