What We Are Reading: Teacher Certifications, the Common Core, & Student Data

Looking for new high school-related resources?  Here are some pieces that other organizations have recently released:* Education and Certification Qualifications of Departmentalized Public High School-Level Teachers of Core Subjects (National Center for Education Statistics, May 2011) The National Center for Education Statistics has released results from its 2007-2008 School Staffing Survey.  The survey found that more than three-quarters of teachers assigned to a core subject (science, math, social science and history) only teach classes in that assignment.  A majority of these teachers hold both postsecondary degrees and certification for their assignment.  In eight of the eleven subjects examined, a majority of teachers both taught exclusively within, and had both a degree and certification for, their assigned subject. Fewer than half of teachers exclusively taught their main assignment in six of the nine subfields in the survey. Affirming the Goal: Is College and Career Readiness an Internationally Competitive Standard? (ACT, May 2001) A new ACT study finds that the Common Core State Standards Initiative is internationally competitive based on results from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).  Countrywide implementation of the initiative would have moved the United States into the top ten in both reading and math.  The United States was 15th in reading and 31st in science in the 2009 PISA. The study argues improved standards would allow American students to remain competitive in the global marketplace. School Enrollment in the United States: 2008 (United States Census Bureau, June 2011) The U.S. Census Bureau has released a report on school enrollment levels and demographic trends within those levels.  Enrollment in both four year and two year college hit all time highs in 2008.  The report also found increased Hispanic student enrollment in both two year college and nursery school. Education and the Economy: Boosting the Nation’s Economy by Improving High School Graduation Rates Among Students of Color and Native Students (Alliance for Excellent Education, May 2011). This report presents data calculated with an independently developed economic model that the Alliance says quantifies both national and state-by-state economic benefits potentially realized if the dropout rate was halved among African-American, Latino, Native American, and Asian-American students. For example, the report’s authors wrote, an additional 378,200 graduates from the four groups together could add 30,000 jobs to the economy fueled by their spending and investments, and the gross domestic product would increase by $5.4 billion by the time the graduates were halfway through their careers. The report also notes that improved graduation rates among the groups would increase state tax revenue by $412 million in an average year. Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools: Findings From the School Survey on Crime and Safety: 2009–10 (National Center for Education Statistics, May 31, 2011). The National Center for Education Statistics collects data on crime and violence in U.S. public schools through the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS). This First Look report presents findings from the 2009–10 School Survey on Crime and Safety data collection. The Role of Mentoring in College Access and Success (Pathways to College Network and National College Access Network, June 2011). Given the urgent need to increase the success of underrepresented students in college, practitioners from college access programs and youth development organizations find mentoring to be a valuable strategy in providing students with the emotional and instrumental support they need to achieve the goal of receiving a college degree. Mentoring helps to nurture students’ college aspirations, prepare them for a successful transition from high school to college, and connect them to academic and social supports once on campus. This brief distills and synthesizes scholarly research specifically as it pertains to the role of mentoring to promote college access and success. With an emphasis on implications for practitioners, the brief aims to serve as a tangible resource for individuals from college access programs, youth development organizations, and advocacy groups. Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education (National Research Council, 2011). Test-based incentive programs are shown to have little impact in raising student achievement over the past two decades, despite the fact that state and federal lawmakers have increasingly relied on high-stakes testing to improve accountability measures, according to a new report from the National Research Council of the National Academies. Under NCLB, the use of test-based incentives took hold, along with state movement toward high school exit exams and a strong interest in tying teacher-pay to student academic achievement data, according to the Committee on Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Public Education, which authored the report. Some stakeholders have argued against the practice of attaching incentives to test scores, saying that doing so encourages educators to focus their instruction narrowly on what is tested, which could result in an “inflated picture” of what students know and can do, researchers said. Indeed, current test-based incentive programs, including high school exit exams, have produced disappointing results, and have not increased student achievement enough to align U.S. students with their peers in the highest achieving countries, researchers found. A Time for Deeper Learning: Preparing Students for a Changing World (Alliance for Excellent Education, May 2011). Policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels should support the concepts of “deeper learning” to help all students meet higher expectations and be prepared for college and a career. This argues that deeper learning provides students with the deep content knowledge students need to succeed after high school and the critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills that today’s jobs demand. According to the brief, today’s increasingly complex world requires that young people learn more, process more, and produce more, but the nation’s education infrastructure is not currently designed to support these increasing demands. “A Time for Deeper Learning” argues that American schools tend to offer a two-tiered curriculum in which some students—primarily white and relatively affluent—have had opportunities for deeper learning, while others—primarily low-income and students of color—have focused almost exclusively on basic skills and knowledge.   Are you reading any of these reports or articles?  Or do you have other good high school resources to share? Tweet us at @NHSCatAIR and let us know! *Resource descriptions provided by the sponsoring organization. Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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