Some of the News Fit to Print
OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO EVIDENCE-BASED EDUCATION
Robert E. Slavin, director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University’s school of education, writes in Education Week: If school leaders chose interventions that met high standards of evidence, the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies would make available modest funding and offer other supports to help schools implement their interventions with fidelity. We have not seen evidence-based reforms implemented nationwide in this manner—or the quality of education available to poor children improve—in the past three decades. This is due to four basic problems:
• Too few rigorous evaluations of promising programs;
• Inadequate dissemination of evidence of effectiveness;
• A lack of incentives for localities to implement proven interventions; and
• Insufficient technical assistance for implementing evidence-based interventions with fidelity.
WEINGARTEN: HALT ALL HIGH-STAKES LINKED TO COMMON CORE
AFT President Randi Weingarten is calling for a moratorium on all stakes associated with the Common Core State Standards, saying that teachers have not had enough time or support to understand them deeply and shift their instruction accordingly. In what was being billed as a major speech yesterday in New York City, Weingarten says that it's unfair to judge students, teachers, and schools on test scores that reflect material that hasn't been adequately taught yet. Those kinds of high-stakes decisions should be held in check until states and districts develop—and carry out—implementation plans that include the time and resources necessary for professional development, curriculum, and instruction to fully reflect the standards, she said in draft remarks shared with Education Week. The post is from Education Week’s Curriculum Matters blog.
LEARNING GOALS SPUR BACKLASH
The Common Core effort is under attack from an unlikely coalition: conservatives who decry the implementation costs and call the standards an intrusion into local education decisions; union leaders who worry that states have tied, or plan to tie, teacher evaluations to new Common Core exams; and some parents who contend their children are ill-prepared for the Common Core tests. The article is in the Wall Street Journal.
COURSERA JUMPS INTO K-12 AND TEACHER EDUCATION
Coursera, a major player in the world of providing "massively open online courses" in higher education, is making its first move into the world of K-12 schools through an effort to provide free training and professional development to teachers in the United States and other countries. The move appears to represent one of the clearest indications of the role that "MOOCs," which to date have been primarily a higher education phenomenon, could play in the world of elementary and secondary education, a question that technology advocates and school officials have been debating for some time. The post is from Education Week’s Digital Education blog.
IS CURSIVE DEAD?
The new Common Core State Standards, a set of national benchmarks for American public schools, do not require students to learn cursive. As a result, states and districts are grappling with whether to teach this skill. The commentary is in The New York Times.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE OFTEN CONFUSED BY CHOICES
Community-college students are frequently overwhelmed by a bewildering array of curricular choices and confusing requirements, and end up getting derailed or even dropping out as a result, according to research presented on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. The research was presented at the meeting, in San Francisco, by Shanna Smith Jaggars, assistant director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College, and Jeffrey Fletcher, a senior research assistant there. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
QUICK AND DIRTY RESEARCH
SAN FRANCISCO – To keep up with the breakneck pace of developments in online education, higher education researchers must be nimble and sometimes make do with “dirty” and quickly gathered data. Otherwise weighty discussions about student learning might get lost in all the hype around massive open online courses and other digital innovations. That was a takeaway Tuesday during a panel discussion here at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Participants in the session tried to define a meaningful research agenda around emerging forms of course delivery. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
CREDIT FOR PROFICIENCY
Many states have adopted policies allowing students to earn graduation credit by demonstrating proficiency in lieu of seat time, but new Utah legislation takes things to a whole new level. The legislation directs the state board to develop a course-level funding formula for distributing dollars to districts and charter schools that establish a competency-based education approach (which could apply to courses well before high school). The state board's formula would need to distribute funds based partially on initial course enrollment as well as on a student's successful course completion by demonstrating subject mastery. The bill allows participating schools to adjust class sizes to maximize the value of course instructors and mentors. This information is from Education Commission of the States.
LOWER TUITION FOR IMMIGRANTS BECOMES LAW IN COLORADO
Immigrant students who meet certain criteria will pay in-state tuition at Colorado colleges under a new bill, which was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado becomes the 14th state to allow immigrants who graduate from state high schools to attend colleges at the tuition rate other in-state students pay, rather than a higher rate paid by out-of-state students. The article is in the Denver Post.