Study: Colleges That Ditch The SAT And ACT Can Enhance Diversity

There are now well over 1,000 colleges and universities that don’t require SAT or ACT scores in deciding whom to admit, a number that’s growing every year. And a new study finds that scores on those tests are of little value in predicting students’ performance in college, and raises the question: Should those tests be required at all?

Colleges that have gone “test optional” enroll — and graduate — a higher proportion of low-income and first generation-students, and more students from diverse backgrounds, the researchers found in the study, Defining Access: How Test-Optional Works.

“Our research clearly demonstrates that these students graduate often at a higher rate,” said Steve Syverson, an assistant vice chancellor at the University of Washington Bothell, and co-author of the study.

Full story at npr.org

Communities Offer Housing to Woo Teachers

FOR ALEXANDRIA Warfield, a 27-year-old music teacher at Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School in Indianapolis, living with her parents is a trade-off she’s willing to make for the sake of saving money and having a 15-minute commute to work.

“It’s been really hard to find somewhere to rent that’s affordable and is in a pretty decent area that’s close to the school,” she says. “A downtown studio is $1,000 to $1,100 a month, and that’s just not feasible for us as teachers.”

It’s a trade-off Warfield may not have to make for much longer, however, as she is currently assessing loan options and filing paperwork in hopes of becoming one of the first teachers to nab a home that’s part of a city effort to create affordable housing options for educators.

Full story at US News

Angry and Fearful Parents Lash Out at School District Over Parkland Shooting

More than two months after the Valentine’s Day mass murder of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., fear and rage continues to grip a school system still reeling from the incident’s aftermath.

During a public safety forum held Wednesday in the Broward County school district, shaken students and enraged parents and educators appealed to school leaders to protect campuses from violence, demanding fixes for what they consider lax security, the district’s indifference, and failure to act to stop the former student who brought an AR-15 onto campus and killed and injured dozens.

Full story at edweek.org

What Happens When 2-Year Schools Offer B.A. Degrees?

WHEN FLORIDA OPENED THE door 17 years ago for two-year colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees, they expanded rapidly into a host of new areas: business, nursing, teaching, and more. St. Petersburg College alone created 25 bachelor’s programs. Thousands of students flocked to them, paying a fraction of what they would pay for an equivalent degree at the University of Florida. By 2014 nearly 6,000 students a year were earning their bachelor’s degrees from a community college. Despite their popularity, many people feared that the 28 taxpayer-financed community colleges were unnecessarily duplicating programs at the state’s 12 four-year public universities—and then awarding them substandard degrees. As a result, Florida’s legislature put a one-year moratorium on new programs, and then officials slowed down the creation of new ones after 2015.

Now a team of University of Florida researchers has looked back at the results of this experiment and come to a surprising conclusion: four-year state schools actually saw an increase in business even as two-year institutions expanded into their terrain. But for-profit, private universities generally took a big hit. While four-year public schools awarded 25 percent more degrees a year in the programs where local community colleges offered a competing degree, the private for-profit universities saw their degree output fall 45 percent when a nearby two-year institution posed direct competition. The results of the study were slated to be released Monday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in New York.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos on the National Assessment of Educational Progress: “We can and we must do better for America’s students”

WASHINGTON – The Institute of Education Sciences today released the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card”. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued the following statement in response:

“The report card is in, and the results are clear: We can and we must do better for America’s students. Our nation’s reading and math scores continue to stagnate. More alarmingly, the gap between the highest and lowest performing students is widening, despite billions in Federal funding designated specifically to help close it.

“One bright spot in today’s report is Florida, where Sunshine State students are bucking the national trend, showing significant improvement in 4th and 8th grade math and in 8th grade reading. Both low and high performers in Florida demonstrated that improvement, again bucking the national trend and narrowing the achievement gap.

Full story at ed.gov

California’s Higher Ed Diversity Problem

In 1996, right after voters in California banned affirmative action in employment and college admissions, minority student enrollment at two and four-year institutions plummeted. What has happened since though, is pretty remarkable.

Of the 2.8 million students attending college in California today, two out of three come from racially and ethnically diverse populations. The most eye-popping increase in enrollment has been among Latinos.

They now make up 43 percent of all college students in California. Twenty-six percent are white, followed by Asian and Pacific Islanders at 16 percent and African Americans at 6 percent.

Full story at npr.org

Disparities Persist In School Discipline, Says Government Watchdog

Black students, boys, and students with disabilities are disproportionately disciplined in K-12 schools across the country. That’s according to a new report, out Wednesday, from the non-partisan federal watchdog, the Government Accountability Office.

Those disparities were consistent, “regardless of the type of disciplinary action, regardless of the level of school poverty, and regardless of the type of public school attended,” says Jacqueline Nowicki, who led the team of researchers at the GAO.

Nowicki and her team interviewed administrators, visited schools across the country, and used 2013-2014 data from the Civil Rights Data Collection, which includes disciplinary actions in more than 95,000 schools across the country. Those numbers include suspensions, expulsions and referrals to law enforcement.

Full story at npr.org

Teacher Pay: How Salaries, Pensions, and Benefits Work in Schools

Teacher pay has been in headlines across the country recently: Educators in Oklahoma and West Virginia successfully forced the legislature to pass pay raises in early 2018, and teachers in Arizona were demanding lawmakers there do the same.

Teaching has long been viewed as a low-paid job, but much more goes into teachers’ compensation than just the take-home paychecks.

“Although teaching is a profession, the way that teachers are paid looks a lot more like the way we pay blue-collar workers in the United States,” said Jacob Vigdor, a professor of public policy and governance at the University of Washington.

What exactly does that look like? We spoke with experts to break down how teachers are paid.

Full story at edweek.org

Report: Michigan State Spent $500,000 To Keep Tabs On Nassar Victims, Journalists

Michigan State University spent more than $500,000 to keep tabs on the online activities of former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar’s victims and journalists covering the case, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The public-relations company Weber Shandwick billed the university $517,343 for more than 1,440 hours of work tracking social media in the month of January, the Journal reports.

Michigan State’s Office of Communication and Brand Strategy monitored social media and news media activity involving the Nassar case previously and concurrently with Weber Shandwick, the newspaper notes.

Full story at npr.org

Christian Colleges Are Tangled In Their Own LGBT Policies

Conservative Christian colleges, once relatively insulated from the culture war, are increasingly entangled in the same battles over LGBT rights and related social issues that have divided other institutions in America.

Students and faculty at many religious institutions are asked to accept a “faith statement” outlining the school’s views on such matters as evangelical doctrine, scriptural interpretation, and human sexuality. Those statements often include a rejection of homosexual activity and a definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Changing attitudes on sexual ethics and civil rights, however, are making it difficult for some schools, even conservative ones, to ensure broad compliance with their strict positions.

“Millennials are looking at the issue of gay marriage, and more and more they are saying, ‘OK, we know the Bible talks about this, but we just don’t see this as an essential of the faith,” says Brad Harper, a professor of theology and religious history at Multnomah University, an evangelical Christian institution in Portland, Ore.

Full story at NPR.org