Some of the News Fit to Print
ABOUT HIGHER ED
CARE, CAUTION AND THE ‘CREDIT HOUR’ CONVERSATION
Council for Higher Education Accreditation President Judith Eaton writes in University World News: Federal regulations that place authority for student learning outcomes in the hands of government officials and not academics are undesirable and, frankly, likely to be less than effective. If the government now defines the credit hour, decides the data that are to be used for student learning outcomes, and leads experiments in alternative approaches for using an outcomes-based approach to the credit hour, what is left for the academy to do?
GIVING CREDIT, BUT IS IT DUE?
Kevin Carey writes in The New York Times: The college internship as we know it today has evolved into an awkward marriage between organizations with very different missions. Both sides are offering something of legitimate value — from the workplace, experience and connections; from colleges, credits that lead to degrees — even as they also help their bottom lines. Students, meanwhile, are faced with a system whose rules vary widely among different colleges, or even departments within colleges, as they try to reach a goal that can be all too elusive: a good job that pays a good wage.
FREE COURSE, INEXPENSIVE EXAM
Free online courses don’t lead to college credit, at least not directly. But students can use free course content from providers like the Saylor Foundation and Education Portal to study for “challenge exams,” which may be the fastest and most inexpensive way to earn credits. The examinations, like those offered by Excelsior College and the College Board’s College Level Examination Program (CLEP), are designed to test whether students grasp the concepts that would be taught in a conventional classroom version of general education courses. In that sense, they combine elements of both competency-based education and prior-learning assessment. Last year, about 18,000 people took Excelsior exams. And 76,000 passed CLEP exams, with 98,000 taking the tests. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
HOLDING EDUCATION HOSTAGE
Diane Ravitch writes in The New York Review of Books: Many researchers and testing experts have cautioned that evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students—called value-added assessment—is fraught with problems. Linda Darling-Hammond, a prominent scholar at Stanford University and one of the nation’s leading authorities on issues of teacher quality, has written that the measures say more about which students are in the classroom than about the competence of the teacher. The National Academy of Education and the American Educational Research Association issued a joint statement saying the same thing. Those who teach students with disabilities, English-language learners, and low-performing students are likely to get smaller gains in test scores than those who teach students from affluent homes in well-funded schools. Using test scores to rate teachers will penalize those who teach the students in greatest need. Over time, teachers will avoid the students who jeopardize their jobs and their reputations. This will be harmful to the students who need talented and experienced teachers most urgently. Across the nation, as districts put into effect the “reform” that Secretary Duncan wants, the consequences have been counterproductive.
PRESSURE MOUNTS IN SOME STATES AGAINST COMMON CORE
Opponents of the Common Core State Standards are ramping up legislative pressure and public relations efforts aimed at getting states to scale back—or even abandon—the high-profile initiative, even as implementation proceeds and tests aligned with the standards loom. The article is in Education Week.
TEACHERS EMBRACE ‘DEEP LEARNING’
Special PBS correspondent John Tulenko looks at some schools that institute real world applications into lesson plans and emphasize the importance of improvement over intelligence. The schools are less interested in testing but rather making sure students have the life skills they need once they leave the classroom. The piece was on NewsHour.