Winners of the first phase, or Wave I, of the Next General Learning Challenge—a “collaborative, multi-years initiative created to address the barriers to educational innovation and tap the potential of technology to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the United States”—were announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Twenty-nine educational organizations will share a grant in the amount of $10.6 million to implement technology-driven initiatives designed to boost student success and college completion rates.
In a stunning, but not unexpected move, Mayor Angel Taveras of Providence, Rhode Island has sent layoff notices to 1,926 teachers – all the teachers in the city. While not every one of them will be dismissed, under state law all teachers need to be notified before March 1, long before the start of the new school year. This warning system “gives [the school district] the freedom to let go many of them later without having to single any of them out now.”
U.S. high school graduation rates are much lower that education reformers would like them to be. But at the same time as record numbers of students are dropping out of high school, an alarming number are graduating without the skills necessary to be successful in college or a career.
Similar to secondary education, higher education often suffers backlash regarding its ability to effectively educate students. The results of a new study concluded that an alarming number of college students did not show any significant improvement in fundamental abilities that should be developed through higher education, such as critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing. Findings about learning style and performance can be summarized by concluding that “students who study along and have heavier reading and writing loads do well,” so nontraditional learning methods like online education where students work mostly independently may actually be more efficient toward student progress.
Higher education is facing a remediation crisis. A study published last summer reported that community colleges spend over $1.4 billion on remedial courses each year because so many high school graduates are not properly prepared to take college-level courses. Many students need to take additional not-for-credit review courses before beginning a standard college curriculum. A lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in U.S. high schools prevents many students from pursuing careers in information technology, in part due to their inability to complete required coursework, but also because they are unaware of the opportunity for engineering jobs or careers in information technology.
With the DREAM Act essentially shelved and the Republican majority holding sway in the Senate, the Obama administration is looking for ways to shore up their immigration stance and gather support around them once again. The DREAM Act, in conjunction with increasing deportation of illegal immigrants with a criminal record, was part of President Obama’s strategy when he was elected into office. It would have allowed immigrants that were illegally brought here as children to become US citizens after they received a higher education or enlisted in the military. For many immigrants, some of them future college students, this was their only chance at a new life.
A new study suggests that recent reform efforts of low-performing K-8 public schools have not been effective. The findings, released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Basis Policy Research, conclude that only a small percentage of schools identified as low-performing during the 2003-04 school year had made any significant academic improvement five years later.
According to a poll recently conducted by the Associated Press-Stanford University, the majority of Americans think that students are responsible for their own poor academic performance. But teachers are also being assigned some of the blame for problems with America’s education system, or that is, bad teachers. Additional information obtained by the poll claims that while many feel the average teacher compensation is too low, “an overwhelming majority of Americans are frustrated that it’s too difficult to get rid of bad teachers.”
A global study that tests and compares 15-year old students’ science, math and reading literacy in developed and developing countries confirms that the United States is still falling behind. The evaluative study entitled Program for International Student Assessment, was first administered in 2000 and was performed again in 2003, 2006 and most recently, in 2009.
Low completion rates create a major problem for colleges, universities and online schools across the country. A recently conducted Associated Press-Stanford University survey reports that the general public pins most of the blame for these low graduation rates on the students themselves, in addition to their parents. Most people fail to point fingers at school administration, professors and government officials.