Education by the Numbers

College towns are smarter

Venture Beat reports that the towns with the smartest people are small college towns, based on how more than 3 million people around the U.S.…


Posted by Jill Barshay on July 29, 2013 at 10:36am

Education not as "pink" in the media as it is in the classroom

I was surprised to read on Jessica Bennett's tumblr blog that male sources outnumber female sources on the front page of the New York Times, even on the subject of education. Technology, politics, sure. But shocking that there are 8 male sources for every 3 female ones, when 76 percent of teachers…


Posted by Jill Barshay on July 22, 2013 at 1:00pm


Early Ed in the News

Secretary Duncan Lays Out Early Education Vision

Duncan acknowledged many in Congress are loath to approve the proposed funding mechanism for the early education plan—a doubling of the tax on cigarettes to 94 cents a pack—but stressed that “you can’t reach the number of children we’re trying to reach without significant new investment.”

[Early Ed Federal Funding Mini Primer]

Georgia Early Ed Chief Supports Obama's Pre-K Plan, Not the Financing

Cagle also spoke in favor of an early education system that did not prioritize access for low-income students.“Part of what you have to look at in addition to child outcomes is the buy-in the public has for the program,” Cagle said. “What we have seen consistently in states that have used targeted programs is that they become viewed often times as a welfare program. We focus on education here and we resisted being pigeonholed as a low-income, targeted program.”

House Version of NCLB Passes Along Partisan Lines

Today the House of Representatives passed a rewrite of the contentious (and by now six years past its expiration date) No Child Left Behind Act, the chief education law of the land. Only Republicans voted for the bill.

Still, the version from the lower chamber of Congress acts as an ideological counterpoint to the 1,100-page proposal put forward by HELP Committee Chair and Iowa Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin, meaning the road to compromise will likely be long and full of rehearsed barbs meant to discredit the other side's commitment to sound education policy. If the Senate version was the first salvo, consider this House bill a riposte. The Senate proposal must still win approval by the full chamber, however. And many insiders are skeptical Congress will debate competing NCLB rewrites any time soon, given the stacked schedule of marquee bills like immigration that are viewed as bigger priorities for lawmakers. 

With that, here are snippets pulled from outlets that wrote about the House vote

Senate Reaches New Compromise on Student Loans


The Senate has reached a new compromise on interest rates for new federal student loans that resembles versions championed by the House and President Obama. Under the Senate plan, federal loans would be pegged to the 10-year Treasury bill. Students receiving undergraduate Stafford loans would pay an additional 2.05% (with a cap set to 8.25%; graduate loans would add 3.6% to the T-bill (with a cap of 9.5%); and PLUS loans would come with a 4.6% surcharge (with a cap of 10.5%). (July 18, via USA Today)


The Congressional Budget Office found that the compromise legislation pieced together last night by a group of senators will cost $22 billion over ten years, a blow to the bill's backers who hoped the proposed plan wouldn't add to the budget. Associated Press with the deets. (July 11)

Original (July 11)

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. A group of senators took the adage to heart, agreeing to an overhaul of the federal student loan program last night after several false starts and voted down bills in the past month.

The compromise resembles proposals put forth by the White House and leading Republicans: Loans will be pegged to the interest of the 10-year Treasury note, with undergraduates paying an additional 1.8 percent per loan while graduate students pay 3.8 percent. Regardless of what the Treasury yield will be in the future, the plan would cap rates on undergraduate loans at 8.25 percent and 9.25 percent for graduate loans (current rates are lower than what the maximum rates can be under the new measure).

The Senate bill would apply retroactively to loans affected by the July 1 rate hike, which occurred after lawmakers could not agree on a solution to prevent subsidized Stafford loans from doubling to 6.8 percent. The compromise legislation would be more expansive, encompassing as well unsubsidized Stafford loans and PLUS loans that carry with them higher rates.

Despite several setbacks, including a failed vote on a bill to extend rates another year to 3.4 percent yesterday afternoon, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) remained hopeful, citing ongoing conversations and a desire among lawmakers to come to an agreement. It appears his hunch was correct.

While the full chamber has yet to vote on the measure, The Huffington Post writes the bill is likely to pass after gaining support from two leading and liberal Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

The story is still ongoing, but here are what other outlets are writing.

Government Report Suggests Racial Achievement Gap Narrowing

A new national study conducted by the federal government shows the achievement gap between white students and minorities has narrowed among nine and 13 year-olds since the 1970s, yet has remained mostly flat among 17 year-olds.

Released by the makers of the gold standard of student assessments, National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), the newly published findings are part of an ongoing study that measure students’ understanding of mathematics and reading.

Below is a sampling of the press coverage.

Media Roundup: New Multi-state Charter School Study Notes Progress, Setbacks

Wall Street Journal: “Students attending publicly funded, privately run charter schools posted slightly higher learning gains overall in reading than their peers in traditional public schools and about the same gains in math, but the results varied drastically by state, according to one of the most comprehensive studies of U.S. charter schools.”

Huffington Post: “Charter students on the whole end the school year with reading skills eight instructional days ahead of public school kids, and perform at about the same rate as public school students in math, according to the study released Tuesday by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO. In math, the study found that 29 percent of charter schools showed ‘significantly stronger learning gains’ than their public school peers, with 40 percent performing similarly and 31 percent ‘significantly weaker.’ In reading, 25 percent of charters showed "significantly stronger learning gains" than public schools, 56 percent showed no difference and 19 percent showed ‘significantly weaker gains.’”

Read what other papers reported here

News and Analysis on SCOTUS's Ruling in Fisher v University of Texas

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today 7-1 that a lawsuit challenging the race-based admissions policy at The University of Texas at Austin needs to be reviewed a second time by a lower court, a decision that confounded many journalists and legal analysts who have been following the case.

The ruling was a mixed bag, on the one hand affirming the government’s interest in preserving diversity while on the other putting the burden of proof on universities to demonstrate race-based admissions policies are vital to their diversity goals. The high court faulted the lower Fifth Circuit court for not challenging University of Texas to prove it needed an admissions policy that used race as a factor.

The case will now go back to the Fifth Circuit, and possibly a lower court, forging a path that could land it for a second review by the Supreme Court in the not too distant future.

Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case, reportedly due to her previous role as Solicitor General for the Obama administration. In 2010, the Justice Department sided with the University of Texas in an official document known as an amicus brief that was presented to the Fifth Circuit court.

Click here for clips from various news outlets covering the court's ruling, what stakeholders and higher-ed watchers think the ruling signifies, and other takeaways.

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