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January 25, 2012
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Big changes are on the way for College Board’s SAT college-admission test. The headlines announce that the timed essay will be revamped and become optional, that the scoring scale will return to 1600, and that the test will no longer focus so heavily on “obscure” words (when’s the last time you used “punctilious” in a sentence?). And in an attempt to reduce the power of the test-preparation industry (which some argue has led college-admissions tests to be unequal and unjust), College Board will offer free online test preparation in partnership with the Khan Academy.
On Tuesday, President Obama released his budget request, the theme of which was “equity”: it features a $300 million Race to the Top program aimed at educational equity and a Preschool for All initiative. Conspicuously absent was any funding for the DC Opportunity Scholarship, which was found by the U.S. Department of Education itself to be “highly effective in promoting educational attainment for low-income African Americans.” The president’s budget proposal is simply a proposal, and these ideas will not necessarily see the light of day. (Common Core would probably consider the document to be a work of fiction.) Still, look for the budget to be a rallying cry in the upcoming election cycle.
After announcing that it is “time to end the stigma against career education,” Louisiana superintendent of education John White unveiled Jump Start, a revamp of the state’s career and technical training efforts. The new program would see school districts, two-year colleges, and private firms establishing regional teams to offer high school juniors and seniors courses and workplace training.
Despite the research that finds that first-year teachers recruited by Teach For America (TFA) perform at least as well as their peers, TFA faces criticisms of its training and retention efforts. In response, Teach for America will pilot a program that gives new recruits a year of preparation and emphasizes staying in the teaching profession longer than the mandatory two years.