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Diploma, Please: Promoting Educational Attainment for DACA- and Potential DREAM Act-Eligible Youth

October 13, 2014 Comments off

Diploma, Please: Promoting Educational Attainment for DACA- and Potential DREAM Act-Eligible Youth
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Two years after its launch, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has provided temporary relief from deportation to more than 580,000 unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. With an estimated 2.1 million young immigrants potentially eligible to benefit from the program now or in the future, many educators, community leaders, policymakers, and government officials are trying to understand how DACA and potentially DREAM Act criteria affect eligibility.

Several factors are thought to contribute to the reluctance of many unauthorized youth to sign up for the program, including the $465 application fee, fears of drawing attention to unauthorized family members, and general lack of knowledge about the program. But more significantly, DACA also requires that applicants who are not in school or who lack a high school diploma or its equivalent must enroll in an adult education or training program in order to qualify.

With the national adult education system showing a steep decline in capacity at precisely the time when hundreds of thousands need to enroll to qualify for DACA protections, the report makes clear the challenges facing educators and other stakeholders

The report explores the challenges to educational attainment facing three key subgroups of the DACA program: those under age 19, those age 19 and over without a high school diploma or equivalent, and those age 19 and older with only a high school diploma or equivalent. It provides a demographic snapshot of these groups and examines the impacts of DACA’s unprecedented educational requirement on potential beneficiaries and the programs that serve them. Finally, the report offers recommendations for actions that policymakers, education and training program managers, and other stakeholders can take to support the educational success of these youth.

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Ending Teacher Tenure Would Have Little Impact on its Own

October 12, 2014 Comments off

Ending Teacher Tenure Would Have Little Impact on its Own
Source: Brookings Institution

Tenure for public school teachers is increasingly under attack, with the Vergara v. California judge ruling in June that “both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reason…disadvantaged by the current Permanent Employment Statute.” Last year, North Carolina legislators voted to phase out tenure, although that law was later blocked by a state judge. In 2011, Florida legislators ended tenure for new teachers beginning this year.

A primary stated goal of the California case is to “create an education system that gives every child a passionate, motivating and effective teacher,” and it is likely to become a model for efforts throughout the nation. According to one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, “This is going to be the beginning of a series of these lawsuits that could fix many of the problems in education systems nationwide. … We’re going to roll them out to other jurisdictions.” A similar lawsuit has already been filed in New York State. If these challenges to tenure laws are successful, will they lead to improvements in education?

National Solar Schools Census

October 9, 2014 Comments off

National Solar Schools Census
Source: The Solar Foundation

As part of its commitment to increase understanding on the use of solar at K-12 schools, The Solar Foundation (TSF) and its research partners at SEIA have built the most comprehensive database known of K-12 schools that have gone solar throughout the United States.

TSF’s National Solar Schools Census serves as a starting point for sharing ideas and best practices between schools experienced with solar energy and those seeking to join their ranks. Each solar school has its own unique story to tell on how their systems were financed and installed and how (and whether) solar has been integrated into class curricula.

In TSF’s report, entitled Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, our team uncovered a number of key findings from our data collection and analysis:

  • There are currently 3,752 K-12 schools with solar installations, meaning nearly 2.7 million students attend schools with solar energy systems.
  • The 3,727 PV systems have a combined capacity of 490 megawatts (MW), and generate roughly 642,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity each year, equivalent to $77.8 million worth of utility bills and enough clean, renewable energy to offset 50 million gallons of gasoline.
  • Solar potential remains largely untapped. Of the 125,000 K-12 schools in the country, up to 72,000 schools (60%) can “go solar” cost-effectively. Approximately 450 individual schools districts have the potential to save more than $1 million over 30 years by installing a solar PV system.

Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

As the public grows more politically polarized, differences between conservatives and liberals extend their long reach even to opinions about which qualities are important to teach children, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

People who express consistently conservative political attitudes across a range of issues are more likely than other ideological groups to rate teaching religious faith as especially important – and the least likely to say the same about teaching tolerance.

By contrast, people with consistent liberal opinions stand out for the high priority they give to teaching tolerance – and the low priority they attach to teaching religious faith and obedience.

Too Busy for School? The Effect of Athletic Participation on Absenteeism

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Too Busy for School? The Effect of Athletic Participation on Absenteeism (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

While existing research supports that participation in high-school athletics is associated with better education and labour-market outcomes, the mechanisms through which these benefits accrue are not well established. We use data from a large public-school district to retrieve an estimate of the causal effect of high-school athletic participation on absenteeism. We show that active competition decreases absences, with most of the effect driven by reductions in unexcused absences – truancy among active male athletes declines significantly, with the effects larger in earlier grades and for black and Hispanic boys. Strong game-day effects are also evident, in both boys and girls, as truancy declines on game days are offset with higher rates of absenteeism the following day. Addressing the effects on academic performance, we find significant heterogeneity in the response to active athletic participation by race, gender and family structure, with boys not in dual-parent households exhibiting small academic improvements in semesters in which they experienced greater athletic participation.

The Challenges of Promoting Equal Access to Quality Teachers

October 7, 2014 Comments off

The Challenges of Promoting Equal Access to Quality Teachers
Source: Brookings Institution

The start of a school year brings with it a crop of anxious parents hoping their child has an excellent teacher. And recently, policymakers have wondered whether the playing field is level when it comes to getting that excellent teacher. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in July that “family income and race still too often predict how likely a child is to attend a school staffed by great educators.” Beginning in April 2015, states will need to submit plans to the Department of Education to ensure that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers.

On the surface, this is a reasonable response to the issue of inequity in access to quality teachers. But how large of a problem is teacher inequity really? Looking at recent research on teacher equity suggests two conclusions. If equity is defined as access to teachers with particular characteristics such as experience, the problem seems large. But if equity is defined as access to effective teachers, those that contribute more to test score growth, the problem does not seem large. Which is not to say issues of teacher equity should be ignored, but that proposed solutions should be proportional to the problem.

A Review of State Test Security Laws in 2013

October 7, 2014 Comments off

A Review of State Test Security Laws in 2013 (PDF)
Source: ACT

Test security has increased in importance in the last few years given high-profile cases of educator misconduct. This paper provides a review of state test security statutes and regulations related to statewide achievement testing using as a framework recent best practices reports by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Council for Measurement in Education (NCME), and the Technical Issues in Large Scale Assessment (TILSA) group within the Council of Chief State School Officers. The review indicates that many states have laws related to preventing test security breaches, but few specify detection or investigation methods.

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