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Can Increasing Access to Computer Science Education Remedy Inequities in Tech? The failures of technology such as racial bias in health algorithms fuel an increasing animosity towards technology companies described as “techlash.” Part of the problem, many say, is a lack of racial, socioeconomic, gender, and other types of diversity and inclusion among tech companies, as well as a need for greater digital literacy among the general public to develop “active citizens in our technology-driven world.”
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Pathways to College and Careers The mantra “college and career readiness” is well on its way to supplanting “college for all.” Recognizing that the two are not identical is an improvement on the claim that as good jobs require ever more education college readiness is career readiness, a claim that has been discredited by the rise of underemployed college graduates burdened with debt. But how do educators know when students are career ready? They can see college readiness demonstrated when their students achieve academically and when their graduates enroll in college. But being able to get a job is not proof of career readiness. High school students can get jobs before they graduate, though far fewer do than in the recent past. By “career ready” most people mean able to earn a living sufficient for comfortable self-support and ideally to support a family as well, and able to continue learning over a lifetime as new demands and opportunities arise. Rare is the high school that can track its graduates long enough to make that determination. Educators are also better positioned to assess college readiness because they are college graduates themselves. To judge career readiness, they need help from experts on careers and especially from people who have made careers for themselves outside of education.
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Income Differences Alone Cannot Explain the Overrepresentation of Students of Color in Special Education Students of color—particularly, Black students—are more likely to be identified for special education than their White peers. Despite forty years of court cases, state and federal regulations, and academic journal articles focused on this issue, this disparity persists.
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Getting to the Heart of the Student Experience with Transformational Learning As we close out one decade and begin another, we are naturally drawn to review where we’ve been and imagine where we will go in a new era. For community college professionals, the past decade has been frenetic, marked by roller coaster enrollments, increased public policy attention, and multiple overlapping reforms that have left some with ‘initiative fatigue.’
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What is Black Boy Mattering, and How Can We Realize It Comprehensively in Society and Schools? Amidst a social climate that universally demands the insignificance, devaluation, and meaninglessness of Black life, how can researchers and educators, instead, (re)imagine learning contexts that compel Black boys to matter abundantly, robustly, or comprehensively?
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Using Applied Research to Understand Organizational Culture Educational leaders operate in complex organizations and systems. In our recent book, Applied Research for Sustainable Change: A Guide for Education Leaders, we present a model for education leaders to use practitioner-led qualitative research, which we refer to as applied research, to drive local change. One primary aspect of this model is effectively identifying and navigating organizational culture(s). As a former public-school principal and superintendent colleague of ours stated when discussing organizational culture, “a gardener does not begin with nothing, even if planting on a barren field.” This metaphor signifies that an educational leader operates within an institution already in motion. Thus, leaders must understand everyone’s role in the education ecosystem, which involves collaboratively examining organizational culture, norms, values, and roles.
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Chasing Ghosts: Racism and US Education “I am not sure we can publish this,” said the white male statistician on our research team. I tried to hide my disdain for his sentiments by taking a long sip of my mocha lite, almond milk cappuccino, while peering back at him through the screen of our Google Hangout. The “this” that he so easily dismissed was an article we had been working on about the cumulative negative effect of teacher assignment choices in K–8 schools for black and brown students. The third member of our team, a first-year international graduate student from Turkey, sat still, peering back at us through her laptop, seemingly immune from understanding the gravity of his statement. I tried unsuccessfully to intervene before he continued, as he asked what so many white educators ask when chasing ghosts about race in the United States: “Can we be sure this is even happening?”
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Delivering on the Promise of Personalized Learning Plans Education policy is typically a blunt instrument, poorly suited to the highly nuanced, relational work performed in schools. Yet, it’s the relational work that lies at the heart of many reform initiatives. So, my colleagues and I welcomed with great excitement the news in 2013 that Vermont’s legislature had mandated personal learning plans (PLPs) for all students in grades 7-12.
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Schools Under-Identify Giftedness in Low-Socioeconomic Status Students Meeting the academic needs of all students requires ensuring that high-ability, low-income students have the same access as their high-income classmates to the challenging, enriching content that gifted programs often provide. In our article in the Fall issue of the Harvard Educational Review, we show that the US is falling well short of this goal. We draw on two cohorts of data from the nationally-representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to examine socioeconomic status (SES) gaps in gifted program participation. In moving beyond a simple focus on free/reduced price lunch eligibility to measure SES, we document three important conclusions.
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Toward a Behavioral Science of Testing...and Testing Policy Nearly forty-five years ago the preeminent scientist of psychological measurement, Lee Cronbach, summarized “Five Decades of Public Controversy Over Mental Testing.” As we approach the centennial of the period covered in Cronbach’s review, there is no sign the controversy is subsiding. On the contrary, recent scandals of testing fraud—involving parents obsessed with getting their kids into elite colleges working in cahoots with unscrupulously greedy consultants and admissions officers, as well as not-so-distant memories of K–12 teachers and administrators who went to jail for tampering with student scoresheets—have brought the whole American testing enterprise back onto the front page. Evidence and allegations of cheating add fuel to the flames of longstanding anxiety that tests perpetuate inequality rather than attenuate it, and that the tests don’t even measure what matters. Some pundits pile on in a frenzy of “I told you so” rhetoric that blames all of higher education for privileging the most privileged, despite convincing data showing that returns to educational attainment and college completion are increasing for all groups in society (although at different rates).
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