EdMedia Commons Archive

College for All: Is the White House Moving Too Fast?

Among the many insights in today’s The New York Times article “‘No Child’ Law Whittled Down by White House” was this from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:

“Mr. Duncan, in a telephone interview on Thursday, said states that had received waivers, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, would also use a mix of other indicators to evaluate teachers and schools, like how many students actually enrolled in college or took Advanced Placement exams, as well as reviews of teachers by their peers, their students and their principals.”

A growing number of districts and states are moving toward the variegated mix of indicators Sec. Duncan laid out. Starting next school year in New York City, education officials are giving bonus points to schools that graduate students who move on to career training academies, the military, other public service rolls and college. In Florida, the school accountability system already takes into account AP classes and exams, something that was in place before the Obama administration began granting NCLB waivers.

Encouraging states to enroll more of their students into AP classes has its benefits. A recent study of Texas schools found that there was a slight uptick in college graduation rates and a sizeable increase in earnings potential among Black and Hispanic students. Critics say policy makers are overstating the benefits of college for everyone, pointing to studies that show many students don’t learn enough in college to justify the expense. Is the pressure to put students on the pipeline to college the best use of public resources? What about in-school vocation training? Should those programs receive the same funding and attention AP courses do?

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.