Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Here are a few articles of interest from the past month or so on the web.

Gates' Latest Education Project

"Here's How Not to Improve Public Schools" is an op-ed by Cathy O'Neil published in Bloomberg.  In the op-ed, O'Neil recounts the failures of Bill Gates' latest education project, Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching, which was designed to use Value-Added Measurement to reward good teachers and get rid of bad ones. Gates spent $575 million on the project.

We have repeatedly railed against VAM in this blog, but O'Neil writes of how Gates' experiment actually caused harm: 

"The approach that the Gates program epitomizes has actually done damage. It has unfairly ruined careers, driving teachers out of the profession amid a nationwide shortage."

A number of opinion pieces have recently been published about the failed Gates experiment. Here is another  from  the Stamford, Connecticut Advocate, and here's a link to the actual study evaluating the Gates experiment, conducted by the Rand Corporation.

Workers' Share of Growth Erodes

Patricia Cohen writes "Paychecks Lag as Profits Soar, and Prices Erode Wage Gains" in the Upshot, the New York Times Magazine. Cohen details the stagnation in worker pay and the increase in corporate profits, especially since the end of the Great Recession.

"Seven things research reveals — and doesn’t — about Advanced Placement" is from Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet blog.  If you have not exceeded your monthly quota you should be able to read the embedded guest article by Suneal Kolluri, a doctoral student at the University of Southern California. Kolluri has done a thorough review of the  research surrounding A.P., and has provided a summary in this article.

Here is one of Kolluri's summary findings:

"Access to Advanced Placement courses in high schools has been expanding, probably far more than the founders of the program could have imagined. The College Board’s efforts to encourage more low-income students and students of color to engage with the program have made meaningful inroads to diversifying Advanced Placement. A program initially confined to elite boarding schools now serves students from diverse communities across the United States. The past decades have seen particularly accelerated expansion of AP. While in 1994 only 14.9 percent of all U.S. high school students graduated with AP credit, by 2013 that number had risen to over 39 percent."

Though for most the summary will be sufficient, you can access the full research study here.

And finally, it's hard to resist providing a link to an article from Curmudgucation, our favorite blog. Peter Greene, an English teacher from Pennsylvania, has retired, but his blog lives on, and he has more time to write, it seems!

In "Another Merit Pay Failure", Greene writes about an Arizona charter school's effort to deny teachers performance pay and the battle that ensued. He also restates his argument that merit pay is simply not appropriate in education.

Monday, July 9, 2018

2017 COLLEGE GRADS (Part 3)

Here is the final post in this 3-part series about the Boise District alums who graduated from college in 2017. In this post, we are interested in what may or may not have changed with respect to our Engineering graduates.

Engineering Grads by Major Area

As we indicated in Part 2, the number of Computer Science/Engineering grads has skyrocketed since we last did this comparison. In fact, as you can see below, CS/E grads make up almost 40% of engineering grads compared with 17% in the last analysis.

It's also interesting to note that 61% of engineering graduates were in two areas, Computer Science/Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

Engineering Grads by College/Area

In our analysis of engineering grads the classes of 2010-14, we found that 54% of graduates came from in-state colleges, with the University of Idaho leading the way with 31% of the degree-earners.

In 2017, 49% of the grads came from in-state, but Boise State has surged ahead in terms of the number and percentage of in-state graduates. Interestingly, much of the change came in the area of Computer Science/Engineering, where BSU graduated 7 students and Idaho had only 2 graduates. Also of note is the fact that Utah and Utah State combined graduated 7 engineering students in 2017.

Where are They Working?

It's not difficult to find most of the engineering grads - they have landed in good jobs just a year after graduating from college with a Bachelor's degree. You can see from the chart above, though, that the pattern we found in 2014 still persists. If our kids go to school out of state, they tend to stay in the community in which their college is located. If they attend Boise State or Idaho, most remain in Idaho for work. One encouraging data point is that BSU is attracting more engineering/computer science students, and almost all of them are employed here in Idaho, tipping the balance slightly toward in-state employment.