Putting Education Reform To The Test

U.S. Colleges Opting For Adjunct Instructors Over Tenured Professors

Four-year colleges are now hiring fewer full-time faculty and opting instead for more adjunct professors. Institutions insist the move saves them money and improves flexibility in a challenging educational economy. About half of all instructors at four-year colleges teach as an adjunct and the percentage is higher at most community colleges.

While there remains a debate about whether full-time professors actually make better teachers, there is a strong correlation between student success and faculty members who stick around campus to mentor students outside the classroom. Adjuncts often need to rush off to their next gig.

Read more at: www.washingtonpost.com

House Rejects Idea To Limit Four-Year Degrees At State Colleges

The House has rejected a Senate proposal to cap the number of four-year degrees offered by state community colleges. Lawmakers are worried about duplicating programs with state universities, but state colleges are the most convenient campus in many parts of Florida.

The measure was an agreement Negron, R-Stuart, reached with state colleges in March to keep them focused on technical degrees and from competing with four-year universities. The Senate proposed to insert the language into the budget during budget negotiations with the House, which didn’t accept it. The Legislature is expected to pass a final state budget June 19, ending a special session.

Read more at: www.tcpalm.com

Oregon Opt Out Bill Could Cost State $140 Million, Feds Warn

The U.S. Department of Education says Oregon could lose $140 million in federal money if the state legislature approves a bill allowing parents to opt their children out of state testing. Florida law doesn’t allow students to opt out, but advocates have been asking for the right and coaching parents on how their kids can sit out tests.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 requires schools to test 95 percent of their students, or they are automatically labeled as failing to meet achievement targets. The reason? The NCLB law’s authors were concerned that schools could discourage students who might perform poorly on standardized tests, including English-language learners and students in special education, from taking the assessments in the first place.

In fact, if Oregon goes ahead and passes the bill, it could stand to lose $140 million in federal funding, according to a letter and email sent May 27 to the deputy state schools chief, Rob Saxton, from Deborah S. Delisle, the assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education.

Read more at: blogs.edweek.org

SAT Error Won’t Affect Scores

Florida was one of several states where students were told, in error, they had an additional five minutes on the SAT. The College Board, which oversees the test, says it will throw out those sections of the exam, but that it won’t change student scores.

An undetermined number of test booklets around the United States — though not overseas — had a printing error that told students they had 25 minutes to complete either Section 8 or Section 9 — either a math or reading section depending on the version of the test — when in fact they were supposed to only have 20 minutes.

In its new note on the error, the College Board, which owns the SAT, said that the test “is designed to collect enough information to provide valid and reliable scores even with an additional unscored section.” It also said: “We have deliberately constructed both the Reading and the Math Tests to include three equal sections with roughly the same level of difficulty. If one of the three sections is jeopardized, the correlation among sections is sufficient to be able to deliver reliable scores.”

Read more at: www.washingtonpost.com

Salaries And Benefits Increasing For Public University Presidents

A survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education has found that salaries and benefit packages for public university presidents grew by 7 percent in 2014. The survey found that while benefits vary widely, they can include perks ranging from housing and cars to maid service and personal trainers.

According to The Chronicle, the median presidential pay for public colleges in 2014 was 50 times the median student tuition. The ratios ranged from compensation of 112.27 times tuition for Judy Genshaft of the University of South Florida to 16.21 times tuition for Garnett Stokes at Florida State.

Read more at: www.nytimes.com

Study Finds States Are Slow to Restore Education Funding After Recession

A report from the Education Law Center says few states have increased funding to education after cutting public school budgets following the 2008 recession. It also found that not enough states are funneling enough funds into low-income schools to meet the needs of students.

The report measured states on per-pupil funding; funding distribution, meaning whether a state provides more or less funding to schools in high-poverty areas; how much “effort” states show, meaning how much they spend on education compared with their overall economic situation; and the proportion of children in public schools and the income disparity between those in public and private schools.

It found only New Jersey and Massachusetts did relatively well on all four. Missouri, Alabama and Virginia were marked as poor performers on all four fairness measures.

Read more at: www.mcclatchydc.com

Error on SATs Cause Students Concern Nationwide

While taking the SAT on Saturday, students across the country discovered an error in their instruction booklets, one that would have allowed them five extra minutes on one section of the exam. Proctors, whose instruction booklets contained the proper instructions, did not discover the mistake until students began to complain. Now the College Board, owner of the SAT, is trying to decide how to handle the error.

Students from Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, and California across took to Twitter on Saturday to discuss the mistake and to ask whether it would have an impact on their own tests. One senior in Texas confirmed that those students in her exam who had 25 minutes printed in their test booklets were given the extra five minutes.

Read more at: www.washingtonpost.com

Are High School Exit Exams An Unnecessary Barrier To Graduation?

Brandon Lewis, a junior at Miami's Dr. Michael M. Krop High School, passed Algebra I, but has struggled with the end-of-course exam in that subject.

LA Johnson / NPR

Brandon Lewis, a junior at Miami's Dr. Michael M. Krop High School, passed Algebra I, but has struggled with the end-of-course exam in that subject.

The US high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. But why? NPR Ed partnered with 14 member stations around the country to bring you the stories behind that number. Check out the rest of the stories here in our slideshow. And find out what’s happening in your state.

Eight times Brandon Lewis has taken Florida’s Algebra I end-of-course exam. And eight times he’s failed it, once coming just two points short of passing.

Lewis is a junior at Miami’s Dr. Michael M. Krop High School. Lewis passed the class his first year, but Florida also requires that students pass a state exam in a handful of key courses, including Algebra I. He’s worried the test will keep him from graduating.

“It hurts when you’re isolated from the other group of kids,” Lewis says, “and you feel like you’re slow and that you can’t do anything to, like, pass that test.”

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Corinthian Colleges Students May Get Some Relief From Student Loans

Students caught up in the bankruptcy of a large for-profit college may be able to get some relief from their college loans. The Obama Administration announced Corinthian Colleges students may have some of their debt forgiven.

The agency said it would soon appoint an independent official, known as a special master, to “develop a broader system” for students and former students at other schools to request having their student debts wiped away. Those students would have to convince the agency that their institutions used deceptive practices before getting forgiveness.

The moves come amid mounting political pressure from student advocates and some members of Congress to offer relief to former students of Corinthian’s schools.

Read more at: www.wsj.com

Orange County Plans Expansion of AmeriCorps Program to Help High-Risk Students

Orange County’s 3-year-old AmeriCorps program is credited with helping local students improve grades and stay in school. Now, there are plans for a $2.4 million expansion to the program that will target high-risk students in older, poorer communities.

If City Year’s results are any indication, the new program holds promise. In the six schools targeted by City Year in 2013-2014, roughly three-fourths of the students who were tutored either improved or maintained their grades. While holding steady may not sound like something to cheer about, research shows that students who start to struggle in the middle grades typically continue a downward spiral. Without intervention, many will eventually drop out.

Read more at: www.orlandosentinel.com

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