Kevin Carey with the New America Foundation argues reporters are making too much of data that shows a low percentage of students complete free, large online college courses — often called MOOCs. Carey says how the completion rate is calculated may make for an unfair comparison.
Testing firm ACT has hired former Florida education commissioner Tony Bennett as a consultant for the new test tied to Common Core standards the company is developing, according to Education Week’s Catherine Gewertz.
The company said Bennett would advise ACT as state’s decide which exam to choose for Common Core standards. From the story:
ACT spokesman Ed Colby said he could not confirm that Bennett would be doing government relations work for the company, but did confirm that “ACT Aspire has hired him to consult on state level initiatives.” “We understand his focus to be on initiatives related to ACT Aspire as states consider the future of their state assessment programs,” Colby said in an email.
Bennett’s role helping ACT market its Aspire system is only the latest in a series of high-powered talent grabs by the Iowa-based testmaker and by the New York City-based College Board, which is wading into the common-core test market in middle and high school. ACT hired the College Board’s longtime chief of research, Wayne Camara. College Board lured away a number of ACT luminaries, including education division chief Cynthia Schmeiser.
Florida’s high school graduation rate increased for the seventh consecutive year, according to new data from the Florida Department of Education. The percentage of students earning a high school diploma increased to 75.6 percent during the 2012-2013 school year, up from 74.5 percent the previous year.
Graduation rates improved for every racial subgroup, except Asian-Americans, whose rate remained the highest at 88.4 percent.
Nassau County schools posted the state’s highest graduation rate at 90.9 percent. Among the state’s largest school districts in Broward County, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach County and Tampa, Miami-Dade schools posted the best graduation rate of 77.2 percent.
Despite recent improvement, just six states and the District of Columbia had a lower graduation rate than Florida, according to the most recent federal data.
Earlier this week we told you how students and teachers at one adult education center were preparing for changes to the GED high school equivalency exam.
GED Testing Service has posted some sample items from the new exam online to give an idea what the new test will look like.
The test is moving online, but most of the questions are still multiple choice. Some of the items take advantage of online features, such as dragging items to create a timeline of Anne of Green Gables events or completing a sentence by choosing options from a dropdown menu.
The changes are similar to the online exams being designed for new K-12 Common Core standards.
The items are for the Language Arts, science, mathematics reasoning and social studies exams. The samples don’t include the full range of difficulty of GED test items.
The sample items are posted in both English and Spanish. You can view them online or download them to your computer.
A final vote on whether and how to rename Nathan B. Forrest High School is expected at a Monday school board meeting in Jacksonville. Forrest is named for a Confederate general who went on to become an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Just before school started, Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti indicated to StateImpact Florida that he was open to renaming Forrest High if there was support for it. Efforts to change the name have failed in the past.
One of the big changes with the new GED test come January will be that the exam is going online. Students will no longer have a pencil and paper option and will have to take the exam on a computer.
GED Testing Services vice president Nicole Chestang said online exams offer a lot of benefits to test-takers.
They’ll get their results the same day they take the exam. They’ll also be able to get copies of their transcript or take a practice GED exam to find out if they are ready.
GED data from Florida and other states shows students taking computer-based tests are finishing their studies quicker, more likely to pass the test and more likely to take the test again if they fail a section, Chestang said.
There’s a secondary reason the tests are going online: It’s tough to find a job that doesn’t require computer skills.
Lawmakers could have about $1.2 billion more to spend in next year’s budget. Gov. Scott says lawmakers and higher education officials should not try to raise tuition next year.
Uzelea Evans has had a tough run recently.
Her unemployment payments have been hung up for six weeks because of the state’s new online system.
And the mother to two lost her Tampa housing and has to move out next month.
But she’s working hard toward some good news in a classroom at Metropolitan Ministries – passing the GED exam.
“My life has been a struggle ever since my mom died,” Evans said. “But I’m just trying to stay focused and keep going. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve got a lot on my plate but I’ve got to keep going. I’ve just got to keep going – that’s why I need this so bad. So I got to get this.”
Evans works as a cook. Dropping out of high school has hindered her in finding a higher-paying job.
She’s one of about 40 people taking GED classes at Metropolitan Ministries.
Like Evans, all of them have to answer a question before even stepping into the exam room: do I try to take the old GED before the end of the month, or wait for the new GED in January?
In a world of education policies run amok…
That’s not the tagline for a new documentary about the Common Core State Standards, but it could be based on a trailer posted online.
The documentary, “Building The Machine,” is scheduled for a February release and features many prominent critics. That includes Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman, who testified at a series of Florida public meetings on the standards in October.
The trailer also features footage of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is a prominent Common Core advocate.
Back in May, Gov. Rick Scott took a victory lap after the Florida Legislature approved $480 million for teacher pay raises.
“It’s a great day for teachers. It’s also a great day for students,” he said at the time.
Seven months later, Scott’s wheedling school districts to actually spend that money.
The raises—intended to start at $2,500 per teacher—have to be negotiated through unions and the districts must come up with their own distribution plans. It’s been a protracted process in many counties and Scott, who is up for reelection in 2014, would like to see it sped up.