By the SAT Standard, Less Than Half of College-Bound Seniors Are Ready

Only 43 percent of 2012’s high-school graduates are prepared for success in college, according to a report released on Monday by the College Board, which owns the SAT.

The SAT Report on College & Career Readiness says that a majority of test takers did not achieve the college-entrance examination’s benchmark score of 1550, which the College Board suggests is indicative of college success and graduation. The SAT is scored on a 2400-point scale.

But the SAT is only one factor indicating college readiness and likelihood of completion, the College Board noted, and therefore students who score below the benchmark can still succeed in college. The strongest indicators of college success, the report says, are taking a rigorous high-school curriculum and having parents with postsecondary degrees.

Members of the high-school Class of 2012 who took the SAT represented the largest and most diverse pool in the test’s history, according to the report. Of the more than 1.66 million test takers from the Class of 2012, 45 percent identified themselves as minority students, up from 38 percent in 2008. Thirty-six percent of test takers said their parents’ highest level of education was a high-school diploma or less.

While participation has increased 6 percent since 2008, SAT scores have decreased slightly. Mean scores for critical reading are down four points, writing scores are down five points, and mathematics scores have remained stable, compared with four years ago. The overall mean for the Class of 2012 was 1498, substantially below the 1550 benchmark.

Researchers continue to debate whether the SAT reliably predicts success in college; some studies support the test’s role, while others say it is a poor indicator of future academic performance, putting low-income and minority students at a disadvantage.

Via Caitlin Peterkin, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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Common Core Thrusts Librarians Into Leadership Role

It’s the second week of the school year, and middle school librarian Kristen Hearne is pulling outdated nonfiction books from the shelves. She is showing one teacher how to track down primary-source documents from the Vietnam War and helping a group of other teachers design a project that uses folk tales to draw students into cross-cultural comparisons.

With the common standards on her doorstep, Ms. Hearne has a lot to do. Her library at Wren Middle School in Piedmont, S.C., is a nerve center in her school’s work to arm both teachers and students for a focus on new kinds of study. She’s working to build not only students’ skills in writing, reading, research, and analysis, but also teachers’ skills in teaching them. She and other librarians say they view the common core, with its emphasis on explanation, complex text, and cross-disciplinary synthesis, as an unprecedented opportunity for them to really strut their stuff.

“When it comes to the common core, librarians can be a school’s secret weapon,” said Ms. Hearne, who blogs as “The Librarian in the Middle.”

Like most school librarians, Ms. Hearne has been trained both as a teacher and a librarian, a combination she thinks is perfectly suited to helping students and teachers as the Common Core State Standards presses them into inquiry-based modes of learning and teaching. She helps them find a range of reading materials in printed or online form and collaborates to develop challenging cross-disciplinary projects. And like colleagues around the country, Ms. Hearne also plays important instructional roles often unrecognized by the public: as co-instructor alongside classroom teachers, and as professional-development provider for those teachers.

“The common standards are the best opportunity we’ve had to take an instructional-leadership role in the schools and really to support every classroom teacher substantively,” said Barbara Stripling, the president-elect of the American Library Association, and a professor of practice in library science at Syracuse University. (Read more.)

Via Catherine Gewertz, Education Week.

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Administration Announces $500 Million in Community College Grants to Expand Job Training

The U.S. Department of Labor this week announced $500 million in community college grants to develop and expand innovative training programs through local employer partnerships. The Labor Department is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, which is intended to promote skills development and employment opportunities in fields including advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care. All states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will receive at least $2.5 million in funding for community college career training programs, according to the Labor Department.

The grants are the second installment of a $2 billion, four-year initiative. In total, 297 schools will receive grants as individual applicants or as members of a consortium. The grants include awards to community college and university consortia totaling $359,237,048 and awards to individual institutions totaling $78,262,952.

Learn more about the grant program at http://www.doleta.gov/taaccct.

Via Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, CTE Blog.

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Indiana School Aiming for ‘Early College’ Designation

Peru High School is beefing up its dual-credit program in hopes of joining the 20 schools across the state that have been named “early college” high schools.

If it’s accepted into the early college program, Peru will be the only high school in the region to offer it to students.

Schools in Columbus, Bloomington, Greenwood, Indianapolis, Franklin, Evansville, South Bend, Washington, Clayton, Whiteland, Richmond and Connersville are already a part of the program that helps students earn at least a year of college credit before graduation.

Peru wants to be added to that list, and with 20 dual-credit courses being offered at the high school already, Superintendent Chuck Brimbury said the school is well on its way.

“We’re already leading this part of Indiana in dual credits,” Brimbury told the Kokomo Tribune. “Now, we’ve begun discussions to look at being an early college high school. It’s one of the most exciting things we can offer our students.”

The school will undergo a yearlong evaluation process to see if it meets the program’s core principles, Brimbury said.

That includes offering 10 dual-credit courses that are accepted by all seven public colleges in Indiana, Brimbury said. Peru is developing those courses right now.

The school currently offers dual-credit classes in English, science, math, social studies, art, music, engineering and in biomedical and technical areas.

It’s not enough just to offer the courses, though.

According to the early college initiative, early college schools must be committed to serving and supporting students underrepresented in higher education, and that underrepresented population must be the majority focus of the schools’ programs. (Read more.)

Via Lindsey Zilliak, Kokomo Tribune on Community College News.

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Report Shows Gaps in Colleges’ Workforce Development Capacity

Even as community colleges are increasingly seen as critical resources for training workers in the post-recession economy, funding sources for training programs are drying up, challenging efforts to prepare students for high-skill, high-wage jobs, according to a new report.

“Workforce Training in a Recovering Economy,” released by the Education Policy Center at The University of Alabama, surveyed community college leaders from across the country on the status of workforce development programs. The full report is available athttp://uaedpolicy.weebly.com.

Respondents reported that expectations from business leaders, policymakers and the public for community colleges to train workers are on the rise while training funds from federal sources like the Workforce Investment Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have been exhausted. High unemployment has also strained the capacity of the schools, as more people seek new training, the survey found.

“As the nation emerges from the recession, how can community colleges reach out, in both the short- and long-term, to develop the workforce when their own capacity is itself threatened?” ask the report’s authors, Stephen Katsinas, Mark M. D’Amico, and Janice N. Friedel. Katsinas is director of the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center, D’Amico is a faculty member at the College of Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Friedel is at on the faculty at Iowa State University.

Community colleges emerged as a vital player in workforce training in the early 1980s, and attention to this role has increased in recent years as the economy has slowed. Forty-five of 49 responding state community college directors said business leaders see the schools as primary workforce training providers, up from 34 respondents in a survey conducted last year. “The data are abundantly clear: high-wage jobs require education beyond high school,” the report says. (Read more.)

Via Paul Bradley, Editor, Community College Week.

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