Monday, August 30, 2010

Problems with the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers

August 27, 2010
Briefing Paper #278

Every classroom should have a well-educated, professional teacher, and school systems should recruit, prepare, and retain teachers who are qualified to do the job. Yet in practice, American public schools generally do a poor job of systematically developing and evaluating teachers.

Many policy makers have recently come to believe that this failure can be remedied by calculating the improvement in students’ scores on standardized tests in mathematics and reading, and then relying heavily on these calculations to evaluate, reward, and remove the teachers of these tested students.

While there are good reasons for concern about the current system of teacher evaluation, there are also good reasons to be concerned about claims that measuring teachers’ effectiveness largely by student test scores will lead to improved student achievement. If new laws or policies specifically require that teachers be fired if their students’ test scores do not rise by a certain amount, then more teachers might well be terminated than is now the case. But there is not strong evidence to indicate either that the departing teachers would actually be the weakest teachers, or that the departing teachers would be replaced by more effective ones. There is also little or no evidence for the claim that teachers will be more motivated to improve student learning if teachers are evaluated or monetarily rewarded for student test score gains.

A review of the technical evidence leads us to conclude that, although standardized test scores of students are one piece of information for school leaders to use to make judgments about teacher effectiveness, such scores should be only a part of an overall comprehensive evaluation. Some states are now considering plans that would give as much as 50% of the weight in teacher evaluation and compensation decisions to scores on existing tests of basic skills in math and reading. Based on the evidence, we consider this unwise.

Any sound evaluation will necessarily involve a balancing of many factors that provide a more accurate view of what teachers in fact do in the classroom and how that contributes to student learning.

Read Briefing Paper #278

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Senate Hearing: Videos of For-Profit School Staffers Expose Fraudulent Acts

Download the entire study, “For-Profit Colleges: Undercover Testing Finds Colleges Encouraged Fraud and Engaged in Deceptive and Questionable Marketing Practices.”

You can also check out the GAO videos.

- Patricia

by Jamaal Abdul-Alim | Diverse Issues in Higher Ed
August 5, 2010

WASHINGTON – Secretly-recorded videos of shady practices within the for-profit college sector got aired Wednesday during an occasionally testy Senate committee hearing that probed the extent of those practices among the proprietary schools.

“Critics say it’s only a few bad apples. But I question if it’s the entire orchard,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Harkin was referring to for-profit colleges as a whole in light of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report based on an undercover investigation this summer that found 15 out of 15 for-profit colleges had made “deceptive or otherwise questionable statements” to GAO workers who posed as prospective students with hidden cameras to conduct their investigation.

The for-profit college sites that were targeted by the investigation were: the University of Phoenix in Arizona and Pennsylvania, Everest College of Arizona; Westech College and Kaplan College, of California; Potomac College and Bennett College, of Washington, D.C.; Medvance Institute and Kaplan College, of Florida; College of Office Tech and Argosy University, of Illinois; Anthem Institute, of Pennsylvania; and Westwood College, Everest College and ATI Career Training, of Texas.

Four of the 15 school sites the GAO investigated this summer encouraged students to commit fraud, according to the GAO report titled For-Profit Colleges: Undercover Testing Finds Colleges Encouraged Fraud and Engaged in Deceptive and Questionable Marketing Practices.

The schools’ practices are of concern, Harkin said, because they are reaping a growing amount of federal aid--$23 billion today versus $4.6 billion a decade ago—that is flowing largely into the pockets of their executives and investors.

“I’m not certain regulations will suffice,” Harkin said at the hearing, titled For-Profit Schools: The Student Recruitment Experience.

“Where this is headed is toward legislation,” Harkin added, explaining that he wanted to come up with a permanent legislative solution that could not be overturned by another administration or rendered ineffective by regulatory exceptions.

Sen. Mike Enzi, (R-Wyoming) suggested the investigation be expanded to include all types of colleges, not just for-profit colleges -- a suggestion that drew a cool response from Democratic members of the committee.

Gregory Kutz, managing director of Forensic Audits and Special Investigations for the GAO, outlined and commented on the secretly-recorded video clips during the hearing that showed for-profit college officials telling students to falsify their federal student aid forms in order to get more federal aid, misleading them about the cost and value of the colleges’ offerings, and pressuring them to enroll without being able to consult a financial aid adviser.

In one clip, a for-profit college worker told the federal worker posing as a student not to disclose that he had $250,000 in savings from an inheritance because it was “none of the government’s business.”

In another clip, the government’s undercover worker is told that spending $115,000 for a computer drafting course was a “good value,” when in reality the same type of certificate earned through the program could be gotten for $520 at a local community college.

Other clips showed the for-profit college workers telling undercover government workers that they would earn more money than statistics suggest is true. For instance, one worker at a school with a program for barbers claimed that a barber in Washington, D.C., could make from $150,000 to $200,000 a year when statistics show most barbers in D.C. earn about $19,000 a year.

The clips repeatedly showed officials at the for-profit colleges denying the government’s undercover workers’ requests to speak with financial aid advisers before they actually enrolled.

“We kept saying, ‘We want to know how much it is,’” Kutz, of the GAO, said. “They kept saying, ‘No, no, no.’”

Kutz said the colleges' wrongdoings had been referred to the U.S. Department of Education's Inspector General's Office and might be referred for criminal prosecution or civil action, depending on the circumstances.

So damning were the clips that the Career College Association, which represents the for-profit college sector, issued a statement that was void of any direct appeals to not judge the entire sector by the actions of a few.

“Even if the problems cited in the GAO report are limited to a few individuals at a few institutions, we can have zero tolerance for bad behavior,” CCA president and CEO Harris Miller said.

Joshua Pruyn, a former admissions representative at Westwood College, a subsidiary of Alta College Inc., testified that admissions representatives were coached and pressured to act as sales representatives—something critics say undermines students’ interests.

“Students were absolutely not allowed to speak to anyone in financial aid,” Pruyn testified. “Our response was, ‘This was step one, you’re not allowed to jump to step two.’”

Pruyn said that, when he asked why this was standard practice, he was told the reason was not to overburden the college’s financial aid staff. But the real purpose, he said, was to get the students to make a commitment to enroll in the college up front.

“We were directed to say things like, ‘I thought you wanted to make a change,’” Pruyn testified.

That runs contrary to the standard practice espoused by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, according to David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the organization, who also testified at the hearing.

“Our standard practice is to allow students to ask the kinds of questions about the things they need to know about financial aid,” Hawkins said.

One of the more heated moments occurred when Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) took witness Michael McComis, executive director of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), to task on McComis’ testimony that the accrediting agency he oversees strives to “hold institutions accountable to ensure that only the highest level of integrity is injected into the student recruitment and admissions process” and to make sure that students are “accurately and fully informed” of an institution’s program.

Franken asked how those statements could be true when three schools that McComis’ agency accredited were found to have misled prospective students.

“Do you think perhaps your rigorous standards aren’t rigorous enough?” Franken asked.

“I don’t think so,” McComis responded.

“To me,” Franken shot back, “there is a real discrepancy here. Doesn’t this industry have any interest in self-policing itself?”

Later, under questioning, McComis acknowledged that a “key” part of its accrediting process is a self-evaluation done by the college that is seeking accreditation.

“You kind of go to the school, ask them how they’re doing, and if they say good, you say fine,” Sen. Harkin observed.

Harkin also questioned why the ACCSC accredited 41 schools with default rates higher than 30 percent within the first three years.

McComis said the ACCSC currently uses two-year default rates but doesn’t take them into account when accrediting a college.

“We have found in our data no correlation to indicate that default rates are directly statistically correlated to the quality of the education,” McComis said, adding that graduation and employment rates are better indicators of a program’s effectiveness.

The U.S. Department of Education has proposed a set of rules that would, among other things, take the student loan default rates among students into account when determining whether the schools should be eligible for federal aid.

Wednesday’s hearing was the second in what Harkin says will be a series of hearings on the for-profit college sector in the coming months. Harkin stated that accreditation was one of the areas he planned to look at in a future hearing.

Click here for a link to the GAO videos.

Closing the Achievement Gap by the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators

Check out this report by the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Early look at upcoming Texas immigration debate

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010

Lawmakers talk about effects an Arizona-inspired law would have here.

A legislative committee hearing Wednesday offered a glimpse of the immigration debate that Texas lawmakers could have in the upcoming session with Republicans pushing to limit illegal immigration and Democrats questioning the wisdom of doing so, especially in a tight budget year.

Much of the House Committee on State Affairs' discussion was about Arizona's controversial law calling for law enforcement officers to ask people for documents showing citizenship and about E-Verify, the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services computer system that is supposed to make sure job applicants are in the U.S. legally.

The committee hearing was intended to educate lawmakers on immigration issues that might come up in the legislative session that begins in January, when lawmakers are expected to face an $18 billion budget shortfall.

Though the period to pre-file bills has not started, the committee's chairman, Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, said, "It's naive to think that the state isn't going to do something" to try to limit illegal immigration in Texas.

A handful of Republican lawmakers have signaled that they would introduce bills that would mandate E-Verify and enact a law like Arizona's.

Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, highlighted potential expenses for Texas if an Arizona-like law were enacted here. He also pointed to testimony from immigration lawyer Michael Golden indicating that E-Verify, which is free to employers and available in all 50 states, appeared to be unreliable. For example, it might be hard to verify a person who changed her name after marriage.

During the hearing, Gallego told fellow committee members and the small crowd in the hearing room that when making policy, "you always have to be aware of unintended consequences."

Gallego said there could be significant effects if law enforcement and other public agencies were asked to reallocate already-sparse resources to check citizenship of people in Texas, many of whom would not be here illegally.

Later in the hearing, Rep. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, also said lawmakers should not pass laws that would inadvertently take resources and money away from law enforcement's ability to protect the border.

Legislation successful in helping Texas universities raise funds in push for tier-one status

By ERIN MULVANEY / The Dallas Morning News
Friday, August 20, 2010

AUSTIN – The presidents of seven state universities said at a hearing Thursday that they have raised a collective $110 million in the last year to improve programs because of a push by the state to move them into coveted tier-one status.

The hearing before House and Senate education committees, meeting jointly, was the first opportunity for the universities to say what they had done to win matching funds from the state. In 2009, the Legislature allotted nearly $300 million to encourage research at state universities so they might join the top-flight University of Texas and Texas A&M University.

Each president said the legislation – which guaranteed certain matching money for a number of achievements including faculty recruiting and private donations – generated new alumni donations, helped attract prestigious faculty and pushed the universities closer to their goal of national recognition as a research institution.

UT-Dallas President David Daniel focused on the Texas Research Incentive Plan, part of the legislation that matches state money with donations directed toward research.

He said the university raised $17 million from donations, matched by $15 million in state money. He estimated that without TRIP donations, they would have raised only $2 million. He called the legislation "transformative."

"The central message was that people got out their checkbooks and wrote checks because of the incentive program," Daniel said.

UT-San Antonio President Ricardo Romo said the tier-one legislation created a buzz in San Antonio. He said the mayor of San Antonio approached him to ask what it would take for the university to compete. The city made a $50 million donation.

"I can't think of another city, not in Texas, I can't think of another city in America where a city has stepped up and said, 'I want to help you become an outstanding institution,' " Romo said. "People are standing up to try to help."

The San Antonio donation will be used toward UTSA's Center for Sustainable Energy Research Institute, to be led by internationally renowned energy expert Les Shephard, who brought in $450 million in research grants to be part of the new project.

Texas Tech President Guy Bailey said his university produced an eight-point strategic plan to compete for funding. The plan includes increasing the number of undergraduates involved in research. Bailey said the legislation led to partnerships in cotton fiber science and wind energy projects, such as a $5 million deal with Bayer CropScience, which will be matched by the Texas Research Incentive Program.

The four other universities in the program are UT-El Paso, UT-Arlington, the University of North Texas and the University of Houston.

Although the presidents touted their accomplishments, lawmakers acknowledged it will be a long road for any of the universities to reach tier-one status.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review of “How New York City’s Charter Schools Affect Achievement.”

Check out Stanford University's Sean Reardon's analysis of Harvard's Caroline Hoxby's report titled, "How New York City’s Charter Schools Affect Achievement.”

Monday, August 16, 2010

Inexperienced Companies Chase U.S. School Funds

Deeply concerning, folks. -Angela

August 9, 2010
Inexperienced Companies Chase U.S. School Funds
With the Obama administration pouring billions into its nationwide campaign to overhaul failing schools, dozens of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money.

A husband-and-wife team that has specialized in teaching communication skills but never led a single school overhaul is seeking contracts in Ohio and Virginia. A corporation that has run into trouble with parents or the authorities in several states in its charter school management business has now opened a school-turnaround subsidiary. Other companies seeking federal money include offshoots of textbook conglomerates and classroom technology vendors.

Many of the new companies seem unprepared for the challenge of making over a public school, yet neither the federal government nor many state governments are organized to offer effective oversight, said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington.

“Many of these companies clearly just smell the money,” Mr. Jennings said.

Rudy Crew, a former New York City schools chancellor who has formed his own consulting company, said he was astonished to see so many untested groups peddling strategies to improve schools.

“This is like the aftermath of the Civil War, with all the carpetbaggers and charlatans,” Dr. Crew said.

The Obama administration has sharply increased federal financing for school turnarounds, to $3.5 billion this year, about 28 times as much as in 2007. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is pushing to overhaul 5,000 of the nation’s 100,000 public schools in the next few years.

New York is to receive more than $300 million, and New Jersey about $67 million. Expenditures on each failing school are capped at $6 million over three years.

Under federal rules, school districts can hire companies or nonprofits to help, and experts said a significant percentage, perhaps a majority, were likely to hire at least one outside contractor. Sandra Abrevaya, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said the department did not yet know exactly how many districts would do so.

“The department is in daily contact with states and districts to provide technical assistance so they can make smart decisions and select high-quality partners,” Ms. Abrevaya said.

Overhauling schools is challenging work, and experts say few efforts succeed. Breaking the cycle of failure in a school that has become a drop-out factory requires an “extreme reset,” said Tim Cawley, a managing director at the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit group leading several turnaround efforts in Chicago. Usually that means installing a new principal and a newly committed teaching staff, invigorating the school’s culture with high expectations and a no-nonsense discipline, adopting a rigorous curriculum, and carrying out regular testing to determine what has been learned and what needs to be retaught, Mr. Cawley said.

In contrast, many new groups seeking contracts are hoping merely to bring in a new curriculum or retrain some teachers, he said, adding, “We call that turnaround lite.”

Bob and Megan Tschannen-Moran run one of the new groups. Their company, LifeTrek Inc., based in their home in Virginia, markets life and career coaching sessions to companies, churches and schools.

Ms. Tschannen-Moran is an education professor at the College of William & Mary, but the couple have never led a school overhaul, Mr. Tschannen-Moran said — although LifeTrek has been hired by a few school districts for strategic planning.

The couple recently founded a Center for Evocative Coaching, and this spring, Ohio put the center on a list of approved school turnaround specialists. In July, the couple changed the name of the center’s Web site to The center can help schools by “facilitating new conversations through story listening, expressing empathy, appreciative inquiry and design thinking,” its Web site says. Much of the training can be done via conference call, Mr. Tschannen-Moran said.

Mr. Duncan helped set off the stampede in a June 2009 speech, saying that only a handful of groups, nationwide, had any experience in school overhauls.

“We need everyone who cares about public education,” he said, “to get into the business of turning around our lowest-performing schools. That includes states, districts, nonprofits, for-profits, universities, unions and charter organizations.”

One company that said it had answered Mr. Duncan’s call was Mosaica Education, which operates charter schools in several states and overseas. Five of its 10 charter schools in Ohio are in academic emergency, and the company has become embroiled in disputes over its management of charters elsewhere. Its chief executive, Michael J. Connelly, said Mosaica had built a solid record of raising achievement.

In March, the company hired John Q. Porter, a former schools superintendent in Oklahoma City, to lead a new subsidiary, Mosaica Turnaround Partners. Mr. Porter said he attended a vendor fair at Ohio State University in June that had been organized to introduce dozens of new companies and nonprofits to districts preparing school turnarounds.

“It was like a cattle call,” Mr. Porter said. “No, actually it was more like speed dating.”

Pearson, the giant British publisher, also had representatives at the fair. With 36,000 employees worldwide, Pearson is known in education for textbook brands like Scott Foresman and Prentice Hall.

Last year, it formed the K-12 Solutions Group, and it is seeking school-turnaround contracts in at least eight states. Scott Drossos, the group’s president, said that in recent years Pearson had bought smaller companies that built Pearson’s capacity to train teachers and could draw on its testing, technology and other products to carry out a coherent school-improvement effort.

In interviews last year, Mr. Duncan said he wanted high-quality, nonprofit charter school management groups, like the KIPP network, which operates 99 schools nationwide, to join the school overhaul work.

But Justin Cohen, a turnaround strategist at MassInsight, a Massachusetts nonprofit organization, said that most successful nonprofit charter operators preferred starting new schools to overhauling failing ones, and that few had accepted Mr. Duncan’s invitation.

“The vast majority of people getting into the field are not ready to do the work,” Mr. Cohen said.

Recognizing the risks facing school districts that sign contracts with untested groups, the American Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit conservative policy group, issued a report last month urging that districts require performance guarantees, under which contractors failing to meet achievement targets would forfeit payments.

Dr. Crew’s new company, Global Partnership Schools, which he formed with Manny Rivera, a former Rochester schools superintendent, has signed a contract with the Pueblo, Colo., district that is backed by a performance guarantee. It stipulates that the partnership will be paid its full fee only if it significantly raises student achievement, Dr. Rivera said. The partnership has also been awarded contracts with districts in Baltimore and Bridgeport, Conn., he said.

Dr. Rivera represented Global Partnership at the June 30 vendor fair in Ohio, tending a booth along with 50 other groups.

“It was just like you were selling pencils,” he said. “A lot of these companies don’t have a clue about how to change schools.”

Texas needs more minority teachers, experts say | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | News: Education

Texas needs more minority teachers, experts say | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | News: Education

Education Week: Arizona Subpoena Seeks Researchers' ELL Data

Education Week: Arizona Subpoena Seeks Researchers' ELL Data

State Superintendent Tom Horne's lawyers have issued a subpoena for data gathered by researchers connected to the Harvard Civil Rights Project. This action is going to place a damper on critical research and researchers who guarantee confidentiality through the IRB process to folks they interview and classrooms that they observe.


L.A. teacher ratings: L.A. Times analysis rates teachers' effectiveness -

L.A. teacher ratings: L.A. Times analysis rates teachers' effectiveness -

This article in the times is creating quite a stir. It's capturing some of the parameters of the larger public debate today about teacher effectiveness and how to measure it.

Here are To this, I will add Dr. Stephen Krashen's critique of the value-added hypothesis presented here:

A recent LA Times article, "Who's teaching L.A.'s kids?" (August 15), presented readers with the results of an LA Times-sponsored "value-added" analysis of teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The statistical analysis was done by an economist, and was supplemented by classroom observations made by LA Times reporters.

"Value-added" appears to be a common-sense idea: Teachers are rated by the gains their students make on standardized tests of reading and math. The assumption is that good teachers produce large gains and poor teachers produce small gains or may cause back-sliding. The Times assumes that the value-added method is a valid measure of teacher
quality. It isn't.

Problems with value-added analyses

Value-added evaluations of teachers make several assumptions.

First, they assume that higher test scores are always the result of teaching. Not so. Test scores are influenced by other factors:

- We can generate higher scores by teaching "test preparation" techniques, that is, strategies of getting higher scores without students learning anything, e.g. telling students when and how to
guess, and familiarizing students with the test format.

- We can generate higher scores by testing selectively, e.g making sure the lower scorers are not in school the day of the test.

- And of course we can generate higher scores by direct cheating, getting inside information about specific test questions and sharing this with students.

Second, value-added analyses assume that teachers are randomly assigned to classes. They aren't. Some teachers are given high-achieving students who will make rapid gains on standardized tests, and some teachers are consistently assigned to teach lower
achieving students who will not make clear gains.

Third, value-added analyses assume that the value-added score for a teacher is stable, that a teacher producing high gains one year will always produce high gains. But studies show that value-added estimates for individual teachers can be unstable over time (Schochet and Chang, NCEE 2010-4004).

There is also evidence that a teacher's value-added
score can be substantially different for different reading tests (Papay, 2010, American Educational Research Journal 47,2).

Fourth, there is always some fluctuation in scores. Even if all teachers were equally effective in raising test scores, a value-added analysis would still find students of some teachers making higher
gains than others, due to random factors.

Finally, some standardized tests focus on knowledge of specific facts and procedures. Teachers who prepare students for higher scores on such tests are not teaching, they are simply drilling students with
information that will soon be forgotten.

Neglected factors

The heavy focus on measuring teacher quality can give the false impression that teacher quality is everything. Study after study, however, has shown that poverty is a stronger factor than teacher
quality in predicting achievement. The best teachers in the world will have limited impact when children are undernourished, have high levels of lead in their bodies, live in noisy and dangerous environments, get too little sleep, and have no access to reading material.

Beyond Cold Fusion

The scientific world was outraged when cold fusion researchers presented their work to the public at a press conference before submitting their results for professional review. The Times has gone beyond this: They clearly have no intention of allowing professional review, and feel that it is their right to present their conclusions on the front page of the Sunday newspaper.

The Times also supplemented their findings with comments from reporters who observed teachers in their classes. This procedure sends the message that the Times considers educational practice to be so
straight-forward that it requires no special background.

The Times is a newspaper, not a scientific journal. It has, however, been practicing educational research without a license. Would we accept this in other areas? Would we trust the Times to do a value-added analysis of brain surgery, with reporters critiquing surgical procedures?

Dr. Stephen Krashen


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Education Trust Reports Divulge Minority College-graduation Rate Gaps

Check out the full reports: Big Gaps, Small Gaps (African Americans) and Big Gaps, Small Gaps (Hispanics).


by Diverse Staff and Associated Press | Diverse Issues in Higher Ed
August 10, 2010

The Education Trust, a Washington-based education advocacy organization, released two reports Monday highlighting institutions that have highest college success rates for African-American and Latino students in comparison to White students. The reports also highlight the schools that have the largest graduation rate gaps between underrepresented minorities and Whites.

The reports, titled “Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than Others in Graduating African-American Students” and “Big Gaps, Small Gaps: Some Colleges and Universities Do Better Than Others in Graduating Hispanic Students,” draw upon national college graduation averages and explore disaggregated six-year graduation rates at hundreds of U.S. public and private institutions.

With 57 percent of all students completing bachelor degrees within six years, the graduation rates for different groups of students vary significantly. Nationally, 60 percent of Whites but only 49 percent of Latinos and 40 percent of African-Americans who start college earn bachelor degrees six years later, according to the data.

“These (national) averages mask important differences between institutions,” said Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, in a statement.

“Graduation rates at individual institutions tell a range of stories — some of smashing success — which should be studied deeply and replicated widely,” she said. “Unfortunately, there are others of shocking irresponsibility. The lesson of all of these stories is: What colleges do for students of color powerfully impacts the futures of these young people and that of our nation.”

Among the findings were that at nearly two-thirds of the colleges and universities in the study, fewer than half the African-American students emerge with a degree after six years. Among Latino students, more than 60 percent of the institutions they attend graduate fewer than half their Latino students in six years.

“We did uncover some large gaps in student success rates and low graduation rates for students of color. But it would be wrong to assume that these gaps are inevitable or immutable,” said Mamie Lynch, higher education research and policy analyst at The Education Trust and coauthor of the report, said in a statement. “For many of the ‘big gap’ schools, we can point to an institution working with a similar student body that graduates students of color at rates similar to those of White students.”

Among states reporting college success for Blacks and Latinos, Florida's public universities ranked near the top in graduation rates, according to the reports.

Florida ranked 5th with a 50.9 percent graduation rate for Black students and 6th with a 57.1 percent rate for Hispanics.

The 11 Florida state universities posted a 59.9 percent graduation rate for all students to rank 10th in the nation.

State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan said he's proud of the high rankings for minority students and said the state is taking steps to sustain and improve that performance, according to the Associated Press.

Obama Urges College Completion Agenda As Economic Imperative

by Jamaal Abdul-Alim | Diverse Issues in Higher Ed
August 10, 2010

Despite the hosting university officials being embroiled in an historic affirmative action case in a state where immigration reform is a hot-button issue, President Barack Obama steered clear of controversial race and immigration issues Monday in a rousing speech in Texas meant to advance his administration’s “cradle to career” education agenda as the means to a better economy.

“Education is the economic issue of our time,” Obama said before a sea of Texas Longhorns T-shirt-wearing students Monday at the University of Texas at Austin in a speech titled “Higher Education and the Economy.”

“It’s an economic issue when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have gone to college,” Obama said in the speech, which was viewed in some quarters as a way to include an “official” event in what was otherwise a two-stop fundraising tour in order to get taxpayers to foot the bill.

Before Obama’s speech back in Washington, two officials from the Education Department emphasized the importance of doing more to help Latino students get to and through college over the next decade in order to “educate our way to a better economy” and help reach the Obama Administration’s higher education goal of restoring the United States as the world’s leader in college-degree attainment.

“Now is more important than ever in the Hispanic community,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a telephone conference with reporters, noting that only 11 percent of college students are Hispanic, whereas Hispanics represent roughly 15.5 percent of the U.S. population.

“We think that number is far too low,” Duncan said of the Latino college enrollment rate during the phone conference, in which he was joined by Juan Sepulveda, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Duncan and Sepulveda spoke of the need to do more to “build a culture” of going to college and completing college among the Latino segment of the population.

Although Obama’s speech and the Education Secretary’s phone conference were heavy on touting the Obama administration’s accomplishments in areas such as student loan reform, investing in community colleges and boosting financial aid, observers said in the years ahead it will be important to do what the administration did Monday by shining the spotlight on the need to improve college-completion rates among Latinos.

“When public officials, including the education secretary, emphasize that if we want to improve educational attainment, (that) there’s no way we’re going to get there when the fastest growing group tends to be the least educated, it’s helpful to help people understand that we have a rough road ahead of us,” said Richard Fry, senior research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization and a project of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan “fact tank” in Washington.

However, highlighting the problem is one thing. Developing and implementing solutions are altogether different.

Fry said when it comes to low Latino college-completion rates, one of the biggest factors is the fact that Latino youths are more likely to start out their quest for a four-year degree at a two-year college, which historically have had lower completion rates than — and low transfer rates to — four-year institutions.

Statistics from the American Association of Community Colleges show that Hispanics at community colleges represent 55 percent of all undergraduates, versus 46 percent for African-Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders and U.S. undergraduates as a whole.

“We need to do a better job of educating students and their families that where you go to college matters,” Fry said.

But what also matters is what takes place before Latino students even reach college, says Melissa Lazarin, associate director of education policy at the Washington-based Center for American Progress, which describes itself as a “progressive” policy organization.

“An important part of this is to get more Latinos to graduate from high school,” Lazarin said of the Latino dropout rate, which statistics show is more than twice the national average at 21 percent. “If we get those numbers up in high school, that in and of itself will help produce more college-going students.”

Among other things, Lazarin said, Latino youths are often faced with choosing between pursuing educational goals and working help bring in more income for their families.

“Young Latinos are a big part of our work force,” Lazarin said. “There is a pressure economically, a need even to help bring food to the table for the family.”

One way to deal with it, she said, is to reconceptualize high school and make it more flexible for Latino and other students from nontraditional backgrounds.

“We have to think about ways to design our school system to meet the needs of today’s students,” she said.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mexico Will Offer Online-Degree Programs to Citizens Living Abroad

By Marion Lloyd | The Chronicle of Higher Education
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mexico City

The Mexican government will begin offering online college-degree programs this month to its citizens living abroad, many of whom are suffering the effects of stricter immigration controls in the United States.

The project is being run by Mexico's Public Education Secretariat, which opened its own virtual university in August 2009. Since then, 33,000 students have enrolled in 15 different undergraduate majors at the National Open and Distance University of Mexico, said Rodolfo Tuirán, the country's under secretary for higher education.

He said the decision to expand the online-degree opportunity to Mexicans living abroad is partly a response to the raft of anti-immigration laws recently passed in the United States. The legislation—the most punitive of which is Arizona's SB 1070, which criminalizes illegal immigration within that state—has made it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to attend college in the United States.

Mexicans account for more than half of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, according to U.S. government estimates.

"Mexico has to look after its citizens abroad; it's only natural," said Mr. Tuirán, a sociologist who has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. "The goal is to improve their ability to compete, so that they have better conditions there or if they eventually return home."

The Education Secretariat, Mexico's equivalent of the U.S. Department of Education, began receiving applications from expatriates in July. It will initially offer spots to 1,000 students, who can choose from among five undergraduate majors: tourism administration, community development, small and medium-size business administration, engineering and environmental technology, and international marketing.

The programs were chosen based on a combination of demand and compatibility with online teaching models, Mr. Tuirán said. He added that Mexico had sought advice from the Colombian government, which runs its own online university catering to thousands of students living in the United States.
A Small Beginning

The initial 1,000 spots in the Mexican program represent a "symbolic offering, given the scale of the problem," Mr. Tuirán said in an interview. But he added that the government planned to expand the program after the pilot phase. He estimated that hundreds of thousands of Mexicans living abroad might be interested in earning college degrees online.

"As we wait for the situation of our fellow citizens to be resolved, we must make an ever-greater effort" to attend to their educational needs, said Mr. Tuirán, a former research professor in demography at the College of Mexico, one of Mexico's most prestigious institutions of higher education.

He added that numerous immigration bills are making their way through U.S. state legislatures, many of which would prohibit illegal immigrants from attending institutions of higher education in the United States.

Still, Mexico's top higher-education official was optimistic that many of those potential laws, along with the one that took effect in Arizona last month, would be ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Sooner or later, the United States will have to face up to this massive problem," he said. "You can't do without the 12 million undocumented workers, of which seven million are Mexicans."

The Mexican government, he argued, "must not only guarantee their rights but also ensure that they have the best possible conditions, and offering distance education is an adequate response."
Crushing Demand at Home

The Mexican government is also facing increasing pressure to expand spots at public universities at home. Mexico's gross college enrollment rate—a measure used by Unesco, which is calculated by dividing the total number of college students by the number of college-age students—is among the lowest in Latin America.

Since President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006, Mexico has seen the creation of more than 75 public institutions of higher education and 33 new campuses and extension programs at state universities. Another 23 institutions of higher education, mostly technological institutes, are scheduled to open this year.

Mr. Tuirán acknowledged that those efforts remain insufficient to meet demand for spots at traditional universities. The National Autonomous University of Mexico, the country's largest public institution of higher education, accepted a record low of 9 percent of applicants last spring, according to university officials. The university, known as UNAM, has some 150,000 students.

Meanwhile, hundreds of high-school graduates who were rejected from UNAM and the two other main public universities in the capital have been holding daily protests outside the Education Secretariat in hopes of gaining admission.

Mr. Tuirán argued that the technological institutes and the government's new online university could absorb many of those applicants. Open University's budget for 2010 is $21-million. But the government hopes to increase that figure to $34-million for next year and to enroll a total of 40,000 students in online programs.

"No other virtual university in Mexico can match that growth in its first year," Mr. Tuirán said.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

University of Texas President Supports the DREAM Act

Very good news!


August, 9, 2010

For Immediate Release
Julieta Garibay
University Leadership Initiative

University of Texas President Supports the DREAM Act
as President Obama visits UT Austin

Austin, TX -- University of Texas President William Powers is one of the newest university presidents who has made public his support for the DREAM Act. With President Obama's visit to UT, the University Leadership Initiative (ULI) hopes President Obama takes note of how the DREAM Act would help meet our nation's higher education goals.

Under the headline UT Support for the DREAM Act, President Bill Powers reiterates his support for the legislation and those it would benefit. President Powers stated:

"If Texas educates these young people, it should provide them with access to legal employment. At UT, we support the goal of our graduates having the opportunity to put their education to work on behalf of our state and our nation."

According to a recent report from the Migration Policy Institute 258,000 individuals in Texas would benefit from the DREAM Act.

"We thank President Powers for his support of the legislation," said Julieta Garibay, a University of Texas alumnus & ULI Co-founder. "Every year, students who would benefit from the DREAM Act graduate from public universities in our state, including the University of Texas. We hope that our state's senators and congressional delegation are taking note of the overwhelming support."

Jose Torres from the University Leadership Initiative added, "The economic benefits of an increasingly educated labor force to our state will be significant. It's no wonder that this law boasts supports from business groups, institutions of education, conservatives, and liberals."

In 2001, the Texas legislature overwhelmingly approved legislation to allow certain undocumented students who met residency requirements pay in-state tuition rates at public universities. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. The DREAM Act shows bipartisan support in Congress.

University Leadership Initiative | 1 University Station A6220 | Austin | TX | 78705

Education Week: More Than Two-Thirds of States Adopt Core Standards

Education Week: More Than Two-Thirds of States Adopt Core Standards

Senate Passes Edujobs Bill

Senate Passes Edujobs Bill
By Alyson Klein

The U.S. Senate today approved a long-stalled measure that would provide $10 billion to prevent what supporters say would be hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs nationwide.

Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives, meanwhile, are taking the unusual step of calling for lawmakers to return from their August recess next week to pass the final version of the bill.

Read on here.

Education Week: Arizona, Tucson At Odds Over Ethnic Studies

Education Week: Arizona, Tucson At Odds Over Ethnic Studies

Civil Rights Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn through Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Check out this recent proposal put out by the following groups:
Mon, 07/26/2010

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National Council for Educating Black Children
National Urban League
Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Schott Foundation for Public Education

You can download the entire policy brief, Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn through Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act here.


Today there is nothing short of a state of emergency in the delivery of education to our nation’s communities of color. As our communities quickly grow on pace to become a numerical majority, it is clear that confronting the issues we face is not just our challenge alone but all of America’s challenge. As a nation, we are failing to provide the highquality educational opportunities that are critical for all students to succeed, thereby jeopardizing our nation’s ability to continue to be a world leader.

As a community of civil rights organizations, we believe that access to a high-quality education is a fundamental civil right. The federal government’s role is to protect and promote that civil right by creating and supporting a fair and substantive opportunity to learn for all students, regardless of where and to whom they were born. This objective is advanced by many components of the proposed FY 2011 education budget and the Blueprint for Reform setting forth the Administration’s priorities for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). For instance, we applaud the Administration’s goal for the United States to become a global leader in post-secondary education attainment by 2020 and its efforts to develop specific strategies for turning around low-performing schools.

While there are numerous positive aspects of the Administration’s education agenda, more comprehensive reforms are necessary to build a future where equitable educational opportunity is the rule, not the exception. As civil rights organizations, it is our responsibility to seek to close and ultimately eliminate the opportunity and achievement gaps experienced by communities of color. To this end, we outline six major principles that we will collectively advocate to strengthen the ESEA and ensure that the federal government provides the support necessary to protect every child’s civil right to a highquality education:

1. Equitable opportunities for all;
2. Utilization of systematically proven and effective educational methods;
3. Public and community engagement in education reforms;
4. Safe and educationally sound learning environments;
5. Diverse learning environments; and
6. Comprehensive and substantive accountability systems to maintain equitable opportunities and high outcomes.

The comments that follow offer critiques of federal efforts that would: distribute resources by competition in the midst of a severe recession; advance experimental proposals dwarfed by the scope of the challenges in low-income communities; and promote ineffective approaches for turning around low-performing schools and education systems.

But, more importantly, we also offer specific recommendations to implement the principles outlined above. We advance proposals to leverage federal resources available to all states in order to create the preconditions to achieve equitable opportunities for all. As a part of extending an opportunity to learn as a civil right, we call for: “universal” early education for all students in all states; policies that will provide access to highly effective teachers for all students, including incentives to recruit and retain well-prepared, highly effective teachers in high–need, low-income, and rural areas; and community schools that offer wraparound services and strong, engaging instruction with adequate supports. We urge the federal government to institutionalize a federal resource accountability system so that students, parents, and teachers will have the school and community resources necessary for students to achieve high standards, regardless of where they live.

In recent weeks, we have engaged officials within the Administration to advance these ideas, and have begun to engage Congressional leaders, as well. In the coming months, we will hold discussions in communities across the country to amplify and augment the key prescriptions outlined here.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Texas Urged To Hire More Minority Teachers

Texas Urged To Hire More Minority Teachers
by Associated Press , August 4, 2010

DALLAS – Texas schools need to hire more Black and Hispanic teachers, especially as the enrollment of minority students continues to rise, experts said.

The Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday that two out of three Texas teachers in the past school year were White, which is a proportion that has not changed much in recent years. The state projects that minority students will make up around 62 percent of the student body in the 2011-12 school year, up more than 10 percent from a decade ago.

“The research shows that, if you can match the ethnicity and race of teachers and students, teachers tend to be more effective,” said Ed Fuller, associate director of the University Council for Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. “It's important for role modeling and pushing those students to go to college. Of course, you want to make sure teachers are well-qualified and not just thrown into a classroom because of race or ethnicity.”

A Harvard University Kennedy School of Government study published in 2004 concluded that White and Black students in Tennessee did better on state tests with teachers of their own race.

The findings indicated that recruiting more minority teachers could generate important gains among minority students.

A similar study by the Education Resources Information Center found that Hispanic students had similar benefits. One of the reasons is that minority teachers better understand cultural differences and can “break down the students’ stereotypes,” according to the study.

Texas school districts hire about 30,000 to 35,000 new teachers every year, but the pool of minorities interested in the profession is small, local officials said.

“The pay isn't very competitive in many cases,” said Angela Davis, a Black teacher at Marcus Elementary School in Dallas and president of the labor group NEA-Dallas. “Many of them want to make more money, so they choose other fields.”

Linda Bridges, president of the teacher group Texas AFT, said it is important to get people into the profession who truly want to make it a career.

“The heart of the question is, who is going into education and what are we doing to attract more minority teachers?” Bridges said. “The teaching force needs to look more like the students we are serving.”

Fuller said the state hasn't pushed hard to get more minority college graduates into the classroom.

“It's hard to change the makeup of our teaching force very quickly,” he said. “The state leadership hasn't paid much attention to this problem or even thought about it for years and that's why we are where we are.”