Education colleges to be put to test

Ohio will soon become the first state in the nation to grade colleges on how well they train teachers to help students succeed, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut announced 15 measures yesterday that will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the education colleges at Ohio’s public and private universities. The evaluation will be similar to the state report cards of Ohio’s K-12 schools, which look at whether students learned a year’s worth of material over the previous school year. The single greatest factor in student learning is teacher quality, Fingerhut said.

“And so we have a moral, professional and institutional obligation to make sure the quality of teachers is as high as possible,” he said.

The schools will submit annual data on how well their students do on the state teacher licensure exam, as well as on a “value-added” component that is being developed by the State Board of Education as part of Ohio’s Race to the Top plan. Value-added data allows tracking of academic growth of individual students from year to year, regardless of the school attended. Ohio was among 12 states awarded funding in President Barack Obama’s $4.3billion Race to the Top competition. The $400 million awarded to Ohio will be shared by the state and participating school districts and charter schools. The money will finance data systems to help teachers fine-tune lessons, redesign teacher evaluations, provide mentoring programs for educators and expand efforts to close the achievement gap between white and minority students. The state also will create a teacher-performance assessment that measures how well new teachers communicate with parents, structure lesson plans and manage classrooms. Colleges will be able to gain extra recognition for working with academically struggling schools, placing graduates in hard-to-staff Ohio school districts or demonstrating a high-quality student-teaching experience. Schools will start submitting data as soon as benchmarks are created for each component of the plan, but the first comprehensive report won’t be ready until the end of 2012.…Read More

Ohio bill calls for electronic versions of textbooks

Saying they could save more than 50 percent off the cost of textbooks, some House Democrats want to give Ohio college students the chance to trade in their piles of expensive books for laptops or other electronic readers, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Supporters of the bill—as well as the Ohio Board of Regents, which says it is neutral on the plan—say the key is convincing university faculty members that digital textbooks can work as well as the paper versions. Individual professors are responsible for choosing the textbooks used in their classes. Under the bill, the regents would have two years to require publishers to offer electronic versions of textbooks. Publishers also would be required to provide textbook formats for students with disabilities. “Our bill will use technology and common sense to lower the cost of textbooks on Ohio’s campuses,” said Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, who is sponsoring the bill with Rep. Matt Patten, D-Strongsville. “We can’t ask students and families to shoulder the unnecessary costs of excessive textbook prices.” Lundy said textbook costs increased an average of 6 percent per year from 1986 to 2006 and have risen 10 percent a year since. By delaying the electronic-materials requirement for two years, “we’ll be giving the publishers more than enough heads-up,” he said…

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