Education Update: 4/8/2015

Vashon Island High School

Education Update is a weekly blog post highlighting recent developments in the world of education. The linked articles and summaries are not endorsements, rather frame points of view to begin conversations about the state of education, trends, and how we as designers can play an active role in shaping schools.

Community-College Students Learn Math by Using it

The Seattle Times Education Lab reports on the success of Washington State’s I-BEST program in community colleges. The 10-year-old Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program replaces non-credit-earning remedial coursework by teaching these subjects through vocational training such as heavy machinery. While enrollment in I-BEST is still low—only 3,400 students out of Washington States 400,000—the program has been proven to significantly increase those earning credentials. The success has been widely noted and the program is now being implemented in all 34 of Washington State’s community colleges and has been replicated across 29 other states.

At Success Academy Charter Schools, High Scores and Polarizing Tactics

The New York Times reports  on Success Academy and its controversial educational methods.  The Academy, which operates 43 schools in New York City, utilizes a strict environment focused on student and teacher accountability. Teachers and students are tracked for their success and failures, with student grades being publicly posted and their results being tracked by administrators to analyze teacher effectiveness. “You’re being treated like you’re on the trading floor at Goldman while you’re teaching in Harlem,” said Ms. Tuchman, a former teacher for Success Academy. High suspension rates, long hours, and the high-pressure environment have led to high teacher turnover and many students leaving the network. If test scores are the only measure of success, Success Academy’s strict and intense culture claims to pay off. While only 35 percent of public school students in the City passed the state math test last year, 94 percent of Success Academy students achieved the metric. In reading test scores, the differential was reported at 35 points.

University of Florida Admits 3,000 Students for Online-Only Courses

In an experimental move, the University of Florida extended offers of acceptance contingent on participation in their new Pathway to Campus Enrollment (PaCE) program. The Washington Post reports that in addition to the approximately 13,000 students accepted to take courses on-campus, an additional 3,118 were offered participation in an online-only program, PaCE. The move has been met confusion confusion from potential parents and students. Those who enroll in PaCE must complete two semesters and 60 credit hours online before on-campus enrollment is made available. Online classes are becoming increasingly embraced by large Universities. Bloomburg Business reports here that even University of Pennsylvania’s elite Wharton School of Business has created an online edition of a portion of their MBA program in partnership with Coursera.

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