As the inside-the-Beltway discussions of federal accountability heat up, it is worth taking a breath to consider what the research says about the impact of accountability provisions in No Child Left Behind.
Results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams in math and reading, for example, show that low-income eighth-graders made faster gains in reading and math after passage of NCLB than they had before. What’s more, the Council of Chief State School Officers reports, 75 percent of states have made achievement gains with economically disadvantaged eighth-graders on state math assessments. Meanwhile, 20 percent of states have made progress toward closing gaps between low-income and high-income students. And new and rigorous research published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management confirms these trends.
College and career preparation may be all the rage, but many schools seem to be operating under a college or career model, and then pretending as though these are equal options.
Too often, we find students warehoused in cosmetology and auto mechanics classes with companion “academic-lite” courses like consumer or business math. The warped logic of these so-called “career tracks” emerges in the words of an urban high school counselor.
Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) chose a recent Senate HELP Committee hearing as the venue in which to publicly voice dissatisfaction with the U.S. Education Department’s new “gainful employment” regulations. Citing loopholes and other flaws, Harkin said the new rules are so watered down — after a relentless lobbying campaign by the for-profit college sector — that they do little to protect students.
At a time when the skills needed for success in college align with those needed for a career, Education Week’s new “Diplomas Count 2011” report oddly suggests that high schools should not steer all students toward college readiness. This misguided conclusion assumes that aborting the mission before it’s even launched leaves room for students to succeed elsewhere in the workforce.
Snagging a Cabinet member or other prominent administration official as a commencement speaker has long been a coveted honor for postsecondary institutions. This spring, several of President Obama’s Cabinet members are giving commencement addresses at well-known colleges and universities.
The Obama administration’s new “gainful employment” regulation is a disappointing stumble on America’s path toward regaining the global lead in college attainment.
The abuses of career colleges have been well and repeatedly documented. But the final, watered-down rule does not do nearly enough to curb these abuses. It provides students and taxpayers with only the most meager of protections against an aggressive industry bent on exponential growth and ever-escalating profits. In the end, the 436-page document is little more than an a la carte menu of ways these institutions can game the system.
Too many students who graduate from high school emerge without the skills and knowledge they need for success in college and the workplace. A new online effort now aims to provide 24-hour, high-quality support for teachers who are working to better prepare their students.