Category Archives: Education

Student Homelessness

Since the onset of the economic recession, rates of student homelessness have increased rapidly in urban, suburban, and rural school districts throughout the United States. Despite the widespread urgency of the issue, there is a lack of general coherence in the research about how diverse conditions of homelessness affect students and how schools and communities can best serve them. This literature review attempts to deepen scholars’ understandings of such matters by examining (a) homeless students’ school experience in comparison to that of other students, (b) federal policy’s shaping of homeless students’ rights and opportunities, and (c) homeless students’ key support mechanisms. The author suggests that these three focus areas provide foundational insights into the nature and extent of students’ opportunities to succeed in school. Although homeless students’ experiences are noted to be similar to those of residentially stable low-income students, they appeared to be distinguishable based on their high rates of isolation and school mobility. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was found to have profound formative influences on the wider field of practice, but its full implementation is limited by the disconnected nature of students’ diverse support mechanisms. Based on the findings, the author suggests that researchers and practitioners consider the people, places, and policies that affect students in more holistic manners—as networks of practice.

A student at LaGuardia Community College recounts his two-year struggle with homelessness, showing a reporter and a photographer where he found shelter. Take the tour

College students live on ramen noodles. College students couch-surf. These popular images can obscure more ominous realities: hunger and the little acknowledged problem that some do not have a place to live at all.

“‘Homeless college student’ seems like a contradiction in terms,” said Paul Toro, a psychology professor at Wayne State University who studies poverty and homelessness. “If you’re someone who has the wherewithal to get yourself into college, well, of course you should be immune to homelessness. But that just isn’t the case.”

It’s difficult to know exactly how many students are homeless, or are dangling dangerously close to it, in part because of the enormous stigma surrounding the issue. But new research shows how pervasive a problem it is — and one that some educators believe is growing.

Students Surviving

For students who identify as LGBTQ or are gender non-conforming, school can be a difficult, even dangerous, place. Especially in the wake of shifts in federal guidance on transgender students, educators can make a difference by openly supporting these students.

WHEN SCHOOL ISN’T SAFE

LGBTQ students can feel “isolated and alone and rejected” when peers and teachers don’t accept them, says Tracie Jones, who runs student diversity and inclusion programs at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Children as young as kindergarten can be bullied for not fitting in with typical gender expectations. Transgender students are especially vulnerable, facing more hostility in school than peers who identify as gay or bisexual. According to a 2015 survey [PDF] by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 77 percent of transgender youth were mistreated at school (ranging from verbal harassment to prohibitions on dressing according to gender identity to physical or sexual assault); according to the Human Rights Campaign, transgender youth are twice as likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol[PDF] as straight, cisgender peers.

All of this affects learning. LGBTQ students who are harassed or excluded have lower GPAs than straight peers and are half as likely to pursue post-secondary education. “If you’re constantly in that space of fear, there’s no chance of being able to reach the content and the learning that’s going on in your classroom,” says Tina Owen-Moore, who founded the Alliance School in Milwaukee with the explicit mission of providing an environment that would support LGBTQ students.

Even coming to school can be difficult. When Owen-Moore started the Alliance School in 2005, attendance rates were at 61 percent. Many students who enrolled simply were not in the habit of coming to school because they didn’t perceive it “as a safe or welcoming place,” she says.

Vocal support from teachers and administrators can make a world of difference. Now the Alliance School has an attendance rate of 91 percent, and students are applying to college and focusing on their careers, rather than just trying to “get through” high school. “It’s so important to build a place where young people can thrive instead of just survive,” says Owen-Moore, now pursuing a doctorate at Harvard.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • A deeper dive into the discrimination and harassment that LGBTQ students face, from GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate Survey
  • A comprehensive report of LGBTQ youth’s experiences and how adults can best support them, from the Human Rights Campaign
  • Resources, strategies, and background information on gender and the importance of supporting transgender students, from Welcoming Schools
  • A toolkit on allying with nonbinary youth and a fact sheet on being transgender, from Teaching ToleranceWe Want to Hear from You

Our country is polarized: How is that showing up in your school? What are you doing to protect students, confront discrimination, prevent bullying, and foster inclusion? Usable Knowledge would like to hear from you. Join us on Facebook and Twitter, using #OneAllHGSE. Send your advice and resources to uknow@gse.harvard.edu, and we’ll share as much as we can

Schools Respond to Threats

First of all, a superintendent isn’t making a decision like this on his or her own, especially in large cities, where the school system is embedded in many other systems that are servicing kids and families. You make decisions about closing schools, in normal circumstances, with city hall, with the police and transportation department — as part of a team that is thinking about how the city functions. You’re changing the entire flow of what’s happening in a city on a given day.  A terrorist threat is not a normal circumstance, which makes it more imperative that you work as part of a team that is thinking about the entire city.

But the decision should be part of the same protocol that helps shape more ordinary decisions around closing schools. In every year, in every school system, you’re going to have to make a set of calls around closing or opening schools where you could be right or you could be wrong. Most of the time you’re going to have 50 percent of the people happy and the other 50 percent of the people unhappy. Whether it’s snow, water main breaks, Halloween pranks — no matter what you do, you’re going to have a sector of the community that thinks that you acted in the wrong way, because it impacted their lives in a negative sense. Here, the stakes are incredibly higher. If the protocols are off, then you compound what is already fraught and extraordinary.

What factors do you weigh when you make these decisions?

The safety of children always comes first. But because there are no guarantees, you are also weighing families and home care, you’re weighing children who are eligible for free and reduced meals and their access to food, you’re weighing issues with teachers and their travel and their ability to get to school and deal with their own family responsibilities in an emergency.

So there are going to be dilemmas. Normally, you have a bias toward keeping schools open and keeping kids in schools. That should be the default. Kids generally are safest at school. On the other hand, there are going to be some circumstances where that’s not true.

In every circumstance, you are going to go with your judgment — that it’s a hoax or it’s a prank or you’re only going to get three inches of snow instead of 12. Sometimes you’re going to be wrong. But I would always rather be wrong in a way that protects the safety of the children. The challenge, of course, is that you have a lot of parents and a lot of children who are counting on schools being open.

The type of decision facing Los Angeles and New York and other districts in recent days seems unique and new because of the threat of political, mass violence — and because it’s happening in a climate that is highly sensitized to that threat of violence. That makes it even more imperative that you’re making decisions in the context of a team of people who are making the best judgment at a specific point in time, with a specific set of facts, bringing expertise that you and your staff might not have.

Some have criticized the LA schools for the decision to close. What’s your perspective?

Without having specific information or being part of those decisions, I think it’s irresponsible to criticize someone for choosing to close schools. Of course, you need to have the real-world understanding that you’re always going to be making these decisions, and you can’t close schools every day of the year because people are saying terrible things are going to happen. You would be surprised how often districts have to make judgments about safety, even if not to this degree of risk.

As a superintendent, you have to know that this is the kind of call where you’ll have a lot of backseat driving. People are always going to be responding to what you do after the fact. Hopefully, as in this case in Los Angeles, they are going to be responding when nothing has happened.

You’d rather take the hit and say, as I think Ramon Cortines did in Los Angeles, “I made the call to the best of my abilities, and as always, I’m accountable.” And if you’ve done your job in advance with the community and your partners, you’re going to have plenty of people who are going to be there with you saying, “The superintendent made the right decision.”

the Good Student

The world needs young adults who are ethically aware, connected to their communities, and ready to dig into the problems threatening the common good. But today’s college admissions process, which can consume teenagers and dictate what they do and value, instead encourages a competitive focus on personal successes and accolades. Colleges admissions do endorse community service, but too often, service commitments become sidelined, trumped up, or perfunctory.

A growing consortium of key stakeholders wants to change that dynamic, joining an effort to reform the college admissions process so it prioritizes concern for others and authentic community engagement. Those goals are part of a new approach to admissions outlined in Turning the Tide, a report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common (MCC) initiative that has now been endorsed by more than 140 colleges and universities, high schools and districts, and allied organizations and scholars.

To actually change the annual rituals of college admissions is a daunting challenge, since many of us have grown accustomed to the idea that the path to the perfect school means focusing intently on personal metrics. But the report offers a roadmap of practical steps that school counselors and college admissions officers can take to reframe the process. The advice centers on one key idea: The importance of intentional messaging that colleges will place a high value on authentic community engagement and contributions to others.

FOR HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELORS

For high school counselors, already the primary coaches in the college search process, a report that elevates the value of personal commitments and authentic connection can help lead students in the right direction.

“It’s a great tool to have as a counselor, because I can point to it and say this Turning the Tide report suggests that colleges want to see that you’re engaging in authentic service,” explains Sarah Style, a guidance counselor at Newton South High School in Massachusetts. “It gives us an opportunity to say, this is what authentic service means, and this is what it doesn’t mean.”

FOR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS OFFICERS

Changing college admissions is a two-way street. Beyond the work that high schools do, colleges will have to indicate to applicants the value their institution places on community service and ethical development — and what exactly service means to them.

To do that, college admissions officers can:

  • Include explicit opportunities on applications for teenagers to write about community service engagements or significant family responsibilities. Some students won’t explain a service commitment if they aren’t given the space to do so. Applications should also give examples of what students can include in this section. Students may not understand that caring for younger siblings or working on an anti-bullying campaign counts as authentic service.
  • Look critically at how service has impacted students. Admissions officers should use these written responses to assess how service has helped students become more cognizant of their strengths and weaknesses, deepen their understanding of communities different from their own,
  • Ask recommenders to consider how students work with diverse groups.Along with asking teachers and coaches about students’ intellectual engagement, growth, and leadership,
  • Consider the messages imparted through admissions materials. At the University of Washington, for example, the school’s key value is contribution to the common good, says Phillip Ballinger, the associate vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. “And if that’s not being perceived by families and parents, then we need to make some efforts to change that,” he says.

GETTING STARTED

the University of Washington, admissions readers have a “holistic review process” that looks at what kinds of opportunities students have had in their high school, and how they have taken advantage of those opportunities. Essay questions examine students’ day-to-day responsibilities and commitments. “If they’re already contributing to their community before college,” says Ballinger, “that’s something they’re going to want to continue doing.”

Admissions readers at the University of Rochester are looking for students with a “developmental arc,” says Jonathan Burdick, the dean of college admission and vice-provost for enrollment initiatives. And while grades are important, “we are less interested in that than we are at all the other things they still have left to do in college,” Burdick says. “We care a lot about assembling a diverse freshman class with many different perspectives, and that doesn’t always align hand in hand with higher academic achievement.”

A recent essay question at Rochester has allowed students to more directly demonstrate this path of growth. The application asked students to respond to a quotation from Frederick Douglass, who lived in Rochester, that reads, “Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his power to get things done.”

Through this question, says Burdick, “The university is trying to enroll and foster independent thinkers who are positive change agents in their communities, and we want to know how they approach that ideal and do that in their own community.”

America University Rankings 2017

In calculating the top universities in Latin America, the Times Higher Education Latin America University Rankings 2017 use the same 13 performance indicators as the THE World University Rankings, but they are recalibrated to reflect the qualities of Latin America’s institutions.

The universities are judged across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook – to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available.


The institution knocks previous champion and neighbour, the University of São Paulo, down to second place in the THE Latin America University Rankings 2017, thanks to a strong performance in terms of its research influence (citations) and industry income.

However, while Brazil dominates the ranking, claiming two-fifths of places – or 32 out of 81 – only 18 of these make the top 50, down from 23 last year. Overall, 20 Brazilian universities have dropped places.

Marcelo Knobel, rector of the State University of Campinas, said that the rankings results reflected long-term improvements that the institution has made to its research strategy and knowledge transfer efforts over the past 15 years.

He said that the university has a “very selective process in hiring new faculty” and works in close collaboration with businesses on research.

However, he said that the university is struggling financially because of Brazil’s economic crisis.

“Our budget is close to what it was in 2008, but the problem is that the university grew by about 30 per cent in that same period,” he said.

“We have to restrict our investment in new buildings. It will affect the research and the functioning of the university.”

The institution knocks previous champion and neighbour, the University of São Paulo, down to second place in the THE Latin America University Rankings 2017, thanks to a strong performance in terms of its research influence (citations) and industry income.

However, while Brazil dominates the ranking, claiming two-fifths of places – or 32 out of 81 – only 18 of these make the top 50, down from 23 last year. Overall, 20 Brazilian universities have dropped places.

Marcelo Knobel, rector of the State University of Campinas, said that the rankings results reflected long-term improvements that the institution has made to its research strategy and knowledge transfer efforts over the past 15 years.

He said that the university has a “very selective process in hiring new faculty” and works in close collaboration with businesses on research.

However, he said that the university is struggling financially because of Brazil’s economic crisis.

“Our budget is close to what it was in 2008, but the problem is that the university grew by about 30 per cent in that same period,” he said.

“We have to restrict our investment in new buildings. It will affect the research and the functioning of the university.”

School for the super-rich opens in London’s

School assemblies will be held in a state-room hung with original 1761 green silk wallpaper. History will be taught in neoclassical rooms designed by Robert Adam, and chemistry experiments will be carried out in basement laboratories being converted from what are amusingly described as “Mrs Patmore’s kitchens”.

This is Eaton Square upper school, the first new co-ed private school in central London for decades, which is preparing to open its doors to the children of the super-rich bankers, aristocrats and oligarchs of Mayfair and Chelsea.

On 6 September, the headteacher, Sebastian Hepher, will welcome 96 12- to 14-years-olds through the doors of 106 Piccadilly – a Grade I-listed townhouse, once home to Lord Coventry and for more than a century the location of the St James’s Club. The co-ed school roll will eventually number 450 and the building is currently undergoing a £5.2m conversion – backed by private equity funding – into what might be the most fancily located school in the world.

“Are our parents super-rich?” It is a description that Hepherchooses not to use. He prefers to just say they are “certainly wealthy enough to pay the school fees … which are high.”

The historic building – on some of London’s most valuable land – is restricted by the council for use for social or community benefit. It was previously the London outpost of a Malaysian university. It was once the home of the French ambassador and for 110 years it was the St James’s gentlemen’s club, where Ian Fleming and Evelyn Waugh were members.

Hepher said “a lot” of his pupils live on Eaton Square, the most expensive residential street in the country where the average home is worth £16.9m according to Lloyds Banking Group, and a pleasant 15-minute walk around Buckingham Palace Gardens from the school’s front door.

Other pupils live “in Chelsea, on the Kings Road”, he said. “South Ken today is a hugely international population so the schools are populated by those families, which makes it the richest melting pot.”

Hepher meant rich in diversity, but the parents are also probably among the richest financially. Hepher said stumping up the school fees of nearly £22,500 a year would not be a problem. The fees are actually slightly cheaper than at Westminster School which costs £26,000 a year and St Paul’s, in leafy south-west London, at £24,000.

Eaton Square upper school said demand for places has been much stronger than expected and the school will open with three classes of Year 7s, two Year 8s and one Year 9 class. Hepher had originally planned on two Years 7s, and one class in each of Years 8 and 9.

New York Schools

The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s and 1960s in New York City. They often drew inspiration from surrealism and the contemporary avant-garde art movements, in particular action painting, abstract expressionism, jazz, improvisational theater, experimental music, and the interaction of friends in the New York City art world’s vanguard circle.

Concerning the New York School poets, critics argued that their work was a reaction to the Confessionalist movement in Contemporary Poetry. Their poetic subject matter was often light, violent, or observational, while their writing style was often described as cosmopolitan and world-traveled.The poets often wrote in an immediate and spontaneous manner reminiscent of stream of consciousness writing, often using vivid imagery. They drew on inspiration from Surrealismand the contemporary avant-garde art movements, in particular the action painting of their friends in the New York City art world circle such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

The New York School which represented the New York abstract expressionists of the 1950s was documented through a series of artists’ committee invitational exhibitionscommencing with the 9th Street Art Exhibition in 1951 and followed by consecutive exhibitions at the Stable Gallery, NYC: Second Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, 1953;[2] Third Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, 1954;[3] Fourth Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, 1955;[4] Fifth Annual Exhibitions of Painting and Sculpture, 1956[5] and Sixth New York Artists’ Annual Exhibition, 1957.[6] Included in the New York School were Bradley Walker Tomlin (1899–1953), Rosemarie Beck (1923–2003) and Philip Guston (1913–1980)

Martin Guichardo’s first shot at high school did not go well. While attending Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn, which has over 3,500 students, he would skip class to hang out with his friends, and he rapidly fell behind.

By the fall of what should have been his senior year, in 2006, he had only nine of the 44 credits he would need to graduate. A counselor told him that if he stayed at F.D.R., it might take him several more years to finish.

But she suggested another option: a small school that had recently opened called West Brooklyn Community High School, dedicated to helping students who had gotten off-track get their diplomas. In its more intimate setting, with a lot of one-on-one attention from teachers and counselors, Mr. Guichardo buckled down and was able to graduate in 2008.

“Without West Brooklyn, I think I would have probably ended up dropping out or going for a G.E.D.,” said Mr. Guichardo, 27, who is now a commercial pilot. “I’m really, really glad I had that opportunity.”

West Brooklyn Community High School is what is known in New York City as a transfer school. The city’s Education Department now runs 51 such schools, serving 13,000 students.

The schools are small, and many of them work with community-based organizations to offer counseling, college and career advising, and internships. They have a significantly better track record than other high schools in graduating students who are two or more years behind. But because students often enter transfer schools with few credits, it can take them six, seven or even eight years in total to graduate.

Now advocates and city education officials fear the schools may be in danger. On Monday, the State Education Department is expected to present the Board of Regents with regulations to conform with the Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor to No Child Left Behind. Under the expected regulations, the vast majority of the city’s transfer schools would be designated as “in need of improvement” and could be at risk of being closed.

Under the regulations, schools that fall short of a six-year graduation rate of 67 percent would be put on a list to receive “comprehensive support and improvement.” Only four of the city’s 51 transfer schools currently meet, or are on track to meet, that benchmark.

If a school could not get off the list within three years, it could be moved into the state’s receivership program, which could eventually lead it to close.

Temporary school built for pupils

A temporary secondary school complete with dance studio, art rooms and science labs is being built to house pupils whose academy at the base of Grenfell Tower has been closed since fire raged through the block.

The Kensington Aldridge academy (KAA) is relocating to a new site for the start of the academic year while police continue a forensic examination of the scene. Construction of the temporary school, just over one mile from the current site, is under way.

KAA has been closed since the fire at the 24-storey block of flats on 14 June. Two other nearby schools, the Burlington Danes academy and Latymer Upper school, took in hundreds of pupils for the last few weeks of term.

The school had hoped to reopen in September, but investigations are expected to continue until the end of the year and as yet there is no timetable for the tower to be covered. Staff are concerned about the psychological impact of the sight of the building’s blackened skeleton on children.

KAA’s buildings also need extensive cleaning following the fire and ventilation systems need checking.

The vast majority of KAA’s 900-plus pupils live within a half-mile radius of the school and the tower. Four pupils died in the fire, plus another who had recently left.

Over the next eight weeks, a temporary school is being constructed on land at Wormwood Scrubs, a large open space in the neighbouring borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, about a 20-minute walk from KAA.

It will comprise five blocks of Portakabins, close to Burlington Danes academy. “We had hoped to be back in our usual building by September, but that’s not possible so we are activating plan B. The important thing is that children have as normal an education as possible,” said a spokesperson for KAA

KAA is advertising for a maths and a physics teacher for the autumn term to cover two members of staff who have been seconded to provide pastoral support to students affected by the fire.

Some people who live near the temporary site for KAA have expressed concern at the impact of an extra 960 students – the number enrolled for the next academic year – in an area where about 1,200 children are already attending Burlington Danes academy. KAA is considering staggering its timetable to start and finish at different times to BDA.

“We’re going to be sandwiched between two massive secondary schools,” said a resident of the small Woodman Mews estate. “There is a rationale to the new site which completely stacks up, but there’s been no recognition of the impact on our lives and local infrastructure.”

KAA is negotiating with Transport for London for extra bus services from the Grenfell Tower area to the new site, and is “planning appropriate road safety measures … given the heavy traffic on Wood Lane”, Benson told parents.

The school opened three years ago as an academy specialising in performing and creative arts. It is sponsored by the Aldridge Foundation, which is responsible for eight academies.

Educational Attainment

Educational attainment is a term commonly used by statisticians to refer to the highest degree of education an individual has completed as defined by the US Census Bureau Glossary

ACHIEVE EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVE

 Set goals in achieving your level of education in the short and long term and then visualize yourself achieving the goal of education continuously in a positive and hopeful way. The starting point for achieving your educational goals can be found in the six letters of D-E-S-I-R-E which can be interpreted by letters as follows: D = Determine (Specify) E = Evaluate (Evaluate) S = Set (Set) I = Identify (Identify) R = Repeat (Repeat) E = Each Day D-E-S-I-R-E is a powerful method that you can use to define and achieve your chosen educational goals. Determine and make sure in your mind exactly what you want. Make clear and specific wishes then evaluate and determine exactly what you did to get it. Determine the clear date, when you will achieve it then identify your wishes with a clear plan to start and achieve your goals. Turn your plan into action and do it now.

Impact on Educational Attainment

Because test scores are not necessarily the best measure of learning or of likely economic success, we examine instead the relationships between SFR-induced spending increases and several long-term outcomes: educational attainment, high school completion, adult wages, adult family income, and the incidence of adult poverty. Our data on these outcomes come from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a survey that has tracked a nationally representative sample of families and their offspring since 1968. In particular, we use information on the roughly 15,000 PSID sample members born between 1955 and 1985, who have been followed into adulthood through 2011.

We find that predicted school spending increases are associated with higher levels of educational attainment. Figure 2b illustrates the effects of reform-induced changes in per-pupil spending on years of schooling completed. One can see clear patterns of improvement for exposed cohorts in districts with larger predicted spending increases. Cohorts with more years of exposure to higher predicted spending increases have higher completed years of schooling than cohorts from the same district who were unexposed or had fewer years of exposure. Also, the increases associated with exposure are larger in districts with larger predicted increases in spending (the line for districts with high predicted increases is consistently above that of districts with low predicted increases for the exposed cohorts). The patterns in timing and in intensity strongly indicate that policy-induced increases in school spending were in fact responsible for the observed increases in educational attainment. Taking into account the relationship between predicted and actual spending increases, we find that increasing per-pupil spending by 10 percent in all 12 school-age years increases educational attainment by 0.3 years on average among all children.

Because prior research has shown that children from low-income families may be more sensitive to changes in school quality than children from more-advantaged backgrounds, we also separately examine the effects of spending on low-income and nonpoor children. We define children as being low-income if their family’s annual income fell below two times the federal poverty line at any point during childhood.

For children from low-income families, increasing per-pupil spending by 10 percent in all 12 school-age years increases educational attainment by 0.5 years. In contrast, for nonpoor children, a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending throughout the school-age years increases educational attainment by less than 0.1 years, and this estimate is not statistically significant.

To put these results in perspective, the education gap between children from low-income and nonpoor families is one full year. Thus, the estimated effect of a 22 percent increase in per-pupil spending throughout all 12 school-age years for low-income children is large enough to eliminate the education gap between children from low-income and nonpoor families. In relation to current spending levels (the average for 2012 was $12,600 per pupil), this would correspond to increasing per-pupil spending permanently by roughly $2,863 per student.

Predicted spending increases are also associated with greater probabilities of high school graduation, with larger effects for low-income students than for their nonpoor peers. Specifically, increasing per-pupil spending by 10 percent in all 12 school-age years increases the probability of high school graduation by 7 percentage points for all students, by roughly 10 percentage points for low-income children, and by 2.5 percentage points for nonpoor children. Figure 3 highlights the difference in effect size for these two childhood family-income groups and illustrates the closing of the high-school-graduation-rate gap between low-income and nonpoor children as a result of reform-induced spending increases.

In short, increases in school spending caused by SFRs lead to substantial improvements in the educational attainment of affected children, with much larger impacts for children from low-income families.