Community College Students Talk Transitions with Secretary Duncan

When someone says, “I want to go to college,” a traditional four-year college or university often comes to mind.

Many don’t think of community colleges as an option, even though they are the single largest sector of the U.S. higher education system, enrolling nearly half of all undergraduates each year.

Community colleges provide opportunity and access to millions of students, helping them prepare for a degree at a four-year institution, obtain an associate’s degree, or retrain and retool for the 21st century global economy.

Full story on college transition discussion at

Seeing Success in Hawaii: Duncan’s 50th State as Secretary

Andrea, a senior at Hawaii’s Waipahu High School, came to the U.S. just four years ago after emigrating from the Philippines, but now she’s a proud Waipahu Marauder. From her first day in the classroom, she found the “opportunity to explore” and became interested in cancer research and science.

This fall, thanks to her dedication and the teachers she has at Waipahu, she’ll attend Columbia University on a full-ride scholarship.

Full story of success in Hawaii at

The State of Education

This year’s State of the Union Address was unlike any I had ever experienced before.  I had just sat down in a room full of educators when I heard the word “teacher” come out of the President’s mouth, and to be precise, it was the fifth word. We were astounded. Then when he talked about other education issues–high school redesign, high quality preschool, connecting students to the best technology, making college more affordable and accessible, and high school graduation rates—we cheered, gave each other high-fives and knew that the President was with us.

While each topic resonated on a personal level with at least one educator or another in the room, for me, something bigger stood out…a call for equity.

Full story on the state of education at

Education innovation: A case study in what not to do

The $1 billion initiative by the Los Angeles public schools district to give an iPad to all 650,000 students and teachers for home use has been nothing short of a mess, plagued by poor planning and bad execution. You can read about it here. Here’s a new look at what went wrong from  Larry Cuban, a high school social studies teacher for 14 years, a district superintendent (seven years in Arlington, VA), and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, where he has taught for more than 20 years. His latest book is “Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice: Change without Reform in American Education.” This post appeared on his blog.

By Larry Cuban

The rollout of iPads in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is becoming a classic case study of what not-to-do when implementing any innovation whether it is high-tech or low-tech.  I wrote about the adoption of the innovation six months ago.

What is clear now is that teachers and principals were excluded from the decision-making process. The Total Cost of Operation (TCO) was a mystery to the Board of Education who made the decision. And the initial deployment of the devices was so botched that the pilot project was put on hold.  Phase 2 and the eventual distribution of devices to all LAUSD students remains to be decided once errors have been sorted out.

Full story of education innovation at the Washington Post

Mental Health in High School: Teach Students Link between Thinking Patterns, Emotions & Behavior

Adding a mental health component to school-based health education programs could enhance health behaviors, reduce depression and improve grades.

Teaching Students Links in Their Mental HealthResearchers from The Ohio State University College of Nursing found that a program called COPE: (Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment) Healthy Lifestyles TEEN (Thinking, Emotions, Exercise, Nutrition) had a beneficial outcome for several health and behavioral factors.

The high school health classes used an intervention that emphasized building cognitive behavioral skills in addition to nutrition and physical activity.

Participants had a lower average body mass index, better social behaviors, higher health class grades and drank less alcohol than did teenagers in a class with standard health lessons.

Symptoms in teens who were severely depressed also dropped to normal levels at the end of the semester compared to the control group, whose symptoms remained elevated.

Full story of high school mental health at PsychCentral

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The Great Stagnation of American Education

For most of American history, parents could expect that their children would, on average, be much better educated than they were. But that is no longer true. This development has serious consequences for the economy.

Stagnation of American EducationThe epochal achievements of American economic growth have gone hand in hand with rising educational attainment, as the economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz have shown. From 1891 to 2007, real economic output per person grew at an average rate of 2 percent per year — enough to double every 35 years. The average American was twice as well off in 2007 as in 1972, four times as well off as in 1937, and eight times as well off as in 1902. It’s no coincidence that for eight decades, from 1890 to 1970, educational attainment grew swiftly. But since 1990, that improvement has slowed to a crawl.

Companies pay better-educated people higher wages because they are more productive. The premium that employers pay to a college graduate compared with that to a high school graduate has soared since 1970, because of higher demand for technical and communication skills at the top of the scale and a collapse in demand for unskilled and semiskilled workers at the bottom.

As the current recovery continues at a snail’s pace, concerns about America’s future growth potential are warranted. Growth in annual average economic output per capita has slowed from the century-long average of 2 percent, to 1.3 percent over the past 25 years, to a mere 0.7 percent over the past decade. As of this summer, per-person output was still lower than it was in late 2007. The gains in income since the 2007-9 Great Recession have flowed overwhelmingly to those at the top, as has been widely noted. Real median family income was lower last year than in 1998.

Full story of american education opinion at The New York Times

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Lexington tries to tackle high school student stress

What have I done!?One day last week at Lexington High School, teachers wore red clown noses as they stood before their classes. Students blew bubbles in the quad, the outdoor common area, before school. Music played over the loudspeakers between classes, and teenagers danced in the hallways.

“Kids just got to be kids and play,” said wellness teacher Julie Fenn, standing in the quad where students had drawn on the pavement with chalk. “It’s been fun to see even our big boys blowing bubbles and laughing.”

This was the school’s second stress-reduction day, designed to help some of the state’s highest-achieving students manage the anxieties that can breed at competitive schools. Lexington High consistently is ranked among the top academically in the state, and its students receive with some of the state’s highest SAT and Advanced Placement scores.

The effort to bolster students’ emotional health has grown both in the town and the school system. Local parents, educators, and faith groups formed the Collaborative to Reduce Student Stress about three years ago, and the School Committee made stress reduction a priority. Teachers have been working with students on mindfulness techniques.

Full story of tackling high school stress at The Boston Globe

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Teens Who Sometimes, but Not Always Follow the Herd Fare Better

Teens Who Follow the HerdBeing popular isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but new research says it’s a decent indicator of how well teens will form friendships in the future. Many teens who struggle to make friends in high school continue to have problems creating lasting relationships in adulthood.

While it’s not always the case, new research from the University of Virginia says a teen’s social habits in high school can predict problems they may face as adults.

Studying Adolescent Friendships

Over the course of 10 years, researchers followed about 150 teens beginning at age 13 to learn how their interactions with peers during their teen years affected them as adults. Besides information from the teens themselves, researchers gathered data from their parents, friends, and romantic partners.

Full story of teens and the herds at HealthLine

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Study links prevalence of bullying, teasing to high dropout rates

Bullying Relates to High Drop Out RateTeasing and bullying is linked to the dropout rate of students, according to the latest report from the Virginia High School Safety Study, directed by Dewey Cornell, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.

"This study suggests that teasing and bullying at the high school level is a noteworthy problem that is associated with the most serious negative outcome, failure to graduate," he said.

The prevalence of teasing and bullying in Virginia high schools was assessed through surveying 7,082 ninth-grade students and 2,764 teachers in Virginia on their perceptions of school climate. Researchers measured the dropout rates of students who were high school freshmen in 2007 over their four years of high school.

Previous bullying studies have focused on the effects of bullying on individual victims, but this study showed a school-wide impact. "It adds new evidence to the importance of school climate for academic success in high school," Cornell said.

Full story of bullying and dropouts at

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Keep focus on education quality and choice

Focus on Education QualityPennsylvania’s Charter School Act of 1997 must be updated to reflect the current, vital role that charter schools offer parents and children. Two pieces of proposed legislation in the House Education Committee aim to reform charter school law, but each would have a very different outcome for parents and children seeking public school choice in the commonwealth.

House Bill 2352, introduced by state Rep. Thomas Killion, R-Delaware, mandates accountability and transparency for charter schools and would provide parents with more high-quality educational choices. The bill would create a strong, independent statewide authorizer to oversee charter schools and hold them to strict, consistent and effective standards.

The bill would foster high-performing charter schools, allowing them to seek 10-year renewals, while weeding out underperforming schools. HB 2352 establishes an unreserved, undesignated fund balance limit on charter schools, holding them to the same funding percentages as school districts.

Full story of education quality at PennLive

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