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We've got March Madness fever in this issue of the Biweekly Digest—watch our fun new video for our Sweet 16 basketball picks, Education Sector-style. Also, Policy Director Kevin Carey has a new column out on the intersection of Pell grants and accountability, and we feature some of our must-read blog posts on The Quick and the Ed.
Academics at the Big Dance: Our Sweet 16 Picks
It's March, which means American productivity has surely declined as office-dwellers across the country make their picks for the NCAA basketball tournament. It's no different here at Education Sector. But, we fill out our brackets a bit differently. Instead of looking at three-point shooting, free-throw percentage, or the latest update on Kyrie Irving's toe to make our decisions, we're basing our brackets on one factor—a school's graduation success rate. The idea is that schools that enroll these student-athletes, as the NCAA likes to call them, should place at least as much emphasis on the student as on the athlete. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan agrees: "Colleges and universities need to stop trotting out tired excuses for basketball teams with poor academic records and indefensible disparities in the graduation rates of white and black players. Coaches of teams with weak academic records should worry not just about getting athletes in a uniform—but also about getting them in a cap and gown," he wrote in a recent op-ed.
In that spirit, we've taken the top 16 teams as seeded by the tournament committee to show how graduation rates play out in a tournament. See the play by play results for yourself in our new video below.
Also From Education Sector:
$44 Billion Accountability
"Left unattended, the Pell Grant program will cost $44-billion next year," says Kevin Carey in his latest column for The Chronicle of Higher Education. And with such heavy investment from the federal government, the higher education community should expect a greater emphasis on accountability. "The hard truth is that the colleges that receive the most Pell money are often those that fail to graduate a large majority of their students—not only because the students are hard to serve, but also because the institutions themselves are mismanaged and mediocre. Colleges that are unwilling or unable to help a reasonable percentage of Pell Grant students earn degrees and learn things worth knowing should be shut out of the program," Carey argues. | Read Carey's Commentary
Tucker Takes Cheating to the Huffington Post
Education Sector's Bill Tucker shares his blogging talents with the Huffington Post. First up, "Three Truths About Testing and Cheating," which offers analysis on USA Today's recent "Testing the System" series. Check out Tucker's post and keep an eye out for other Education Sector analysts to make their Huff Post debut soon! | Read Tucker's Commentary
Reforms That Work When They Work Together
As the urgency for improving America's schools increases, the core ideas guiding education reform remain remarkably stable, defying the ideological or partisan claims that can often stifle political change. Education Sector's Bill Tucker joins other PIE-Net policy partners in contributing to Schools in High Gear, Reforms That Work When They Work Together, a collection of essays from some of the leading minds in education that explain why a silver bullet won't fix America's public schools—more comprehensive policy solutions are needed. | Read PIE-Net's Report
Work at ES: Policy Analyst Openings
We're hiring for two policy analyst positions—one focused on K–12 education and another focused on higher education issues. We seek candidates who are strong writers and have experience in conducting research and analyzing quantitative and qualitative information with an eye toward communications and policy development. Interested? | Learn More and Apply
Trending on the Quick and the Ed:
A sampling of our most popular blog posts of the week…
Is College Worth the Risk?
"While tuition increases every year, the federal and state governments, unable (or unwilling) to keep up through grants and direct subsidies, have responded through increased loan limits, encouraging savings through 529 plans, and relying on parents and students to pay more out of pocket. And we've all gone along… In England, on the other hand, there were riots." | Read More
Wisconsin Gov. Walker Was Pro-Teachers Union Before He Wasn't
"Only a few days before Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker started a war with organized labor he was effusively praising the state's teachers and their union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council… 'We should be able to reward teachers who excel and there are many, many, many teachers across the state who excel,' he said. 'For the state's teachers union to be willing to talk about pay for performance and a legitimate way for teachers to be assessed, I think it's…exceptional…a good sign.' But even as he was praising the union, however, he was about to go on the attack…." | Read More
Michael Bloomberg Made a Bad Trade
"With news that a $75 million teacher performance pay experiment in New York City yielded no positive results, it's worth remembering the deal that Mayor Michael Bloomberg struck just to put the plan in place. All the way back in 2007…" | Read More