Here you have it. The words straight from The Chairman; Gene Powell. I an excellent interview by Jake Silverstein of the Texas Monthly the Chairman expressed his thoughts on Higher education, the UT controversy, and how MOOCS are changing the face of America. A good read without the usual biased negative media slant on the regents.
Regents have offered high level of support, By Red McCombs Read More
by Megan McArdle
Mythomania about college has turned getting a degree into an American neurosis. It’s sending parents to the poorhouse and saddling students with a backpack full of debt that doesn’t even guarantee a good job in the end. With college debt making national headlines, Megan McArdle asks, is college a bum deal?
Why are we spending so much money on college? Read More
By Jon Marcus Who’s boss? US governing bodies flex their muscles
Virginia president keeps her job, but once-inert boards are stirring nationwide. Read More
- Where Will California Find Its Next Generation Of Higher Education Leaders (keptup.typepad.com)
- California budget deal could prevent tuition hikes (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Higher education cuts will undermine economy (utsandiego.com)
- What’s going on in California? (theblaze.com)
- UC proposes 20 percent tuition hike if tax fails (mercurynews.com)
- How to Teach Kids to Be Entrepreneurs, Not Followers (blogs.the-american-interest.com)
- Fewer Californians attending state universities, researchers find (mercurynews.com)
- New Tactic on Tuition Freezes in California (insidehighered.com)
By Kevin Kiley
It likely won’t take the same form – the removal and reinstatement of a university president. But somewhere, sometime, probably sooner rather than later, the governing board of a public university, claiming to be acting to move the university forward and addressing 21st-century challenges, is going to make a move that upsets faculty members and other traditional university stakeholders. Read More
By Thomas K. Lindsay
When the national study, “Academic Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” was published last year, its findings were alarming. Of the national sample of students it surveyed, 45 percent failed to show “any significant improvement in learning” after two years in college. Even after four full years in college, 36 percent still failed to show significant improvement.
At the time, we Texans held out the hope that perhaps these national statistics did not apply to our schools – certainly not to the most prestigious among them.
Alas, our hope has been dashed by a recent Washington Post story targeting the University of Texas at Austin. The Post’s interview of Richard Arum, lead author of “Adrift,” tells Texans that we are not exempt from the national crisis in collegiate learning.
“Adrift” measured student learning with the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), on the basis of which it found that student gains in “critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills (i.e., general collegiate skills) are either exceedingly small or empirically nonexistent for a large proportion of students.”
To its credit, UT has been among the first to measure student learning through the CLA. That is the good news.
The bad news, writes the Post, is that the answer to UT’s question of how much its students are learning is “arguably, not very much.” The Post’s public-records request of UT revealed that in 2011 UT freshmen averaged a score of 1261 on the CLA, which is graded on a scale comparable to that of the SAT. But seniors, the Post reports, “fared little better than freshmen,” scoring 1303.
The Post took UT’s scores to Robert Arum for expert analysis. The “Adrift” author’s conclusion is a bitter pill for us Texans: “The [UT] seniors have spent four years there, and the scores have not gone up that much.”
In the face of such criticism, it is all too human to become defensive. To begin, even the Post concedes that, although seniors improved little over their freshmen scores, “both groups scored very well.” Is it fair, we might ask, to expect much improvement in CLA scores when students at a school like UT already score so high as freshmen?
Not only is it a fair expectation, answer the “Adrift” authors, it is an expectation met in practice by a good number of already-smart students at other equally selective colleges. And here the Post unearthed an even more unsettling statistic: “For learning gains from freshman to senior year, UT ranked in the 23rd percentile among like institutions. In other words, 77 percent of universities with similar students performed better.”
Another time-tested, defensive response would be to blame the test: “Who made the CLA the final authority on student learning?” This objection already has been laid to rest by the related research conducted by Charles Blaich and others at Wabash College. The depressingly small learning gains reported in “Adrift” (.47 standard deviations) on the CLA between freshman and senior years are replicated by Blaich’s research. The students Blaich studied “gained only 0.44 on an alternative test, ACT‘s Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP).”
This is no time for defensiveness. Rather, UT is to be commended for caring enough about student learning to be one of the first universities to institute annual CLA testing.
Let UT serve as a model for the rest of our state. The various regent boards should follow Austin’s lead and require that all our colleges and universities test their students with the CLA or CAAP. This would be a first but indispensable step toward identifying better ways to support college teaching and learning. For the sake of Texas students, the time to take that step is now.
- College Graduates in Education/Social Work Have 13.5% Unemployment, plus that “Academically Adrift” Followup Study (rortybomb.wordpress.com)
- Alumni Adrift (hollymccracken.wordpress.com)
- Is Our College Students Learning Yet? (blogs.the-american-interest.com)
- UT Austin shifts orientation focus to academics (timesoftexas.com)
- Are college students learning? (latimes.com)
- Links for March 30, 2012 (annezelenka.com)
- College Students are Unable to Think Cricitally (mindfulconsideration.wordpress.com)
- Positive student experiences is key to student success (florissantvalley.wordpress.com)
- The Real Problems in Higher Ed – By Jeff Sandefer (timesoftexas.com)
- Compelling Proof of the College Bubble (citizeneconomists.com)
José Díaz-Balart, chief political analyst for Telemundo
José Díaz-Balart, chief political analyst for Telemundo, had one important task during the September 7, 2011, Republican debate—to ask the candidates about immigration. Díaz-Balart asked his question, got his answer and was dismissed from the stage. The stereotype was fulfilled; a Latino asked one question and the one question was about immigration. With that box checked, the moderators and candidates were able to return to “non-Latino” issues. Read More
Gov. Rick Scott opened the 2012 legislative session on an optimistic note Tuesday, telling Florida lawmakers the state’s economy is coming back strong and sharing credit with them for a declining unemployment rate and improved business climate.
“I’m here today to tell you that promise and opportunity absolutely will return; in fact, they are returning, even as we meet here today,” Scott said. “This year, and today, we see the rebirth of an even greater Florida, but don’t take my word for it — let’s look at the numbers.”
The Republican governor, who campaigned in 2010 on a “Let’s get to work” slogan promising to generate 700,000 new jobs in seven years, said the state had job growth of 135,000 in the private sector during his first year in office. That sparked a prolonged ovation, mostly by the two-thirds GOP majorities of the House and Senate. Read More
By Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune
If Texas is going to hold primary elections on April 3, the federal courts will have to pick up the pace.
A panel of federal judges in Washington is deciding whether congressional and legislative district maps drawn by the state Legislature last year give proper protection to minority voters under the federal Voting Rights Act. At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether an interim map drawn by federal judges in San Antonio is legal.
Meanwhile, there are no maps in place for the impending Texas elections.
A panel of federal judges in San Antonio has the job of deciding whether the maps legislators drew last year properly account for population growth and representation, and that court will also finally approve maps to be used for this year’s elections. But since the D.C. judges moved slowly in deciding whether the maps follow the Voting Rights Act, and the election season was almost under way, the San Antonio judges drew interim maps.
Instead of starting with the Legislature’s maps, the San Antonio court started with the maps currently in use. As a result, their maps weren’t as strongly Republican as the ones that lawmakers drew.
The state objected and took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which put everything on ice and scheduled hearings for next week. The high court will let the lower courts know how to get legal maps in place for the elections, either by letting the court-drawn maps go into effect or by setting some other remedy in motion. Read More
Michael Quinn Sullivan is president and CEO of Empower Texans, and its premier project, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
Texas Monthly has named Sullivan one of the 25 most influential people working in Texas politics. The article dubbed him “the enforcer” for his ability to motivate grassroots voters. The national political magazine “Campaigns & Elections” listed him as one of the state’s most influential political figures.
A graduate of Texas A&M University, Sullivan has worked as a reporter for two daily Texas newspapers, and served as press secretary to a Member of Congress. He has also trained conservative and libertarian leaders on effective communications strategies.
He spent five years with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where he served as vice president, before being tapped to lead Empower Texans.
Sullivan’s commentaries have appeared in newspapers and magazines around the state and nation. He is a frequent guest on talk radio programs, and regularly called upon to address policy and political issues before groups across the country.
- Thursday, January 12, 2012
- 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. The conversation will begin promptly at 8 a.m.
- The Austin Club
110 E. Ninth Street, Austin, TX 78701 (map)
- firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-716-8626
- Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012 – 1 p.m.
A reservation is required.
ABOUT THIS EVENT
Several times a month, The Texas Tribune hosts a series of conversations featuring prominent elected officials and other newsmakers at the historic Austin Club in downtown Austin. These in-depth discussions are moderated by the Tribune’s CEO and editor-in-chief, Evan Smith. Coffee and pastries are served before the conversation begins, allowing time for our attendees to mingle. A question-and-answer session afterward offers a chance for the audience to interact with our honored guest.
This series of conversations is generously sponsored by AT&T, BP and Christus Health and is supported through contributions from our founding investors and members. Special thanks to our promotional sponsor, Deborah Ingersoll of Legislative Solutions.
Posted by Steven Harper
Last month, University of Texas President Bill Powers asked his law school dean, Larry Sager, to resign months ahead of his originally planned departure at the end of the academic year. According to the Texas Tribune, Sager’s relationship with the law school’s faculty “had become so strained that he was no longer able to serve effectively.” One source of discord, the Tribune said, was faculty compensation.
The story became more interesting with news that the law school’s foundation—a private, nonprofit group run by alums and distinguished attorneys—had given Sager a $500,000 “forgivable loan” in 2009. Things got even juicier when Powers said, “I don’t remember ever being told about the loan to Dean Sager, and that’s the sort of thing I would remember.”
He said, He said
Sager countered with his “clear memory” that Powers knew about the loan, but then distanced himself from the foundation’s action in giving it to him: “Whatever else is true about the loan, the decision was made by the president of the foundation, the executive committee of the foundation and the trustees of the foundation as a whole. I would not and could not have dictated this outcome [i.e., the $500,000 loan he received].”
So who determines compensation at the University of Texas School of Law? Read More
A group of students taking their cues from the Occupy movement wants the University of Texas System regents to know they won’t take tuition increases without a fight.
At a meeting in front of UT’s iconic tower tonight, the students will settle on a final version of a protest document they hope sparks a larger pushback against the growing cost of higher education.
If 2011 was a rough year for higher education, and UT in particular, the burgeoning Occupy UT group — which takes its name and inspiration from the worldwide phenomenon that began last year — might be an indication that 2012 may not be any easier. One assured flashpoint: how and how high tuition is set.
Forces on both the left and right of the political spectrum are already preparing for battle.
Toward the end of 2011, UT President Bill Powers concurred with recommendations from the university’s Tuition Policy Advisory Committee, made up of students, faculty and administrators, to ask the University of Texas System Board of Regents to increase tuition by 2.6 percent each of the next two years. That’s the maximum the regents, who will make the final tuition decision later this year, said they’d allow. Read More
University of Texas System Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa (l), is congratulated by UT Regents Chairman Gene Powell (r) after the UT Regents gave Cigarroa a vote of confidence on May 12, 2011.Like many at the end of this year, University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Gene Powell, the chairman of the board of regents, are in a reflective mood.This week, they released a year in review — a list of 48 accomplishments from 2011, including the work of two task forces on productivity and online learning, the selection of Dr. Ronald DePinho as president of UT’s MD Anderson Cancer Center and their participation in hearings held by the Legislature’s new joint oversight committee on higher education.
In an interview with the Tribune, both men said the item on the list that gave them the most pride was the drafting of the chancellor’s framework for the system’s future, which was unanimously approved by the board in August and was the impetus for Cigarroa being invited to the White House earlier this month.
Also this week, the system unveiled a key component of that framework: a public dashboard of key performance metrics, such as graduation rates and research expenditures, at their universities. In the release, they indicated that more information would be added to the dashboard in 2012.
Both system leaders said there were less tangible accomplishments that were not included in their review. For Powell, it was the hard work of his fellow regents. “The board has been extremely focused. They’ve been dedicated and hard-working. They are sincere people who I don’t think get enough credit,” he said.
Cigarroa said he was also proud of the “engagement from the students, whose voices were so important in many of these accomplishments.”
It has not been an easy year for the UT System, which found itself at the center of a heated debate about how to go about reforming higher education. Powell said that, despite the suspicion and speculation swarming around the board in 2011, the results — in particular, Cigarroa’s framework — made it worth it.
“I think that every regent would tell you that everything that occurred this year was well worth it to get this result,” he said, adding that the year-end report was not intended to “pat people on the back.” Read More
Students are shocked by the quickly rising cost of tuition, said government junior Adrian Reyna.
On Monday, the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee proposed the largest tuition increase allowed over the next two academic years. If the TPAC proposal is implemented by the UT System Board of Regents, in-state undergraduate tuition could increase 2.6 percent each year, meaning $127 more per semester in 2012-13 and $131 more each semester in 2013-14 for full-time students. In addition, out-of-state undergraduate and graduate tuition rates would increase by 3.6 percent each year, meaning $550 more per semester in 2012-13 and $650 per semester in 2013-14 for full-time students.
This increase in tuition runs counter to the University’s objective to increase four-year graduation rates, stated as a primary objective in President William Powers Jr.’s address to the University earlier this year, Reyna said.
“Many of my friends couldn’t come back because they couldn’t pay their loans or get enough scholarships,” Reyna said. “It’s very sad to see adequate students who could have graduated leave for money reasons.”
Students have left and returned to the University only after becoming able to pay for tuition, such as linguistics junior Ian Merritt, a Louisiana native who took a year off to establish residency and work full-time. Read More
By Julie Mack
KALAMAZOO — Until recently, a good job evaluation was virtually automatic for U.S. schoolteachers.
For tenured teachers, something on the order of 99 percent were rated as satisfactory, according to “The Widget Effect,” a 2009 report by The New Teacher Project.
Kalamazoo-area educators say that assessment sounds about right.
Now, 33 states are overhauling their teacher evaluation systems, one of the most significant shake-ups in U.S. education in recent years.
In Michigan, most school districts must include test-score data as part of their teacher evaluations starting this school year.
In addition, part of the tenure changes passed in July calls for a gubernatorial commission to develop an assessment model that will be used statewide for teacher evaluations starting in 2013-14. By 2015-16, that measure is to comprise half of a teacher’s evaluation.
Although some see the changes as “teacher bashing,” many — including national union leaders — say revamping the teacher-evaluation process is long overdue. Read More
What’s behind the runaway cost of a college education? According to the College Board, tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students at public four-year colleges are up an average 8.3 percent this year, roughly three times the overall rate of inflation. (In South Carolina, the increase was a more moderate 2.5 percent.) The costs for in-state undergraduates average $8,244; out-of-state undergrads pay a mind-boggling $20,770.
Private non-profit four-year colleges charge an average $28,500, an increase over last year of “only” 4.5 percent. For-profit colleges charge $14,487, up 3.2 percent. (The latter, obviously, are providing a service deemed less prestigious than the non-profits. Whether the education their enrollees receive is half that of their higher priced competitors is another question.) Read More
Most New Jersey residents support education reforms proposed by Gov. Chris Christie, including tenure reform and school voucher programs, according to the latest Monmouth University/NJ Press Media poll.
The public also supports some form of merit pay based on student performance, but is uncertain that current state tests are the best way to determine that.
Even Hillsborough resident Ryan Wilson, a Democrat, is on board with Christie’s merit pay and tenure reform proposals.
“I think that a lot of teachers don’t do a good job once they get tenure,” he said. “They stop trying. Merit pay would encourage teachers to try more often.”
Thirty-eight percent of New Jerseyans say teachers are paid too little, while 15 percent say they are paid too much. Forty-one percent believe they are paid about the right amount for the job they do. Read More
Jennifer Jennings, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at New York University, has spent a lot of time studying how accountability systems affect racial, gender, and socioeconomic inequality in educational outcomes. Now she has weighed in on author Steven Brill’s op-ed piece accusing teachers unions of standing in the way of real education reform. Her take is that while Brill’s critique has little actual evidence behind it, he makes one important point: Teachers unions are not stepping up with real-world solutions to the problems plaguing public education.
Meanwhile, virtual schools are moving into the spotlight this year as a Florida law requiring high school students to take at least one virtual class before graduation kicked in. The Miami Herald took an in-depth look at the issue in a story on Sunday. But as Florida goes all in on online learning, Harvard University’s education site points out in a recent article that many virtual schools are moving some classes into brick-and-mortar buildings. Why? Because they are finding some kids don’t do as well taking online only classes.
A testing company that Florida officials criticized last year for being late with FCAT scores is now being chided by Oklahoma school districts for the same problems. And reports continue to filter in of slow traffic times around some schools, especially during the afternoon pickup times. Read More
State looks to be at forefront of movement
It’s rare to hear the word “education” from Tennessee’s leaders without “reform” coming after it.
Three years ago, the state began rewriting its curriculum and rethinking the way it dealt with educators. The resulting changes won Tennessee a half-billion-dollar federal grant to attempt to move students from among the lowest-achieving in the nation to the top of the pack.
The state is birthing charter schools at a brisk pace, from none seven years ago to 40 today and, some estimate, up to 20 per year moving forward.
Teachers will be judged routinely on their classroom performance and their students’ test scores. Individual districts are rolling out their own reforms, such as Williamson County’s invitation for students to bring their own technology and Metro Nashville’s dividing of high school students into specific areas of study called academies.
Across the nation and around the corner, there are more big ideas in education. And while it’s too early to say whether the state will adopt all these ideas, Tennessee has become known for testing the latest trends and doesn’t intend to back off, Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday. Read More
New reform framework unites critics and supporters of ‘seven breakthrough solutions’
In much-anticipated remarks to the University of Texas Board of Regents Thursday, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa laid out a broad nine-point plan to streamline operations across the system, increase accountability and expand science and medical education around the state.
The “Framework Action Plan” received unanimous support from all nine regents, and lawmakers and groups that have strongly disagreed about Texas higher education reform hailed Cigarroa’s plan as a turning point in the years-long debate.
Read more from American Independent http://www.americanindependent.com/191366/ut-chancellor-lays-out-broad-plan-for-higher-education-reform
- UT Board Chairman Disputes Fired Official’s Account (timesoftexas.com)
- Powers and Cigarroa Unavailable for Comment. Zaffirini Denied Anything Unseemly. (timesoftexas.com)
- UT Controversy – Both Sides Say They Care About Higher Ed (timesoftexas.com)
- UT Controversy Buzzwords – Accountability, Productivity, Excellence, Accessibility, Transparency (timesoftexas.com)
- Former UT adviser O’Donnell Says Zaffirini Mounted a Campaign to Demonize the Regents (timesoftexas.com)
- Controversy Deflected Attention From Important Work (timesoftexas.com)
- Controversial UT Regent Hopes to “Push a Reset Button” (timesoftexas.com)
- $70,000 Deal in Hand, ex-UT Official Rips Educators, Lawmaker (timesoftexas.com)
- Alex Cranberg in San Antonio Express News: Brokered Deal with MyEdu (alexcranberg.wordpress.com)
“This plan is a promising first step towards improving the quality, affordability and accessibility of higher education in Texas. Enacting reform is never easy, and we applaud Governor Perry, the regents and chancellor for recognizing the looming crisis facing higher education, and for asking the tough questions that have resulted in this set of proposals. Their leadership has brought needed focus on the growing challenges faced by taxpayers, students and parents.” Read More
Written by: William Lutz
Patterned after reforms being championed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who recently announced he’s running for president, Scott is looking at changing the way professors are paid and moving toward a merit-pay system with limits on tenure.
Instructors would get annual bonuses as high as $10,000 a class if they rated highly on student satisfaction surveys. Even the assignment of faculty offices and parking spaces would be based on their performance. Read More
The reformers who want to save the public schools are starting to make a difference, against ferocious opposition
Written By JOEL KLEIN
Like so many debates in America today, the fight over public education is as polarized as it is consequential. There appears to be a general sense of agreement that the results we are getting are woefully inadequate, especially given the demands that a high-tech, global economy will place on our future work force. Nevertheless, there’s a sharp disagreement over exactly what to do.
Spending more money is of course a perennial demand. Since 1970 America has more than doubled the real dollars spent on K-12 education. We have increased the number of teachers by more than a third, created legions of nonteaching staff, and raised salaries and benefits across the board. Yet fewer than 40% of the students who graduate from high school are ready for college. At the same time, students in other countries are moving ahead of us, scoring higher—often much higher—on international tests of reading, math and science skills.
The debate over education broadly divides into two groups. On one side are what might be called “traditionalists,” consisting largely of unions purporting to represent the interests of teachers. The members of this group argue that poverty is the great impediment to educational success and that we must lift people out of poverty if we are really to better educate our kids—and in the meantime we can’t expect schools to perform miracles. The traditionalists propose that we pay teachers more, hire more of them and spend more dollars on public education overall.
On the other side are what might be called “reformers” (some traditionalists refer to them as “deformers”). This group is made up largely of policy analysts skeptical of the status quo and young idealists, many of whom came to education through Teach for America, the nonprofit program that places talented college graduates in high-poverty, urban schools.
The reformers acknowledge that poverty is an impediment to educational success but argue that teaching itself can still have a big effect. They point to specific classroom achievements, as well as to various studies, to show that different schools and different teachers get very different results with essentially the same kids. Read More
Written by Linda Darling-Hammond and C. M. Rubin
Change is painful. Change takes time. Change is trial and error, but isn’t Change ultimately brought about by leadership which has the ability to rally all the policy makers around the all important higher purpose – that of educational excellence?
Yes we can close the achievement gap. Yes we can improve our teachers. Yes we can improve our overall education system. Difficult as these changes are to face now, what is the alternative in five years time for our students and our nation if we don’t?
Linda is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the National Academy of Education. In 2006, Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy over the last decade. In 2008-09, she headed President Barack Obama’s education policy transition team. President Obama owns a copy of her best-selling book, The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine our Future.
What is the impact of poverty on educational quality?
Poverty influences outcomes around the globe, but the effects of socioeconomic status on students’ achievement are larger in the US than in most other countries. Students in more affluent communities do very well. For example, on PISA, US students in schools serving fewer than 10% of kids in poverty rank above all other countries in the world in reading. Meanwhile , students in schools with high poverty rank near the bottom. One of the unspoken issues in the United States is that we have more and more kids living in poverty (1 in 4 overall – far more than any other industrialized country), and more and more schools catering to children in concentrated poverty (ratio of over 50% of children). Those are schools that also often get fewer resources from the state. Because of the recession, our tattered safety net, our not paying attention to the issues of growing poverty, the share of high poverty schools is increasing. In high-achieving countries, there are virtually no schools where more than 10% of the children live in poverty because in general, childhood poverty rates are much lower.
What does that mean in terms of changes we need to make?
I would argue that we have to think about changes in two ways. The last time we made major headway on these issues was in the 1960’s and 70’s when we had the war on poverty and we brought poverty, unemployment and segregation rates down. The achievement gap (between rich and poor) closed by more than three quarters in a very short period of time (15 years between the early 1970s and the mid-1980s). There were investments in urban schools, in teachers, in teacher training, in teacher distribution that made a huge difference. Had we continued with those policies, we would have had no racial achievement gap by the year 2000. In the 1980’s, we ended all those programs and never really regrouped.
We have to address the problems now from both sides. On one hand, poverty and segregation are getting worse, and policymakers do not want to talk about it. On the other hand, we also have to address the issue of what we do to improve schools. A recent analysis of the achievement gap shows about a third of the achievement gap between affluent and poor students in 9th grade is present at kindergarten. That’s because kids are growing up in very different kinds of communities with different learning opportunities within the family and within the community. We’ve seen huge reductions in the achievement gap where communities have put high quality pre-schools in place. New Jersey is an example. The other two-thirds of the achievement gap is due to summer learning loss. Wealthy students continue to increase their learning during the summer, while low-income students lose ground. We have to improve education from September to June, but we also have to put in place summer learning opportunities.
Then inside of school we have to equalize access to high quality teachers, and we have to improve the training of our teachers, which other countries have done. We have to get a curriculum that is focused on high order thinking and performance skills instead of bubbling in on multiple choice tests. Our kids are definitely disadvantaged because they are never asked on our tests to do the kinds of things that PISA asks them to do and other countries teach them to do: more focus on skills of research and analysis, requiring writing, thinking and expressing your ideas.
Is there a fast track to fix this?
Many of the countries that were low achieving and are now high achieving made huge gains in a decade. We could make strong gains quickly if we could get focused. A couple of things need to happen. We need to end the practice of allowing people to teach without training. There are states like Connecticut and North Carolina which put in place reforms in the 1990s where they raised salaries for teachers, raised standards for teachers for entry, preparation, and licensing, put in place induction programs to measure good teaching with strong performance assessments as well as support. In a few years they went from teacher shortages to surpluses, improved the quality of the teaching force, and raised student achievement. One of the problems we have in the United States however is that we tend to focus, make progress, and then backslide. We’re good innovators in terms of starting successful projects and programs in schools, but without the emphasis that is needed to maintain the system.
Is there a disconnect between education systems and the real world, i.e. the kind of education systems kids need to excel in the 21st century? Read More
AUSTIN—The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education today applauded comments made by former Comptroller John Sharp, who this week was named as the sole finalist to be the next chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.
“At this challenging time for higher education, Texas needs leaders who recognize and value the critical importance of both research and teaching at our state’s top tier public research universities. The Coalition is encouraged by John Sharp’s statement of commitment to both research and teaching as core functions of a university and his commitment to excellence and best practices in recruiting Nobel Laureates and the very best faculty to Texas A&M. We also applaud his endorsement of collaborative leadership that engages people from the ground up in making positive change rather than dictating from the top down. As Sharp said, ‘If you do top down, a lot of times you may get your initial result, but if you don’t eventually get the folks at the mid to lower levels … it is a fleeting victory. You’ve got to get everybody involved.’ Read More
One of the problems with education reform is that US high schools operate under ambiguous orders. On the surface, there seems to be a shared vision. A recent Gallup poll echoed President Obama’s sentiments when it found that nearly all Americans (84 percent) agree that “high school students should be well-prepared for college and a career.”
But what happens if you go beyond the rhetoric? What will you learn if you ask what “prepared for college and a career” means in the context of our classrooms? Unfortunately, not a whole lot. That’s because there is no consensus on what this preparation entails and what high schools should be doing to produce educated minds.
Why is this important? Because unless we can define what this means, efforts at school reform will wander and drift with no way to gauge success or failure. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
Fortunately, we do have enough agreement to begin a productive conversation. Americans freely acknowledge that mastery of academic content is one aspect of preparation for higher education and the workforce. But their vision includes other factors as well. And they believe that the debate about school reform should focus on more than increased rigor or enhanced accountability — two critical goals that must be augmented, not abandoned.
For example, working hand in hand with academics, they believe that successful students should be comfortable in a fast paced and ever-changing environment that requires lifelong learning. Students should feel at home in a shrinking and interdependent world that requires the adaptation of new skills, as well as the development of global awareness and knowledge of other cultures. They should be adept at working in the current technological infrastructure, eager to acquire the tools that will help them quickly master new advances, and capable of applying those advances in creative ways to solve complex problems.
At its most fundamental level, in addition to academic and intellectual skills, high school should allow students the opportunity to explore their capabilities and interests, learn how to collaborate effectively with their peers, and gain exposure to possibilities beyond their neighborhood or community.
Achieving these goals will require us to re-imagine the infrastructure of high school. The old model — teachers standing in front of blackboards, teaching from a single textbook to a large and diverse group of students — can no longer support our ambitions. Read More
By Kenric Ward
In a vote by “Ed Reform Idol” judges as well as in-studio and online audiences, Indiana finished first among five finalists. The other states were Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Florida, a perennial leader in school innovation since Gov. Jeb Bush launched reforms in 1999, pushed ahead in 2011 when the Legislature abolished tenure for newly hired teachers, established a performance-based pay system, provided additional pay for high-need subject areas and at-risk schools, and further expanded charter schools and digital learning.
But the failure by Gov. Rick Scott and lawmakers to address collective bargaining in public schools appeared to set Florida back, as Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin all confronted their politically powerful teacher unions this year.
“We’ll tackle collective bargaining next year,” said Patricia Levesque, who represented Florida as executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future.
While Florida fared well in the judges’ comments, Jeanne Allen of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Education Reform suggested that the state may be “resting on its laurels” from reforms instituted in previous years.
Allen also questioned how the state will implement the smorgasbord of reforms passed by the 2011 Legislature, including teacher evaluation and compensation systems.
Levesque, who also heads Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, responded that improved parental notification and stricter accountability programs will stop the “dance of lemons” that allows deficient educators to bounce from one campus to another without consequence.
But the judges, selected by the conservative Fordham Institute, were more impressed by Indiana, which abolished collective bargaining for benefits and work rules.
“You can’t do [reform] without changing collective bargaining,” Indiana schools superintendent Tony Bennett said of his state’s progress. Read More
Summer education politics are unusually interesting this year with what Rick Hess called Duncan’s Backdoor Blueprint. As is typical, Andy Rotherham’s more measured annotated take adds detail. Hess responds with a clever (and frightening) future take exploring the Duncan Precedent. Rick and Andy are closer to this debate than I am. Far from the beltway, five things are becoming clear:
1. States will matter more. As Fordham’s Mike Petrilli points out state elections matter. With an unraveling and eventually weakened ESEA, state education policy will be more important than ever. States will continue to aggregate control from districts over the key policy levers: standards, assessment, accountability, data, and funding.
2. RFER leadership. The Tea Party may have hijacked the news, but it is Republicans for Education Reform (Petrilli calls them Rhee-publicans) that have become a driving force in American education and Obama‘s strongest allies. Not a formal group like DFER, but pushing a similar agenda, RFER intellectual roots stem from Jeb Bush‘s Florida formula and his foundation’s Chiefs for Change has become a very important leadership support group.
3. New tests=new frame. The predominant frame for American K-12 education this decade will be the new tests developed by two Race to the Top-funded consortia. They are dealing with a tough set of constraints (as described here, here, and here) but will introduce tests that reflect the higher standards of the Common Core.
4. Train wreck ahead. Speaking of the Core, Rotherham predicts a train wreck around the introduction of higher standards. The WSJ reported yesterday that, based on an NCES report, most states have failed to raise the bar. That means these new Core-aligned tests will be a real shock to the system. Some states are starting to ratchet up the degree of difficulty, but the level of reported failure will be shocking for most of the country in 2014.
5. New Normal. This week’s financial gyrations make clear that we’re in for several more years of what Duncan last fall called the New Normal — higher expectations and lower funding. Read More
Too much of our focus on education reform misses a point: children aren’t numbers. And the first step in dealing with the dropout issue is to connect with them.
Along with all the other national crises, including the federal deficit and the state of the economy, American education is under attack at all levels. Everyone has an opinion on what to do. Politicians, CEOs, the guy next door. Underfunding, outdated curriculum, poor math and science performance, and high dropout rates are all discussed, along with, yes, blaming teachers for the whole mess.
Looking back for solutions when things seemed better is of no help because today’s world is far different. Kids with two parents come home from school to an empty house because both parents must work to survive. The other half of our kids have one parent and their parents aren’ t home, either. For the students, homework or study time competes with television, texting, and, as they get older, part-time jobs.
Agreeing on a reform plan for schools and paying for it is a challenge equal to the problem we are having agreeing on a national budget. Three themes have monopolized current thinking. One is a strategy to halt the excessive high school dropout rate. Another is to have all kids ready for college. The last is to put emphasis on math and science. Read More
Watching a charge from one side, then a counter-charge from the other side loses the reader in the weeds of detail. The charge and counter-charge often do not meet head-on but speak past one another, leaving the reader with what seem to be apples/oranges comparisons.
I propose a different way to approach the controversy. Having been a college or university professor for 27 years, an editor of an academic journal for many years, a college vice president, and director of the Fulbright Program for the U.S. government, I know how universities operate. Hard experience has taught me that fundamental reform in higher education is a must.
Consider the following prototype of Professor X.
He got a Ph.D. at age 29, then worked through the ranks for seven years to be given tenure at age 36. Tenure guarantees lifetime job security, so Professor X no longer needs to publish anything ever again. Even though former Harvard president Derek Bok reports that “fewer than half of all professors publish as much as one article per year,” Professor X still wants to publish that one article per year.
An academic journal publishes his article, but it is so esoteric that only very few scholars read it or cite it. The article has no value to students or to classroom pedagogy.
Professor X teaches two classes per semester – each class with an average of 16 students, translating to 32 per semester and 64 for the entire year. He has taught these two classes several times over the years, so he needs little preparation for each lecture – just some brief reviewing of old notes.
He posts three office-hours per week to meet with students. He needs to grade papers, but with only 32 students for the semester, such grading is not heavy lifting. He also serves on a few committees, but elects not to do much for them. Read More
I am honored to have been invited to give the keynote bridge talk between the 2011 Midwest Regional Zebrafish Conference and the 2011 Zebrafish and Education Summit in Rochester, MN on August 5, 2011.
I eagerly agreed to speak as I am intrigued and enthused by the science education program for schools that was begun by Dr. Stephen Ekker. Most of the time, Dr. Ekker runs a genetics laboratory at Mayo Clinic Rochester researching the assignment of genes and gene sets critical in vertebrate patterning and organogenesis. And then he pours his passion into his unique school science education program, InSciEd Out.
He is not the only scientist to have begun a significant science project with schools. UK based science educator Alom Shaha reminded me of the wonderful bumblebee project carried out with schoolchildren in the UK that resulted in a published journal paper. Read about this marvelous project in Alom’s blog post for The Guardian
My challenge for this keynote is to speak for 45 minutes on “Why should scientists care about science education reform?” Read More
From the Americans For Prosperity Blog.
If this doesn’t spell hypocrisy, we don’t know what does:
First, read this, by the Alcalde:
“One of the bedrocks of business school rankings is the yearly Forbes Magazine list of top MBA programs. The ranking has been a favorite among UT students and alums as McCombs School of Business always shows well—no. 17 in the nation in 2011 results released today.”
Then, read this, by the Excellence Coalition’s spokesperson Jenifer Sarver:
“Mr. Vedder continues to do Texas, our universities, and the citizens of our state a disservice by completely disregarding the positive and proactive efforts our universities are continually undertaking in their drive to deliver excellence and quality in higher education.”
And lastly, read this, by Forbes: Read More
I understand where the higher ed establishment is coming from when the government starts making noises about holding them accountable. Nobody likes others questioning their performance, least of all a bunch of
crooks and liars politicians.
But reactionary hostility to every call for new measurement or reporting is going to backfire on higher ed very, very badly. Right now, we spend close to half a trillion on higher ed, and official government statistics cannot tell us:
- The graduation and retention rates for any college in the country (IPEDS data only gives rates for full time first time students, so part time and transfer students don’t show up);
- How much students actually pay at any college (DAS reports average net price only every 3 to 4 years, and it’s not by school);
- How much students learn;
- How much students earn after graduating.
For a researcher like me, the list goes on and on, but focusing just on these, think about what this means for students. We are keeping information from them on what they will learn, what they will earn, what they will pay, and their chances of success. With such a dearth of information, calls for measurement and transparency are inevitable and higher ed resists them at its own peril. (And resist they do – student unit record, which would allow us to determine graduation rates was killed by the higher ed lobby, as are moves on any of the others).
Higher ed is pursuing the same strategy on accountability as FFELP lenders did with student loans. FFELP started off harmless enough, but gradually mutated into a hideous monster that not even its mother could love. While it was able to stay alive for years through effective lobbying, the stars eventually aligned, and the program was justifiably killed.
The same thing is happening with higher ed accountability. The higher ed lobby is currently killing (or watering down to near uselessness) just about every move for increased measurement and transparency. But they can continue to win every battle yet lose the war, as eventually the system will have mutated so badly that supporters will be scarce when the stars line up against them.
Are the stars aligning? Maybe. College costs are a much bigger financial burden on families than they were a generation ago, leading to student and parent discontent. Politicians are realizing just how little of the public money they give is spent on education. And a Pandora’s box has been opened by gainful employment, setting a precedent for tying institutional accountability to employment outcomes. As Edububble says: Read More
A new study largely confirms what anecdotal reports had anticipated about national college enrollment patterns during the economic downturn: that enrollments of high school students swelled, that larger numbers of students chose community colleges, but that private colleges did not suffer the losses that many had predicted. But the study — though its data are limited in scope — also shows that the extent of the shifts, and how different institutions were affected, varied by region.
The report, the first of what is expected to be a series published by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, counts only first-time students under the age of 21 who began in the fall term, meaning that both overall first-time enrollment and rates of change are smaller than those reported in IPEDS, which focuses on first-time, full-time students but includes students of all ages and counts them if they entered at any point during an academic year. (The numbers reported in the study, however, are more up-to-date than the most recent IPEDS data.)
It found that annual cohorts of these students at all institutions from 2006-10 remained most stable in the Midwest, that the South and West saw steady growth through 2009 before a drop the next year, and that the Northeast enjoyed a small but steady continuous increase. The South enrolled by far the most each year and, as a consequence, experienced the biggest increases and decreases.
The report comes as the U.S. Education Department, hoping to more effectively track student success across states and institutions, is pushing for a national longitudinal database to follow students’ progress throughout and after their educations. (Privacy advocates are protesting the record-sharing that such a database would necessitate.) In the meantime, the closest thing to a database of that kind is the National Student Clearinghouse, which collects data from hundreds of institutions nationwide and, unlike the Integrated Postsecondary Education Database System, collects data at the individual student level rather than looking only at institutions.
This allowed the NSC to examine not just retention rates — continued enrollment within the same college — but also persistence rates, which track the progress of students who move between institutions of all types and locations. The persistence rates show a decidedly sunnier outlook: nationally, in any given year, persistence rates ranged from 10 to 18 percent higher than retention rates. While both were at their highest nationwide among the 2008 cohort, 64 percent of students who entered college that fall were retained at their institutions the following fall, compared to 77 percent who entered that fall and persisted at some college. (The next year, those numbers dropped by about one and two percentage points, respectively.)
Cliff Adelman, a senior associate with the Institute for Higher Education Policy who for years has argued the importance of tracking persistence over retention, was pleased to see the focus on those rates in the report. But the way the clearinghouse measured the data doesn’t make sense, he said.
“Hats off to them for pushing persistence rates over retention, but it’s an incomplete account of persistence,” Adelman said, noting that measuring calendar-year enrollment would have been more accurate. “There’s something called life that higher education institutions cannot micromanage. And if I decide that my girlfriend moved to Arizona, and I’m in a funk, and I go out to Phoenix this fall and I don’t re-enroll until winter, you’re not counting me. That’s an example of how life gets in the way.”
Doug Shapiro, research director at the NSC Research Center and co-author of the report, said he and his colleagues took this approach to focus on how the recession affected the plans of recent high school graduates specifically — and because it made for a more digestible, not to mention cheaper, report.
Perhaps the most significant way that this limitation affected the data can be found in the community college sector, where major enrollment shifts would have been even more stark had they included adults returning to college.
It’s hard to draw conclusions from data that are so limited, said Kent Phillippe, associate vice president of research and success at the American Association of Community Colleges. “Certainly, 21-and-younger is an important part of higher education, but clearly in community colleges we serve other students as well…. To some extent this is only part of the story of community colleges,” he said.
Data concerns aside, he said, the 1.6-percent enrollment decrease (which followed three years of smaller or similar rates of increase) is to be expected, given the recent sharp cuts in funding for these institutions, which hit states like California particularly hard. “It’s not necessarily surprising, given the environment in which these colleges were operating, that there was a smaller number of new students coming in.”
Enrollment, persistence and retention fluctuated intensely at Southern community colleges, where a 9.5 percent increase in 2009 was all but wiped out by a 9.1 percent decrease the next year, returning the institutions to 2008 cohort levels. Southern community college students also declined more sharply in levels of retention and persistence from 2008-9, compared to those at other institutions in the region.
Enrollments at public four-year colleges in the South stayed relatively stable throughout the recession, with increases of about 1.5 percent in 2007 and 2008, and decreases of less than 1 percent each following year. Private four-years, meanwhile, saw increases of about 2 percent each year.
The total number of students enrolling in the South increased from 688,000 in the 2006 cohort to 764,000 in the 2009 cohort, before dropping to 737,000 the next year. And while Shapiro believes the enrollment patterns have more to do with regional high school graduation rates than anything else, Alan Richard, director of communications at the Southern Regional Education Board, believes the economy is a key factor, too.
“Obviously, the cost of college is rising substantially, right when we need major increases in the numbers of students who complete college degrees and technical certificates. So we think those rising costs may be having an impact,” Richard said. Tuition and fees in the South on average rose 74 percent from 1998-2008 at public four-year colleges, he said, and 45 percent at public two-year institutions. That’s significantly higher than the national averages of 48 and 28 percent, respectively.
Richard added that many state high schools are graduating more students than in the past. “Our demographics are shifting dramatically and quickly, and while many of the Southern states have struggled with high school graduation rates, there really have been some substantial increases by any measure in recent years.”
A notable shift occurred in the Northeast, where fewer students entered private four-year colleges while more entered public two-year ones. Community college enrollment rates were relatively consistent with those at public four-year institutions, which hovered around a 30 percent share of enrollments. Overall enrollment rose steadily from 401,000 in 2006 to 436,000 in 2010, perhaps because the large concentration of elite private institutions in the region attract students from across the country, the authors suggest.
Retention and persistence rates at four-year publics in the Northeast, only slightly lower than the rates at their private counterparts, were the highest of any region. Throughout the years, persistence hovered around 90 percent and retention stayed around the 77 percent mark.
The difference between retention and persistence was as high as 16.5 percent at Midwestern community colleges, where the rates mirrored each other in year-to-year fluctuation. In 2007, at about 61 and 50 percent, respectively, the rates were the lowest of any region. But they rebounded to beat out their regional peers in 2008, with respective rates of 65 and 50 percent.
Enrollment at Midwestern institutions generally, second-highest in the nation, declined from 491,000 students in 2006 and 2007 to 489,000 students the following year, but then rose to 507,000 over the course of the next two years.
About 80 percent of these students attended public institutions during the recession, and, on average, they were fairly evenly split between four-year and two-year colleges, though by 2010 about 2 percent of those students had shifted from the former to the latter.
With 90 percent of Western students in the public sector, far more students attended community colleges there than in the Midwest — and far fewer attended private institutions. Four-year public enrollment fluctuated, starting at 38.1 percent in 2006 and ending at 37.5 percent in 2010; two-year colleges followed a similar pattern but in 2010 enrolled 50.8 percent of students, making for an overall decline of 0.1 percentage points throughout the recession.
Overall enrollment at Western colleges increased steadily from 417,000 in 2006 to 467,000 in 2009, before dropping to 455,000 in 2010.
In persistence and retention, Western institutions of different types overlapped more than did institutions in other regions. Public four-year universities had the highest rates, and the gap between persistence there and at private colleges grew as the recession progressed. The report suggests that students at expensive private colleges were dropping out under financial pressure, and students at four-year publics migrated to cheaper institutions. From 2006 to 2009, persistence shifted from about 83 percent in both sectors to 85 percent at publics and 79 percent at privates. “These possibilities,” the report reads, “supported by theory and research on college enrollment during economic recessions, offer some source of explanation, although it is important to acknowledge that more factors were in play than the economy alone.”
- How Minority Students Finance Their Higher Education (education.com)
- How Can My Child Go About Choosing a College? (education.com)
- Rubber Meets the Road – Higher Ed Graduation Rates (timesoftexas.com)
- ACT’s Validity Questioned (timesoftexas.com)
- Dream Team Coalition Claims Incorrectly That Perry Does Not Support Texas Universities (timesoftexas.com)
Editor’s note: Among the many proposed reforms to Texas higher education are some that would modify or eliminate the current tenure system employed by colleges and universities. We asked UT philosophy lecturer Jeffrey C. Leon and former Wall Street Journal editor Naomi Riley for their views on the tenure system and asked, “Should Texas universities continue to employ the tenure system? Why or why not?”
I am a non-tenure-track faculty member teaching in liberal arts. As such, it would seem that I would be likely to endorse higher education reform that includes abolishing tenure for senior faculty. In fact, many of the education reforms being kicked around, including the “Breakthrough Solutions” promoted by the governor’s higher education summit, would be to my advantage. As a lecturer who taught approximately 600 students last year, it would be in my financial interests to support one of the recommendations that endorses paying teaching faculty based on the numbers of students taught. I presume this is an effort to increase efficiency and control the cost of education, as well as to reward teachers for their contributions. However, as a supporter of the mission of higher education in general and public higher education in particular, I am willing to forgo the personal benefits of such a recommendation in exchange for a higher quality classroom experience at UT. These sorts of incentives could reasonably be expected to yield larger and larger class sizes, and, as any classroom teacher knows, this is not a recipe for improved educational quality.
Similarly, abolishing tenure would place teachers like me in a more favorable position with respect to formerly tenured colleagues. We could all, presumably, be evaluated continuously based on our contributions, with non-tenured lecturers losing their unenviable status as most easily downsized. However, the costs would not be worth the benefits, even from my perspective. I cannot quantify the value to me and to my students of teaching among an active research faculty of the first class. The tenure system is intended to support faculty-driven independent research, and while this is obviously beneficial to society at large and to the disciplines the faculty serve, it is also clearly beneficial to the mission of undergraduate teaching. I know the “live problems” of my discipline (philosophy), and I can pass this information along to my students. In addition, my TAs are attracted by our highly ranked department, and both my students and I are better for the opportunity to work with these burgeoning philosophers. Although I am not required to do so, I maintain active research interests myself, and this is a positive benefit to my students. All of this is a direct result of the tenured faculty who are my colleagues.
Is there a better way to promote independent research and attract first-class faculty? Possibly. What problem would abolishing the tenure system solve? Would it make it easier to get rid of or to prod senior faculty who seem to be unproductive? On paper, the answer seems to be in the affirmative. However, as someone who has experience in the private sector (10 years experience in software engineering, a spouse who is a small business owner), the problems associated with evaluating a senior employee’s contributions and then, if the evaluation is more negative than positive, dismissing said employee, do not disappear simply because there is not tenure in private enterprise. Read More
American education, much like its health care system, has been spending a lot of money with spotty results.
In the last 40 years, the United States has been one of the biggest spenders in the industrialized world, while student achievement has basically been flat.
The recent list of Duval County’s school grades was revealing, especially schools that kept an A grade for 10 years.
They are schools from affluent neighborhoods or are magnet schools with engaged parents.
Chart the family income around the neighborhood schools, and you’ll find it’s mostly at the top end.
These schools tend to have two parents at home, are more likely to have mothers at home and have connections that help lead to business partners for the schools.
They have reading material at home. Families take educational trips
Volunteers? No problem. Raising money for extras? No problem.
Then look at the schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods. They can be successful for a short period, but it’s difficult to maintain.
A high-performing principal gets transferred. Teachers move to schools with fewer demands on their free time.
Families tend to move more often, meaning it’s more rare to keep students at even a high-performing school for more than a few years.
Consider West Jacksonville Elementary, an A school for two straight years in 2008 and 2009 and now an F.
Or Brentwood, also an A school not long ago, now an F.
Pinedale Elementary achieved the near-impossible this year, rising from an F to an A. Simply incredible, but the more difficult job is to maintain it.
It’s not to belittle the hard work that goes into academic achievement at any level to note that it’s more difficult when students come to school far behind their peers and without support at home.
So it’s not enough to educate the students with all the advantages. When a large percentage of students in Jacksonville come from low-income families, we must find a way to educate them, too.
We have plenty of examples of temporary success. We need to sustain it.
Measuring value Read More