Most states missing key student data from their report cards. 3 parent empowerment groups have advice for making them better

By Laura Fay, LA School Report

Who should own education data?

If you ask the Data Quality Campaign’s Brennan McMahon Parton, it’s the community — students and their families have the right to know how their schools are doing for all students, she says. But some states are making that pretty difficult.

That’s why her organization partnered with two other parent empowerment groups to create a resource outlining advice and best practices for creating community-friendly state report cards. The Campaign worked with the National PTA and Learning Heroes to release Disaggregated Data: Not Just a Box Checking Exercise in late October.

An analysis of state report cards earlier this year by the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit focused on improving education data and making it more accessible, found that most states were not breaking out data for all of the student groups as required by federal law.

The analysis found that just 10 states separated out data for all of the required student groups in their state report cards: Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Wyoming. The others — plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico — were missing one or more student groups in their reports. Florida and Massachusetts have released new report cards since the analysis that show data for all groups from the 2018-2019 school year. Some other states may have also updated their report cards since Data Quality Campaign checked in January. The law’s flexibility and waivers make it difficult to track exactly which states are meeting the requirements.

“People deserve this data,” Parton told The 74. “It’s not the state’s data. It’s our data — it’s that community’s data. They deserve to have it in a way that’s easy to find, use and understand.”

Having access to state- and school-level data helps parents “do the math” about academic performance, Parton said. Parents are “pretty adept” at figuring out how well their students are doing in school by looking at the individual report cards their kids bring home and how the school is performing overall, she added. Clearer, easier to navigate school, district and state report cards help parents answer the bigger questions they have about their children’s schools and district, Parton said.

“Families and communities need a way to piece together that picture and understand, how are the adults, how are the leaders, how are the elected school board members in my school or district really supporting my student? Do I think they’re getting the best possible suite of opportunities?” Parton said. “A [state] report card is really the entry point for that conversation.”

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law passed in 2015, states must break out academic performance data for nine categories: gender, race and ethnicity, students with disabilities, students from low-income families, students learning English, students in foster care, students experiencing homelessness, students from military families, and students from migrant families.

Gathering and verifying all the numbers takes time, but states are working to make their data public, said Kirsten Carr, senior program director for student expectations at the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“States are deeply committed to getting all of the information out there as quickly as they can [while] making sure that it’s accurate,” she told The 74, noting that in some cases, education departments have to work across agencies to get the data they need.

State leaders are also working to make the information “meaningful” for parents and stakeholders, she said.

Several of the required groups, such as students experiencing homelessness and black and Latino students, have been historically underserved by schools and often land on the wrong side of achievement gaps.

Some of the state report cards that already display all of the groups may still lack key data.

Although New York is reporting statewide data for all of the groups, recent reporting from The 74 revealed that New York City, the nation’s largest school district with more than 1.1 million students, is not yet reporting broken out performance data for students in foster care. Proficiency rates for military-connected students and migrant students in New York City schools are also missing. The scores on the state report card reflect only the districts that have submitted detailed data to the state, meaning it is incomplete.

Having access to the data broken out for these cohorts can help families see how well schools are serving them. For example, the latest report card for New York City schools shows that 46 percent of students in third through eighth grade were proficient in math on the state test. But when the data is broken down by race, a gap appears: 67 percent of white students were proficient, compared to 28 percent of their black peers and 33 percent of Hispanic and Latino students.

In another example, the Chicago Public Schools district report card shows that 24 percent of all students were proficient on the state math test, but a closer look reveals that just 6 percent of English language learners passed the test in eighth grade.

The reporting requirements are meant to push states toward accountability and transparency, but there are no hard deadlines or consequences at this time. Parton said she and her team are “flummoxed” about why so many data points are missing from the report cards, especially because some of the missing student group requirements — such as reporting scores by gender — were also required under No Child Left Behind, the prior K-12 education law.

The organizations urge state leaders to do two things to improve their report cards: Make the data easier to find and help families understand the information. The second step has two parts:

1. Put the data in context: For example, show school data side by side with another school or with the overall state numbers for easy comparison or include a simple sentence that gives context.

2. Explain what the numbers mean and why they’re there: “Without context, the data appears to make a statement about students’ abilities when really it is a statement about how the school is serving its students,” the authors write. In other words, report cards should explain that breaking out student data is a judgment of the adults in schools rather than the kids.

The report also notes that report cards should be at an eighth-grade reading level to be accessible and to ensure accurate translations. An analysis by DQC found that the average reading level for state report cards was 14th grade, equivalent to “some college.”

Just adding a sentence or two about what the numbers mean and why they matter can make a big difference for parents, said Bibb Hubbard, founder and president of Learning Heroes, a nonprofit focused on improving parent access to education data. Additionally, she said, state report cards should prioritize the data that parents want. Parents are more interested in school performance than student attendance rates, for example, according to Learning Heroes research.

“Start with what they care most about because then you’ll get their attention,” she said. “If you start with the stuff that they don’t care about, you’ll lose them right away.”

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Want a White-Collar Career Without College Debt? Become an Apprentice

By Farah Stockman, New York Times

The offer of a new life arrived in the mail for the son of a laid-off steelworker: a scholarship to St. Louis University, where he dreamed of studying computer science.

But Tyler Holdener’s excitement quickly curdled into anxiety after he realized he would have to borrow nearly $14,000 a year, even with the school’s aid package.

He decided not to go to college. Instead, he is becoming a software application engineer through LaunchCode, a St. Louis-based nonprofit that taught him to code and placed him in an apprenticeship at Centene, a health care company.

“I’ve started my career and I don’t have any debt at all,” said Mr. Holdener, 20, who earns $20 an hour during the apprenticeship, an amount that will increase if he is hired full-time.

As the cost of a college education continues to soar, a new breed of apprenticeship is cropping up across the country, promising an affordable path to careers that once needed a bachelor’s degree or higher.

In California, one of a handful of states where people can take the bar exam without going to law school, a new program helps low-income black and Latina women become lawyers by apprenticing for four years under an experienced attorney. In Kentucky, young people are offered the chance to shadow experienced social workers and join the state’s Civil Service. In Chicago, community college students are training to become human resource managers and insurance brokers.

“Apprenticeships are proving to be an excellent alternative to the traditional four-year college degree,” said Aaron Olson of Aon, a professional services company that helped start the Chicago Apprenticeship Network, which hopes to place 1,000 apprentices next year.

Supporters of apprenticeships say expanding them would help young people more than proposals to cancel student debt or make college free put forth by Democratic presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

“When you push through an academic-only approach, that’s going to disadvantage people who learn better by doing,” said Robert Lerman, a fellow at the Urban Institute who has researched apprenticeships around the world.

But many parents and educators remain skeptical of diverting low-income students away from a classic liberal arts education.

“The danger is that we’ll create a two-tier system, where you have people who can afford to go to the elite colleges, who get the networks to move into a great career, while you have lower-level pathways for everyone else,” said Marie Cini, president of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, who supports expanding apprenticeships but acknowledges that the effort faces many challenges. “The question that I am starting to hear is ‘O.K., you are from the elite. Would you send your kid to that?’”

Nonetheless, some apprenticeship programs are highly competitive, receiving a hundred applications for every available slot.

“They can be more selective than Stanford or Harvard,” said Ryan Craig, author of “College Disrupted” and the managing director of University Ventures, a fund that invests in innovations to higher education.

The apprenticeship model, which typically combines classroom learning in a boot camp or community college with paid on-the-job experience, is popular in Europe. About half of all young people in Germany participate in one. Britain recently ramped up its apprenticeships. But the model has yet to be brought to scale in the United States.

Experts estimate that roughly a million people are participating in some type of apprenticeship program in the United States this year, compared with about 20 million who are enrolled in colleges and universities.

The Labor Department counts 633,625 active apprentices in 2019, up from 375,000 in 2013, but not all programs go through the time-consuming process of registering. Registration, which is voluntary, allows companies to seek federal help in developing curriculum, as well as tax credits in some states. Registration also allows veterans to use a portion of their G.I. Bill benefits to support participation in an apprenticeship.

Although most apprenticeships are still in skilled trades, such as plumbing and electrical work, in the past two years more than 700 programs have been created in white-collar or “new collar” fields such as cybersecurity, financial services, information technology and health care, according to Labor Department data.

The desire to expand apprenticeships reflects a rare area of bipartisan agreement. President Barack Obama pushed to increase their availability. President Trump, who gained fame with a reality television show called “The Apprentice,” has made expanding apprenticeships a signature policy. In June, the Trump administration proposed an alternative to the Labor Department’s program, which has been in place since 1937. The new system was supposed to cut through bureaucratic red tape by allowing industries to regulate their own apprenticeships. But that effort has stalled amid concerns that it would weaken worker protections and add more confusion to an already fragmented landscape.

“We would like to focus bipartisan efforts on modernizing the existing system,” said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education & Skills at New America. “Where it works, it works well.”

Despite the famous “You’re fired” catchphrase of Mr. Trump’s TV show, the beauty of the model is “that pretty much everybody who joins the program is hired,” Ms. McCarthy said.

The guarantee of a job was a key selling point for Dasom Diana Choi, 24, who joined the apprenticeship program at Techtonic, a software development group based in Boulder, Colo., that trains coders to work with its products and its clients. Ms. Choi dropped out of the University of San Diego after one semester because she worried about accruing debt.

“I was a little stressed out that even if I were to complete college, I wouldn’t have a job waiting for me,” she said. After years of working at a Chipotle, she studied coding on her own and considered going back to school for it. Instead she applied for the apprenticeship at Techtonic.

“It almost sounded too good to be true, getting paid to study,” she said.

She did not get into the program the first time but was accepted in the following cohort. After three months of classes by Techtonic, she is now apprenticing at one of its clients, building software for the music industry.

Heather Terenzio, founder and chief executive of Techtonic, said she had started the apprenticeship program as a cost-effective way to find local talent. She initially hired developers in Armenia but found communication challenging. Ms. Terenzio, a civil engineer who learned to code after college, realized that none of the senior managers had computer science degrees.

“We had this theory of, ‘I wonder if we could find passionate local people and teach them what we were doing,’” she said. Hundreds of people have graduated from the program since it registered with the Labor Department in 2016, she said. About 85 percent have been hired by Techtonic or its clients.

Some employers establish apprenticeship programs as a way to boost diversity. Others do it to create a pipeline of future employees for hard-to-fill positions who will remain loyal to the company that trained them. The Hartford, an insurance company, began working with community colleges in 2015 to offer students the chance to spend their summers handling customer’s calls. So far, about 80 have been hired full-time.

“Insurance isn’t something that people aspire to do,” said John Kinney, chief claims officer, who oversees about 7,000 employees. “You take a student who was in a two-year program in a community college who may be the first person in their family to work in a corporate environment, and seeing them succeed has been really gratifying to watch.”

Even in the field of law, apprenticeship programs are cropping up. In California, people can become lawyers by apprenticing for four years under an experienced attorney or judge and fulfilling other requirements, including passing the California bar. The number of people seeking to take this path jumped from 69 applicants in 2017 to 147 this year, according to the State Bar of California. Some of the interest is due to the media personality Kim Kardashian, who is trying to become a lawyer this way. But there is a larger movement afoot to make legal careers more affordable, said Rachel Johnson-Farias, the founding director of Esq. Apprentice, a new program that provides mentoring and cost-of-living assistance to legal apprentices.

Ms. Johnson-Farias, who earned a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, said she aims to increase the number of lawyers serving low-income communities by helping black and Latina women pass the bar without taking on crushing debt. One of the program’s participants, Lauren Richardson, a 33-year-old freelance media producer, said her dreams of law school were derailed when lack of funds forced her to drop out of community college.

“You kind of have to choose, ‘Am I going to pay the bills or am I going to go back to school?’” said Ms. Richardson, who will be starting tort law classes next month through Esq. Apprentice. “It’s really like a story of redemption for me.”

One of the biggest obstacles to scaling up apprenticeships in the United States is employers’ reluctance to invest in the upfront costs of training workers who could take their skills elsewhere before those costs are recouped, an issue that has bedeviled work force development for generations. That has led some to conclude that a significant public investment is needed.

Nonetheless, some big employers are getting on board. Amazon began a program in 2017 that has helped about 500 veterans and military spouses train as software development engineers and technical support engineers. CVS Health, which employs 295,000 people nationwide, has had about 8,000 apprentices train to become pharmacy technicians, logistics technicians and store managers since 2015.

“We’re turning the ship in a different direction, and I think the employers will find it compelling,” said Mr. Lerman, of Urban Institute. “But they have a lot of inertia themselves. It’s a long-term strategy.”

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Austin Chamber To Stage ‘Stage Of Education’ Event

The State of Education event at the Hilton Austin hotel on Thursday will explore how businesses help students prepare for the future.

By Tony Cantu, Patch

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce will honor the Superintendent of the Year and recipients of its Business Champions in Education awards and District Awards for Educational Excellence this week.

The State of Education event at the Hilton Austin hotel is scheduled on Thursday, Nov. 14. Education Business Champions were identified by regional chambers of commerce, chamber officials noted, adding that the District Awards for Educational Excellence were determined by data submitted by individual campuses. Both sets of award winners will be recognized at the State of Education event.

The State of Education will explore how businesses help students prepare for the future through apprenticeship programs, student/career speaking, mentoring, internships, skilled-trade programs, and educator externships.

RECAP

What: State of Education.

Who: Special guest speaker Roy Spence, chairman and co-founder, GSD&M and author of the books The Amazing Faith of Texas and It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business Is Driven By Purpose.

Where: Hilton Austin.

When: 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Price: $65 for members, $75 for nonmembers.

For more information, visit https://www.austinchamber.com/events/state-of-education-talent-for-tomorrows-workforce.

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Should Skills Training Replace Higher Education?

By Tom Vander Ark, Forbes

With $1.5 trillion in college debt weighing down the economic trajectories of young Americans, many high school students and their families are considering career pathways over traditional liberal arts education.

In response to widespread criticism and shrinking enrollments, retired Indiana University professor George Kuh said, “privileging short-term job training over demanding educational experiences associated with high levels of intellectual, personal, and social development…is a bad idea for individuals, for the long-term vitality of the American economy, and for our democracy.”

There are obvious and long-term benefits to a liberal arts education (see Fareed Zakaria’s 2015 book In Defense of a Liberal Education), but compounded price hikes (resulting from rising costs and reduced public support) make the risk of debt without a degree the new worst-case scenario for Gen-Z.

The new rule for young people is, as Ryan Craig outlines in A New U, go to a good selective school for free if you can, and if you are motivated by the opportunity. If you don’t get a free ride to a good selective university, look for a free (or debt-free) sprint to a good first job.

More new rules for today’s students: 

1. Build your resume while in high school. From site visits to job shadowing, internships and client-related projects, and gig work, the best way for students to discover what inspires them (and, alternatively, what is soul-sucking) is to try out different fields. It’s the smart way that high school students are informing their postsecondary choices.

2. Secure college credits before graduating. This is the definitive approach to making college completion both faster and cheaper. Students have access to an expanding variety of (free) college credit options; in addition to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, concurrent enrollment and stackable badges also extend access.

In partnership with community colleges, more than 400 early college high schools across the country enable students to earn an associate’s degree with their high school diploma. Texas has 199 early college high schools and 63 P-TECH high schools that add business partnerships and work experiences.

3. Don’t take on debt without a clear sense of purpose. College for college’s sake no longer offers economically disadvantaged students a ticket into the middle class and ongoing job security. Don’t take on debt without a clear sense of purpose and high likelihood of degree completion.

4. Aim for sustainable, lifelong learning. For the last hundred years, the formula has been 16 to 20 years of education, followed by 40 years of work; the new rule is 60 years (or more) of earn and learn. For those that choose technical training after high school, there is a lifetime to add (free or inexpensive) liberal arts education.

With a good handle on the ladder of opportunity’s first rung, build an earn and learn ladder that incorporates the liberal arts—enabling a richer, more holistic educational experience—and study with purpose and intentionality.

To Dr. Kuh’s question, should skills training replace higher education? The answer is yes; free and debt-free skills training should replace expensive wandering while developing maturity and a sense of purpose and racking up debt—it’s dangerous for individuals and a drag on the economy as a whole.

His question is a dated construct. It’s not a “go to work” or “go to college” question anymore. Instead, it should be “what’s the best path to purposeful contribution and a lifetime of learning?”

 

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Elevating Student Voice in Education

By Meg Benner, Catherine Brown, and Ashley Jeffrey

Center for American Progress

Introduction and summary

Students have the greatest stake in their education but little to no say in how it is delivered. This lack of agency represents a lost opportunity to accelerate learning and prepare students for a world in which taking initiative and learning new skills are increasingly paramount to success.

When it comes to student engagement, there is a predictable and well-documented downward trajectory as students get older. According to a 2016 Gallup poll that measured student engagement, about three-quarters of fifth graders—an age at which students are full of joy and enthusiasm for school—report high engagement in school.1 By middle school, slightly more than one-half of students report being engaged.2 In high school, however, there is a precipitous drop in engagement, with just about one-third of students reporting being engaged.3 Similar to the drop in engagement, a recent poll from The New Teacher Project (TNTP) found that students see less value in their work and assignments with each subsequent year of school.

There are limited studies that show a direct connection between student engagement and students valuing their education and opportunities to make their voices heard. Many advocates and researchers encourage schools to create opportunities for students to participate in decisions about their education as a means of increasing student engagement and investing students in their education.

The authors of this report define “student voice” as student input in their education ranging from input into the instructional topics, the way students learn, the way schools are designed, and more. Increasing student voice is particularly important for historically marginalized populations, including students from Black, Latinx, Native American, and low-income communities as well as students with disabilities.

Given the assumption that student voice can increase student engagement, such efforts to give students more ownership of their education may be linked to improvements in student outcomes. 6 For example, a 2006 Civic Enterprises report, which surveyed a diverse group of 16- to 24-year-old adults who did not graduate high school, found that 47 percent of respondents indicated that “classes were not interesting” as the main reason they dropped out.7 Sixty-nine percent of participants said that they were not motivated to work hard.8 Interestingly, the percentage of students who did not feel inspired to work hard increased among students with lower GPAs; among high-, medium-, and low-GPA students, 56 percent, 74 percent, and 79 percent reported not feeling inspired to work hard, respectively. Surveyed students and focus groups emphasized the need for student voice in curricula development, improved instruction practices, and increased graduation rates.9

States, districts, schools, and teachers can solicit and incorporate student voice in many ways. Some of these strategies fundamentally change the way that schools and systems operate, and others are more marginal. This report provides an overview of eight approaches that teachers, school leaders, and district and state policymakers can use to incorporate student voice: student surveys; student perspectives on governing bodies such as school, local, state decision-makers; student government; student journalism; student-led conferences; democratic classroom practices; personalized learning; and youth participatory action research (YPAR).

Implementation of these strategies matters greatly. Efforts to incorporate student voice are stronger when they include the following elements: intentional efforts to incorporate multiple student voices, especially those that have been historically marginalized; a strong vision from educational leaders; clarity of purpose and areas of influence; time and structures for student-adult communication; and, most importantly, trust between students and educators.10 Policymakers and educators should also incorporate principles of universal design to ensure that these efforts are accessible to all students and recognize the voices of all students, including students with disabilities and students whose first language is not English.

This report concludes with policy recommendations for school, district, and state policymakers.

Youth activism has been in the spotlight of late due to several high-profile efforts, including the advocacy of youth who oppose the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program as well as the Parkland, Florida, students who galvanized around meaningful gun control.11 Youth have also crafted public opposition letters to education officials to protest policies that perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline and its disproportionate criminalization of Black and Latinx students, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities.12 For instance, a group of youth activists called the Voices of Youth in Chicago Education were instrumental in driving the narrative and advocating for statewide change that resulted in the 2015 passage of SB 100 in Illinois, which addressed harsh, punitive discipline policies in school.13

This youth activism is remarkable and helps change the debate on key issues facing the United States. This report, however, focuses on incorporating student voice within existing educational institutions.

What is student voice?

 The authors of this report define student voice as authentic student input or leadership in instruction, school structures, or education policies that can promote meaningful change in education systems, practice, and/or policy by empowering students as change agents, often working in partnership with adult educators.14

Expert definitions of student voice

“At the simplest level, student voice can consist of young people sharing their opinions of school problems with administrators and facility. Student voice initiatives can also be more extensive, for instance, when young people collaborate with adults to address the problems in their schools—and in rare cases when youth assume leadership roles to change efforts.”15

–Dana Mitra, a Pennsylvania State University scholar on education policy and student voice

“[A] broad term describing a range of activities that can occur in and out of school. It can be understood as expression, performance, and creativity and as co-constructing the teaching/learning dynamic. It can also be understood as self-determined goal-setting or simply as agency.”16

­–Eric Toshalis, senior director of impact at KnowledgeWorks who focuses on student engagement and motivation

Experts on student voice, including Mitra and Toshalis, describe student voice as a spectrum or pyramid to illustrate that different forms of student engagement foster different levels of agency.17 On the one hand, adults gather and use student perspectives, feedback, and opinions to inform change. On the other hand, students participate in decision-making bodies that drive change.18 Student agency increases as students assume more leadership and have greater responsibility and accountability in instruction or policy changes.

All forms of student voice can be important and can meaningfully influence instruction, schools, and policies. But each approach has trade-offs, and one may be more appropriate to achieve certain goals than others. For example, schoolwide or districtwide surveys provide a snapshot in time with answers to a limited number of largely multiple-choice questions and often measure changes in the views of a large group of students over time. Student leadership through governing bodies or YPAR can allow for meaningful and extended conversations about complex topics and implementation; in most instances, however, this approach engages fewer students.

 

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In 20 years, Austin’s population will be 4.5M. Here’s what Austin will look like

By Terri Gruca, KVUE

Every 20 years Austin’s population has doubled.

That’s why KVUE started a series titled, “Boomtown 2040,” a campaign dedicated to reporting on the opportunities and the challenges of Austin’s growth.

In the month of November, KVUE begins “Boomtown 2040 – Tomorrow’s ATX.” Over the next few weeks, KVUE will take a deep dive into what Austin will look like in the next 20 years and how it could impact you.

There’s only one place to start.

If it’s in the cards, Daniel Guerrero can read it. For 20 years he’s looked to tarot cards to help predict outcomes for those seeking advice.

“You can do a reading on anything,” he said.

This is the first time he’s read the City of Austin.

As he cut the cards, Guerrero sat down several in front of him on the table. Then, he started to read.

“There are some difficult times ahead,” he said.

He’s not the only one weighing in on what Austin will look like in 20 years.

Drew Scheberle has had a front-row seat to Austin’s growth working at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. He is the senior vice president of education and talent development for the chamber.

“We double every 20 years and have been doing so since 1880 so this city will double to roughly about 4.5 million people,” he said.

In 2040, Austin will be a lot more crowded. It will look more like Houston than the Austin we know today.

“This is clearly a boomtime for Austin,” Guerrero said as he read the cards in front of him.

The people will likely look different, too.

“There’s also this deep-seated cultural displacement that’s happening this cultural erasure,” said Virginia Cumberbatch, director of equity and community advocacy for the Center of Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin.

The cards show the challenges.

“It looks like it may be losing touch with what people came here to experience,” Guerrero said.

Growing Austin-area suburbia

Most families will live in the suburbs.

“Huge growth in Asian households, huge growth in Hispanic households, modest growth in African American households,” said Ryan Robinson, the City of Austin demographer. Robinson has been tracking the changes in Austin for decades.

Guerrero said the cards show “continued prosperity overall.”

Tech, medical and government industries will drive jobs. Single people, professionals and seniors will take over Downtown Austin.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce annual report for 2018 shows 9,424 people moved to Austin because companies relocated offices or headquarters to Austin.

The ‘silver tsunami’ reaches Austin

“Lots and lots of older households are being attracted to Austin,” Robinson said. “Some people call it the grandparent connection.”

Seniors are moving to the city to follow their children – who move here for work – and to be around their grandchildren.

“There’s a lot of positive energy in the city,” Guerrero said, looking at the cards.

The City refers to this trend as the “silver tsunami.” However, it’s not just the kind of people attracted here, but the buildings being designed.

“This is it – the living room, dining room, kitchen, the bedroom,” said Jenna Pickering, a music promoter with C3 Presents, as she showed KVUE around her Downtown condo.

She moved to Austin in 2015 and bought a 563-square-foot condo two years later. She would love more space but her small condo was all she could afford.

Higher-density, expensive housing to pepper Austin

Those smaller footprints, higher density housing, will be the norm in Austin in 2040. And prices? Well, brace yourself for what’s to come.

“Job growth is the number-one driver of real estate prices and so we can probably expect our pricing to fall in line with cities like New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles,” said Austin-area realtor Chris Watters.

According to PwC’s and the Urban Land Institute’s annual “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” reportAustin is No. 6 with population growth. That’s more than three times the national rate due to significant in-migration, plus factors such as younger demographics and high labor force productivity.

Apple plans to build a $1 billion campus in Austin that will create at least 5,000 jobs.

Commuting will get worse in Austin

Without increased ground transit, commute times could double by 2040.

Austin could be the 10th largest city in the United States by that time. Austin’s airport will reflect that.

“We’re going to have an airport the size of Minneapolis. An airport that’s going to have double,” said Drew Scheberle with Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA).

In 2018, ABIA experienced record passenger traffic with 15.8 million passengers, an increase of more than 1.9 million over 2017. Eleven carriers announced 42 new routes out of ABIA, and this fall, the first non-stop flights to Paris was announced.

As Austin looks to the future, we must ‘keep the magic’

One card stands out to Guerrero in his reading. It’s the magic card.

“Making sure we keep the magic. That is showing up as one of the main concerns,” he said.

The changes are already taking shape. Plans are in the works for transportation, housing and jobs. Decisions about affordability, diversity and future growth are what will determine whether this city is a place we want to call home.

And those are the issues “Boomtown 2040 – Tomorrow’s ATX” will address in the coming weeks. There is a lot at stake and many of us hold the cards.

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Hispanic Education Summit focuses on college completion

By Isa Torres, Baptist Standard

Church leaders and evangelical university administrators at the National Hispanic Education Summit celebrated accomplishments and shared ideas they hope to see achieved in the future.

Dallas Baptist University hosted the Faith Education Coalition-sponsored event.

Related problems explored

Major issues discussed at the summit included retention of Hispanic college students. Although many more Hispanic students are pursuing higher education than in the past, only 22 percent of them complete college and earn a degree.

Leaders and administrators also expressed concern about the lack of Hispanic presence and representation at Christian evangelical universities across the country.

During the summit, Benjamin Espinoza, a doctoral candidate at Michigan State University, suggested those two issues may go hand-in-hand.

While Hispanic students pursuing college education significantly increased in the past two decades, the presence of Hispanics serving as university leaders or presidents remains stagnant, Espinoza said.

Only about 4 percent of all university presidents in the country are Hispanic, Espinoza noted. Two of those—Carlos Campo of Ashland University and Abraham Jaquez of Baptist University of the Américas—attended the summit.

Because they do not see people like themselves in school leadership, Hispanic students feel a sense of foreignness and also feel unwelcomed, said Elizabeth Palacios, dean for student development at Baylor University.

When students first arrive at these universities they ask themselves, “Is this for me?” Palacios said.

“Intellectually, they are there, but little by little, they stop flourishing,” she noted.

Gus Reyes, director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, and Campo noticed those issues a decade ago and initiated efforts to promote Hispanic college completion.

Lingering problems from the past

Issues Hispanics face in colleges and universities often stem from social problems in the past, several summit speakers noted.

For example, Baylor University did not take its first steps to end racial segregation until 1964, when the school enrolled its first African-American student, Palacios noted.

Palacios and other speakers also noted how school staff in the high schools they attended thought college education would not fit them because of their ethnicity.

Tina Villarreal, vice president of student experience at Stark College and Seminary, also noted the segregation Hispanics faced at Texas public schools.

Even though many of the students in public grade school during the early 1900s until the 1960s were American citizens, they often were reprimanded and punished for speaking Spanish, Villarreal stated.

As a result, many Hispanics in that time felt disconnected from their ethnic identity and previous generations of their own families, Villarreal said.

Universities making necessary changes

While not every goal has been achieved, speakers at the summit expressed gratitude for what has been accomplished.

Gary Cook, chancellor at Dallas Baptist University, received the Hispanic Education Impact Award for his longterm support of Hispanic education. Gus Reyes, director of the BGCT Christian Life Commission and Girien Salazar, executive director of Faith and Education Coalition presented the award. (Photo / Isa Torres)

Because of the Hispanic growth in the country, universities realize they have a lot left to do, Palacios said. So, schools are beginning to recognize the changes required to serve Hispanic students better, she noted.

Scholarships for Hispanic students, focused on their particular needs, are increasing in more and more schools, school administrators reported.

In order to establish a better connection with students and their families, universities and colleges realize information must be presented both in English and Spanish, they noted.

Through school recruiters, universities also aim to provide information in the best way possible to family members who perhaps come from another country and who may have little formal advanced education.

The support schools offer to Hispanic students increases when they bring in staff and faculty who understand the historical and cultural contexts of Hispanic education in the country and who strengthen their relationship with students by understanding their needs, speakers noted.

Educators also encouraged churches to understand more about topics related to science, technology, engineering and math so they can encourage young Hispanics to expand their horizons and maintain their faith while they pursue education.

Churches can invest in Hispanic students

Girien Salazar is executive director of the national Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s Faith and Education Coalition. (Photo / Isa Torres)

Girien Salazar, executive director of the Faith and Education Coalition, also highlighted efforts of congregations and ministries that invest in education for Hispanics. Salazar noted churches that set apart funds in their yearly budgets for scholarships, as well as ministries that help young Hispanic students visit universities and learn what they need to get in college.

Efforts for Hispanic college completion can start at the local church, Salazar said. As increasing numbers of Hispanics seek higher education, costs, distance from family, language and culture still present enormous challenges for them, he noted.

Salazar expressed his hope that the next 10 years, both universities and churches will offer better care to Hispanics seeking an academic degree, even though those students may not entirely fit the typical profile of a college student.

“I’ve seen and experienced the challenges we face,” Salazar said. “Our next 10 years, we must continue fighting for all of God’s children to pursue higher education.”

Department of Education launches high school fifth-year pilot program

The Louisiana Department of Education is seeking applications from school systems, colleges and businesses to test a new pilot program called “Extension Academy,” aimed at reducing student debt and helping high school graduates get jobs.

The department is billing the program as “an alternative graduation model” where certain students would participate in what is essentially a fifth year of high school, where they could learn career skills and college credits. Businesses can participate through offering apprenticeships, for example.

Extension Academy pilot programs will specifically support students who are positioned to graduate from high school but have yet to earn TOPS scholarship.

Entities interested in applying must outline how they will help students move into careers, higher education or industry certification over the course of the pilot. In their pitch, applicants must also detail the types of support and post-secondary transitional coaching that will be available to the participating students.

One pilot plan has already been approved. The Orleans Parish School Board—in partnership with YouthForce NOLA, an education, business and civic collaborative that prepares public school students for career pathways—was the only school system to submit a pilot application for 2019-2020.

The approved plan brings together 29 area schools and various local business and nonprofit partners, to provide hands-on opportunities to build workplace skills and training in construction crafts, graphic design, video editing and software development. The higher education partner, which will provide dual enrollment courses for college credit, is Southern New Hampshire University. Read the full announcement. 

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My Turn: Daniel J. McKee: Close the parent information gap

By Daniel J. McKee, Providence Journal

Rhode Island must close the parent information gap if we want to close the student achievement gap. Every parent, no matter their zip code or socioeconomic status, wants their child to have the best education possible. If parents know that their child’s school is letting them down, they will be the fiercest advocates for reform.

Unfortunately, too many parents are being left in the dark about the quality of their school district. According to a nationwide study by “Learning Heroes,” 84% of parents believe their child’s school provides an “excellent” or “pretty good” education, and nearly 90% of parents think their child is performing at or above grade level in math and reading.

The actual numbers paint a far more pessimistic picture. Here in Rhode Island, only 30% of students are proficient in math and only 38% are proficient in reading.

The Providence Journal’s Linda Borg further underscores this disconnect in an Oct. 6 piece (“R.I. SAT scores don’t keep pace with grad rates”), where she highlights the inconsistency between schools’ high graduation rates and low proficiency scores.

Something is not adding up. What parents believe and what students achieve are at odds in Rhode Island and nationwide. The underlying cause is due in part to the difference between what parents see on student report cards and the reality. Parents who believe their child is succeeding have no reason to change how they engage in their child’s education, and schools have no reason to set the record straight with parents if they are not required to do so.

We can change this by requiring, through state law or regulation, that every parent receive a school performance card from the school their child attends. These school performance cards will highlight information like the school’s math and reading proficiency scores compared to the grades on student report cards; student and teacher attendance rates; a school facilities overview; and a comparison to a similar school in Massachusetts.

While most of this information is available online, it is lumped in with district averages and requires parents to spend time deciphering charts and graphs. Busy parents should not be expected to play detective just to find out if their child attends a good school.

School performance cards would be presented to parents at an annual public meeting in every public school in Rhode Island. Administrators would explain their school’s performance and offer a plan for improvement. Local elected officials would be invited to attend. Parents who cannot attend would be given the tools to view and sign off on the information electronically. Parents who do not respond would receive a personal visit at their home.

We know that informing parents encourages them to hold schools accountable. The Learning Heroes study shows that when parents compared their child’s report card and their state test scores, 36% changed their opinion about their child’s school. When parents begin to understand the reality of their school system and the outcomes it produces, they will demand action.

I saw this play out on a small scale in Cumberland when, as mayor, I held community meetings and actively notified residents that we had two failed elementary schools, a middle school on the brink of failure and a high school in disrepair. When people became aware of the problem, the community dialogue shifted and parent involvement increased. These changes created a new culture of accountability in our households and in our public schools.

States like Massachusetts, South Dakota, New Mexico, Louisiana and Texas have already taken steps to better inform parents and close the parent information gap. Rhode Island should raise the stakes by setting a goal of having the most informed and engaged parents in the country.

Daniel J. McKee, a Democrat, is the 69th lieutenant governor of Rhode Island and a former mayor of Cumberland.

 

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OpenLearning to list on ASX

By David Braue,

Online education provider OpenLearning will leverage the proceeds of a planned $6m ASX listing to continue expanding the portfolio of courses it delivers on behalf of a growing range of university and professional-services partners.

Founded in 2012, the Sydney-based company has enjoyed strong success supporting online learning efforts by universities, private training providers and corporate educational service providers.

Its software-as-a-service (SaaS) learning management system enables delivery of a broad range of educational content, as well as tracking which courses each student has completed and providing attestations to their capabilities.

To date, some 1.65m students in more than 150 countries have studied 8900 courses from 3300 different educators, with 800,000 ‘micro-credentials’ issued to students since the company began.

Unlike formal online university degrees, micro-credentials are individual certifications that recognise completion of smaller courses imparting particular skills or knowledge.

OpenLearning offers courses in cybersecurity, big data and analytics, the Doppler effect, financial literacy, and many other eclectic topics.

The flexibility and shorter-term commitment required for micro-credentials has increasingly seen them recognised as a way of helping individuals gain and demonstrate competencies through professional development, and they have also been flagged as a way of targeting skills development to more rapidly address areas of high skills demand.

The Australian Computer Society’s 2019 Federal Election Manifesto called for the establishment of a $100m Industry 4.0 skills fund that recognised the importance of micro-credentials as a way of rapidly building capabilities in crucial emerging technology areas including data science, artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT, and other fields.

Selling Australian education

Online giants like Digital Promise and Bloomboard have built up significant businesses administering micro-credentials on behalf of third parties and universities, and OpenLearning has followed the curve with strong success in the emerging Australian and – more since 2015 – Malaysian markets.

Malaysia was chosen to lead the company’s expansion into south-east Asia because its students have been enthusiastic adopters of overseas learning – particularly in Australia, where around 14,000 Malaysian students are enrolled in Australian universities.

That represents around 3.5 percent of an international education market that was worth $32.4 billion to the economy in 2017-18 alone.

Australian institutions like Monash University, Swinburne University of Technology and Curtin University have reciprocated, opening campuses in Malaysia to position Australia’s educational brand within the heart of surging demand.

Yet physical campuses are massive investments that have seen universities looking for a way of delivering coursework via more cost-effective online channels.

“OpenLearning solves a problem that every university, college, and company has,” CEO Adam Brimo said, “which is moving their education business online without compromising quality – and without the executions risk of building or integrating various systems.”

OpenLearning is also benefiting from its Malaysian connection and plans to use some of the funding from its ASX debut – expected in November with the issuance of 30 million shares at $0.20 each – to further extend its reach and scalability in Malaysia and beyond.

This expanding footprint will be positioned to help universities and other education and training providers rapidly extend their educational content to customers in Asia and other parts of the world.

“We can help them meet the challenges presented by the future of work,” Brimo said, “[by] delivering the transformative education they need in an enjoyable and interactive way.”

 

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