Education Week - April 13, 2016 - (Page 8)

High School Coursework Seen Falling Short Report finds few graduates ready for college, careers By Catherine Gewertz BLOGS Courses as Key Barriers More than half the students who don't complete a college-ready course sequence- 57 percent-are short two or more requirements, while the other 43 percent are missing just one requirement, the study found. Science was the subject that tripped up most of the students who were missing two or more courses. Fully 81 percent of those students didn't take enough science credits, or the right science classes, to meet the three-course expectation of many colleges. Among the students falling short of a college-ready sequence by only one class, math and foreign language were the most frequent stumbling blocks. Algebra 2, in particular, was a big one: One-third of the students didn't take it. The students who missed that mark most often were the ones who didn't take Algebra 1 in 8th grade, a key door-opener for higher math attainment. A variety of policies and practices have the potential to remedy the coursetaking patterns that are not serving students well, the EdTrust researchers write. At the state level, policymakers can make sure high school graduation requirements reflect the expectations of state colleges and universities. They can also work to articulate the requirements students need to enter various postsecondary career pathways. At the K-12 school and district levels, administrators can analyze transcripts, course schedules, and credit policies to identify courses that students often fail and to see which groups of students have the most trouble accessing the powerful combination of both college-ready and career-ready course sequences. Districts can also take steps to require course sequences that reflect their state's higher education expectations, even if they're more rigorous than their state's diploma requirements. And schools can focus more intently on postsecondary planning, instead of helping students accrue only the credits needed for a diploma. Schools also can ensure that counselors and teachers are aware of their state college and university systems' admissions requirements. David Hawkins, the executive director for educational content and policy at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, commended EdTrust for highlighting "an important symptom of trouble" in secondary schools. But he added that addressing it requires reversing a long pattern of underfunding for the training and support of counselors. Nearly half of 2013 high school graduates took a curriculum that did not reflect collegeor career-ready expections. SOURCE: The Education Trust 8% College- and Career-Ready Curriculum 31% College-Ready Curriculum 13% Career-Ready Curriculum 47% No Cohesive Curriculum Visit the HIGH SCHOOL & BEYOND blog, which tracks news and trends on this issue. Grant Program Aims To Recast Testing | MARKETPLACE K-12 | A new project that seeks to "fundamentally rethink" the role that assessments play in student learning has issued 12 grants to schools, districts, and other awardees to help them fashion makeovers of testing systems. The awards from the Assessment for Learning Project are collectively worth $2 million, with each grantee receiving between $50,000 and $225,000. The project is focused on reimagining assessment in a number of ways. A core goal is to boost student control or "agency" over testing, moving away from assessment that's passive or something that is simply "being done to students," said Sarah Lench, the director of the project. Other areas of exploration include strengthening the uses and design of formative and performancebased assessment and developing the use of "learning progressions," basically academic frameworks based on an understanding of how students learn and the knowledge they bring with them to school. The project also will support trials of culturally responsive assessments and the cultivation of "competency based" tests in science and engineering. Grantees include the Henry County, Ga., school system, which will try to incorporate feedback from teachers and students into assessment; WestEd, which is piloting personalized, video-enabled professional learning for educators; and Del Lago Academy, a California school that is creating a competency-based assessment system for students. The project comes into focus as standardized tests are taking a beating from many policymakers and parents wary of what they see as overtesting and exams that promote rote learning. 8 | EDUCATION WEEK | April 13, 2016 | It is being supported by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (both of which have financially backed Education Week reporting). -SEAN CAVANAGH Tough Tasks Lie Ahead For New Federal Panel | INSIDE SCHOOL RESEARCH | President Barack Obama has signed a bipartisan bill creating a 15-member commission to figure out how to coordinate and use federal data without risking personal-information privacy. The commission could help to give broader and more permanent approval to the White House's push to use more tiered-evidence systems-like those to be used under the new Every Student Succeeds Act-to evaluate federal programs. It could also provide a context to hash out long-standing arguments over protecting data privacy that have complicated moves to update the 40-year-old Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. What exactly will the commission do, and what does it mean for education? Foremost, it will take a massive inventory of data as well as tax-spending information from all federal programs. The group must come up with ways to integrate rigorous evaluations of effectiveness-including randomized controlled trials-into the design of federal programs. At the same time, members must figure out what structures and policies must be in place to protect personal data during those evaluations. Then the group will decide whether and how to create a clearinghouse of federal data across agencies and how the data could be released to public or private researchers. All 15 commissioners will be expected to have expertise in economics, statistics, program evaluation, data security, confidentiality, or database management. Obama will appoint three members. The speaker of the House, the House minority leader, and the Senate majority and minority leaders will each appoint another three commissioners. -SARAH D. SPARKS Does More Playground Time Equal Classroom Success? | TIME AND LEARNING | Some schools in Texas are going against the grain when it comes to recess. Instead of cutting it out, as many districts do, to spend more time on core subjects, they're adding recess periods. Six elementary schools are taking part in LiiNK (Let's Inspire Innovation 'N Kids), a research study on the effects of students' having multiple recess periods a day. Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth implemented the program this academic year for kindergartners and 1st graders, who get four 15-minute recess periods a day-far from the norm across the country. "We are sitting our students in the seats way too many hours of the day, so we're creating very sedentary kids," said Debbie Rhea, a professor of kinesiology and the associate dean for research and health sciences at Texas Christian University, who runs the LiiNK Project. Participating schools offer recess that is unstructured, outdoors, and kid-centered. "When they come back to the classroom, they're much more focused, much more on point, and ready to take in material," said Rhea. "They do better on tests. They do better on everything when they have that." Principal Bryan McLain said office referrals at Eagle Mountain are down, and instructional time is up. "The time that might have been focused on redirecting students or reteaching because of misbehavior now we don't have to do ... because the kids are more focused." -MARVA HINTON Percent of Graduates Only 8 percent of high school graduates complete a curriculum that prepares them well for college and the workplace. Even fewer complete those course sequences with grades that would suggest they mastered the content. Those are the conclusions of a study published last week by the Education Trust, which advocates for policies that help low-income students. It raises questions about how well adults in schools are guiding students along pathways that provide strong preparation for college, job training, or the workplace. The study analyzes transcript data from the federal High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, which tracks 23,000 students from 9th grade through graduation in 2013 and beyond. EdTrust researchers looked at the courses students took, and the grades they earned, to produce a rough proxy of college- and career-readiness. Concerned by the patterns they saw, the EdTrust researchers concluded that students were "meandering toward graduation" with a focus on accumulating credits, rather than on systematically building a strong base of knowledge and skills that will set them up well for life after graduation. "High schools are prioritizing credit accrual, which treats graduation as the end goal," write researchers Marni Bromberg and Christina Theokas. "Instead of being prepared for college and career, many of our students turn out to have been prepared for neither." Only 31 percent of students completed a college-ready curriculum, defined in the study as four years of English; three years each of math, science, and social studies; and two years of foreign language. Thirteen percent completed a "career ready" sequence, defined as three oneyear courses that focus on one career field, such as health sciences. Eight percent completed both sets of those requirements. Another 47 percent, however, completed neither, or "no cohesive curriculum." The situation was worse for students from lowincome families. Fifty-three percent of students in the lower 40 percent of family income complete "no cohesive curriculum," compared with 44 percent in the upper 40 percent of income. Only 7 percent complete a curriculum sequence that prepares them for both career and college, compared with 10 percent of students who come from the upper 40 percent income bracket. Once students' grades are added to the mix, the picture gets even bleaker. When Bromberg and Theokas weeded out students who had completed a career-ready course of study, a collegeready one, or both, but earned less than a 2.5 grade point average in those classes, they concluded that an additional 14 percent of students were not well prepared for life after high school. COURSES OF STUDY

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 13, 2016

Education Week - April 13, 2016
N.Y. Flip-Flop Affects Policy In Key Areas
Students Help Shape Measures Of ‘Soft Skills’
Kasich’s K-12 Record
Can Latin Build Young Vocabularies?
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: FCC ‘Lifeline’ Effort Expanded to Bridge the Digital Divide
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study: Tracking Not an Issue For Career-Tech-Education
San Diego Strives to Close Gap In Access to Advanced Courses
High School Coursework Seen Falling Short
Blogs of the Week
Fee-Payer Issue Still Alive, Despite Close Call for Unions
As First Education Secretary, Shirley M. Hufstedler a Pacesetter
ESSA Negotiators Dig Into Regulatory Details
Shield From Deportation Threat To Get Day at High Court
State of the States
Blogs of the Week
JONATHAN LASH: Buildings, Blocks, and Experience
ZOE WEIL: You Are What You Teach
HAROLD O. LEVY: How Should Schools Purchase Technology for the Classroom?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
PAUL KIHN: The District Is Dead. Long Live the District.

Education Week - April 13, 2016