Friday, November 30, 2012

Military STEM Access

"Military-connected students are getting better access to advanced placement courses in public high schools and more support in those classes thanks to the efforts of a national nonprofit organization.
The National Math Science Initiative is expanding a program it started two years ago to add the College Board’s AP courses in high schools with high populations of military-connected students. The NMSI started its Initiative for Military Families in the 2010-11 school year by adding AP courses in math, science and English at two public high schools near Fort Hood, Texas, and two near Fort Campbell, Ky., and giving them extra support, NMSI Vice President Gregg Fleisher recently told American Forces Press Service."
Great article on our programs for students from military families read more at "Math, Science Group Expands Advanced Placement In Military-connected Schools."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Supply and Demand and College Degrees

I get in arguments with friends about college degree selection. Most people seem to feel that the earning a degree will open doors regardless of the college major. That may have been true when many of us were in college in the 70's and 80's but not today. Jobs are specialized and employers want people who know how to perform those jobs.

I am not going to hire an English or journalism major to do our marketing when I can hire a marketing major.

It is basic economics - there are many more college graduates so employers can find the one they want. In the 70's one-fifth of young adults had a college degree while today it is up to one-third according to a  NYT article - Record Number Complete High School and College. Note that during that time the wage premium for a college degree has "leapt 40%".

So -
More kids are going to college
College grads earn more money
But if there are more of you competing for jobs - you have to have a meaningful degree

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Great post by Jay Matthews today on a study from our National Math and Science Initiative partner in Massachusetts - MMSI - entitled Even a Bad AP Score Can Be Good.

So here it is in a nutshell.  NMSI programs focus on taking and passing AP exams as the best indicator of rigor in high school. If you can pass a credit bearing college course then you are ready for college. The study highlighted in Jay's article points out:

"Students coming out of MMSI schools have a 77 percent persistence rate in two-year colleges and a 90 percent rate in four-year colleges. This is substantially above the two-year college persistence rate of 54 percent for Massachusetts students not in MMSI, and the four-year college persistence rate of 79 percent."

WOW - our students are rockin' the campus!! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Military Families Need Common Core

Students from military families are a prime beneficiary of the new Common Core State Standards.  A new report from has a great primer for military families on why this is so and it can be found at K12 Core Curriculum Standards.

The bottom line - if you are a student and your country asks you to move multiple times in high school shouldn't you be able to have some coherence in your education? Common Core can bring the standardization in direction that our military family members need.

Isn't it ironic that the very party that used to invoke "the troops" oppose an effort that will really help our military and their families.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Common Core Assessment Results

I started the PARCC Educator Leader Cadre meeting with a challenge - how were the educators going to respond in 2015 when less than half their students were proficient.  This is based on predictions that the new assessments results would mirror NAEP.

Kentucky has proven that to be true. They provided a common core like assessment to students at the end of the 2011-2012 school year and here are the results compared to their former state assessment from the EdWeek article Scores Drop on KY Common Core Aligned Tests -

Elementary reading

  • CCSS Assessment - 48% proficient 
  • State Assessment  - 76% proficient
Elementary math
  • CCSS Assessment - 40.4% proficient
  • State Assessment - 73% proficient
Middle School reading
  • CCSS Assessment - 46.8 proficient
  • State Assessment - 70% proficient
Middle School math
  • CCSS Assessment - 40.6% proficient
  • State Assessment - 65% proficient
High School reading
  • CCSS Assessment - 52.2% proficient
  • State/ACT Quality Core Assessment - 65% proficient
High School math (Algebra 2)
  • CCSS Assessment - 40% proficient
  • State Assessment - 46%
The predictions they had used showed a much steeper drop so they were actually a little more pleased with the results. We like to think that is because well over 1,000 Kentucky teachers are NMSI / Laying the Foundation trained to deliver common core lessons in the classroom.

You have to admire Kentucky for getting out in front of this and shining a harsh spotlight on the real results for students.  They will be way ahead of the game! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Common Core = Better Math Performance

I know, it's only common sense but I like it!
Study Supports move toward common math standards

"We can’t yet prove anything about the Common Core standards because they’re just now being implemented, but if we look back we find that those states that were closest to the Common Core on average did better on the 2009 NAEP test (National Assessment of Educational Progress),” Schmidt said.
“This is another strong piece of evidence that we are moving in the right direction.”
The study also found that some states previously had Common Core-worthy criteria – such as requiring eighth-graders to understand and apply the Pythagorean Theorem – but essentially let the students and teachers off the hook by having low proficiency standards. Michigan, for example, had high standards but low proficiency guidelines – students could pass the standard math test by scoring less than 40 percent.
Common Core addresses that deficiency with a set of standard proficiency guidelines slated to go into effect with the 2014-15 school year, Schmidt said."
NOTE: if new assessments equals NAEP performance we have a very rude awakening in the harsh spotlight (to mix metaphors).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Higher Education Exacerbating Economic Problems

Clayton Christensen nails it with "A Capitalist's Dilemma, Whoever Wins on Tuesday" - for educators here is the money quote:

"Our approach to higher education is exacerbating our problems. Efficiency innovations often add workers with yesterday’s skills to the ranks of the unemployed. Empowering innovations, in turn, often change the nature of jobs — creating jobs that can’t be filled.
Today, the educational skills necessary to start companies that focus on empowering innovations are scarce. Yet our leaders are wasting education by shoveling out billions in Pell Grants and subsidized loans to students who graduate with skills and majors that employers cannot use."
The solution: "But we can no longer waste education, subsidizing it in fields that offer few jobs. "
So very true - we are focused on the wrong metrics. It is not about getting students into college - it is about college success. But it is not just about earning a degree - it is about earning a degree for tomorrow's jobs. We cannot succeed without the talent to continue the innovations that expand the economy. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012