College & Career Readiness
In New Orleans, students who drink from a school water fountain may be exposed to lead, reports Marta Jewson of The Lens.
The Washington Post’s Moriah Balingit examines a new legal strategy to improve literacy instruction in resource-deprived schools.
For Parkland students, recovery comes in many forms, reports WLRN’s Jessica Bakeman.
Brenda Madrid, una estudiante inmigrante en Nueva York, pensó que su último año en la escuela secundaria, sería el inicio de un futuro lleno de éxitos. Ella se reunió en dos ocasiones con un consejero estudiantil que al enterarse de su estado migratorio, le recomendó inmediatamente que aplicara a un Colegio Comunitario y no a una universidad. Ella, por falta de opciones, siguió su consejo.
Education Week’s Franciso Vara-Orta takes an in-depth look at hate and bias in schools.
A slowdown in charter school growth in California has some advocates worried, report Louis Freedberg and John Fensterwald of EdSource.
For The 74, Mark Keierleber examines the booming business of school security.
Every spring, millions of students graduate high school with every intention of attending college.
By the fall, an astounding portion of them never show up to college.
This phenomenon is so common it has a name: “summer melt.” And the effects are stronger for students from a lower socioeconomic background.
In a watershed moment for his administration on education policy, President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the first legislation Trump’s signed that makes significant changes to federal education law itself.
President Trump signed legislation Tuesday that renews a federal workforce development program, sending $1.2 billion a year to states but with fewer requirements from Washington on how to spend the money and assess the success of programs.
The legislation drew bipartisan support.
The legislation renews the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, the primary federal funding source for career and technical-education programs offered in high schools and after graduation. Typically, the programs combine academic instruction with occupational skills training.
An analysis by the Palm Beach Post’s Andrew Marra uncovers significant salary declines for veteran teachers even as the cost of living has climbed.
Ryan McKinnon of the Herald Tribune examines child care in Florida, where providers are just scraping by while parents are breaking the bank.
Florida’s child care industry is a case study in market failure — providers are selling their services at fire-sale prices, but it is still too expensive for the consumers. #tellEWA https://t.co/sJjLk6bmPs
Florida’s child care industry is a case study in market failure — providers are selling their services at fire-sale prices, but it is still too expensive for the consumers. #tellEWA https://t.co/sJjLk6bmPs— Ryan McKinnon (@JRMcKinnon) August 1, 2018
AL.com’s Trisha Crain crunches the numbers to see if Alabama’s rising graduation rate is translating to greater college and career readiness for its students.
In California, historians and Native Americans are urging lawmakers to to expand Native California curriculum in the state’s K-12 schools, reports Carolyn Jones of EdSource.
For 50 yrs 4th graders have learned about Spanish missions, but CA's new History-Social Studies framework seeks to shift focus to the history of Native Californians #curriculum #CAedchat #TellEWA @carolynjones100 https://t.co/X3KWokk6MH
For 50 yrs 4th graders have learned about Spanish missions, but CA's new History-Social Studies framework seeks to shift focus to the history of Native Californians #curriculum #CAedchat #TellEWA @carolynjones100 https://t.co/X3KWokk6MH— EdSource (@EdSource) July 26, 2018
WLRN’s Jessica Bakeman examines a troubling climate of racism at an elite private school in Miami.
Several current and former students and their parents describe Miami Country Day School as a place where white children mock and dehumanize their black peers and the adults in charge do little to stop it. #tellEWA https://t.co/OClgHQfMSp
Several current and former students and their parents describe Miami Country Day School as a place where white children mock and dehumanize their black peers and the adults in charge do little to stop it. #tellEWA https://t.co/OClgHQfMSp— Jessica Bakeman (@jessicabakeman) July 26, 2018
EWA Invites Journalists to Apply for Fellowships on K-12, Higher Ed Topics
Awards of up to $8,000 will support ambitious reporting and writing
The Education Writers Association is pleased to announce a call for proposals for its next class of EWA Reporting Fellows. The fellowships provide financial awards to journalists to undertake ambitious reporting and writing projects. This will be the sixth class of EWA Reporting Fellows.
For this round, we are inviting applications focused on several topical areas at the K-12 and higher education levels, including adult learners, quality teaching, educating for character and citizenship, and enhancing students’ economic mobility.
More than nine out of 10 Alabama public school students who started the ninth grade in 2013 graduated in 2017 according to data released by the Alabama State Department of Education in June. In other words, the high school graduation rate was 90.4 percent, up from 89.2 percent in 2016.
That rate has a nice ring to it, but what does it reveal about whether a student is ready to get a job or enroll in college?
At Rocky Hill School, a private day school in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, it’s not unusual for education technology entrepreneurs to pop into the classroom or Skype in for a chat.
As it turns out, a captive audience of eight- and nine-year-olds can be useful in designing new products. Third-graders at the school had a hand in developing an award-winning plush duck that gives comfort to children undergoing chemotherapy, head of school James Tracy said.
Schools In Los Angeles Will Now Report Two Graduation Rates To Reveal How Many Students Are Actually Eligible For State Universities
The Los Angeles Unified School District made a big commitment Tuesday: by 2023 all students will be college-ready, and — to make sure parents can hold them accountable — the district will now report two different graduation rates.
Board vice president Nick Melvoin requested Tuesday that the resolution be amended to include a requirement that the district report two graduation rates each school year — one that reflects the percentage of students who graduated meeting state standards, and another one that shows how many were eligible to apply to state colleges.
Nehemy is one of an estimated 200 immigrant youth who have been told they can’t attend high school in Collier County, according to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center that is headed to trial next year. Typically, state laws obligate schools to offer a free education to students through at least age 19.
One in five middle and high schools in New York, the nation’s largest school district, now choose all of their students based on factors like grades or state test scores. That intensifies an already raw debate about equity, representation and opportunity that has raged since Mr. de Blasio proposed scrapping the one-day test now required to gain entry into New York’s eight elite high schools. Black and Hispanic students are underrepresented in many of the most selective screened middle and high schools, just as they are in the specialized high schools.
All it takes to know that Purdue Polytechnic High School is doing something different is a walk through the campus in the basement of a technology office building. Instead of sitting in classrooms, students are spread across an open room, talking with teachers on a sofa or working on quadratic equations at a table.
When it’s time to transition, there is no bell, but students and teachers quietly split up and head to their next appointments.
When a huge flood devastated Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 2008 the community was faced with a host of problems more commonly seen in big cities, like homelessness. But in the midst of this tragedy the residents began to see an opportunity to rethink how they would rebuild the core institutions of the town.
Beyond the Numbers: Getting the Story on Latino Education
The Fifth Annual EWA Conference for Spanish-Language Media
The Education Writers Association is pleased to partner with NAHJ to offer a 1½-day institute on covering education at the NAHJ National Conference in Miami. The July 20-21 education coverage bootcamp, which will be held in Spanish, will feature some of the most important and influential researchers and educational leaders in the field of Latino education. They will help journalists gain a better understanding of the education issues affecting Latino students in the U.S., such as the impacts of school choice, teacher demographics, and student loans. You’ll also get training on data sources that can help you buttress or generate education stories.
When measuring what students know and can do on statewide tests, how high (or low) are the expectations for determining academic “proficiency”? A forthcoming report from the National Center for Education Statistics offers insights on this question, including state-by-state analysis.
Chicago has a new plan to make sure kids pursue a college degree or have another viable career path after high school. By 2020, in order to get a diploma from Chicago public schools, a student will have to prove that they have a job, will be joining a trade school, will go on to college or join the military.
They come fleeing gang violence and repressive regimes. They come after hurricanes and earthquakes. They come in search of work and an education.
But in Miami-Dade County, a place built by the aspirations of newcomers, hundreds of immigrant teens will never graduate from high school.
About the Entry
There are proven ways to help people with dyslexia learn to read, and a federal law that’s supposed to ensure schools provide kids with help. But according to an audio documentary by Emily Hanford, public schools across the country are denying children proper treatment and often failing to identify them with dyslexia in the first place.
Chemawa Indian School Is ‘Breaking Its Promise’ to Tribal Students
Investigative Reporting: Broadcast
About the Entry
Public radio reporter Linda Lutton spends a year with a fourth-grade class in Chicago trying to answer a question: Can a public school overcome the challenges faced by children growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods?
Hartford Schools: More Separate, Still Unequal
Investigative Reporting: General News Outlets, Print and Online
As students mobilized for #NationalWalkoutDay, journalists joined them on the streets and in the schools. A highlight: Ray Routhier’s interview with student organizers in Maine for The Portland Press Herald.
Meanwhile, administrators at a California middle school tried to discourage discussion of gun policy in school-sanctioned memorials, reports Mackenzie Mays of The Fresno Bee.
What “chronic absenteeism” means: Researchers typically define chronic absenteeism as missing at least two days of school each month or 10 percent of all their classes. That amounts to about 18 days over the academic year in the average district. One out of every 10 students in public schools is chronically absent nationwide, according to the advocacy group AttendanceWorks.
It began with a feel-good story: A struggling high school in Washington, D.C., had turned itself around and was sending all its seniors to college. When a reporter dug deeper, however, she discovered that many students should not have qualified to graduate—one in five had even missed more than half the school year.
As some high schools across the country try new ways to engage and educate students, they often turn to innovative approaches that are still being evaluated to gauge their effectiveness.
When 13-year-old André Cordeiro moved from rural Portugal to Toronto, the only English words he knew were, “hi,” “bye,” and “hot dog.” Four years later, he speaks English “way better” and credits the English-learner class he attends every morning at Islington Junior Middle School.
A teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School faces difficult emotions in returning to the classroom, reports Lisa Gartner at The Tampa Bay Times.
The Newtown community mourned in solidarity with Parkland victims and called for gun control reforms at a recent vigil, writes Eliza Hallabeck for The Newtown Bee.
Ready to Design a New School? ‘Start With the Student.’
Educators share insights on building next-generation schools
Imagine creating a new public high school from scratch — not just the building, but the learning experience itself. How would you start? What would a typical day look like? How would it differ from most high schools?
At a recent EWA seminar, several educators who have faced this challenge shared their insights as they sought to better serve students by upending traditional school models.
“Word on the Beat” is a regular feature of The Educated Reporter, breaking down the buzzwords and helping you understand the issues of the day. Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Word on the Beat: Career and technical education (CTE).
What’s It Really Like to Attend an Unconventional High School?
Students Offer Candid Take on Project-Based and Personalized Learning
Amida Nigena very nearly quit the Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design before the first term of her freshman year had ended. It was 2015, the school was brand new and it wasn’t anything like other campuses in the Denver school system.
The district’s goal in creating the school was to educate a generation of innovators, graduates who had mastered the self-direction skills that would get them through college and help them flourish in the workforce.
Our Top 10 Blog Posts: From Open Records to Betsy DeVos
Principal leadership, innovative schools, teacher diversity top the list
The most popular Educated Reporter blog posts of 2017 covered a wide range of subjects, from tips for tackling the intricacies of the beat to getting a grasp on what the Trump administration will mean for federal policy, schools, teachers, and students.
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This multiday conference provides participants with top-notch training delivered through dozens of interactive sessions on covering education from early childhood through graduate school. Featuring prominent speakers, engaging campus visits, and plentiful networking opportunities, this must-attend conference provides participants with deeper understanding of the latest developments in education, a lengthy list of story ideas, and a toolbox of sharpened journalistic skills.
What is XQ and Why Is It Spending $100 Million to Reinvent High School?
Russlynn Ali discusses the foundation-backed 'Super School' project with journalists
At a gathering of education writers last week, the Emerson Collective’s Russlynn Ali walked not one but several fine lines, promising an “open source” ethos when sharing lessons gleaned from the group’s XQ Super School Project, but declining to commit the private philanthropy to transparency in its political spending and investments in education technology companies.
Education journalists from across the U.S. gathered this week in San Diego, on the campus of High Tech High, to explore efforts to rethink the American high school. Along the way, they heard from fellow reporters, as well as educators, analysts and students.
Could Silicon Valley Reinvent Public Schooling?
Student-centered, personalized learning is focus for charter school network
At Summit Public Schools, a network of charters primarily in California’s Silicon Valley, students are in charge of their own learning. Customized digital “playlists” map out — and track — their daily instruction, guided by teachers who serve more as coaches than lecturers.
Monday, December 4, 2017
Campus of High Tech High
Registration and Lunch
Welcome & Ice Breaker
- Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association
Anatomy of High School Redesign
‘Raising Kings’: A Portrait of an Urban High School for Young Men of Color
Education Week-NPR series features social-emotional learning and restorative justice at new D.C. campus
Can schools ever fully fill the gaps in students’ life experiences that often keep them from succeeding in school? Two reporters, Education Week’s Kavitha Cardoza and Cory Turner of NPR, spent hundreds of hours at Ron Brown College Prep, a new boys-only public high school in Washington, D.C. that primarily serves students of color.
Michele Siqueiros recalled the day she arrived on a college campus.
“I thought I had arrived on another planet,” she told a recent gathering of journalists who attended the Education Writers Association’s fourth annual convening for Spanish-language media. “There were very few Latinos.”
Siqueiros, now the president of The Campaign for College Opportunity, a California nonprofit organization, said she was a straight A student in high school, but in college “I felt for the first time I wasn’t prepared.”
Decades of restrictions on bilingual education in public schools across the country — and particularly in California — led to a dramatic reduction of bilingual teachers. Now that California voters have permitted bilingual education through Proposition 58, which passed in November 2016, the state faces a shortage of talent.
In a corner of a classroom at Science Leadership Academy Middle School is a bookcase with green shelves and a plaque on top, where several students wrote their names in marker.
Having worked on its design, they claimed the bookcase as their own. Visible around the school are other bookcases, some festooned with polka dots, stripes, handprints, and words, all built by creative 5th graders.
In a corner of a classroom at Science Leadership Academy Middle School is a bookcase with green shelves and a plaque on top, where several students wrote their names in marker. Having worked on its design, they claimed the bookcase as their own. Visible around the school are other bookcases, some festooned with polka dots, stripes, handprints, and words, all built by creative 5th graders. These personalized bookcases are the result of both a gift and a problem.
The second-graders at a charter school in the nation’s capital recently discovered a problem: a lack of “green spaces” in certain parts of the city.
The students at Two Rivers Public Charter School conducted research. But they didn’t stop there. They also wrote letters to the city council to share their concerns about inequitable access to green spaces across Washington, D.C.
The letters described the situation, explained why having such spaces in urban environments is important, and offered solutions, including the idea of helping to plant gardens near campus.
Tymeer Washington held a gold marker above his white mug and considered his identity. After a moment, he drew his name in silver and gold next to a large “24.” “It’s where I’m from,” Washington explained. “24th and Lehigh.”
The 18 students in Danina Garcia’s class at the brand new Vaux Big Picture High School will start each school day with these mugs in their 90-minute advisory period, drinking hot chocolate or tea. It is a chance for students and their adviser, who are expected to stay together for all four years, to bond with each other.
For nearly three decades, a White House commission created to help boost Hispanic student achievement has advised four presidents and their secretaries of education. The advisory panel, however, is set to expire on Sept. 30 unless President Donald Trump issues an executive order to keep it going, according to Patricia Gándara, a commission member who is rallying to preserve it.
More Hispanic students are taking the ACT college-entrance exam, and in some states their scores inched up, new data show. But the achievement gap persists for the class of 2017, with many Hispanic students failing to meet benchmarks for university-level work.
Iowa’s minority and low-income students will have different — sometimes lower — goals than their white, affluent peers under a new school accountability plan developed by the Iowa Department of Education.
That is drawing attention to the sticky crossroads of educational aspirations and the reality of helping students who are sometimes three to four grade levels below their peers.
Telling the stories of the nation’s rural schools means better understanding what they offer the roughly 8.9 million students enrolled.
It also involves understanding the communities around those schools, the students attending them, and the challenges they face, a panel of educators and journalists explained recently during EWA’s National Seminar in Washington, D.C.
And one of the most important stories to tell about rural education involves inequality, said Alan Richard, a longtime education writer and editor.
New U.S. Census data show a dramatic increase in the number of Hispanics attending school, reaching nearly 18 million in 2016. The figure — which covers education at all levels — is double the total 20 years earlier.
“Hispanic students now make up 22.7 percent of all people enrolled in school,” said Kurt Bauman, the chief of Census Bureau’s Education and Social Stratification Branch, in a statement.
When it comes to judging a school’s quality, what matters most? A new poll suggests the American public puts a premium on offerings outside of traditional academics, including career-focused education, developing students’ interpersonal skills, and providing after-school programs and mental health care.
At the same time, even as local schools were generally viewed favorably in the national survey, parents said they would consider taking advantage of vouchers for private or religious schools if the price was right.
Journalist Kelly Field recently won a top honor at EWA’s National Seminar for her compelling series, “From the Reservation to College,” on the education of Native American students. Field’s coverage for The Chronicle of Higher Education — supported by an EWA Reporting Fellowship — follows several students from the Blackfeet Indian reservation in Montana. Their experiences highlight the significant educational challenges facing Native communities in the U.S. today.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA — continues to make headlines, with several bills introduced in Congress this month aimed at protecting undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and providing them with a path to citizenship.
DACA provides recipients access to higher education, putting educators on the front lines of the debate over undocumented youth. Many colleges and universities have created special websites or designated personnel to help DACA students navigate college and feel safe on campus.
Students at the MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland don’t sit through lectures all day. They learn through projects, like designing and building above-ground gardens, calculating the powers of a comic book superhero or constructing a recording studio to record a song.
While many high schools focus a lot of energy on getting students into college, admissions is only the first step. And especially when it comes to low-income students and those who are first in their family to attend college, many drop out long before they complete a degree.
Growing concern about this problem is sparking efforts in the K-12 realm to ensure better college success rates for high school graduates.
When it comes to their children’s education, what are parents’ biggest concerns? Paying for college is No. 1. After that, they worry about their children’s happiness and safety at school.
But academics? Not so much. Parents do care, but as long as their children are perceived to be happy and succeeding — especially if that’s what teachers are telling them – they figure everything is fine in that area.
Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt recently said his state is developing a system that “blurs the lines between career and technical education and what you might call traditional academia.”
And in Illinois, school districts like the one in Arlington Heights are “redefining our academic handbook around career pathways,” according to Lazaro Lopez, the associate superintendent of High School District 214.
Laura Isensee of Houston Public Media discusses Furr High School, which recently received a $10 million grant to help it reinvent what, when, and how students learn. The changes are already underway: a veteran principal was lured out of retirement to take the helm; students are able dig into their own areas of interest during regular periods of “Genius Time”; and even the hiring process for teachers and staff has taken some innovative turns. What’s been the response of the school community to these new developments?
Just outside Concord High School, a delivery truck has spilled its chemical supplies. The students’ mission: Investigate the properties of the spill and develop a detailed plan to clean it up safely.
Teenagers wearing safety goggles squat down, sucking up samples of the clear liquid with pipettes. The simulated spill has been “contained” in a fish tank. But the students play along, first by developing some “testable questions” with their partners: How acidic is it? How does it compare with the properties of each substance on the truck?
There’s an essential skill not being taught enough in classrooms today, say a growing number of American educators. That skill is thinking.
“Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students to memorize,” writes Karin Hess, president of Educational Research in Action in Underhill, Vt., and an expert on assessment, in an email to the Monitor.
On a recent Friday morning, students in Kalee Barbis’ English class at Washington Leadership Academy work diligently on laptops as they sit under the high, vaulted ceilings of the school’s Great Hall. Light filters through stained glass windows as the students put the final touches on essays about the lives of Matthew Shepard, Trayvon Martin, Pablo Escobar, and others.
The rapid improvement over the past decade in Washington, D.C.’s district-run schools — as measured by rising test scores and graduation rates — has drawn national notice.
But officials with the District of Columbia Public Schools remain concerned that too many students still slip through the cracks, with 31 percent failing to graduate high school on time, based on the most recent DCPS data.
When students from the Pathways in Technology Early College High School — or P-TECH in Brooklyn — graduate today with an associate degree as well as their high school diplomas, it will be much more than a formality, according to founding principal Rashid Davis.
“You are at the beginning of — I’m going to call it — an educational revolution,” Davis told some of the soon-to-be graduates at a celebration last week.
So how do Latino parents judge the quality of their child’s school? The good old-fashioned way: by reviewing their child’s report card.
A recent poll conducted by the Leadership Conference Fund, a nonprofit civil rights group based in Washington, D.C., found that 86 percent of Latino families said their child’s report card topped the list in judging school quality.
Two-dozen high school students are gathered around a large work table as manufacturing teacher Dan Cassidy holds out boxes of metal bars and gears. The students choose among the parts to build model bicycles. “What else are we going to use today? Let me hear some vocab here,” he says. When a student shouts out “chains,” he nudges them until they recall another term for it: “linkage.”
The waiting list to get into USC Hybrid High College Prep in downtown Los Angeles is long – about two students for every one admitted – and so is the commute for many of the students who go there. An hour-and-a-half each way by bus or car isn’t uncommon.
Ashley Smith of Inside Higher Ed discusses why the Golden State is leading the nation in free community college initiatives. Currently, a quarter of all such programs nationally are located at California institutions. The growth is a mix of grassroots efforts by individual campuses, cities, and community organizations. At the same time, California’s Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a statewide effort to add even more free seats at two-year colleges.
At Summit Public Schools campuses, you won’t see PowerPoint lectures on “Antigone” in English class or witness lofty explanations of the Pythagorean theorem in geometry. Instead, you’ll hear a discussion about the morals and ethics in the ancient Greek tragedy tied to students’ own teenage identity formation and observe discussions on how real-life problem-solving skills can be applied to math.
The level of trust that middle school students of color have for their teachers could have long-term impacts on whether or not they enroll in college, according to a new study published in the journal Child Development.
Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for billionaire school advocate Betsy DeVos — President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. secretary of education — was a doozy.
DeVos sought to present herself as ready to oversee the federal agency, but some of her remarks suggested a lack of familiarity with the federal laws governing the nation’s schools.
In her opening statement before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, DeVos said:
President Obama has renamed the My Brother’s Keeper initiative he created to close the opportunity gaps faced by black and Latino males, hoping the new moniker will more accurately reflect its mission and increase the chances of its longevity.
Benjamin Herold of Education Week discusses why media literacy is in the spotlight in the wake of the presidential election, and the troubling findings of a new Stanford University study that showed the vast majority of students from middle school through college can’t identify “fake news.” Why are so many digital natives flunking when it comes to evaluating the reliability of material they encounter online? How are policymakers, researchers, and educators proposing that schools address this deficit in critical-thinking skills?
News stories often state that black and Latino males have lower test scores and graduation rates than their white and Asian peers, that they’re more likely to be disciplined in school and be incarcerated. UCLA professor Tyrone Howard decided to produce a report that offers a different perspective.
In a new series, Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Jennifer Pignolet tells the story of Shelby County students working hard to make it to college — and to succeed once they arrive. And their challenges aren’t just financial: for some, like Darrius Isom of South Memphis, having reliable transportation to get to class on time is a game changer. And what are some of the in-school and extracurricular programs that students say are making a difference? Pignolet also looks at the the Tennessee Promise program, which provides free community college classes to qualified students, and assigns a mentor to help guide them.
THANKSGIVING BONUS: EWA journalist members share some of the things they’re grateful for this year.
The long, strange election cycle came to an end Tuesday with the election of Donald Trump as the next president. And while his campaign platform was scarce on education policy details, there’s no question his administration will have a significant impact, from early childhood to K-12 and higher education.
Latino children will “pretty much determine the fate of Texas” during the 21st century, the state’s Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes said in his annual address this week.
That’s why the state will need to get more creative in educating Latinos and ensuring they graduate from college. “Doing business as usual,” won’t work, he said, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Timothy Pratt of The Hechinger Report discusses why liberal arts colleges in Appalachia are making Latino student recruiting a top priority. A 2016 EWA Reporting Fellow, Pratt recently completed an in-depth reporting project on the implications of this shift for private colleges — many of which are struggling to keep enrollment counts up.
A record 83.2 percent of students graduated from U.S. high schools in 2015, and the graduation rates of black and Latino students were also up. But there’s still work to be done, President Obama said in his “final report card” speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., Monday.
As federal education officials tout a fourth consecutive year of improvement in the nation’s high school graduation rate, the reactions that follow are likely to fall into one of three categories: policymakers claiming credit for the gains; critics arguing that achievement gaps are still far too wide to merit celebrating; and policy wonks warning against misuses of the data.
In what the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics is calling a “culturally relevant” resource guide, Latino students and their families could find all they need to know about preparing, applying, paying for and succeeding in college.
The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Excelencia in Education has released its annual list of college programs and community groups that are effectively supporting the educational advancement of Latino students in higher education, or “Examples of ¡Excelencia!“
Here’s a look at this year’s honorees.
Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program, Northern Virginia Community College
Millions of high school graduates show up for the first day of college academically unprepared for the rigors of higher ed. And that’s where remedial (or “developmental”) education comes into play. Students don’t get academic credit for these classes even though they still cost them in time and money. And there’s another problem: being placed in even one remedial class as a freshman — particularly at a community college — can significantly reduce a student’s odds of ever completing a degree.
The number of Hispanics taking the ACT exam jumped 50 percent from 2011 to 2015. But only 15 percent of those test takers are scoring well enough to be deemed college-ready in all four subjects, compared to 28 percent of other students.
These figures starkly reflect “the gap between the level of aspiration and the level of readiness” required to thrive in college, said Juan Garcia, senior director of the ACT’s Office for the Advancement of Underserved Learners.
The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.
See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.
Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.
What will it take for the federal government to provide American Indian and Alaskan Native students with the schooling and services they’ve long been promised?
Margarita is a four-year-old girl living in East Harlem. She speaks Spanish at home with her Mexican-born parents, is obedient, well-behaved and plays well with kids her age, younger and older.
This report examines the status of education in the United States by aggregating high quality research and data from numerous credible sources. Each chapter describes the context and the current state of play in each focus area — including student achievement, standards and testing; school finance, and charter schools, among others. It highlights key policy issues and trends affecting public education now and in the future.
For education reporters, coming up with fresh ideas for back-to-school stories is an annual ritual. And if you’re balancing the K-12 and higher education beats, it can be an even bigger challenge.
Now that the White House race has narrowed to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, how is education playing out as an issue in the campaign? Will it prove an important fault line between the Democratic and Republican candidates? Will Trump offer any details to contrast with Clinton’s extensive set of proposals from early childhood to higher education? What are the potential implications for schools and colleges depending on who wins the White House? Also, what other races this fall should be on the radar of journalists, whether elections for Congress, state legislatures, or governor?
If you haven’t yet heard of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the use of race as a factor in college admissions, you may have at least seen the #BeckyWithTheBadGrades buzz on Twitter and wondered what it meant.
Though it is in part a reference to Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” sensation, the hashtag has more to do with higher education than pop culture.
Participation in the Advanced Placement program has more than doubled over the past decade, with nearly 2.5 million students taking one or more AP exams in 2015. But with that growth has come questions about the push to ramp up the AP presence, especially initiatives that target low-income and minority students.
How well do AP courses prepare students for the rigors of college? And are students who may lack adequate preparation benefiting from the coursework?
Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance
Teaching Adolescents To Become Learners summarizes the research on five categories of noncognitive factors that are related to academic performance: academic behaviors, academic perseverance, academic mindsets, learning strategies and social skills, and proposes a framework for thinking about how these factors interact to affect academic performance, and what the relationship is between noncognitive factors and classroom/school context, as well as the larger socio-cultural context.
It’s not hard to find a teacher willing to bend your ear about the volume of standardized testing in schools today, and the pressure for “test prep.” But how widespread are such concerns among educators? And what’s the on-the-ground reality they experience?
New survey data suggest these impressions about over-testing and test prep are more than just anecdotal: They are the norm for the majority of public school teachers.
When it comes to the story of Massachusetts’ public schools, the takeaway, according to the state’s former education secretary, Paul Reville, is that “doing well isn’t good enough.”
Like many of their counterparts across the country, 10th graders at the School of Business and Tourism, part of the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex near downtown Los Angeles, read To Kill a Mockingbird. But they also read the works of self-help writer Dale Carnegie. Eleventh graders study The Great Gatsby but earlier in the year they pondered Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger.
“If you’ve made the commitment to go to school here, then you’ve made the commitment to go to college.”
In the dozen years that Angela Duckworth has researched the concept of grit, she’s found new ways to test its validity, identified examples of it in popular culture, and worked to bust myths about its application in schools. But she hasn’t developed a just-add-water curriculum package that interested schools can use to develop the character trait in their students.
Some students throughout Arizona won’t have to add a $40 ACT fee to the list of bills they’ll encounter on the path to college.
When students feel engaged and connected to their schoolwork, it’s no surprise that they tend to have better academic outcomes. But a new study of career and technical education programs suggests the benefits can extend well beyond high school graduation.
When Yehimi Cambron crossed the U.S. border from Mexico with her parents, they told her she would not have documented legal status in this country. But as a third-grader, she had no concept of how that would affect her.
It wasn’t until she was 15 and denied a $50 prize in an art competition because she didn’t have a Social Security number that she grasped its meaning.
Construction Ahead: Are State Policies Building Bridges, Detours, or Roadblocks to College?
Far far too many students, the path between high school and higher education is littered with detours and roadblocks. … “Mapping College Ready Policies 2015-16,” a data visualization project released earlier today by New America’s Education Policy Program, analyzes individual states’ progress towards addressing these challenges to ensure all students are on a sturdy bridge on their route from high school to higher education.
In the Long Beach Unified School District, Superintendent Chris Steinhauser actively recruits students to take Advanced Placement classes.
“Hey ‘John,’ according to our data, you qualify for these AP,” he says he would write in a letter to students in the district. “You need to talk to your mom and dad.”
According to a leading economist, the public debate over affirmative action’s role in higher education is missing the point, and could actually lead to worse academic outcomes for students who get a boost from a college’s affirmative action policies. That view, however, is hotly contested by a wide range of scholars.
Programs that allow students to take college classes in high school have been gaining popularity in schools across the country.
A few weeks ago Reina Olivas got on the phone with a freshman college student. “She was having a hard time with the cultural experience, the college experience,” said Olivas, a college mentor who’s in her third year at the University of Texas at Austin. “So I asked her this initial question – ‘Have you gone to office hours?’”
Olivas is part of an eight-person crew at the Dell Scholars Program that connects with 1,500 college students across the country who could use a helpful hint from other students who also are wending their way through higher learning.
Do tests or high school grades better determine whether a student is ready for college-level math and reading? For public universities and community colleges, increasingly the answer is both – or no tests at all, reporters learned during a seminar hosted by the Education Writers Association in Los Angeles last month.
The SAT has been called out of touch, instructionally irrelevant, and a contributor to the diversity gaps on college campuses because the test arguably benefits wealthier students who can afford heaps of test preparation.
But now the SAT is fighting back. The College Board, the test’s owner, is hoping that a major makeover of the assessment that’s set to debut this weekend will persuade critics that students, teachers and colleges still need an exam that has been a centerpiece of the admissions landscape for 90 years.
In the Windy City, one out of every 10 high schoolers is enrolled at a campus in the Noble Network of Charter Schools. And while Noble students typically perform well, the network is facing some growing pains in the nation’s third-largest school district. Among the challenges: An increasingly diverse student population, competition for enrollment from traditional Chicago Public Schools campuses seeking to reinvent themselves, and concerns about Noble’s strict discipline policies and emphasis on preparing for the ACT college entrance exam.
Many community college students dream of making the transition to a four-year institution but the application process can be daunting – especially if you don’t have experienced family members to ask for help. Enter the “Pushy Moms” at LaGuardia Community College, a volunteer group of mothers well-versed in the ins and outs of the higher education admissions maze.
A new report from a coalition of educators suggests it’s time to rein in ambitious students (and their families) when it comes applying to the nation’s top colleges and universities.
The many complaints about the large quantity of standardized assessments American students take may make giving another test a hard sell. But some U.S. high schools have recently added a voluntary exam that puts their student achievement in reading, math and science into an international context.
Here’s something to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions, and it might even make it easier to keep that pledge to exercise more often: Subscribe to EWA Radio! Each week, we feature education journalists sharing the backstory to their best work. You’ll hear tips for managing the daily beat, as well as ideas for localizing national issues for your own audience.
Here are a few more opportunities from EWA to help ramp up your reporting in 2016:
It’s been a terrific year for our scrappy little podcast, and we’re thrilled to report an equally stellar lineup coming to EWA Radio in 2016.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the many journalists and education experts who made time to join us for lively conversations, and to all of you who have offered suggestions for stories and guests to feature. Please keep the feedback coming!
Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 most popular episodes of the year:
With most schools closed until after the New Year, the holidays can be a dry spell on the education beat. But there’s no shortage of ideas for creative reporters who are willing to venture into less-familiar territory.
The U.S. Department of Education is celebrating a new milestone for the nation’s high school graduation rate, with just over 82 percent of seniors earning diplomas in 2014. But these statistics, like so many others in the education realm, should come with a warning label: The numbers don’t tell the full story.
A cup of coffee in a comfortable lounge may be just what students need to keep them relaxed about the college application process. At least, that’s what a new education-focused center in Houston is going for.
Cafécollege Houston opened last week, modeled after San Antonio’s successful center with the same name – a “one stop shop” for teens and adults looking for guidance on college applications, financial aid, the college transfer process and more.
Since 2003, more information is produced every two days than the total sum of information produced between that year and the dawn of time, the CEO of Google said in 2010. Easily web-accessible facts, names and articles have grown exponentially, so much so that some say students can’t be taught like they were in the past, when rote memorization was the gold standard for learning and information wasn’t at almost everyone’s fingertips.
Should race-based college admission policies prioritize minority students from affluent families over those from low-income households?
That’s the question at the heart of a heated debate as the Supreme Court prepares to hear another round of arguments in the high-profile Fisher v. University of Texas affirmative action case next week.
“College and career readiness” has become the rallying cry for what high schools should aim to achieve for their graduates. But large numbers of students still arrive on college campuses needing remedial courses, and many of those who are academically ready still struggle to adapt to college and earn their degrees.
Despite persistent political debates, the Common Core State Standards are now a classroom reality in public schools across the country. Yet much is in flux as educators wrestle with how best to teach the Common Core — or their own state’s version of it — and some states rethink the tests tied to the new K-12 standards.
There was plenty of levity on Twitter in the wake of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s declaration that “we need more welders, less philosophers.”(This English major would have preferred he said “fewer” philosophers, by the way.)
LOCKED OUT: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth
The Council of State Governments Justice Center
There is perhaps no population of young people who have a greater need for access to quality education and who experience more barriers to access than incarcerated youth. How are educational and vocational services being made available to them? How are states collecting and tracking student outcome data? How are juvenile correctional agencies and education agencies working together to ensure that these youth transition to a community-based educational or vocational setting after release from incarceration?
Last week the White House announced a new higher education experiment that will direct federal grants to some high school students who want to enroll in college classes.
The plan is to start small, with the administration offering $20 million to help defray the college costs of up to 10,000 low-income high school students for the 2016-2017 academic year. The money will come from the overall Pell Grant pot, which is currently funded at more than $30 billion annually and used by 8 million students.
Ethnic studies programs have had their fair share of controversy in this nation, but researchers maintain they can be a way to improve engagement and student outcomes.
Students who transfer between colleges and universities on their path to achieve a college degree often encounter obstacles — barriers, like lost credits, that could keep them from finishing their degree altogether. At EWA’s recent seminar in Orlando focused on higher education, reporters got a lesson in the data on transfer students and heard from experts who are making the process of transferring and going on to earn degrees easier for students at their community colleges.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of new college students arrive on campus unable to handle freshman level work and wind up in remedial classes. That’s a major frustration not only to the students but also to lawmakers who believe public dollars are being used twice for the same instruction – once at the K-12 level, then again in postsecondary financial aid.
In a speech honoring Hispanic Heritage Month and the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Thursday, President Obama praised Hispanic students for helping drive the U.S. high school graduation rate to an all-time high and also announced the commitments of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to boost student academic success.
Why do so few students from low-income families earn college degrees, even when they were academic standouts as high schoolers? And what can be done to help these students make a smoother transition to higher education?
Kavitha Cardoza tackles these questions in “Lower Income, Higher Ed”, a new documentary for WAMU Radio in Washington, D.C.
The United States government needs a Department of Talent to coordinate its education, labor and immigration agencies, the head of one of the nation’s largest education foundations said last week.
California supporters of the Common Core had hoped the new standards emphasizing college readiness would help narrow the achievement gap for black and Latino students in the state, but the latest test results show that gap might be even bigger than it was previously thought to be.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan launches his sixth annual back-to-school bus tour this week, and the chosen locations offer some insights into the department’s priorities in the waning days of the Obama administration.
Latino and black students who took and passed Advanced Placement exams in California outscored their peers in other parts of the country.
Many states are rolling out the first round of test scores this fall from brand new assessments pegged to the Common Core standards. Join EWA for a Sept. 10 webinar designed to help reporters better understand what’s coming and how they can report on the data in meaningful ways.
It’s easy to get cynical about back-to-school stories – especially when you’ve been an education reporter for many years. But it’s important to remember that for many children and their families – one of the prime audiences for such reporting – this might be the first time they’ve gone through the experience.
The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.
Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.
Fewer Hispanic 18- and 19-year-olds are disconnected from school and jobs than before the Great Recession, a new Pew Research Center analysis of federal data shows.
The percentage of Hispanic youth who are unemployed and not enrolled in school is the lowest it has been in 10 years, with a dramatic drop from 21 percent in 2009 to 16 percent in 2014.
Connecting Education, Workforce Data Key to Strong State Labor Markets
National Governors Association
As the individual with the platform and budget authority to guide public education and economic development at the state level, the governor plays a central role in ensuring that public educational institutions provide students with the knowledge and abilities required for a successful life and career. The systemic use of data from education and labor markets informs governors and other policymakers of the effectiveness and efficiency of their existing postsecondary systems and students and employers of labor market conditions.
Latino professors from universities across the country give incoming college freshmen advice in a recent post on NBC News Latino, sharing both practical reminders — like “use the class syllabus” and “get to know your teachers” — and heartfelt sentiments about what it means to be Latino on a college campus.
The 53.5 million K-12 students heading to the classrooms in America’s public, charter and private schools this fall are more racially diverse than ever before, according to a recent analysis by the Pew Research Center.
While it may seem that every back-to-school story has been written, the well is far from dry. Are you following the blogs teachers in your district write? Have you amassed the data sets you’ll need to write that deep dive explaining why so many local high school graduates land in remedial classes when they first enter college?
No? It’s OK. You’re not alone.
In a new study evaluating the college application habits of recent high school graduates in Texas, researchers found that academically talented Hispanic and black students were likely to pass up a chance at an Ivy League education and apply to colleges closer to home.
With its new report, “Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement,” Carnegie Foundation writers Susan Headden and Sarah McKay bring needed clarity to this growing field. They define key terms, discuss research findings, and explain promising approaches to boosting motivation. The report is organized according to three major factors that contribute to student motivation: rewards and value, mindsets, and relationships. It also explores the system-level supports that are necessary for the scaling and long-term success of this work.
Schools that that teach low-income students a notoriously demanding curriculum are almost twice as likely to see those students enroll in college, a new report shows.
This news comes on the heels of growing research suggesting that challenging assessments, which are a staple of the International Baccalaureate program featured in the report, help students develop a deeper understanding of key subjects like math and history. That “deeper learning,” in turn, may lead to more college opportunities.
The explosion of free online education, known mainly for targeting adults, is reaching ever further into high schools.
On Wednesday, a new sequence of lessons for high school Advanced Placement courses in calculus, physics and macroeconomics went live on a free Web site founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The lessons, developed by Davidson College for the site called edX, represent a new step in the evolution of ties between the popular AP college-level program and the “massive open online courses” known as MOOCs.
Latino students might shun Advanced Placement courses if the only students they see in them are mostly affluent whites.
That’s essentially what Jeremy Goldman, head of counseling at a Baltimore high school told NBC last week in an article about the College Board’s new campaign to boost the number of minority high school students enrolled in AP classes.
With the Supreme Court set to take another look at a controversial affirmative action case in Texas college admissions, some worry what a second decision from the nation’s highest court will have on college-bound minorities.
Amid worries of a “skills gap” for U.S. youths and young adults, some experts call for rethinking and ramping up career and technical education. Panelists explore the skills and achievement of American young people in an international context, and highlight ways to improve CTE with an eye toward promising practices in other countries.
When Carolyn Alessio assigned her students to prepare to act out a trial to probe the themes of “Frankenstein,” she was surprised at what she found at the top of a few of their supporting documents — perfectly formatted docket numbers.
The Noble Network of Charter Schools is arguably Chicago’s most famous charter chain. Despite having schools only in one city and operating exclusively at the high school level, charter advocates now consider Noble to be in the same tier as KIPP and Achievement First — national brands in the no-excuses charter arena.
More Latinos are earning degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields; yet more are needed, a new report by Excelencia in Education claims.
According to the study, “Finding Your Workforce: Latinos in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math,” Latinos earning credentials in STEM increased to 9 percent in 2013 from 8 percent in 2010.
Four East Coast cities and one in California made the list of the top five metropolitan areas with the most educated Latino population in a recent National Journal analysis.
We quickly discovered two good reasons schools weren’t implementing mindset interventions: Schools didn’t know how to implement mindset interventions, and Schools didn’t know whether mindset interventions would work for their students. We had something important in common with them: We didn’t know either! To turn mindset interventions into something that schools could (and should) practically use, we first needed to develop a mindset intervention that schools could easily implement. We also needed to test whether this easy-to-use intervention was effective for various kinds of students.
An elective course designed to motivate Hispanic students to finish high school and go to college will be piloted in six Broward County, Florida high schools this fall.
Scott Travis of the Sun Sentinel reports the class, Latinos in Action, will focus on four major areas:
It may be nestled near the middle in a list of the Top 100 Colleges for Hispanics, but Montclair State University in New Jersey received front cover-worthy recognition in the latest edition of the Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine.
The shift from high school to college or the workforce is harrowing enough, but for the 6 million students diagnosed with a disability, the stakes are higher and the transition all the more challenging.
The United States should look to countries like Switzerland and Singapore – both seen as having strong, successful vocational education systems – if it wants to address the widening skills gap among young people.
That was the consensus of two of the three panelists during a discussion on rethinking career and technical education during the Education Writers Association’s 68th national seminar in Chicago.
Fewer Latinos are dropping out of high school, and more are heading for college.
With graduation season well underway, these are a few educational highlights mentioned in a Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends article Tuesday. The Pew article used data from 2000 and 2013 to examine national trends.
Latinos older than age 5 are speaking English better now than the same demographic group did in 2000, a new Pew Research Center study shows. Among those driving the statistics are the U.S.-born and those who have completed a high-school education.
According to the study — an analysis of 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data — 33.2 million Hispanics in the United States speak English proficiently, a record high.
The nation’s students are graduating from high school at record rates and the reasons can be attributed to school reform efforts, not improving economic trends, argues a new report released by several organizations, including an advocacy group backed by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Most students don’t study using methods backed by scientific research, panelists at the Education Writers Association’s deep dive on the science of learning told reporters in Chicago at the association’s 68th National Seminar.
“Why do people find learning so hard?” asked Henry Roediger, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who participated in the April event.
A few months ago I spent time with students at Pittsfield Middle High School in rural New Hampshire. They’re participating in a program known as “Extended Learning Opportunities”, which lets them step out of the traditional classroom setting and explore their personal interests. A central goal is to help them find the connective tissue between their academic studies and potential career goals.
Howard University Teams Up With D.C. High Schools
University is one of thousands to offer college courses to high school students
Another university in Washington, D.C., has partnered with high schools to offer their students college-level courses for free, allowing them to earn high school and college credit at the same time.
Rolling Stone retracted its story that supposedly detailed a University of Virginia student’s brutal rape by several members of a campus fraternity, and a report by the Columbia University Journalism School called the debacle “a journalistic failure.”
For interactive map, scroll down.
More students in the United States are graduating from high school, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Education.
“America’s students have achieved another record-setting milestone,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a prepared statement. “This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country, and these improvements are thanks to the hard work of teachers, principals, students and families.”
When it comes to giving high-school diplomas to Latino males, Alaska does it best. Nevada has some work to do.
According to a report released today by the Schott Foundation for Public Education – which focuses on the graduation rates of black and Latino males — graduation rates among Latino males have risen from 59 to 65 percent since 2009-10. The gap between whites and Latinos has also decreased 5 percentage points since that time.
On Monday, the College of Southern Nevada became the state’s first Hispanic-serving institution — a designation that two more Nevada colleges also might earn in the near future as the Las Vegas Valley’s Latino population continues to grow.
A non-profit Hispanic group in Palm Beach County, Fla. has asked the school district for a role in helping select the next superintendent — a person they say should have a proven track record of improving graduation rates among minority students.
The report, released last week, is comprised of more than 20 fact sheets profiling the state of Latinos in education across the pipeline.
The United States has a gifted and talented student problem: Mainly, too few of the nation’s students score high on domestic and international assessments, and those that do are disproportionately well-off, Asian-American or white.
The District of Columbia Public Schools could soon be making a large investment in the education of Latino and black males, who comprise 43 percent of the district’s student population and who historically tend to fall behind in reading and math, and have lower attendance and graduation rates.
The chair of the Alliance for Hispanic Education dedicated more than 1,000 words to an op-ed Monday explaining why he, as an educator and Christian, supports the Common Core State Standards.
Student participation in Mexican-American studies can be linked to better outcomes on state standardized tests and increased chances of earning a high school diploma, according to a recent report by the University of Arizona.
The university researchers’ findings, published in the December 2014 edition of the American Educational Research Journal, reveal students’ chances of completing high school increased nearly 10 percent.
Latino students who attend Western Nevada College are visiting schools to promote the benefits of higher education, presenting themselves as role models for students they hope to see follow in their footsteps.
The statistics are eye-catching. Only 41 percent of Latino college students finish their college degree in six years. When compared with the national average of 50 percent who earn a degree in the same time frame, the disparity seems to be clear.
A $50-million incentive may help Marian University in Indianapolis boost its Latino student population.
At least, that’s what school officials are hoping.
As millions of immigrants waited for President Barack Obama to shed light on their future Thursday, educators, too, had a stake in the conversation.
Here’s a counter-intuitive argument: The United States should spend more money on standardized tests.
With opposition to the new Common Core State Standards and the assessments linked to them reaching a fever pitch, advocating for better tests seems like an unpopular proposition. But what if U.S. students took fewer tests that measured their ability to understand academic concepts far more deeply than current tests permit?
Fewer than half of Hispanic students who took the ACT this year met the college readiness benchmarks in math or science, but those who actually expressed interest in STEM fared better on the college admissions exam.