Some of the News Fit to Print
ABOUT HIGHER ED
OPEN-DOOR POLICIES AT TWO-YEAR COLLEGES FACE THREAT, REPORT SAYS
The nation’s college-completion agenda may be threatening open-door admissions policies at two-year institutions, says a report released by the American Association of Community Colleges. The organization is concerned that colleges may become more selective in admissions in an attempt to meet graduation goals, and will therefore limit college access for disadvantaged students. Community colleges are known for their open-door policies, which allow all types of students to enroll. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
OBAMA CALLS FOR MORE ‘TINKERERS AND DREAMERS’
President Obama for a second time converted the White House public rooms into a science fair on Tuesday, and announced new federal and private-sector initiatives to encourage “a nation of tinkerers and dreamers” in so-called STEM education in science, technology, engineering and math. According to a White House summary, in his annual federal budget request next week, Mr. Obama will seek to dedicate $80 million for the Education Department to a $100 million competition – more than $20 million will come from corporations and foundations led by Carnegie Corporation – to support programs to prepare teachers in science, technology, engineering and math, including programs allowing students to simultaneously earn a degree in their subject and a teaching certificate. The post was in The New York Times Caucus blog.
UC STUDENTS PROPOSE ALTERNATIVE TO TUITION INCREASES
Chris LoCascio, a junior at UC Riverside, feared that there was no end in sight for tuition increases at the University of California. The state kept cutting subsidies, students kept protesting, but no one had any answers. So he and other students decided to turn the discussion on its head. What if, he says, "instead of charging students upfront for their education, students would attend the UC with no upfront costs whatsoever"? Under the Fix UC proposal, the bill would not come due until students graduate and start making money. "Under our proposal, students would pay 5 percent of their income for 20 years" following graduation, Locacio says. Fix UC recently presented the idea to the university regents. The idea is that students would have a dependable bill to pay, rather than wrestling with unpredictable tuition increases and rising debt. The piece was on NPR’s Morning Edition.
A NONTRADITIONAL UNIVERSITY FOR NONTRADITIONAL STUDENTS
Alan Walker, president of Upper Iowa University writes for The Washington Post: Most of our higher educational institutions today are nicely set up for education in the 20th century (and perhaps the early 20th century). They are predominantly bricks and mortar, and if they offer online education, it is often separate from the degree programs offered for attendance on campus. At the same time that federal grants and other funding to help students afford a college education are declining, colleges and universities keep pushing the bar of affordability higher and higher. This is not “just the way it is.” This is a fundamental structural failure of higher education.
TENNESSEE TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEMS HAVE A ROUGH ROAD AHEAD
States and districts, aided by hundreds of millions of federal and philanthropic dollars, are developing intensive evaluation systems meant to identify teachers who need help, and pinpoint which skills they need help with. Under a state law in Tennessee passed last spring, teachers must be formally observed at least four times a year, or six if they're new to the profession. A teacher's observation scores are supplemented by a so-called "value-added" rating, which is calculated by determining whether a teacher's students made greater gains on standardized tests than statistical models would have predicted. But because value-added ratings don't come out until after the school year is over—and because the majority of teachers don't teach subjects with annual standardized testing—the revamped observations have become a major piece of the reform effort. The article is in the Huffington Post.
EDUCATORS, PARENTS HOLD MIXED VIEWS ON TESTING
Parents, teachers, and district administrators consider formative and interim tests far more valuable than summative assessments, according to a survey released Wednesday. And if state test results arrive more than a month after they were given, parents don’t find them very valuable, the survey found. The article is in Education Week.