The average student debt burden has increased to more than $25,000. And in today’s job market, which is especially tough for young graduates, many student loan borrowers are struggling to meet their monthly payments. Thankfully, relief is on the way for some borrowers. Beginning Dec. 21, many federal student loan borrowers became eligible for a new income-based repayment plan called “Pay As You Earn.” The new plan caps borrowers’ payments at 10 percent of their monthly discretionary income, and forgives remaining debt after 20 years. The plan will help numerous borrowers avoid forbearance or default, options that have lasting, harmful effects on their credit.
Each day, like everyone else at The Education Trust, I come to work determined to do the right thing for kids.
So last week's tragedy in Newtown, Conn., was shattering.
Certainly, as individuals, we have had our hearts broken again and again by the senseless gun violence that destroys the lives of too many of our children. And, as individuals, many of us have been involved in efforts to address this devastating problem.
But as an organization, we’ve never taken a public stand.
The U.S. Department of Education has been taking steps to provide students with more tools to help them navigate the college decision process. Now students, like those at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and those participating in a study by the Center for American Progress, are speaking up about the types of information they want and need these new tools to provide, as well as how they think the information should be made available to them, parents, and others.
Results from the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) show the United States is increasing its achievement in reading, math, and science. But while U.S. students perform above the international averages in these subjects, they continue to lag behind students in some other advanced economies, especially their peers in East Asian nations. For instance, fourth-graders in Singaporean schools that, according to principals, serve primarily economically disadvantaged students, outperformed in math U.S. fourth-graders attending schools that primarily serve advantaged students. Test results also show that, despite narrowing in some subjects, gaps between groups of American students remain unconscionably wide.
Many Americans believe that the college selection process is a meritocracy: students who get good grades and score well on the SAT or ACT should be able to attend any competitive college of their choice, regardless of their family background. Yet, a new study in the journal Equity and Excellence in Education adds to a growing body of research documenting the fallacy of this belief. The findings show students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds often “under-match” into colleges and universities that are less selective than their academic preparation appears to warrant.
The Louisiana Department of Education has decided to hold off endorsing new textbooks for a few years because state reviewers could not identify any that adequately reflect the content and skills demanded by the new Common Core State Standards. The decision affects the state’s adoption of K-2 math textbooks and texts for K-5 English/language arts. While it is encouraging to see that Louisiana is serious about vetting textbooks relative to the new, higher standards, the resulting absence of recommended texts means the state must now find other ways to provide teachers with the supports and materials they need to effectively teach to the new standards.
It’s encouraging when years of advocacy in pursuit of educational equity begin to pay off. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education released state-level data on the four-year adjusted-cohort graduation rate for the high school graduating class of 2011. The occasion marks the first time all states were required to use the same method to calculate data they report for all groups of students. It also is the result of tireless advocacy by numerous parties across the education landscape that fought to draw attention to inaccurate calculation methods and worked with states to help them adopt more precise methods of reporting the data. Now that we finally have a clearer picture of who is graduating in four years, the hard work of raising graduation rates for all groups of students lies ahead.
The recent discovery that organized cheating on the Praxis licensure exams for teachers continued in three states for more than a decade has generated substantial media attention. No matter the outcome of the federal inquiry, the biggest losers in this situation are the students who were taught by falsely certified teachers. Even more troubling is the fact that millions of students are taught by teachers who passed a teacher licensing exam legitimately, but are still ill-equipped to teach well.