Is Testing Students the Answer to America’s Education Woes?

Is Testing Students the Answer to America’s Education Woes?Students who get extra academic support will do better in college or better prepared for the work world.

There is a growing opportunity gap between those with knowledge and those without.

The Information Age is demanding, and the ability to succeed in it is determined early. Children who cannot read or who lack basic math skills in the early grades already have fallen woefully behind, and their chances of catching up diminish every year.

We must approach education as an urgent endeavor on which lives depend.

We do this by determining what children need to know, not what we think they can learn based on their circumstances. We then measure their progress and hold adults in the system accountable for doing their job.

Massachusetts did that when it adopted the Education Reform Act of 1993. It now is the nation’s top academic performer.

A child whose progress is not monitored, whose results don’t matter, is a child likely to fall through the cracks.

Florida adopted the A-Plus Plan slate of reforms in 1999, including the nation’s most rigorous accountability provisions. Ever since, the state has become a national leader in academic progress, with disadvantaged children showing the most gains, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (N.A.E.P.).

Tennessee, Indiana and Washington, D.C. showed the biggest overall reading and math gains on the 2013 N.A.E.P. All are reform-minded with strong accountability policies.

Kevin, you focus on the shortcomings of No Child Left Behind. But state policies, not federal requirements, drive student learning.

Successful policies include school choice for parents, accountability for every child, early-grade literacy, elimination of archaic teacher tenure policies and adoption of college-and-career ready standards measured with quality assessments.

Kevin, those on your side, including teachers unions, fight vigorously to block such reforms and then argue accountability is not working. They don’t want it to work. Instead they give us repackaged arguments for more money backed by vague assurances of results. Just don’t hold them to it.

That is why many civil rights groups support annual testing and accountability. They know a child whose progress is not monitored, whose results don’t matter, is a child likely to fall through the cracks.

“Deeper, broader learning” is something we all support. But a child who cannot read a science book cannot learn biology. A child who cannot write cannot create poetry. A child who cannot work with fractions cannot pass algebra. With no foundation in the basics, there will be no deeper, broader learning. source

Accountability is hard. But it is necessary if we are to expand opportunity to all children.

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7 Tips for Launching a Second Career

Youre the director of your second act make sure its a success.

At the end of 2008, the pulp and paper plant where Tina Wixon worked was bought out, and the new owners brought with them a series of temporary layoffs. Wixon, now 52, says that was the push she needed to finally follow her dream of becoming a nurse.

The Kelso, Washington resident spent two years at Lower Columbia College to complete prerequisite work, before earning her bachelors degree through Western Governors University in Utah. She enjoys her new career so much that shes considering a masters degree in nursing informatics.

Known as encore careers or recareering, second careers may be particularly appealing to older workers who are either ready for a change or find themselves unemployed and with few options in their current field. About 4.5 million workers between ages 50 and 70 have second careers and another 21 million are expected to join them within the next five years, according to Encore.org.

If you, too, are ready for a change of pace, here are seven tips to get started.

1. Decide whether to get a job or a business.

A second career may take one of two forms. Some, like Wixons, involve changing fields and finding a new job. Others choose to start a business as their second career.

Joni Petty, owner and president of Jepco Recycling Resources in Phoenix, chose the second route. A former human resources professional, Petty was looking for something more meaningful in her life. Thanks to a connection through her local chamber of commerce, she discovered businesses had a need for recycling consulting services.

It was an unmet need, Petty says. You cant imagine the waste that goes on.

It was also a business that dovetailed with her passion for the environment. At age 50, she started Jepco in 2012, and it is now a full-service recycling resource for large and small industries.

The decision to pursue a new job or start a business is highly personal. It may be quicker to land a new job, but once established, a business could provide more stability. Consider your personal goals, skills and preferences when deciding which option is right for you.

Whether you decide to go with a job or a business, career and finance experts say workers need to do their homework before jumping into a new field.

The most important thing is to talk to people in that career, says Jean Wilczynski, a financial advisor with Exencial Wealth Advisors in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Do some volunteer work. See if its what you think it is.

Understanding a career from the inside can also be beneficial when it comes time to apply for a job, says John Krautzel, vice president of marketing and member experience for career network Beyond.com.

Read what the professionals in your prospective field are reading, and learn to talk the talk, he says. More familiarity will better prepare you to speak confidently and reassure an employer that youre the right candidate for the job. source

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One in Two Canadians Regret Not Getting Career Counseling

One in Two Canadians Regret Not Getting Career CounselingOne in two Canadians who have not had career counseling say they would have sought professional career planning or employment advice if they could do it over again, a new survey has found.

“There is recognition that just like you need a financial planner and other professionals in your life, you also need professional advice to successfully manage your career,” said Jan Basso, chair of the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counseling (CERIC), which commissioned the survey along with The Counseling Foundation of Canada.

Basso, who is also director of co-operative education and career development at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., said the need for career guidance is particularly acute with ongoing skills and experience mismatches, and with rapid changes in the Canadian employment landscape, citing the oil and gas and retail sectors as examples.

The survey of 1,500 adult Canadians looks at how they use career and employment counseling services. Three groups emerge from the findings – those who define themselves as having a “career,” those who define themselves as having a “job” and students. Those with careers say their careers fit with their post-secondary background or required a degree, diploma or specific training. Those with jobs say no specific education was required or it was the best job they could find. At 55%, those working in careers make up the largest category of respondents.

More than half of those with a career (53%) said they had sought advice from a career professional. Those with a job accessed counseling services less than those with a career at just under four in 10 (38%). Among both those with careers and jobs who did not seek career or employment counseling, half agreed that they should have obtained more professional advice (47% and 50% respectively).

Canadians reported that when they were considering career options, they were most likely to have met with a:

High school guidance counselor (55%)
Career counselor at a post-secondary institution (40%)
Person involved in human resources or career management at their place of work (27%)
Specialist at a community-based employment center (26%)
Recruiter or headhunter (21%)

Barriers to accessing career services mentioned in the survey include Canadians not believing they need career counseling since they already know their career goals and a lack of familiarity with the different career services available.

“Career professionals come in a variety of forms, from high school guidance counselors to private career coaches,” said Riz Ibrahim, CERIC’s executive director. “Some can be accessed for free and for some, there is a cost. It’s understandable that people might need assistance to determine the right type of services for their needs.”

Canadians can access career professionals for far more than writing resumes, Ibrahim said. Career professionals provide guidance on career planning, advancing one’s career or making a career transition whether a student, mid-career changer or retiree. They also help people identify their interests and skills and to understand the job market as well as education or training opportunities. Career professionals also work with organizations to ensure they have the right people with the right skills through a range of human resources practices.

Students in the survey list parents, other family members and friends as individuals they have consulted about their career and employment ambitions. Teachers and professors also appear as important sources of advice around career options. A majority of current students (58%) report that they are likely to seek advice from career or employment counselors.

Survey findings show that as age rises, the number of Canadians with careers seeking career counseling declines. Those 18–24 years of age are most likely to report that they have used career counseling services at 76%. More women (57%) than men (50%) report having accessed career services. In terms of location, more residents of Ontario (61%) sought advice from a career professional compared with residents of Quebec (49%), Atlantic Canada (46%) and BC (45%). source

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