March 2011

Can we raise standards and graduation rates at the same time?

The House Public Education Committee in the Texas Legislature has come under criticism this week for unanimously approving a bill that would take the teeth out of the end-of-course exams to be introduced next school year, as reported by the Dallas Morning News. The committee gave as its rationale a desire to give more control […]

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Are charters in the North losing black students to the South?

Reports in recent years have documented a trend of higher attrition rates in charter schools than traditional public schools. For instance, a charter might start out with 100 students in its first-grade class but, five years later, end up with only 80 graduating fifth-graders. Many of these reports have been published by teachers’ unions, which […]

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Fewer ‘dropout factories’ nationally, but problems remain

Those crusading against the dropout problem had reason to celebrate this week. A report released by the U.S. Department of Education, “Building a Grad Nation,” announced that the number of “dropout factories” in the country – or high schools that fail to graduate at least 60 percent of their students – continued to drop. In […]

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Social media and a tale of two New Jersey principals

Middle-school principal Anthony Orsini of Ridgewood, N.J., made national headlines last year when he urged parents to keep their young adolescents off Facebook — at least until high school. The slings and arrows of social-media stings by peers — also known as cyberbullying — were far more common than any from adult predators, Orsini said, […]

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American Graduation Initiative gets new resources

President Barack Obama’s American Graduation Initiative (AGI) took a step forward today with the announcement of a “college completion tool kit” — as well as a new grant competition — by Vice President Joe Biden. Although first announced in July 2009, the AGI has seen little action on the federal stage aside from more money […]

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Charter universities: Let the controversy begin

In cash-strapped states where governors are proposing major cuts to services, some public universities that face deep cuts are set to adopt an innovation from the K-12 world: chartering. A story in Stateline last week reported that several states, including Wisconsin, are proposing to cut loose some of their public universities from certain state regulations […]

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The ‘untold story’ on federal loans: Delinquency

For years, how college students have fared in repaying their federal loans has been measured by the loan-default rate. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made headlines last September with the announcement that the default rate had risen to 7.0 percent for the 2008 national cohort, compared to 6.7 for the previous year — a […]

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Survey of the American Teacher released

Results of the 27th annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher were released today. Here’s a sample of some of the findings from surveys with teachers, students, parents and Fortune 1000 executives. You can check out the whole report here. Overall, 54 percent of teachers said that “graduating each and every student from high school […]

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Questions, investigations of suspicious test scores

Are students at some schools in Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, Florida and California suddenly making vast and unprecedented leaps in learning? Or at least in how they are performing on standardized tests? Perhaps, but it’s not statistically likely, according to a USA Today investigation, supported in part by The Hechinger Report. The lengthy story has […]

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The evidence disconnect in education policy

Is good evidence winning or losing the battle over education policy? I sat in on an interesting panel discussion on reading last week hosted by the New America Foundation, where the conclusion was, in essence, good evidence isn’t winning often enough. In the case of reading, where there is relatively abundant research on what works, […]

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