In Search of the Most Effective Education

In Search of the Most Effective Education

How do we ensure that students, particularly students of color, get the best education possible? From standardized testing to teacher education, there are ongoing debates about who and what most affects a student’s achievement. And how do we best measure students’ progress over the years? Do we compare them to their peers or just to themselves?Trumping “every other variable, including that dreaded triumvirate of race, class and poverty,” writes Kendra Hamilton in her article “Banking on the Future,” the quality of the teacher has the single greatest impact on student achievement. Carnegie Corporation has found this to be true, which is why they are targeting pre-service teacher education in “Teachers for a New Era.” They have selected New York’s Bank Street College of Education, along with three other universities, to participate in this three-year initiative. Bank Street College’s School for Children has long been a national leader in developing early childhood programs, “best practices” models, research and technology. The college is able to use the school to apply all of the “best practices” to see what works in a real-live classroom. However, Bank Street and Carnegie Corporation hope to take “what works” beyond the college’s School for Children and replicate this model for other institutions. Both the college and its grantor believe that the results of the three-year initiative could produce truly outstanding teachers — on a consistent basis.We go from secondary to postsecondary education in Kristina Lane’s and Ronald Roach’s articles on the trend of some community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees. Kristina’s article entitled “Community Colleges’ New Foray,” looks at this trend’s popularity over the last decade. She writes that the sheer number of community colleges that have sought and won baccalaureate certification in recent years suggests that the phenomenon is gaining momentum. Some proponents of the movement say it’s an issue of supply and demand. For example, some community colleges are located in rural communities. Residents would have to commute hundreds of miles to attend the nearest four-year institution. Therefore, community colleges must adapt their offerings to fill the void. But this movement is not without some controversy. It also has created divisions within the ranks of higher education.Dr. George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, said faculty issues are one of his biggest concerns. With some faculty teaching upper-division courses and others the lower-division, “faculty are going to be seen as first-class and second-class. I don’t see how you can create a cohesive faculty if you are going to have those kinds of differences,” Boggs says.

How will historically Black colleges and universities be affected if the number of community colleges offering bachelor’s degrees continues to increase? Or will they? In “Taking a Stand on the Movement,” Ronald surveys leaders of the HBCU community. Opinions range from states should make better use of their resources by supporting existing four-year schools to community college baccalaureates being another threat to the existence of HBCUs. It is certainly an issue that the entire higher ed community will be watching closely and discussing frequently.

As we continue to debate and report on trends in higher education, a group of leading scholars got together recently to mark the anniversary of the 1983 report “A Nation at Risk” that brought the country’s attention to a broken education system. In “A Nation Still at Risk,” Ben Hammer reports that 20 years after the study was released, scholars agree that although more resources have been allocated to education and more people are focused on educational reform, overall little progress has been made in improving academic achievement. Take a look at Ben’s story to see what recommendations the panel made to improve achievement levels in America’s schools.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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