Education Trust News

Louisiana School Voucher Battle Misses the Point

Some members of Congress are upset about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to file suit against Louisiana over its new school voucher program. But is this fight — over how a child chooses a school — really the right battle?
Rather than fighting about whether students have access to vouchers to choose one school or the other, policymakers should be worrying about whether the schools available to children provide high-quality education. If we could identify schools providing a rigorous academic program just by looking at their governance structure, that would be handy. But, it’s not that simple. No one feature determines a school’s quality — and certainly not its status as private, traditional public, or charter. Instead, success springs from a combination of factors.

College Preparation Bleak Among Students of Color

A new analysis of 2013 SAT scores shows that only a fraction of African American and Hispanic graduates are ready for college, and while the College Board aims to reduce these inequities, educators also play a big role in ensuring that all students, including students of color, are prepared for life after high school.

According to the College Board report, only 16 percent of African American students and 24 percent of Hispanic students scored a 1550 or higher, a score that corresponds to a high likelihood of success in college. Among all SAT-takers in 2013, 43 percent reached that score or higher.

Leader and Teacher Preparatory Programs: Q&A With Sarah Almy

Sarah AlmyMany states are currently in the midst of implementing college- and career-ready standards and new educator evaluation systems. While these dual policy moves are very much needed, a new paper from Ed Trust shows the need for additional focus on educator preparatory programs. Sarah Almy, recent past director of teacher quality, answered some questions about the importance of improving leader and educator programs and the role the federal government can play.

Delaware Leads By Example

If you lead high-achieving, low-income students to elite colleges, will they go?

Delaware officials are banking on it. They recently announced a partnership with the College Board that will give application fee waivers to low-income students, in addition to packets of information on elite colleges, ranging from financial-aid policies to graduation rates. Students who receive free or reduced-price lunch already qualify for college application fee waivers, but many don’t know that or how to access those waivers. Officials hope delivering the information to students will prompt them to apply to the most selective schools for which they qualify.

Conference Feature: Advocating for Equity

Every day, advocates are toiling diligently to improve outcomes for low-income students and students of color. From statehouses to school board meetings to classrooms, they’re pushing for policies and practices to advance equity. To support this hard but essential work, the Education Trust brings together some of the country’s top equity advocates at our National Conference and asks them to share concrete strategies and lessons learned from the work they do.

Where Students With the Least Get the Most

The Census Bureau confirmed in a report released last week that in the United States children are more likely to live in poverty than those in any other age group. According to the new report, more than 1 in 5 children under the age of 18 lived in poverty in 2012. Poverty is especially rife in communities of color. Census data shows that 37.9 percent of black children and 33.8 percent of Hispanic children lived in poverty in 2012, while 12.3 percent of white, non-Hispanic children suffered the same conditions. Poverty rates are troublingly high for all groups of children.

Beyond Lip Service: Growing the Teachers Students Need

It is a widely — if not universally — acknowledged truth that most new teachers walk into their first jobs not fully prepared for the classroom.
They may have prepared a few lesson plans and completed their student teaching, but for the most part new teachers aren’t competent in how to establish classroom routines that minimize time-wasting, much less how to build a really effective lesson that engages kids and ensures deep learning. New teachers, like other novices in any profession, don’t know what they don’t know, which is the first step toward expertise.

Needless to say, this poses a foundational problem for a system whose success depends heavily on the expertise of individual practitioners.

What is to be done?

Improving teacher preparation programs is one good step.

In the meantime, the way expert principals approach this issue is instructive.

Conference Feature: From DREAM to Reality

All students should have access to the opportunities afforded by a great education. But for far too many young people in this country, the opportunity to go to college, find meaningful work, and live a productive life is hampered by unfair immigration policies. Participants at the Ed Trust National Conference will have a chance to hear from — and be inspired by — a group of brave, determined student advocates who are working to change this reality. Students from two grassroots organizations, United We Dream and The Dream is Now, will share the challenges they’ve faced and overcome in building momentum, urgency, and a movement on behalf of undocumented students. Register today to hear from these and other advocates from across the country who are working to ensure that all students, regardless of race, income, or background, have access to the high-quality education they need and deserve.

Financial Aid, Teacher Prep Top Concerns in HEA Reauthorization

And so it begins.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee starts a list of planned hearings this week on topics related to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), which was last reauthorized in 2008. The focus, given the growing concerns around rising tuition and President Obama’s recent call for more accountability in higher education, will be on college access and affordability. Today is the first hearing on accreditation. Future hearings, to be announced, will cover other topics like financial aid and teacher preparation programs, two areas where The Education Trust hopes lawmakers focus their attention.

College Rankings Aren’t Practical for Students

It’s that time of year again when Harvard and Princeton do-si-do at the top of the U.S. News & World Report rankings while critics bemoan the validity of such measures. (Some even counter U.S News with their own rankings — à la Washington Monthly.)

Regardless, the end result is not much help for the average prospective student.