Whiteboard Notes | White House Releases STEM Education Plan; NAGB Seeks to Measure Soft Skills

Education Corporation of America Closes Remaining Campuses: On Wednesday, Education Corporation of America (ECA), a chain of for-profit colleges, announced it would be closing all of its campuses amidst long standing financial and regulatory problems - the largest closure of for-profit institutions since Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech. The closure will displace approximately 20,000 students across the country and taxpayers will likely be stuck with the cost of canceling the federal student loans of students at ECA’s schools who cannot transfer their credits elsewhere. The Trump Administration, which had been in daily conversations with ECA to help their students find a new institutional home, criticized the move, noting that  “[i]nstead of taking the next few months to close in an orderly fashion, ECA took the easy way out.” [Inside Higher Education]
Trump Administration Releases Updated 5-Year Strategic Plan for STEM Education: On Tuesday, the Trump administration released a five-year strategic plan for expanding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. In the report, the administration calls for providing all Americans with “lifelong access to high-quality STEM education” and emphasizes work-based learning opportunities, digital literacy, and computer science education. The report is a result of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which created the National Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) that coordinates with other federal agencies to develop and implement a STEM education strategic plan, to be updated every five years. Learn more on our blog
NAGB Seeks to Measure Soft Skills for Postsecondary Transitions: Last month, Bev Perdue – former Governor of North Carolina and Senior Advisor at Whiteboard Advisors – was sworn in as chair of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly referred to as the “nation’s report card. During a recent interview, Perdue expressed enthusiasm for working with the board to emphasize the measure of non-academic or “soft skills” for transitions to postsecondary education and the modern workforce, noting “that may become, very likely, the highlight of my tenure as chair.” [Politico Morning Education]

Boston Strengthens Early Childhood Education: According to a recent report from New America, the Boston Public Schools have improved learning outcomes among students in pre-k through second grade by developing a curriculum that connects seamlessly from one year to the next and bringing teachers together over the summer to discuss the needs and learning styles of their students. The report mentions that Boston, as well as other districts, still need garner support from principals and strengthen their knowledge of the importance of early childhood education.
NC District Introduces Teacher-Leaders: Edgecombe County Public Schools in North Carolina hasimplemented a new staffing model call “Opportunity Culture”, which aims to expand the reach of the most effective teachers. Under this model, teacher leaders have the opportunity to teach their subject of expertise and also provide support and professional development to other teachers. The model has increased teacher retention and created a collaborative community among teachers, according to sources in Edgecombe county.

Federal Government Expands College Completion Data: Earlier this week, the federal government released a preliminary report on college completion data for part-time and transfer students, along with Pell grant recipients. The report found that 61 percent of first-time, full time undergraduates who attended four-year public institutions earned a degree within eight years, compared to 67 percent of those who attended four-year private institutions. The data was collected a part of the winter 2016-17 survey of federal aid-eligible colleges. [Inside Higher Ed]
Persistent Graduation Achievement Gap Plagues Football Bowl Division School: The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released a report, which uncovered the overall graduation rate of football student athletes on bowl-bound college football teams. The report showed that 73 percent of African-American student football athletes at Football Bowl Subdivision graduate, as opposed to 90 percent of White student football athletes. The report utilized statistics from the NCAA. [Diverse: Issues in Higher Ed]