Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom


Will 'No Child' Waivers Leave Behind At-Risk Students?

Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaks at a conference in Gary in September 2011. Duncan has proposed issuing waivers to states in the absence of Congressional action to reauthorize No Child Left Behind.

Congressional Democrats and civil rights groups have been waving red flags over the Obama administration’s plans to waive key requirements of the No Child Left Behind act for states, and it looks like federal education officials have noticed.

They’re concerned the formal requests for “flexibility” Indiana and ten other states sent to the U.S. Department of Education don’t do enough to address the socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps the original NCLB law was meant to close.

Indiana Department of Education officials say the state’s waiver proposal does enough to hold schools accountable for making sure the most at-risk students make progress.

But in a letter to state superintendent Tony Bennett, the U.S. Department of Education listed the “inattention” to minorities and poor children as a “significant concern” with Indiana’s waiver plan. Continue Reading

Meet the Influencers: The American Legislative Exchange Council

State Of Indiana

House Education Chair Robert Behning is one of a number of Indiana legislators with strong ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council.

This year’s legislative session is already underway and lawmakers are hurrying to put their bills forward for consideration. And where there are lawmakers, there are interest groups. The groups and their lobbyists can be tremendously effective in steering — or killing — legislation, so we’re helping you get familiar with them. Learn about the most important groups and individuals influencing your lawmakers with our series, “Meet the Influencers.” First up …

The American Legislative Exchange Council

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is not a lobbying firm, but it has quite a bit of influence at the capitol. It’s an organization that brings together right-leaning businesses and legislators from statehouses all over the country. They meet at a series of annual conferences to, among other things, hammer out model bills to be introduced into state legislatures.

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Alleged 'Diploma Mills' Produce Fewer Diplomas Than Public Colleges


DeVry University's campus in Pittsburgh.

Last month, we asked whether for-profit universities are “diploma mills” or just convenient scapegoats for the nation’s mounting student debt.

But wouldn’t a diploma mill produce — well, you know — diplomas?

While statistics have long shown student performance at for-profits lags behind other colleges in many areas of student performance, defenders have been able to downplay these numbers since for-profits tend to educate more “high risk” students.

A report the Government Accountability Office released last week, though, showed fewer students at for-profit colleges earn degrees than at not-for-profit and public institutions — even after statistically controlling for age, race, and income.

But academics cautioned lawmakers to restrain the urge to use the new numbers as artillery in a battle to ramp up regulations on for-profit universities.

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State Expects All Indiana Schools To Earn A's By 2020

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Indiana state superintendent Tony Bennett discusses the takeover of a Gary school at a public meeting in August.

Indiana education officials have dropped ambitious federal goals for student performance spelled out under No Child Left Behind. In their place, the state’s adopting what it calls an “ambitious and achievable” goal of its own:

Every Indiana school must earn a state letter grade of an A — or failing that, improve two letter grades to earn no worse than a C — by 2020.

State officials spelled out this goal in their NCLB waiver application (which we’ve annotated for easy reading below the jump), which they submitted for review to the U.S. Department of Education this week. Continue Reading

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