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The Fast, the Furious, and School Reform

Education Next – Frederick Hess

“This feels relevant because it brings to mind some of the common tensions underlying school reform. Case in point: Last week, I visited Vanderbilt University in order to chat about Letters to a Young Education Reformer. In a seminar with some graduate students, I mentioned my conviction that reading and math scores (even on terrific assessments) only capture maybe 30 to 35% of what I want students to learn in the course of K-12 schooling. That prompted one thoughtful student to ask what else I thought good schools should do, then. In other words, what’s the other 65 to 70%? This is a question that’s come up a lot when I talk about the book. I said what I usually say: cultivate character, nurture good citizens, and teach mastery of content and skills—all while striving to spark imagination and develop each child’s distinctive gifts.”(more)

School Choice Boosts Test Scores

Education Next – Patrick J. Wolf

“Private school choice remains a controversial education reform. Choice programs, involving school vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, or Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), provide financial support to families who wish to access private schooling for their child…there are now 50 private school choice programs in 26 states plus the District of Columbia…But does it work?…The sum of the reliable evidence indicates that, on average, private school choice increases the reading scores of choice users by about 0.27 standard deviations and their math scores by 0.15 standard deviations. These are highly statistically significant, educationally meaningful achievement gains of several months of additional learning from school choice.”(more)

Americans Are Spending at Least $1.5 Billion in College Remediation Courses, and the Middle Class Pays the Most

Education Post – Staff Writer

“More than half a million college freshmen—approximately one in four students who enter college the fall after high school graduation—had to enroll in remedial coursework during their first year of college, costing their families nearly $1.5 billion annually. Forty-five percent of those students came from middle and upper income families, according to Out of Pocket: The High Cost of Inadequate High Schools and High School Student Achievement on College Affordability, a new research report from Education Reform Now and Education Post…Peter Cunningham, executive director of Education Post, which commissioned the study, said, “High schools are not rigorous enough. Higher standards have raised the bar but we need to hold schools accountable for meeting those standards.””(more)

A-level maths standards down on 1960s but not on 1990s

BBC – Staff Writer

“Students who achieve a B in A-level maths today would only have secured an E in the 1960s, suggests research. However standards have been stable since the 1990s, with no evidence of any further fall since then, says the Loughborough University paper. The researchers compared the level of mathematical knowledge needed to tackle today’s maths A-level papers with those from the 1960s and 1990s. The government said its reforms would help tackle grade inflation in England. The authors say their work, published in the British Educational Research Journal amounts to one of the most comprehensive studies into A-level standards.”(more)

A Parent Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

The Huffington Post – Bob Hildreth

“Among the items ignored by educational reformers is parental engagement. Little has changed in how parents engage with schools since public education first began. And yet recent studies have shown parents to be key in how their children are academically socialized, i.e., the nuts and bolts of learning…if teachers and parents worked together they would immeasurably expand and empower the resources for raising our children.”(more)

Economic Gains for U.S. States from Educational Reform

Thomas B. Fordham Institute – Jessica Poiner

“It’s often argued that improving education will improve the nation’s economy. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research not only affirms this argument but also demonstrates just how big the economic effects of school improvement could be…If every state improved to the level of Minnesota, the top-performing state from the past two decades, the U.S. economy would grow by $76 trillion by 2095 (the end of the projection period).”(more)