Daily News Roundup, May 24, 2012

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

ABOUT K-12

NEW SHIFTS IN RHETORIC AS EDUCATION REFORMERS COME TO RULE THE ROOST
Carnegie Senior Managing Partner Thomas Toch writes in The New Republic: Some school reformers said it would never happen. But after spending nearly two decades launching thousands of charter schools to challenge traditional public school systems, the Teach for America generation of social entrepreneurs who poured out of the nation’s best colleges bent on transforming urban education are now moving into leadership positions in the very school systems they sought to replace. Not surprisingly, they’re working hard to introduce a new performance-driven brand of public schooling into often-dysfunctional government bureaucracies. But they’re also speaking candidly about the downsides of charter schools and openly questioning the reach of a charter-centric reform strategy—unlikely commentary from leading voices within the entrepreneurial wing of school reform even a few years ago.

OMB PUSHES FOR MORE RIGOROUS PROGRAM EVALUATIONS
The federal Office of Management and Budget is increasing its push to get federal agencies to put their money where the research is. In a memo to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other agency leaders, the OMB has called for all fiscal 2014 budget proposals to include a separate section detailing the departments' "most innovative uses of evidence and evaluation." Unlike the Program Assessment Rating Tool used to judge programs' budgetary worth—and often criticized for slow review cycles and findings of incomplete evidence—the memo calls for federal agencies to create and expand research partnerships to study programs, include cost-effectiveness calculations and embed the evaluation structure into program grants from the start. In education, that could provide a big opening for the nation's regional educational laboratories, which in their most recent contracts were overhauled to include more partnering with state, local and other research groups. The article is in Education Week’s Inside School Research blog.

WHAT IS NCTQ? (AND WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW)
Education historian Diane Ravitch writes in The Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet blog: Several months ago, U.S. News & World Report announced that it planned to rank the nation’s schools of education and that it would do so with the assistance of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Since then, many institutions announced that they would not collaborate. Some felt that they had already been evaluated by other accrediting institutions like NCATE or TEAC; others objected to NCTQ’s methodology. As the debate rated, NCTQ told the dissenters that they would be rated whether they agreed or not, and if they didn’t cooperate, they would get a zero. The latest information that I have seen is that the ratings will appear this fall.

 

ABOUT HIGHER ED

COLLEGE: 'THE BEST REHEARSAL SPACES WE HAVE FOR DEMOCRACY'
On the PBS NewsHour, Columbia University professor Andrew Delbanco presents a biting defense of a traditional four-year college experience with a liberal arts education — as opposed to a pre-professional training experience increasingly popular in a tough economy. Jeffrey Brown hosts the conversation.

HOW TO FIX PELL GRANTS
Andrew J. Rotherham writes in Time: A decade ago I was involved in an effort to rethink federal college aid programs in partnership with the Brookings Institution. We brought together a diverse set of thinkers to brainstorm about how to better target federal dollars to help the neediest students. Sounds pretty mundane, right? But it was a circus. People were so miffed by any suggestion of changing the Federal Pell Grant Program that one advocate even circulated a cowardly anonymous poem insulting the wife of a participant. (Who says education policy is boring?) There was hardly any useful data about who was using various federal aid programs because different federal agencies — including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Education — wouldn’t talk to each other. In short, I quickly learned that when it comes to higher education reform, war is Pell.

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