Girls Best Boys on National Test of Technology and Engineering Skills

EIGHTH-GRADE GIRLS continue to outperform boys on a national test of technology and engineering skills, despite reporting they take fewer classes related to those skills.

Girls scored five points higher than boys on the Technology and Engineering Literacy Assessment, which was given to 15,400 eighth graders from about 600 public and private schools across the country in 2018. Girls also bested boys in nearly all content areas.

“Girls continue to perform better than boys,” Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner of the assessments division at the National Center for Education Statistics, said. “They did that again – improved more than boys and also still outscored boys in this assessment. It’s a really strong finding here.”

Full story at US News

GAO: States Vary Widely in K-12 Students Who Get Special Education Services

THE PERCENTAGE OF K-12 students who receive special education services in states across the U.S. can vary anywhere from 6% to 15% because of wide inconsistencies in how officials determine eligibility criteria and the difficulty in identifying children suspected of having a disability, a new report from the Government Accountability Office shows.

A child eligible for services in one state, for example, might be ineligible in another, and states are having a difficult time evaluating the increasing numbers of students entering the public school system whose first language is not English.

“The GAO’s report reveals how the combination of inconsistent state policies and inadequate federal oversight continues to allow thousands of young people with disabilities to fall through the cracks,” Rep. Bobby Scott, Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, said in a statement.

Full story at US News

Federal Data Show Decreasing Rates of Bullying and Violence in Schools

BULLYING, VIOLENCE, crime and drug use in schools continue to decrease, as they have for much of the last two decades, despite public perception that schools have become less safe over the past 20 years.

New federal data published Wednesday by the Departments of Education and Justice show that 20% of students ages 12 to 18 reported being bullied at school during the 2016-17 school year, the lowest since the federal government began collecting the information in 2005. The percentage of public schools that reported that student bullying occurred at least once a week also decreased, from 29% in the 1999-2000 school year to 12% in the 2015-16 school year.

Moreover, the percentage of students in grades nine through 12 who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months decreased from 9% in the 2000-01 school year to 6% in 2016-17 school year.

Full story at US News

Confused By Your College Financial Aid Letter? You’re Not Alone

This time last year, McKenna Hensley had a big question on her mind: Where would she go to college? The answer — sort of — was somewhere in her pile of 10 financial aid offers. Each school she’d been admitted to had its own individualized letter, terms and calculations.

“It was very confusing,” the now college freshman remembers.

One letter sticks out in her mind: The school had bolded about $76,000 in the upper-right corner of its offer. She remembers smiling really big and thinking, “I got a lot of money!” But when she looked a little closer, she saw that the big number included loans. Hensley was determined not to borrow. She took the letter and added up all the costs of attending, then subtracted the grants and scholarships and found she was still about $30,000 short.

Full story at npr.org

Education Department Memo Says DeVos Can Guide States on Arming Teachers

AN INTERNAL MEMO between high-ranking officials within the Department of Education says Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has the authority to tell states and school districts whether or not they can use federal funds to arm teachers – an authority she has repeatedly denied having.

The memo, presented Wednesday during a House Education and Labor Committee hearing, where the secretary was testifying on the administration’s education agenda, outlines allowable uses of federal funding for school safety measures and specifically assesses the potential use of funds for firearms and firearms training.

“The Department’s Office of the General Counsel has advised that the Secretary has discretion to interpret the broad language of the statute as to its permissiveness regarding the purchase of firearms and training on the use of firearms,” the memo reads.

Full story at US News

13 Parents, 1 Coach to Plead Guilty in College Admissions Scandal

THIRTEEN PARENTS AND A former college tennis coach have agreed to plead guilty for their part in the college admissions cheating scandal that rocked higher education last month, federal authorities said Monday.

The group includes “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, whom authorities say paid a consultant to increase her daughter’s SAT score.

The parents each agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest-services mail fraud, according to reports.

Several dozen people, including more than 30 parents, were charged in what is the largest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted by federal authorities. Prosecutors say that some wealthy parents paid a consultant, Rick Singer, to rig their children’s standardized test scores while others bribed athletic coaches in a bid to guarantee their children spots at prestigious schools.

Full story at US News

Study: Public Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, Wealthy, White Students

SOME PUBLIC universities disproportionately direct their recruiting efforts on out-of-state students from affluent, white communities and private schools, a new study shows, adding fuel to an increasingly fiery debate about inequity within higher education that colleges and universities have been trying to sidestep for years.

“In contrast to rhetoric from university leaders, our findings suggest strong socioeconomic and racial biases in the enrollment priorities of many public research universities,” researchers wrote.

“A small number of universities exhibit recruiting patterns broadly consistent with the historical mission of social mobility for meritorious state residents,” they said. “However, most universities concentrated recruiting visits in wealthy, out-of-state communities while also privileging affluent schools in in-state visits.”

Full story at US News

Study: Public Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, Wealthy, White Students

SOME PUBLIC universities disproportionately direct their recruiting efforts on out-of-state students from affluent, white communities and private schools, a new study shows, adding fuel to an increasingly fiery debate about inequity within higher education that colleges and universities have been trying to sidestep for years.

“In contrast to rhetoric from university leaders, our findings suggest strong socioeconomic and racial biases in the enrollment priorities of many public research universities,” researchers wrote.

“A small number of universities exhibit recruiting patterns broadly consistent with the historical mission of social mobility for meritorious state residents,” they said. “However, most universities concentrated recruiting visits in wealthy, out-of-state communities while also privileging affluent schools in in-state visits.”

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on President Trump’s Higher Education Executive Order

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement today on President Trump’s Executive Order on “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities”:

“All students should have access to relevant, accurate, and transparent data when making decisions about their education. President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on ‘Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities’ once again demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting and empowering students with meaningful resources as they pursue their life-long learning journeys and future careers.

“Per the Executive Order, the Department will continue its efforts to update the College Scorecard so that it includes clear information on the cost of college, expected earnings after graduation, and student loan repayment rates. We will also continue our Federal Student Aid modernization efforts that began with the launch of our first ever mobile app.  Right now, students can use the app to complete the FAFSA. And, building on the President’s directive, the app’s capabilities will expand to give students access to information about loan balances, payments, and repayment options right at their fingertips. We believe that these important reforms, along with the Department’s ambitious negotiated rule making agenda, will make college more affordable, break down barriers to innovation in higher education, and encourage new approaches and new partnerships for the benefit of students.

Full story at ed.gov

U.S. Mathematician Becomes First Woman To Win Abel Prize, ‘Math’s Nobel’

“I find that I am bored with anything I understand,” Karen Uhlenbeck once said – and that sense of curiosity is part of why she won the prestigious Abel Prize, from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Uhlenbeck, an influential mathematician who was for decades a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and who has sought to encourage women to study mathematics, has become the first woman to win the Abel Prize — often called the Nobel Prize of math.

Uhlenbeck’s complex and wide-ranging work includes analyzing the “minimal surfaces” of soap bubbles and finding ways to unite geometry and physics through new mathematical approaches. She’s widely respected for her work on esoteric topics, such as partial differential equations and the calculus of variations.

Full story at NPR