A's on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SAT scores founder

The good news on America's report cards: More high school teachers are handing out A's. But the bad news is that students aren't necessarily learning more. Recent findings show that the proportion of high school seniors graduating with an A average — that includes an A-minus or A-plus — has grown sharply over the past generation, even as average SAT scores have fallen. In 1998, it was 38.9%. By last year, it had grown to 47%. That’s right: Nearly half of America’s Class of 2016 are A students. Meanwhile, their average SAT score fell from 1,026 to 1,002 on a 1,600-point scale — suggesting that those A's on report cards might be fool's gold. (Detroit Free Press)


A Rust Belt City's School Turnaround

BUFFALO, N.Y.—When 18-year-old Karolina Espinosa looks back to her freshman year at Buffalo’s Hutchinson Central Technical High School, graduation seemed like a long shot. “At the time,” she said, “both of my parents were incarcerated. I had trouble with reading, and I had problems with attendance.” But in May, sitting in the office of her school’s family support specialist, Joell Stubbe, Karolina talked excitedly about going to Buffalo State University, where she’s been accepted into the class of 2021.   Karolina credits the turnaround to her relationship with Stubbe. “She’s like my older sister,” Karolina said. “I don’t really talk about my problems ... or deal with my emotions with people. I don’t even talk to my [real] sister about them or cry in front of her. And I do that with [Stubbe]. Without her I wouldn’t even be in school, honestly. I would have been a dropout.” (Atlantic)


It’s past time for South Carolina to provide adequate schools for all

Opinion: Ms. Ehime Ohue’s opinion piece in The Washington Post on July 6 brings into high relief the fact that South Carolina continues to provide inadequate basic preparation to significant numbers of its talented and highly motivated students. I began my professional career 55 years ago as a teacher in an underfunded, segregated public school in Charleston, South Carolina. I encountered many talented and highly motivated students who, like Ms. Ohue, were eager to learn. (Washington Post)


How Universal College Admission Tests Help Low-Income Students

There is widespread concern about over-testing in schools. Yet we need all students to take the right tests if low-income and minority children are to have a good shot at a quality college education.

The two standard college admission tests — the SAT and the ACT — could be administered universally and free of charge to students. That would reduce the administrative barriers to applying to college, help identify talented disadvantaged children, and increase the likelihood that they will attend a college that matches their skills. A child born into a high-income family is six times as likely to earn a college degree as one who is poor, research that I have participated in shows. (New York Times)


Kansas Justices Question New School Funding Plan

Kansas Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical Tuesday that a new school funding plan offers enough money for education. The justices at times appeared exasperated by arguments in favor of the formula, and by requests that the court wait potentially years to see whether the new law works. Afterward, some lawmakers suggested the court probably would order more funding and that they could be back for a special session this fall. (Education Week)


How We Are Ruining America

Opinion: Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks. How they’ve managed to do the first task — giving their own children a leg up — is pretty obvious. It’s the pediacracy, stupid. Over the past few decades, upper-middle-class Americans have embraced behavior codes that put cultivating successful children at the center of life. As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids. (New York Times)


How Teachers Are Taught

One charter school teacher-training program gives first-year teachers a part-time workload and allows them to learn alongside mentor teachers. Another has summer workshops that include home visits with students’ families. A third network often starts the year with a week of workshops at a Westchester hotel, has a staff member devoted to professional development, and brings in consultants for math, writing, and reading instruction. These are a handful of training programs at charters that may soon substitute for the formal state-certification process, which requires obtaining a master’s degree and passing certification exams. (Atlantic)


DeVos tells conservative lawmakers what they like to hear: More local control, school choice

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos blasted Washington, teachers unions and “defenders of the status quo” Thursday as she pledged to shrink the role of the federal government in U.S. schools and colleges. “This drives the big-government folks nuts, but it’s important to reiterate: Education is best addressed at the state, local and family levels,” DeVos said, winning applause from lawmakers gathered in Denver for the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Conference (ALEC), an influential group known for promoting conservative policy goals nationwide. DeVos has long been an ardent proponent of giving states more power over education, but in recent weeks, some conservatives have questioned her moves as the Education Department began reviewing state plans to implement a far-reaching new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. (Washington Post)


Prospects Seem Dim for Trump School Choice Initiative This Year

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos came to Washington primarily to do one thing: Use the power of her office to expand school choice, her passion for decades. Members of her own party appeared to deal a major blow to that goal Thursday, when the House panel charged with overseeing education spending approved a bill that doesn't include two of DeVos' big budget asks: using an education research program to offer school vouchers, and allowing Title I dollars to follow students to the school of their choice. DeVos, so far, is undaunted. (Education Week)


NEA President: 'No Reason to Trust' Betsy DeVos

The nearly 3 million member National Education Association is facing a rocky road ahead, including a projected loss of membership and a chilly relationship with the Trump administration. Teachers’ union President Lily Eskelsen García sat down with Education Week to talk about a range of issues facing the union, including its engagement with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the threat posed by a looming U.S. Supreme Court case, and the NEA’s new, tougher charter-school policy. Excerpts follow.  The transcript has been edited for length and clarity. (Education Week)


Beware the Four-Day School-Week Trap

Opinion: As many school districts around the nation grapple with declines in state funding, some district leaders are arriving at a questionable solution: Cut the school week to four days. But are these districts adopting the shorter week without both considering other ways to save money and counting the risks to students? In Oklahoma, where nearly a hundred school districts have shifted to four-day weeks, districts that cut instructional days still keep classrooms open for the same number of hours per year by extending the remaining school days, according to The Washington Post. (Education Week)

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