Can Students Conduct Real-Life Science Experiments?

Today, science education reaches beyond paper and pencil to explore principles in action as never before. Students’ ability to perform investigations, draw valid conclusions, and explain outcomes translates into critical life skills.

Nation's Report Card logoTomorrow, National Center for Educational Statistics Commissioner John Buckley and a panel of experts will discuss the results from a new generation of hands-on and computer tasks administered during the 2009 NAEP Science Assessment, and how those results shed light on student achievement in these areas.

You are invited to join the panel of experts to find out how fourth-, eighth-, and 12th-grade students performed when asked to manipulate multiple variables or engage in strategic decision-making; how often students engage in classroom science experiments and report-writing; and much more.

This event will take place within a unique interactive science exhibit hosted by Living Classrooms at the Foundry Lofts in Washington, D.C. Attend in person or via live webcast to review results, watch video of students conducting experiments from the assessment, and view simulations of interactive computer-based science tasks.

Watch the live release of the results June 19, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. ET.

To view the webcast, click here.

If you are in the Washington D.C. area, you can attend the release event in person at the Science + You Exhibit Space at The Foundry Lofts. Find directions to the event and register to attend in person here.

The Power of Open Education Data

Cross-posted from the White House Open Government Initiative.

On Tuesday, Vice President Biden, U.S. Education Department Secretary Arne Duncan, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray hosted a roundtable with college presidents who pledged to provide clear, useful information to all incoming college students and their families, as part of their financial aid package, so that they can “know before they owe.”

Open Gov LogoThe President has said keeping college affordable is a shared responsibility. That means the Federal government continuing to make Pell Grants available for low-income students and keeping loans available and affordable for all students who choose to borrow for college. It means states doing their fair share to fund colleges and universities instead of forcing schools to pass funding cuts onto students in the form of higher tuition. And it means postsecondary institutions innovating to find new ways to get students – including low-income students – across the finish line while keeping their costs down.

But it also means students and families voting with their feet – making choices about where to apply and where to enroll based on information about quality and affordability, such as graduation and loan default rates. That can help consumers get good value for their money, and put some competitive pressure on schools to provide a top-notch education for less.

Technology, data, and entrepreneurs can help with college affordability—as well as help address our national priorities in K-12 education.

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Investing in Education in Every State and District

In September, President Obama introduced the American Jobs Act, which among other key investments to create jobs would invest $30 billion to repair and modernize public schools and community colleges and $30 billion to keep hundreds of thousands of teachers from facing layoffs.

But how would that really affect you? Earlier today the Department of Education released two interactive maps that will show you what the American Jobs Act could do for your state and local school district.

In conjunction with the new interactive maps, the Obama Administration also released a new report today that provides an analysis of the condition of America’s schools, which have fallen into disrepair, as well as the difficult budget environment facing school districts and teachers nationwide.

Read the Education and the American Jobs Act: Creating Jobs through Investments in Our Nation’s Schools report.

American Jobs Act: Impact Per State

American Jobs Act: Estimated Impact Per District

For full details, a searchable district listing and data download, visit data.ed.gov/American-jobs-act. And click here for more information about the American Jobs Act.

Newly Released State-by-State Snapshot of Educational Performance

Have you ever wondered how your state’s educational performance compares to the performance of other states? Now with the new State of the States in Education document released yesterday by the Department of Education, you can see a snapshot of how educational performance varies substantially across states.

State of the States MapThe document shows the 10 highest and lowest performing states (based on 2009 data) on basic indicators of educational performance, as well as showing:

    • Percent of students, by state, deemed proficient in 4th and 8th grade reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for students overall, with separate state-by-state comparisons for Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and students with disabilities.
    • Four-year on-time high school graduation rates, by state, with separate state-by-state comparisons for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics.
    • State-by-state college-going rate of high school graduates.
    • State-by-state three-year college graduation rates for Associate’s Degrees.
    • State-by-state six-year college graduation rates for Bachelor’s Degrees.

The disparities in educational performance highlight that state and local governments have a major impact on student outcomes and the rigor of state standards—larger than many Americans may realize.

In 8th grade math, for example, students in Massachusetts and Minnesota are two to three times as likely to be proficient on the NAEP assessment as students in West Virginia and Mississippi. Large differences in performance persist, even when White students, Black students, and Hispanic students are compared to their peers in other states.

Similar disparities are evident when comparing high school graduation, college matriculation, and college attainment. Hispanic students are more than twice as likely to graduate on time from high school if they live in Illinois and New Jersey than if they live in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Demography plainly influences state educational performance. But state-by-state disparities of such magnitude suggest that demography is not destiny in determining student achievement and attainment. State policies matter.

These maps and tables present a surprising amount of variation. States that excel on some measures of educational performance perform poorly in other areas. States that lag in one area of educational performance are leaders on other indices of performance and policy.

See the tables and maps in the State of the States in Education [MS PowerPoint, 16.9MB].

For more extensive data on the educational performance of states, please see the Department’s dashboard at http://dashboard.ed.gov/.

A Promise Kept, A School Renewed: Locke High School’s Turn Around

In 2006, Locke Senior High School was among the lowest performing schools in Los Angeles. Plagued by gang activities and low expectations for students, Locke was sending just 5% of its graduating students to 4-year colleges and universities.

That’s where the California-based nonprofit Green Dot came in. With the support of the community, Green Dot has implemented a school turnaround model focused on making sure students achieve academically and are ready for college and careers when they graduate from high school.

The change is visible throughout the school. Now, students are showing up for school on time. Class attendance has risen above 90 percent. Test scores have increased.

As a result of the model—and lots of hard work by teachers, students, and the community—the school is a far cry from what it used to be.

As Secretary Duncan has said, “Our communities need to be courageous in their desire to implement change. Only then will we be able to turnaround our nation’s failing schools.”

Watch the video of Locke’s story.


Click here for an accessible version of the video.

States can apply for Student Improvement Grants (SIG), which serves to support implementation of the fundamental changes needed to turn around some of the nation’s lowest-achieving schools. Learn more here:
http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html

Using Data to Inform Education Policy

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a speech on the importance of using data to inform education policy.

“There are already districts making exemplary use of data systems to let parents, teachers and administrators know how best to support their students,” he told a group of researchers at a conference sponsored by the Education Department’s Institute of Education Sciences.

How can teachers and principals use test results, attendance and other data to inform what happens in their classrooms?

ED Staff

State Data Systems

SLDS grantee states

States receiving grants under the Statewide Longitudinal Data System Program

ED’s Institute of Education Sciences recently awarded grants to 27 states to help create statewide longitudinal data systems. This brings the total of states receiving such grants to 41 states and the District of Columbia. These systems will help states, districts, schools, and teachers use data to improve student learning. The data systems will also facilitate research on ways to improve student achievement and close achievement gaps. Find about about this effort in your state.

ED Staff