Project America - Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Spending and Performance in Today’s Schools
Published Monday, August 24th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

With the new school year upon us, it’s a good time to consider the quality and cost of the education provided by our local public school systems.  One way to quantify the quality and cost of their education is to look at spending and performance, but by no means is this the only method.  The top spending states are Vermont, New York, and New Jersey, according to the Census Bureau, at a rate of $14,000-16,000 per student, which is $6,000 more than the national average for 2006-2007 school years.  Proponents of spending more suggest that it should lead to higher educational attainment.   However, in 2004 the Manhattan Institute evaluated all 50 states and Washington D.C. and concluded that for the money, New Jersey students significantly under-preformed.  In fact, the Hoover Institute stated that it was one of the lowest performing states in its region.

Looking at the historic performance on the SAT and spending over the last 30 years, the same assumptions should apply to the entire student population, yet that’s not the case.  From 1980 to 2007, the amount of spending per student has risen nearly fourfold to approximately $10,000.  During that time, verbal scores of both females and males remained steady and math scores gained only 20 points.

H1N1 Flu May Separate Students and Teachers This Fall
Published Thursday, August 20th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more communities may be affected by both the H1N1 Swine Flu and the ordinary seasonal flu in the coming months than last spring, and every post-secondary/secondary institution needs to have an action plan in place.  The CDC suggests flu-preventive hygiene, students and staff getting the vaccine once it becomes available, “self-isolation” or “flu buddy” system, and eliminating requirements for a doctor’s note to prove an illness.

The CDC recommends using the internet in keeping students and teachers connected if the flu season becomes too severe.  Public schools in the United States with access to the Internet reached 100% in 2003, compared with 35% in 1994. Public schools have made continued progress in expanding Internet access into instructional rooms, with 94% of public school instructional rooms having Internet access, as of 2005 reporting, compared with 3% in 1994.

More People Aged 25-34 Are Taking the GED
Published Thursday, August 13th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The demand for high school equivalency credentials has increased with the economic downturn reports the American Council on Education.  In 2008, the number of adults who took the GED test rose to nearly 777,000, with an improved overall passing rate of 72.6%.  The increase continued in 41 U.S. states in the beginning of 2009.  Of those states, 22 have increased greater than 10%, with Louisiana and New Hampshire is seeing near 40% jumps in testing.  Yet, just as the increases have coincided with the economic downturn, the adult education service has to compete with other social programs for decreased or frozen state budgets.  President Obama wants the US to lead the world in the proportion of college graduates by 2020; the GED testing service Interim Executive Director Bruce Briggs states that the GED service will be vital to reach that goal.

The number of test takers has been recovering slowly from the meteoric high the GED service experienced in 2001 of 1.07 million test takers and its subsequent drop to 603,019 in 2002.  However, the percentage distribution of GED test takers has remained relativly consistent with the largest group by far consisting of those 19 years old and under, with the 25-29 and 30-34 year olds increasing the most between 2006 and 2007 by 0.3 and 0.6% respectivly.

“Test Score Optional” Schools Aim for Diversity as Scores Decline
Published Thursday, August 6th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

According to the Fair-Test, a non-profit that studies the merit of standardized test, 815 colleges and universities in the US admit numerous students without test scores.  This type of admission acts on the belief that “test scores do not equal merit.” Many have started to rely on high school classroom performance as a better way of forecasting academic success in college and beyond.  “Test score optional” schools state that their applicant pools and classes have become more diverse without loss of academic quality.  These schools experience greater diversity because the ‘optional’ schools gain qualified minority, low-income, first-generation, female and other students that are not discouraged from applying.  Yet, critics also point out that some SAT reporting schools with the ‘optional’ policy inflate their average SAT scores by not adding the ‘optional’ scores after students are admitted.

After 1967, the SAT scores of both males and females decreased until 1980, after which they rebounded up until 2000 where many started to level.  Presently, the SAT scores of both males and females have either flat lined or have started to decrease since 2005. As of 2007, all scores are down: for their verbal portion, males have averaged a score of 504, females 502.  As for the math section, there is a widening gap as males had a high average of 533 while females averaged 499.

Teachers Salaries have Risen Pass the Rate Of Inflation
Published Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

After 15 years of relative stagnation, the average salary for public school teachers has increased 4.5% in 2006-07 to $51,009, according to the American Federation of Teacher’s latest teacher salary survey, marking the first time average teacher pay exceeded $50,000. Also, this is the first time since 2003 that teacher salaries surpassed the annual rate of inflation. The average charter school teacher salary was $41,106, nearly $10,000 less than that for traditional public school teachers. The top paying state for traditional public school teachers is California at $59,825; South Dakota comes in at the bottom at $34,673.

For those just graduating, a 2008 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that starting salaries in 2006-07 were $35,284, up 9.7% from 2004-05 for the 47 states reporting. Also, the greatest average increase in starting salary occurred in the South.  The overall offers ranged from a low of $25,000 to more than $40,000. This increase outpaced inflation, and the 2006-07 increase was more than twice the rise in inflation. This means that starting teacher salaries outpaced overall teacher salaries.

Enrollment Surge Creates Pressures on Community Colleges
Published Monday, August 3rd, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

Contrary to a system that is based on open admission to higher education all, community colleges now have to contemplate turning away students. The reasons for such a reversal of principle are fueled by the current recession, an enrollment surge greater than the past 2 decades, and tight state budgets. Normally, an economic downturn would boost community college enrollment.  Yet, the current recession poses a three sided crush of students who are out of work and looking for a career boost, limited to lower tuition choices by a tighter credit market, and threat of home foreclosure requiring extra income. The tuition for a four year university and a two year community college is drastically different in that private 4-year is $25,143 and public 4-year is $6,585.  Community college is less than $2000 on average.

The Obama Administration has planned to add $12 billion to the community college budget over the next decade, yet there is no immediate relief in sight. The most up-to-date information on college enrollment suggests that the growing enrollment is coming from the Hispanic college age population, which increased nearly 4 percentage points to 57.9% between 2005 and 2006. The enrollment by the white population decreased by 4.7 percentage points to 68.5%, and blacks had a -0.2 point change during the same time period to 55.5%.

Relief for Student Loan Suffers
Published Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

Some relief has finally come to those struggling to pay off those student loans. New rules allow for borrowers to apply the plan to their remaining loan amount as of Wednesday, July 1st. Highlights include an income-based repayment plan that considers income and family size; also borrowers can set their monthly loan payment at 15% of their annual adjusted gross income. Plus, borrowers who make less than $16,245 — poverty level — would not be required to make any payments on their federal loans as long as their income remained at that level. Public Service also offers some relief as well in the form of loan forgiveness after 10 years of service. The Government increased the Pell Grants payouts from $619 to $5,350 — thanks to the Stimulus Act — for the 2009-2010 school year, decreased loan origination fees to 1% next July and cut interest rates from 6% to 5.6%.

The action is a result of several factors not the least of which includes skyrocketing tuition, which has reached $20,000 for a Private school and near $5,000 for public school in 2007. For 45% of Public college students and upwards to 60-75% of Private college students, the rise in tuition has resulted in loans to cover the cost of an education.  This has lead to an annual Federal Assistance borrowing of $92,484 million and places the US second in Higher Education spending among developed countries.

Disadvantages Exist for Some Who are Never Married
Published Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

A new study derived from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth,Who Marries and When? Age at First Marriage in the United States: 2002,” suggests that only 17% of American women haven’t married by age 35, compared to 25% of men. Further evidence indicates that there is a 50% probability that women marry for the first time by age 25; men don’t hit 50% until 27 years of age. By 40 years of age, the probability rises to 86% for women and 81% for men. By race, there are differences even as early as age 18, in which there is a 10% probability of Hispanic women being married — doubling white women and triple that of black women. Between 25 and 44, 84% of non-Hispanic women have married vs. 56% of non-Hispanic black women. The report involved 12,571 people — 4,928 males and 7,643 females between 15 and 44 years old.

The data points to a large minority of black women still unmarried during nearly half their lifetime; while not necessary, it leaves single mothers disadvantaged in many ways. Though down after years of successful campaigns, teen birth rates among black teens is still second to Hispanic teens. The highest education level of both men and women of all races tends to be high school graduation and some college for those divorced or never married.

School Readiness Depends on Several Factors
Published Friday, June 5th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The idea that pre-school should be as universal as K-12 has been getting ever more attention by educators and public officials. The thinking is for government to provide education to all 4-year-olds in an effort to close the school-readiness gaps that exist and persist beyond kindergarten. The Obama administration has stated that early childhood education is one of the top priorities of his term, and the federal government intends to spend an additional $10 billion per year on enhancing early childhood education. A report by the Rand Corporation states that the achievement gap can be narrowed by 10 to 20% by increasing the number of underprivileged children attending pre-schools and by improving the quality of education.

School readiness studies measure a child’s ability to recognize letters, count to 20 or higher, write their own name and/or pretends to read. A child’s ability to accomplish these tasks rests on a myriad of conditions including gender; females out-perform males in almost every category for the last 13 years. Children of a two parent home fair 4-7% better at all skills measured than those of single or no parent households. Household income also impacts readiness since those above the poverty threshold are found to possess skills 15% more than those below the threshold. Strikingly, children whose mothers’ work and those not in the labor force also fair better than those whose mothers are unemployed. Readiness by race is close for whites, blacks and others; however, many Hispanic children fall behind as much as 5-15% compared to their counterparts.

US Education Test Scores
Published Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The National Assessment of Education Progress trend data released last month shows that average scores for 9- to 13-year-olds in both reading and mathematics have risen significantly since the test was established in the 1970s. Reading scores for 17-year-olds, despite an increase from 2004-2008, are still considered by NAEP to have not increased significantly since the test’s beginning. Math scores, which did not experience the recent increases that reading scores saw, remained relatively flat for 40 years. The NAEP test scores trend data suggest that the gender gap in both reading and math have remained the same since the test’s beginning. Racial and ethnic achievement gaps have narrowed in both reading and math, yet they did not change in either from 2004 to 2008. Also in March, President Obama stated that American schools should expand their school days, like South Korea, in order to stay competative in a global century.    

Currently, the average US math scores come in at the bottom 4th of selected countries along with Russia, Italy and Mexico; on top are China, Finland and South Korea. In regards to reading scores, the United States fairs a bit better; we are in the middle along with Denmark and France. Canada, South Korea and Finland are at the top with nearly 40 points difference.  In fact, the US remains near the bottom or at least theUS middle for problem-solving and science scores.   

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