Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 11, 2013

edTPA, the new "performance-based" assessment tool and career-entry test that measures teacher preparation, is "fully operational" and ready for nationwide use after a two-year field test in about two dozen states, American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education officials said Friday. The assessment, which has drawn criticism from some educators who say it could override authority of teacher programs and faculty, uses new and purportedly more valid tools, including videotapes and and evidence of student work and learning to determine whether a teacher is prepared to run a classroom from day one. Currently, preparation is measured in part via a multiple-choice test of basic skills and subject matterisn't it also now measured by student teaching that is supervised? -sj *** this is what AACTE said; I guess to show the differences in approach  -ag. Only about 58 percent of the 12,000 prospective teachers who attempted edTPA during the field test would have passed. AACTE notes in a report that factors including a lack of consequence for test-takers and lack of support systems or appropriate coursework among teacher programs, which will presumably improve as more institutions use the assessment.

November 8, 2013

The University of Michigan on Thursday formally announced the launch of a $4 billion fund-raising campaign -- the largest ever for a public university. Michigan has already raised $1.7 billion. The top priority for the campaign (at $1 billion) is student aid.


November 8, 2013

Howard University has ended its relationship with a consulting firm through which Robert Tarola served as chief financial officer, The Washington Post reported. The university said that Tarola left by "mutual agreement." Many deans and other faculty members have criticized Tarola, questioning his plans to put the university on better financial ground. Last month Sidney Ribeau announced he was leaving the Howard presidency.


November 8, 2013

Some students at Washington University in St. Louis are condemning a Halloween costume, photos of which have circulated online, showing students as U.S. soldiers standing over a student who is playing a Muslim, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The student playing the Muslim has a fake beard and turban, and critics say the image perpetuates stereotypes.


November 8, 2013

President Obama on Thursday nominated Ericka M. Miller, vice president for operations and strategic leadership at the Education Trust, to be assistant secretary for postsecondary education. If Miller is confirmed by the Senate, she would largely complete the team of political leaders who will guide the Education Department's higher ed agenda in the president's second term.

Miller has spent six years at Education Trust, which advocates for educational equity at all levels, particularly on behalf of students from low-income backgrounds. Much of Miller's work at Ed Trust and previously has focused on elementary and secondary education. Before her current position, she led the K-12 practice at the executivfe search firm Isaacson Miller, ran an education consulting firm, and worked as a legislative assistant for then-U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat.

Earlier in her career she was an assistant professor of English at Mills College, an independent women's college in California. (She started her career in journalism, at Washingtonian magazine.)

Miller, who is not well-known in Washington higher ed policy circles, would join an Education Department team that would include Ted Mitchell, the New Schools Venture Fund chief who President Obama nominated last month as under secretary of education, and Jamienne Studley, who was named deputy under secretary of education this fall.

November 8, 2013

More than 1,000 people rallied on the Lehigh University campus to protest vandalism found at the multicultural dorm Wednesday night, Lehigh Valley Live reported. Early Wednesday morning, someone threw eggs at the residence hall and spray-painted derogatory terms on and around the buildings. The rally was led by a student group calling itself From Beneath the Rug, which formed this year to "represent and fight for marginalized groups on campus and people who feel like their voices aren't and should be heard," one member said.

November 8, 2013

A new poll by National Journal and the College Board has found that non-white adults in the United States are more likely than white adults to view a four-year college degree as a "ticket to success." The percentage of adults, by racial and ethnic group, who believe this is:

  • White: 47 percent
  • Black: 55 percent
  • Hispanic: 70 percent
  • Asian: 61 percent

Across racial and ethnic lines, women are more likely than are men to believe that statement (56 percent vs. 47 percent). And while 64 percent of Democrats agree with the statement, only 40 percent of Republicans do.


November 8, 2013

Florida Atlantic University football coach Carl Pelini, who resigned last week after his athletic director approached him about allegedly using an "illegal drug," says he never used drugs and rather was forced out for failing to supervise his staff. In a letter to the university president, trustees and general counsel, obtained by Deadspin, Pelini retracted his resignation and said he's seeking reinstatement. Sworn affidavits obtained through a public records request show an assistant coach said he personally saw Pelini use marijuana and cocaine, and Athletic Director Patrick Chun apparently possesses a text message Pelini sent to a friend in which he allegedly "admitted he uses drugs on occasion."

November 8, 2013

David R. Smith, his compensation under investigation, is resigning as president of the State University of New York's Upstate Medical University, The Syracuse Post-Standard reported. SUNY placed Smith on leave this week to review compensation issues that were later reported to involve unauthorized payments he was receiving from two companies. The Albany Times-Union reported that the payments were discovered when a search firm was vetting Smith for the presidency of Pennsylvania State University. In a statement, Smith said he would cooperate with the inquiries and that he was resigning his position "to avoid further distraction for the university from its important mission."


November 8, 2013

Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly issued a statement Thursday saying she was pleased that faculty voted to continue the college's partnership with Peking University. More than 130 Wellesley faculty had signed a letter earlier this year saying they would urge the college to reconsider its partnership with Peking if it fired an economics professor, Xia Yeliang, “based solely on his political and philosophical views." Xia’s contract was not renewed last month in a decision that many in the West view as retribution for his criticism of the Chinese government, though Peking maintains it was a result of his teaching and research record. 

Bottomly’s statement does not speak directly to the issues raised by the Wellesley faculty letter in regards to academic freedom and conditions for collaboration with universities in authoritarian societies. Rather, the statement speaks more broadly to the faculty role in determining the future direction of the partnership.

“A dedicated group of faculty will develop Wellesley’s recommendations for the parameters and elements of the partnership,” she said. “These recommendations will be brought to the full faculty body at Wellesley for approval and will then be shared with faculty counterparts at Peking University for their consideration.”

Susan M. Reverby, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Wellesley who was one of the leaders of the letter-writing campaign, wrote that she believed the letter-writers did in fact achieve a great deal.  She said that the faculty action, among other things, “raised the question of what these partnership qua exchanges are about,” “reminded our colleagues they should not give up their control over the educational experience (writ large) of our students and that more transparency in the process is absolutely required,” and “made it clear that academic freedom and human rights matter even when we engage with countries whose political cultures are different from ours (and even when many of us disagree with what our own country does too).”

“Furthermore,” she wrote, “we have hopefully made it more difficult for Professor Xia to be persecuted, even jailed, at home and found a way to bring him here (something we did not expect to happen when we first began this process of questioning the partnership).”

In a previous statement President Bottomly indicated she is supportive of efforts to bring Xia to Wellesley as a visiting scholar, but Thursday’s statement did not speak to that subject. A college spokeswoman said that nothing has been finalized yet in this regard.


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