Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Big Ups to My Main Man Ben Stein

Ben Stein comes through in the clutch with some great advice for college students--undergrads and grads alike imo. Having started a new job, yesterday in fact, I can tell you that habits of work demand practice.
College, says Stein, is about practice for the real thing. But it's about a lot else too. Friends, fraternity, professors, and loves all come to mind. Stein errs a bit when he suggests enlightened people such as some of your professors will be judgemental when it comes to your dress. This is not a universal truth--but Stein is wealthy and dresses the part so he suggests we should too. Anyhow, to young people off to college show Stein some respect.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Work that Vo2 Max Out for a Better Brain

A fit person's hippocampus, researchers say, can swell with nearly twice as much blood than a non-fit person. Continuing the anemic once-a-week, or sadly, once-every-two-weeks posting schedule focused on topics ancillary to education, I bring you the NYT writeup of a Columbia University study about regenerating our brains.

Check it out. It's encouraging stuff and has tons of application for kids and education. *Think evidence shows that fit kids integrate new neurons better than non-fit kids. Aging people show affects too in memory and in cognition.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Eponymous Return: Leg. Edition

I’ve been looking a lot at graduation rates recently. I still think the holy grail of graduation documents is the NGA’s Graduation Counts. All 50 guvna’s signed the compact, some have since backed out and many have not moved to implement the compact yet. I’ve also been poking around in Bobby Scott’s Every Student Counts Act H.R.2955. There is some good stuff in there, but I have some issues as well. Some thoughts on this graduation bill:

· HR.2955 buries students who graduate with alternative degrees in an optional “additional indicator” metric. It’s good for rigor of course. And states should have as their main goal high school graduation, not GEDs. Something makes me a little unsettled about it though.
· Only 1 percent of students can qualify for IEP defined diploma—that’s too few.
· High schools would be required to use grad rates as their additional indicator under NCLB. What about other indicators that would be potentially supplanted? Or is Graduation as "good" of an indicator as there is? My guess is that grad rates are as good of an indicator for NCLB purposes as we’ve got.
· Arbitrary growth for graduation rates improvement (2-3 percent). This is going to be a problem. We’ll be right back in the business of arguing over baselines, and cut scores, and benchmarks. And we’ll be arguing arbitrarily. Can’t wait for that.
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