Saturday, June 11, 2011

Silly report below about the need for more education waltzes around the fact that most of the High School dropouts are black

And until they recognize that blacks need programs that work for them specifically, there will be little progress

Some meaningful education beyond high school is now recognized as the gateway to middle-class life. Although national leaders from the public and private sectors have called for more Americans to earn college credentials, researchers, policymakers, and politicians remain divided on exactly how much and what kinds of higher education are really needed for both individuals and the nation to prosper. The report, Diplomas Count 2011: Beyond High School, Before Baccalaureate—Meaningful Alternatives to a Four-Year Degree, explores the pros and cons of new thinking about the educational and economic viability of postsecondary pathways between a high school diploma and a four-year degree.

The high-profile push to boost levels of college completion comes amid continuing concerns about the pace of improvements in high school graduation and the extraordinarily concentrated nature of the nation’s dropout crisis. Despite the marked progress highlighted in the report, nearly 3 out of every 10 students in America’s public schools still fail to earn a diploma. That amounts to 1.2 million students falling through the cracks of the high school pipeline every year, or 6,400 students lost every day. Most nongraduates are members of historically disadvantaged minority groups. Dropouts are also more likely to have attended school in large, urban districts and to come from communities plagued by severe poverty and economic hardship.

The report—part of an ongoing project conducted by the Bethesda, Md.-based Editorial Projects in Education—also tracks graduation policies for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and presents an updated analysis of graduation patterns for the nation, states, and the country’s 50 largest school systems. The new analysis focuses on the class of 2008, the most recent year for which data are available. Diplomas Count 2011 was produced with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The report’s journalism chronicles the space between a diploma and four-year college education, by exploring efforts to build meaningful pathways that may not end with a bachelor’s degree, including: next-generation high school programs that combine college-preparatory studies with updated career and technical education; early-college high schools geared to the local labor market; and community colleges, the key institutions linking many high school graduates to higher education and the workplace.

Policymakers and reform leaders increasingly make the case for aggressive measures to improve schools in both economic and educational terms, arguing that a more educated population leads to a workforce that is better prepared for the demands of a 21st-century global economy. To explore these dynamics, the EPE Research Center conducted an original analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which collects information on 3 million individuals every year.

The report finds that about 39 million Americans, nearly one-third of the prime working-age population, have some postsecondary education but less than a four-year degree. The typical subbaccalaureate worker earned $30,000 in 2009, about $8,000 more than a high school graduate. More than a quarter of adults with an associate degree have annual incomes at or above the median level of four-year college graduates.

The center also characterized 469 distinct occupations based on the educational level of typical job-holders and identified 50 occupations in which the majority of workers have a subbaccalaureate level of postsecondary schooling. Median annual earnings within that segment of the labor market vary dramatically, from only $18,000 for massage therapists to $73,000 for managers in the firefighting and fire-prevention field.


School options truly liberate parents

Your editorial "Emancipation proclamation" (May 31) showed justifiable outrage over the 4-3 Georgia Supreme Court decision that invalidated a state-level alternative route for parents who had been frustrated by recalcitrant local school boards in their quest of independently managed charter schools for their children.

You are correct that it is a beautiful thing when charter schools can operate with considerable autonomy and offer families educational approaches and curricula not found in the standardized system. And, yes, it is a shame that the Supreme Court majority is effectively saying that parents now must go on bended knee in search of such within-the-system choice.

Yet, given that charter schools are, after all, public schools, it is wise to bear in mind that they will be subject on occasion to shifting political and ideological whims. To be truly liberated, parents need to be secure in their freedom to school their children at home, or to use vouchers to choose private schools free of governmental interference.


More than 5,000 British schools face special measures under crackdown by regulator

Up to 5,300 schools with below average test results could be failed by Ofsted unless they show improvement, it has been revealed. It will mean they are placed in the special measures category or given a notice to improve.

The only exceptions will be where they are ‘improving steadily and closing the gap with the national average for all pupils’.

The tougher inspection regime is being piloted this term in 150 schools and will be introduced across the country in January. An inspectors’ guide to the watchdog’s latest framework, which has been seen by the Times Educational Supplement, shows it will pay more attention to pupil attainment and levels of progress.

Schools could be hit if their results for a particular category of pupil – such as boys or children in care – are below average and not enough improvement is being made. The pressure on schools with below average scores appears to go beyond those seen as ‘coasting’, and takes in any that are not improving faster than the national rate.

Of the state primaries with Sats results last year, 3,883 – 39 per cent – were below the national average on the percentage of pupils achieving level four in English and maths. And 1,486 state secondaries – 48.6 per cent – were below average on the main five A* to C GCSE measure, including English and maths.

The guidance for inspectors shows that any of these schools not deemed to be ‘closing the gap’ will be given an ‘inadequate’ grade for achievement, which leads to an overall ‘inadequate’ rating.

Schools that are judged ‘inadequate’ are given either a notice to improve – where specific changes that have to be made – or put in special measures, which can lead to the head teacher or governing body being replaced and even closure.

The document states a condition of getting a ‘satisfactory’ grade or above in achievement is that ‘where attainment is below average overall, or below average for any group, it is improving steadily and therefore closing the gap with the national average for all pupils’.

William Parker School in Daventry, Northamptonshire, meets the GCSE target, but will fail its Ofsted inspection next year under the guidelines, unless it significantly improves its results this summer. Head teacher Jason Brook is responding by reluctantly introducing vocational BTEC qualifications to push up scores.

He told the TES: ‘Judging on national averages is crass and blunt. They need to take account of schools’ individual circumstances. ‘We were delivering the curriculum that we knew was right. But I can’t afford to do that any longer. I have got to join the game.’

Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘What we don’t want is more perverse incentives to play the league tables. ‘Inspections should be looking at the overall quality of education.’

Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘If a school achieves great progress with pupils that come in with low attainment then they are doing a remarkable job, even if the final results are below the national average.’

An Ofsted spokesman said it would ‘carefully consider’ the views of schools and inspectors following the pilot schemes, before publishing the framework in September. ‘Inspectors rightly look to see the difference the school is making for pupils so that they make progress from their starting points on arrival in school,’ he added. ‘For children and young people to succeed, this progress must be satisfactory at least, and should often be good or better.’


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