Archive for August, 2012

Can state retention policies prod improvement and create a focus on reading?

Despite a century of research, educators continue to argue over whether it helps or hurt students to hold them back when they perform below grade level.

A recent panel sponsored by the Center on Children and Families at Brookings Institution explored the retention vs. social promotion divide. On the side of retention — at least as part of a comprehensive reform strategy — was Harvard professor and Mitt Romney campaign education adviser Martin R. West, who reviewed the research on social promotion and grade retention and the Florida results for a Brookings policy brief.

Since 2003, Florida has required that third graders scoring at the lowest level on state reading tests be held back and given intense remediation.

Compared with similar students who were not retained, the retained kids were 11 percentage points less likely to be retained one year after they were initially held back and roughly 4 percentage points less likely to be retained in each of the following three years, …

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A crisis in confidence or in the classroom? Polls and lists on education issues and challenges.

Today, the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems released 75 Examples of How Bureaucracy Stands in the Way of America’s Students and Teachers.

The interesting list follows this week’s release of the 2012 annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

There was the usual “us and them” divide in the PDK/Gallup findings; 48 percent of Americans award their own schools an A or a B, but only 19 percent feel the rest of the schools in the country merit such high grades. But 62 percent are willing to pay more in taxes in order to improve urban public schools And asked the No. 1 problem facing schools,  35 percent of respondents say lack of financial support.

The poll notes stark divisions by political party. Here are highlights from the poll:

•On providing children of illegal immigrants  free public education, school lunches, and other benefits, 65 percent of Democrats versus 21 percent of Republicans  said “yes.” But overall, the poll …

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State board charter committee: No fireworks but a few sparks today

I am on deadline for a Sunday piece but dashed downtown to the state Department of Education this morning for the State Board Charter Committee meeting after being told to expect “fireworks” over John Barge’s surprising public statement last week in opposition to the November charter school amendment. The committee is a subcommittee of the state Board of Education.

It wasn’t quite fireworks, but there were a few sparks  The sparsely attended meeting had representatives from two charter schools, Heritage Prep Academy and Ivy Prep, who spoke in favor of their schools.

The charter school reps were there because of Barge’s statement last week: “Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts …

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Georgia registers small increase on 2012 ACT scores

State and national ACT scores were released today. At the national level, scores on the college admission exam were flat, while Georgia, where more teens are taking the ACT, saw a slight increase.  (SAT scores will follow in a few weeks.)

A record 52 percent of the the 2012  U.S. high school graduating class took the ACT.  More than a fourth (28 percent) did not meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in the testing areas of English, mathematics, reading and science; 15 percent met only one of the benchmarks, while 17 percent met two. Only 25 percent of tested 2012 grads met all four ACT benchmarks, unchanged from last year.

“Far too many high school graduates are still falling short academically,” said ACT Chief Executive Officer Jon Whitmore in a statement.  “We need to do more to ensure that our young people improve. The advanced global economy requires American students to perform at their highest level to compete in the future job market and maintain the …

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The Red & Black: Wins all around for UGA student newspaper

redJust in time to bask in its selection as one of the nation’s top college newspapers, the Red & Black appears to be back on track. The staff and board have resolved their differences over editorial control, and staffers who quit in the power struggle are returning.

And, in its top 20 list of college newspapers, Princeton Review awarded the Red & Black 10th place. (First place went to the Daily Collegian of Penn State University.)

According to the AJC:

The top two editors of the student newspaper covering the University of Georgia were reinstated Monday, five days after they and others walked out over a conflict with the editorial board.

“Members of the Red and Black board welcome the reinstatement of Editor-in-Chief Polina Marinova and Managing Editor Julia Carpenter,” said a statement emailed Monday evening to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We look forward to the editors and their staff resuming production of one of the nation’s top student news organizations.”

The …

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Fallout from Emory scandal: Former deans resign current jobs. Still unclear why this mess happened.

At least two impressive careers have been hurt by last week’s news that Emory misreported student data to national ranking groups.

The AJC is reporting that two former university top admissions officials resigned their current jobs in the wake of last week’s announcement by the Emory president that an internal review uncovered the misreporting of student SAT and ACT scores. (Emory deserves credit for conducting the probe and coming forward with the findings.)

It is still unclear why the wrong data was submitted as there is no evidence yet that the difference in the test scores reported — students admitted to Emory versus students choosing to enroll — was enough to boost ranking to a significant degree.

The grand poo-pah of college rankings — U.S. News & World Report — contends that the inflated data did not impact Emory’s current top 20 ranking. A magazine spokesman told the AJC that the university would have retained its ranking with the revised scores.

The score gap is not …

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Georgia principal named Middle School Principal of the Year: Congrats to Laurie Barron of Smokey Road Middle

Dr. Laurie Barron of Smokey Road Middle School

Dr. Laurie Barron of Smokey Road Middle School

This just in:

Laurie Barron, principal of Smokey Road Middle School in Newnan, GA, has been named the 2013 MetLife/NASSP National Middle Level Principal of the Year.

The award was announced today at an assembly attended by students, teachers, district staff members, and representatives from the Georgia Department of Education and the governor’s office. Barron will be honored during a black-tie gala on Sept. 21 in Washington, DC, to kick off National Principals Month.

Barron, the fifth school leader from Georgia to receive recognition as national principal of the year since 2008, joins the ranks of top Georgia principals including Wesley Taylor, Sheila Kahrs, Mark Wilson, and Molly Howard. Earning her place among the elite, Barron was the leading force behind the turnaround of Smokey Road Middle School. When she took over in 2004, she was the fourth principal to run the school in five years. However, by demonstrating her commitment …

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Our PolitiFact Georgia team looks at John Barge and charters: Not much of a flip.

AJC PolitiFact Georgia was asked to examine whether state school chief John Barge flipped-flopped on charter schools with his stunning announcement last week that he did not back the charter school amendment on the November ballot.

Some of his critics have been sending links to a speech that candidate John Barge gave to a conservative group as proof of his flip-flop, but I have to go on record about that 2010 video clip: Barge said nothing different in front of Tea Party supporters in the burbs than he did in front of intown parents at a campaign debate at Inman Middle School that I covered for the AJC.

In fact,  a liberal-leaning policy analyst was sitting two rows in front of me, and he was shaking his head in dismay at almost all of Barge’s responses. Barge seems to be an elected official who does not tailor his message to the crowd. He has consistently decried too much state-level bureaucracy and wasteful spending, so it is not surprising that he would oppose the creation …

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The state of our youngest workers: Working in retail. Looking for flexibility. And earning more in Seattle.

A joint study by PayScale, Inc., a provider of on-demand compensation data and software, and Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and management consulting company, looked at the state of the Gen Y worker — people between the ages 18 to 29.

According to the study, more than 63 percent of Gen Y workers have a bachelor’s degree, but work in jobs that don’t require a college degree

I am well acquainted in this age group, having two children who fall within it boundaries. So, I hear a lot about the job market — or lack thereof — for Gen Y.  I may have to advise my rising college senior to consider Seattle after seeing these findings.

According to the official release:

The study highlights that Gen Y workers — by and large — are not employed in large numbers inside America’s biggest companies. Their preference is for smaller firms that allow for more flexibility, an opportunity to embrace their entrepreneurial ambitions, and the opportunity to use social networks at work without …

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UGA slips a bit on annual party list, but still in top 5

Amid all the discussion this weekend about college rankings in light of the Emory scandal, here is one list where administrators hope for a low ranking: Top party schools in the country.

The University of Georgia ranks No. 5 on the annual Princeton Review list, which is informed by student surveys.

This list is essentially meaningless when you consider the size of the campuses involved. The top contenders are major universities with thousands of students. That Agnes Scott, a school with 880 students, ranks low on the partying count, and UGA, with 26,000 undergrads, ranks high should surprise or influence no one.

According to the AJC:

UGA comes in at No. 5 in rankings released Monday by the Princeton Review’s 2013 edition of “Best 377 Colleges,” the Associated Press reports, behind West Virginia University, the University of Iowa, Ohio University and the University of Illinois.

Georgia was No. 1 on the Princeton Review list in 2011 and No. 2 in 2012.

The rankings are based …

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