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Education This Week


Not Quite Achieving the Dream

February 11, 2011

By Watson Scott Swail, CEO, Educational Policy Institute/EPI International

Back in 2004, Lumina Foundation for Education began pumping millions of dollars into its Achieving the Dream initiative, an effort to improve educational practice at two-year institutions through data-driven decision-making, the use of learning communities, and changing the way students are processed at community colleges. Seventy-six million dollars later, a new MDRC report (see the news below) suggests that there has been no significant impact on the achievement of low-income students at the 26 community colleges involved.

The Achieving the Dream idea was ripe for the picking and the focus on community colleges was appropriate considering these institutions play an increasingly prominent and important role of educating students in the US and Canada.

It is easy to sit in the virtual recliner and suggest that the “Dream” would not succeed. Hindsight is 20/20. However, it was destined with failure back in 2004. Not because it wasn’t a good idea; not because Lumina wasn’t the right organization to do this (it was); and not because they weren’t throwing enough money at the issue. In fact, they threw too much at the problem. Probably about $60 million too much. READ MORE...



2009 NAEP science scores were higher than the nation in 24 states/jurisdictions at fourth-grade and 25 states/jurisdictions at eighth-grade. Thirty-four percent of fourth-graders, 30 percent of eighth-graders, and 21 percent of twelfth-graders performed at or above the Proficient level. Seventy-two percent of fourth-graders, 63 percent of eighth-graders, and 60 percent of twelfth-graders performed at or above the Basic level.

Source: The Nation’s Report Card



More students fail Advanced Placement tests
By Stephanie Banchero, The Wall Street Journal
As record numbers of high-school students are taking and passing Advanced Placement exams, a rising percentage are scoring at the lowest level possible, according to national data on 2010 graduates released Wednesday.

Most New York students are not college-ready
By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times
New York State education officials released a new set of graduation statistics on Monday that show fewer than half of students in the state are leaving high school prepared for college and well-paying careers.

Early Childhood Education Program yields high economic returns
By Science Daily
For every $1 invested in a Chicago early childhood education program, nearly $11 is projected to return to society over the children's lifetimes -- equivalent to an 18 percent annual return on program investment, according to a study led by University of Minnesota professor of child development Arthur Reynolds in the College of Education and Human Development.


‘Achieving the Dream’ produces little change at community colleges
By Jennifer Gonzalez, the Chronicle of Higher Education
Seven years into an ambitious project to help more community-college students stay enrolled and graduate, a study has found that while colleges have changed their practices significantly, student outcomes have remained relatively unchanged.

Oregon Senate committee approves lofty goal for raising population’s education levels
By Bill Graves, The Oregonian
Oregon's Senate education committee this week unanimously approved a bill that would cement in law a state goal to dramatically raise the education levels of Oregonians by 2025. The bill, now headed for the Senate floor, would codify an aspiration widely adopted by state leaders in recent years known as the 40-40-20 goal.

Students flocking to Indiana colleges – and staying there
By Dan McFeely, The Indianapolis Star
Many Indiana colleges are reporting record spring enrollment this year, a key indicator that more students are choosing to stay in class and on track to graduate. "I am on my path and determined to stay on it," said Lesley Love, a freshman studying exercise science at the University of Indianapolis. "I would never take the time off because I know that it would be so hard to go back to school."


Opposition grows to subject centre cuts as Germany cribs key lessons
By Rebecca Attwood, Times Higher Education
The Higher Education Academy is coming under mounting pressure to reconsider its decision to scrap its network of discipline-specific teaching support centres. A petition against the plan has gathered more than 1,000 signatures, while 15 MPs have signed an early day motion demanding that funding for the 24 subject centres be maintained.

Business schools worldwide fall short on globalization, report says
By Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Globalization is both the biggest opportunity and the greatest challenge for business schools worldwide as they struggle to keep up with the demand for graduates who can work across countries and cultures, says a report released today.

Hundreds of American college students leaving Egypt as uprising intensifies
By Jenna Johnson, The Washington Post
Hundreds of U.S. college students - including dozens from Washington area schools - have joined the mass departure from Egypt in recent days as a popular study-abroad spot turned potentially dangerous.  


What Parents Don’t Know about College Graduation Rates Can Hurt
This outlook by the American Enterprise Institute presents the findings of a study on parents choosing (or switching) between public schools when provided with graduation-rate data. It also proposes policies to improve consumer information and increase college completion.

Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009; Graduation Rates, 2003 & 2006 Cohorts; and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2009
This First Look presents findings from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) spring 2010 data collection.

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Transcript of EPI Book Club with Diane Ravitch (November 2010)


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