Thursday, June 14, 2018

Women Earn 57% of U.S. Bachelor’s Degrees—For 18th Straight Year

Women earned approximately 57 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded by U.S. institutions of higher education in the 2016-2017 academic year, according to data released this week by the National Center for Education Statistics, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

That, according to NCES data, makes 2016-2017 the eighteenth straight academic year in which women have earned approximately 57 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded by U.S. colleges and universities.

The NCES this week released a “first look” report—“Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance 2017-18; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred, 2016-2017; and 12-Month Enrollment, 2016-2017"—that listed the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the 2016-2017 academic year by U.S. institutions that participate in Title IV federal student financial assistance programs (plus the U.S. military academies).
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According to Table 4 of the report, these institutions awarded a total of 1,956,032 bachelor’s degrees in the 2016-2017 academic year. Of these, 836,045 (or 42.74 percent) were earned by men and 1,119,987 (or 57.26 percent) were earned by women.

The 2017 version of Table 322.20 from the NCES’s Digest of Educational Statistics includes comparable data (from institutions that participate in Title IV) going back to the 1999-2000 academic year.

According to that data, in each of the seventeen academic years from 1999-2000 through 2015-2016, women earned at least 57.11 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in any given year but never earned more than 57.54 percent.

By contrast, during those same seventeen years, men earned at least 42.46 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in any given years but never earned more than 42.89 percent.

The lowest percentage for women in those seventeen years—according to this Department of Education data—came in the 2014-2015 academic year, when U.S. postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV awarded 1,894,969 bachelor’s degrees to U.S. citizens and nonresident aliens and 1,082,276 (or 57.11 percent) went to women and 812,693 (42.89 percent) went to men.

The highest percentage for women in those seventeen years came in the 2005-2006 academic year, when the institutions participating in Title IV awarded 1,485,242 bachelor’s degrees and 854,642 (or 57.54 percent) went to women and 630,600 (or 42.46 percent) went to men.

The last year that women earned less than 57 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded by U.S. institutions of higher learning participating in Title IV was in the 1998-1999 academic year. That year, according to Table 322.20 published with the 2016 Digest of Educational Statistics, these institutions awarded a total of 1,202,239 bachelor’s degrees. Of these, 519,961 (or 43.25 percent) went to men and 682,278 (or 56.75 percent) went to women.

Data published in Table 236 of the 1995 Digest of Education Statistics, which includes bachelor’s degrees from institutions of higher education from the 1960-1961 academic year to the 1992-1993 academic year, shows that 1981-1982 was the first academic year in which women earned a larger number of bachelor’s degrees than men.

In 1980-1981, according to this data, U.S. institutions of higher education issued 935,140 bachelor’s degrees. Of these, 469,883 (or 50.25 percent) were earned by men and 465,257 (or 49.75 percent) were earned by women.

The next year—1981-1982—U.S. institutions of higher education issued 952,998 bachelor’s degrees. Of these, 473,364 (or 49.67 percent) were earned by men and 479,634 (or 50.33 percent) were earned by women.

In each academic year since then, according to the data published by NCES, more women have earned bachelor’s degrees in the United States then men.

Back in the 1960-1961 academic year, according to Table 236 of the 1995 Digest of Education Statistics, U.S. institutions of higher education awarded 365,174 bachelor’s degrees. Of these, men earned 224,538 (or 61.49 percent) and women earned 140,636 (or 38.51 percent).

According to the report published this week by the NCES, women also earned more master’s degrees, doctoral degrees and professional degrees than men did in the 2016-2017 academic year.

Table 4 in the report indicates that U.S. institutions participating in Title IV awarded 804,684 master’s degrees in 2016-2017. Of these 477,792 (or 59.38 percent) were earned by women and 326,892 (or 40.62 percent) were earned by men.

The data also indicates that these institutions awarded 70,811 “research/scholarship” doctoral degrees. Of these, 35,620 (or 50.30 percent) were earned by women and 35,191 (or 49.70 percent) were earned by men.

It further says that these institutions awarded 108,509 “professional practice” doctoral degrees in 2016-2017. Of these, 59,882 (or 55.19 percent) were earned by women and 48,627 (or 44.81 percent) were earned by men.


Indiana Teacher Forced to Resign After Refusing to Kowtow to Transgender Policies

An Indiana high school teacher alleges that he was forced to resign because he wouldn’t ascribe to the school’s policy of calling transgender students by their chosen names and pronouns.

“I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that’s a dangerous lifestyle,” former Brownsburg High School orchestra teacher John Kluge told NBC News. He alleges that compelling him to address students with pronouns that do not accord to their biological sex violates his religious beliefs as well as his constitutional right to free speech.

“I’m fine to teach students with other beliefs, but the fact that teachers are being compelled to speak a certain way is the scary thing,” Kluge also told NBC.

The school requires that teachers call students by their chosen name or pronoun provided that the student has a written note of consent from a parent and doctor. The school previously allowed Kluge to call students by their last names but changed the policies two months ago to mandate that Kluge call them by their chosen names and pronouns.

Advocates of queer inclusion at the school and in the community don’t see the requirement as an infringement upon Kluge’s rights but simply as a requirement of respect. “Using a trans student’s chosen name is an invaluable support. Educators need to lead by example with respect for students’ identities, names, and pronouns,” said GLSEN advocacy group education manager Becca Mui, NBC reported.

GLSEN is “a national network of students, educators, parents, & community leaders working to create LGBTQ-inclusive schools,” according to its Twitter handle.

“Everyone deserves to be called by their name, and in doing so teachers are able to effortlessly respect their students and enable them to live authentically,” the Trevor Project’s head of advocacy and government affairs, Sam Brinton, also said. The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.

A Brownsburg representative maintains that Kluge voluntarily resigned before the end of the school year, but Kluge claims he only sent in a resignation letter because the school threatened to fire him. “I’m pleading … I still want to work here,” Kluge explained.

Kluge has indicated he will appeal to the school board if he and the school can find no compromise that will allow him to continue teaching at Brownsburg High School.


Teaching quality is the biggest challenge facing Australian country areas

It will surprise few people that students from rural areas tend to perform worse on average than those in cities. In fact — as shown by the results of NAPLAN and two different international standardised tests — the more remote the area, the lower the average student test score.

Decades of research show the most significant in-school factor that affects student achievement is the quality of teacher instruction. But in country areas, it is a particular challenge for schools to attract and retain experienced and expert teachers.

This was the most pressing issue discussed by the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education, authored by Emeritus Profession John Halsey and commissioned by the Turnbull government. The review received hundreds of submissions, and the vast majority rated the area of teachers and teaching as the most important.

But this is not just an Australian problem. According to an OECD report, the city-country gap in achievement exists in most countries; and internationally it is much harder on average for rural schools to attract experienced and more qualified teachers. Realistically, this is a problem we can only mitigate, rather than solve entirely.

So how can the size of the problem be reduced? The Halsey review proposes few specific actions, but unfortunately doesn’t give any analysis of the costs and benefits of each approach. It suggests: university teacher education degrees include a subject specifically covering rural education, more teacher professional experience placements in rural schools, and using targeted salary and conditions packages to attract experienced teachers to rural schools for fixed term appointments.

In theory, these ideas are sensible, but are potentially expensive — and it is unclear if they are cost-effective uses of taxpayer money to increase teaching quality in rural schools.

Unfortunately, it seems the trend for Australian government-commissioned education reviews these days is to be overly general and not address the pros and cons of their ideas. The Gonski 2.0 review into schools was the epitome of the genre — full of clichés and jargon at the expense of practicality and evidence.

To be fair, the Halsey review doesn’t quite reach the Gonski 2.0 level of platitude litanies. But the fact that the Turnbull government’s response to Halsey’s review was simply to accept all 11 (very broad) recommendations and then note that the more specific 53 suggested actions were just “examples of what could be done to implement these recommendations” and “are very specific and may cut across existing initiatives” shows the practical policy utility of the Halsey review is limited. Prepare the mothballs.

The Halsey review also focuses arguably too much on curriculum and technology.

One recommendation is about “ensuring the relevance of the Australian Curriculum” for students in rural areas. It seems absurd that, when faced with a gap in achievement in the curriculum, a response is to blame the curriculum. Why is the gap a problem if what is being measured is supposedly irrelevant for country kids? And no evidence is presented to suggest that the reason students in rural schools are underperforming is because the content being taught isn’t relevant enough for them.

Another focus of the review is technology for rural schools. Of course, access to fast and reliable internet is often a challenge in country areas, and technology has the potential to open up many mobile learning opportunities for students.

But there is too much faith in the possible productivity gains from technology in schools. There is no clear relationship between use of education technology and student achievement. In fact, some studies suggest there is a negative relationship. Australian schools already use technology much more than most other OECD countries — including the top-performers like Singapore — according to the international education datasets. So more technology is no silver bullet for rural education.

Nevertheless, Halsey’s review is an important contribution, expresses aspirations we all support, and is at least “a starting point for many conversations” — to quote the federal government’s response.

But state and territory governments are going to have to do much more detailed analysis if they are to come up with a blueprint to improve teaching in rural areas; and minimise the educational disadvantage faced by country students.


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