Daily News Roundup, April 20, 2012

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


David Brooks writes in The New York Times: At some point, parents are going to decide that $160,000 is too high a price to pay for college if all you get is an empty credential and a fancy car-window sticker. One part of the solution is found in three little words: value-added assessments. Colleges have to test more to find out how they’re doing. It’s not enough to just measure inputs, the way the U.S. News-style rankings mostly do. Colleges and universities have to be able to provide prospective parents with data that will give them some sense of how much their students learn. There has to be some way to reward schools that actually do provide learning and punish schools that don’t. There has to be a better way to get data so schools themselves can figure out how they’re doing in comparison with their peers.

Until now, the graduation rate for community colleges has been based on the proportion of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students who graduate within three or four years of enrolling. For many reasons, though, this rate has presented an incomplete and distorted picture of community college success. The majority of community-college students attend part-time, and many transfer in from other colleges. Both of these sizeable populations have been excluded in traditional graduation rate calculations. In addition, many students transfer to four-year colleges without first obtaining a community-college credential — and current measures make it appear as if these students haven’t been successful. A new approach will provide a more complete and accurate measure of community college success by including part-time students, as well as improving the reporting of transfer students and developing methods to measure the success of those who transfer in from other colleges. The post is from The Washington Post’s College Inc. blog.

Technical colleges in Texas are poised to up the ante on performance-based state funding, linking 45 percent of their operating budget to the employment rates and salaries of alumni. State lawmakers have provided legislative encouragement to the Texas State Technical College System as it works on the still-developing proposal; the Legislature last year mandated that the system devise a funding formula that rewards “job placement and graduate earnings projections, not time in training.” The article is in Inside Higher Ed.

Scottsdale, Ariz. — Michael Crow, the ubiquitous president of Arizona State University, opened the Education Innovation Summit here this week by giving his views of what ails higher ed. He called it “filiopietism,” or the excessive veneration of tradition. Not enough students are coming into the system, he said, and not enough are completing a credential to reach national goals. Quoting his father, Crow called this a “piss-poor performance.” The post is from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Next blog.


An interim report from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) looks at its Talent Transfer Initiative (TTI), which offers $20,000 to high-performing teachers within certain categories if they transfer and remain for at least two years in selected low-achieving schools in a district. Teachers are recruited based on value-added measures using at least two years of student-achievement data. Teacher-applicants then must interview with and be accepted by the principal of the receiving school. The main interim findings were that filling vacancies through transfer incentives was feasible, although a large pool of candidates was needed to yield the desired number of successful transfers. The information is from PEN Newsblast.


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