March 20, 2013

March 20th, 2013

Category: Policy and Practice

National News

Education News
Professors express worry over possible MOOC mandate
Public colleges and universities in California are expressing concern over a proposal that would have them accept for credit online courses offered by other entities – including for-profit companies. Of particular worry is how the faculty and administrators could make sure that the quality of courses offered is up to snuff, especially if they’re being asked to bypass the curriculum approval processes they apply to their own course offerings.  Concerns were voiced by faculty unions representing instructors from community colleges as well as four-year institutions and universities. They feel that this mandate – to accept third-party courses – could be a gateway towards the privatization of public higher education.

6% of Oregon students graduated without passing reading exam
Oregon graduated nearly 6% of its high schoolers last year despite their failure of the state reading exam, The Oregonian reports. The nearly 1,700 students failed the exam and chose to avail themselves to another method of proving competency, according to public education records.  Last year was the first time that the test was required for graduation, and more than 90% of the 32,000 students passed the exam. In total more than 30,000 got a passing grade on the new standardized exams, and the majority of the rest completed reading exercises graded by the students’ schools.

New report urges online learning expansion in Texas
A report from the Texas Public Policy Foundation suggests that virtual education and blended learning both present the opportunity for cost savings and academic gain in Texas.  “At the K-12 level, the potential of virtual education is enormous,” said the report’s author, James Golsan. “Through the use of technology, students in rural districts would have access to the same educational resources as students in more populated areas. Familiarization with technology could prepare students for the work force more quickly.”  While there is some concern about the ability of existing traditional institutions to convert to blended learning facilities, it’s a popular model for new startups. Virtual education is already a success story in Florida and the TPPF wants Texas to follow Florida’s lead.

Education Week
N.C. aims to ramp up tech. training of teachers, administrators
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed into law a pair of bills designed to expand the use of educational technology. House Bill 44 sets an overall goal to have the state shift to funding digital textbooks, and away from the paperbound variety, by 2017. House Bill 23 directs the state board to create and oversee new “digital teaching and learning standards” for educators and administrators.

Inside Higher Ed.
Beyond the credit hour
The Department of Education has endorsed competency-based education with the release of a letter that encourages interested colleges to seek federal approval for degree programs that do not rely on the credit hour to measure student learning. The letter also opens the door for institutions to attempt the “direct assessment” of learning—meaning no link to the credit hour–and also be eligible for federal financial aid.

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