◊◊◊ GED test changes will make it harder to pass
Normally, there’s no rush to complete the seven-hour test, which is designed to approximate a high school education by measuring proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies. If students pass only some components of the test, they have as long as they want to retake the sections they failed.
But test-takers’ previous scores will expire when a new version of the GED debuts Jan. 1, 2014 — a change that will affect more than 4 million people nationwide, said CT Turner, the GED Testing Service’s director of public affairs.
Other changes to the test are expected to include a higher required reading comprehension level, mirroring a slight increase nationwide in the performance level of graduating high school seniors.
The test, which had previously been offered on paper, will become online only.
A Supreme Court decision on whether universities can use race as an admissions factor is expected by June, however the court of public opinion has already weighed in on the matter – and Americans of all stripes stand largely against affirmative action, according to a variety of recent polls.
In those surveys, at least half if not more of those polled voiced opposition to race-based preferences.
Take a Rasmussen national telephone survey, which found only 24 percent of likely voters were in favor of using race as a factor in college admissions, while 55 percent stood opposed, and the rest were undecided. That survey was conducted 11 months ago.
More recently, a survey released in October found that 57 percent of Americans ages 18 to 25 – so-called young millennials – are opposed to racial preferences in college admissions or hiring decisions. In other words, nearly six out of every 10 opposed the practice.
◊◊◊ Flipped classrooms shows positive results in a Detroit school, but lack widespread evidence that they improve academic achievement.
Flipped learning apparently is catching on in schools across the nation as a younger, more tech-savvy generation of teachers is moving into classrooms. Although the number of “flipped” teachers is hard to ascertain, the online community Flipped Learning Network now has 10,000 members, up from 2,500 a year ago, and training workshops are being held all over the country, said executive director Kari Afstrom.
Under the model, teachers make eight- to 10-minute videos of their lessons using laptops, often simply filming the whiteboard as the teacher makes notations and recording their voice as they explain the concept. The videos are uploaded onto a teacher or school website, or even YouTube, where they can be accessed by students on computers or smartphones as homework….
Class time is then devoted to practical applications of the lesson — often more creative exercises designed to engage students and deepen their understanding. On a recent afternoon, Kirch’s students stood in pairs with one student forming a cone shape with her hands and the other angling an arm so the “cone” was cut into different sections.
Promising results in a Detroit school
In the Detroit suburb of Clinton Township, Clintondale High School Principal Greg Green converted the whole school to flipped learning in the fall of 2011 after years of frustration with high failure rates and discipline problems. Three-quarters of the school’s enrollment of 600 is low-income, minority students.
Flipping yielded dramatic results after just a year, including a 33 percent drop in the freshman failure rate and a 66 percent drop in the number of disciplinary incidents from the year before, Green said. Graduation, attendance and test scores all went up. Parent complaints dropped from 200 to seven.
Green attributed the improvements to an approach that engages students more in their classes.
“Kids want to take an active part in the learning process,” he said. “Now teachers are actually working with kids.”
But no substantial evidence that flipped classrooms are better
“They’re expecting kids to do the learning outside the classroom. There’s not a lot of evidence this works,” said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, a New York City-based parent advocacy group. “What works is reasonably sized classes with a lot of debate, interaction and discussion.”
A new report from AEI:
… As Obama and Duncan prepare for a second term, it is worth examining what the federal government can and cannot do to reform America’s system of education. Washington has been particularly effective in ensuring constitutional protections are upheld in education, connecting education reforms to national priorities, giving states and districts incentives for implementing policy changes, and collecting and reporting data related to school reforms. However, because decisions directly affecting individual schools are made at the state and local levels, Washington bureaucrats have largely failed at enforcing mandates and fixing poorly performing schools. The new Obama administration would do well to embrace a more measured approach to education reform that reflects lessons learned from past successes and failures….
“When it comes to fixing schools, the federal track record is bleak.”