An interesting method by which I found out that people were cheating on my final exam.
I use different versions of midterm examinations to discourage cheating in my population biology class (~200 students). When the course started, I used to do the same thing for the final exam, but it was a little more complicated, because the final exam is administered by the registrar’s office, not by me and my teaching team.
At some point, somebody advised me not to bother with versions: the registrar’s office is supposed to be professional about administration, and they usually mix people who are taking different exams in the same room, so I stopped bothering with different versions for the final exam for a year or two. I do it again now, and you’ll see why.
In the year in question, my exam was given in two separate medium-sized rooms. My class was alone in these two rooms. I received a report from the invigilators in Room 1 about suspicious behaviour. They had warned a couple of students for acting strangely, and then warned them again. They weren’t prepared to say that they were sure that the students were cheating, but wanted me to compare their answer slates. In retrospect, they should have left the students alone until they were ready to sign a complaint against them (or until they had cheated enough to have it proved against them).
Category Archives: Lifelong Learning
Parents: not happy about something at school? Here’s how to complain
ne of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was from a friend in the restaurant business. If I were planning to complain about any part of my meal or service, he said, I should wait until I had eaten all I was going to eat that night. He illustrated this warning with examples of what can happen to food prepared for awkward customers, and so I’ve followed this advice ever since. It’s a good principle: don’t complain to people on whom you’re relying – unless there’s no way they can wipe your steak on their bum or drop a bogey in your soup.
As with restaurants, so with schools. The difference with schools is that you’re likely to be stuck with them for a lot longer than one meal. So think carefully before putting on your Mr Angry face and marching into the school for a spot of ranting.
Indiana School Choice Report
Indiana Department of Education (PDF):
This is the 2015 update to the Choice Scholarship Program Annual Report originally released on January 27, 2014. This version of the report includes updates for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years.
The report provides an overview of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, which was passed as part of House Enrolled Act 1003-2011(Public Law 92-2011) and provides Choice Scholarships to students in households that meet income and eligibility requirements. The program provides funds to assist with the payment of tuition and fees at a participating Choice School.
For the 2011-2012 school year, Choice Scholarships were limited to 7,500 students. For the 2012-2013 school year, Choice Scholarships were limited to 15,000 students. Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, the student cap was removed and Choice Scholarships were available to any student that met eligibility and income requirements. During the 2013 Session of the Indiana General Assembly, the program was further expanded to include eligibility components related to special education, siblings, and failing schools.
Information on the School Choice Program may be found in I.C. 20-51, 512 IAC 3, and 512 IAC 4 or by accessing information on the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) website at the following link http://www.doe.in.gov/choice.
Hacking Oklahoma State University’s Student ID
In 2013 I took an Information Security class at Oklahoma State University. As a final project, we were broken into teams to find a security hole, and have a plan to theoretically exploit it.
I led this project, and in early 2014, gave a presentation to key faculty and IT security on campus. As I understand it, the final solution was to take down the website (https://app.it.okstate.edu/idcard/), and not worry about the rest. Fair enough.
Here are the contents of my final report.
How To Save Our Public Schools
Democrats and Republicans alike, he says, must first recognize that public education is a “broken, government-run monopoly serving the needs of adults at the expense of the needs of children.” The only way forward, Klein says, is to offer underprivileged families real educational choices, breaking the states’ monopoly on education and the perverse union rules strangling public education all across the nation.
Start by leaving your comfort zone and funneling capital away from your wealthy alma mater and toward the poor neighborhoods, where your generosity is truly needed. “A lot of people say to me, ‘I won’t give to public schools because I don’t think it will do anything,’ ” Klein says. He sends such skeptics to tough neighborhoods where charter schools run by the likes of KIPP, Success Academy, and Achievement First are making a real difference.
Consider a 2006 Robin Hood Foundation fund-raiser evening, where $45 million in donor support for new schools was matched by the charity’s board, raising $90 million in minutes. Klein, as the city’s chancellor, quickly agreed to kick in another $90 million from his $12 billion capital budget, and two architecturally stunning charter schools delivering quality education have since been built in blighted neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
“Imagine what these kids feel like, when they walk into their school and it’s the Taj Mahal? Go talk to those kids if you are looking for impact,” says Klein. That made me press him for practical help, and he promptly offered to try to organize for interested Barron’s Penta subscribers who emailed us they wanted to see such impact up close—a tour of a new charter school making a difference somewhere in the U.S. Subscribers who want a tour need only shoot us an e-mail.
Which gets us to his final point: Spend political capital, as well. Charter schools are great, Klein says, but voucher programs are the only way to quickly scale up high-quality alternatives to the busted and dangerous public schools currently entrapping our kids. Such programs allow a disadvantaged family to apply the tax-dollar equivalent of a public education—almost $20,000 a year in New York City—toward a private education of their choice.
Why schools are failing our boys
He hasn’t been allowed outside at school all week; it’s too cold. Yet this son has spent happy hours outside at home this week, all bundled up, moving snow with the toy snowplow, creating “snowmobile trails” in our yard with his sled and shoveling both our walk and our neighbors. Because he wants to.
This morning, as always, my son was up and dressed before the rest of the household; he likes time to play Minecraft before school starts. But he also cleaned the dirty glass on the woodstove, started the fire and brought wood into the house. Because he wants to.
And it hit me this morning: He would have done great in Little House on the Prairie time.
We’re reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, one of the books in the Little House series, aloud right now. Back then, boys (and girls) primarily learned by doing. Kids between the ages of 5 and 18 weren’t corralled into schools and kept apart from real life; out of necessity, boys worked on the farms and girls helped in the house. Entire families worked together to survive, and along the way, boys and girls learned how to function in the real world.
The progressive ideas behind the lack of free speech on campus
Is an academic discussion of free speech potentially traumatic? A recent panel for Smith College alumnae aimed at “challenging the ideological echo chamber” elicited this ominous “trigger/content warning” when a transcript appeared in the campus newspaper: “Racism/racial slurs, ableist slurs, antisemitic language, anti-Muslim/Islamophobic language, anti-immigrant language, sexist/misogynistic slurs, references to race-based violence, references to antisemitic violence.”
No one on this panel, in which I participated, trafficked in slurs. So what prompted the warning?
Smith President Kathleen McCartney had joked, “We’re just wild and crazy, aren’t we?” In the transcript, “crazy” was replaced by the notation: “[ableist slur].”
One of my fellow panelists mentioned that the State Department had for a time banned the words “jihad,” “Islamist” and “caliphate” — which the transcript flagged as “anti-Muslim/Islamophobic language.”
I described the case of a Brandeis professor disciplined for saying “wetback” while explaining its use as a pejorative. The word was replaced in the transcript by “[anti-Latin@/anti-immigrant slur].” Discussing the teaching of “Huckleberry Finn,” I questioned the use of euphemisms such as “the n-word” and, in doing so, uttered that forbidden word. I described what I thought was the obvious difference between quoting a word in the context of discussing language, literature or prejudice and hurling it as an epithet.
Young researchers should take the time to educate themselves on STEM career-related statistics.
Like many PhD students in their fourth year, there are two things constantly on my mind: one is my research, and the other is my post-graduation plan. I am currently a graduate student in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) PhD programme, which is designed to be 4-5 years long. The course puts a strong emphasis on developing post-graduation plans early on, so I started researching career options in my 2nd year.
I came across some statistics from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that painted a dire picture of career prospects in academia. Coincidentally, I joined CSHL’s Bioscience Enterprise Club around the same time to learn about alternative careers, and was taken aback by the abundance of career options available for PhDs: research in industry, publishing, science writing, teaching, public policy, finance, consulting, patent law, biotech startups, and more.
Researching career options early on has given me ample time to identify rewarding career paths, and to get involved in extra-curricular activities. Having done the research, I plan on applying the data science skills that I have developed over the course of my PhD to a career in industry.
As I get closer to graduation, I find myself much more prepared for what’s to come and strongly believe that considering career options early on is crucial for any PhD student. Therefore, I would urge all graduate schools to insist that their students do the same, especially in the current academic climate. For those who haven’t been introduced to the stats, I’ve put together a short summary for you.
Educating school teachers (2006)
This report, the second in a series of policy reports on the results of a four-year study of America’s education schools, focuses on the education of classroom teachers, the people who have the greatest impact on our children’s learning in school.
Teacher education has taken on a special urgency because the United States needs to raise both the quantity and quality of our teacher force. The country is experiencing an acute shortage of teachers. At the same time, we are asking teachers to increase student achievement to the highest levels in history in a new standards-based, accountability-driven system of education. To address both demands simultaneously is an enormous challenge, made even more difficult because the nation is deeply divided about how to prepare large numbers of high-quality teachers.
We don’t agree about what skills and knowledge teachers need or how and when teachers should learn them. This is the context for the second report. The first report focused on the education of school administrators.
The third report will examine the quality of education research and the preparation of the scholars and researchers who conduct it. The final report will be an overview of America’s schools of educa- tion, where the overwhelming majority of our school leaders, teachers, and scholars are educated.
Degrees don’t matter anymore, skills do
Too much of our educational system, both at the K-12 level and in higher education, is built around the idea that some students are smart and others are dumb. One shining exception are the “Knowledge is Power Program” or KIPP schools. In my blog post “Magic Ingredient 1: More K-12 School” I gave this simple description of the main strategy behind KIPP schools, which do a brilliant job, even for kids from very poor backgrounds:
They motivate students by convincing them they can succeed and have a better life through working hard in school.
They keep order, so the students are not distracted from learning.
They have the students study hard for many long hours, with a long school day, a long school week (some school on Saturdays), and a long school year (school during the summer).
Meanwhile, one size fits all largely reigns in Madison.
Former admissions director: Parents, calm down. Let Harvard go.
Like many who have worked in college admissions, she has heard it: All the worries from parents about “what they can do” to get their kids into Ivies.
And she has read about a cluster of suicides that some attribute to stress, pressure on achievement.
As a former admissions officer for some top schools, she has some cutting advice for parents:
Forget the top schools. Forget formulas to ace admissions. Forget achievement at all costs.
“Since 2004, student loan balances have more than tripled, at an average annualized growth rate of about 13 percent per year, to nearly $1.2 trillion, in 2014.”
Meta Brown, Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, and Wilbert van der Klaauw:
Our data indicate that both increased numbers of borrowers and larger balances per borrower are contributing to the rapid expansion in student loans. Between 2004 and 2014, we saw a 74 percent increase in average balances and a 92 percent increase in the number of borrowers. Now there are 43 million borrowers, up from 42 million borrowers at the end of 2013, with an average balance per borrower of about $27,000.
The heterogeneity of borrower indebtedness is very pronounced. As shown in the chart below, nearly 39 percent of borrowers owe less than $10,000, and the median balance is about $14,000. At the high end, more than 4 percent of borrowers, about 1.8 million people, owe more than $100,000.
Was Moynihan Right: What happens to children of unmarried mothers
Sara McLanahan & Christopher Jencks:
200119436-002In his 1965 report on the black family, Daniel Patrick Moynihan highlighted the rising fraction of black children growing up in households headed by unmarried mothers. He attributed the increase largely to the precarious economic position of black men, many of whom were no longer able to play their traditional role as their family’s primary breadwinner. Moynihan argued that growing up in homes without a male breadwinner reduced black children’s chances of climbing out of poverty, and that the spread of such families would make it hard for blacks to take advantage of the legal and institutional changes flowing from the civil rights revolution.
Moynihan’s claim that growing up in a fatherless family reduced a child’s chances of educational and economic success was furiously denounced when the report appeared in 1965, with many critics calling Moynihan a racist. For the next two decades few scholars chose to investigate the effects of father absence, lest they too be demonized if their findings supported Moynihan’s argument. Fortunately, America’s best-known black sociologist, William Julius Wilson, broke this taboo in 1987, providing a candid assessment of the black family and its problems in The Truly Disadvantaged. Since then, social scientists have accumulated a lot more evidence on the effects of family structure. This article will offer some educated guesses about what that evidence means.
Is teaching about instruction or selection?
Teaching is commonly associated with instruction, yet in evolution, immunology, and neuroscience, instructional theories are largely defunct.
We propose a co-immunity theory of teaching, where attempts by a teacher to alter student neuronal structure to accommodate cultural ideas and practices is sort of a reverse to the function of the immune system, which exists to preserve the physical self, while teaching episodes are designed to alter the mental self.
This is a theory of teaching that is based on the inter-subjective relationship between teacher and learner. This theory posits that teaching does not, as is commonly assumed, take place via instruction from teacher to students, but rather through a process of selection in the learner’s brain, stimulated by materials and activities utilized by the teacher. In this theory, the mechanism that drives the selection process in learners’ brains is co-regulated emotional signaling between teacher and learner. From this perspective, the power of formative assessment is that it intrinsically carries with it emotional aspects for both learner and teacher, in that it provides a feedback relationship between them both, and so, according to the Greenspan & Shanker theory of cognitive symbolic development, promotes cognitive development.
– See more at: http://beta.briefideas.org/ideas/b0b3c84a223e16c8f066b8770831a962#sthash.kKerYg1g.dpuf
When letting your kids out of your sight becomes a crime
We all want what is best for our children. We want them to be happy and successful, and we want to protect them from harm. But what if we are protecting them from extremely remote threats while ignoring the things that most endanger their well-being? What if police and child welfare officials, the experts whom we empower to protect our children, are pursuing phantom problems while neglecting those who are truly at risk?
One recent Saturday afternoon, six police officers and five patrol cars came to my home in Silver Spring. They demanded identification from my husband and entered our home despite not having a warrant to do so. The reason for this show of force? We had allowed our children to walk home from a neighborhood park by themselves.
A few hours later, a Montgomery County Child Protective Services (CPS) social worker coerced my husband into signing a “temporary safety plan” for our children by threatening to take the children “right now” — a threat she backed up with a call to the police. In the weeks that followed, another worker from the agency appeared at our door with the police and insisted that he did not need a warrant to enter our home. He also interviewed our children at school without our knowledge or permission.
Google boss warns of ‘forgotten century’ with email and photos at risk
Cerf called for the development of “digital vellum” to preserve old software and hardware so that out-of-date files could be recovered no matter how old they are.
“When you think about the quantity of documentation from our daily lives that is captured in digital form, like our interactions by email, people’s tweets, and all of the world wide web, it’s clear that we stand to lose an awful lot of our history,” he said.
“We don’t want our digital lives to fade away. If we want to preserve them, we need to make sure that the digital objects we create today can still be rendered far into the future,” he added.
The warning highlights an irony at the heart of modern technology, where music, photos, letters and other documents are digitised in the hope of ensuring their long-term survival. But while researchers are making progress in storing digital files for centuries, the programs and hardware needed to make sense of the files are continually falling out of use.
Google, Facebook and governments are storing, mining, selling and aggregating all of this…..
Disabilities and online education
Advocates for the deaf on Thursday filed federal lawsuits against Harvard and M.I.T., saying both universities violated antidiscrimination laws by failing to provide closed captioning in their online lectures, courses, podcasts and other educational materials.
“Much of Harvard’s online content is either not captioned or is inaccurately or unintelligibly captioned, making it inaccessible for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,” the complaint said, echoing language used in the M.I.T. complaint. “Just as buildings without ramps bar people who use wheelchairs, online content without captions excludes individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
Jeff Neal, a spokesman for Harvard, said that while he could not comment on the litigation, Harvard expected the Justice Department to propose rules this year “to provide much-needed guidance in this area,” and that the university would follow whatever rules were adopted.
Study: Even for college-educated blacks, road to full-time work is rocky
Months before he graduated from college, Jeramey Winfield was sending out resumes and applying for jobs online in Chicago.
The media studies major hoped to jump from Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire right into the Chicago workforce, in marketing or event planning, so he could get his own apartment and begin helping his family financially. But after more than a year of networking, sending out applications and asking mentors for help, Winfield still doesn’t have a full-time job. In fact, he said, he’s rarely been called back for an interview.
“I had this picture in my mind of working downtown, taking the train in and contributing to my profession,” said Winfield, who often wears dapper, fitted business suits. “I had this vision of helping my mom out, since she struggled to raise five of us. I wanted to give her some relief.”
How Spelling Keeps Kids From Learning
Johnny in Topeka can’t read, but Janne in Helsinki is effortlessly finishing his storybooks. Such a disparity may be expected by now, but the reason might come as a surprise: It probably has much less to do with teaching style and quality than with language. Simply put, written English is great for puns but terrible for learning to read or write. It’s like making children from around the world complete an obstacle course to fully participate in society but requiring the English-speaking participants to wear blindfolds.
Adults who have already mastered written English tend to forget about its many quirks. But consider this: English has 205 ways to spell 44 sounds. And not only can the same sounds be represented in different ways, but the same letter or letter combinations can also correspond to different sounds. For example, “cat,” “kangaroo,” “chrome,” and “queue” all start with the same sound, and “eight” and “ate” sound identical. Meanwhile, “it” doesn’t sound like the first syllable of “item,” for instance, and “cough” doesn’t rhyme with either “enough,” “through,” “furlough” or “bough.” Even some identically spelled words, such as “tear,” can be pronounced differently and mean different things.
Your lifetime earnings are probably determined in your 20s
Ah, your 20s: A decade of self discovery, smartphone dating and shopping for IKEA coffee tables — right?
A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York sends a more sobering message to millennials: Your first 10 years in the labor market likely shape your lifetime earning potential.
“Across the board, the bulk of earnings growth happens during the first decade,” wrote economists Fatih Guvenen, Fatih Karahan, Serdar Ozkan and Jae Song, who studied the career paths of about 5 million workers over nearly 40 years.
The jump in pay could be largely driven by the steep learning curves early in your career, said Guvenen, an economics professor at the University of Minnesota.
The Paradoxes of Education Reform Critics: “asymmetric incompetency”
There’s a lot of important, nuanced debate to be had between the most optimistic education reformers and those who are more skeptical. But I think there are many, though of course not all, on the education reform critic side who tie themselves in knots telling inconsistent stories about education in this country. So here are the most common paradoxes of that movement. This isn’t to say those who criticize some or even many aspects of education reform embody all these paradoxes, but I would argue they are relatively common. I think education reform critics spend a lot of times opposing individual policies or ideas or changes, and so it is hard to tie all of those disparate criticisms together into a coherent vision that also explains what education policy should be. These paradoxes, I would argue, identify a problem.
1. Administrators can’t be trusted with firing, but are perfect at hiring.
One of the arguments for lots of job protections in schools is that you can’t trust administrators to decide who to fire. If you give them discretion, they will fire good teachers who they don’t like, or who do anything other than toe the administration line, or for other cronyism reasons. On the other hand, we are told that firing more teachers won’t solve anything because we most teachers are good at their job or at the most just need more coaching. So while we can’t trust administrators to fire competently, we also have arrived at a place where their hiring decisions involve impeccable foresight to never make a bad hiring decision. It’s a strange paradox of asymmetric incompetency.
The Myth of Charter-School ‘Cherry Picking’
There is a concept called the big lie, which holds that if you repeat a falsehood long enough and loudly enough, people will begin to believe it. Sadly, fearing the success of charter schools in New York City, the United Federation of Teachers and other education-reform opponents have been telling a big lie for years.
The UFT and its backers have kept up a steady drumbeat of false claims against charter schools in New York City: Charters cherry-pick their students, push out those who need extra support, and generally falsify their impressive results. Well, a recent report from New York City’s Independent Budget Office, a publicly funded, nonpartisan agency, proves that these accusations are false. Unfortunately, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña is among those city officials who believe the big lie.
Thoughts on the Technical Track
My views on the merits of having a technical track align with those of many people in our industry. Management is a different job, with different skills. They’re not necessarily more difficult skills, they’re just different. By and large they’re unrelated to the day-to-day labor of the people who build technology products.
It doesn’t make any sense to divert your technical talent into a discipline where they will need to stop doing technical work. (That’s in the event that they intend to be effective managers, which I concede might be an unrealistic expectation.)
Other people have made this case, so I’ll just proceed as if we agree that there must be a way forward for people that are great programmers other than to simply graduate into not programming at all.
It’s Etch A Sketch time in Wisconsin for education policy
Every two years for the last couple decades or so, the governor and Legislature pick up the state education policy Etch A Sketch, turn it over, shake it and draw a new picture. The game also goes by the name of the biennial budget process.
In days gone by, the new picture often wasn’t all that different from the old one. Some new money here, some new rules on how to spend it, some new patterns for what was expected from kids. There were sometimes bigger deals, like in the mid-90s when it was decided to hold down how much school districts could spend and how much teacher compensation could go up in exchange for the state paying more of the total bill.
With the rise of private school vouchers starting in Milwaukee, state budget season became prime time for controversy over changing the rules on money, accountability and who could participate.
Then came 2011. Whoa, what an Etch A Sketch event that was. Take the whole system of teacher unions and contracts, turn it over, shake — presto, the screen was blank. Amazing. In the new etching, school spending was cut and teachers bore the brunt by paying more for health and retirement benefits.
Camden Update: “Our Students Have the Potential to Change the World”
I graduated from Camden schools, and the quality of the education my children were getting has been far below what I received. I’m glad that the District is finally making some changes, and I’m glad that parents like me have more and better options to choose from.
That’s Camden parent Mary Jane Timbe, an alumna of Camden Public Schools who has a child at Mastery North Camden and another at Woodrow Wilson High School. She made that comment at Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard’s “State of the Schools” report yesterday at Woodrow Wilson High School.
Indeed, the district, New Jersey’s neediest, concurs with Ms. Timbe’s assessment. Superintendent Rouhanifard, appointed eighteen months ago when the State took over the long-failing district, noted in this most recent of his quarterly updates to the community, that “the School District is falling short. He went on to itemize the steps he will take to move the district forward, particularly at the high school level and with student and staff engagement.”
There is good news to report, although Rouhanifard was careful to note that the occasion of his update to the community “is not a celebration, but a public accounting.” Graduation rates are up 6%. Students feel significantly safer in the hallways and bathrooms. High school freshmen and sophomores are beginning to spend more time on reading and math and the district is in the midst of overhauling its vocational programs. (According to the Star Ledger, “absolutely zero high school students earned a vocational program certificate last year, despite hundreds of students enrolled in vocational education classes.”) Next week the Rouhanifard will begin a series of “Teacher Roundtables” and the week after that he’ll launch “Student Leader Roundtables” in order to enhance collaboration with stakeholders.
How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science
We know that women are underrepresented in math and science jobs. What we don’t know is why it happens.
There are various theories, and many of them focus on childhood. Parents and toy-makers discourage girls from studying math and science. So do their teachers. Girls lack role models in those fields, and grow up believing they wouldn’t do well in them.
All these factors surely play some role. A new study points to the influence of teachers’ unconscious biases, but it also highlights how powerful a little encouragement can be. Early educational experiences have a quantifiable effect on the math and science courses the students choose later, and eventually the jobs they get and the wages they earn.
The Techies Who Are Hacking Education by Homeschooling Their Kids
A couple of weeks ago, I wandered into the hills north of the UC Berkeley campus and showed up at the door of a shambling Tudor that was filled with lumber and construction equipment. Samantha Matalone Cook, a work-at-home mom in flowing black pants and a nose ring, showed me around. Cook and her family had moved into the house in April and were in the middle of an ambitious renovation. “Sorry,” Cook said, “I didn’t tell you we were in a construction zone.” A construction zone, it turns out, that doubles as a classroom.
We walked into the living room where Cook’s two sons, Parker and Simon, were sitting on the couch, silently scribbling. The boys, aged 12 and 10, had the air of young Zuckerbergs-in-training. Babyfaced and freshly scrubbed, they spoke with a somewhat awkward and adenoidal lilt and wore sweatshirts with the hoods flipped up and no shoes. The room around them was chaos—piles of art supplies were stacked around the floor and paint samples were smeared next to the doorways. The family’s two dogs, Dakota and Kaylee, wrestled loudly over a chew toy. The sound of pounding construction equipment drifted in from the basement. And yet the boys were focused on what I soon learned were math workbooks—prealgebra for Parker, a collection of monster-themed word problems for Simon.
The Cook boys are homeschooled, have been ever since their parents opted not to put them in kindergarten. Samantha’s husband Chris never liked school himself; as a boy, he preferred fiddling on his dad’s IBM PC to sitting in a classroom. After three attempts at college, he found himself unable to care about required classes like organic chemistry and dropped out to pursue a career in computers. It paid off; today he is the lead systems administrator at Pandora. Samantha is similarly independent-minded—she blogs about feminism, parenting, art technology, and education reform and has started a network of hackerspaces for kids. So when it came time to educate their own children, they weren’t in any hurry to slot them into a traditional school.
K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The College Loan Bombshell Hidden in the Budget Obama’s new repayment program comes with a record $22 billion shortfall.
In obscure data tables buried deep in its 2016 budget proposal, the Obama administration revealed this week that its student loan program had a $21.8 billion shortfall last year, apparently the largest ever recorded for any government credit program.
The main cause of the shortfall was President Barack Obama’s recent efforts to provide relief for borrowers drowning in student debt, reforms that have already begun to reduce loan payments to the government. For more than two decades, budget analysts have recalculated the projected costs of about 120 credit programs every year, but they have never lowered their expectations of repayments this dramatically. The $21.8 billion revision—larger than the annual budget for NASA, or the Interior Department and EPA combined—will be tacked onto the federal deficit.
“Wow,” marveled Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Whether or not it’s good policy to help borrowers with their payments, it’s obviously costly for taxpayers.”
The 40 million Americans with student loans are now saddled with more than $1.2 trillion in outstanding debt. And with higher education costs rising much faster than inflation, the already massive program has been growing at a spectacular clip; direct government loans alone increased 44 percent over the last two years despite an aura of austerity in Washington. The Obama administration has tried to ease the burden for some borrowers by reducing their payments to 10 percent of their income and forgiving their loans after 20 years; this year, the Education Department plans to make all borrowers eligible for that “pay-as-you-earn” relief.
A Case for Lifelong Kindergarten
Could it be that the best way to learn happens in kindergarten? It’s an intriguing proposition, one that’s being explored at M.I.T. by folks like Mitch Resnick, the creator of the famous computer programming site for beginners called Scratch.
Resnick brought up the idea last week at the New York Times’ School for Tomorrow summit, and proclaimed that “schools should be on the edge of chaos,” a comment that lit up the Twitterverse.
Resnick is one of three recipients, including Robert Beichner, a physics professor at North Carolina State University, and Julie Young, president of Florida Virtual School, of the McGraw Prize in Education. The three of them worked on a paper that exemplifies how technology should work seamlessly with learning.
College Marketing Madness
What is college? To Madison Comer, a confident 6-year-old, it is a very big place. “It’s tall,” she explained, outlining the head of Tuffy, the North Carolina State mascot, with a gray crayon. “It’s like high school but it’s higher.”
Elizabeth Mangan, who plans to be a veterinarian because she loves her puppy, pointed out that she, too, would attend North Carolina State. “Me and Madison are going to the same college,” she said.
And what is college? “It’s someplace where you go to get your career.”
Free speech? Not at four in five UK universities
When Professor Thomas Scotto, of Essex University’s department of government, invited Israel’s deputy ambassador to give a talk to political science students, he hoped for “lots of disagreement: that the speaker would express his views and that the students would challenge him”.
Instead, a noisy protest outside the venue ramped up into an attempt to storm the building, students in the lecture theatre heckled the Israeli diplomat, and it became impossible for him to begin. With feelings running high, university security said they could no longer guarantee the speaker’s safety. The event had to be abandoned.
Celebrate statistics as a vital part of democracy
From reading your editorial on the use of statistics in political debate (30 January) your readers might have come away with the impression that no numbers in the public arena can be trusted. They would be wrong. Of course statistics will be abused in the runup to an election. But the underlying quality of UK statistics (such as our census, our health statistics or even the new figures on wellbeing) is very high. And they quietly play an important role to help inform lots of day-to-day decisions: Where do we need new transport links? Who is at risk of flooding? Which medicines might work?
Is College Worth it?
Earlier this month, after announcing his plan to make community college free, President Obama lauded a college degree as “the surest ticket to the middle class.”
New research in the prolific field of “Is College Worth It?” suggests it’s not that simple.
“‘Ticket’ implies a college degree is something you can just cash in,” said Alan Benson, assistant business professor at the University of Minnesota. “But it doesn’t work that way. A college degree is more of a stepping stone, one ingredient to consider when you’re cooking up your career. … It’s not always the best investment for everyone.”
Benson, along with M.I.T.’s Frank Levy and business analyst Raimundo Esteva, co-authored a new paper, released this week, examining the value of public university options in California. Factors like how long it takes to complete a degree — often longer than four years — and whether students make it to graduation, he learned, can significantly diminish the value of pursuing higher education.
Closing the math gap for boys
ON a recent afternoon, the banter of boisterous adolescents at Edwin G. Foreman High School, in a poor, racially and ethnically mixed Chicago neighborhood, echoed off the corridor walls. But Room 214 was as silent as a meditation retreat. Inside, 16 ninth- and 10th-grade African-American and Latino boys were working, two-on-one, with a tutor. They’re among 1,326 boys in 12 public schools in this city who are sweating over math for an hour every day.
Kids like these fare worst on every measure of academic achievement, from test scores to graduation rates. On the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, the average reading and math scores of eighth-grade black boys are barely higher than those of fourth-grade white girls, and Latino boys score only marginally better. Dropping out is a near-certain ticket to poverty, and these youngsters quit or are pushed out at a dismaying rate. Only 57 percent of young black men and 62 percent of young Latino men graduate from high school in four years, compared with 79 percent of young white men.
The teenagers in Chicago’s math-tutoring-on-steroids experiment fit this dismal profile. They were as many as seven years behind in reading and 10 in math — 16-year-olds with the skills of third graders. The previous year they missed more than a month of school, on average, and when they did make an appearance they were often banished to the school disciplinarian. Nearly a fifth of them had arrest records. Not only were they disproportionately likely to drop out, they were also prime candidates for the school-to-gang-to-prison pipeline
University of Texas Endowment Tops $25 Billion, Passing Yale
Michael McDonald & Lauren Streib:
The University of Texas endowment surpassed Yale University’s as the second-wealthiest in U.S. higher education, according to an annual survey released Thursday by Commonfund and the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
The value of the Texas System’s fund grew 24 percent to $25.4 billion in the year ended June 30, the biggest after Harvard University’s $35.9 billion. Yale’s endowment, which had ranked second since at least 2002, increased 15 percent to $23.9 billion.
FT’s 2015 MBA Rankings
The year-over-year changes in MBA programs at the best business schools tend to be minuscule, if there are any changes at all. MBA experiences never undergo revolutionary change. Truth is, they evolve over time, little by little.
So it may come as a surprise when an annually published ranking that purports to measure the quality of these programs shows dramatic, if not shocking, changes in a single 12-month period.
That’s the case yet again with The Financial Times’s 2015 ranking published today (Jan. 25). Nearly one in every three–or exactly 33 of 100–experienced double-digit gains or falls. Unexplainably, the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business plunged 30 places to 85th this year from 55th only a year ago. What happened? The school got a new dean who hasn’t had time to change anything in the MBA program.
College Admissions Racket: They’re Not Going to Let You In Anyway
After losing interest in attending the University of Chicago, high school senior Sarah Schmoller didn’t bother to apply before the Jan. 1 deadline. The university, though, wouldn’t take no for an answer. Over winter break, the school offered to extend the deadline to Jan. 5 so that Schmoller could “sleep in, and eat cookie after delicious cookie” and “take these extra days to relax a bit.” When she didn’t respond, an e-mail signed by admissions director Daniel Follmer popped up in her inbox on Jan. 7, giving her two more days. “We’re Missing Your Application,” the subject line read.
This year, at least a dozen elite colleges, including Chicago, Duke, Dartmouth, and Columbia, have offered extensions of once-sacrosanct January admissions deadlines. The University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, and Bates are among schools whose admissions deans said they were doing so for the first time, aside from individual hardship cases or such emergencies as storms and major website failures.
To Protect His Son, A Father Asks School To Bar Unvaccinated Children
Carl Krawitt has watched his son, Rhett, now 6, fight leukemia for the past 4 1/2 years. For more than three of those years, Rhett has undergone round after round of chemotherapy. Last year he finished chemotherapy, and doctors say he is in remission.
Now, there’s a new threat, one that the family should not have to worry about: measles.
Rhett cannot be vaccinated, because his immune system is still rebuilding. It may be months more before his body is healthy enough to get all his immunizations. Until then, he depends on everyone around him for protection — what’s known as herd immunity.
But Rhett lives in Marin County, Calif., a county with the dubious honor of having the highest rate of “personal belief exemptions” in the Bay Area and among the highest in the state. This school year, 6.45 percent of children in Marin have a personal belief exemption, which allows parents to lawfully send their children to school unvaccinated against communicable diseases like measles, polio, whooping cough and more.
Public engagement: hidden costs for research careers?
It is often assumed that academics’ efforts to engage the public are inherently a good thing.
The Public Understanding of Science movement has long backed the idea that the public must be included in science governance if science is to achieve openness, transparency and accountability, and that this approach helps to preserve public trust and confidence in science, or restore it where it has been lost or fractured.
Over the years, there has been a shift in emphasis from communication and understanding to dialogue and debate, captured by the term “public engagement”. This has come to symbolise a wider shift in higher education from universities as “ivory towers” to universities as transparent, porous, public institutions. Public engagement is touted by its advocates as a means with which to mobilise and empower the public and academe through a two-way relationship of trust, respect and interdependency, leading to collaboration and even co-production. These are honourable ambitions, which the academic community would do well to be guided by.
The children of the rich and powerful are increasingly well suited to earning wealth and power themselves. That’s a problem
“MY BIG fear,” says Paul Ryan, an influential Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is that America is losing sight of the notion that “the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life.” “Opportunity,” according to Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, “is slipping away.” Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, thinks that “each element” of the sequence that leads to success “is eroding in our country.” “Of course you have to work hard, of course you have to take responsibility,” says Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state, “but we are making it so difficult for people who do those things to feel that they are going to achieve the American dream.” When discussing the chances of ordinary Americans rising to the top, politicians who agree about little else sound remarkably similar.
Before the word meritocracy was coined by Michael Young, a British sociologist and institutional entrepreneur, in the 1950s there was a different name for the notion that power, success and wealth should be distributed according to talent and diligence, rather than by accident of birth: American. For sure, America has always had rich and powerful families, from the floor of the Senate to the boardrooms of the steel industry. But it has also held more fervently than any other country the belief that all comers can penetrate that elite as long as they have talent, perseverance and gumption. At times when that has not been the case Americans have responded with authentic outrage, surmising that the people at the top are, as Nick Carraway said, “a rotten crowd”, with bootlegging Gatsby better than the whole damn bunch put together.
How to Build a Better Learner
Eight-month-old Lucas Kronmiller has just had the surface of his largely hairless head fitted with a cap of 128 electrodes. A research assistant in front of him is frantically blowing bubbles to entertain him. But Lucas seems calm and content. He has, after all, come here, to the Infancy Studies Laboratory at Rutgers University, repeatedly since he was just four months old, so today is nothing unusual. He—like more than 1,000 other youngsters over the past 15 years—is helping April A. Benasich and her colleagues to find out whether, even at the earliest age, it is possible to ascertain if a child will go on to experience difficulties in language that will prove a burdensome handicap when first entering elementary school.
Benasich is one of a cadre of researchers who have been employing brain-recording techniques to understand the essential processes that underlie learning. The new science of neuroeducation seeks the answers to questions that have always perplexed cognitive psychologists and pedagogues.
How, for instance, does a newborn’s ability to process sounds and images relate to the child’s capacity to learn letters and words a few years later? What does a youngster’s ability for staying mentally focused in preschool mean for later academic success? What can educators do to foster children’s social skills—also vital in the classroom? Such studies can complement the wealth of knowledge established by psychological and educational research programs.
Parenting Advice from America’s “Worst Mom”
The damning criticism she endured, including a threat of arrest for child endangerment, intensified her desire to encourage anxious parents to give their children the freedom they need to develop the self-confidence and resilience to cope effectively with life’s many challenges.
One result was the publication in 2009 of her book “Free Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts With Worry).” A second result is the Free Range Kids Project and a 13-part series, starting Thursday on Discovery Life Channel, called “World’s Worst Mom.” In it, Ms. Skenazy intervenes to rescue bubble-wrapped kids from their overprotective parents by guiding the children safely through a sequence of once-forbidden activities and showing their anxious parents how well the children perform and how proud they are of what they accomplished.
The term “helicopter parents” applies to far more than those who hover relentlessly over their children’s academic and musical development. As depicted in the first episode of the series, it applies to 10-year-old Sam’s very loving mother who wouldn’t let him ride a bike (“she’s afraid I’ll fall and get hurt”), cut up his own meat (“Mom thinks I’ll cut my fingers off”), or play “rough sports” like skating. The plea from a stressed-out, thwarted Sam: “I just want to do things by myself.”
Education and class: America’s new aristocracy
WHEN the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination line up on stage for their first debate in August, there may be three contenders whose fathers also ran for president. Whoever wins may face the wife of a former president next year. It is odd that a country founded on the principle of hostility to inherited status should be so tolerant of dynasties. Because America never had kings or lords, it sometimes seems less inclined to worry about signs that its elite is calcifying.
Thomas Jefferson drew a distinction between a natural aristocracy of the virtuous and talented, which was a blessing to a nation, and an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, which would slowly strangle it. Jefferson himself was a hybrid of these two types—a brilliant lawyer who inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law—but the distinction proved durable. When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves.
Now they are beginning to find out, (see article), because today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains.
America is one of only three advanced countries where the government spends more on schools in rich areas than in poor ones. Its university fees have risen 17 times as fast as median incomes since 1980, partly to pay for pointless bureaucracy and flashy buildings. And many universities offer “legacy” preferences, favouring the children of alumni in admissions.
Many schools are in the grip of one of the most anti-meritocratic forces in America: the teachers’ unions, which resist any hint that good teaching should be rewarded or bad teachers fired. To fix this, and the scandal of inequitable funding, the system should become both more and less local. Per-pupil funding should be set at the state level and tilted to favour the poor. Dollars should follow pupils, through a big expansion of voucher schemes or charter schools. In this way, good schools that attract more pupils will grow; bad ones will close or be taken over. Unions and their Democratic Party allies will howl, but experiments in cities such as battered New Orleans have shown that school choice works.
Familiar themes in Madison, where one size fits all reigns, while spending double the national average per student.
Kaiser study: Clusters of unvaccinated children in Bay Area
Researchers have identified several geographic hot spots in the Bay Area where parents are not vaccinating their children, triggering concern about potential outbreaks of dangerous and preventable infectious diseases.
This unique study — which uses statistical software to match electronic medical records to home addresses of Kaiser patients — reveals precisely where physicians can target their vaccination efforts and detect disease outbreaks quicker.
One cluster is in the East Bay communities of El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda, where parents rejected vaccines for 10.2 percent of children. The second was in the northern part of San Francisco, as well as Marin County and the southwestern part of Sonoma County, with a 6.6 percent rate of vaccine refusal.
“Anecdotally, doctors have reported that a lot of parents in a particular neighborhood or county have hesitations about vaccines,” said lead investigator Dr. Tracy A. Lieu of Kaiser’s Division of Research, based in Oakland. “This is the first time we’ve used computers to actually find these clusters.”
The Rising Costs of Youth Sports, in Money and Emotion
“What I hope parents understand is that there are some three million high school players and by the time they scale that down to the quarterback position there are a couple of hundred thousand starters,” he said. “Then you get to Division I and II, and there are 360 quarterbacks. When you get to the N.F.L. there are 64. When you think about the odds, that’s not very good odds.”
Even so, he said, football can provide children with opportunities they might not have had otherwise. Mr. Trombley agreed, saying he looked at baseball and football as sports that might get him into a better college than he would otherwise.
“There is no question that baseball got me into Duke University,” he said. “I think I lucked out making it a profession. It just kind of happened by accident. It wasn’t all or nothing. We stress that with our kids: It’s wonderful to play a sport, but it could go away.”
Yet today, Mr. Trombley, 47, a financial adviser in his hometown, Wilbraham, Mass., laments that the highest level of youth sports may be out of reach for many children. He said the farthest he ever traveled for a game was a couple of towns over, but recently his family drove hours to a weekend-long high school tournament in New Jersey.
Mark Hyman, an assistant professor at George Washington University who has written books on youth sports, said that parents whose goal is to give their children the best chance in life or to get them a scholarship to college were not looking at the statistics.
“Parents think these investments are justified; they think it will lead to a full ride to college,” he said. “That’s highly misinformed. The percentage of high school kids who go on to play in college is extremely small. In most sports it’s under 5 percent. And the number for kids getting school aid is even smaller — it’s 3 percent.”
His advice? “What I tell parents is if you want to get a scholarship for your kids, you’re better off investing in a biology tutor than a quarterback coach,” he said. “There’s much more school dollars for academics.”
For parents, now begins the anxious waiting game for college financial aid
For the many high-school seniors who already have submitted their college admissions applications, the season of waiting for an acceptance letter has begun. For their parents, there’s a different anxiety-ridden waiting game: For the financial-aid offers that will spell out just how much this is all going to cost.
Paying for college is now a lot like buying a plane ticket. You have no idea how much the person sitting next to you is paying because most schools discount their tuition to maximize their enrollment numbers and revenue. It’s no different than the airlines trying to fill as many of their seats at the highest prices.
The average discount for first-year students at private colleges is now a staggering 46 percent. But who gets a discount and how big of one a student gets is less straightforward than ever before. It used to be that colleges awarded their own aid dollars based mostly on a student’s finances: the more your family made, the more you usually paid, unless you were an exceptional student the school really wanted.
But with more and more colleges widely employing the practice of “enrollment management” during the past three decades, the distribution of financial aid has become a lot less predictable. Now everyone, regardless of income, believes they deserve some sort of financial help. Half of colleges “front-load” their aid, meaning they give more to students the first year of college than in the subsequent years, hoping an emotional attachment will keep students enrolled.
64 Dartmouth College students face discipline over cheating
Up to 64 Dartmouth College students — including some athletes — could face suspension or other disciplinary action for cheating in an ethics class this past fall.
Dartmouth officials said students implicated in the cheating scandal misrepresented their attendance and participation in the undergraduate course, “Sports, Ethics & Religion.”
The class used electronic hand-held “clickers,” registered to individual students, to answer in-class questions. Officials at the Hanover, N.H., college said the students charged with cheating either gave their clickers to classmates instead of attending class themselves, or helped others cheat by using the clickers to answer questions on their behalf.
Some of the students have been found in violation of the school’s honor code and have been told they will be suspended for one term, a college official with knowledge of the proceedings said.
Students gain access to Stanford Admissions files
The Fountain Hopper started in September and gained a widespread following with an irreverent take on campus news, sent out two or three times a week by e-mail to most undergraduates. The students who run it soon turned their attention to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law known by the acronym Ferpa that was passed in 1974 and amended several times since. It stipulates that students have a right to see their educational records.
Not quite knowing what to expect, the Fountain Hopper leaders got several students, including some who are not involved in the newsletter, to request every record the university had on them. At least one student has received the records, and said he was surprised by what he got back: several hundred pages, including a log of every time his electronic identification card had been used to unlock a door, and those admission records.
On Thursday night, the Fountain Hopper sent messages to its subscribers, urging them to request their records and describing the process, with a set of links to click on, showing them where to send the request and how to word it. A Fountain Hopper staff member said that in less than 24 hours, more than 700 people had clicked on all of the links.
Standardized testing opponents find themselves on the wrong side of civil rights
On Monday U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined his wish-list for the next iteration of No Child Left Behind. It will be the seventh generation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which began in 1965.
Duncan again emphasized the administration’s support for mandatory standardized testing of children in grades three through eight.
The anti-testing cadre gave a collective hiss on the internet. Nothing new there: opposition to annual standardized student assessments is the new craze. But, remarkably, sloganeers of “toxic testing,” including teacher union leaders and suburban parents, find themselves at odds with some of America’s most prominent civil rights groups.
From a statement issued earlier this month from an umbrella group called The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights”
New Jersey Education Association’s Finances
Having Chris Christie as governor doesn’t seem to have affected the New Jersey Education Association’s revenues, but it certainly affected its political spending. The union sent $1 million to its candidate PAC, $5.5 million to Garden State Forward and $3 million to One New Jersey (both SuperPACs).
NJEA also spread cash to outside advocacy groups both large and small. It contributed $550,000 to the Education Law Center and $5,000 to FairTest.
NJEA executive officers do particularly well salary-wise, plus each receives an annual $1,000 in clothing allowance.
Total membership – 200,314, up 5,356
Total revenue – $126.5 million (90% came from member dues), up $2.7 million
Budget surplus – $3.2 million
Superkids K-2 Core Reading Program From Rowland Reading Foundation
Zaner-Bloser via a kind reader:
Rowland Reading Foundation, of Madison, Wisconsin, today announced the acquisition of its Superkids Reading Program by Zaner-Bloser, an educational publisher providing curricula and digital resources in literacy, language arts, writing instruction and handwriting.
The Superkids program is a rigorous phonics-based literacy curriculum that integrates reading with writing, spelling and grammar for students in kindergarten through second grade. It features a cast of characters called the Superkids whose adventures are told in its books and online materials.
The program was written by Pleasant Rowland, creator of American Girl®, and developed by Rowland Reading Foundation, whose mission is to improve reading instruction in the primary grades. In addition to its Superkids curriculum, the Foundation provides classroom coaching and professional development for teachers and conducts research into effective reading instruction.
“Teaching children how to read and to love to read has been my personal passion and the focus of my career,” said Ms. Rowland, chairman of Rowland Reading Foundation. “As I approached retirement, I wanted to find a good home for Superkids. I believe Zaner-Bloser is that good home, not only because of its long commitment to literacy for young children but, of greater importance, because the missions and values of our two organizations are so closely aligned.”
Disastrous reading results have long been a challenge in Madison.
A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools
The charter school movement is built on the premise that increased competition among schools will sort the wheat from the chaff.
It seems self-evident that parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools. As the argument goes, the overall effect should be to improve equity as well: Lower-income parents won’t have to send their kids to an under-resourced and underperforming school just because it is the closest one to them geographically.
But an intriguing new study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans suggests that parent choice doesn’t always work that way. Parents, especially low-income parents, actually show strong preferences for other qualities like location and extracurriculars — preferences that can outweigh academics.
Colleges ratchet up recruiting of applicants — just to turn them down
When Tel Kelley began his college search, he knew he wanted to go to a big school with a top-notch sports medicine program and big-time intercollegiate teams.
But as his senior year began at Alamosa High School in Alamosa, Colorado, Kelley started hearing over and over again from about a dozen schools he’d never contacted and in which he had no interest. He estimates that each school sent him two to three emails a week, plus letters and brochures encouraging him to apply.
It’s been “overwhelming,” said the 18-year-old Kelley, an A student who has already been accepted to Oklahoma State and Arizona State universities. Now, as the emails keep pouring in, he said, “I just delete them immediately so I don’t have to deal with it.”
As college-admissions season kicks into high gear, Kelley is a target of a little-known practice among colleges and universities called “recruit to deny,” under which they try to make their admissions process look more selective by boosting their number of applicants — then turning many of them down — through hard-sell marketing techniques.
One major reason for this is that the more selective an institution appears to be, the higher it ends up in the college rankings, said David Hawkins, executive director of education content and policy at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, or NACAC.
“The rankings drive this,” Hawkins said. “But if the rankings went away tomorrow, you would still have college presidents, trustees, alumni, students and all sorts of other stakeholders who care about how selective their college is.”
Cracking Down on Skipping Class
Skipping class undetected for a game of ultimate Frisbee might become a thing of the past as more universities adopt mandatory-attendance policies and acquire high-tech trackers that snitch when students skip.
At Villanova University, student ID cards track attendance at some lectures. Administrators at University of Arkansas last semester began electronically monitoring the class attendance of 750 freshmen as part of a pilot program they might extend to all underclassman. And at Harvard, researchers secretly filmed classrooms to learn how many students were skipping lectures.
The moves reflect the rising financial consequence of skipping too many classes and, consequently, dropping out. More than four in 10 full-time college students fail to graduate in six years. Many are stuck with crippling student debt and no credentials to help them pay it back. Graduation rates also figure into closely watched school rankings.
Regular naps are ‘key to learning’
Trials with 216 babies up to 12 months old indicated they were unable to remember new tasks if they did not have a lengthy sleep soon afterwards.
The University of Sheffield team suggested the best time to learn may be just before sleep and emphasised the importance of reading at bedtime.
Experts said sleep may be much more important in early years than at other ages.
People spend more of their time asleep as babies than at any other point in their lives.
What Students in China Have Taught Me About U.S. College Admissions
I talk to more Chinese high school students than anyone else in the world.
At least I think I do: I operate — along with my wife — a company in China that interviews students on behalf of selective U.S. colleges and boarding schools. Instead of taking a standardized language test, a prospective student can participate in an unscripted conversation with one of our interviewers. We videotape the interview and then provide it “as-is” to admission officers. Admission officers like our interviews because they provide a trustworthy and unfiltered look at an applicant’s communication skills.
A fascinating aspect of this job is that we have a front-row seat to one of the greatest migrations of talent in history. Our thousands of conversations with students often include some variation of the question, “Why do you want to go to the U.S. for school?” Almost every interviewee responds with a version of the following: They don’t like the gaokao (the national college entrance exam), and even more they dislike the prospect of their major being determined by their gaokao score.
College Ratings and Affordable Education
On Friday, December 19, 2014, the Department of Education released its much-awaited “College Ratings Framework” paper. One key goal of the proposed ratings system is to help students, particularly those who are underprivileged, make better, more affordable college choices. Will the new ratings system help achieve this goal?
There are reasons to believe that students from the middle- and lower-income tiers of society are not making affordable college choices. College debt has been rising sharply over the past several years, with $33,000 now being the average amount owed by a graduating student. For poorer students, college debt is even higher, even with financial aid factored in. Furthermore, this figure does not account for the nearly 50 percent of freshmen who will never graduate, in many cases because high college debt forced them to drop out.
Such debt seems high compared with what it should be, especially for lower-income students. The national average for annual college tuition at a four-year public college is a little less than $7,500. At a public community college, it is $3,000. However, the “net price” (i.e., including living costs and supplies), for a stay-at-home, in-state, low-income student, after considering grants and scholarships and living costs, is substantially lower. For example, while tuition at San Jose State University (which, incidentally, is the single largest source of engineers who work in Silicon Valley) is $7,500, equal to the national average, the net price for a stay-at-home student with a family income of $40,000 is $5,500. And the net price for such a student at Foothill College, a community college from which students may transfer to San Jose State University, is $3,300. In such a case, over a four-year period, a student who spends two years at the community college and then transfers to the four-year college will accumulate debt of $17,600, even if the student and his family are unable to contribute anything.
The Tyranny of Meritocracy
The term “meritocracy” was coined by the British sociologist Michael Dunlop Young as a spoof. In his 1958 satire, The Rise of Meritocracy, 1870-2033, Young gave an imaginary account of a smug elite: Instead of ancestry, ability had determined their social position. Rule by this select few appeared both benign and bountiful because of a talent-based formula for assigning status. Test scores (or other suitable substitutes for innate talent or aptitude) mattered the most. Because those who had risen in the status hierarchy had attained their positions through talent and effort, they were better able to justify their continued rule—they had earned it.
To Young, such a testocracy was not a shining vision but a nightmare. And more than 40 years after the publication of his book, he was “sadly disappointed” at how the word he coined has “gone into general circulation, especially in the United States.” He intended to warn society about what might happen if, in assigning social status, it continued to place formal educational qualifications over all other considerations. In Young’s fictional world, anyone unable to jump through educational hoops would be barred from a new, exclusive social class as discriminatory as older ones based on inheritance.
How to Learn Efficiently
I am convinced that much of the gap between the best college students and the worst is explained by study habits. Frankly, most students study poorly. To make matters worse, most teachers are incapable of teaching good study habits.
Learning is proportional with effort
Sitting in a classroom listening to a professor feels like learning… Reading a book on a new topic feels like learning… but because they are overwhelming passive activities, they are inefficient. It is even worse than inefficient, it is counterproductive because it gives you the false impression that you know the material. You can sit through lecture after lecture on quantum mechanics. At some point you will become familiar with the topics and the terminology. Alas you are fooling yourself which is worse than not learning anything.
The Hidden Student-Debt Bomb
It is time to re-evaluate how we measure the performance of student-loan programs—particularly whether borrowers are or are not meeting their obligations. The traditional measures of nonrepayment—delinquencies and defaults—might be fine for most types of loans, but not for outstanding student loans, nearly all of which are held or backed by the federal government. Lawmakers have provided students with options that let them punt on repayment without triggering delinquency or default. Lately, students have been availing themselves of those options at rising levels.
The forbearance benefit, for example, lets borrowers postpone payments for up to three years. By law, loan-servicing companies have a lot of discretion to grant forbearances, and getting one usually takes only a phone call on the part of the borrower. Some borrowers might have to complete a simple form and meet a payment-to-income test. But overall it is the easiest and fastest way for a borrower to suspend student-loan payments.
Citizenship 101: Too many Americans are ignorant of the basics of democracy
But a growing number of critics charge that education in good citizenship is being shortchanged by an American educational system that is focused on other “core competencies.” The result is that too many products of that system are ignorant of the basics of how American democracy functions, and lack the knowledge to participate fully in the society it sustains. One of the most prominent spokespeople for this view is retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the last member of the court to have held elected office.
In a 2008 article written with former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, O’Connor argued that “civic education has been in steady decline over the past generation, as high-stakes testing and an emphasis on literacy and math dominate school reforms. Too many young people today do not understand how our political system works.”
It’s time parents accept not all kids should go to college
“Not every kid is meant for college.” That statement, or some close variation of it, is something I hear and read more and more. It’s usually followed by a comment on the debt associated with a degree, the need for kids to learn a trade, and the role schools should play in identifying and directing those kids toward job training, so they can be equipped to go to work out of high school.
There is no data showing that the average person stands a better chance in the employment market without a degree than with one. There are multiple studies that demonstrate the lifetime value of a bachelor’s degree—or put another way, the cost of not being meant for college.
Students lose out in University numbers game
If you thought the deluge of holiday catalogs and charitable solicitations this season was overwhelming, consider what high school seniors confronted this fall: hundreds of mailers from colleges and universities suggesting that they apply and implying they might have a shot, even if they haven’t met the schools’ high standards.
UC’s Muslim student regent tackles Bill Maher, tuition and more
UC’s Muslim student regent tackles Bill Maher, tuition and more
Why so much marketing? It is largely the result of the college rankings compiled by publications, most notably U.S. News and World Report, that offer extra weight in their listings to schools with low “admit rates” — those that offer admission to relatively few of the students who apply. There was a time when this sort of selectivity may have been an indicator of actual educational excellence, at least in part. But thanks to the rankings-driven race among colleges to appear increasingly choosy, it’s no longer so clear what the admit rate means.
lRelated Now more than ever, the issue of campus rape requires critical thinking
Now more than ever, the issue of campus rape requires critical thinking
SEE ALL RELATED
Schools are now lowering their admit rate by inveigling more students into applying — thus the shower of mailers, as well as hundreds of emails and the occasional telemarketing call. And it works, to the detriment of parents’ wallets. Today, partly because of all the marketing and recruitment, students are applying to about twice as many colleges as they did 15 years ago. As admission rates have dropped to as low as 5% among the most elite colleges, students have applied to even more of them. It’s no longer very unusual for a student to file applications to 15 schools, at $80 or so a pop. (Though a few colleges are upping the number of applicants further by making the process free and pushing their deadlines later.)
Elsevier retracting 16 papers for faked peer review
Sixteen papers are being retracted across three Elsevier journals after the publisher discovered that one of the authors, Khalid Zaman, orchestrated fake peer reviews by submitting false contact information for his suggested reviewers.
This particular kind of scam has been haunting online peer review for a few year now, as loyal Retraction Watch readers know. This one is a classic of the genre: According to Elsevier’s director of publishing services, Catriona Fennell, an editor first became suspicious after noticing that Zaman’s suggested reviewers, all with non-institutional addresses, were unusually kind to the economist’s work.
Elsevier has actually hired a full-time staff member with a PhD in physics and history as a managing editor to do the grunt work on cases like this. Flags were first raised in August, at which point the ethics watchdog went to town digging through all of Zaman’s other publications looking for suspicious reviews coming from non-institutional addresses provided by the scientist, an economist at COMSATS Information Technology Center in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
2015: Reimagine College
In 2015 we are likely to see such a full-blown invasion and transformation of higher education. This will have profound and beneficial consequences for the education and finances of millions of young Americans and their parents.
Pressure for change and the signs of radical reorganization of college and universities have been gathering in recent years, with such things as the growth of online course, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and upstart colleges offering low-cost degrees. The higher-education establishment has ignored or tried to dismiss the warning signs – just as travel agents and the old phone companies did.
But 2015 could open the floodgates. If you have a child in middle or high school, here are four things you can expect to see when you are planning for their college in the next few years:
K-12 cannot be far behind.
How ‘Deprogramming’ Kids From How to ‘Do School’ Could Improve Learning
One day, Adam Holman decided he was fed up with trying to cram knowledge into the brains of the high school students he taught. They weren’t grasping the physics he was teaching at the level he knew they were capable of, so he decided to change up his teaching style. It wasn’t that his students didn’t care about achieving — he taught at high performing, affluent schools where students knew they needed high grades to get into good colleges. They argued for every point to make sure their grades were as high as possible, but were they learning?
“I felt I had to remove all the barriers I could on my end before I could ask my kids to meet me halfway,” Holman said. The first thing he did was move to standards-based grading. He told his students to show him they’d learned the material, it didn’t matter how long it took them.
Percentage of Bachelor’s degrees conferred to women, by major (1970-2012)
One oft-cited problem with Computer Science is its glaring gender disparity: In a given Computer Science class, men will outnumber women as much as 8 to 2 (20% women). This stands in stark contrast to most other college majors, which have women outnumbering men 3 to 2 on average (60% women). This observation made me wonder: Are other STEM majors suffering the same gender disparity?
To get at that question, I checked into the NCES 2013 Digest of Education Statistics and looked at the gender breakdown from 1970-2012 for every major they report on. I charted the data below to offer a bird’s eye view of the trends. You can download the cleaned data set here.
Certain Parenting Tactics Could Lead to Materialistic Attitudes in Adulthood
“Our research suggests that children who receive many material rewards from their parents will likely continue rewarding themselves with material goods when they are grown—well into adulthood – and this could be problematic,” said Marsha Richins, Myron Watkins distinguished professor of marketing in the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business at MU. “Our research highlights the value of examining childhood circumstances and parenting practices to understand consumer behaviors of adults.”
Richins, who completed the study with Lan Chaplin, associate professor of marketing at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Business Administration, found that three parenting strategies led to greater materialism:
The MBA is losing its magic
Terence Tse and Mark Esposito:
hat is the staying power of an MBA education? Why year after year do students sign up for the countless MBA programmes across the world? Are they after new skills? Maybe. Eager to learn about the latest academic research output? Unlikely. Keen to go through a learning experience? Possibly. In search of a networking opportunity? Most certainly.
But perhaps a principle motive is to boost their career prospects. The notion that the harder you work, the higher you will climb the corporate — and therefore social — ladder is rooted in our DNA. Very often, this also translates into the higher you are in the corporate echelons, the more successful you are. For many, an MBA degree promises to deliver this; for anyone wishing to progress in their career, just get an MBA and its magic will do the rest.
The SAT is meaningless because it’s so easy to game
I scored a perfect 1600 when I took the SAT test in 2004.
A year after graduating from Princeton, I founded and ran The Edge in College Prep, an elite test preparation and admissions counseling company. Now, as the founder of Admittedly, a college advisory platform and an expert on these high stake tests, I’m convinced they shouldn’t be such a large part of the higher education decision-making game.
There are many, many reasons to take issue with these tests. But one of the reasons which resonates most with me is that it is so easy to improve someone’s score by 20%, 30% even 40%. That kind of improvement shouldn’t even be possible on a test that is supposedly designed to measure aptitude.
A black hole for our best and brightest
The thing Deborah Jackson remembers from her first interviews at Goldman Sachs is the slogan. It was stamped on the glass doors of the offices in the investment bank’s headquarters just off Wall Street, the lure of the place in two words, eight syllables: “Uncommon capability.”
Jackson joined Goldman in 1980, fresh from business school and steeped in the workings of government and finance. She found crackerjack colleagues and more business than she could handle. She worked in municipal finance, lending money to local governments, hospitals and nonprofits around the country. She flew first class to scout potential deals — “The issue was, can you really be productive if you’re in a tiny seat in the back?” — and when the time came to seal one, she’d welcome clients and their attorneys to Manhattan’s best restaurants.
As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up
A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published.
Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years — allowing machines to mimic the human mind — are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.
And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago — and lower than any point in the 1990s.
Doctorates Up, Career Prospects Not
Universities are awarding doctoral degrees at an accelerating pace, despite the fact that the career prospects of those who receive their Ph.D.s appear to be worsening.
That dichotomy is among the starker findings of the annual data on doctorate recipients from the National Science Foundation, drawn from a survey sponsored by the foundation and other federal agencies and conducted by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The data may for some reinforce the idea that institutions are turning out more Ph.D. recipients than can be absorbed, at least in some fields.
American universities awarded 52,760 doctorates in 2013, up 3.5 percent from nearly 50,977 in 2012 and nearly 8 percent from 48,903 in 2011. Those large increases followed several years of much smaller increases and one decline (in 2010) since the onset of the economic downturn in 2008, as seen in the chart below.
Will a Mockable Week in Higher Education Help Deflate the College Bubble?
Horse FeathersThis week, Columbia Law School students demanded—and got—delayed exams to compensate for the trauma the fragile things experienced over the Eric Garner case. Also in response to the Garner case, Smith College President Kathleen McCartney had to apologize for insisting that “All Lives Matter” when the acceptable sentiment of the moment is that “black lives matter.” And at the University of Iowa, David Ryfe, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, insisted “I would follow the lead of every European nation and ban this type of speech” after an anti-racism art installation misfired and upset students who are defintely not spending years of their lives at an institution of higher learning to have their ideas challenged or their feelings bruised.
If this was all, it would still be enough reason for me to start contemplating just how much motorcycle my kid’s 529 can buy. But of course there’s more. College, after all, is where Rolling Stone went dumpster-diving in eager expectation of finding seamy tales of sexual assault, and instead unearthed the revelation that students dipping their toes into adulhood are unpredictable, perhaps unstable—and that its own journalistic practices suck.
Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue
To hear Mikia Hutchings speak, one must lean in close, as her voice barely rises above a whisper. In report cards, her teachers describe her as “very focused,” someone who follows the rules and stays on task. So it was a surprise for her grandmother when Mikia, 12, and a friend got into trouble for writing graffiti on the walls of a gym bathroom at Dutchtown Middle School in Henry County last year.
Even more of a surprise was the penalty after her family disputed the role she was accused of playing in the vandalism and said it could not pay about $100 in restitution. While both students were suspended from school for a few days, Mikia had to face a school disciplinary hearing and, a few weeks later, a visit by a uniformed officer from the local Sheriff’s Department, who served her grandmother with papers accusing Mikia of a trespassing misdemeanor and, potentially, a felony.
U. of Iowa Censors, Apologizes for Art About Racism
University of Iowa (UI) students, faculty, and administrators are speaking out in support of the censorship of a statue created and displayed on campus by visiting professor Serhat Tanyolacar that they say constitutes “hate speech.” Tanyolacar’s piece comprised a seven foot tall sculpture of a Ku Klux Klan member whose robes are crafted from newspaper articles about racial violence. Many members of the UI community, however, ignored the intended anti-racist message of the piece and instead demanded that the university take action against what they perceive as a racist display—and the university is complying.
Tanyolacar erected the statue last week on an area of campus called the Pentacrest with hopes to “facilitate a dialogue with a community on a college campus,” responding to the controversy over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. But students judged the piece to be racist and offensive, and within hours, university police instructed Tanyolacar to take his piece down.
Seeking coders, tech titans turn to schools
President Barack Obama sat down Monday to write a few lines of computer code with middle school students from Newark, N.J., for a PR campaign that has earned bipartisan endorsements from around the Capitol.
The $30 million campaign to promote computer science education has been financed by the tech industry, led by Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, with corporate contributions from Microsoft, Google, Amazon and other giants. It’s been a smash success: So many students opened up a free coding tutorial on Monday that the host website crashed.
The Einstein Paper Project Launches
The Einstein Papers Project, the decades-long effort to compile and preserve the scientist’s professional work and personal writings, is today opening to the public as a free searchable database containing thousands of documents.
The launch of the Digital Einstein Papers includes more than 5,000 documents that span the first 44 years of Albert Einstein’s life. As the organizations collaborating on the project — the California Institute of Technology (the project’s home), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (which houses the Albert Einstein Archives) and Princeton University Press — work to sort through tens of thousands of articles and letters, the website will grow to one day feature what the publisher said may be the first free digital collection of a prominent scientist’s complete works.
“The best Einstein source is now available to everyone, everywhere through the web,” said John D. Norton, a University of Pittsburgh professor of history and philosophy of science who wrote his dissertation on the history of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. “This is a great moment for Einstein scholarship.”
Colleges Clamp Down on Bloated Student Schedules
Full-time students complete four-year degrees with an average of 134 credit hours, according to Complete College America, a nonprofit focused on boosting college-graduation rates. That is well over the minimum of 120 hours—or about 15 credits per semester—required by most undergraduate degree programs.
That, in turn, means many students don’t graduate after the typical four years, which can weigh on a school’s reputation and a student’s wallet. A report this past week from Complete College America called four-year graduation timelines a “myth,” noting that less than one-fifth of bachelor’s degree students at nonflagship campuses of public schools graduate on time, while just over one-third of those at schools’ flagship campuses do.
Now, about half of states cap or plan to limit the number of credit hours that public institutions can require for a bachelor’s degree. Others are charging students extra for taking classes over certain limits, while schools are trying to do a better job of alerting students when they could have trouble completing enough credits in their major to finish on time.
Teaching Essay Writing in Pyongyang
Essay was a much-dreaded word among my students. It was the fall of 2011, and I was teaching English at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea. Two hundred and seventy young men, and about 30 teachers, all Christian evangelicals besides me, were isolated together in a guarded compound, where our classes and movements were watched round the clock. Each lesson had to be approved by a group of North Korean staff known to us as the “counterparts.” Hoping to slip in information about the outside world, which we were not allowed to discuss, I had devised a lesson on essay writing, and it had been approved.
I had told my students that the essay would be as important as the final exam in calculating their grades for the semester, and they were very stressed. Each student was supposed to come up with his own topic and hand in a thesis and outline. When I asked them how it was going, they would sigh and say, “Disaster.”
I emphasized the importance of essays since, as scientists, they would one day have to write papers to prove their theories. But in reality, nothing was ever proven in their world, since everything was at the whim of the Great Leader. Their writing skills were as stunted as their research skills. Writing inevitably consisted of an endless repetition of his achievements, none of which was ever verified, since they lacked the concept of backing up a claim with evidence. A quick look at the articles in the daily newspaper revealed the exact same tone from start to finish, with neither progression nor pacing. There was no beginning and no end.
The public debate over academic selection at 11 has once again ignited. Professor Chris Husbands wonders why, when all the evidence argues against this approach to education.
It is a persistent undercurrent in English educational debate, but it is peculiarly English: should academic selection at the age of 11 be restored?
Boris Johnson, perhaps in response to perceived UKIP pressure, has declared himself in favour of more grammar schools, and Teresa May, more cautiously, has welcomed plans for a satellite grammar school in her constituency of Maidenhead. In Kent, the Weald of Kent grammar school is preparing a new proposal to establish what is either (depending on your view) a new grammar school in Sevenoaks or a satellite site in Sevenoaks.
The arguments for restoring grammar schools are couched in terms of opportunity and social mobility: Boris Johnson called them mobilisers of opportunity. But the evidence to support this is almost non-existent.
There remain 164 grammar schools in England, and their socio-economic make up does not support the proposition that they turbo-charge social mobility: in all areas where there are grammar schools, the proportion of pupils on free school meals (FSM) is significantly lower in the grammar schools than in the area as a whole (1).
There’s little evidence to suggest that grammar schools work in the way their proponents suggest: research by Professor Ruth Lupton found that grammar schools work well for those who attend them, but few FSM pupils succeed in doing so. Moreover, the OECD international evidence (2) is clear that early selection is associated with lower performance, particularly from more deprived social groups.
More fundamentally, the argument for grammar school depends on four assumptions all being true. The first assumption is that a test for academic ability at age 11 can be reliable; that is, that a test at age 11 will reliably discriminate between those who are academically able and those who are not.
Related: small learning communities and English 10.
Get Ready for Some Law Schools to Close
OK, slight exaggeration. But with applications in free fall, schools are locked in a brutal competition to attract students who might theoretically one day be qualified to sit for a bar exam. And that, the New York Times reports today, has meant slashing tuition and dolling out discounts. At Northwestern University School of Law, one of the top ranked institutions in the country, “74 percent of first-year students this academic year received financial aid, compared with only 30 percent in 2009,” the paper notes. The University of Iowa, University of Arizona, and Penn State University have cut their prices. J.D.s are on sale!
That said, much like actual Black Friday merchandise, law degrees are being marked down from insanely high starting points. At Northwestern, the sticker price for tuition is about $56,000, to start.
But anyway, while I could choose this moment to revive my argument with Above the Law about whether it’s a good idea to go to law school (I’ve argued it is), there’s a different point I want to dwell on today. It seems fairly obvious that some law schools are going to have to close in the not too distant future. Between the fall of 2010 and fall of 2013, enrollments dropped 24 percent. This year’s crop of new students should be even smaller. And while schools are doing everything in their power to pare back expenses and prop up their head counts, it seems like someone is going to fall victim to a collapsing demand. “I don’t get how the math adds up for the number of schools and the number of students,” Northwestern Dean Daniel Rodriguez, told the Times. That’s because it probably won’t.
America doesn’t have an education problem, it has a class problem
Since its birth, the US has always defined itself as a egalitarian meritocracy, fundamentally distinct from the class-ridden societies of Europe.
And at times, this has even been true. On the eve of the American Revolution, the income distribution of American colonists was far more equal than those of the mother country. “Indeed, New England and the Middle Colonies appear to have been more egalitarian than anywhere else in the measurable world,” wrote economic historians in a 2012 paper. (To be clear, it’s difficult to consider a slave-holding society egalitarian at all. It was brutally unequal. But from an income distribution perspective, American colonists—meaning white men—were better off than their counterparts in Europe.)
Hypereducated and on Welfare
Brianne Bolin thought her master’s degree in English would guarantee her at least a steady income. But like hundreds of thousands of others with advanced educations, she barely makes enough to feed herself and her son. Alissa Quart reports on a growing segment of Americans: the hypereducated poor.
Professor Bolin, or Brianne, as she tells her students to call her, might as well be invisible. When I arrive at the building at Columbia College in Chicago where she teaches composition, I ask the assistant at the front desk how to locate her. “Bolin?” she asks, sounding puzzled, as she scans the faculty list. “I’m sorry, I don’t see that name.” There is no Brianne Bolin to be found, even though she’s taught four classes a year here for the past five years. She doesn’t have a phone extension to her name, never mind an office.
The mother of a disabled eight-year-old boy named Finn, Bolin rushes in late to the lobby—she’d offered to give me a tour of her workplace. Her red hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and red electrical tape is wrapped around the left temple of her black geek-chic glasses; they broke a few months ago, and she can’t afford a new pair. Bolin dressed up for the occasion: a black vest (from a thrift store, she’ll tell me later), jeans (also thrift), and a brass anatomical version of a heart dangling at her throat from a thin black string. This is a rare and coveted evening off for her—Finn’s father’s fiancé agreed to babysit—but so far she’s too agitated to enjoy it. She just learned that the woman and Finn’s father, a blacksmith, are getting married in a few weeks, and they won’t be able to take care of the boy during that time. It’s all on her, again.
Data-Driven Parenting App Gives Personalized Tips for Every Kid
In 2012, P.J. Gunsagar and Dylan Arena founded Kidaptive and released their first iPad app, Leo’s Pad. It stars Leo, a young inventor with a treehouse laboratory, and combines segments of animated story with a variety of mini-games. It’s been downloaded over 800,000 times, with an App Store rating hovering near five stars. Kids love it.
But there is science hiding behind the fun: A tool, built on cutting-edge research in developmental psychology, that closely tracks the cognitive progress of its young users and adjusts the app’s difficulty accordingly. It’s a toy, but it’s one that gathers a tremendous amount of data on how it’s being used.
Now, Gunsagar and Arena want to put that data to use to help parents. Kidaptive’s new free app, Learner Mosaic, serves up ideas for backseat games and dinner table discussion topics that reinforce the skills being learned in the Leo’s Pad app. It takes the latest understanding of what kids ages five and younger should be learning, dices it into activities that are manageable for overworked parents, and surfaces those activities at just the right time in a kid’s development. The vision, as Gunsagar puts it, is to put a really smart preschool teacher in every parent’s pocket.
Most College Students Don’t Earn a Degree in 4 Years, Study Finds
The vast majority of students at American public colleges do not graduate on time, according to a new report from Complete College America, a nonprofit group based in Indianapolis.
“Students and parents know that time is money,” said the report, called “Four-Year Myth.” “The reality is that our system of higher education costs too much, takes too long and graduates too few.”
At most public universities, only 19 percent of full-time students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years, the report found. Even at state flagship universities — selective, research-intensive institutions — only 36 percent of full-time students complete their bachelor’s degree on time.
Nationwide, only 50 of more than 580 public four-year institutions graduate a majority of their full-time students on time. Some of the causes of slow student progress, the report said, are inability to register for required courses, credits lost in transfer and remediation sequences that do not work. The report also said some students take too few credits per semester to finish on time. The problem is even worse at community colleges, where 5 percent of full-time students earned an associate degree within two years, and 15.9 percent earned a one- to two-year certificate on time.
What It Felt Like to Be a ‘Suspicious’ Black Teenager
As one of the few black male reporters at The Journal, I’ve had experiences over the years that are unknown among my white colleagues, though anything but unique among other black men. We’ve all had our encounters; we’ve all been in situations where being black becomes synonymous with being suspicious, where demanding rights and respectful treatment can be seen as resisting law enforcement.
So after the grand jury’s decision on Monday not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., I found myself thinking back on episodes in my own life. My first thought was: What’s the difference between a 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound, black 17-year-old and a 40ish, 5-foot-6-inch black man? Depending on the circumstances, I knew, not much.
It was the late 1970s, and I was that large, 17-year-old, high-school kid—getting good grades and college-bound. I was walking home from Bowlero, a bowling alley in Alexandria, La., on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I was carrying my bowling bag, complete with a 16-pound ball, shoes and a towel.
Rise of Turkish Islamic schooling upsets secular parents
Turkey has seen a sharp rise in religious schooling under reforms that President Tayyip Erdogan casts as a defense against moral decay, but which opponents see as an unwanted drive to shape a more Islamic nation.
Almost a million students are enrolled in “imam hatip” schools this year, up from just 65,000 in 2002 when Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party first came to power, he told the opening of one of the schools in Ankara last month.
The schools teach boys and girls separately, and give around 13 hours a week of Islamic instruction on top of the regular curriculum, including study of Arabic, the Koran and the life of the Prophet Mohammad.
“When there is no such thing as religious culture and moral education, serious social problems such as drug addiction and racism fill the gap,” Erdogan told a symposium on drug policy and public health earlier this year.
U.S. losing its appeal for foreign students
When it comes to studying abroad, the U.S. is no longer THE place to go.
A new global migration report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation shows American universities are losing their supreme position in the global education system.
In 2000, nearly one in four students looking for education abroad picked a college in the U.S.
In 2012 — the latest year for which data is available — it was just 16%.
Although the U.S. still attracts the highest proportion of foreign students, other countries are becoming increasingly popular, biting into the U.S. market share.
All other English-speaking developed countries and Spain have increased their share of foreign students.
Colleges that pledged to help poor families have been doing the opposite, new figures show
Decked out in black tie and formal dresses, guests at Mr. Jefferson’s Capital Ball finished their salmon with horseradish sauce just as the band lured them onto the dance floor with classics including “Shout” and “My Girl.” Some of the people who paid up to $400 a couple to attend the event in the Grand Ballroom of the historic Mayflower Hotel joined in the Electric Slide.
The ball was more than just another Friday night party to ease Washington into the weekend. It had the commendable purpose of raising money for scholarships to the University of Virginia.
But not the kind of scholarships that go to low-income students based solely on their financial need. The proceeds from Mr. Jefferson’s Capital Ball are destined for merit aid for applicants who have the high grade-point averages and top scores on entrance tests that help institutions do well on college rankings. Merit aid can also attract middle- and upper-income students whose families can pay the rest of the tuition bill and therefore furnish badly needed revenue to colleges and universities.
As institutions vie for income and prestige in this way, the net prices they’re charging the lowest-income students, after discounts and financial aid, continue to rise faster on average than the net prices they’re charging higher-income ones, according to an analysis of newly released data the universities and colleges are required to report to the U.S. Department of Education.
For Accomplished Students, Reaching a Good College Isn’t as Hard as It Seems
They don’t, however, represent the true odds of a well-qualified student’s being admitted to a top school. That’s because anyone can apply to college, well qualified or otherwise. Selective colleges immediately toss the long shots and dreamers from the admissions pile in order to concentrate on students with a legitimate shot at getting in. But they don’t parse their admissions statistics that way, in part because it’s in their best interests to seem as selective as possible. Admission rates are among the most closely watched barometers of institutional prestige. The fact that Stanford’s rate beat Harvard’s for the last two years has been cited as prime evidence that Palo Alto may be eclipsing Cambridge in higher-education glory.
Institutional admission rates also don’t account for the number of applications submitted per student. Enabled by technology that makes it easier to copy and send electronic documents and driven by the competitive anxiety that plummeting admission rates produce, top students have been sending out more applications. In May, for example, a Long Island high school senior named Kwasi Enin was briefly famous for having applied to, and been accepted by, all eight Ivy League schools.
River of Booze: Inside one college town’s uneasy embrace of drinking
The supplies are rolling in. At 1 p.m. on a Thursday, three delivery trucks line College Avenue. Around the corner, five more clog East Clayton Street. In downtown Athens, the center lane belongs to those who bring the booze.
Out come the boxes. Budweiser and Blue Moon, Bacardi Gold and Southern Comfort, Red Bull and rainbows of mixers. Stacked high on dollies, the goods are wheeled into bar after bar, each catering to students at the University of Georgia, where the iconic iron Arch stands within sight. Cutters Pub, On the Rocks, the Whiskey Bent. The blocks just beyond campus boast dozens of bars that own the late-night hours, when undergrads press themselves into crowds fueled by Fireball shots and beer as cheap as candy.
Athens, home to the flagship university and some 120,000 people, could be almost anywhere. This college town, like many others, celebrates touchdowns, serves early-morning cheeseburgers, and pours many flavors of vodka. When the sun goes down, some students get hammered, just as they do in Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor, and Eugene.
A Retired Teacher on “Utter Chaos”
Go ahead and watch this jaw-dropping Choice Media interview with retired John F. Kennedy High School metal shop teacher Lee McNulty, Save Jerseyans, and then reflect upon the fact that New Jersey taxpayers are spending, on average, $20,454 per K-12 student in Paterson this year.
France’s simple solution to curbing helicopter parents makes life better for women
Helicopter parenting may be ruining the American marriage, but the same cannot be said for France. The French state simply does not allow hovering mamans and papas hooked on the US-driven religion of parenting—and America would do well to follow suit.
In the French schoolroom, moms and dads are sensibly kept at an arm’s length, dropping their little treasures at the door as early as 8:20am and only returning at 4:30pm or later to pick them up. Open-door policies do not exist and teachers work without the incessant parental input common in the US. Hours spent chatting every afternoon with overbearing moms is not part of the job description.
For kids, screen time is a luxury and a liability
It obviously wouldn’t be ethical to test for the effects of a whole childhood spent in front of screens on children. A few years ago, researchers came up with perhaps the next best thing. Affixing colorful lights and speakers broadcasting Cartoon Network sounds to mouse cages, they subjected young mice to six hours of “television” for 42 days straight.
Seattle Children’s Research Institute director and pediatrician Dimitri Christakis presented the spooky results at a TEDx Talk in Washington: In an observation box, the control mice traveled along the perimeter—your standard, cautious, don’t-get-caught-in-the-open mouse behavior, while the media-binge rodents scurried all around and every which way. They’d turned into hyperactive risk-takers.
Make School Targets the Gap Year….
We’re building the college experience we wished existed, an education rooted in theoretical foundations with heavy emphasis on the technologies, tools and practices relevant to today’s industry. We believe in learning by doing, studying takes a back seat to creating. We believe the app is the new resume, a portfolio of products is more powerful than any credential. We believe coding is the world’s first superpower, our graduates will help make the world a better place. Our goal is to help inspire and educate the next generation of superheroes.
To our team, thank you for believing in us and pouring your heart and soul into teaching others. To our students, thank you for taking a chance on a new style of education and inspiring us everyday. To our investors, friends and family, thank you for supporting us and motivating us to overcome the challenges we’ve faced. We’re blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing community as we attempt to tackle one of the most difficult and important problems facing tomorrow’s economy.
Online education run amok? Private companies want to scoop up your child’s data.
Massive open online courses, first envisioned as a way to democratize higher education, have made their way into high schools, but Washington is powerless to stop the flood of personal data about teenage students from flowing to private companies, thanks to loopholes in federal privacy laws.
Universities and private companies this fall unveiled a slew of free, open-access online courses to high school students, marketing them as a way for kids to supplement their Advanced Placement coursework or earn a certificate of completion for a college-level class.
But when middle and high school students participate in classes with names like “Mars: The Next Frontier” or “The Road to Selective College Admissions,” they may be unwittingly transmitting into private hands a torrent of data about their academic strengths and weaknesses, their learning styles and thought processes — even the way they approach challenges. They may also be handing over birth dates, addresses and even drivers license information. Their IP addresses, attendance and participation in public forums are all logged as well by the providers of the courses, commonly called MOOCs.
Google’s education privacy practices are worth a look.
K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: LinkedIn data show the US is losing out on the immigrants it covets most
The United States is still the world’s most popular destination for highly skilled professionals. But it doesn’t seem to have quite the allure it used to.
In fact, professional migration to the US has declined substantially since 2001, according to a new study (pdf) that used a massive dataset culled from LinkedIn career histories.
LinkedIn data scientists Bogdan State and Mario Rodriguez found that while 27% of migrating professionals chose the US in 2000, just 12% did in 2012. The drop for professionals in science, engineering, technology, and math fields was even steeper, from 37% to 15%. The trend holds across degree types (with the data based on the highest degree earned):
3 Ways to Lower Crazy High College Costs
After centuries of little change, the basic “sage on a stage” business model of higher education is beginning to undergo a radical transformation. Buffeted by high tuition costs and loan debt, students and their parents are seeking better value for money. Meanwhile technological change spearheaded by online education and such innovations as “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) is shaking up the economics of educational information and teaching. And new business models, introducing such approaches as competency based degrees and blends of online and campus-based learning, are reducing costs and offering more customized degrees.
Thanks to these developments, the cost of acquiring the skills needed to be successful in the future economy is likely to fall sharply. That will be good for the economy. It will also open up opportunities for skill-based economic advancement for the many Americans who today cannot afford college without incurring crushing debt.
For this transformation to achieve its full potential, however, three things are needed.
Why College Is Necessary But Gets You Nowhere
So even though college costs are rising, the financial return to a college degree compared to not having one is rising even faster.
But here’s the qualification, and it’s a big one.
A college degree no longer guarantees a good job. The main reason it pays better than the job of someone without a degree is the latter’s wages are dropping.
In fact, it’s likely that new college graduates will spend some years in jobs for which they’re overqualified.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 46 percent of recent college graduates are now working in jobs that don’t require college degrees. (The same is true for more than a third of college graduates overall.)