Blog: The Educated Reporter

Background Reading for FRIDAY of EWA National Seminar at Stanford University

Plenary Tracks, 8:00-9:00 a.m.

K-12 – Opportunity Gaps and Out-of-School Factors: Challenges and Solutions

Much attention has focused on achievement gaps among children from different demographic groups, and on teacher effectiveness as the chief in-school influence on student performance. But what about factors that carry more weight than teachers? And how can society close opportunity gaps often associated with widely decried achievement gaps in school?

Panelists:

Prudence Carter, Stanford Graduate School of Education;

Michael Petrilli, Thomas B. Fordham Institute;

Sean Reardon, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Moderator: Sarah Garland, The Hechinger Report

Background content

Book Review, via The London School of Economics:

“The book is well-written – as one would expect from an author so well-published on the topic – and both direct and challenging. Not challenging in its prose, but challenging for the educational paradigm. One of the book’s great uses is that it describes how education cannot simply be provided for children to take advantage of however they choose. Instead it should be pushed, tweaked, and tailored to suit every pupil, not just a privileged group.”

We Have a Parenting Problem, Not a Poverty Problem, The Huffington Post:

Let’s admit it: the “Broader, Bolder” types are right when they say that a lot of what influences student achievement happens outside of schools, and before kids ever set foot in kindergarten. Where they are wrong, I believe, is in thinking that turbo-charged government programs can compensate for the real challenge: what’s happening (or not) inside the home.

No Rich Child Left Behind, The New York Times:

“Consider two children, one from a family with income of $165,000 and one from a family with income of $15,000. These incomes are at the 90th and 10th percentiles of the income distribution nationally, meaning that 10 percent of children today grow up in families with incomes below $15,000 and 10 percent grow up in families with incomes above $165,000.

In the 1980s, on an 800-point SAT-type test scale, the average difference in test scores between two such children would have been about 90 points; today it is 125 points. This is almost twice as large as the 70-point test score gap between white and black children. Family income is now a better predictor of children’s success in school than race.”

Higher Ed – A Different Class: Why Talented Students Don’t Apply to Top Colleges

Stanford economics professor Caroline Hoxby discusses her new research arguing that the most selective U.S. universities are ineffective at recruiting many of the high-achieving, low-income students who could succeed on their campuses. Hoxby offers her insights on how colleges should  recruit these missing “one-offs.”

Panelist: Caroline Hoxby, Stanford University

Moderator: Kavitha Cardoza, WAMU

Respondent: Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times

Background content

Attracting the Missing Students, Inside Higher Ed:

“In December, a study revealed that most low-income, high-achieving high school students aren’t applying to a single competitive college. Further, the study found that many colleges are searching for these students at a very small number of high schools (magnet schools and the like) — and in the process are missing lots of other talent. While high-income, high-achieving students tend to apply to the very top colleges, those with equal academic talent but less money are largely bypassing these institutions, and are instead applying to colleges whose students are less prepared academically, and that have lower graduation rates and lesser academic resources.”

The Missing Students, Inside Higher Ed:

“A new study finds that a majority students with low incomes but high academic ability never apply to a single competitive college. Further, the study finds that many colleges are searching for these students at a very small number of high schools — and in the process are missing lots of other talent. The study — by Caroline M. Hoxby, a professor of economics at Stanford University, and Christopher Avery, a professor of public policy at Harvard University – was released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. “

Expanding College Opportunities for High-Achieving, Low Income Stud…, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research:                  

“Only a minority of high-achieving, low-income students apply to colleges in the same way that other high-achieving students do: applying to several selective colleges whose curriculum is designed for students with a level of achievement like their own. This is despite the fact that selective colleges typically cost them high-achieving, low-income students less while offering them more generous resources than the non-selective postsecondary institutions they mainly attend.”

Plenary Tracks, 9:15 – 10:15 a.m.

 K-12 – Ready or Not: Common Core Assessments

By 2014, it is expected that assessments based on the Common Core State Standards will be widespread across the country. What are the obstacles, opportunities and implications? Do schools have the needed technological capacity? How will states implement “cut scores”? Can the tests measuring “deep learning”? How high-stakes should they be? Leading experts explore the answers.

Panelists:

Joan Herman, UCLA;

Chris Minnich, CCSSO;

Jim Pellegrino, University of Illinois-Chicago

 Moderator:  Virginia Edwards, Education Week

Background content

The Gordon Commission endorses the Common Core assessment’s emphasis on competencies such as critical thinking and problem-solving, rather than on the rote recall of information and more basic skills. The report warns, however, that the potential of new assessments might not be reached if their purpose is solely to hold teachers and schools accountable for performance. The nation must invest in the development of new types of assessments that work together to inform teaching and learning and still provide measures of progress for accountability purposes.

UCLA Report Highlights Potential, Challenges of New Assessments, EdMedia Commons:

“As a majority of the nation’s schools prepare to adopt the new Common Core State Standards, the tests that will assess how much students actually know are coming under increased scrutiny. A new study that looks at the progress of building those tests suggests acing the exams could get a lot harder.

“The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at University of California, Los Angeles has a new report out today, concluding the groups picked to design the assessments tied to the Common Core have the potential to create models that are more intellectually demanding than what states currently use to gauge student knowledge.”

Bonus reading from CCSSO:

“The Standards, Assessment, and Accountability Initiative focuses on the three historical and most powerful drivers of education systems. State by state, we have made progress in these areas over the past decade — but we need to continue to support and effect the transformative change that will truly prepare every child, in every school, for the challenges and opportunities of the future.”

Higher Ed – What to Make of MOOCs

In less than two years, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have altered discussions about higher education reform and access. Following the announcement that a handful of the courses merit traditional college credit, MOOCs may be poised to alter students’ pathways to a diploma. Or they might be the latest example of Internet overreach. A discussion of the possibilities.

Panelists:

Daphne Koller, Coursera;

Cathy Sandeen, American Council on Education;

Gabi Zolla, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning;

Bob Samuels, UC-AFT

Moderator: Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed

Background content

Coursera looks to 2nd year of MOOCs, The Washington Post:

“The online education company known as Coursera has racked up gaudy numbers within a year of its launch: 3.1 million users from around the world have signed up for an ever-expanding menu of courses offered for free from 62 leading colleges and universities.

“On Friday, hundreds of educators from those schools gathered at the University of Pennsylvania to take stock of a movement that is transforming higher education. Some participants in the massive open online courses, known as MOOCs, wonder whether the phenomenon is oversold.”

Coursera Offerings for College Credit, The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“The American Council on Education has agreed to review a handful of free online courses offered by elite universities and may recommend that other colleges grant credit for them.”

The Right Path to MOOC Credit?, Inside Higher Ed:

“With great interest, I read the recent news announcing that the American Council on Education (ACE) had evaluated five Coursera MOOCs and recommended them for credit. But I had hoped for something different.”

California bill would promote statewide online college courses, Los Angeles Times:

“The legislation calls for development of 50 online classes as potential substitutes for the hard-to-get core courses required for graduation at UC, Cal State and community colleges.”

MOOC’s – the Good, the Bad . . . and the Ugly?, The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning

Plenary Tracks, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

K-12 – Teacher Evaluation: Seeking Common Ground

Few areas of education policy and practice are evolving as rapidly as teacher evaluation. Moving beyond a Lake Wobegon world where all teachers are perfunctorily rated above average is seen as a linchpin in the strategy to improve student learning by enhancing teacher effectiveness. But what are the best ways to draw an accurate picture of a teacher’s performance?

Panelists:

Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford Graduate School of Education;

David Steele, Hillsborough County School District, Fla.;

Ray Salazar, White Rhino

Moderator: Dale Mezzacappa, Philadelphia Public School Notebook

Background content

David Steele answers questions about the Hillsborough Gates evaluat…, Tampa Bay Times:

“In what has become a state and national model, Hillsborough is replacing the old single-source evaluation with one broken down into three components: The principal’s observations, a peer evaluator’s report, and a value-added component that measures student improvement and other data. Teachers already have the “written” assessments that give them up to 60 points. The data-driven portion is worth up to 40 points. They’ve seen their students’ raw scores. But the teachers’ scores – and as how they stack up to their coworkers – had yet to be revealed when Steele spoke with reporter Marlene Sokol on Sept. 2.”

Report: Creating a comprehensive system for evaluating and supporting effective teaching.

Surprise Peer Observations, Tampa Bay Times:

“Drop-ins — not to be confused with principal “pop-ins” that have always been around — are a new addition to Hillsborough’s ambitious education reform effort, launched in late 2009 with a $100 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

Teaching reform leader is retiring in Hillsborough, Tampa Bay Times:

“Steele, who oversees the $200 million effort funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said his last day will be July 11.”

A better way to grade teachers, Los Angeles Times

“We found that a teacher receives a higher value-added score when he is teaching students who are already higher-achieving, more affluent and more versed in English than when he is assigned large numbers of new English learners and students with fewer educational advantages. In fact, when we looked at high school teachers who teach different classes, the student composition of the class was a much stronger predictor of the teacher’s value-added score than the teacher.”

Higher Ed – New Prescriptions for Remedial Education

The biggest obstacles that more than a fifth of undergraduates face en route to a college degree is the remedial or developmental courses in which they will be placed for their first-year. These courses, which students must pass before they can take classes that carry college credit, add to the expense and time it takes to earn a degree. Are such classes really needed? Or can schools eliminate them altogether and replace them with other forms of academic support? A discussion of which policies and practices in remedial education work best.

Panelists:

Stan Jones, Complete College America;

Eric Bettinger, Stanford University;

Karon Klipple, Carnegie Foundation

Moderator: Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

Background Content

Crash Course for Remediation, Inside Higher Ed:

“Few people would contest Complete College America’s central assumption that the remedial (or developmental) track too often is ineffective. As the group, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, noted in the statement, only one-quarter of community college students who take a remedial course graduate within eight years.

“Remediation is typically a sequence of semester-long courses in mathematics and English that students must complete before they can get into college-level, gateway courses. Remedial courses also are not usually credit-bearing. They can be a costly and discouraging stumbling block for students.”

Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere:

“The intentions were noble. It was hoped that remediation programs would be an academic bridge from poor high school preparation to college readiness — a grand idea inspired by our commitment to expand access to all who seek a college degree.

“Sadly, remediation has become instead higher education’s “Bridge to Nowhere.” This broken remedial bridge is travelled by some 1.7 million beginning students each year, most of whom will not reach their destination — graduation. It is estimated that states and students spent more than $3 billion on remedial courses last year with very little student success to show for it.”

Core Principals for Transforming Remedial Education:

“Remedial education course sequences are a key factor in high student attrition. The long sequences of remedial education courses create many opportunities for students to drop out. A student may pass one remedial education course but fail to enroll in the next course.”

Bonus read: Does College Remediation Work?       

James Heckman, University of Chicago (Lunch and Keynote Speaker, Noon-1:45 p.m.)

Dr. Heckman is a strong proponent of investing early in children and disadvantaged families. He will discuss the “Heckman Equation” and why the early investments pay dividends in the future.

James Heckman, University of Chicago

Introduced by Stephanie Banchero

Background content

It Pays to Invest in Early Education Says a Nobel Economist Who Boo…, PBS (Interview with Heckman):

“James Heckman is one of the economists of the hour — a quirky star whose work is now in the limelight. He teaches at the famously conservative University of Chicago, where previous Nobel laureates have also worked, including Milton ‘Free to Choose’ Friedman and Robert ‘Rational Expectations’ Lucas. But work in “microeconometrics” — the statistical study of individual responses to public policy — has reached decidedly liberal conclusions.”

Investments in Education May be Misdirected, The New York Times:

“Research by Mr. Heckman and others confirms that investment in the early education of disadvantaged children pays extremely high returns down the road. It improves not only their cognitive abilities but also crucial behavioral traits like sociability, motivation and self-esteem.”

Concurrent Sessions, 2:15-3:15 p.m.

Measuring the Impact of More–and Better–Time for Learning

What questions should you ask about the way your school district uses extended learning time? How are public-private partnerships guiding new approaches? Must schools choose between using the time for deeper learning or enrichment? What does the latest research show about best practices?

Panelists:

Jennifer Davis, National Center on Time and Learning;

Lucy Friedman, The After-School Corporation;

Mark Triplett, Urban Promise Academy (Oakland, Calif.);

Zakia Redd, Child Trends

Moderator: Kathleen Manzo, Education Week

Background Content

Expanding Time for Learning Both Inside and Outside the Classroom: A Review of the Evidence Base

Lucy Friedman’s Op-ed on ELT research, The Huffington Post Op-Ed:

“I’m proud today to join the launch of The Expanding Learning and Afterschool Project. This is a 50-state initiative that gives educators easy and direct access to research and promising practices that can help them use time beyond the conventional school day most effectively for learning.”

National Center on Time and Learning Director Talks ELT, Education Week:

“The ELT model is designed to not only provide expanded educational opportunities for students, but also more time for teachers to spend with students and in learning communities together in order to review student progress and improve instructional practices. After-school programs are designed to provide children enhanced learning and enrichment programming when school is not in session and often also help parents by ensuring children are in safe places while they work.”

Teacher Turnover: Who Stays and Who Leaves

One out of every three new teachers leaves the profession within five years. More veteran teachers are opting to retire. Teacher attrition costs the nation about $7 billion a year. What does the research say about teacher turnover and retention? What role does school leadership play in teachers’ decisions to leave or stay?

Panelist:

Susanna Loeb, Stanford Graduate School of Education;

Anthony Cody, Living in Dialogue 

Moderator: Francisco Vara-Orto, San Antonio Express-News

Background content

Turnover has even greater negative impact in schools with more low-…, Loeb and co-authors find:

“When teachers leave schools, overall morale appears to suffer enough that student achievement declines—both for those taught by the departed teachers and by students whose teachers stayed put, concludes a study recently presented at a conference held by the Center for Longitudinal Data in Education Research.

“The impact of teacher turnover is one of the teacher-quality topics that’s been hard for researchers to get their arms around. The phenomenon of high rates of teacher turnover has certainly been proven to occur in high-poverty schools more than low-poverty ones. The eminently logical assumption has been that such turnover harms student achievement.”

Bonus reading: Opinion pieces by Anthony Cody on teacher turnover

EWA Resources for Reporters New to the Beat

EWA’s new publications and online resources offer reporters a road map through the complex landscape of the education beat. Get the tricks of the trade, and learn how to build your own road map for localizing national issues, and navigating the beat in your community.

Panelists:

Stephen Abbott, Great Schools Partnership;

Sarah Carr, Freelance Journalist

Moderator: Emily Richmond, Education Writers Association

Related content

Main page of EWA publications, including guides to interviewing children, visiting schools, and reading school budgets

EWA Story Starters, home to 28 primers on education topics and trends across the entire education spectrum.

Success in College: Models That Improve the Odds

Students from low-income families face special challenges not only in getting admitted to college, but also in succeeding once they’re in. More programs are coming on line to strengthen students who live in poverty and may have few college graduates in their family and social circles. What traits do these programs share, and how can journalists examine them?

Panelists:

Tim Sandoval, Bright Prospect

Jessica Cogan, SEO Scholars

Anthony Lisel Antonio, Stanford University

Moderator: Peg Tyre, Freelance Journalist

Background content

Bright Prospect give youth a boost toward college, Daily Bulletin:

“Bright Prospect, which serves the cities of Pomona, Ontario and Montclair, has a 91 percent college graduation rate. It operates at seven local high schools. The initial contact with the program is its summer academy as students are entering their sophomore years. At the academy, students learn what is expected of them and how Bright Prospect personnel will stay with them through college graduation.

“Timothy Sandoval, the program director, was born in Los Angeles but raised in Pomona where he graduated from Pomona High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from UC Riverside.

“‘There really isn’t one reason why this program succeeds, but at the heart of it is the caring environment that we have for our kids. We help them navigate the college application process, we help them access resources and we let them know we will be there every step of the way,’ Sandoval said.”

SEO Scholars education program getting results, USA Today:

“The students, high school freshmen from underperforming schools throughout the city, were giving up their entire Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to study.

“The privately funded SEO Scholars program — SEO stands for ‘Sponsors for Educational Opportunity’ — uses an unusual approach to school reform: Rather than trying to change the system, it targets a handful of “severely undereducated” students and, through mentoring and Saturday school, all but guarantees they’ll graduate from a four-year college. Once they’re in college, three staffers track their attendance and grades and offer counseling all four years.”

Retention in Third Grade: Help or Hindrance?

More states are embracing “third grade reading guarantees” that aim to prevent children from moving to fourth grade until they have progressed from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” But research has shown that students who are retained often end up dropping out. Two researchers will probe what the research says, and whether legislatures are on the right track.

Panelists:

Shane Jimerson, University of California, Santa Barbara

Martin West, Harvard University

Moderator: Lyndsey Layton, Washington Post

Background content

States draw a hard line on third-graders, holding some back over re…, The Washington Post:

“A growing number of states are drawing a hard line in elementary school, requiring children to pass a reading test in third grade or be held back from fourth grade.

“Thirteen states last year adopted laws that require schools to identify, intervene and, in many cases, retain students who fail a reading proficiency test by the end of third grade. Lawmakers in several other states and the District are debating similar measures.”

Is Retaining Students in the Early Grades Self-Defeating?, Brookings Institution:

“Should students who have not acquired a basic level of reading proficiency by grade three be promoted along with their peers? Or should they be retained and provided with intensive interventions before moving on to the next grade?”

RESEARCH BRIEF: Does the Timing of Grade Retention Make a Difference? Examining the Effects of Early Versus Later Retention 

“The results revealed that the growth trajectories of students retained early (Grades K-2) were comparable to those retained later (Grades 3-5). These findings failed to support the efficacy of retention at an earlier grade in elementary school.”

Concurrent Sessions, 3:30-4:30

Guiding Principals: How to Recognize Innovative Leaders

Some principals are not just great leaders, but they’re also great innovators. What are ways that principals are taking the lead in using technology and other techniques to help students thrive?

Panelists:

Trevor Greene, Toppenish High School; 

Nicole Veltze, North High School, Denver;

Michelle Spencer, New Technology High

James Dent, Gilroy Prep School

Moderator: Richard Whitmire

Background content

Nicole Veltze for North High School promises positive change for ne…, North Denver Tribune Op-Ed:

“With 48 percent of the 280 parents queried on a recent NWCC survey saying they are contemplating leaving the neighborhood because of schools, especially North High, Veltze might be the most important person in our neighborhood’s future.”

2013 MetLife/NASSP Natl. High School Principal of the Year:

“In transforming Toppenish High School into a high-performing place of learning, Trevor Greene brought a renewed sense of hope to rural Washington. Nestled on the Yakama Indian Reservation, Toppenish serves a high-minority (95%), high-poverty (100%) student population.”

The Future of Education Is Strong, The Huffington Post (opinion):

“If you want to know what the future of education should look like, visit New Technology High School in Napa, California. If you want to know how to get ahead of the curve today, start doing what they’re doing.”

Navigator Schools: Blended Delivery, Engaging Classroom, High Perfo…, Education Week (opinion):

The garlic capital is home of the top scoring new elementary school in California–Gilroy Prep. Veteran educators James Dent and Sharon Waller opened the charter school two years ago after visiting all the best schools and “reverse engineering from site visits.”

For Good Measure: Assessing College Performance

What’s the best way to determine how effectively a college goes about the business of educating its students? If popular college rankings in the media are flawed, what other models of crunching the data might deliver more illuminating comparisons? To what extent is a college’s success at graduating students dependent on the types of students it enrolls? This session offers insights on new approaches on how to use the data available to see a more complete picture of college performance.

Panelists:

John Pryor, Cooperative Institutional Research Program-UCLA

Robert Kelchen, University of Wisconsin

Moderator: Mary Beth Marklein, USA Today

Background content

Are Schools Successful Based on the Students They Enroll?:

“In this paper we illustrate the importance of input factors in examining the completion of college with a degree, using CIRP Freshman Survey and National Student Clearinghouse data on students entering college in the cohort of 2004. Results are based on previous studies of cohorts on degree attainment, a new report on college completion, and analyses on students who are `mobile completers,’ those students who leave their initial institution and complete a baccalaureate degree elsewhere. Some colleges underperform based on their entering-student characteristics, and while low degree attainment is evident, some colleges are doing better than expected. The study concludes with needs for future research and policy and procedure recommendations concerning the importance of using input-adjusted graduation rates.”

Value-Added for College Measurements: Policy and Analysis:

“Good information is critical for parents and students as they choose colleges and, increasingly, for policymakers in their decisions about funding public institutions and holding them accountable for performance. Unfortunately, we show that the information available today, such as college rankings, is of little use for any of these important decisions; rather, current information rewards colleges for attracting stronger students and for spending more money. We address these problems by taking a `value added’ approach that adjusts for differences in student backgrounds and rewards colleges for spending more only when they also generate better outcomes. We use data from more than 1,200 institutions nationwide to estimate value added to one important outcome: college graduation. We also show how the value added method that is relevant to students and parents differs from the method relevant to policymakers. To the extent that the goal is to measure how effectively colleges use their resources to help students progress, the information used today appears quite misleading.”

Tapping Public Opinion Polls to Strengthen Stories

Polling organizations offer data that can enrich reporting on education. What data is available and how can you tap into it to provide context for your stories? Representatives of Gallup and Harris Interactive share information and insights.

Panelists:

Brandon Busteed, Gallup Polls

Regina Corso, Harris Interactive

Moderator: Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post

Background content

The School Cliff: Student Engagement Drops with Each School Year:

“Gallup research strongly suggests that the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become.

“The Gallup Student Poll surveyed nearly 500,000 students in grades five through 12 from more than 1,700 public schools in 37 states in 2012. We found that nearly eight in 10 elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged with school. By middle school that falls to about six in 10 students. And by high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged. Our educational system sends students and our country’s future over the school cliff every year.”

News reports in which Regina Corso is quoted

Early Childhood Education: Not All Options Are Created Equal

President Obama got the early childhood education world buzzing when he announced his ambitious plans to expand preschool during his State of the Union. But doubts remain. Would expanding universal pre-K lead to a top-down push for more academics at younger ages? Do states don’t have the funding to provide early childhood education for all who want it? Can state programs and Head Start coordinate effectively? 

Panelists:

Bruce Fuller, University of California, Berkeley

Sterling Speirn, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Ron French, Bridge Magazine

Moderator: Karin Klein, Los Angeles Times

Background content

Over-praising preschool (Los Angeles Times, editorial)

“Obama wants the government to fund a free year of prekindergarten, but studies don’t back up his claims of long-term benefits.”

Q and A with Sterling Speirn that gives an overall perspective on his views about early childhood education

Michigan’s Forgotten 4-Year-Olds, Bridge Magazine:

“Bridge Magazine presents a multi-part series exploring how 30,000 Michigan kids who qualify for free preschool are not getting the education they need, due to inadequate state funding, logistical hurdles and poor coordination of services.

“Research shows that these children will get lower grades, drop out more frequently and earn less money over the course of their careers.”

Viewpoints: New preschool push more about politics than educating kids Sacramento Bee (Op-Ed)

“President Barack Obama’s pitch for preschool offers great hope for America’s young families. Irresistible are the ideals and science that underlie his ambitious proposal.

“Yet the president’s push to seed and nourish more preschools may inadvertently stunt children’s learning – even shrink our aspirations for how youngsters blossom – as the grinding mechanics of testing and accountability now percolate down into the rainbow room.”

Not Your Father’s Shop Class: Linked Learning and STEM

Traditionally, career and technical education (CTE) has often translated into tracking low-income students into less demanding classes. But with a focus on college and career readiness, a national push is under way to fuse rigorous academics and career training at the high school level. From project-based learning in the sciences to acquiring work-ready skills in targeted industries, a panoply of initiatives aim to equip students—especially those at-risk of falling through the cracks—with the tools to be both employable after graduation and prepared for the demands of postsecondary education. 

Panelists:

Anne Stanton, James Irvine Foundation

Nancy Hoffman, Jobs for the Future 

Preston Thomas, Life Academy in Oakland, Calif.

Moderator: Katy Murphy, Oakland Tribune

Background content

Four Elements Define Linked Learning:

  • A rigorous academic core curriculum featuring instruction in essential subjects such as English, math, science, social studies, foreign language and visual and performing arts.
  • A demanding combination of career and technical coursework emphasizing the practical use of academic learning and preparing youth for high-skill, high-wage employment.
  • A range of opportunities to learn through meaningful real-world experiences, including internships, apprenticeships and school-based enterprises.
  • Academic and social supports, such as counseling and additional instruction in reading, writing and mathematics, with the goal of helping all students succeed in and outside school.

Linked learning comes of age in California with new pilot programs, Ed Source:

“High schools with linked learning programs typically offer several courses in one or more career paths, such as health care, business or the arts. The career theme permeates the curriculum. For example, students on the health care career path at Dozier-Libbey Medical High School in Antioch Unified School District in Contra Costa County take Human Anatomy & Physiology and Microbiology for their science courses. They take Medical Terminology as an elective and a Regional Occupational Program course in Sports Medicine or Nursing. Guest speakers from the local hospital come to class to talk about what their jobs are like, and students shadow professionals working in the health field. The culmination of the program is an internship at a local hospital, doctor’s office or other health facility.”

The Life Academy Perspectives Project, KQED:

“In 2012 a class of sophomores attending the Life Academy of Health and Biosciences High School in the Fruitvale area of Oakland wrote and recorded their own personal Perspectives.”

Plenary Tracks, 4:45-5:45 p.m.

K–12 – Choice and Competition: Improving or Undermining Public Education?

Is there evidence that empowering all parents to choose among competing schools—district-run, charter, and private—leads to better outcomes for students? Will a critical mass of charter schools in a community be a catalyst for positive change or for school closings that leave students behind? Advocates with different views debate whether competition threatens to destroy public education or is strengthening it one school at a time. 

Panelists:

Kevin P. Chavous, American Federation for Children

Randi Weingarten. American Federation of Teachers

Moderator: Scott Elliott, Indianapolis Star

Background content

Hearing on “Exploring State Success in Expanding Parent and Student…:

Kevin P. Chavous: “Parental choice is the very definition of parental engagement. Choice empowers parents to decide what educational delivery system – be it traditional public school, charter school, or
private school – best meets the specific needs of their child. Choice programs all across the
country show that parental engagement via school choice improves educational outcomes for
participating students, puts students in safer schools, and gives parents more satisfaction with
their child’s learning environments.”

Teacher union boss bends to school reform winds, Reuters:

“Weingarten was attacked by critics for a willingness to throw her support behind deals in places like Philadelphia and Cleveland, where AFT locals bargained away tenure protections, or New Haven, Connecticut, where the union accepted a teacher evaluation system that removes teachers whose students don’t perform well on standardized tests.

“’Some people would argue what happened in New Haven is not solutions-driven unionism,’ Weingarten told Reuters. ‘Do I embrace every single aspect of that agreement? Is everything single aspect of that agreement part of my particular belief system about how education should run? Of course not.’”

Bonus reading: Scott Elliott’s news blog for The Indianapolis Star

Higher Ed – Paying for College: Financial Aid Innovations

With the cost of attending college rising each year, what techniques might enable students to get more effective financial aid with less hassles? Which public universities are changing their financial aid practices to encourage students to earn their degrees more affordably? This session makes sense of the dollars behind degrees.

Panelists:

Eric Bettinger, Stanford University

 Nate Johnson, HCM Strategists

Rory O’Sullivan, Young Invincibles

Moderator: Kim Clark, Money

Background content

Financial Aid: A Blunt Instrument for Increasing Degree Attainment:

“Starting in early 2000, a series of other studies focused on need-based grants exploited other `natural experiments,’ such as discontinuities in aid awards, to identify the causal effects of financial aid programs. For example, Dynarski uses discontinuities arising from the removal of the Social Security Administration’s Survivor Benefit Program. By comparing students who were eligible in the last year of the program and students who would have been eligible had the program continued, Dynarski finds sizable effects on both access and completion. The loss of financial aid led to a drop of almost 25 percentage points in the likelihood that students attended college.”

Putting Student Outcomes at the Center of Federal Financial Aid:

“The nation’s financial aid system was built for a different age, when access and choice were sufficient programmatic objectives.

“In 1965, when the first significant federal financial aid program began, 23 percent of Americans had a college degree. This attainment level was sufficient to support a vibrant middle class. That economy and those times are no more. Today, the economy places a premium on postsecondary credentials and the skills these degrees represent. By 2018, 45 percent of all jobs will require some type of college degree, including certificates.  Unfortunately, nearly half of all students start college but fail to earn any credential within 6 years; the outcomes are much worse for African Americans and Hispanics.”

The Student Perspective on Federal Financial Aid Reform:

“Fully fund and invest in Pell grants as a centerpiece of our financial aid system, protecting a critical tool for giving low-income students access to college. Invest in new Pell programs, PellWorks and PellPlus, by reforming existing funding streams. Pell Works: Use the Pell formula to retarget federal work study, sending work study dollars to schools that best connect school to work.  PellPlus: Instead of sending FSEOG dollars to schools that have been in the program longest, send dollars to the lowest-income students and to schools doing a better job of helping the lowest-income students graduate.”



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