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The Answer Sheet: March 28, 2010 - April 3, 2010

The illusion of ever-lower college acceptance rates

Elite colleges and universities won’t say they are bragging that they send rejection letters to almost all of the kids, but that’s what it seems like to me. But the real problem is that these super-low selectivity rates suggest something about college admissions that isn’t actually true.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 3, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  College Admissions, High School  | Tags:  college admissions  
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Florida school reform: Worse than you thought

Look at the way the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature handles important issues and it becomes easier to understand the lack of serious thought that has gone into its dangerous school reform plans.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 2, 2010; 3:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  No Child Left Behind  | Tags:  Florida, NCLB, school reform  
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Why Obama's education reform plan can't work

In an open letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, educator Jim Horn explains why the Obama administration's approach to school reform in its Blueprint for rewriting No Child Left Behind rests on bad assumptions and ignores real evidence.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 2, 2010; 11:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  | Tags:  Arne Duncan, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  
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James McPherson on Texas history curriculum

I asked award-winning historian James McPherson how much we should worry about the changes to social studies curriculum being made by conservatives in Texas. Here's what he said.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 2, 2010; 6:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  History  | Tags:  history curriculum, texas, textbooks  
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Where in the world is...?

After Hurricane Katrina, one-third of Americans aged 18-24 could not locate Louisiana on a map, and almost half couldn’t find Mississippi. The country's general lack of geographic knowledge is why the National Geographic Society holds its annual geograpy bee for kids.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 1, 2010; 1:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  No Child Left Behind  | Tags:  geography, no child left behind  
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The problems with double depositing: Part 2

Michael Sexton, vice president of enrollment management at Santa Clara College in California, explains why colleges and universities "strongly discourage" double depositing. For one thing, it "gums up the works on wait lists."

By Valerie Strauss  | April 1, 2010; 6:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  College Admissions  | Tags:  college admissions, double depositing  
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Is it okay to double deposit at colleges? Part 1

April 1st is the traditional day that colleges and universities tell high school seniors if they have been accepted or not. Those kids lucky enough to have options sometimes can’t make up their minds by the May 1 decision deadline and put down deposits to hold a place at more than one school. Should they?

By Valerie Strauss  | April 1, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Bruce Vinik, College Admissions, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  college acceptances, college admissions, double depositing  
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Teachers fighting back in Florida

Even if you don’t live in Florida, you should pay attention to what is going on there. State lawmakers seem intent on passing legislation that opponents see as the sharpest attack on teachers in the country, and teachers and their supporters are fighting back. This could all spread beyond the borders of the Sunshine State.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 31, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Teachers  | Tags:  Arne Duncan, Florida, NCLB, teacher tenure bill  
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Closing the school-to-prison pipeline

By Judith Browne-Dianis. Every day, too many children in this country unnecessarily lose learning time and, too often, get criminalized for their immature actions. It's time to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. This is the civil rights challenge of our day.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 31, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, No Child Left Behind  | Tags:  school equity, school to prison pipeline  
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Make strong anti-bullying programs mandatory in schools

More than 40 states have some sort of law that makes bullying illegal, yet the harassment of young kids by their classmates is rampant in schools everywhere. But laws alone won't stop bullying.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 31, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Bullying  | Tags:  bullying, phoebe prince  
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How about merit pay for parents?

One teacher's idea: Take funding for merit pay and move it from the teacher column into the parent column to provide more incentive for parents of low-performing students to follow-through in helping their children succeed.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 30, 2010; 9:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Parents, Teachers  | Tags:  parents, teachers, teachers unions  
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Researchers take new look at teenage brain

It has become commonplace these days to hear that teens are victims of their own immature brains and raging hormones. But University of Virginia researchers Joseph P. Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen say that while the prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed in teens, it’s far from missing, and we still have little evidence that this affects teens’ real-life behavior.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 30, 2010; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Research  | Tags:  brain research, guest bloggers, teenage brain  
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Florida's terrible teachers bill a test for Duncan

The state of Florida could prove to be a big test for Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Legislators in the Sunshine State are moving with all due speed to pass legislation that would go a long way to making sure no...

By Valerie Strauss  | March 30, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, Race to the Top  | Tags:  Ed Secretary Arne Duncan, Florida, Race to the Top  
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College Tour '10: University of Miami

Even in the rain, the University of Miami campus looks beautiful. The campus is landscaped so beautifully. I haven't seen anything quite like it, but then again, most colleges aren't in the sub-tropics.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 11:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10, University of Miami  
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College Tour '10: Boston University

My tour guide was a sorority girl; the guy I sat at the table next to at lunch was wearing an army sweatshirt; the guy who held the door open for me had long dreadlocks; there were two girls wearing combat boots and leather jackets; two men wearing business suits and ties; guys walking around in shorts and T-shirts; girls in high-heeled boots and Converse. Everything was at BU.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 11:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  Boston University, College Tour '10  
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College Tour '10: New York University

It was a totally diverse campus – every type of person you could imagine was there. It’s in New York (aka the greatest place ever) with tons of things to do. It’s seamless with the city, and you are able to do extracurricular activities off-campus and go to lots of off-campus events.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 11:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10, New York University  
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College Tour '10: College of William & Mary

Beautiful campus – the most beautiful one of all the schools I visited.... Perfect for the person who wants a very campus-y campus and close-knit college. I am not one of them.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 11:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10, college admissions  
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College Tour '10: Muhlenberg College

When we asked what a rising high school senior who loved Muhlenberg, but didn’t have great grades or scores, should do to impress the school, the Admissions officer smiled and said, “Get great grades and scores!” It would have been better if she had just said, honestly, “You’re not going to get in without the grades and scores,” but I think she wasn’t even aware of the irony of her comment; she just didn’t hear us.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 11:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  Muhlenberg College, campus visits, college admissions, college tours, college visits  
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College Tour '10: College of Wooster

There were many things to love about Wooster, but the single most impressive aspect of our visit was the time we spent at the office that works with kids who have learning challenges.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 11:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10  
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College Tour '10 begins

Today we will start posting your write-ups about college visits you are making this spring. Read on to see what parents and students are saying about their visits to different campuses.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 11:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  college admissions, college tour '10, college visits  
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Arne Duncan the heartbreaker and Race to the Top

So Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the first two winners of Race to the Top education reform money. Frankly, the process sounds a little too much like "Project Runway" to my taste.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 4:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, Race to the Top  | Tags:  Arne Duncan, NCLB, Race to the Top  
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Willingham: Feds should leave ed policy to states

By Daniel Willingham. The federal government should get out of the business of making education policy and instead put more effort into evaluating student performance. Here's why.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, No Child Left Behind, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  Daniel Willingham, NCLB, guest bloggers, student assessment  
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Broaddus--The limits of proxies in college apps

By Henry Broaddus. While GPA is a useful shorthand for grade point average, 4.0 is merely a proxy for successful learning (and in an era of weighted grading scales, it’s usually far lower than the proxy for the most successful learning)... All too often proxies are used in order to avoid the challenge of assessing complex, often multivariate characteristics. Put a different way, the answer to the question, "Is Johnny a critical reader?" cannot be expressed as his SAT Critical Reading subscore alone.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 9:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Admissions, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  college admissions, college applications  
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More colleges join $50K-plus a year club

More colleges are planning to charge more than $50,000 a year for tuition, room and board, and mandatory fees next year.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  College Admissions, College Costs  | Tags:  college admissions, college costs  
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Less Testing, More Learning

By Lisa Guisbond and Monty Neill. President Obama's blueprint for rewriting No Child Left Behind shows a deeply disappointing failure to learn from NCLB's big mistakes. For instance, it still makes standardized testing the centerpiece of the law.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 28, 2010; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Lisa Guisbond, No Child Left Behind, Standardized Tests, Teachers  | Tags:  FairTest, NCLB, standardized testing  
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