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Class Struggle: March 28, 2010 - April 3, 2010

The best and worst campus tour questions

Go to my Admissions 101 discussion group and try your hand at the new topic: what are the best, and worst, college campus tour or college campus introductory meeting questions you have ever heard? I will likely print the most interesting sometime soon, as we go into the big season for parents and students visiting college campuses, and trying to work out their differences.

By Jay Mathews  |  April 2, 2010; 1:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: best and worst campus tour questions  
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Me vs. smartest critic of AP in low-income schools

By far the most interesting contributor to the volume, author or co-author of two chapters and one of the four editors, was a Texas professor, Kristin Klopfenstein. She has become the most articulate and knowledgeable critic of using AP to raise achievement in low-income schools. Since she has been aiming her barbs at a movement that I have been supporting for a quarter of a century, I decided to call her up, discuss our differences and report what she had to say.

By Jay Mathews  |  April 2, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags: AP critic vs. Jay Mathews, AP studies differ, Kristin Klopfenstein, accepts the fact that AP has occasionally help set a higher standard for schools., downgrades the impact of AP on low income students  
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Are you part of a great teacher's student family?

We know great teachers can be dynamos in the classroom. They turn lessons into conversations. They know each student’s strengths and weaknesses. They care about results. All those traits are important. But at the O’Leary reunion, I remembered that great teachers also create a sense of family with their students that lasts for years, sometimes well beyond their deaths.

By Jay Mathews  |  March 31, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Local Living  | Tags: Cardozo High School D.C., Frazier O'Leary, Jaime Escalante, teacher-inspired families, tell me about a great teacher  
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Jaime Escalante dies at 79

Mr. Escalante pioneered the use of Advanced Placement, a program of college-level courses and tests designed for high-achieving private schools, to raise standards in average and below-average public schools. His success at Garfield High School, where 85 percent of the students were low-income and few parents had more than a sixth-grade education, suggested that more time and encouragement for learning could trump educational disadvantages.

By Jay Mathews  |  March 31, 2010; 1:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Jaime Escalante dies at 79, secrets of Escalante's success  
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KIPP visitor's critique, KIPP leader's response

suegjoyce: “Kids at KIPP are drilled and tested over and over again with scores posted in hallway for all to see. ALL scores, good or bad.” Shirey: We do have an interim testing program, and believe strongly in posting data, but this is only a small part of what we do. In addition to regular classwork, we have students engaged in arts activities, science labs, and Socratic seminars. As an example, our high school engineering class recently participated in a large competition. They took second place behind historic Central High in Little Rock, which has a student body about 20 times larger than ours.

By Jay Mathews  |  March 31, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: KIPP Delta College Preparatory School, KIPP leader responds, KIPP visitor critiques school, suegjoyce  
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Should only top students get financial aid?

The latest topic for my Admissions 101 discussion group is a new book by Rutgers emeritus professor Jackson Toby, "The Lowering of Higher Education." He argues that high schools and colleges will be far more likely to have engaged and motivated students if we change the college financial aid system from recognizing financial need to recognizing academic merit. In other words, you couldn't get financial aid when you applied to college unless you scored well on a national standardized test, something like the exams used in British Commonwealth countries. It is a radical idea, but thought provoking. Join our often raucous group of regular discussants to thrash this out.

By Jay Mathews  |  March 30, 2010; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Admissions 101 discussion, Jackson Toby book, give financial aid only to top students  
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Delaware, Tennessee on hot seats

I have not been a fan of the federal Race to the Top school innovation program. I have predicted that politics and inertia will dissipate its impact, as often happens with federal money given to schools. But I do love the fact that the first grants, as revealed by my colleague Nick Anderson, are going to just two states, Delaware and Tennessee. This will make it much easier to focus on the results.

By Jay Mathews  |  March 29, 2010; 3:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Del. and Tenn. on hot seats, Race to the Top, federal money often wasted, pressure on those two states  
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High school students avoid test preparation

How well students will do on the DC-CAS this spring is in doubt. D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee handed Dunbar and Coolidge high schools over to a New York City school management company, the Friends of Bedford Group. Its officials had a good track record in New York, where they significantly raised student achievement at a school in an impoverished area of Brooklyn. But they are having some difficulty getting Dunbar students who must take the DC-CAS to show up for the extra teaching they need.

By Jay Mathews  |  March 28, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: Bevon Thompson, Coolidge High School, DC Comprehensive Assessment System tests, Dunbar High School, Dunbar improving slowly, George Leonard, Michelle A. Rhee, Niaka Gaston, students avoid test preparation  
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