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Posse Scholarships Awarded to Friendship Charter Students

Washington Informer
January 8, 2013

Three students from Friendship Public Charter School have been awarded Posse Scholarships. This year’s winnersn — Kendra Spruill, Phillip Pride, and Kirk Murphy — will receive full four-year tuition scholarships from colleges that partner with the Posse Foundation.

Spruill will attend Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., while Pride and Murphy are will enroll at Sewanee: The University of the South, located in Tennessee.

Since 1989, the Foundation has identified, recruited and trained 4,237 public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential to become Posse Scholars. Posse Scholars graduate at a rate of 90 percent and make a visible difference on campus and throughout their professional careers.

In 2011, the Foundation received more than 14,000 nominations for 560 scholarship slots nationally.

New Study: Vouchers Boost College Attainment

A new study from The Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings Institution reveals the positive impact that school vouchers may have on college enrollment. In 1997, a privately funded scholarship program in New York City was created for low-income families. As is typical today, demand far outweighed supply and there were 20,000 applicants for 1,300 scholarships to attend mostly Catholic, private schools.

This study used the gold standard of research by using a randomized experiment to compare students who received the voucher with those who applied but did not receive one. The data show that African-American students who received a voucher were 9 percentage points more likely to enroll in college than those students who did not receive a voucher, an increase of 24 percent. For Hispanics, impact was much less positive at 1.7 percentage points.

The variance may be explained by reasons for attending Catholic private schools. Hispanics are predominantly Catholic, so families may have chosen a Catholic school simply not because they found it more academically successful than their local public school. African-Americans in this study, generally were from an area with a lower-performing school and would not have chosen a Catholic private school if not for a voucher, so their reasons for attending were purely academic.

This study, in conjunction with recent research on the DC Opportunity Scholarship, and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, makes a strong case that are producing long-term results for students that receive them.

ACT Results: Only 25% Ready For College

Only 25% of 2012 ACT test takers met college readiness benchmarks in all four subjects tested. The ACT is a college-entrance exam that tests high schoolers in English, Reading, Math, and Science. The ACT defines college and career readiness as “the acquisition of the knowledge and skills a student needs
to enroll and succeed in credit-bearing first-year courses at a postsecondary institution (such as a 2- or 4-year college, trade school, or technical school) without the need for remediation.”

Breaking down college readiness by subject yields better numbers. For instance, 67% of students tested met English college readiness benchmarks. However, that means 33% of students taking the ACT have not been sufficiently prepared by their schools for learning at the next level. And that’s just students taking the ACT.

The number of 2012 ACT test takers underprepared for colleges and careers gets worse by subject — 48% failed to meet Reading benchmarks, 54% failed to meet Math benchmarks, and a whopping 69% failed to meet Science benchmarks.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently released data indicating that America continues to lose ground internationally when it comes to producing college graduates. Well, it’s not hard to see from these ACT statistics why this is the case. Ensuring students can graduate college means ensuring that students are first adequately prepared.

So just how do we get U.S. high schools to do a better job preparing students for post-secondary success? Try choice.

School choice research indicates that options are helping educational attainment, and our nation’s economic security depends on giving students a quality education that ensures they are prepared for life after high school.

Vouchers Boost College Attainment

“Do private school vouchers help? New study offers data.”
by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo
Christian Science Monitor
August 23, 2012

new study suggests that private school vouchers can have a positive impact on the rate at which African-American students attend college.

The study takes a rare long-term view of vouchers, which are often studied for shorter-term effects such as gains on test scores.

“We want to have our students college-ready, and to learn that for African-American students, this is a way of improving their chances of being college-ready … is a really important finding,” says voucher advocate Paul Peterson, a Harvard professor and director of the university’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, which published the study with the Brookings Institution on Thursday.

The randomized experiment compared about 1,300 students who won a New York City lottery in the late 1990s for privately funded vouchers with a control group that applied for but did not win the lottery.

Tracking them until 2011, it found no significant effect in the overall group, but African-American students who used the vouchers to attend private schools were 24 percent more likely to go on to college than African-Americans in the control group. For private four-year college attendance, the increase was 58 percent.

Because vouchers are such a politicized issue, the study has stirred up a variety of reactions. Voucher proponents cite it as another reason to support programs that provide public dollars to low-income parents who want to send their children to private or parochial schools. Groups opposed to vouchers, as well as some academic researchers, point to the limited scope of the study and raise questions about the methodology.

“Pundits may dismiss vouchers, but African-American parents know they work, and strong scientific data prove they work,” said Robert Enlow, president of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice in Read More …

Three Fs: Food, Frats, and Facilities

Considering Government-Funded Tuition
by Fawn Johnson
National Journal
May 7, 2012

It should come as no surprise that the sleeper issue of student loan interest rates took on a life of its own as soon as President Obama began touting it. People are worried about paying for college. Tuition has more than doubled over the past 20 years, and Pell Grants are offsetting the lowest share of college costs in history.

Maybe it’s time for the government–state, local, even federal–to step up and pay. Obama hinted at this concept last Friday. “Some of it is not actually the fault of the universities,” he told a group of students and parents. “If it’s a state school, the state legislatures across the country have been cutting back on the support for public colleges and universities.”

Need-based student loans, which are set to double on July 1, are just the jumping off point for a broader conversation about college costs. As I wrote in National Journal last week, a typical financing plan for a low-income student includes a Pell Grant, a subsidized loan, and often a supplementary unsubsidized loan. Some colleges reduce tuition based on a student’s financial need, but state budget cuts have hurt public universities so much that those scholarships barely help.

There are a host of tax breaks aimed at helping middle-class families pay for college, but a recent report from the Education Sector notes that tuition tax breaks in recent years have gone to households with much higher incomes. Maybe it’s time to let those tax breaks go and use the money for Pell Grants, the paper provocatively argues.

Student loan interest rates or Pell Grant levels only dance around the heart of the problem–tuition is rising and wages are stagnant. If higher education is truly a priority for the country, should the taxpayers commit to making

Read More …

Snob Nation: Meaningful Thoughts Underneath

Snob Nation
by Fawn Johnson
National Journal
March 5, 2012

Is President Barack Obama a snob? A brief look at his personal education might make you think so. He attended the prestigious Punahou prep school in Hawaii. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. If I had seen that resume at age 18, I would have rated him high on the snob meter knowing nothing more about him. (I was starting college with lots of prep-school classmates, which made me acutely self conscious about my public school education.) Personally, I don’t know if Obama is a snob, and I don’t care. I figure that as president, he’s entitled either way.

I am intrigued, though, with Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s use of the sassy slur to lambast Obama for his efforts to increase college attendance and graduation. “What a snob,” Santorum said, railing about “liberal” college professors “trying to indoctrinate” impressionable teens. The huffy reactions to Santorum’s rants are to be expected. He’s good at eliciting them. An essay from the Harvard Crimson entitled “In Defense of Snobbery,” which is quite well written, is just one sample of the many people who disagree with Santorum.

But I wonder if Santorum is on to something. It has become increasingly clear over the last 20 to 30 years that college is a necessary component of a middle class lifestyle in America. Should it be that way? Do we want to be the kind of country where a mortar board is a de facto requirement for being a part of the community? Perhaps Santorum is simply expressing the frustration many people feel that the achievement goal posts keep moving.

It’s certainly easier to get a job with a college degree. The unemployment rate for

Read More …

New SAT Analysis: We’re Dropping Back

“Learning is like rowing upstream – to not advance is to drop back.” – Chinese proverb.

Well, get ready to go backward … again. Analysis of college-bound seniors’ 2011 SAT scores shows that student improvement is going nowhere, and that Hispanic and African-American students continue to face a wide achievement gap.

When you take into account this year’s SAT analysis and recent ACT scores, which reveal that only 25 percent of the 2011 class could meet the benchmarks for college readiness in all four core subjects, it’s no surprise that we’re dropping back.

The United States has slipped from 12th to 16th globally in college education attainment, according to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

How much more writing needs to be on the wall before we reach a consensus that how we continue to educate our kids is not working?

We’re not adequately preparing our K-12 students for college and therefore we’re falling behind other nations both educationally and economically. It’s time that we all step back, admit it’s not working, and then work to reform our education system to emphasize student achievement.

We, and especially our kids, need a system that puts students first and rallies against the backward trends evident in our education system.

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