Posts published in June, 2014

We Must Better Prepare Students For College

By David P. Driscoll, Chair National Assessment Governing Board  for Education Week

As high school graduation ceremonies wind down across the country, the nation’s foremost yardstick for measuring progress in student achievement is telling us that we are coming up short in preparing most of our high school seniors for the academic life they will face after receiving their diplomas.

Only 39 percent of 12th grade students have the mathematics skills and 38 percent the reading skills needed for entry-level college courses, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress,  or NAEP. These results, released last month, are the first to link student performance on NAEP with academic preparedness for college.

The board that oversees NAEP, which I’ve chaired since October 2009, wanted to explore how preparedness could be measured. This was more than 10 years before “college and career ready” became a permanent part of our country’s vernacular.

NAEP is the United States’ only source of nationally representative 12th grade student-achievement data. More than 30 research studies have been conducted since 2008, and we intend to see to it that more research is done in the years ahead.

In early May, NAEP released new information on academic preparedness as well as the 12th grade NAEP results on reading and mathematics. The numbers show that 2013 performance in both of these critical subjects was unchanged from the last assessment year of 2009—in other words, there was academic stagnation.

There is a tendency for many of us to hear testing results, express dismay at lackluster reports, and then quickly move on to other matters. But what remains by our inaction?

For some time now, employers in many occupational areas have expressed concern that there are not enough qualified or educated workers filling positions, especially those requiring specialized skills. Other countries are making educational and economic progress at a faster rate than the United States. With technology rapidly changing and the marketplace becoming more global, it is imperative that we  prepare our children to be full, active citizens in a competitive 21st-century landscape.

The bridge from high school to postsecondary education is creaking loudly. A January 2013 study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that 20 percent of undergraduate students in four-year institutions of higher education had to take remedial classes. And according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the annual cost of remediation to states, schools, and students is close to $7 billion.

There is an opportunity based on the research and student results to not just bemoan what we see, but also to take affirmative steps to make a difference. This is not a problem just for some of us. It’s going  to take educators, policymakers, students, parents, business leaders, and even the general public working together at all levels—elementary, middle and high school, and college.

We need principals, superintendents, and school board members to ensure more of our students have equitable access to rigorous classes that can truly challenge them, dedicated teachers and counselors to impart academic skills, students and parents working together so that kids are disciplined learners, employers communicating skill gaps and educational needs both to colleges and K-12 schools, and the general public becoming alarmed and putting pressure on the system.

We can no longer ignore college freshmen being overwhelmed by their introductory courses, or businesses constantly complaining at their monthly chamber of commerce meetings that they cannot find qualified workers to fill slots in their plants and firms.

When future NAEP results on academic preparedness—and reading and math, for that matter—are released, we must see improvement. If we do, it will mean that we have all gotten involved and taken action.

David P. Driscoll chairs the National Assessment Governing Board, which is based in Washington. He also served as the commissioner of education in Massachusetts from 1998 to 2007. He is a former secondary school mathematics teacher and served as the superintendent of schools in Melrose, Mass. He serves on the boards of Teach Plus and the U.S. Education Delivery Institute, among other organizations, and he chairs the Thomas B. Fordham Institute board of trustees.

Update and progress on Common Core Implementation: Politics and Policy

How To Measure Success of College Graduates



Mark Schneider an AIR vice president and Institute Fellow, has written a brief offering insights on key approaches officials should consider as they develop strategies to measure the economic success of college graduates. The brief draws upon Schneider’s experiences as president of College Measures, which works with states to use data – including state Unemployment Insurance (UI) data – to provide information that helps students and parents make informed decisions about selecting a college and a major.


Measuring the Economic Success of College Graduates: Lessons from the Field

 Examples of the insights offered in the brief include:

 School-level reporting isn’t enough.

The best reporting schemes evaluate wage outcomes at the program level within an institution. It might be interesting to learn that graduates from “State University” make more, on average, than those from “Small State College,” but the information has limited value. Students graduating from different academic programs at the same university have widely different success in the labor market. English majors, for example, are almost always paid less than economics graduates from the same university.

When possible, report both short-term and long-term wage outcomes.

Most graduates’ loans enter repayment six months after leaving college, and their early career earnings will affect their ability to meet those financial obligations. But a longer view can provide important information about fields of study where economic returns may take longer to develop, such as philosophy or the performing arts. States like Florida, Texas and Virginia have been matching data sources for several years, providing information about graduates’ wage outcomes five – or even 10 – years after graduation.

In addition to reporting on wages, report on students’ loan debt at completion.

How debt affects a specific graduate can only be understood within the context of her or his earnings. A graduate with $25,000 in debt and $65,000 in earnings is in a far different situation than a graduate with $65,000 in debt and $25,000 in earnings. As is currently done in Virginia and Texas, states should gather program-level debt per graduate, presenting data about indebtedness alongside information about wage outcomes.

Be transparent about who is and isn’t included in recent graduates’ wage reports.

Although UI data on average covers about 90 percent of the civilian workforce, significant numbers of workers are not included. Not covered, for example, are graduates who work for religious organizations or who are paid primarily on commission. Similarly, graduates in the military or working for federal agencies are not covered by state UI systems. Some states, like Texas, do gather data for large classes of federal workers and collect wage data through national databases from the Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Postal Service, and Department of Defense (military service records). But other states do not have such arrangements.

Use medians, not averages, when reporting wages and student debt.

In general, it is preferable to report median wage or indebtedness rather than the average. A distribution’s median, which reflects the point in that distribution where half of the observations fall above it and half of the observation fall below, is not sensitive to extreme values. Averages, on the other hand, can be highly sensitive to so-called “outliers.” One highly successful graduate will inflate the average, especially of a small program, while having little effect on the median.


Using Summer To Get A Head Start On Getting In To College

Frances Kweller, an education and testing standards expert and the Founder and CEO of Kweller Prep, a learning incubator specializing in advanced test preparation in New York City, offers advice to high school students on unique ways to avoid summer brain drain and get a leg up on the competition:

· Visit “Your” colleges- For college-bound students, pick your 3-5 dream schools and visit them. Check out the neighborhood, the campus life and the bookstore. What better way to provide motivation than to visit a school and imagine yourself being a student there. Every school has multiple tours available over the summer.  Just visit each college’s website and sign up.

  • · Vacation with education- Enhance your family vacation by going on an historical tour.  Visit a museum, take a tour of historical locations or even visit a local tourist attraction. Nothing is more educational or mind-opening than having a visual experience to think about.
  • · Volunteer with a purpose– Volunteering should be aligned with your long-term goals.  Hands-on learning is the best form of education. If you want to be a doctor, you should look into volunteering as a candy striper or in a nursing home.  Enhance your resume by taking the opportunity to create mentors in your field of interest. Summer is a relaxing time and therefore a great opportunity to learn from an experienced person in your field.
  • · Set up a testing plan– For sophomores and juniors in high school, set up a testing plan for the months ahead.  The testing season begins in September starting with the ACT and SATs in October. Setting up a testing plan will help keep your eye on the ball and have you focused and ready to go when school begins.
  • · Get a head start on your college application– The common app changes slightly from year to year, so you can use last year’s college application as your template and fill it out. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’ll need for each application once school starts. Don’t wait around until the last minute.  Take your time over the summer and begin to get your application organized.  You’ll need to gather your recommendation letters, personal statements, transcripts, create a resume, portfolio and draft multiple supplements. Besides, if you organize yourself in the summer you can apply for Early Decision or Early Action to college, which means you’ll get your acceptance letters much sooner.
  • · Reading is key– Reading is always a good motivator but don’t just pick up any book. Take the summer to read books that are not part of the required reading lists at school.  Better yet, research a list of banned books in the United States and expand your knowledge to learn about something new.  This also makes a great subject for a college essay!
  • · Create and motivate– Challenge yourself by working on a summer project. Look into your family history and create a genealogy chart, organize a charity event, assist the elderly in old age homes or build something after you’ve taken a carpentry lesson.  Taking on projects alone or with a friend will serve as a good learning experience and will also be a great way to show that you’ve completed a task that you’ve started.


Tuition and Fees Will Double In Less Than 20 Years

by Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute

There is always a lot of talk about college costs and future issues in higher education. I’ve written extensively about our inability to recast the higher education system due, in part, to the sheer weight of historical antecedents. That is, the system is burdened by the largess and bureaucratic nature of the system itself. Large systems are difficult to change. Making this issue more complex, the postsecondary system in the US and Canada are public/private partnerships, where taxpayers and users both contribute to pay the costs. The public contribution, naturally, occurs largely through state, provincial, and federal governments. This isn’t just about direct subsidies to institutions, but investments by expenditures to students, R&D funding to institutions, transfers from federal governments to state governments through block and other tax-sharing vehicles, and even bureaucratic supports to coordinate systems (e.g., state offices of higher education). All levels and types of higher education receive support, in some type, from taxpayers, including proprietary schools, via need-based and other grants, scholarships, and subsidized loans.

Still, the rising cost of a higher education in the United States, for example, is far outstripping aid and other supports. As I do every few years, I have taken data from the College Board to calculate historical annual increases in tuition and fee charges by institutional sector, and used these data to extrapolate prices into the future. Instead of picking a point of time, such as 25 years, I am more interested in the doubling point: that is, how many years will it take for tuition and fees to double in a particular sector.

The quickest doubling consistently is always at the four-year public university, which in our analysis will double in 17 years. This is followed by two-year institutions (23 years) and then four-year, private, not-for-profit institutions (27 years). Some people are surprised that the private institutions have the slowest growth, but they have consistently had smaller annual rates of increases than other sectors. The challenge is that there foundation of costs is so much higher that the actual cost increase is much higher than the public institutions.

Let’s put this in perspective so we can understand the ramifications of this analysis. And first, to be clear, I understand full well that we are not talking about net cost of college here, nor are we talking about room, board, and other costs, although I will bring them into the fold quickly. As well, these are projections and there are many other contributing factors we cannot possibly know about or understand. These figures could very well be wrong depending on what happens with the economy, what Congress and state governments do with their funding priorities, and even how technology impacts delivery-based costs. But is of enough interest to understand the trends and the potential of future increases in prices on college affordability. My guess is that these values are actually very conservative and the damage will likely be worse. But perhaps that’s me being “half empty” right now. Use your own judgement.

Articles That Will Improve Student Essay Writing


By Lesley Vos

Academic writing is the main problem of every student probably. When they enter the university, they are impressed by a number of writing tasks to accomplish there. You will hardly find a student who would like the process of research and writing papers, because most of them consider it the worst nightmare to have during their college life.

But all papers should be written anyway. Keeping that in mind, many educators, writers, and software developers try to help students deal with essay writing and make this process much easier. One can find dozens of articles on the Web to instruct students and provide some tips and tricks on writing. Are all of them worth checking? How should a student choose useful information to get enough data and inspiration for academic writing?

This article aims to share interesting information on writing with college students who can’t find any inspiration and desire to sit and start writing their essays finally. Just take a look (links are included), and you will not be disappointed for sure.

Articles to check

Write Fast: How to Keep Your Fingers Flying Over the Keyboard – Students hate dead lines, as it is always difficult to deal with them. When you do not like a topic of your essay, when you do not know what to write about, when you have a lot of other tasks to complete, it is always a problem to finish your essay in time. This article will reveal some tricks on how to fasten your writing, so you’ll never face the same problem with dead lines again. Moreover, you will like them!

5 Writing Tips: How to Organize Your Research – Research is a very important stage of your essay writing. This article will help you organize it the best you can and make your writing process more effective. After reading it you will understand that research can be much faster and easier than you considered it before.

25 Apps College Students Shouldn’t Live Without – Modern students can’t live without cool gadgets. But it does not mean they can’t use these gadgets for making the process of study easier and more pleasant. Read this article to discover the best applications all college students use for essay writing, information search, tasks organization, books and documents sharing, etc.

How to Write a Good Hook for Your Essay – Every student knows how important the introduction of their essays and other academic papers is: you should grab readers’ attention and make them want to continue reading your piece of writing. This article will reveal all secrets of choosing a good hook for your essay. Do you know that more than seven ways of hooks writing can be found? Read the article to learn and remember all of them.

20 Things That Can Help You Find Inspiration for Writing – Academic writing is a creative process, and one definitely needs inspiration to come up with ideas and start it. After reading this article you will know how and where to find your muse and make your writing process both exciting and productive.

7 Essential Tools For Effective College Writing – Learn the list of cool tools which can make the process of your essay writing more effective and interesting. As far as we know, many students prefer using their mobile gadgets today, so you will definitely find a perfect tool to use for writing papers or make some important notes at least. Save your time, write your essays with the help of your smartphone or tablet.

How To Deal With Stress From Essay Writing – You must agree, that academic writing can be quite stressful. A huge amount of information, many tasks, tests, exams, dead lines… Students become more sensitive and vulnerable during this period. Read this article to learn seven ways to deal with this stress and make your process of study effective and productive. You will see how cool your academic writing can be.

Want to Be a Better Writer? Read More – We all know about the positive influence of reading, but what about its influence on the quality of our writing? This article will give you the answer; moreover, you will have a chance to find out how reading influences your study, and what books famous people choose to put on their bookshelves.

Writing Communities and Networking Strategies in the Digital Age – Learn the importance of digital networking and the ways it can influence and improve your writing. Check the tips of networking online and find specific communities for writers and everyone interested in the process of writing. Advice from writing gurus will definitely help you deal with your essays and other assignments in college.


Top-notch writing is very important for every student, but they should not forget about relations and communication with professors as well. Check the following article to keep in mind some advice on talking to your educator:

Advice For Students On Talking To Professors – College professors love their job. They really do. But it does not mean that a professor will help every student if they do not even know his name and do not attend his lectures at all. This article will reveal you some secrets on talking to your professor to build good relationships with them, stay polite, and get some help from them when needed. Believe us, your professor is always ready to help you with writing if you find a right approach to them.

By Lesley Vos, a private educator of French language and a passionate blogger who works on her first e-book at the moment.



Does Open Admission Suppress Achievement At Community Colleges?

The open-door admissions policies of community colleges and the national college completion “agenda” are contributing to an influx of unprepared students who have little chance of earning a degree, and who are likely to rack up crippling debt along the way. That’s the central argument of a newly released book, Community Colleges and the Access Effect: Why Open Admissions Suppresses Achievement (Palgrave Macmillan). To help fix this problem, the book’s co-authors, Juliet Lilledahl Scherer, a professor of English at St. Louis Community College, and Mirra Leigh Anson, director of TRIO Upward Bound at the University of Iowa, propose raising the minimum requirements for college entry. The article is in Inside Higher Ed via Carnegie Foundation

Best College Essay Writing Resources

By Robert Morris

If you want for your professors to improve their opinions of you, then you have to convince them that you have eloquent stands and know how to present them through academic writing. The following tools and resources will help you improve your essay writing skills and start delivering better content regardless of the paper’s topic.

Resources for planning your essays

Although most students would like to skip this step, the truth is that outlining their ideas and planning the structure of the essay will help them produce a better piece.

1. Common Writing Assignments

At this website, you can learn about the most common types of academic assignments you’ll need to complete throughout the years of study. In order to plan a certain paper, you need to know what its requirements are. This website is the first destination towards completing extraordinary academic content.

2. Writing Assignments

This guide provided at the website of Hobart and William Smith Colleges will help you plan your assignments and stick with the outline in order to develop a focused discussion.

3. Write My Essay

It doesn’t matter how much you enjoy or hate the task of writing academic papers; it is equally important for each student who wants to have a high GPA. Make sure to devote time and effort into improving skills of academic expression with this essay writing tips from NinjaEssays.

Resources for collecting information

In order to come across as a well-informed person who knows what they are talking about, then you have to base the discussion on facts rather than assumptions. These resources will help you achieve that:

1. Information Gathering Tools

Although this is a pedestrian-looking website, it can provide enormous assistance during the process of research. You can use the featured guides in order to learn how to find and use information from knowledgeable people, Internet searches, case studies, interviews, experts, surveys, and statistics.

2.Journalism Resources

This online destination is a great resource of websites that will enable you to conduct an effective research and find the information you need. You can read tutorials and search strategies that will make the initial phase of research faster and more effective.

Tools for essay writing

Now that you’ve been through the initial stages of the essay writing process, it’s time to focus on the actual writing. There are several online resources that can help you improve your skills and start submitting great papers that will impress your professors.

1. Essay Writing Checklist

This online checklist will help you make sure that you’re on the right path towards getting an A on your paper. Before you submit a paper, check whether or not it satisfies all criteria needed for the highest grade.

2. Good Writing

Although this guide to good writing was written in 1985, it still holds valuable advice that will help you produce an essay your professors will appreciate. It might take you more time to read it, but investing 15 minutes in the advancement of your essay writing skills will totally pay off.

3. Essay Eagles

The tools we listed above will give you abstract advice on essay writing, so it will take some effort and practice in order to implement the knowledge into practice. Essay Eagles is an essay writing help site that immediately leads to practical results. When you hire the assistance of an expert in the topic’s field, you can be sure that you’ll get the highest grade on your paper.

Resources for essay editing

Your professors constantly repeat this, so it’s about time you finally realized it: you cannot submit a rough draft as the final version of your essay. You need to refine the text in order to make it as perfect as possible.

1. Editing Tips

This guide is not that appealing to read, but will provide you with tips and tricks that will help you edit your essays in the most effective manner.

2. Online Grammar Handbook

This information provided by the University of Minnesota will help you get a grip on the editing process and make it simpler by following the needed rules. 

Robert Morris has worked in education for over 7 years as a teacher, school newspaper adviser, literacy consultant, and curriculum writer. He provides teaching and learning materials

Half Of STEM Majors Leave The Field

About half of bachelor’s degree candidates in science, technology, engineering and math leave the field before completing a college degree, according to a report from the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics. That might seem high, but it roughly tracks the rate at which students in other majors — like humanities, education and health sciences — switched majors or dropped out of college, too, the study found. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.

Higher Education Creates Organization To Support Common Core

Common Core / Postsecondary
Common Core gets support from higher education
More than 200 higher-education leaders have created a new organization to voice their support for Common Core, the controversial state-based educational-standards system. (The Christian Science Monitor, June 10)