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5 Tips to Encourage Reading at Home

March 1, 2019 - 9:06am

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, captured the essence and importance of reading with this simple quote. Whether it is learning the art of how to read or reading to learn important information,

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Categories: Higher Education News

6 Things to Know about the Education Freedom Scholarships

February 28, 2019 - 9:00am

This proposal would empower students and families to choose the best education setting for them – regardless of where they live, how much they make, and how they learn. Here are 6 things you should know about Education Freedom Scholarships: 1.) This proposal would drive a historic voluntary investment in America’s students and our future.

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Categories: Higher Education News

2 Years Was the Path For Me in CTE

February 26, 2019 - 12:13pm

There are many young adults who find it very difficult to identify their career passion and explore how to turn that passion into a successful career. That was me, until I discovered my high school’s Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) program. This program helped me discover my passion for Culinary Arts. My culinary class was

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Categories: Higher Education News

How I Found My Passion Through CTE

February 19, 2019 - 11:24am

It was during my freshman year of high school when I first realized that STEM was not the career pathway I wanted to pursue. While I understood the importance of a strong foundation in STEM fundamentals, my real passion was business. My story starts my freshman year of high school in Pharr, a south Texas

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Categories: Higher Education News

5 Ways Agricultural Education and FFA Shape Students’ Futures

February 8, 2019 - 7:53am

Agricultural education and FFA have long been essential parts of our nation’s career and technical education system. It’s only fitting during National CTE Month to celebrate how FFA and agricultural education play a crucial role in defining a student’s path toward new and significant achievements. One of the best lenses to look through to see

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Categories: Higher Education News

Career Pathways, Post-Secondary Options…Call on the Experts

February 5, 2019 - 8:27am

We call in the experts when we need brake service on our car, electrical work in our home, or tax planning for our future. The experts who our students can turn to about career pathways and post-secondary options are in our schools, poised to guide, advocate for, and support students on their journey. They are

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Categories: Higher Education News

How to Deduct Student Loan Interest on your Taxes (1098-E)

January 31, 2019 - 12:39pm

Student loans, interest payments, and taxes: three things that have scared many people for years now. Read on to learn how these things can benefit you. If you made federal student loan payments in 2018, you may be eligible to deduct a portion of the interest paid on your 2018 federal tax return. This is

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Categories: Higher Education News

3 Ways to Spot a Scam

January 29, 2019 - 12:19pm

You Don’t Have to Pay for Help with Your Student Loans! You’re at home about to start cooking (or microwaving, no judgment here) dinner when you get a phone call from an unknown number. The person on the other end of the line is promising to help you pay off all of your student loans.

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Categories: Higher Education News

As School Choice Programs Grow, We Must Debunk Myths About How Choice Works

January 23, 2019 - 12:50pm

Charles Spurgeon, the 19th century’s “Prince of Preachers,” said in a sermon, “A lie will go around the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”[1] And in our age of social media, myths often travel faster than realities. As we celebrate National School Choice Week, myths abound concerning educational choice programs such as vouchers, scholarship tax credits, and education savings account programs.

Those who oppose empowering parents to choose from a wide array of educational options, including private schools and service providers, promote various myths to deter policymakers from enacting choice programs. These myths include the notion that school choice programs take money from an already underfunded public school system; that choice programs fail to improve academic outcomes for participating students; that choice programs do not lead to better outcomes in traditional public schools; and, of course, that by allowing parents to enroll their children in religious, as well as nonreligious schools, choice programs violate constitutional principles of separation of church and state.

As Jay Greene explains: “Myths aren’t lies. They’re beliefs that people adopt because they have an air of plausibility . . . . But of course, myths aren’t true ─ or at least they’re not the whole truth.” As the nation’s leading law firm defending school choice program, the Institute for Justice (IJ), has a desire to ensure that the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is understood when it comes to school choice. This is why we published 12 Myths and Realities about Private Educational Choice Programs. The report identifies, examines, and debunks many of the myths surrounding private educational choice programs – including the myths detailed above.

Take the myth that school choice programs take money from already underfunded schools. In reality, out of the 28 empirical studies of the fiscal impact of school choice programs on taxpayers and public schools, not one found a negative fiscal impact. Moreover, inflation-adjusted funding for traditional public schools has skyrocketed in the past 40 years, with no appreciable learning gains, and there is no evidence to suggest that spending even more would produce better educational outcomes.

As for student achievement, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence demonstrates that educational choice programs improve academic outcomes for those who participate in the programs. And academic performance is just one measure of student achievement. Choice programs also positively impact high school graduation rates, college enrollment, civic engagement, crime rates, and improve parental and student satisfaction.

There is also abundant evidence that school choice programs encourage traditional public schools to improve. Indeed, there have been at least 33 empirical studies of the effects of educational choice programs on public schools. The overwhelming majority—31—have found that choice programs have a positive effect on public schools. A single study found no effect while only one found a negative effect.

And as a result of cases litigated by IJ, the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous state courts have held that religiously neutral educational choice programs that give parents a genuine choice as to where to send their children to school pass constitutional muster. Indeed, in nearly every state in the nation, school choice is a constitutionally viable policy option.

Educational choice programs in 26 states, the District of Columbia, and the territory of Puerto Rico already give tens of thousands of children opportunities that were previously out of reach. But more needs to be done. It is essential that policymakers have easy access to the abundant sources of information and data that confirm school choice programs are not only constitutional, but that they improve the lives of America’s youth.

[1] https://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons01.xvi.html

 

Tim Keller leads the Institute for Justice’s Educational Choice Team, overseeing a talented group of attorneys and staff who help policymakers design constitutionally defensible educational choice programs and who defend those programs in courtrooms nationwide.

Note: This blog is in a series of posts to highlight and recognize National School Choice Week. Every year in January, all across America, students, parents, teachers, state legislators, and more celebrate National School Choice Week. This week recognizes the importance of empowering parents to choose the best learning environment for their child, while highlighting the benefits of various education options. The U.S. Department of Education is excited to celebrate education choice. There are currently 54 private school choice programs operating in 26 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In order to continue to empower families with information that will help them advocate for a better education for their child, this week we will describe and explain the growing array of education options, highlight resources to choose the best learning environment for a child, and dispel common school choice myths.   

 

 

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Categories: Higher Education News

Education Choice: The Opportunity to Learn in Different Ways

January 22, 2019 - 12:53pm

Someone once told me, “You will know you are successful if you can create a school where students line up outside the gates begging to get in, like they do when an iPhone is released at the Apple Store.”

So much of what you hear about school choice has to do with funding, accountability or public versus private schools. These are all important conversations on the topic of school choice and should not be ignored. I think it is also important to highlight the other types of school choice that exist. School choice provides students with opportunities to learn in different ways. As an educator and mother, I encourage everyone participating in the robust school choice debate to join together to create new, innovative, and effective models of learning for students. This is an example where a district (with the same funding and accountability) made big changes and gave parents a choice.

Several years ago, our superintendent challenged all of our schools to “change the way we do school.” In response, four teachers, one principal, and myself set off on a journey to create our district’s newest school, Design39Campus.

Design39Campus is a fully-funded public school that serves transitional kindergarten through 8th grade students. In the makeup of Design39Campus, we wanted to change the way students experience learning by rethinking the systems and structures of traditional schooling: Why force all students to learn at the same speed? Why aren’t all students allowed to pursue a learning method that works best for them?

Primarily, we wanted to shape our campus to fit the needs of those whom the school exists to serve – students.

In the early stages of Design39’s creation, we held workshops where parents and students shared what success in education meant to them.  Rather than tell parents what their kids’ school was going to look like, we asked them to complete sentences such as: “Imagine a place where students could…” The ideas and suggestions we gathered from parents laid the foundation for the culture of Design39Campus.

Even though Design39Campus is in our 5th year, we continue to ask the “why” questions. We never want to stop evaluating and prototyping with support and feedback from our teacher, parent, and student community.

And this constant evaluation has brought results.

“Let us in!” came the chant of 52 first graders insisting to come in from recess so they could continue working on their biography projects in preparation for an exhibition to showcase their learning. That challenge to create a school where kids line up, begging to get in? Mission accomplished!

Students at Design39Campus are invested in their learning because it’s real. Through inquiry, one of our 8 guiding principles, comes exploration and creativity. We explore concepts with questions such as: What do the stories we tell reveal about the values of our culture? How might what you measure determine how you measure?

Recently, our 4th and 5th graders played a role in choosing their next field trip destination. Teachers asked their students to research field trip locations that would match the topic of study. Then, after the students calculated the miles and cost of transportation, each student pitched their field trip proposal to be evaluated and voted on by their peers. Turning everyday tasks into valuable learning experiences is typical at Design39Campus.

We tap into the expertise of entrepreneurs and local businesses to share their experiences and give feedback to students. Currently we have kindergarten through 5th graders in multi-grade groupings developing businesses, designing products, conducting market research, and working with companies to produce products, such as skateboards, to sell.

This kind of learning is exciting, collaborative, and empowering for both students and educators.

When I am approached by parents considering Design39Campus for their children, they often ask, “Will my child be successful with this method of learning?”

I have learned that any child can be successful in our environment, but the determining factor for a child’s success is the beliefs of the family. With our innovative approach to learning, we want families to have discussions about what they are looking for in a school and choose whether or not this environment is right for them.

When schools clearly share their “north star” and define what success means to them, parents and students can make an informed decision about the educational setting that best fits their needs.

School choice opens up opportunities for innovation by looking at approaches to schooling and finding ways to redesign and increase student impact. As a society, we shouldn’t be afraid to harness our innovative spirit to provide a better education for today’s students. When we first began this journey of rethinking education, not many schools were having these conversations.

Today, as I travel around the country speaking with educators and visiting schools, I am inspired by how many schools, of all different types, are redesigning the education experience.

I don’t believe public, private, and charter schools are on opposite sides. We are all aiming for student success – we just have different approaches.

Some are focused on redesigning learning spaces and furniture. Others are trying out different pedagogy strategies or redesigning leadership structures. I’d like to see more of our conversations about school choice focus on innovating and adapting to the needs of students. After all, we are all on the same team working for the same result – student success.

 

Megan Power is a Learning Experience Designer at Design39Campus in the Poway Unified School District. She has been in education for 15 years and has taught students in Transitional Kindergarten – 7th grade. Megan was on the leadership team opening two schools for Poway Unified including Design39Campus, an innovative approach to public education. She was selected as one of 5 TOSAs (Teacher on Special Assignment) to change the way we do schools by researching, networking, and transforming education in creating Design39Campus. Megan served as a 2018 U.S. Department of Education Teacher Ambassador Fellow.

 Note: This blog is in a series of posts to highlight and recognize National School Choice Week. Every year in January, all across America, students, parents, teachers, state legislators, and more celebrate National School Choice Week. This week recognizes the importance of empowering parents to choose the best learning environment for their child, while highlighting the benefits of various education options. The U.S. Department of Education is excited to celebrate education choice. There are currently 54 private school choice programs operating in 26 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In order to continue to empower families with information that will help them advocate for a better education for their child, this week we will describe and explain the growing array of education options, highlight resources to choose the best learning environment for a child, and dispel common school choice myths.   

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Higher Education News

Combating Substance Abuse in Schools

January 17, 2019 - 11:15am

In recent years there have been significant increases in alcohol, drug and substance abuse across the country. This abuse has significantly impacted K-12 school-age students as well as those pursuing postsecondary education.

To help combat substance abuse in schools, the Department of Education has developed webinars designed for State-, district- and building-level administrators, teachers and specialized instructional support personnel interested in supporting students and families impacted by the opioid crisis.

In recognition of this year’s National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) scheduled for January 22-27, 2019, the Department is sharing the signs and strategies to help identify and support impacted students below. To view the webinar on this important topic, click here.

Warning signs that may indicate that a student is impacted by opioids, alcohol and other substance use, include:

Elementary Students

  • Poor mental/motor development
  • Memory and perception problems
  • Speech and language problems
  • Developmental delays
  • Reduced decision making abilities
  • Impaired self-regulation
  • Poor response to stressful situations
  • Impaired school performance

Middle School Students

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Secretive behaviors
  • Poor hygiene/Changes in physical appearance
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Rapid changes in mood
  • Decline in academic performance or attendance

High School Students

  • Mood and personality changes
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Health and hygiene issues
  • Changes in relationships with friends and family
  • Problems with police
  • Unhealthy peer/dating relationships
  • Disengagement from school
  • Poor attendance or dropping out

Strategies to support students who may be impacted by opioids, alcohol and other substance use, include:

  • Find out what kinds of resources are available in your school or district, so you know where to turn to get help for a student
  • Talk with school counselors, nurses and administrators to find out how best to support students for whom you are concerned
  • Learn to recognize the signs of opioid, alcohol and substance abuse so you can refer students appropriately
  • Integrate basic alcohol and drug prevention skill-building into everyday teaching so student can learn to:
    • Make good decisions
    • Solve problems
    • Become more assertive and practice learning refusal skills
    • Be more self-aware
    • Build positive relationships
  • Help students learn coping and stress management skills such as:
    • Self-control
    • Standing up to peer pressure
    • Time management
    • Dealing with difficult situations like conflict or loss
    • Setting goals
  • Talk with students about opioid, alcohol and substance abuse

Information on how to plan, register and host your own NDAFW event, or to receive free publications, resources and educational activities, can be found at National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teachers.

To learn more about the U.S. national opioid crisis and find information and resources on how schools, students and parents of students can help fight this epidemic, please visit the Department’s website at Combating the Opioid Crisis: Schools, Students, Families

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Categories: Higher Education News

Federal Employees: How to manage your student loans during the government shutdown

January 11, 2019 - 1:13pm

Are you a federal employee impacted by the partial government shutdown? Here are some options to manage your student loans while you are furloughed or not receiving pay.

1. Postpone Your Payments through a Deferment or Forbearance

If you are a federal employee impacted by the partial government shutdown, you may temporarily postpone making your payments through the use of a deferment or forbearance. In particular, economic hardship deferments, unemployment deferments (if receiving unemployment benefits), a general forbearance, or a student loan debt burden forbearance may be available to you if you’re affected by the shutdown. You should understand, however, that interest generally continues to accrue on loans during deferment or forbearance. When the deferment or forbearance ends, interest will capitalize (compound) if left unpaid and will likely make your monthly payment go up when you restart your payments. You’ll also pay more over time as interest will now accrue on both your original principal balance and any capitalized interest.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Postponing Your Federal Student Loan Payments

Working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)?:

If you are working toward PSLF, periods of deferment or forbearance will not count toward the 120 payments needed to qualify for forgiveness under the PSLF program.

2. Enroll in or Update your Income-Driven Repayment Plan

Another option you have while you’re furloughed and not receiving pay is to enroll in an  income-driven repayment plan, which will set your payment according to your income. If you have little to no income, your payment under the income-driven repayment plans could be as low as $0 per month. If you’re working toward PSLF, even these $0 per month payments count toward the 120 payments needed to qualify for PSLF, assuming you meet all the other eligibility requirements.

If you are already in an income-driven repayment plan, you can visit StudentLoans.gov and complete an updated Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request to have your payment recalculated or you can contact your servicer and request to have your payment re-calculated immediately to account for your drop in income.

In either case, after the shutdown ends, you should notify your servicer that you are back to work, and that you are again able to resume making payments based on your restored income.

For information on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, visit StudentAid.gov/publicservice.

Contact your loan servicer for more information, or to make any changes to your current repayment plan.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Time to Play and Learn: The 2019 ED Games Expo at the Kennedy Center

January 3, 2019 - 12:43pm

Game-based learning is gaining popularity in education as more young people and adults learn from games both in and out of the classroom. Well-designed games motivate students to actively engage in content that relates to coursework and master challenging tasks designed to sharpen critical thinking, problem solving, employment and life skills.

Every year, the ED Games Expo promotes game-based learning though the display of exciting educational games and technology. With the 6th Annual ED Games Expo taking place next week, here are 5 things to know about this year’s Expo:

1.) The ED Games Expo will take place on January 8 from 4-8PM at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Expo is free and open to the public. Expo attendees can demo 125 educational learning games while meeting the developers. The games and technologies are for students of all ages in education and special education and cover topics including STEM, reading, social studies and social development. Many incorporate emerging technologies, such as virtual reality, 3D printing, engaging narrative adventures and puzzles.

 2.) This year the Expo is hosting activities to showcase the role of STEM and the arts in the development of learning games. On January 7 from 10AM-2PM, eight learning game developers will provide TED-style talks to Washington, DC-area students titled “How The Game Was Made.”  The talks will illustrate the many roles that it takes to develop games, including the concept creator, engineer, coder, web designer, graphics artist, script writer, musician, teacher, education researcher, learning scientist, business expert and more. The talks are intended to inform and inspire students in their own education and future career aspirations, from STEM to literature to the arts to thinking like an entrepreneur. The talks will be live simulcast and available as recordings on the Kennedy Center website.

3.) The Learning Game Awards, a special competition launched this year, will showcase the original “Art,” “Musical Scores” and “Video Demonstrations” in the Expo’s learning games. Be sure to check out the entries and vote for your favorites.

 4.) Many of the games and technologies at the Expo were developed with funding from more than 25 government programs, including ED’s Small Business Innovation Research program, the Institute of Education Sciences, the Office of Special Education Programs, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education and the Office of Innovation and Improvement.

 5.) To learn more about the Expo and to RSVP for next week’s event, contact Edward.Metz@ed.gov.

 

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Categories: Higher Education News

It’s Time to Rethink Career and Technical Education

December 19, 2018 - 1:16pm

A recent state reported data set on CTE participation shows only 8 million of America’s 15 million high school students participate in a CTE course in a given year. Additionally, only 1 in 5 high school students chose to concentrate in a CTE program of study. At the same time, the numbers of transfer students at community colleges are outpacing those enrolled in CTE certificate or associates degree pathways. This results in an America where employers face a profound skills gap and students carry $1.5 trillion in financial aid debt. Too few students are taking advantage of CTE educational opportunities that lead to great jobs and careers. It is time for Career and Technical Education in the U.S. to be the nimble, demand-driven talent development system that it is meant to be.

To address these issues, in July, President Trump signed Perkins V into law. The law requires robust stakeholder engagement to encourage local and state-driven innovation and advancement. Due to its engaged nature, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) has released the draft State Plan Guide for public comment and will be issuing the final guide in early 2019. Additionally, OCTAE has gathered teams from 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Somoa – each eager to launch their state plan development process and excited about the opportunities the act provides to establish a new vision for CTE.

To continue stakeholder involvement, on Friday, December 14, OCTAE hosted the Rethink CTE Summit. The summit brought together 150 business and industry representatives, associations and educators that demonstrated commitment to preparing America’s future workforce. Five intentionally crafted sessions equipped participants to mobilize their networks to engage with states and local education agencies on the development of their state plans.

Additionally, participants left prepared to ask the tough questions:

  • Why aren’t work-based learning and “earn and learn” programs (like apprenticeships) the rule and not the exception?
  • Why can’t employers play a larger role in preparing students for their futures?
  • Why is CTE for some and not all students?
  • Why do barriers exist between the levels and types of education?

Success for the summit did not rest in answering each of these questions or simply talking about the new law. Rather the summit sought to assist participants in identifying questions that need to be asked at their state and local levels. If the right questions are asked in states across the country, stakeholders will be empowered to find bold solutions in providing students with multiple pathways and better preparation for what comes next!

For more information about how you can get involved in the state planning process, please visit the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network, navigate the resources on the Summit website, or reach out to Richard Pettey at Richard.Pettey@ed.gov.

 

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Categories: Higher Education News

10 Fun Ways to Encourage Learning this Winter Break

December 18, 2018 - 1:49pm

With the holidays quickly approaching, winter break is a time of celebration and relaxation. While the time away from school provides a well-deserved break for your student(s), it also provides the opportunity for significant learning loss. Keeping your student(s) learning this holiday season can be fun and easy while ensuring they return to school both revitalized and ready for a new year of learning.

Here are 10 fun ways to prevent learning loss this winter break:

1.) Giving your student gifts this holiday? Gift your student educational toys/games that will keep learning exciting and fun! Science experiments and scrapbooking kits are great ways to make learning fun and hands-on.

2.) Spending time with others during the break? Ask your friends/family members to bring books to read with your student during their visit.

3.) Is it too cold to play outside? Find free yoga and dancing videos online for your student to follow or dance as a family to encourage movement.

4.) Need an easy way for your student to exercise their knowledge? Have your student play educational video and computer games or watch an interesting historical movie.

5.) Are there free concerts or plays in your community this holiday season? Attend a production to expose your student to the arts.

6.) Feeling crafty? Complete a holiday craft for your student to engage their creative side and for the younger students to practice their motor skills.

7.) Are you traveling this break or staying local? Find and visit a museum or historical site to expose your student to new concepts. Don’t forget to ask about student and teacher discounts!

8.) Need an extra hand in the kitchen? Cook/bake a new recipe for your student to practice their math and measuring.

9.) Do you have family coming over? Include your student in engaging conversations that require them to answer open ended questions and practice their communication skills.

10.) Does your student love their teacher? Have them practice their writing skills by writing a holiday greetings card to their teacher or thank you notes to those they received gifts from.

 

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Categories: Higher Education News

#RethinkSchool: Alaska Magnet School Provides Career Readiness in District the Size of Indiana

December 13, 2018 - 1:59pm

Paul Bartos knew about education in rural America after serving as a 7th grade biology teacher, assistant principal and a principal in Poplar and White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

However, Montana was not considered rural for a majority of the students in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District in Kotzebue, Alaska. “Kotz” as Alaskans call the town, is home to just over 3,200 residents and 2,000 students. Despite the small population, students are spread throughout an area the size of Indiana. It is here that Paul served as an assistant principal at Kotzebue High School and now serves as principal of Star of the Northwest Magnet School.

Students in the Introduction to Culinary Arts class at Star of the Northwest Magnet School take cheese cake out of the freezer to firm up the icing prior to serving.

Due to the rural nature of the Northwest Arctic district, an important educational need had not been met:

“The greatest piece that was not being met was career readiness or secondary-education readiness. The kids were not ready for the workforce, for the jobs that were in high demand here in our region.”

In response to this need, the regional school board enacted a plan to create the Star of the Northwest Magnet School. Star of the Northwest has partnerships with the Alaska Technical Center and University of Alaska at Fairbanks, designed to provide students with pathways to careers and higher education. Alaska Technical Center provides students with education in process tech (technology needed in the mining industry), culinary art and health care.

Trevor Ayunerak, 12th grade, from Alakanuk, practices basic techniques for his welding class.

“The kids will go to high school, but then they’ll go over to the tech center (four blocks from the magnet school). It’s dual-enrollment credits. They’re earning their certifications and their high-school diploma at the same time. The University of Alaska campus provides Star of the Northwest teachers with certification as adjunct professors. This way, our teachers are able to provide classes in high school for college credits.”

Star of the Northwest also works with Anchorage-based Voyage to Excellence. Typically, a Star of the Northwest student lives with his family in a camp 35 miles up the Noatak River. If the student wants to be a pilot, the curriculum is not offered in Kotzebue but Voyage to Excellence provides the necessary pilot ground school in Anchorage.

Star of the Northwest’s partnerships underscore that this magnet school’s success comes from being part of a team.

“We cannot do what we do without every stakeholder involved – from the parents to the janitor to the neighbors to the mom and dad. To me, it’s unreal when parents say, ‘Yes, we believe in what you’re doing. We trust you with our child. Do what you can to support them.’ I think we do a pretty good job at it.”

 

Joe Barison is a public affairs specialist with the Office of Communications and Outreach.

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Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. Check back on Thursdays for new posts in the series. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances. Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.

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Categories: Higher Education News

9 Myths About the FAFSA® Form and Applying for Financial Aid

December 11, 2018 - 12:40pm

There’s so much information available about financial aid for college or career school that it can be hard to tell the facts from fiction. We’ve got you covered! Here are some common myths—and the real scoop—about financial aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.

MYTH 1:
My parents make too much money, so I won’t qualify for any aid.

FACT: The reality is there’s no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. It doesn’t matter if you have a low or high income; most people qualify for some type of financial aid, including low-interest federal student loans. Many factors besides income—such as your family size and your year in school—are taken into account.

TIP: When you fill out the FAFSA form, you’re also automatically applying for funds from your state, and possibly from your school as well. In fact, some schools won’t even consider you for any of their scholarships (including academic scholarships) until you’ve submitted a FAFSA form. Don’t make assumptions about what you’ll get—fill out the application and find out!

MYTH 2:
I support myself, so I don’t have to include my parent’s info on the FAFSA® form.

FACT: This is not necessarily true. Even if you support yourself, live on your own, or file your own taxes, you may still be considered a dependent student for FAFSA purposes. The FAFSA form asks a series of questions to determine your dependency status. If you’re independent, you won’t need to include your parents’ information on your FAFSA form. But if you’re dependent, you must provide your parents’ information.

If you’re a dependent student, find out who is considered your parent for FAFSA purposes. (It’s not as obvious as you might think.)

MYTH 3:
I should wait until I’m accepted to a college before I fill out the FAFSA® form.

FACT: Don’t wait. You can start now! As a matter of fact, you can start as early as your senior year of high school. You must list at least one college to receive your information. You SHOULD list all schools you’re considering even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if you later decide not to apply or attend. If you don’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard your FAFSA form.

  • You can add up to 10 schools at a time.
  • If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do.
  • If you want to add another school after you submit your FAFSA form, you can log in and submit a correction.

The schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of aid you may receive.

MYTH 4:
If I didn’t receive enough money for school. I’m just out of luck.

FACT: You still have options! If you’ve received federal, state, and college aid but still find yourself having to fill the gap between what your financial aid covers and what you owe your school, check out these 7 options.

MYTH 5:
I should call “the FAFSA® people” (Federal Student Aid) to find out how much financial aid money I’m getting and when.

FACT: No, you’ll have to contact your school. Federal Student Aid does not award or disburse your aid so we won’t be able to tell you what you’ll get or when you’ll get it. You will have to contact the financial aid office at your school to find out the status of your aid and when you should expect it. Just keep in mind that each school has a different timeline for awarding financial aid.

MYTH 6:
There’s only one FAFSA® deadline and that’s not until June.

FACT: Nope! There are at least three deadlines you need to check: your state, school, and federal deadlines. You can find the state and federal deadlines at StudentAid.gov. You’ll need to check your school’s website for their FAFSA deadline. If you’re applying to multiple schools, make sure to check all of their deadlines and apply by the earliest one. Also, if you’re applying to any scholarships that require the FAFSA form, they might have a different deadline as well! Even if your deadlines aren’t for a while, we recommend you fill out the FAFSA form as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss out on any aid.

MYTH 7:
I only have to fill out the FAFSA® form once.

FACT: You have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.

MYTH 8:
I can share an FSA ID with my parent(s).

FACT: Nope, if you’re a dependent student, then two people will need their own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form online:

  1. You (the student)
  2. One of your parents

An FSA ID is a username and password that you use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites such as StudentAid.gov.

If you’re a dependent student, your parent will need his or her own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form electronically. If your parent has more than one child attending college, he or she can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications. You’ll need a unique email address for each FSA ID.

Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone—not even to someone helping you fill out the FAFSA form. Sharing your FSA ID could put you at risk of identity theft and could cause delays in the FAFSA process!

MYTH 9:
Only students with good grades get financial aid.

FACT: While a high grade point average will help you get into a good school and may help with academic scholarships, most federal student aid programs do not take grades into consideration when you first apply. Keep in mind that if you want to continue receiving aid throughout your college career, you will have to maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by your school.

So what’s next?

Go to StudentAid.gov and fill out the application. If you applied for admission to a college or career school and have been accepted, and you listed that school on your FAFSA form, the school will calculate your aid and will send you an electronic or paper financial aid offer telling you how much aid you’re eligible for at the school.

The post 9 Myths About the FAFSA® Form and Applying for Financial Aid appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

#RethinkSchool: Struggling Student Discovers Path through Colorado Apprenticeship Program

December 6, 2018 - 12:53pm

Sierra didn’t always dream of working in the insurance business. In fact, until recently, she didn’t even know if she’d finish high school.

But with the help of a caring counselor, a local business and an innovative state effort, Sierra is now thriving in her new role as a full-time employee at Pinnacol Assurance.

Her journey from struggling student to working professional began when Sierra’s counselor approached her with a new opportunity through CareerWise, a Colorado nonprofit that helps businesses recruit talent through paid apprenticeships that begin in high school.

Sierra (center) speaks in a meeting with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet.

“I was stuck. My life is kind of different. I have no parents, so I am really on my own,” said Sierra. The Colorado resident says she spent her early years being “tossed around a lot” without a stable home to ground her academically or personally – so she planned on dropping out.

Despite Sierra’s reservations, her counselor thought the program would be a “good fit.” So the high schooler conducted research and then attended a presentation by Pinnacol, a Denver-based insurance company. Work at the company had exciting benefits, including a tuition reimbursement program.

“I knew I had to have this opportunity,” said Sierra. “I grabbed it.” During the first year of the program, CareerWise students attend high school classes three days a week and participate in on-the-job training for up to 16 hours per week. By the third year, students have finished their formal academic classes, and begin working 32 hours or more.

Work-based learning opportunities like Sierra’s are part of a statewide push to promote apprenticeships. By strengthening the talent pipeline, state leaders believe Colorado can build a competitive economy now, and maintain that edge in the future.

The Business Experiential Learning Commission – a state effort – travelled to Switzerland in 2016 to learn about the country’s successful apprenticeship model and find ways to adapt what’s working there for Colorado businesses, communities, and students. Since then, the Commission has developed a work-based learning system – including apprenticeships – that prepares residents to meet the demands of today’s economy.

Students with Senator Bennet

Sierra learned about those demands firsthand – among them, communication and collaboration. “Looking back even in pictures — even the way I held myself — to seeing it now, I see how I’ve drastically changed,” said Sierra. “I’ve seen it in myself.” After a challenging start at Pinnacol, Sierra now identifies herself as a “professional.”

“[Apprentices] provide a lot of energy and new perspectives,” said a Pinnacol representative. “They are more tech savvy than a lot of our employees.”

Drawn from a pool of both struggling and high-achieving students, apprentices are highly motivated to succeed – motivation they might not find in traditional classroom settings. Coupled with on-the-job training, their skills fill much-needed gaps in a variety of fields.

“[Apprentices] are better consumers of their education because they’ve been in the workplace and know exactly how to apply that education,” said Hollis Salway, Director of Development for CareerWise. “We really have to get away from the traditional concept of school… and away from the ‘four-year college path only’ concept.”

For Sierra, a career at Pinnacol truly is the perfect fit.  The company certainly agrees.

“When I got hired full-time, I cried,” said Sierra. “It’s unbelievable to think that this opportunity is mine.”

In Colorado, opportunities like these are helping to strengthen the prospects of individual businesses, and the state’s economy. And, whatever her career holds, one thing is clear to both employee and employer: Sierra has a bright future.

 

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Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. Check back on Thursdays for new posts in the series. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances. Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.

The post #RethinkSchool: Struggling Student Discovers Path through Colorado Apprenticeship Program appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

How Computer Science Encourages Girls to Pursue STEM Careers

December 4, 2018 - 2:31pm

Five years ago, I sat in front of my computer with my 7-year-old daughter and completed the Hour of Code. She absolutely loved the idea of typing something and seeing animation as a result. This was the first time she was exposed to computer science and coding.

We spent hours completing various activities online and seeing things move, jump and make sounds. I have always loved technology, so seeing my daughter enjoy it made me proud.

However, after a while, I noticed she didn’t enjoy typing on a computer as much as I did. We were missing a physical component, beyond the visuals on the computer screen.

Then, I saw the trailer for the LEGO Movie and it came to me. I went out, purchased several LEGO sets and told my daughter to think about using the LEGO blocks like she would use “blocks of code” to create something.

I soon realized the LEGOs targeted her spatial thinking, which was sparked by her coding. She wanted something more tangible than typing on a keyboard. Like many of her female classmates, she wanted a more hands-on experience, which students are unfortunately not often afforded. Additionally, nearly all the LEGO sets and coding activities, such as Minecraft, were targeted toward the male student population from their characters to their design colors.

Despite this, my daughter started asking me questions like “Can I be an engineer, architect, or even a programmer?” I emphatically responded “YES” and have always tried to let her know that she can be anything she wants.

During the summer of 2014, I saw a special research institute set of LEGOs that had female scientists focused on STEM careers. To my knowledge, this had never been done by LEGO. I was so excited when I ordered and surprised my daughter with the set. She could hardly contain her excitement either! It reminded me of the first time we sat down to code and her eyes lit up with the joy of learning something new.

Since then, LEGO has released a Women of NASA set (which my daughter told me I had to buy). With my daughter’s continued passion for coding and love of LEGOs, we have started to look at more advanced projects that have both a computer science and a physical, hands-on component.

I am happy to see my daughter interested in STEM careers because of the computer science component. This all started with my daughter learning how to type a few lines of code and now a world of opportunities await her!

 

Snehal Bhakta (@Snehalstocks) works in the Career and Technical Education Department of Clark County School District (CCSD) in Nevada. Snehal leads CCSD’s Non-Traditional Careers initiative and his exciting work particularly focuses on women and girls in STEM and Technology. Over the last 3 years, he’s had the pleasure and opportunity to lead the school district’s efforts to engage and encourage more young women to consider STEM and Technology career fields.  With the help of his daughter, he uses the combination of computer science and physical activities like LEGOs, to inspire, encourage and bring awareness of STEM careers to all girls in CCSD.

 

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The post How Computer Science Encourages Girls to Pursue STEM Careers appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

15 Fast Facts about the Swiss Apprenticeship Program

December 3, 2018 - 12:45pm

This morning, the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Commerce joined the Swiss government in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on apprenticeships. This agreement will build upon ongoing collaboration between the United States and Switzerland to encourage businesses and stakeholders to promote the value of apprenticeship programs and develop effective strategies to increase awareness of and access to work-based learning.

While you may be familiar with apprenticeship programs in the United States, there is a lot to know about Switzerland’s programs. In recognition of this morning’s MOU signing, here are 15 fast facts about the Swiss Apprenticeship Program:

  1. Most Swiss vocational programs are dual-tracked. Students participate in an apprenticeship for 3 to 4 days a week to gain hands-on experience and receive classroom instruction for the remainder of the school week.
  2. Vocational training is an integral part of the Swiss education system. Nearly 2/3 of young people in Switzerland choose to pursue a vocational program.
  3. The most popular Swiss vocational programs include: health care workers, social care workers, electricians, cooks, and IT specialists.
  4. Swiss upper secondary students can choose from approximately 250 vocational education programs. Some programs take 2 years to complete; other may take up to 4. All programs lead to an officially recognized diploma or certificate.
  5. A defining feature of the Swiss vocational education system is its close correlation with the labor market. Training is geared to actual demand for vocational qualifications and to available jobs.
  6. Swiss students who hold a vocational diploma or certificate can choose to further pursue professional education and training (PET), which provides specialization in a given field and preparation for highly technical and managerial roles.
  7. In Switzerland there are approximately 400 federal professional education and training (PET) examinations and 57 college degree programs.
  8. Swiss students who hold a federal vocational baccalaureate are entitled to enroll in any of Switzerland’s universities of applied sciences without having to take an entrance exam.
  9. 93% of Swiss students who are enrolled in pre-vocational or vocational programs are enrolled in joint vocational programs which combine both school and work-based elements.
  10. Swiss companies spend almost 1% of GDP/year on apprenticeships.
  11. Among reported companies, there is a 50-80% retention rate among apprentices.
  12. Companies start recruiting students in the 7th grade with apprenticeships starting in 10th grade.
  13. Even at a cost of $50K-$150K over 3-4 years, the businesses get a full return on their investment.
  14. Apprentices have multiple pathways post-apprenticeship including university, professional college, the workforce and more.
  15. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos visited Switzerland in June and identified many ways Americans can learn from Switzerland’s Apprenticeships.

 

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The post 15 Fast Facts about the Swiss Apprenticeship Program appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News