All posts by Eleni Glader

is Policy Editor and COO at She's worked at Rutger's University as Senior Executive Associate. Before that, she worked for United Nations affiliate Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) a policy advocacy NGO and worldwide network of legislators. Eleni has a B.A. in International-Intercultural Studies from Fordham University, a Masters in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters in Public Health in management from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

Common Core Remedy: Take A Breather To Plan Strategy Before Buying More Technology

What's That? (5)

Steve Jurvetson via Compfight

By Eleni Glader, Policy Editor

Is there a cure for the administration of the Common Core? Taking time to plan a good strategy is a big help before making technology purchases.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and computer-based assessments were introduced to improve student achievement across states and to better prepare students for college.  Some studies and experts say only 25% of high school graduates are ready for college.

Technology and digital learning are  integral to the successful implementation of CCSS.  But the Alliance for Excellent Education thinks school districts ought to “stop and take a deep breath before buying more technology” and first develop a strategy.

Each district has its own unique set of circumstances and needs.  While technology and digital learning are solutions, in order to utilize them to their full potential, planning in these areas is needed:

  • Professional learning (training for teachers, professional development)
  • Use of time (flipped classroom?)
  • Curriculum and instruction (individualized via technology & digital learning)
  • Academic supports
  • Budget and resources (open source educational resources are a viable solution)
  • Data and assessment
  • Technology and infrastructure

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

CCSS focuses on mathematics and the english language arts, which includes reading, writing, listening, speaking and use of media and technology.

CCSS adoption has created some controversy.  Some think it is a recipe for mediocrity and will therefore hold back high-achieving districts.  Despite this criticism, all but fives states (Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia) adopted the standards.

We welcome comments and testimonials below about what smart districts are doing to implement the CCSS and what technologies and purchases they find most helpful. We also welcome a discussion about what additional recommendations or standards should be in place as states implement the CCSS.

Via: Alliance for Excellent Education: The Nation’s Schools are Stepping Up to Higher Standards and Common Core Standards Initiative

U.S. News Releases Its First Rankings of Online Education Programs

via Flickr by Travellin' Librarian under CreativeCommons

In recognition of higher education’s growing presence online, U.S. News recently released its first ever Top Online Education Programs rankings. More than 6.1 million students are enrolled in online courses65 percent of administrators surveyed at colleges and universities agreed that online education is a key player in their long-term strategy. Students looking at online programs, whether for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, can now consult U.S. News as they would do for traditional campus-based programs. The rankings include programs at online and brick and mortar schools provided that no less than 80 percent of the course content is online.  The brick and mortar schools actually came out big winners in the online rankings. Here is a glimpse of winners and losers…

Losers: None of the for-profit schools such as University of Phoenix, DeVry or American Public University made the U.S. News honor roll, which distinguishes programs ranking in the top third- the public and private colleges and universities with online programs earned the high marks.

Winners: “Top performers in online bachelor’s degree programs include Pace University in New York and the University of FloridaAuburn University in Alabama made the honor roll for its online master’s programs in education and engineering, and George Washington University‘s master’s programs earned the Washington, D.C., school mentions in the education, business, and nursing honor rolls.”

Bachelor’s programs were ranked in three categories:

  1. Student engagement and assessment;
  2. Student services and technology; and
  3. Faculty credentials and training.

Master’s programs were ranked in four categories:

  1. Student engagement and accreditation (rather than assessment);
  2. Student services and technology;
  3. Faculty credentials and training; and
  4. Admissions selectivity.
Program Rankings and Honor Roll:
U.S. News ranked 196 online bachelor’s degree programs and 523 online master’s degree programs in businessengineering,nursingeducation, and computer information technology.

Further Reading:

Top Online Education Programs

About the Top Online Education Program Rankings

Why U.S. News Ranks Online Education Programs

Consider This Before You Pay for an Online Degree

Via U.S. News Ranks Top Online Degree Programs by Kelsey Sheehy – U.S. News


Heard: Colorado Study Shows Online Charter Students Trailing Behind Counterparts

via Flickr by Kaptain Kobold under CreativeCommons

More online students are falling behind than their brick-and-mortar-school-attending counterparts under the No Child Left Behind Act mandates.

Only 27 percent of virtual schools met the standard compared to about 52 percent of private and public brick and mortar schools. In the 2010-2011 school year, students in virtual charter schools run by education management organizations (EMOs) show lower proficiency on standardized tests compared to their peers in public schools and in privately managed charter schools. Proficiency is based on a federal standard called “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado recently released its annual profile report on EMOs reflecting these findings (the report does not provide an analysis as to why or what the findings suggest). Online and charter schools often say that they often serve as alternative schools, serving more urban, poor communities. Some of their students have dropped out of other schools or did not belong in brick and mortar schools. So that is one explanation for why the online programs are underperforming. But is it an excuse? These schools promise to perform. When they don’t, there are consequences. That could spell trouble for companies like K-12 Inc. that sell online courses and services to charter schools and districts.

Reporting by Detroit Free Press Education Writer, Lori Higgins gives us some clues: 

Lead researcher [of the 2011-2012 annual profile report] Gary Miron, an education professor at WMU, said it’s unclear why so many virtual schools are not meeting the academic goals.

“These are not highly impoverished schools. … These schools should be more likely to meet adequate yearly progress,” he said.

Jeff Kwitowski, spokesman for the company [K-12 Inc], based in Herndon, Va., said using the adequate yearly progress standard to judge virtual schools is unfair.

“It’s not a reliable measure. The secretary of education has said that the AYP measure under (No Child Left Behind) is broken and unfairly labels schools as failing.”

Miron acknowledged some of the concerns about using the adequate yearly progress measure. But he pointed to research in Pennsylvania that looked at individual student achievement data and came to similar conclusions about virtual schools.

And, he said, when there is such a wide gap between the percentage of virtual charters meeting the standard and other public schools, “that’s pretty meaningful and significant.”

Some EMO Info
EMO’s are privately managed organizations that run public schools, usually charter or district.  They can be for-profit or non-profit and actually run 35 percent of charter schools and more than 40 percent of charter school students in the U.S. Charter schools serve public school students and are publicly funded. Most EMOs are privately held.

via Virtual Charters Lag Other Public Schools’ Performance, Report Says by Lori Higgins – Detroit Free Press 

via Students of Online Schools are Lagging by Jenny Anderson – New York Times

One Laptop Per Child: What’s the Status?

via Flickr by One Laptop per Child under CreativeCommons

Ever wonder what’s happening with one laptop per child after the media hype? It’s still on. Nicholas Negraponte and his team at One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC) have faced some challenges along the way resulting in lower than expected distribution, tweaking for improvement and cheaper competition. But the nearly six-year old initiative is still a success. OLPC’s website reports that more than 2 million laptops were “deployed” in 42 countries, with about 2 million in Latin America and half a million in Africa and the rest of the world.

In The New York Times article “A Few Stumbles on the Road to Connectivity,” Alice Rawsthorn outlines “undermet” objectives, challenges and lessons learned:

Back in January 2006, he forecast that it would distribute at least seven million laptops over the next few years, with each one costing no more than $100. So far, OLPC has shipped less than a third of that number and, despite its best efforts, the price has crept up to between $209 and $229 for the current model.

Some of the governments that initially promised to buy OLPC’s laptops have lost power or reneged on their commitments. And the laptop’s price has been inflated by the U.S. dollar’s weakness and the soaring cost of components. 

That said, OLPC has encountered difficulties, and its designers have had to modify the original laptops since they went into daily use in schools. The shiny plastic on the case was replaced by a tougher rubberized material. The keyboard was strengthened with a steel plate, and its lights removed to reduce energy consumption. OLPC had to add little feet to the machines used in countries like Nigeria, where school desks tended to be slanted. It has also trained local technicians to repair the laptops, rather than running a centralized maintenance program.

via A Few Stumbles on the Road to Connectivity by Alice Rawsthorn for the New York Times

 The XO-3 model due out in 2012 has a target cost of less than $100.  However Datawind’s Aakash tablet, which we covered during its India debut in October, costs only $44 (the video below claims the cost is $35).  You can view both products below.
XO-3 Video:

Aakash Video:

Visit OLPC to learn more

Heard: Expansion Abroad Could Keep For-Profits Out of Trouble in the U.S.

via Flickr by ...RISE.. 72 CREW under CreativeCommons

To dodge trouble with the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) some for-profit colleges are expanding operations to serve students abroad among other things.  This move may allow these schools to continue to receive federal student aid (Title IV programs), a major revenue source. Under current regulations, aid money cannot comprise more than 90 percent of cash revenue, therefore 10 percent must come from other sources (known as the 90/10 rule enacted in 1998).  In addition, loan default rates cannot be higher than 25 percent for three consecutive years.  And in 2014, they will not be allowed to exceed 30% three years after graduation.  Otherwise, the USDOE will issue sanctions that may prevent schools from receiving aid money.

How will going abroad solve domestic issues? Revenue from abroad would dilute the percentage of cash revenue from federal aid, keeping schools within the 90% rule if all goes well.  According to Dan Newman at The Motley Fool, 26 percent of Kaplan’s total revenue came from abroad, and DeVry’s comprised 12 percent.

As for default rates, schools are employing other strategies. Dan Newman writes:

So what are schools doing about it? A variety of things:

  • Corinthian Colleges partnered with a private loan group offering students $450 million in loans to help source funding outside of Title IV programs.
  • Apollo is trying to shift more students to bachelor and master degrees from associates. It hopes this will give students increased job prospects and a higher likelihood of paying off any loans.
  • Many schools focus on recruiting military students, since military-provided assistance does not count as a Title IV program.

See how major for-profit schools rank:


Most Recently Reported 2-Year Cohort Default Rates

90/10 Rule

Apollo Group‘s (Nasdaq: APOL  ) University of Phoenix 18.8% 86%
Corinthian Colleges (Nasdaq: COCO  ) 21.9% 80%
Education Management (Nasdaq: EDMC  ) 13.1% 74%
Strayer (Nasdaq: STRA  ) 10% 78%
DeVry (NYSE: DV  ) 14.2% 70%-86%*
Bridgepoint Education (NYSE: BPI  ) 15.3%, 3.3%** 85%-86%**

Sources: and companies’ most recent 10-Ks. 2-Year Cohort Default Rates ending Sept. 30, 2009. *Percentages across various institutions under DeVry. **Percentages across various institutions under Bridgepoint.

Via For-Profit Educations Needs a Semester Abroad by Dan Newman for The Motley Fool

California Public Education Funding Shuffle: Shift Money from the Classroom to Online

via Flicker by Scr47chy under CreativeCommons

Does where you live determine what you learn? For California public school students it certainly can. And if they’re not living in the right neighborhood, they may miss out on prep courses that are necessary for admission to state universities. But with the technology available to deliver these courses online, why should geography continue to be a barrier to access?

To rectify this inequality, David Haglund, Riverside Virtual School Principal introduced a ballot initiative for the State of California to give students access to courses that are publicly funded. However this would require a reallocation of public funds.

How the Scheme Would Work:
The State of California uses the average daily attendance (ADA) to determine the allocation of funding to school districts. This is the number of days a student attends school divided by the number of days school is taught in the same period. Haglund’s initiative calls for the ADA to be allotted according to the number of classes a student completes. Therefore funding for one student could be divvied up among a number of institutions and no longer allotted to the district where the student is enrolled.

What Skeptics Say:
The proposal’s intentions are good but the mechanism is not. There is fear that more public money will go to private companies. And that the state education system would suffer from disruption.

Joanna Lin for provides a well-rounded analysis of this issue. For the full article, access the link below. Excerpts on Haglund’s initiative:

Haglund said, “The initiative is not designed to destroy public education.”

“California as a state has pushed educational innovation into the private and charter school space. If that’s where we want to go, then keep it up,” he said. “But if we want our kids in public schools to have access to the same type of high-quality education they can have elsewhere, we need to switch it up.”

The California Student Bill of Rights Initiative is “designed to eliminate control by ZIP code,” Haglund said.

Under the proposal, schools, districts and county education offices would be required to make available to all students the courses needed for admission to the state’s universities. Those courses, known as A-G requirements at the University of California and California State University, could be offered at a student’s school or district of residence or any other publicly funded school, and they could be classroom-based, online or a blended model of the two.

Nearly 27 percent of California public high schools in 2007-08 offered too few A-G courses for all students to take them, according to an analysis [PDF] by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.

via Ballot Initiative Seeks to Expand Access to Online Education by Joanna Lin for

Mastery is the Method: Khan Academy Lessons Aim to Integrate With STEM Curriculum

via Flickr by Ian Hampton under CreativeCommons

YouTube sensation and Khan Academy creator, Salman Khan wants to integrate his popular lessons in math and science into high school curriculums.  This is an ambitious objective.  Schools are working through sorting out the benefits of digital learning and are still not sure which technologies are more effective if at all.

Why Khan’s Idea Can Work:
This would allow teachers to give students a more individualized learning experience. Through a “peephole,” teachers would know when a student is stuck and needs help and would be able to attend to that student. Provided the classroom contains a high-speed internet connection and a computer or a laptop for the teacher and for each student to work from.  Then students can learn concepts and how to solve problems at a pace set by their ability to master them. Mastery is demonstrated by their ability to answer questions in each lesson correctly.  So while one student is doing geometry, another student could be solving a probability problem.

Also, Khan’s lessons are free for the user.

The Cons to Khan’s Idea:
Critics say Khan’s approach to learning, rote with high-tech delivery. In other words students are not thinking through concepts, instead they are drilling them into their heads.  Another criticism is that Khan’s teaching model of an instructor writing on a blackboard is too traditional.

Somini Sengupta reporting for The New York Times, Technology explains:

Inside the Peephole and Mastery:

Master one concept, move on to the next. Earn rewards for a streak of correct answers. For teachers, there is an analytics dashboard that shows both an aggregate picture of how the class is doing and a detailed map of each student’s math comprehension. In other words, a peephole.

Nationwide Pilot:

This semester, at least 36 schools nationwide are trying out Mr. Khan’s experiment: splitting up the work of teaching between man and machine, and combining teacher-led lessons with computer-based lectures and exercises.

Premature Evaluation:

It is too early to know whether the Khan Academy software makes a real difference in learning. A limited study with students in Oakland, Calif., this year found that children who had fallen behind in math caught up equally well if they used the software or were tutored in small groups. The research firm SRI International is working on an evaluation of the software in the classroom. 

Via Online Learning, Personalized by Somini Sengupta for The New York Times


















GAO Report: More Research & Oversight of Distance Education Coming

via Flickr by NASA Goddard Photo and Video under CreativeCommons

The federal Government Accountability Office has released several scathing reports on the For-Profit college industry, designed to improve transparency and oversight. Now, it is turning its attention to distance education more broadly, calling for more research by the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Dept. of Education. Both agencies agreed to do so.

As the biggest provider of financial aid to students of postsecondary education to a tune of $134 billion via Title IV funds in 2010, the U.S. Department of Education has a serious interest in distance education.  That’s because close to half of the postsecondary schools in the U.S. offered distance education- as in courses online, by video or in some other capacity outside of the classroom in 2009 to 2010.

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a study to understand the characteristics of distance education; its student demographics; how quality is assessed by schools and accreditation organizations; and how the Department of Education oversees the administration of financial aid in distance education. Here are some of the findings:

While distance education can use a variety of technologies, it has grown most rapidly online with the use of the Internet. Online distance education is currently being offered in various ways to students living on campus, away from a campus, and across state lines.

Students in distance education enroll mostly in public schools, and they represent a diverse population. While they tend to be older and female, and have family and work obligations, they also include students of all races, current and former members of the military, and those with disabilities. According to the most current Education data (2007-2008), students enrolled in distance education studied a range of subjects, such as business and health. 

Accrediting agencies and schools assess the academic quality of distance education in several ways, but accreditors reported some oversight challenges. Federal law and regulations do not require accrediting agencies to have separate standards for reviewing distance education.

School officials GAO interviewed reported using a range of design principles and student performance assessments to hold distance education to the same standards as face-to-face education. Some schools reported using specialized staff to translate face-to-face courses to the online environment, as well as standards developed by distance education experts to design their distance education courses.

[U.S. Department of] Education has increased its monitoring of distance education but lacks sufficient data to inform its oversight activities. Between 2011 and 2013, Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will start collecting survey data on the extent to which schools offer distance education, as well as enrollment levels. However, the department’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), responsible for monitoring Title IV compliance, was not involved in the process of deciding what distance education information would be collected; therefore, it did not provide input on what types of data could be helpful in oversight. Further, FSA officials said they do not yet have a plan on how they will use the new data in monitoring. 

Click here for the full report


Heard: UK Strategy in the Gaming Game, Admit Problem & Develop Talent

via Flickr by JoshMcConnell under CreativeCommons

Two leaders in the creative-tech industry are calling for computer science education reform in the UK. In IT education there’s learning how to use ICT and then there’s programming. Both are important. Especially when you want to produce the next generation of top video game and visual effects talent in the world. Ian Livingstone of Eidos (game publishing company) and Alex Hope of Double Negative (video effects company), published the report “Next Gen” on how the UK can cultivate its competitive edge in the industry.

The government seems willing to address the need for more hands on education in programming but has turned down many of the report’s recommendations.  It is looking to a tiny, inexpensive computer called Raspberry Pi that is packed with programming languages and the hopes of getting school kids in IT using them.

Check out Mark Brown’s story at Wired.CO.UK.  The article contains useful links on this issue including access to the report and more on Raspberry Pi.  Here’s the bottom line:

The main takeaway point was clear. “If the UK is to retain its global strengths in the high-tech creative and digital industries, it must urgently address the need for more rigorous teaching of computing in schools,” Livingstone and Hope wrote.

 Via Government Acknowledges Failings in Computer Education by Mark Brown for Wired.CO.UK


Elixir for Education Gaps in Emerging Markets: Digital Education

By Marc Falardeau via Flickr under CreativeCommons

Can digital education, online learning, school innovations expand education opportunities in places like Indonesia and Africa, where primary education rates lag?

2015, the year in which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be reached, is around the corner.  193 United Member States and over 20 international organizations have agreed to achieve eight MDGs.  So where are we on MDG 2, which calls for the achievement of universal primary education for all boys and girls?  The simple answer is, not where ought to be.  Are digital learning and online education a solution?  Sounds like they could very well be.  Earlier this month, the third annual World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) was held in Doha.  Over a thousand education stakeholders convened to discuss best practices for changing educational norms in today’s society.

Covering WISE for The Jakarta Post, Ary Hermawan points out that there is a $16.2 billion gap in education funding to reach MDG 2 goal, among other key things that are lacking such as innovation, qualified teachers for the learning poor and access. Ary emphasizes the role of web 2.0 and Wikipedia in education (access full article via link below) but the realm of e-learning is extensive promising to offer solutions to the challenges he outlines:

Call for Innovation

We need to alter the way children are taught, some experts say. Students need to learn differently, other experts argue. And, yet, activists are still calling for more donations to bring the usual learning to the poor.

The pressing question is, has education adapted to the online culture? Are we just bringing the traditional, obsolete teaching method online?

Unqualified Teachers

Freda Wolfenden, is the director of the Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA), an online network of over 20 universities and organizations from 12 African countries that provides multilingual high-quality resources for teachers and teacher educators.  These modules are used to train between 300,000 and 400,000 teachers a year in the region, where half of primary school teachers have few, or no, qualifications at all. 


On the southern part of the globe, some children are left with no access to education; schools buildings are crumbling or located in a place so remote and isolated that children are forced to walk for miles to get there, with no guarantee to the quality of their education either.

The OECD, in its latest report, ranked the UK among the countries with the worst education dropout rates in the developed world.

Via: Education Today, In Search of Innovation by Ary Hermawan for The Jakarta Post

Related Links:

World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE)

Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators