Report: Teachers’ Reading Tests Inadequate in Most States

Fewer than a dozen states across the country have adopted adequate reading and licensing tests for elementary school and special education teachers, according to a new study from the National Council on Teacher Quality that describes the lack of credentialing “safeguards” as “troubling.”

Only 11 states in the U.S. require both elementary school and special education teachers to pass a comprehensive reading-focused licensing or credentialing exam. Teachers in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin are required to take such a test.

The other 39 states and the District of Columbia were found to either only partially test their elementary and special education teachers’ reading acumen or to completely forego such credentialing.

Full story at US News

U.S. Department of Education Proposes Overhaul of Gainful Employment Regulations

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Education today announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to rescind Gainful Employment (GE) regulations in order to provide useful, transparent higher education data to students and treat all institutions of higher education fairly.

“Students deserve useful and relevant data when making important decisions about their education post-high school,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “That’s why instead of targeting schools simply by their tax status, this administration is working to ensure students have transparent, meaningful information about all colleges and all programs. Our new approach will aid students across all sectors of higher education and improve accountability.”

Full story at ed.gov

‘Lies My Teacher Told Me,’ And How American History Can Be Used As A Weapon

When I was a high school junior in New Orleans taking AP American History, my teacher assigned us a paperback book. Slim in contrast to our hulking required textbook, it was a funny, compelling, even shocking read. Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen, explained how history textbooks got the story of America wrong, usually by soft-pedaling, oversimplifying and burying the thorny drama and uncertainties of the past under a blanket of dull, voice-of-God narration.

The book also taught a lot of history. It introduced me to concepts that still help me make sense of the world, like the “racial nadir” — the downturn in American race relations, starting after Reconstruction, which saw the rise of lynchings and the Ku Klux Klan. In doing so, Lies My Teacher Told Me overturned one assumption embedded in the history classes I’d been sitting through all my life: that the United States is constantly ascending from greatness to greatness.

Full story at npr.org

For Many College Students, Hunger ‘Makes It Hard To Focus’

As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge. Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it.

This food insecurity is most prevalent at community colleges, but it’s common at public and private four-year schools as well.

Student activists and advocates in the education community have drawn attention to the problem in recent years, and the food pantries that have sprung up at hundreds of schools are perhaps the most visible sign. Some schools nationally also have instituted the Swipe Out Hunger program, which allows students to donate their unused meal plan vouchers, or “swipes,” to other students to use at campus dining halls or food pantries.

That’s a start, say analysts studying the problem of campus hunger, but more system-wide solutions are needed.

Full story at NPR

Cash-Strapped School Districts Left Behind by Wealthier Neighbors

POOR SCHOOL SYSTEMS across the country are being left to wither as wealthier districts shut the door on their cash-strapped neighbors, and states are doing little to stop it, a new report finds.

Because schools are funded in large part by local property taxes, they are vulnerable to the same economic swings as the communities in which they are located. When things go south, many states do little to ensure the struggling districts that can no longer afford to operate schools are absorbed by their more well-heeled neighboring districts.

“What happens when the local economy bottoms out like we’ve seen in a lot of Rust Belt states in part? What happens to the kids that are left there?” says Rebecca Sibilia, CEO of EdBuild, an education nonprofit that focuses on school funding. “School districts are forced to go hat in hand to all of their neighbors and beg them to take their kids.”

Full story at US News

GAO: Less Than Half of School Districts Test Water for Lead

WASHINGTON (AP) — A survey of school districts around the country finds that less than half test their water for lead, and among those that do more than a third detected elevated levels of the toxin, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

Lead can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in children.

The report, released by the Government Accountability Office, is based on a survey of 549 school districts across the United States. It estimates that 41 percent of school districts, serving 12 million students, did not test for lead in the water in 2016 and 2017.

Of the 43 percent that did test for lead, about 37 percent reported elevated levels. Sixteen percent of schools said they did not know whether they test for lead, the report says.

Full story at US News

Scared Of Math? Here’s One Way To Fight The Fear

Do you remember the day you decided you were no good at math?

Or maybe you had the less common, opposite experience: a moment of math excitement that hooked you for good?

Thousands of studies have been published that touch on the topic of “math anxiety.” Overwhelming fear of math, regardless of one’s actual aptitude, affects students of all ages, from kindergarten to grad school.

This anxiety extends to the daily lives of grown-ups; we put off planning for retirement, avoid trying to understand health risks and even try to get out of calculating a tip. And even teachers suffer from math anxiety, which has been shown to hurt their students’ scores, especially when the teachers and the students are both female; the theory is that anxiety interacts with negative stereotypes about women’s abilities.

Full story at NPR

Trump Administration Backs Off Reshuffling of Student Debt Collection

The Department of Education planned this month to begin reshaping the role of private debt collection firms in handling student loans by pulling defaulted borrower accounts from a handful of large private contractors.

Lawmakers who control the department’s budget had other ideas.

After a recent Senate spending package warned the department against dropping the debt collectors, the plan is on hold. And it’s not clear how those companies will figure into the Trump administration’s proposed overhaul of student loan servicing.

Private loan servicers handle payments from borrowers on their student loans and provide information on payment plan options. When borrowers go more than 270 days without making a payment on their loans, they are considered to be in default. Those companies are tasked with collecting on more than $84 billion in defaulted student loan debt.

Full story at Inside Higher ED

Evenness vs. Isolation in Schools

HAVE U.S. SCHOOLS become more racially segregated in the past two decades? It should seem a simple question to answer, based on the racial composition of schools then and now. But it’s a raging debate among academics, journalists and policy advocates. It turns out that there are different ways to measure segregation or racial diversity and the different measures can sometimes point in opposite directions.

Consider the city of Providence, R.I. In 2000, just over a third, or 36 percent of the district’s 55 public schools were at least 90 percent minority – black, Hispanic or Asian. Fifteen years later, almost three quarters, or 74 percent, of the schools were 90 percent or more non-white. At first glance, that might look like a dramatic resegregation. It was the biggest jump in non-white schools of any district in the nation, according to Meredith Richards, an expert in school segregation at Southern Methodist University, who calculated these figures for The Hechinger Report.

Full story at US News

Educating Migrant Children in Shelters: 6 Things to Know

After weeks of insisting Democrats were ultimately responsible for the migrant-child crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, President Donald Trump did an about-face Wednesday, reversing a policy that has separated thousands of migrant children from their families—most of whom are coming from Central American countries. But meanwhile, thousands of children will remain in federal custody and are entitled to certain education services while they remain there.

Full story at edweek.org