Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quick Hits

Ky.'s graduation, dropout rates increased in 2008: More Kentucky high school students graduated last year, but dropout rates increased slightly, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.High school graduation rates increased from 83.72 percent in 2007 to 84.52 in 2008, according to a news release from the department.The overall high school dropout rate increased from 3.17 percent in 2007 to 3.3 percent in 2008, according to the release. In grades 9 through 12, 314 more students dropped out in 2008 than in 2007. Dropout rates for nearly all ethnic groups rose from 2007 to 2008. Native American and black students had the highest dropout increases at 1.83 percent and 1.37 percent, respectively. (H-L)

Do College Rankings Belong on the Sports Pages?: College rankings may not be to blame for the decline in the quality of higher education in the United States, but they are doing little, if anything, to help. That was the nearly unanimous consensus of a panel of speakers from across the ideological spectrum who gathered here today at the American Enterprise Institute to discuss how the nation assesses the performance of its colleges...Popular rankings of colleges, such as those by U.S. News & World Report, are principally entertainment and belong on the sports pages, said Clifford Adelman, a senior associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Instead of worrying about superficial measures of performance, he said, American colleges need to harmonize degree cycles and university systems in the same way that many European countries are doing through the Bologna Process. (The Chronicle)

Former Florida A&M Student Gets Prison Term in Grade-Changing Case: A former Florida A&M University student was sentenced Monday to 22 months in prison in a case involving unauthorized changes to grades and other student records at the university, the Tallahassee Democrat reported, citing information from the U.S. attorney’s office. The former student, Lawrence Secrease, pleaded guilty to charges that included aggravated identity theft, unauthorized access of a protected computer, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his part in a scheme that involved grade changes for about 90 students, prosecutors said. Mr. Secrease and two co-defendants also changed the residency status for some out-of-state students to in-state, reducing tuition revenue to the university by thousands of dollars, the prosecutors said. (The Chronicle: Daily News Blog)

Pool of teachers being depleted: Even with thousands of teachers statewide facing layoffs, recruitment experts are warning of an impending teacher shortage. (San Diego Union-Tribune by way of EdNewsDaily)

Report: Discipline Methods Endanger Disabled Kids: In a large number of schools, children — particularly those in special education classes — are being disciplined in potentially dangerous ways, a Government Accountability Office report finds. Some children have died or been injured after having been restrained by adults or locked in secluded rooms. (NPR)

President Obama's Visit to Notre Dame Carries Barely a Hint of Controversy That Preceded It: Hecklers briefly interrupted President Obama’s much-anticipated commencement address this afternoon at the University of Notre Dame, but they were quickly shouted down as the crowd filling the Joyce Center on the Indiana campus booed them and chanted “We are ND.” (The Chronicle of Higher Ed)

The Real Scandal at Notre Dame: Religious vigilantism poses a danger to Catholic colleges, writes Patricia McGuire. Hearing from the president of the United States does not. (Inside Higher Ed)

Hiring Scandal Escalates at North Carolina State: The president of the University of North Carolina System and the chancellor of North Carolina State University have called on Mary Easley, wife of the former governor, to resign from a position at North Carolina State that has come to be seen as political patronage, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Easley was hired to direct a speakers series, but was given additional duties and a five-year, $850,000 contract during a period of budget constraints at the university. The controversy has already led to the resignation of the university's provost and of the a university trustee. Easley has not indicated if she will quit. (Inside Higher Ed)

Secretary Duncan Urges "States to Act Now" and Submit Stimulus Fund Applications: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today urged states to submit applications for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds as quickly as possible, saying teaching jobs are at risk and reforms must move forward. "We have an urgent need to reform our schools and prevent teacher layoffs," said Duncan. "The Department is turning around applications within nine days on average. States that have not yet applied need to do so now." (U.S. Department of Education)

Spotlight Focuses on D.C. Vouchers: For such a small program, the private-school-voucher initiative for the District of Columbia has been getting an awful lot of attention lately.
One of its longtime champions, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., convened a May 13 hearing during which he made the case for extending the life of the federally funded program, which President Barack Obama recently proposed to phase out. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, established as a five-year pilot in 2004, now serves some 1,600 low-income students in Washington. The program has become a focal point of debate nationally between voucher supporters and opponents. (Ed Week)

Home-Schoolers Rally: Hundreds of home-schoolers descended on the Missouri Capitol on May 14 to protest a measure that would require students to earn 16 credits before they can drop out of high school. (Education Week)

Report Highlights Risks of Teacher Merit Pay: Teacher merit-pay plans may be growing in popularity with politicians, but a new report finds such programs are less widespread in the private sector than might be expected, and often bring unintended negative consequences. (Education Week)

N.C. School District to Replace Laid-Off Teachers With Novices: Some experienced teachers being laid off in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., district will be replaced with 100 new Teach For America recruits. (Education Week)

Psst! Need the Answer to No. 7? Click Here: As Web sites are transforming the way undergraduates study, some wonder whether they encourage cheating and undermine learning. NY Times)

Something Gingrich, Sharpton Can Agree On: Close Education Achievement Gap: Politics often produces strange bedfellows. But yesterday, on the 55th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that integrated the nation's schools, when former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich shared the stage at a boisterous rally in front of the White House. (Washington Post)

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