Community College Transfer Students: Underenrolled, Overachieving

SELECTIVE COLLEGES AND universities tend to overlook students seeking to transfer from community college, despite those students graduating at higher rates than other students, a new report shows.

Notably, nearly half – 49 percent – of all students enrolled in four-year colleges and universities begin at a two-year schools. But the report finds that selective schools are less likely to enroll community college students than other institutions. In fact, when it comes to the 100 most selective colleges, 14 percent of students transfer in, but only 5 percent have transferred from a community college.

Community college students who transfer to selective colleges and universities, the study found, have equal to or higher graduation rates as students who enrolled directly from high school or those who transferred from other four-year schools. They also graduate in a reasonable amount of time, earning their degrees within two and a half years, on average.

Full story at US News

Why Millions Of Kids Can’t Read, And What Better Teaching Can Do About It

Jack Silva didn’t know anything about how children learn to read. What he did know is that a lot of students in his district were struggling.

Silva is the chief academic officer for Bethlehem, Pa., public schools. In 2015, only 56 percent of third-graders were scoring proficient on the state reading test. That year, he set out to do something about that.

“It was really looking yourself in the mirror and saying, ‘Which 4 in 10 students don’t deserve to learn to read?’ ” he recalls.

Bethlehem is not an outlier. Across the country, millions of kids are struggling. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 32 percent of fourth-graders and 24 percent of eighth-graders aren’t reading at a basic level. Fewer than 40 percent are proficient or advanced.

Full story at npr.org

Suspensions Are Down In U.S. Schools But Large Racial Gaps Remain

Students in U.S. schools were less likely to be suspended in 2016 than they were in 2012. But the progress is incremental, and large gaps — by race and by special education status — remain.

This data comes from an analysis of federal data for NPR in partnership with the nonprofit organization Child Trends. And it comes as the Trump administration is preparing the final report from a school safety commission that is expected to back away from or rescind Obama-era guidance intended to reduce racial disparities in school discipline.

The commission, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is expected to release its final report in the coming days.

Full story at npr.org

How To Make Sure Your Math Anxiety Doesn’t Make Your Kids Hate Math

A spike in blood pressure. A racing heart rate. Sweaty palms.

For many adults, this is what they feel when faced with difficult math.

But for kids, math anxiety isn’t just a feeling, it can affect their ability to do well in school. This fear tends to creep up on students when performance matters the most, like during exams or while speaking in class.

One reason for a kid’s math anxiety? How their parents feel about the subject.

“A parent might say, ‘oh I’m not a math person, it’s okay if you’re not good at math either,’ ” Sian Beilock, cognitive scientist and President of Barnard College, says. “It can send a signal to kids about whether they can succeed.”

Full story at npr.org

White House Outlines Five-Year STEM Push

THE WHITE HOUSE announced Monday evening a five-year strategic plan for science, technology, engineering and math education, setting forth what it calls a “North Star” that “charts a course for the Nation’s success.”

“It represents an urgent call to action for a nationwide collaboration with learners, families, educators, communities, and employers,” the White House plan reads.

The administration’s goal is threefold: for every American to master basic STEM concepts, like computational thinking, in order to respond to technological change; to increase access to STEM among historically underserved students; and to encourage students to pursue STEM careers.

Full story at US News

How Does a School Recover?

WHAT’S A HIGH SCHOOL TO do when it finds out that more than 60 boys in its graduating class of 2019 posed together, their arms extended in a Nazi salute, laughing, with at least one student flashing the “white power” sign?

That’s what Baraboo High School in central Wisconsin is figuring out after a photo taken before prom last spring at the Sauk County Courthouse in downtown Baraboo went viral this week.

Currently, school district officials are working with local authorities to investigate the incident and interview students and families involved to determine how and why the photo was taken, Lori Mueller, the school district administrator, said in a statement. She went further on Twitter, saying the school district plans to pursue “any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal,” to address the situation.

Full story at US News

U.S. Department of Education Fulfills Administration Promise to Invest $200 Million in STEM Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has not only fulfilled but surpassed President Trump’s directive to invest $200 million in high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including computer science, education. In total, the Department obligated $279 million in STEM discretionary grant funds in Fiscal Year 2018.

“It’s important that all students have access to a high-quality STEM education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said. “These discretionary grant programs and this Administration’s increased focus on STEM will help ensure our nation’s students are exposed to STEM early in their lifelong education journeys and will have the tools needed for success in the 21st century economy.”

Full story at ed.gov

Small Classes, Small Benefits

SMALL CLASSES ARE VERY popular with parents. Fewer kids in a room can mean more personal attention for their little ones. Teachers like them, too. Fewer kids means fewer tests to mark and fewer disruptions. Communities across the United States have invested enormously in smaller classes over the past 50 years. Pupil-teacher ratios declined from 22.3 in 1970 to 17.9 in 1985 and dropped to a low of 15.3 in 2008. But after the 2008 recession, local budget cuts forced class sizes to increase again, bumping the pupil-teacher ratio up to 16.1 in 2014, according to the most recent federal data available.

There’s a general consensus among education researchers that smaller classes are more effective. (In graduate school, I was taught that the benefits of small classes kick in once the class size falls below 16 students.) The benefits of small classes have become something of an informal yardstick. When I have written about unrelated educational reforms, researchers often compare them to the effectiveness of class-size reductions to give me a sense of their relative impact.

Full story at US News

‘I Am Heartbroken’: Your Letters About Public Service Loan Forgiveness

“Thank YOU,” writes Cara Christensen, a first-grade teacher in Washington state who read NPR’s deep dive into the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). The reporting, she says, “made me feel not so alone.”

We received dozens of emails, tweets and Facebook comments from aggrieved borrowers responding to news that, over the past year, 99 percent of applications for the popular loan-forgiveness program have been denied.

PSLF offers the promise of loan forgiveness to nurses, teachers, first-responders and other student borrowers who work in public service for 10 years while keeping up with their loan payments. But it has been plagued by poor communication from the U.S. Department of Education and mismanaged by servicing companies the department pays to run its trillion-dollar student loan portfolio.

Full story at npr.org

U.S. Department of Education Releases Study and Accompanying Toolkit on Ed Tech for English Learners

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) today announced the release of the National Study on English Learners and Digital Resources. The study provides the first national look at how districts and educators use educational technology to instruct English learner students—the fastest-growing student population in the country.

Today’s students are entering classrooms that have seen rapid adoption of digital technologies in instruction. With these new technologies, teachers of English learner (EL) students, whether they are general education teachers or specialists in EL student instruction, have exciting new tools to support learning.

This toolkit brings suggestions and resources for educators who want to utilize new technology-based resources to help their EL students gain proficiency in English and meet academic goals. The toolkit offers five guiding principles for educators to apply in exploring new ways of working with and supporting EL students through technology. In addition, the toolkit has a companion—The Developer Toolkit which provides guidance for developers on the needs of English learner students and their teachers, tips on supports to include with their products that may be especially useful for English learners and ways they can communicate about their products with districts and educators of English learner students to facilitate adoption.

Full story at ed.gov