Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Links for 04/13/10

Kevin Carey:
Overall, I think we’d be better off thinking about credits in more explicitly economic terms. They are a funny kind of currency, one whose value basis is not verifiable evidence of what you’ve learned but rather how long you’ve been taught (thus, credit hours adding up to two and four year degrees). You can only exchange them for a few classes of assets (degrees) that were established a long time ago and are rigidly applied to a huge array of disparate disciplines and academic programs. They’re also inflexible: there’s little difference in the job market between having 1 college credit and 119; both add up to “no bachelor’s degree.” The same is true for 120 and 200; you don’t get to keep the change if you earn more credits than you need. Tariffs, i.e. the inter-institutional credit tax imposed when colleges refuse to accept another college’s credits in transfer, are simultaneously large and non-transparent; oftentimes students aren’t told how many credits they can import until after they move from one school to another.

In the long run we’d be better off with more separation between the education and credentialing functions and more transparency all around
Anya Kamenetz:
In 2008, the average four-year public university cost more than one-quarter of the median American household income, making college the great unaffordable necessity of middle-class life

In the absence of any sort of useful metric about what college students are learning and which factors are most important in ensuring that students go on to lead productive lives, competitive-minded parents get distracted by a perks war

the increasingly resortlike facilities are costly consumer enticements that have nothing to do with why the kids are there in the first place

The larger question could be whether it’s possible to reunite frugality with prestige in a new breed of higher education—one that relies on achievement, not new geranium beds.
Joel I. Klein, Michael Lomax and Janet Murguía
Teacher quality is the single most important school factor in student success

we must attract teachers who performed well in college. Countries that do best on international tests draw teachers from the top third of college graduates. In the United States, however, most teachers come from the bottom third. Moreover, the bottom of that group is vastly overrepresented in our highest-needs communities.

we must create systems that reward excellence rather than seniority by creating sophisticated evaluation systems that include student performance and merit-based tenure and compensation. We must make it easier to remove teachers who are shown to be ineffective.

call for a reevaluation of seniority -- the staple of most collective bargaining agreements -- in the context of what actually serves children. But right now, one bad teacher with seniority earns as much as two great young teachers. Who really thinks this is best for our kids?

We will never eradicate poverty until we fix education. The question is whether we have the political courage to take on those who defend a status quo that serves many adults but fails many children.

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