Daily News Roundup, March 5, 2012

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


Who needs a university anymore?” asked David Wiley, a Brigham Young University professor who is an expert on new Massive Open Online Courses, known as MOOCs. “Employers look at degrees because it’s a quick way to evaluate all 300 people who apply for a job. But as soon as there’s some other mechanism that can play that role as well as a degree, the jig is up on the monopoly of degrees.”  By the end of this year, Mr. Wiley predicted, it will become familiar to hear of people who earned alternative credentials online and got high-paying jobs at Google or other high-visibility companies. The article is in The New York Times.

The Obama administration is rightly pushing colleges to raise graduation rates and to make sure that more students graduate on time. To help achieve those goals, the community college systems that enroll about 11 million students need to end the practice of shunting students who are prepared for college into non-credit remedial classes that chew up financial aid while making it far less likely that they will ever graduate. The editorial was in The New York Times.

The impossible has happened: Harvard College is now thousands of dollars cheaper than Cal State East Bay for middle-income California students. So is Princeton. And Williams College. And Yale. Top private schools, with their generous aid, have been among the most affordable options for poor students for a few years, but rising tuition has only recently sent California State University and University of California prices shooting past the Harvards and Yales for middle-class students. The revelation comes as thousands of college and university students on Monday march to protest budget cuts in Sacramento that have forced up tuition and shaken campuses. The article is in the San Jose Mercury News.

A "Day of Action for Education" yesterday saw teachers, parents and students rally across California to protest cuts to the state's schools. A "99-Mile March" from the Bay Area kicked off yesterday, timed to arrive in Sacramento on Monday for a rally at the state Capitol. The piece was part of KQED’s California Report.

The California State University System on Friday released new documents describing its plans for a centralized online learning hub, moving the system closer to its vision of a top-flight virtual campus while drawing skepticism from some faculty. The portal, called Cal State Online, will serve as a gateway to all virtual courses offered by the system’s 23 campuses. The goal is to increase capacity at California State, where massive budget cuts have coincided with a rising demand for higher ed degrees. System officials hope a centrally administered approach to online education will enable the university to enroll more online students and turn away fewer qualified applicants. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.

The tenor of discussions held last week by negotiators rewriting federal rules on teacher preparation underscored deep-seated philosophical divisions within the field, including the thorny issue of how much responsibility schools of education should bear for producing effective teachers. Though the panelists did reach compromises on several occasions, negotiators differed on the degree to which teacher-preparation programs should be rated on outcome measures; how aggressive the federal government should be in holding programs accountable for such results; and the ramifications of any new requirements on states with training programs of varying sizes and missions. The article is in Education Week.


Linda Darling-Hammond writes in Education Week: As in other professions, good evaluation starts with rigorous, ongoing assessment by experts who review teachers’ instruction based on professional standards. Evaluators look at classroom practice, plus evidence of student outcomes from classroom work and school or district assessments. Studies show that feedback from this kind of evaluation improves student achievement, because it helps teachers get better at what they do. Systems that that sponsor peer assistance and review programs also identify poor teachers, provide them intensive help, and effectively remove them if they don’t improve. If we really want to improve teaching, we should look to such districts for models of effective evaluation, as well as to high-performing countries that have professionalized teaching by ensuring excellent preparation, on-the-job collaboration, and ongoing professional learning.

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