Some of the News Fit to Print
ABOUT HIGHER ED
HIGHER EDUCATION CHANGES FUELED BY GREAT RECESSION
More urgent. More crowded. More expensive. Also, more flexible and accessible to millions. That, in a nutshell, is how higher education has changed around the world in the wake of the global financial crisis that struck five years ago, and the Great Recession that followed. Here's how it happened: Increasing financial pressures to get more people through higher education more efficiently opened the door to new technologies. Those technologies, in turn, have begun "unbundling" individual classes and degrees from traditional institutions – much in the same way iTunes has unbundled songs from whole albums and the Internet is increasingly unbundling television shows and networks from bulky cable packages. The article is in the Huffington Post.
NEW PROGRAMS USE DATA TO STEER POOR KIDS INTO COLLEGE
Thick white envelopes are landing in the mailboxes of thousands of high-school juniors nationwide this summer, with hip graphics in greens and blues and colorful photos of happy-looking people just like them. In simple but carefully chosen language, the mailings try to persuade these students of something that research shows they don’t necessarily believe: that they can get in, and afford to go, to college. The contents include a very specific list of fairly selective colleges—customized especially for them—with vouchers they can use to apply to eight for free. It’s not a marketing gimmick. It’s one of several earnest attempts by reputable backers to plug a massive leak through which countless smart but poor high-school graduates are cascading at the very time policymakers are trying to increase the proportion of the U.S. population with university degrees. Using sophisticated combinations of test scores, census data about neighborhood characteristics, and university admissions histories, these initiatives are zeroing in on students who are low-income but high-achieving, yet end up at poorly chosen colleges and universities with abysmal graduation rates—or forgo a higher education altogether—and trying to steer them into institutions where their backgrounds suggest they’re most likely to succeed. The article is in The Hechinger Report.
TEACHER EVALUATIONS DON’T FULLY MATCH NEW CURRICULUM
Teachers could face salary freezes or eventual firing under a new evaluation system based on results of old tests that don’t match up with the new curriculum they are teaching. Maryland’s school districts are revamping their teacher evaluation guidelines as required by the Maryland State Department of Education. The new standards were required to finish receiving $250 million in federal Race to the Top Funds, which call for greater teacher accountability. At the same time, the state is implementing a new curriculum — Common Core, a state-led effort to make curriculum across the United States more uniform. It has been controversial in some states because of objections to a national curriculum, but Maryland educators seem to be embracing it. The article is in the Cumberland Times-News (MD).
SCHOOLS TEST-DRIVE COMMON CORE
More than a million students across the country have traded their No. 2 pencils, test booklets, and bubble sheets for computing devices to participate in a pilot of math and English/language arts online assessments tied to the Common Core State Standards. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium launched a pilot of its computer assessments to glean information about the performance of different test questions and the test-delivery system under real-world conditions. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, another consortium developing online tests for the common core, also has piloted some of its prototype online-assessment questions to support educators as they transition to the new standards and to PARCC assessments. Although there were bumps in the road for some schools that took part in the pilot testing, many educators say test-driving the assessments helped them better understand how they need to prepare for the time when all their students in grades 3-12 take the new tests, starting in 2014-15. The article is in Education Week.