Friday, April 19, 2013

A Fascist disgrace

It may be just a spoof but that attitude does exist.  First posted online in 2005.

40 percent of Colorado high school grads need remediation before college

Nearly 40 percent of Colorado's high school class of 2011 needed remedial courses in at least one subject before beginning college-level work, down from 41.4 percent the year before, according to a report released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

"It's a concern to hear that anyone needs to take a remedial course — and it ought to be for everyone in the state," Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia said. "We need to save students time and want the state to save money."

According to Garcia, Colorado's remediation rate was about on par with most of the country. The difference between here and other states, he said, are the things being done to lower the remediation rate, which leads to higher graducation rates.

These initiatives include concurrent enrollment, in which students take college remedial courses while still in high school, as well as the GEAR UP, a federally-funded program in which middle school students complete remedial classes through a partnership with Adams State University. They then begin to take college courses in their sophomore year of high school.

According to the 2012 Remedial Education Report, released at Kearney Middle School in Commerce City, 66 percent of students who enrolled in community colleges and 24 percent of those attending four-year institutions needed some sort of remedial course. Among them, 51 percent required remediation in mathematics, 31 percent in writing and 18 percent in reading.

The report is based only on students who enrolled in public Colorado colleges and universities in the 2011-12 school year, the most recent data available.

Female students, 42 percent, were more likely to require remediation than males, 37 percent.

African-American students had the highest remediation rates — 90 percent among students in two-year schools and 56 percent at four-year schools. About 78 percent of Hispanic students at two-year schools needed remediation, compared with 40 percent at four-year colleges. Among white students, 57 percent at community colleges needed remediation, compared with 19 percent at four-year schools.

According to the report, among public schools, D'Evelyn High School had the lowest number of graduates requiring remediation courses at 2.2 percent, compared with 95 percent of graduates from Emily Griffith Opportunity School.

Colleges usually don't give credits for the remedial courses that must be taken before the students begin their collegiate careers, which means that it often takes more time to complete degree work. Also, the responsibility for paying for remedial course work often falls to student, their families and the state.

In 2011-12, the higher education department said the estimated total cost associated with remedial courses was about $58 million, with students paying about $39 million of that.

Garcia said lowing the remediation rate would help raise retention rates at colleges and universities. That, in turn, would increase graduation rates.

One of the goals of the Master Plan that was recently implemented by the state calls for graduation rates to increase by 1,000 students a year for the next 12 years.


Schools demanding news literacy lessons to teach students how to find fact amid fiction

When Ife Adelona saw a picture of singer Selena Gomez as an adult magazine covergirl circulating on Twitter, the 17-year-old knew what she had to do.  “I immediately went for a second source to make sure it wasn’t true,” Ife said.

A quick web search confirmed the Montgomery Blair High School student’s instincts: The photo was a fake.

“Second source” is more a journalist’s jargon than part of a teen’s everyday vocabulary. But with information so readily available via social media, the internet and traditional news sources, educators say news literacy — teaching students how to identify credible information and good journalism — is increasingly important.

News literacy programs are expanding in classrooms across the country, with a growing nonprofit sector dedicated to the cause and new education standards that require students to read and analyze more nonfiction text.

“Younger students might feel that all information is created equally,” said Alan C. Miller, president of the News Literacy Project and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who worked as an investigative reporter with the Los Angeles Times. “If something is put on the internet, they tend to believe it.”

Miller’s Maryland-based nonprofit organization develops lesson plans, activities and curriculum for middle and high schools, teaching students to “sort fact from fiction in the digital age.” Students learn to spot bias in stories, discover what makes sources credible and verify information.

“We focus heavily on using the standards of quality journalism to assess the credibility of all news and information,” Miller said.

The program also partners with journalists who visit classrooms as part of the lessons, including editors and reporters from about two dozen news organizations such as the New York Times, ProPublica, NPR, CBS News and The Washington Post,.

NBC News national correspondent Tracie Potts has volunteered with the News Literacy Project since 2009. On a recent Thursday, she visited Ife’s media literacy class in Silver Spring.

Potts brought examples of different polls about sequestration from sources such as Gallup, MSNBC, Fox News and Business Insider. She then urged students to ask critical questions: “Who can I trust?” “Where is this information coming from?” “How can we say that one source of news is better than another?”

Being a smart news consumer is akin to being discriminating about other choices in life, she told students: “It’s sort of like going out to eat. You don’t want to stop anywhere along the side of the road. You’re going to scrutinize where your food is coming from.”

Demand to teach that sort of healthy skepticism and critical thinking is on the rise.

When the News Literacy Project first launched in classrooms, it reached about 650 students in Maryland and New York in 2009. Four years later, the project has expanded to Chicago, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and it is expected to reach about 3,800 students by the end of the school year.

The new Common Core education standards have driven that demand, Miller said. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core, which requires nonfiction to comprise 70 percent of what a student reads by senior year.

Principals and teachers say lessons from news literacy extend beyond teaching students about journalism.

At Walt Whitman High School, where principal Alan Goodwin first hosted News Literacy Program pilot lessons, Goodwin said he sees his students applying what they have learned in the classes — fact checking, research, using multiple sources — as they write papers or make decisions in their everyday lives.

“It helps students understand what they should believe and not believe and what sort of research they should do,” Goodwin said.

Virginia has not adopted Common Core, but Fairfax County recently added a requirement to teach students media literacy. The News Literacy Project plans to expand there this spring.

In October, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation announced it would spend $6 million over three years on a project called “Why News Matters.” The funds will go to schools, universities and nonprofits throughout Chicago for youth journalism programs and education.

“People are overloaded and bombarded with information,” said Clark Bell, the McCormick Foundation’s journalism program director. “Whether you’re older, younger and in between, the challenge of keeping up and engaged is essential.”

Preliminary research from Stony Brook University, home of the Center for News Literacy, shows that students who have taken a news literacy course are more likely to register to vote and learn about current events.

As she learns more about news literacy, Ife said she wants other students to understand the importance of thinking twice about what they see and what they hear.

“Sometimes as a student taking in a lot of information, you trust a lot of different sources that you shouldn’t trust,” Ife said. “They can be easily fooled.”


Australia:  Federal power grab over education rejected by the States

NOT one state has committed to the Federal Government's plan for education reform.

While some states have indicated in principal agreement to the national plan, noe of the premiers hve said they would sign up at Friday's Council of Australian Government's meeting.

This is despite the Commonwealth's offer to double every dollar spent by the states to reach a targeted increase of $14.5 billion over the next six years.

Labor premiers have joined a chorus of criticism over how the Gonski reforms are being implemented, as Western Australia insists it will reject the proposed changes.

With no national agreement, the Government will negotiate with individual states to implement the reforms, a situation the Federal Opposition describes as a fiasco.

"The idea that we would have different states being treated differently by the Commonwealth is anathema to anyone in education sector and to the coalition and if the Prime Minister continues down that track she will demonstrate that she has finally lost the plot," said opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne.

Mr Pyne also confirmed that if agreement were reached at COAG, the Coalition would not repeal any changes to education funding should it win Government.

A national agreement is increasingly unlikely, however, Labor Premier Jay Weatherill saying yesterday that he believed South Australia deserved a bigger share of the funding and that "there's been no deal done".

"This negotiation about Gonski and whole range of other issues is a very substantial discussion and it is not concluded," Mr Weatherill said.

"There is a long way to travel and we will be protecting South Australia's interests in those negotiations."

The premiers of Queensland, NSW and Victoria remained uncommitted and said any increase in education funding would mean cuts to their state budgets.

Outspoken Liberal Premier Colin Barnett said the "grossly unfair" proposal would see a reduction in spending on schools in Western Australia.

Dr Ken Boston, former director general of the NSW Department of Education and one of the five member Gonski Review panel, said even if Western Australia opted out of the agreement, the state would be able to sign up to it later.

"We never envisaged that every state had to adopt it at the same time," Dr Boston told News Ltd.

Meanwhile, universities have continued their criticism of Government plans to move $2.3 billion from tertiary education and $500 million in tax breaks for education expenses into schools funding.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Officer Belinda Robinson warned the deep cuts would likely deter disadvantaged students - those whom the Gonski review is seeking to support - from taking up tertiary studies.

"It will make it more difficult for some students," Ms Robinson said of the cuts which include scrapping scholarships for poorer students.

"It's going to affect those students who are probably most needy of having some support of being able to take themselves on this higher education path."


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