Daily News Roundup, July 17, 2013

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

DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES AMPLIFY IMPORTANCE OF ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
A wave of immigration, the aging of non-Hispanic white women beyond child-bearing years and a new baby boom are diminishing the proportion of children who are white. Already, half of U.S. children younger than 1 are Hispanic, black, Asian, Native American or of mixed races. "A lot of people think demographics alone will bring about change and it won't," said Gail Christopher, who heads the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's America Healing project on racial equity. "If attitudes and behaviors don't change, demographics will just mean we'll have a majority population that is low-income, improperly educated, disproportionately incarcerated with greater health disparities." The AP article is in Education Week.

DO CLINICAL TRIALS WORK?
After some 400 completed clinical trials in various cancers, it’s not clear why (the cancer drug) Avastin works (or doesn’t work) in any single patient. “Despite looking at hundreds of potential predictive biomarkers, we do not currently have a way to predict who is most likely to respond to Avastin and who is not,” says a spokesperson for Genentech, a division of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, which makes the drug. That we could be this uncertain about any medicine with $6 billion in annual global sales — and after 16 years of human trials involving tens of thousands of patients — is remarkable in itself. And yet this is the norm, not the exception. Which brings us to perhaps a more fundamental question, one that few people really want to ask: do clinical trials even work? Or are the diseases of individuals so particular that testing experimental medicines in broad groups is doomed to create more frustration than knowledge? The commentary was in The New York Times Sunday Review. This commentary has relevance to Carnegie's approach to improvement in education, where we offer a prototype of a new infrastructure for research and development.

ABOUT HIGHER ED

NO BID MOOCS
The providers of massive open online courses have rapidly expanded in the past year, aided in part by a series of potentially lucrative no-bid deals with public colleges and universities, including for services that may extend beyond the MOOC model. At least 21 universities and higher education systems in 16 states have signed agreements with Coursera, Udacity or edX without going through a competitive bidding process, according to interviews and open records requests by Inside Higher Ed.

WHY POOR STUDENTS’ COLLEGE PLANS ‘MELT’ OVER SUMMER
A large number of poor high school students who say they are continuing on to college fail to show up in the fall. The reason is referred to as the "summer melt." Students face many hurdles, including lack of resources and mentors. A Harvard study found that upward of 20% of recent high school graduates who indicate that they will continue on to college do not show up in the fall. The piece ran on NPR’s Morning Edition.

ABOUT K-12

KEEPING CONTINUOUS GROWTH AT TEACHER EVALUATION’S CORE
Even in this age of political discord, most people would agree that the main purpose of newly adopted teacher-evaluation instruments is to help teachers improve their effectiveness. However, a policy disconnect stands in the way of using these new evaluation models to actually improve educator practices. To understand why, Stephen Fink (executive director of the University of Washington Center for Education) takes a look at the genesis of the recent teacher-evaluation movement in Education Week.

GOP DIVIDED ON REWRITE OF NCLB
WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservative Republicans don’t think a GOP rewrite of the No Child Left Behind education law does enough to reduce Washington’s influence. Moderates are warily eying proposals that would expand charter schools’ role. Those intraparty differences appear to be blocking the bill’s momentum. It’s just the latest example of the fractured Republican membership in the House, where the party has a majority but often stumbles over internal disagreements. The AP article is in the Boston Globe.

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