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Improving Well-Being in the United States

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Improving Well-Being in the United States
Source: OECD

Life is quite good in the United States compared to other OECD countries, thanks to strong economic growth and technological progress having lifted average income to high levels. Nonetheless, there is evidence that the benefits from growth have not been sufficiently broad based. Self-reported happiness increases with income, an issue particularly resonant in a country with among the highest levels of income inequality in the OECD and a pattern of inequality that appears to be moving toward even more concentration at the very top at the expense of the middle class and the poor. Working hours that remain among the longest in the OECD are also creating challenges for work-life balances, child education, personal care and leisure. These pressures are contributing to higher job strain and work-related stress with unhealthy consequences, including for mental health, and a detrimental impact on employability and medical costs. While these trends cannot be easily reversed, a number of policy options are being usefully rolled out and other initiatives are being considered: federal-level policies improving access to health care and early-childhood education, state-level initiatives favouring workplace flexibility, firm-level investments in job quality and greater attention to the health consequences of job-stress. If successfully adopted, they would go a long way toward improving the well-being of American working families.

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No Common Opinion on the Common Core

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Support for Common Core Slips, But Majority of Public Still In Favor
Source: Education Next

Key Findings

• Support for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) dropped from 65% in 2013 to 53% in 2014, with support among Republicans falling from 57% to 43%.

• The public’s support for common standards is stronger when the words “Common Core” are not mentioned, with 68% in support.

• The public, on average, gives 50% of teachers an A or a B, but it gives a D or an F to 22% of them.

• One-quarter of those living with school-age children have educated at least one of their children in a setting other than a traditional public school.

• Support for increasing local school spending has not returned to its pre-recession level among those told current spending levels. As compared to 50% in 2008, only 43% favor spending increases in 2014.

• The same is true for teacher salaries. Among those told current salaries in their state, only 38% favor salary increases in 2014, compared to 54% in 2008.

• Only 35% of the public favors class-size reduction when told its cost relative to raising teacher salaries or purchasing more books and technologies, compared to 46% not informed of relative costs.

The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book

August 21, 2014 Comments off

The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book
Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation

The KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual publication that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Using an index of 16 indicators, the 2014 report ranks states on overall child well-being and in four domains: (1) economic well-being, (2) education, (3) health, and (4) family and community. For 2014, the three highest-ranked states for child well-being were Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa; the three lowest-ranked were Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi. The report also provides national trends, comparing the latest data with mid-decade statistics.

The 2014 Data Book is the 25th edition of the Casey Foundation’s signature publication. As such, the report also examines trends in child well-being since 1990, the year of the first report. It highlights positive policies and practices that have improved child health and development and features stories from several states on advocacy efforts that have improved outcomes for kids and families.

Transferability of Postsecondary Credit Following Student Transfer or Coenrollment

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Transferability of Postsecondary Credit Following Student Transfer or Coenrollment
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This statistical analysis report provides an in-depth examination of the transfer of credit among postsecondary education institutions using longitudinal data from the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09).

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2013

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2013 (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

In 2013, the overall unemployment rate for the United States was 7.4 percent; however, the rate varied across race and ethnicity groups. The rates were highest for Blacks (13.1 percent) and for American Indians and Alaska Natives (12.8 percent) and lowest for Asians (5.2 percent) and for Whites (6.5 percent). The jobless rate was 9.1 percent for Hispanics, 10.2 percent for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and 11.0 percent for people of Two or More Races.

Labor market differences among the race and ethnicity groups are associated with many factors, not all of which are measurable. These factors include variations across the groups in educational attainment; the occupations and industries in which the groups work; the geographic areas of the country in which the groups are concentrated, including whether they tend to reside in urban or rural settings; and the degree of discrimination encountered in the workplace.

Analysis of Kindergartners Shows Wide Differences in School Readiness Skills

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Analysis of Kindergartners Shows Wide Differences in School Readiness Skills
Source: Mathematica Policy Research (Sesame Workshop)

New research shows there is still a strong relationship between socio-economic factors and how well American children fare when entering kindergarten. In fact, a new study finds 44 percent of children enter kindergarten with one or more risk factors based on their home environment. These risk factors are incrementally associated with lower school readiness scores for children than for those with no such circumstances. Despite an increase in programs to level the playing field by giving disadvantaged children opportunities for preschool education, these gaps persist.

The analysis examined four risk factors that have been shown to affect children’s development and school achievement: single parent households, mothers with less than a high school education, households with incomes below the federal poverty line, and non-English speaking households. High-risk children (those with all four risk factors) were found to be almost a year behind their peers with no risk factors in their reading and math abilities.

The researchers also created composite readiness scores based on teacher ratings of children’s academic and social skills. Based on the researchers’ calculation, less than one-third of children were rated by teachers as “in-progress” or better on both reading and math skills.

What if You Earned a Diploma and Delayed Parenthood? Intergenerational Simulations of Delayed Childbearing and Increased Education

August 20, 2014 Comments off

What if You Earned a Diploma and Delayed Parenthood? Intergenerational Simulations of Delayed Childbearing and Increased Education
Source: Child Trends

This brief reports the results of using the Social Genome Model to provide a better understanding of how delaying childbearing and improving the educational attainment of teen mothers in one generation can be linked to the improved economic well-being of their children. This brief specifically reports results from “What if” simulations, in which teen mothers’ age at their first birth was increased by two or five years and in which the mothers earn a high school diploma. The implications of these changes on the life of the mothers’ children are estimated through childhood and up to age 29.

New Policy Makes It Easier for Community Eligibility Schools to Participate in E-Rate Program

August 19, 2014 Comments off

New Policy Makes It Easier for Community Eligibility Schools to Participate in E-Rate Program
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

A new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy will make it easier for school districts adopting the Community Eligibility Provision — through which they can serve meals at no charge to all students — to apply for discounted telecommunications services and Internet access through the E-rate program. The new E-rate policy streamlines the discount calculation process for community eligibility schools so that they do not face any additional burdens relative to other schools.

The Community Eligibility Provision, a relatively new option within the federal school meal programs, eliminates school meal applications. Schools are eligible to adopt the Community Eligibility Provision based on the share of their students who are low-income, as assessed by other programs. Schools that adopt community eligibility must serve all meals at no charge. Community eligibility has been implemented a few states at a time over the past three years and is available nationwide for the 2014-2015 school year.

Since community eligibility schools do not determine which individual children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, the E-rate program has developed ways for them to calculate their E-rate discount level. For school years 2011-2012 through 2014-2015, the FCC (which sets E-rate policy) directed community eligibility schools to continue using the share of students approved for free or reduced-price meals in the year prior to implementing community eligibility for purposes of determining their E-rate discount. Schools with 75 percent or more of their students approved for free or reduced-price meals receive a 90 percent discount; most schools that adopt community eligibility likely fall into this category.

How Video Production Affects Student Engagement: An Empirical Study of MOOC Videos

August 19, 2014 Comments off

How Video Production Affects Student Engagement: An Empirical Study of MOOC Videos (PDF)
Source: MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Videos are a widely-used kind of resource for online learning. This paper presents an empirical study of how video production decisions affect student engagement in online educational videos. To our knowledge, ours is the largest-scale study of video engagement to date, using data from 6.9 million video watching sessions across four courses on the edX MOOC platform. We measure engagement by how long students are watching each video, and whether they attempt to answer post-video assessment problems.

Our main findings are that shorter videos are much more engaging, that informal talking-head videos are more engaging, that Khan-style tablet drawings are more engaging, that even high-quality pre-recorded classroom lectures might not make for engaging online videos, and that students engage differently with lecture and tutorial videos.

Based upon these quantitative findings and qualitative insights from interviews with edX staff, we developed a set of recommendations to help instructors and video producers take better advantage of the online video format.

Projections of Education Statistics to 2022 (Forty-first Edition)

August 19, 2014 Comments off

Projections of Education Statistics to 2022 (PDF)
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This edition of Projections of Education Statistics provides projections for key education statistics, including enrollment, graduates, teachers, and expenditures in elementary and secondary public and private schools, as well as enrollment and degrees conferred at postsecondary degree-granting institutions. Included are national data on enrollment and graduates for the past 15 years and projections to the year 2022. Also included are state-level data on enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools and public high schools from 2004, with projections to 2022. This report is organized by the level of schooling with sections 1, 2, 3, and 4 covering aspects of elementary and secondary education and sections 5 and 6 covering aspects of postsecondary education.

Graduate Medical Education That Meets the Nation’s Health Needs

August 19, 2014 Comments off

Graduate Medical Education That Meets the Nation’s Health Needs
Source: Institute of Medicine

Since the creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs in 1965, the public has provided tens of billions of dollars to fund graduate medical education (GME), the period of residency and fellowship that is provided to physicians after they receive a medical degree. Although the scale of govern­ment support for physician training far exceeds that for any other profession, there is a striking absence of transparency and accountability in the GME financing system for producing the types of physicians that the nation needs.

The IOM formed an expert committee to conduct an independent review of the governance and financing of the GME system. The 21-member IOM committee concludes that there is an unquestionable imperative to assess and optimize the effectiveness of the public’s investment in GME. In its report, Graduate Medical Education That Meets the Nation’s Health Needs, the committee recommends significant changes to GME financ­ing and governance to address current deficiencies and better shape the phy­sician workforce for the future. The IOM report provides an initial road­map for reforming the Medicare GME payment system and building an infrastructure that can drive more strategic investment in the nation’s physician workforce.

An Examination of University Speech Codes’ Constitutionality and Their Impact on High-Level Discourse

August 18, 2014 Comments off

An Examination of University Speech Codes’ Constitutionality and Their Impact on High-Level Discourse
Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Welch, thesis)

The First Amendment – which guarantees the right to freedom of religion, of the press, to assemble, and petition to the government for redress of grievances – is under attack at institutions of higher learning in the United States of America. Beginning in the late 1980s, universities have crafted “speech codes” or “codes of conduct” that prohibit on campus certain forms of expression that would otherwise be constitutionally guaranteed. Examples of such polices could include prohibiting “telling a joke that conveys sexism,” or “content that may negatively affect an individual’s self-esteem.” Despite the alarming number of institutions that employ such policies, administrative and student attitude toward repeal or ensuring their free-speech rights are intact is arguably lax. Some scholars even suggest that colleges’ prohibitions are welcome, and are a product of a generation of students rejecting the tolerance of hate speech. Court cases and precedent disagree, though, and various prominent rulings are discussed that have shaped the landscape of conduct codes in today’s academia. Also described are examples and outcomes of academic prosecution of students by school officials for constitutionally protected speech, opinion, expression or conduct. More research is imperative before occurrence of a culture shift that eradicates expression and topics of discussion and criminally prosecutes speech outside of the talking points of an ivory tower echo chamber of approved opinions.

State Exemplars of School Accountability “Report Cards”

August 17, 2014 Comments off

State Exemplars of School Accountability “Report Cards” (PDF)
Source: Education Commission of the States

The profiles provided below link to exemplars of school accountability “report cards” from nine states and the District of Columbia.

  • What you will find:
    A main “report card” page with school and district
    reports
  • A sample elementary report
  • A sample high school report.

Sample elementary and sample high school names are provided — with embedded links — where possible. In those states where it is possible to generate a printable file, we have provided those links. In some states, it is necessary to look for the school by name from the main page. Be sure to click through tabs and/or categories and other areas that allow users to drill further into data.

CRS — The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 GI Bill): Primer and Issues (July 28, 2014)

August 15, 2014 Comments off

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 GI Bill): Primer and Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 GI Bill®)—enacted as Title V of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-252) on June 30, 2008—is the newest GI Bill and went into effect on August 1, 2009. There were four main drivers for the Post-9/11 GI Bill: (1) providing parity of benefits for reservists and members of the regular Armed Forces, (2) ensuring comprehensive educational benefits, (3) meeting military recruiting goals, and (4) improving military retention through transferability of benefits. By FY2010, the program had the largest numbers of participants and the highest total obligations compared to the other GI Bills.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides benefits to veterans and servicemembers who serve on active duty after September 10, 2001. Participants may be eligible for payments to cover tuition and fees, housing, books and supplies, tutorial and relocation assistance, and testing and certification fees. Individuals who serve on active duty for 36 months after September 10, 2001, may receive a tuition and fees benefit of up to the amount of in-state tuition and fees charged when enrolled in public institutions of higher learning (IHLs), or up to $19,198.31 when enrolled in private IHLs in academic year 2013-2014. Benefit payments vary depending on the participant’s active duty status, length of qualifying active duty, rate of pursuit, and program of education.

Trends in state charter school laws: Authorizers, caps, performance-based closures and virtual schools

August 15, 2014 Comments off

Trends in state charter school laws: Authorizers, caps, performance-based closures and virtual schools (PDF)
Source: Education Commission of the States

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have enacted charter school legislation. ECS analysts reviewed laws in the 50 states in creating an online database that highlights how state charter school laws vary, particularly in how states establish standards and accountability for charter school authorizers, allow for appeals, provide assistance with start-ups and fund charter schools.

Recently, attention to authorizers — the entities responsible for approving and overseeing charter schools — has increased. A growing number of states are establishing standards and reporting requirements that authorizers must adhere to.

Other rapidly evolving policy areas discussed in this brief are limits or “caps” on the number of charter schools allowed in a state, automatic performance-based closures and virtual or “cyber” charter schools.

What Happens Before? A Field Experiment Exploring How Pay and Representation Differentially Shape Bias on the Pathway into Organizations

August 13, 2014 Comments off

What Happens Before? A Field Experiment Exploring How Pay and Representation Differentially Shape Bias on the Pathway into Organizations
Source: Social Science Research Network

Little is known about how discrimination against women and minorities manifests before individuals formally apply to organizations or how it varies within and between organizations. We address this knowledge gap through an audit study in academia of over 6,500 professors at top U.S. universities drawn from 89 disciplines and 259 institutions. We hypothesized that discrimination would appear at the informal “pathway” preceding entry to academia and would vary by discipline and university as a function of faculty representation and pay. In our experiment, professors were contacted by fictional prospective students seeking to discuss research opportunities before applying to a doctoral program. Students’ names were randomly assigned to signal gender and race, but messages were otherwise identical. Faculty ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from Caucasian males, particularly in higher-paying disciplines and private institutions. Counterintuitively, the representation of women and minorities and discrimination were uncorrelated.

2014 Human Development Report – Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience

August 12, 2014 Comments off

2014 Human Development Report – Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience
Source: United Nations Development Programme

The 2014 Human Development Report – Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience provides a fresh perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience.

According to income-based measures of poverty, 1.2 billion people live with $1.25 or less a day. However, according to the UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index, almost 1.5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards. And although poverty is declining overall, almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur. Many people face either structural or life-cycle vulnerabilities.

Princeton Review — The Best 379 Colleges: 2015 Edition

August 8, 2014 Comments off

The Best 379 Colleges: 2015 Edition
Source: Princeton Review
From press release:

According to a Princeton Review survey that asked 130,000 students at 379 top colleges to rate their schools on dozens of topics and report on their campus experiences, the college at which students reported the highest satisfaction with their financial aid awards was Pomona College (CA).

Northeastern University (MA) earned the #1 spot on the list, “Best Career Services” (a ranking category the Princeton Review created at the urging of a college parent in 2007). The college ranked tops for “Best Science Facilities” – and for the 2nd consecutive year – was California Institute of Technology: its students gave their lab facilities the strongest ratings in the survey. The school at which students gave their professors the highest marks as teachers was Reed College (OR).

Lists of the top 20 colleges in these and 58 other categories will post today at http://www.princetonreview.com. The lists are also published in the new edition of Princeton Review’s annual college guide, “The Best 379 Colleges” (Random House / Princeton Review Books, 2015 Edition, $23.99) on sale tomorrow, August 5.

Free registration required.

A College Education Saddles Young Households with Debt, but Still Pays Off

August 7, 2014 Comments off

A College Education Saddles Young Households with Debt, but Still Pays Off
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Many parents believe their children must get a college degree—especially if they want to have at least as comfortable a lifestyle as their parents had; yet the price of a college degree has been rising rapidly over the past three decades. As costs have risen, more and more students and their families have turned to education loans for financing. This trend, combined with the strong propensity for households to form among individuals of similar education levels, has led to much larger student loan debt burdens for households headed by young adults who have attended college. In the 1989 Survey of Consumer Finances, real (inflation-adjusted) average student loan debt for young households (those headed by someone between 22 and 29 years of age) with a college degree was $3,420. In 2010, the same average was $16,714, nearly a 400 percent increase. For households with some college, but without a college degree, average student loan debt rose about 270 percent.

New From the GAO

August 7, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. School Meal Programs: Implications of Adjusting Income Eligibility Thresholds and Reimbursement Rates by Geographic Differences. GAO-14-557, July 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-557
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664690.pdf

2. Contractor Performance: Actions Taken to Improve Reporting of Past Performance Information. GAO-14-707, August 7.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-707
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665239.pdf

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