Daily News Roundup, April 6, 2012

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

ABOUT HIGHER ED

COMMUNITY COLLEGE ASSOCIATION REBUKES REPORT THAT CRITICIZES THE SECTOR’S LOW GRADUATION RATES
The American Association of Community Colleges posted a blistering statement on its Web site Wednesday in response to a report released by the American Enterprise Institute earlier this week that criticized the low graduation rates of community-college students. The report went on to say that those low rates affect the lifetime earnings of students and the coffers of state governments. The association called the report a piece of “shoddy work” and its analysis a “pseudo-academic attack on community colleges.” In particular, it questioned the methodology used to arrive at the report’s graduation rates. The association also said it “begs to differ” with the report’s suggestion that community colleges emulate for-profit colleges. This information is from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

CHANCELLOR ASKS COMMUNITY COLLEGES TO HOLD OFF ON TWO-TIER TUITION PLAN
LOS ANGELES — The chancellor of the California community college system has requested that Santa Monica College hold off on its plan to begin offering popular courses for a higher price  this summer, saying that the legality of the program is still in question.  The request, made on Wednesday, came a day after a campus police officer sprayed more than two dozen people with pepper spray as students tried to enter a trustees meeting; several suffered minor injuries. Many students and advocates have criticized the tuition plan, saying it violates the long tradition of community colleges as havens for those who cannot afford four-year colleges. The article is in The New York Times.

NO AGREEMENT ON NEW RULES
WASHINGTON -- As a deadline approached for the federal panel charged with recommending new rules for teacher education programs, negotiators had a message for the Education Department: It’s not over 'til (we say) it’s over. The panel is considering controversial proposals that could change how teacher education programs are evaluated, including taking graduates’ job placement rates and classroom performance into account when deciding whether programs are eligible for students to receive federal financial aid. But as discussions unfolded, the panel was far from agreement on many key issues, despite a deadline of noon Thursday -- and it eventually persuaded federal negotiators to agree to another meeting next week. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.

HAS HIGHER EDUCATION STIFFED ITS MOST IMPORTANT CLIENT?
The system's flaws are apparent from the first day a newly hired professor walks into a classroom. After finishing their dissertations, PhDs are hired by a college, based on publication records, the reputations of their references, and the name of their graduate programs. If they happen to have picked up a little classroom experience through a temporary position, it is rarely considered by hiring committees. Unlike other educators, college professors receive no formal instruction on how to teach. Newly minted PhDs are expected to teach Introduction to Political Science or Macroeconomics to 35-200 students without training in classroom management, pedagogy, and assessment. They have had no mentorships or student teacher training. Would you go to a dentist who never learned how to drill teeth? In addition, their graduate education forced them specialize to such an extent that many find it difficult to convey the wide breadth of knowledge that is required in lower level, undergraduate classes, the very meat of a college education. The article is in The Atlantic.

ABOUT K-12

A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS ON EDUCATION REFORM
To complement Education Sector’s “Getting to 2014” event, and more specifically to generate thoughtful ideas for discussion, they asked several experts to share their thoughts on the challenges of implementing so many reforms, including new assessments, accountability and data systems, teacher evaluations, and Common Core standards, all at once.The contributors, including Michael Cohen, Robert Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University, Public Impact’s Bryan and Emily Hassel, Allan Odden, and Education Sector’s Bill Tucker, discuss five of these dilemmas:
•    How do we successfully implement new accountability systems and interventions during the transition to new standards and assessments?
•    How do we maintain the rigor of college- and career-ready standards without pushing more students out of the system?
•    How do we adopt fair teacher evaluation systems based on student assessments when those assessments are set to change?
•    How do we move toward more standardization while also promoting innovation?
•    How can we execute multiple, complex reforms in a time of limited resources?

GETTING (STUDENT-) CENTERED
A new report from the Students at the Center project by Jobs for the Future examines what districts will need to implement student-centered learning to improve student achievement. To understand the current state of the work, the authors reviewed research on high-performing districts and examined the scope of commonly defined student-centered practices in districts and charter schools. The authors observed that although districts are essential actors in these reforms, they are not deeply involved in implementing student-centered practices. Most examples of district engagement are programmatic, tailored to serve particular student groups rather than all of a system's students. Before implementing student-centered approaches, districts will need to assess policy and administrative requirements and state accountability measures that can impede or support these approaches. A strong, district-wide student-centered agenda would likely include implementing special programs and/or schools, as well as working simultaneously to change practice in all schools and for all students. Expanding student-centered approaches will require district leadership, as it is not easy to change teacher practice and classroom culture. Knowledge about how other districts support reforms can inform implementation, and districts must be strategic and deliberative in reform efforts, considering a full range of student-centered options and evidence. This comes from the PEN NewsBlast.

 

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