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Latest Education News

A collection of the most recent education journalism, curated by EWA staff. 

A collection of the most recent education journalism, curated by EWA staff. 

Key Coverage

As Colleges Close, How Will Vermont Schools Survive?

Low enrollment and financial troubles have caused a slew of Vermont’s small, independent colleges to shut their doors. What’s causing the problem — and is there a solution?

VPR’s Amy Noyes, who has been reporting on higher ed in Vermont with a fellowship from the Education Writers Association, has answers to these three questions:

“Why are student populations shrinking?” — Diana Clark, South Burlington

Key Coverage

University of Minnesota’s Academic Work With China Chilled by Federal Concerns

The solar-powered air purification tower rises 200 feet out of a cluster of high-rises in China — a soaring symbol of new possibilities for its inventor, University of Minnesota engineering professor David Pui.

Collaboration with China has long been a linchpin of U research, and lately that work has accelerated. In the past five years, university faculty have published more than 4,300 scientific papers jointly with colleagues in China — more than any other country.

Key Coverage

University of Minnesota Mines China Connection But Worries About Future

Jieie Chen and Dong Xuan felt a strong connection to the University of Minnesota long before they arrived from China with their son, Ken, an incoming freshman.

They had spent hours online researching the university. They had heard the director of the U’s Beijing office make a case for joining the “Gophers family” at a meeting with admitted students in Shanghai last spring. They had later taken in testimonials from U students and alumni at one of the orientations the university hosts in China each summer.

Key Coverage

Far From Home

In the 2017-18 school year, a handful of students (mostly from wealthy suburban Chicago districts) were sent to Discovery Academy or one of its associated facilities in Utah, and at least 70 more to other Utah boarding schools. That’s according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Key Coverage

Visiting Days: How a Detroit High School Extends Its Family Feel By Sticking With Graduates Through College

If you graduate from the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and go on to college, there is no escaping Katherine Grow. She’ll call, she’ll email, and she’ll show up on campus. And usually, during those campus visits, she’ll ask to see your phone.

The cell phones are a gateway to the college grades of the Detroit charter school’s graduates, and looking in is a key way that Grow monitors how those students are faring.

Key Coverage

More US Schools Teach in Spanish, But Not Enough to Help Latinos

The preschool dual-language program at Gates Street Early Education Center in Lincoln Heights, one of Los Angeles’ oldest neighborhoods with dense populations of Latino and Asian residents, is part of a growing number of bilingual education models taking root in California and across the country. Many of them are designed to serve students from Spanish-speaking families, as well as students from other cultures, under mounting evidence that learning two languages can help people from all backgrounds become stronger students.  

Key Coverage

Most Teachers Are White, Even as Schools Are More Diverse Than Ever

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Ricardo Alcalá’s parents, born in Mexico, carried less than a second-grade education when they came to California to work the fields. His older siblings dropped out of high school. One was sentenced to prison for life and killed behind bars. Ricardo was 13 then, living in poverty.

But when he was 14, something changed. A Latina teacher told him he was too smart for pre-algebra and should move up.

Key Coverage

Early Action? Early Decision? An Explanation of Looming College Admission Deadlines

Last week brought the first early decision deadlines for high school seniors applying to college — and also a lot of potential questions: Just what is early decision and how does it differ from early action? Have college admissions changed since the “Varsity Blues” scandal broke earlier this year? How do college admissions officers view Vermont’s new proficiency-based grading systems? What are the admissions options at Vermont colleges and universities?

Key Coverage

As Detroit Students Settle Into Their First Semester of College, ‘Bridge’ Programs Provide Needed Support

But still, despite excelling in her other classes, Marqell McClendon has struggled in the remedial math class she’s taking during her first semester at Michigan State University.

It’s an unfamiliar scene for McClendon, the valedictorian of her graduating class at Detroit’s Cody High School who’s used to students coming to her for help. Now, the tables are turned. She describes it as “bittersweet.”

Key Coverage

‘Critically Divisive Lines:’ Why Inequity Persists In Illinois Schools

Yuliana Quintana worries she won’t succeed in college because she didn’t have access to lab equipment, Advanced Placement classes, and other resources during her high school years.

Quintana, 19, was last year’s valedictorian of her high school in DePue, a tiny village about 50 miles north of Peoria.

Quintana’s school district, DePue Community Unit School District 103, is one of the poorest districts in Illinois.

Key Coverage

Promises Kept: How a Scholarship Program Is Serving as a Model for Community Change
Cory McCoy

A city of just 5,500 residents in East Texas might not be the first place people would think of when looking to pilot a program that could change the college landscape, but it’s happening in Rusk.

When the Rusk promise launched in 2014, it was the first community promise initiative in the state. In just five years, the results already are creating change in the community.

Key Coverage

An Unseen Victim of the College Admissions Scandal: The High School Tennis Champion Aced Out by a Billionaire Family

On a Monday morning in April 2017, students at Sage Hill School gathered in its artificial-turf quadrangle, known as the Town Square, to celebrate seniors who were heading to college as recruited athletes. The 10 honorees lined up behind an archway adorned with balloons. One by one, they stepped forward as their sports and destinations were announced. Patricia Merz, the head of the private high school in Newport Coast, California, placed a lei in the appropriate college’s colors around each student’s neck.

Member Stories

May 31 – June 6
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Despite privacy concerns, America’s schools are increasingly monitoring students’ online lives, reports Education Week’s Benjamin Herold.

WAMU’s Jenny Abamu continues exploring schools’ use of restraint and seclusion, and why it often goes unreported.

For USA Today, Erin Richards and Matt Wynn examine how teachers’ salaries stack up to the cost of living in cities across the country.

Key Coverage

Lost Days: Poverty, Isolation Drive Students Away From School In California’s Rural Districts

Twenty-six percent, or about 600 students, at Oroville Union High School District were chronically absent during the 2017-18 school year, according to an EdSource analysis of California Department of Education data.

Statewide, more than 700,000 students, or about 11 percent, were chronically absent. About 10 percent of the 1,000 districts statewide had rates near the level of Oroville Union High’s or significantly higher. Most of those districts were in rural areas, the analysis found:

Report

(Report) Nonwhite School Districts Get $23 Billion Less Than White Districts Despite Serving the Same Number of Students

The story of our communities can in many ways be told through the lens of the school districts that serve our children. More than organizations that enable learning, school districts are geographic boundaries that serve as magnifying lenses that allow us to focus on issues of race and wealth. They are both a statement of “what is” and “what could be” in our society.

Report

Why Suburban Districts Need Public Charter Schools Too – Progressive Policy Institute

On November 8, 2016, while the rest of the world anxiously awaited the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, a subset of voters with a keen interest in education had their eyes on Massachusetts. This was the day Bay Staters would vote on Ballot Question 2, a proposal to raise the state’s cap on public charter schools by up to 12 new schools per year.

Report

Views Among College Students Regarding the First Amendment: Results From a New Survey

College students’ views on the First Amendment are important for another reason as well: Students act as de facto arbiters of free expression on campus. The Supreme Court justices are not standing by at the entrances to public university lecture halls ready to step in if First Amendment rights are curtailed. If a significant percentage of students believe that views they find offensive should be silenced, those views will in fact be silenced.

Report

As Cuomo Proposal Rekindles Free College Movement, New Research Provides Ammunition for Skeptics
Brookings Institution

In early January, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced his intention to make a public college education tuition-free for most students in the state. The proposal has breathed life back into the free college movement, which supporters feared would lose momentum under the incoming presidential administration. Instead, momentum has simply relocated (back) to the state level. Tennessee and Oregon already have their own “free college” initiatives, and just this week, Governor Gina Raimondo proposed a version for Rhode Island.

Report

Higher Education: 2016 Elections Wrap-Up and 2017 Federal Policy Preview
American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Higher education issues took a more prominent role in the 2016 elections than any time in recent memory, college affordability and student debt levels catapulted higher education to the top of domestic policy concerns. Both major party nominees for president, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, included higher education proposals in their policy agendas, with Clinton offering the most expansive, ambitious higher education plan than any other major party candidate in decades.

Report

Time for Action Building the Educator Workforce Our Children Need Now
Center on Great Teachers and Leaders

States are now deeply engaged in developing plans for their federal education spending for the next several years. Decades of experience and education research indicate that states must strengthen and organize the educator workforce to implement change successfully. Now is the time to rethink systems and strategies and to focus funds and efforts on what matters most for learning: great teachers and leaders for every student and school. 

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Teacher Effectiveness in the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Discussion Guide
Center on Great Teachers and Leaders

Systemic challenges in the educator workforce require thoughtful and bold actions, and ESSA presents a unique opportunity for states to reaffirm, modify, or improve their vision of educator effectiveness. This GTL Center discussion guide focuses on one challenge that states face as part of this work: defining ineffective teacher in the absence of highly qualified teacher (HQT) requirements.

Report

Changes in Income-Based Gaps in Parent Activities with Young Children from 1988-2012
American Educational Research Association

Numerous studies show large differences between economically advantaged and disadvantaged parents in the quality and quantity of their engagement in young children’s development. This “parenting gap” may account for a substantial portion of the gap in children’s early cognitive skills. However, researchers know little about whether the socioeconomic gap in parenting has increased over time. The present study investigates this question, focusing on income- (and education) based gaps in parents’ engagement in cognitively stimulating activities with preschool-aged children.

Report

The Promise and Peril of Predictive Analytics in Higher Education
New America

Predictive analytics–using massive amounts of historical data to predict future events–is a practice that’s making it easier and faster for colleges to decide which students to enroll and how to get them to graduation. But predictive analytics can aid in discriminatory practices, make institutional practices less transparent, and make vulnerable individuals’ data privacy and security.

Report

Black-White Disparity in Student Loan Debt More Than Triples After Graduation
Brookings Institution

The moment they earn their bachelor’s degrees, black college graduates owe $7,400 more on average than their white peers ($23,400 versus $16,000, including non-borrowers in the averages). But over the next few years, the black-white debt gap more than triples to a whopping $25,000. Differences in interest accrual and graduate school borrowing lead to black graduates holding nearly $53,000 in student loan debt four years after graduation—almost twice as much as their white counterparts.

Report

Seven Facts On Noncognitive Skills From Education To The Labor Market
The Hamilton Project

Cognitive skills—that is, math and reading skills that are measured by standardized tests—are generally understood to be of critical importance in the labor market. Most people find it intuitive and indeed unsurprising that cognitive skills, as measured by standardized tests, are important for students’ later-life outcomes. For example, earnings tend to be higher for those with higher levels of cognitive skills. What is less well understood—and is the focus of these economic facts—is that noncognitive skills are also integral to educational performance and labor-market outcomes.

Report

The Learning Landscape
Bellwether Education Partners

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. 

Report

Looking Under the Hood of Competency-Based Education
American Institutes for Research, Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Competency-based education (CBE), an instructional approach that emphasizes what students learn and master rather than how much time they spend in school, is gaining popularity nationwide. CBE environments provide students with personalized learning, autonomy, flexibility, and responsibility for their own learning, which is theorized to improved learning behaviors.

Report

No More Free Lunch for Education Policymakers and Researchers
Brookings Institution

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), like No Child Left Behind before it, requires states to report information on the academic achievement of students in each of their schools, both overall and for various subgroups of students. A subgroup of particular interest to policymakers and researchers is economically disadvantaged students, who, on average, score much lower on standardized tests than their higher-income peers.

Report

Drop Out, Push Out, & School-to-Prison Pipeline
GLSEN

Educational Exclusion: Drop Out, Push Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline among LGBTQ Youth provides an in-depth look at the conditions that effectively push LGBTQ youth out of school and potentially into the criminal justice system. The report provides specific, real world guidance to address the hostile school climates and damaging policies and practices that contribute to pushing LGBTQ youth out of their schools.

Read the report.

Post

This Is What Happens When Charter Schools Think Big

Match Beyond has a bodacious goal: To invent a college program that wipes out undergraduate debt and cures poverty.

Not the rarefied college designed for that by-the-bootstraps, defy-the-odds high school senior trotted out for interviews and inspirational speeches when visitors come to high-poverty schools looking for their scholarship success stories.

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With ‘Blame and Shame’ Accountability Behind Us, What Will Take Its Place?

One of the most important and welcomed provisions of the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) is the removal of so-called adequate yearly progress – the federal mandate that came to symbolize everything that was wrong with the way No Child Left Behind defined and measured accountability. AYP imposed rigid and narrow measures for school improvement, improperly labeling many schools as low-performing and imposing punishment when they were unable to meet the unrealistic expectations for proficiency.

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Construction Ahead: Are State Policies Building Bridges, Detours, or Roadblocks to College?
New America

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.

 

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The Health of the Charter Public School Movement
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

The Health of the Charter Public School Movement: A State-by-State Analysis evaluates the health of the charter public school movement in key states across the country. Following the first report released in October 2014, this second edition measures movement growth, innovation, and quality, while this year doubling the number of quality measures. Due to these quality additions, a total of 18 states with charter school laws met the criteria for inclusion in this year’s report.

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National Benchmarks for State Achievement Standards
American Institutes for Research

State achievement standards represent how much the state expects their students to learn in order to reach various levels of academic proficiency. In the past, these achievement standards were used by each state to report adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind federal legislation, and are now being used for federal reporting under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

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Ensuring High-Quality Teacher Talent
Education First

As districts face the recurring problem of ensuring every student has access to a high-quality teacher, a growing number have begun to proactively form deep, mutually beneficial partnerships with teacher preparation programs to produce teacher candidates who match their specific needs. These partnerships, when done well, take significant time and resources on behalf of both parties, but have the ability to transform the work of both institutions.

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Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions
Making Caring Common Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions, represents the first time that a broad coalition of colleges and universities have joined forces in a unified effort calling for widespread change in the college admissions process. The report includes concrete recommendations to reshape the college admissions process and promote greater ethical engagement among aspiring students, reduce excessive achievement pressure, and level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students.

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Trends in College Spending: 2003-2013 – Where Does the Money Come From? Where Does It Go? What Does It Buy?
American Institutes for Research

Trends in College Spending: 2003–2013 examines college and university finances during one of the most turbulent economic periods in decades. The financial ramifications of the 2008 recession were vast, affecting students’ ability to pay for college, lawmakers’ prioritization of public resources, and the budgetary environment facing higher education leaders. The challenges brought by the fiscal crisis also provided colleges and universities with an opportunity to reevaluate how they allocated resources and rethink how to manage costs and improve student outcomes.

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Jeb Bush & Higher-Education Reform: Forget ‘Free College’
Andrew Kelly and Jason Delisle for National Review

Federal higher-education policy is in shambles. The strategy of the past 40 years — to increase student aid, watch tuition rise, and increase student aid again — has reached a breaking point. Federal loans flow freely with few questions asked, giving colleges every incentive to raise tuition and enroll more students, but less reason to worry about whether those students learn anything. Tuition at the average public four-year college has nearly quadrupled since the early 1980s, pushing more students into debt.

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Quality Counts 2016: Report and Rankings
Education Week

The 2016 edition of Education Week’s Quality Counts report—Called to Account: New Directions in School Accountability—examines how new state and federal strategies are transforming the assessment of school performance and reshaping the consequences for poor results. The new Every Student Succeeds Act is widely believed to herald a shift in authority away from the federal government and back to the states and school districts. Pressure is also mounting for accountability systems to go beyond test scores and incorporate other academic and non-academic factors in meaningful ways.

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The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education

Rising cost and lower government aid have made it even more difficult for poor students to obtain a college degree today than 45 years ago.

The Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the U.S. — 45 Year Trend Report, draws on U.S. Census statistics and educational data to make the compelling and disturbing case that inequality in obtaining a college education has substantially grown in the past 45 years.

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U.S. Teachers Offer Split Decision on Common Core

In a new Gallup survey of teachers, U.S. public school teachers are closely split in their overall reaction to the Common Core State Standards: 41% view the program positively and 44% negatively. Even in terms of strong reactions, teachers’ attitudes are divided, with 15% saying their perceptions of the initiative are “very positive” and 16% saying “very negative.”