Afternoon Annoucements: December 2, 2011
Happy Friday! If you haven’t headed to happy hour already, kick back and enjoy as we ease you into the weekend with today’s education news.
The editorial board at the Washington Post applauds Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s call to tackle the spiraling cost of college education by actually addressing the cost side of the equation as opposed to government solely focusing efforts on increasing federal aid and reducing interest costs on loans. Although acknowledging Secretary Duncan’s initiatives will not be a complete resolution to the enormous problem, the Washington Post calls it a “welcome dose of straight talk.”
Although arguably ineffective and outdated, the No Child Left Behind Act has been a consistent method of nationwide school accountability. Now, however, Education Week reports that 11 states are seeking federal waivers from the act in order to administer separate student-achievement goals and school grading systems vastly different from one another. Minority, special needs, and English-as-a-second-language students are the most at-risk under these new proposals as the one thing these states have in common is the thought that programs addressing these sub-groups should be scaled back.
Something as simple as a school-yard scuffle could make you a convicted offender in the state of Texas. Such harsh disciplinary practices are what aid the state in maintaining high drop-out and low graduation rates. Now some schools are rethinking the way they punish students for bad behavior in an effort to prevent them leaving school for good. National Public Radio introduces you to students who were adversely affected by the harsh punishments for in-school offenses that are classified as crimes equivalent to insurance fraud and criminal mischief.
Pretty soon students wishing to attend a college or university in the state of Nevada may be required to take the ACT test, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The Nevada Board of Regents adopted a resolution urging state and district school superintendents to require ACT tests for all high school juniors. Scores from the tests would be used to place students in appropriate college-level or remedial college-preparatory courses and could ultimately eliminate the use of standardize testing of high school students.
Identifying and addressing state-specific issues in education may soon become a lot easier. According to Education Week, nearly every state now has some form of comprehensive data system that enables them to track students’ academic careers over time. States officials are in the beginning stages of using longitudinal student data to inform education policy in four areas: teacher effectiveness, parent engagement, high school early-warning systems, and college and career readiness. What would the data show from when you were in school? Uh oh.
It comes as no surprise that state budget cuts around the country are taking a toll on teacher quality and educational resources. California Watch points out that librarians are slowly disappearing from the state’s schools. California’s Department of Education noted that fewer than one-fourth of schools are staffed with a credentialed librarian. Advocates for research say students suffer a major disadvantage when they don’t have trained librarians to teach them techniques in research and encourage their reading development.
While it is yet to be determined whether athletic recruitment will take a hit, the New York Times reports that the abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University has not shown any immediate affects in admissions. In fact, applications to the school’s undergraduate programs rose in comparison to last year.