Education Week - March 5, 2014 - (Page 1)
VOL. 33, NO. 23 * MARCH 5, 2014
AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4
Plans to Pay
Free Community College,
'Pay It Forward' on Table
By Caralee J. Adams
Persistent worries about the cost of
higher education are prompting state
leaders to propose a new stream of
plans to increase college affordability
and expand access for their students.
Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee drew
national attention last month when
he proposed providing two years of
free community college to recent high
school graduates. Also in February, the
Mississippi House approved a similar
two-year pilot program to cover gaps in
community college tuition for students
who have exhausted other aid.
In Texas, the state's higher education
to a challenge by Gov. Rick Perry to
come up with a low-cost baccalaureate
option-in January launched a competency-based
bachelor's degree program.
Officials estimate that a student could
earn a degree in about three years for
$15,000 or less.
Elsewhere, states are freezing tu-
ition or batting around the idea of not
having students pay tuition until after
Bills to advance that "pay it forward"
model have been introduced recently in
at least 19 states, though no state has
adopted such a system. The closest step
came when the Oregon legislature last
year approved a measure mandating a
study of the idea's feasibility.
And last week, the Oregon House
followed the state Senate in approving
a bill to study making community
Despite the activity across states,
some of the proposals-whether giving
a free ride in community college or the
'Summit' Tackles Challenges
By Benjamin Herold
Seeking to help schools protect students'
privacy without inhibiting the use of digital
technologies in the classroom, the U.S.
Department of Education released new
guidance last week on the proper use, storage,
and security of the massive amounts of
data being generated by new, online educational
"This can't be a choice between privacy
and progress," Secretary of Education Arne
Duncan told a gathering of privacy advocates
and ed-tech leaders who gathered for
a "summit" on the hot-button issue.
The guidance comes amid a flurry of activity
around student-data privacy. Also in
recent weeks, a leading technology trade
group issued its own recommendations for
protecting such data; major state legislation
was proposed in California; U.S. Sen.
Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., announced
that he will soon introduce a federal bill;
and the San Francisco-based nonprofit
Common Sense Media hosted the highprofile
"School Privacy Zone" summit here.
James P. Steyer, the CEO of Common
Sense Media, said the confluence of efforts
is a good sign.
"I've never felt that industry self-regPAGE
Education Week's second annual report recognizing bold and innovative leaders:
The report spotlights 16 district-level leaders from across the country who seized on
creative but practical approaches to improving their school systems and put those ideas
to work. The leaders were chosen from nominees submitted by readers, education
reporters, school administrator groups, and experts in specific areas of education.
See the pullout section, opposite Page 14.
edweek.org: BREAKING NEWS DAILY
On Full Display
In Wash. State
By Alyson Klein
Research Questions Common-Core Claims by Publishers
By Benjamin Herold
& Michele Molnar
Statements from publishers that traditional
instructional materials are aligned with the
Common Core State Standards are largely a
"sham," according to a prominent researcher
who conducted one of two forthcoming reviews
of classroom textbooks.
The jury is still out, though, on the new wave
of digital curricula hitting the market.
The findings highlight a new threat to the
successful implementation of the common core,
as well as a major challenge for districts in the
46 states and the District of Columbia that
have adopted versions of the standards.
The studies "reaffirmed what we had been
hearing from our state [textbook] working
group," especially in mathematics, said Carrie
Heath Phillips, a program director for
the Council of Chief State School Officers, in
Washington, which has helped spearhead the
new standards. Ms. Phillips downplayed the
impact that misaligned textbooks will have
on states' efforts to implement the new standards,
but said the new studies "may be an
eye-opener" for districts.
"It's buyer beware," she said.
'Snake Oil Salesmen'
Hoping to boost their share of a $9 billion annual
market, many publishers now boast that
their textbooks are "common-core aligned" and
so can help spur the dramatic shifts in classroom
instruction intended by the new stan-
dards for English/language arts and math.
But in a Feb. 21 presentation of his re-
search at a seminar in Los Angeles hosted by
the Education Writers Association, William
Schmidt, a professor of statistics and education
at Michigan State University in East Lansing,
dismissed most purveyors of such claims
as "snake oil salesmen" who have done little
more than slap shiny new stickers on the same
books they've been selling for years.
Mr. Schmidt, who also co-directs the univer-
sity's Education Policy Center, and his team
recently analyzed about 700 textbooks from
35 textbook series for grades K-8 that are now
being used by 60 percent of public school children
in the United States. Of those that purported
to be aligned with the new standards,
Washington state's struggle to hang on
to newfound flexibility on the mandates of
the No Child Left Behind Act is just the
latest example of the tightrope created by
the Obama administration's waivers, particularly
when it comes to the politically
fraught issue of teacher evaluation.
To keep their leeway on accountability
for students and schools-and control over
millions of federal dollars-states must
draft proposals on teacher evaluation and
other areas that will pass federal muster
while satisfying diverse constituencies
The Evergreen State is one of four that
have been put on notice by the U.S. Department
of Education that their waivers
could be yanked for failure to adhere to
strict federal guidelines in a key area of
accountability. If that happens, districts
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