More state tests are “getting honest” about how few kids are on track for college, but there are outliers

The Hechinger Report – Emmanuel Felton

“The Common Core has won – at least on one front. The standards and the tests designed based on them were, in part, a response to a growing sense that under the No Child Left Behind law – which penalized schools that weren’t making gains on annual state tests – states were making those tests easier so that schools would show progress. Stagnant scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the nation’s report card, were held up as proof that states weren’t being honest about how many of their students were truly on-track. The Common Core, which is in place in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia, was designed to increase rigor by having teachers focus more on conceptual learning and critical thinking. When former Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced $330 million in funding for two new Common Core tests, he called the tests a game changer.”(more)

Universities to introduce quotas for first-time applicants

The Helsinki Times – Jussi Niemeläinen

“IN the future, universities and other higher education institutions must reserve study places for applicants who have not accepted a study place in a degree programme or completed a degree in a Finnish higher education institution.
The obligation is set forth in a proposal presented for parliamentary consideration on 14 November by the Government as part of its structural policy programme.
The objective of the proposal is to increase the share of first-time applicants who receive a study place and, thereby, to expedite the transition of young people from secondary to tertiary education, says Immo Aakkula, a counsellor at the Ministry of Science and Education. Higher education institutions will also be obliged to accept transfer students – that is, students transferring from one institution or degree programme to another – and to grant them credits for their previous studies. Transfer students, in turn, will be obliged to forgo their previous study place upon their transfer to another institution or degree programme.”(more)

MIT partners with Johnson & Johnson to promote women’s STEM education

MIT News – Kimberly Haberlin

“MIT and Johnson & Johnson — a global leader in medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods — have announced a new collaboration designed to increase the number of undergraduate women enrolling in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs and graduating with STEM degrees. This new effort will build on MIT’s ongoing work to expand the reach and quality of STEM education and attract more women to fields traditionally dominated by men. MIT is one of nine academic institutions that will be working with Johnson & Johnson in the coming months to develop effective recruitment, engagement, and retention strategies for women leaders in STEM. The other participating institutions are Caltech, Harvey Mudd College, Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA – Brazil), Rhode Island School of Design, Rutgers Honors College, Spelman College, the University of Tokyo, and the University of Limerick.”(more)

Tenth Grade Foreign Language Immersion Student makes Perfect Score on SAT Math

Tenth Grade Foreign Language Immersion Student makes Perfect Score on SAT Math

Outside the Box – Christy Johnson


Amelia Talkington, a Renascence School International tenth grader, obtained a perfect score (800) on the math part of the December 2015 SAT test, the standardized test that is used for admission to U.S. colleges and universities. Amelia is nearly trilingual, having studied math and science in Chinese and language arts in English, Chinese, and Spanish since she was in kindergarten. She is interested in art, engineering, and business and has been a guest researcher at the University of Arizona Plant Science Laboratory and is a marketing intern with an Ecuadorian foundation. In addition, she is a record holding club and high school swimmer who placed third in the 100 yard freestyle at the Florida 2A State High School Swim Meet and received All American consideration. She also plays varsity high school soccer and will be joining an Elite Club National League soccer team in the spring.

More college credit in high school may be a way to boost on-time four-year graduation rates

The Hechinger Report – Jill Barshay

“One educational mystery is exactly why it’s so much harder to graduate from college in four years these days. Back in the 1970s, almost 60 percent of eventual bachelor’s degree recipients graduated within four years of finishing high school. By the 1990s, that had dropped to under 45 percent. (Data source: here.) Some hypothesize that more unprepared students are now going to college and they spend their first year or two taking remedial classes before starting to rack up college credits. But other researchers say the increase in unprepared students cannot fully explain the dramatic decrease in on-time college graduation. Instead, they assert that students have to work more during college to pay for rising tuition bills, leaving less time for school, and that cash-strapped government-funded colleges are offering fewer sections of key courses, making it harder for students to squeeze in all their requirements.”(more)

Washington partners with U. of Texas to improve college math

The Seattle Times – Katherine Long

“Practically every week, Bill Moore reads another article that examines what amount, and type, of math that college students really need in order to get a degree. That’s why Moore, director of K-12 partnerships for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), is pleased that Washington recently became one of five new states to join a partnership with the University of Texas’s Dana Center to improve the state’s college math pathways. At the heart of that partnership is making sure college students are getting the type of math they need to be successful in their chosen major. The Dana Center’s New Mathways Project provides students with choices among several different courses, or course sequences, depending on their majors. Each path offers students rigorous mathematics relevant to their fields of study.”(more)