12/17/2013 – Rein In For-Profit Colleges

THIS WEEK: Progress On Pre-K Policy … Test Scores Don’t Equal Cognitive Abilities … Public Schools Beat Private Schools … Corporate Education Reform Fail … College Presidents Doubt Obama Plan


New Regulations Needed To Rein In For-Profit Colleges

By Jeff Bryant

“The good news coming from the U.S. Department of Education recently is the effort to put tougher restrictions on for-profit scam colleges … The bad news is that not all Democrats are behind this effort and pushing for the tighter restrictions … Low-income students and veterans returning are most at risk of being scammed by the for-profit higher ed sector … Constituencies who generally lean Democratic, including consumer advocates and civil rights groups, have pushed for stricter regulations on the for-profit college business … Unfortunately, the money behind for-profit higher ed has eager takers in the Democratic party as well.”
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Looking Back On 2013: Early Education Policy In The States

The New America Foundation

At NAF’s Ed Central Blog, “Early education (birth through 3rd grade) policy is on the move … The House and Senate introduced pre-K expansion bills (bipartisan in the House!) … Changes states made during the 2013 legislative session to improve their early education systems: 38 bills across 25 states … This translated into changes in the organizational structure of various states’ early childhood bureaucracies, adjustments to teacher preparation guidelines, tighter oversight of boards of education decisions around English language learners, and more specific quality rating and improvement system expectations for pre-K programs … Some legislators were determined to find new funds to expand more and better early childhood options … There’s evidence that momentum is building around improving and expanding early childhood education.”
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Even When Test Scores Go Up, Some Cognitive Abilities Don’t

MIT News

“Schools whose students have the highest gains on test scores do not produce similar gains in “fluid intelligence” – the ability to analyze abstract problems and think logically … In a study of nearly 1,400 eighth-graders in the Boston public school system, the researchers found that some schools have successfully raised their students’ scores … However, those schools had almost no effect on students’ performance on tests of fluid intelligence skills, such as working memory capacity, speed of information processing, and ability to solve abstract problems … The researchers plan to continue tracking these students, who are now in 10th grade, to see how their academic performance and other life outcomes evolve.'”
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Public Schools Beat Private Schools

The Boston Globe

An interview with education researcher Christopher Lubienski explains, “School reform advocates have long argued that more autonomy would allow public schools to innovate, and that letting families choose where to send their kids would force schools to improve their game. But … that independence and competition may actually be holding back achievement at private and charter schools … ‘Public school students are outscoring their demographic counterparts in private schools … at a level that is comparable to a few weeks to several months … Our research shows that autonomy can be a problem for independent schools, including charter schools … what we found was many of these types of schools are actually using their autonomy to embrace outmoded or outdated curricular or instructional functions … What we’re seeing is as competition increases in these areas, schools often take on strategies that might not always mean the best outcomes for students. A lot of them are taking resources out of the classroom and putting them more into things like marketing.'”
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Corporate Education Reform Won’t Solve The Problems Caused By Poverty

Next New Deal

At the blog of The Roosevelt Institute: “Few would dispute that we should hold our educators and the children they are entrusted with to a high bar of excellence, but evaluating performance on test scores has never been a viable strategy … Relying solely on improving testing scores demeans the teaching profession and puts the students who need the most attention and wraparound services at a disadvantage … We have to acknowledge that non-school factors play a major role in learning outcomes and policymakers must know that enough is enough.”
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Dubious of Obama Plan

Inside Higher Ed

“Most college presidents doubt that President Obama’s plan to promote affordable higher education will be effective, or that it will lead students to make better informed choices. Further, they expect that the wealthiest colleges and universities will be most successful in the ratings system … The skepticism of the plan among presidents is striking given how many of them say that they appreciate the way Obama has repeatedly stressed the importance of higher education … One of the criticisms of the Obama plan from the start is that it would favor the wealthiest institutions, which tend to attract the best-prepared students (and so have high graduation rates), enroll students who are well-connected (which, combined with their good preparation, lands them good jobs) and have the endowments to support generous financial aid packages … Education Secretary Arne Duncan defended the college ratings proposal … and said he wasn’t surprised that college leaders have been critical. ‘This is a fundamental change… Some people embrace that and some people are more wary or scared.'”
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