How Virtual Advisers Help Low-Income Students Apply To College

Some high school students think of applying to colleges as a full-time job. There are essays and tests, loads of financial documents to assemble and calculations to make. After all that, of course, comes a big decision — one of the biggest of their young lives.

For top students who come from low-income families, the challenge is particularly difficult.

Research shows that 1 in 4 juggle all of that — the writing, the studying, the researching and applying — completely on their own. One approach to make this whole process easier? Pair students up with someone who can help, a mentor or adviser, virtually.

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Special Education Students On the Rise

THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS receiving special education in public schools is rising, with about 13 percent of all students receiving such instruction, according to a recent study.

A Department of Education report, titled the Condition of Education 2018, states the number of students aged 3 to 21 receiving special education services increased from 6.6 million to 6.7 million from the 2014-2015 school year to the 2015-2016 school year. Among those, 34 percent had specific learning disabilities, of which 20 percent had speech or language impairments and 14 percent had other health impairments.

Joel McFarland, lead author of the report, says despite a slight increase from the previous year, 13 percent is still within the range of special education representation seen in previous years.

Full story at US News

Ready for a Shooter? 1 in 5 School Police Say No

One in five school police officers say their school is not prepared to handle an active-shooter situation, according to a nationally representative survey of school resource officers conducted by the Education Week Research Center.

And some school police report they haven’t been adequately trained to work in schools. Some also say their schools don’t set limits on their role in student discipline, which civil rights groups say is necessary to protect the rights of students.

School law enforcement officials say some officers will never feel fully prepared for an event like a shooting because they are always looking for ways to improve. They also have to balance the need to be ready for unlikely worst-case scenarios with the everyday duties of the job that requires them, most essentially, to build trust with students.

Full story at edweek.org

Study: Hotter Classrooms Make it Harder for Students to Learn

STUDENTS’ ABILITY TO learn is undermined when their classrooms are too hot, new research says, a finding that could help explain persistent gaps in performance between students in poorer regions and countries without consistent access to air conditioning and those in wealthier areas.

An analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research comparing student test scores with average temperatures suggests that when classrooms get too hot it prevents students from learning as well as they would in more comfortable temperatures, with lasting impacts on students’ future success and their ability to contribute economically. It also found that adequate investment in school infrastructure – namely air conditioning – can mitigate the negative effects of hot weather.

Researchers compared daily historical weather data collected by a network of thousands of weather stations across the United States operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the PSAT scores of 10 million students who took the test at least twice between 2001 and 2014.

Full story at US News

A Degree With Zero Student Debt. Does It Work?

Justin Napier is exactly the kind of community college graduate Tennessee was hoping for.

In high school, Napier didn’t have his eye on college. In fact, he had a job lined up working on race cars after graduation. But in the spring of 2014, a year before Napier graduated, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a plan to make community college free for graduating high school seniors, part of a broader plan to dramatically increase the number of adults in Tennessee with college credentials. It was called, grandly, the Tennessee Promise.

“We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority,” Haslam said in his State of the State address that year.

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The Value of a Video

IN THE LAND OF parenting there are two camps: those who think educational videos can be good for their kids and those who think they’re a mind-numbing wasteland.

I tended to side with the latter when my daughter was in her preschool years because I was convinced that books and active play were superior. But we’ve all been exhausted at 6 a.m. and streamed videos from YouTube. Let’s just assume that my daughter watched more videos in her early childhood than I care to admit. Over time, I convinced myself that the videos I chose were better than most of the crap out there.

Wrong.

A team of four education researchers, led by Susan B. Neuman at New York University, conducted an in-depth study published in April 2018 of 100 of the most popular videos that claim to be “educational” and stream over Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and Google Play. They include “Sesame Street,” “Blue’s Clues,” “Martha Speaks” and “Dora the Explorer,” all highly regarded programs that frequently turn up on recommended lists. The researchers found that the majority of the videos taught specific vocabulary – more educational content than critics might assume. They also found that 4-year-olds were actually paying attention and learning new words.

Full story at US News

FIRST Robotics Championship Boosts Diversity

HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR Michael Okrah wants to study engineering, a choice that he credits to the FIRST Robotics Championship, recently held in Detroit and Houston.

“When I first came (to Frederick Douglass Academy), I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do,” Okrah says. “Experiencing knowledge through robotics and the mentorship we’ve had has inspired me to study engineering.”

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Championship landed in Detroit this year. Held April 25-28, the championship saw more than 15,000 students in grades K-12, from 25 states and 45 countries, with their custom-built robots. FIRST Championship offers four levels of competition and one student exhibition for students aged 6 to 18.

Full story at US News

More Than Just A Job: Stories Of Teachers Who Deserve An A+

Teachers across the country are pushing for better pay and increased school funding. They consistently make less than other college graduates with comparable experience — even though, for many teachers, working with students is more than a full-time job.

There are long days in the classroom, clubs and activities, planning and grading, and the many after-school hours spent with students.

Earlier this spring, we asked NPR Ed readers to send in stories of teachers going to great lengths to help students succeed in and out of school. We heard from hundreds of you. Many of you said that every teacher you know fits the bill.

Here are a few teachers that caught our eye.

Full story at NPR.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

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