Why? Citizens complain more, forcing officials to be more accountable.
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No more SAT words or long essays: The new SAT is here, and it looks pretty different. Almost a year after first announcing the SAT would face a major redesign, College Board President David Coleman released new information this afternoon on how the exam is going to change.
The College Board says it is emphasizing “delivering opportunity” to all students and making the SAT more reflective of high school academics. “It is time to admit that the SAT and ACT have become disconnected from the work of our high schools,” Coleman said in a press conference. He also said he hoped the changes would remove the “sense of mystery and dismantle the advantages that people perceive in using costly test preparation.”
Here are some of the key changes, which will go into effect in 2016.
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I’m not here to defend fraternities. I’ve found that people have largely made up their minds about the Greek system by the time they’re 18 or 19. But I do think the anti-fraternity chorus has grown overloud, the outrage in the court of public opinion disproportionate. Fraternity men are movie villains, the “frat bro” a national stereotype/punch line on par with “annoying hipster.” I sometimes meet judging eyes when I say, “Yeah, I was in a fraternity.” I think it’s ridiculous.
I’m not alone when I count my college years as the most formative of my life. Those years were dominated by my fraternity participation. Sigma Chi was the biggest and most overwhelmingly positive force in my life for those four years, and the lessons I took from it were every bit as valuable as anything I learned in a classroom. You go to class to study English or finance, but you go to college to study life, to continue becoming who you are.
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Irene Greif always thought she’d be a teacher. “For one thing,” she told me, “I’d been told by my mother that it was good to be a teacher because you just worked the hours your kids were in school and you could come home.” It had just always been the profession in the back of her mind, the default.
So then it must have been a bit of a shock when, after becoming the first woman ever to receive a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT, Greif discovered that she didn’t really enjoy teaching—she much preferred research. And so eventually she left teaching as a professor and did what she did best: studying, thinking, and figuring systems out. She founded a research field, computer-supported cooperative work, and has spent her life figuring out how to build better systems for humans to work together.
Greif recently retired from IBM, where she’d been since the mid-’90s, and is hoping to devote some time to encouraging young women to go into STEM fields and coaching them to stick with them—a twist on teaching that she does genuinely like.
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The Common Core has started to take political flak from the right and the left. Conservatives worry about the overreach of federal incentives, while unions don’t want the standards connected to teacher evaluations. What is being lost? The standards’ significant emphasis on reinvigorating the democratic purpose of public education. Making good on this promise presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine and reprioritize the special role that schools play in preparing students for active civic participation.
These new educational goals emphasize higher-level abilities: analysis and critical thinking; marshaling evidence and making arguments; collaboration and problem-solving; and communicating clearly. The stated focus of the Common Core—to prepare students who are “college and career ready”—advances one fundamental purpose of public education: preparing students for productive employment and economic self-sufficiency.
But Common Core is not just about college and career readiness. It is also deeply and explicitly focused on preparing students for the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. And while many skills are transferable across the domains of college, career, and citizenship, the commitment in the Common Core to the democratic mission of public schools goes much deeper.
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New projections on student enrollment from the federal government hint at the financial pressure many states will face as their student populations rise considerably in the next decade.
The data, released last week by the National Center on Education Statistics, forecast that the nation’s number of public school students from prekindergarten through high school will grow by 7 percent between 2011 and 2022. Leading the charge are states in the Western and Southern parts of the United States.
The school populations of Nevada and Arizona are expected to swell by more than 20 percent. Utah is set to grow by 19 percent, and Texas by more than 15 percent. Florida, the researchers write, can look forward to 14 percent growth.
But these states stand out for another reason as well. The states expected to grow the most also are among those that spend the least per student.
Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Texas and Utah all fall in the bottom 10 on the list of state expenditures per pupil, according to Education Week data released this year. State and local money tend to comprise nine out of 10 dollars spent on students, though those students with disabilities or from cash-strapped homes receive a larger share of funding from the federal government.
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The workplace-focused I-BEST program has emerged as an alternative to the GED test for adults who haven’t graduated from high school.
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Why playing with algebraic and calculus concepts—rather than doing arithmetic drills—may be a better way to introduce children to math
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Seven years ago, inside an eighth-grade classroom at Mount Vernon Junior High School in central Los Angeles, Deborah Membreno began to imagine a life beyond the chain-link fence surrounding the concrete schoolyard. Her outlook brightened the day an adviser from a University of California outreach program visited to talk about college.
The adviser who showed up at the school, where nearly 90 percent of students qualified for free lunch, was from the university’s Early Academic Outreach Program. She argued a positive side to being poor: The government would help pay for college.
“I thought I was smart,” Membreno says. “I had good grades. But before that day I didn’t think going to college was a possibility. My friends and I thought the cost would be too great.”
Membreno’s parents were undocumented Honduran immigrants trying to eke out a living. Her mom cleaned houses in the beachfront neighborhoods of Venice and Santa Monica. Her dad worked in a clothing warehouse downtown. They were divorced. Most of the time, Membreno lived with her father in a house with 12 other people: aunts, uncles, cousins, and a few nonrelatives.
The Early Academic Outreach Program adviser gave Membreno a chart listing the standardized tests and subjects needed for admission to the University of California—history, English, math, lab science, foreign language, visual/performing arts and electives—highlighting those courses that should be taken as Honors or Advanced Placement “to increase competitiveness.” At home that afternoon, Membreno framed the chart and hung it on the wall.
“I knew what I had to do,” Membreno says.
Yale Alumni Magazine’s cover announced this month that the university “seeks smart students from poor families.” As the illustration of a white man in a business suit reaching past low-hanging fruit demonstrates, Yale believes “they’re out there—but hard to find.” I guess my alma mater feels fortunate to have found me–a native of East Flatbush, Brooklyn and the descendant of a housekeeper, doorman, drug addict, and prisoner. I completed a Master’s and Ph.D there in African American Studies and Political Science in 2002 and 2006, respectively.
The article the cover refers to, “Wanted: Smart Students from Poor Families,” argues that decision-makers at this school and others (including Amherst and Vassar) are sincere in their efforts to both recruit more low-income students and make them “feel more at home” once admitted. The piece inadvertently reveals how the privileged point of view of trustees, administrators, and wealthy alumni donors present serious obstacles to these intentions ever manifesting into reality. Since graduating from Yale, I have taught courses at Williams College and Northwestern, published articles, as well as given lectures and trainings related to the politics of structural inequality. Here are three reasons why I believe elite universities and colleges continue to fail to economically democratize their student bodies.
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