Posts tagged ‘New York State’

May 21, 2014

Apply now for the New York State STEM full-tuition scholarship

by Grace

The deadline to apply for the newly introduced New York State STEM scholarship is August 14.

The NYS STEM Incentive Program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship for the top 10 percent of students in each New York State high school if they pursue a STEM degree in an associates or bachelor degree program and agree to work in a STEM field in New York State for 5 years after graduation.

The dual goals of the program include helping students pursue STEM careers and promoting the state’s economy.

Innovative programs like the STEM Incentive Awards will help students compete in academic fields essential to the future of our state and nation,” said CUNY Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly.

“Through this program, New York State is helping to foster a connection between a student’s interest in STEM and their ability to successfully pursue a STEM career,” said Elsa Magee, Acting President of New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), the state agency that will administer the program. “These awards will encourage more of our most talented students to pursue their love of science, technology, engineering and math in New York State, which benefits our State economy directly and the global economy, generally.”

Failing to fulfill the program requirements can result in significant penalties.  For example, if a recipient does not complete the STEM degree or does not follow through after graduation on the requirement to work “full-time for five years in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math in New York State, while maintaining residency within the State”, he must pay back the award.

The full list of approved occupations includes farmers, computer programmers, web developers, actuaries, cartographers, engineers, and secondary and postsecondary science teachers.

There does seem to be some flexibility in the choice of occupations.

20140518.COCNYSSTEMScholarshipFarmer1

Related:  “Free tuition at New York state universities for top STEM students?” (Cost of College)

———

 Sarah Darville, “State launches STEM scholarship for SUNY, CUNY-bound grads”, Chalkbeat New York, May 6, 2014.

February 18, 2014

Free tuition at New York state universities for top STEM students?

by Grace

The proposed New York State budget includes a provision to offer free tuition to top students who choose to major in STEM fields.

“New this year under the governor’s budget proposal, some students at the top of their classes will have a chance to skip tuition payments entirely. Those who plan to major in a field related to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects would receive free tuition to any SUNY or CUNY institution, as long as they remain in the state for five years after graduation to pursue their careers. The $8 million budget line is intended to help reverse the “brain drain” of the best and brightest from New York State.”

Students must graduate in the top ten percent of their high school class to qualify for the scholarships.

Details must be worked out.

Final budget approval is expected this spring.  Questions have been raised about how the requirement to stay in the state for five years after graduation would affect students who wish to attend graduate school.  One estimate predicts funding is only sufficient for 166 four-year scholarships, so it is possible that demand will be greater than supply.

Related:

August 28, 2013

Public school administration staff surges in growth while test scores plunge

by Grace

The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools

America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.

20130812.COCUSK12StaffingBloat19501

Between FY 1992 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students nationwide grew 17 percent while the number of full-time equivalent school employees increased 39 percent, 2.3 times greater than the increase in students over that 18-year period. Among school personnel, teachers’ staffing numbers rose 32 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 46 percent; the growth in the number of administrators and other staff was 2.7 times that of students.

20130812.COCUSK12StaffingBloat19921


Here are the staggering growth rates for New York State.

20130812.COCK12StaffingBloat1


ADMINISTRATORS OUTNUMBER TEACHERS IN 25 STATES, an increase from the original report.

From the report:

Twenty-one “Top-Heavy States” employed fewer teachers than other non-teaching personnel in 2009. Thus, those 21 states have more administrators and other non-teaching staff on the public payroll than teachers. Virginia “leads the way” with 60,737 more administrators and other non-teaching staff than teachers in its public schools.

Professor Mark Perry updated staffing numbers for 2010, and was amazed to find the “administrative and non-teaching bloat” in America’s public schools has gotten even worse, with 25 states now employing more “educrats than teachers.”  Across the entire country, there is a one-to-one ratio of teachers to non-teaching staff.

PUBLIC SCHOOL STAFFING IN UNITED STATES (2010)

TEACHERS

NON-TEACHING STAFF

NON-TEACHING STAFF PER 100 TEACHERS

3,099,095

3,096,113

99.9


In related news, New York students’ scores take huge plunge in new state school tests.

Statewide, only 31 percent of students in third through eighth grades met or exceeded the proficiency standards in English and math this year, a drop of more than half compared with last year….

September 26, 2012

Quick Takes – New York test scores may drop next year, mining jobs pay better than Ivy League degree, girls still avoid shop class, and more

by Grace

—   Changes in New York’s standardized tests next year may cause scores to drop.

That is because the state is moving quickly to put in place new curriculum standards, called Common Core, which stress more critical thinking to help prepare students for college and careers. The state’s math and English exams, therefore, will for the first time be testing students on elements of the Common Core.

Students taking the English exams next year, for instance, will be asked to analyze and compare passages, rather than summarize them. In math, fractions, rather than probability or statistics, will be stressed.

“I would not be surprised if the test scores next year would drop, because it will be a whole new test based on much higher standards,” said one state education official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “The Common Core is a much more rigorous set of standards.”

Aaron Pallas, professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, who is an expert on city schools data, also predicted there may be a drop in scores next year.

“It’s almost always the case when there’s a fundamental change in a test format that scores go down,” Dr. Pallas said. “So there’s going to be discontinuity. That’s one reason why it’s hard to make judgments from one year to the next when there’s several moving pieces.”

He added: “It will take some time and next year will be a new baseline from which we can look forward to see how things are happening over the next three or four years.”


—  Forget Harvard.  Go for the big bucks in mining careers.

Harvard University’s graduates are earning less than those from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology after a decade-long commodity bull market created shortages of workers as well as minerals.

Those leaving the college of 2,300 students this year got paid a median salary of $56,700, according to PayScale Inc., which tracks employee compensation data from surveys. At Harvard, where tuition fees are almost four times higher, they got $54,100. Those scheduled to leave the campus in Rapid City, South Dakota, in May are already getting offers, at a time when about one in 10 recent U.S. college graduates is out of work.
Harvard Losing Out to South Dakota in Graduate Pay: Commodities (Bloomberg)


—  Why don’t more girls enroll in shop class?  “Stigma”, according to NPR

The Shop Class Stigma: What Title IX Didn’t Change (NPR)

Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX, which said no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from any education program or activity. Vocational education courses that barred girls — such as auto mechanics, carpentry and plumbing — became available for everyone. But it’s still hard to find girls in classes once viewed as “for boys only.”…

Now, for the most part, schools don’t discriminate or deny girls educational opportunities. Yet, the conclusion by a National Women’s Law Center study a few years ago raised a different point.

Boys are still routinely steered toward courses that lead to higher-paying careers in technology and trades. Meanwhile, 90 percent of students in courses that lead to lower-wage jobs, like child care and cosmetology, are female.

I don’t accept that a male/female imbalance for a particular occupation is necessarily a problem that must be fixed by legislation.  But if there is a problem of pushing girls towards lower-wage jobs, the NPR story used a poor example to show this since the girl in the story was steered away from auto mechanics toward engineering.   Her family encouraged her to aim for a higher paying job in a field dominated by men, not exactly a fit with the NPR’s narrative.


—  Reading the classics may improve executive function and other attention-related abilities.

Reading a classic novel such as “Pride and Prejudice” can be entertaining, but, according to new research by a Michigan State University professor, it also can provide many other benefits beyond that….

… blood flow was increased in areas of the brain far beyond those responsible for what cognitive scientists call “executive function,” regions normally associated with tasks that require close attention, such as studying, doing complex math problems or reading intensely….

“It’s early, but what this research suggests so far is that core skills in the liberal arts have immense cognitive complexity,” she said. “It’s not only the books we read, but also the act of thinking rigorously about them that’s of value, exercising the brain in critical ways.”

The work also brings together scientists and literary scholars to explore the relationship between reading, attention and distraction.

Imagine that.  Assigning students books with higher levels of text complexity is good for learning.

Related:  High school students are assigned too many FIFTH-GRADE books (Cost of College)

September 5, 2012

Quick Takes – College scholarships by race, UVA in-state quota, managing student loans, etc.

by Grace

—  The Distribution of Grants and Scholarships by Race  (Mark Kantrowitz, FinAid.org)

This paper presents data concerning the distribution of grants and scholarships by race. It debunks the race myth, which claims that minority students receive more than their fair share of scholarships. The reality is that minority students are less likely to win private scholarships or receive merit-based institutional grants than Caucasian students. Among undergraduate students enrolled full-time/full-year in Bachelor’s degree programs at four-year colleges and universities, minority students represent about a third of applicants but slightly more than a quarter of private scholarship recipients. Caucasian students receive more than three-quarters (76%) of all institutional merit-based scholarship and grant funding, even though they represent less than two-thirds (62%) of the student population. Caucasian students are 40% more likely to win private scholarships than minority students.  http://www.finaid.org/scholarships/20110902racescholarships.pdf

(This paper has lots of data on college financial aid.)


—  In-state student quota at University of Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia mandates that 2/3 of the students at the University be Virginia residents.  Beyond that, there are no quotas with respect to regions, counties, or high schools.
The UVA Admission Blog

California has a system-wide cap of 10% for out-of-state undergraduate students, and the University of North Carolina limits out-of-state freshmen to 18 percent on each campus.

Related:

—  A Web Site That Aims to Help Manage Student Loans 

A new Web site called Loanlook.com aims to help current students and graduates manage their financial aid and loans with less confusion. The site allows users to access federal loans and grants, but will be expanded to include private loans in about a month. (Parents can also register to see information about PLUS loans taken out on behalf of their children.)
(The New York Times)

—  New York State pension costs ‘will rise 10.6% for state, local governments‘.

ALBANY — Public pension costs are again set to rise in the next fiscal year, with both the state and local governments facing an average increase of 10.6 percent, according to figures released Friday.

Starting April 1, the state, counties and municipalities will contribute an average of 20.9 percent of most employees’ salaries into the state’s pension system, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. The contribution rate is 18.9 percent.


—  ‘Average people think the road to riches is paved with formal education. Rich people believe in acquiring specific knowledge.’

“Many world-class performers have little formal education, and have amassed their wealth through the acquisition and subsequent sale of specific knowledge,” he writes.
“Meanwhile, the masses are convinced that master’s degrees and doctorates are the way to wealth, mostly because they are trapped in the linear line of thought that holds them back from higher levels of consciousness…The wealthy aren’t interested in the means, only the end.”
From Steve Siebold, author of “How Rich People Think.”

21 Ways Rich People Think Differently (Business Insider)

Another one:

Average people would rather be entertained than educated. Rich people would rather be educated than entertained.

February 7, 2012

High school graduation goals do not include getting students ready for college

by Grace

Sadly, I was not surprised to learn that our local high school does not include “college or career ready” as part of its goals for graduates.

The district has adopted graduation goals. A graduate of the Eastchester Schools will be:

  • A respectful individual
  • A life-long learner
  • An effective communicator
  • A complex thinker and problem solver
  • A competent and responsible user of technology

Words have consequences.

At our local school only 59% of high school graduates are  “college or career ready” *.  This at an annual  cost of about $23,389 per pupil.

I prefer the Obama administration’s articulation of goals – much more specific, concrete, and measurable.

The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college or a career.


Different school, similar problem
At a nearby school district, some parents are advocating that college preparation has to be front and center as goalsinstead of  other squishy priorities like global awareness, global responsibility, and 21st century skills.

* UPDATE:  I changed “college ready” to “college or career ready” to accurately reflect what was measured.  In other words, 59% were not prepared for “post-secondary” success as determined by New York’s Aspirational Performance Measure (APM).

December 13, 2011

New York teachers will no longer grade their own students’ standardized tests

by Grace

Teachers in New York State will no longer be grading their own students’ standardized tests.  This is a welcome change, considering that New York has a long-standing problem with inflated state test scores and a history of teacher intervention skewing the normal statistical distribution of grades.

The ban, which will go into effect in the 2012-13 school year for all elementary school, middle school and high school standardized exams, will reverse a longstanding practice that State Education Department officials say is inappropriate in an era when student test scores are used to evaluate teachers and principals. It is also a move to avoid the kind of cheating scandals that have erupted in cities like Atlanta and Washington….

October 17, 2011

Teacher intervention inflates New York Regents exam scores

by Grace

New York has a long-standing problem with inflated state test scores, including repeated citings of questionable grading practices but no concrete action to address the problem.

In 2003-4, the testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill rescored a sample of Regents exams and found that its scores were generally lower than the scores awarded by the schools, a sign that score inflation was taking place, according to a 2009 audit of Regents scoring by the state comptroller’s office….

… 2004 e-mail in which a state education official cited statistics that showed how teachers statewide appeared to be helping some students over the bar….

And in 2005, a team of the State Education Department’s own experts rescored some June Regents exams and found a “significant tendency for local school districts to award full credit on questions requiring scorer judgment, even when the exam answers were vague, incomplete, inaccurate, or insufficiently detailed,” the comptroller’s audit reported, adding, “These inaccuracies have tended to inflate the academic performance of students and schools.”

Teacher intervention is skewing the normal statistical distribution of grades

… about three times as many students scored exactly at the passing mark than at each one of the scores below it, a result not in keeping with a standard statistical distribution.

A New York State deputy commissioner of education:

“Obviously, teachers look for points to get kids to pass.”

Despite concerns about conflict of interest, teachers still score their own students’ or school’s test.

“We are relying more than ever on state exams — to measure student achievement, to evaluate teacher and principal effectiveness, and to hold schools and districts accountable for their performance,” Merryl H. Tisch, the Regents chancellor, said last month, in support of tightened grading practices. “If we’re going to use the tests in these ways, we need to be absolutely certain that our system is beyond reproach.”

September 20, 2011

High school online classes expand in Westchester County

by Grace

Eight school district in Westchester County are participating in a pilot program offering BOCES-sponsored online classes to their high school students.  The courses were designed by local teachers and make use of  “blended” learning, including both virtual and in-person experiences.  Initially limited to four elective courses, plans call for expansion in future years.

Although this might seem like a low-risk way for the schools to try online learning, I am left with some questions about this initiative.

  • What are the costs, both in terms of money and lost opportunity?
  • How will results be assessed?  Is saving money the main criteria?  Will the outputs be measured in quantifiable ways?
  • Although it seems like a good idea to try online teaching with what appear to be relatively light-weight electives, are there plans to go online with core courses also?  What about AP courses, where offering students more options could be a real way to take advantage of the efficiencies of technology?

It turns out that New York lags behind some other states in K-12 online learning initiatives, which actually could be an advantage if it means that we will learn from the experiences of other states who have taken a leading position in this area.

A reason for New York’s relatively slow start in online learning

Nationally, online learning is taking off. As of late 2010, online learning opportunities were available to some students in 48 states and Washington, D.C., according to the nonprofit International Association for K-12 Online Learning. Twenty-seven states plus Washington also had at least one full-time online school operating statewide. New York was one of the last states to finalize a set of distance-learning standards in 2011.

Martabano said that as a result, students in New York have had limited access to online courses compared with their peers around the country — though there have been recent advances.

You can read the article after the jump.

September 7, 2011

New York public schools face a 29% increase in pension costs

by Grace

School districts are being socked with a 29 percent increase in their pension costs this school year.

The increase means schools will pay 11.11 percent of their payroll toward retirement costs in 2012, up from 8.62 percent in the prior school year, which ended June 30, the teachers’ retirement system announced this week. It’s the first double-digit rate in 22 years….

School officials said growing pension costs were equal to the total increase in school spending this year, up about 1.3 percent. The increase caused homeowners’ tax levies to grow on average about 3.4 percent this year.

This is not new information  – I learned about this last spring when we voted on school budgets.  In my local school district, taxpayer-funded pension costs will increase about 37% over last year’s, representing more than 50% of the total budget increase.  Pension/health/salary costs went up, while the total of all other school expenditures had to be cut as a way to keep the total budget increase to a manageable 3.9% that translates into an estimated 7% tax levy increase.

The pension expense comes as schools in July 2012 will have to abide by a property-tax cap.  The cap will limit tax increases to 2 percent a year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower….

Pension costs are expected to grow further. In a memo to schools this month, the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System said it expects next year’s costs to exceed this year’s rate. It won’t have those estimates until November….

The Empire Center For New York State Policy, a conservative think tank, estimated in a report last year that taxpayer-funded contributions to the teachers’ retirement system will more than quadruple over the next five years. The group estimated pension costs for state and local government workers would more than double over the same period.

“It’s something everybody has to get ready for,” said E.J. McMahon, the group’s senior fellow.

School boards should provide taxpayers with longer-term budget projections

Mahon questioned why the teachers’ retirement system doesn’t provide districts with long-term outlooks on pension costs.

“You have districts that are negotiating contracts for three or four years, so why not tell them?” McMahon said.

Cardillo said they give districts about 18 months’ notice and can’t project rates further because economic conditions could change.

Multi-year projections are the norm in the business sector, for good reason.  Most taxpayers understand that  “economic conditions could change” and deserve to have this type of critical information when voting on budget issues.  Chappaqua Central School District is one that does a good job offering five-year budget projections.

Also, New York urgently needs to rein in its “skyrocketing” public employee pension costs.

Related:  Passing the pension time bomb in New York State

You can read the entire LoHud.com article, which received 119 comments from readers, after the jump.

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