Joanne Jacobs

Joanne Jacobs

Joanne was born in Chicago and named after her grandfather, Joe Jacobs, who’d been a police reporter for the Omaha Bee-News. At the age of eight, she and her best friend became the creators and co-editors-in-chief of "The Wednesday Report" for four years. After years as a San Jose Mercury News columnist, Joanne started an education blog in 2001 and wrote "Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School That Beat the Odds." She freelances for online sites, newspapers, magazines, foundations and think tanks. In addition to blogging at joannejacobs.com, Joanne writes Community College Spotlight at ccspotlight.org.

We need a new model for U.S. high schools, but are European apprenticeships the way to go?

The much-admired German apprenticeship system “relies on a very stratified education system along with regulated and heavily unionized labor markets,” writes Eric Hanushek in Education Next. Furthermore, it produces narrowly trained workers who aren’t prepared for changing work demands. Half of all German youth participate in their vocational and apprenticeship system, which itself builds upon school tracking that occurs in the 4th  grade. The… Read more →

Here’s a school trend worth copying: Scrap the high school valedictorian

Is this the end of the valedictorian? asks AP’s Carolyn Thompson. Fewer high schools are naming a valedictorian: Some have dozens of honorees on graduation day, while others have stopped using grades to rank students. Reporting class rankings is going out of fashion too. About half of schools no longer report class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary… Read more →

Coveted career-tech programs become selective, college prep and mostly white

Rigorous career-tech programs such as New Jersey’s Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) prepare students for top colleges and careers, writes Catherine Gewertz in Education Week. However many career-and-college programs are selective — and primarily enroll middle-class white students. On a chilly spring morning, 18 teenagers clamber aboard a 65-foot research vessel and become marine scientists. In big blue nets,… Read more →

Why do working class whites see college as a ‘risky gamble?’

A majority of working-class whites think college is a “risky gamble,” according to a new survey, reports the Houston Chronicle. Only 44 percent of whites said getting a college education is a smart investment, while 54 percent said college may not pay off, the PRRI/Atlantic analysis found. Blacks and Latinos strongly believe going to college is worthwhile, the survey reported. Overall,… Read more →

Refugees learn more, adapt faster in ‘international’ schools

“Segregating” refugees may help them integrate, suggests the Hechinger Report’s Meredith Kolodner. Bowling Green, Kentucky has opened a special “international” high school for newly arrived refugees and immigrants next to a comprehensive high school. Faris Nakhal, 18, who survived a kidnapping in Syria, chose to attend GEO International High with “Somali, Iraqi, Burmese, Bhutanese, Ethiopian and Latin American teenagers,” writes… Read more →

Scrap the Grades: How one Connecticut district moved off the low-performing list

In Windsor Locks, Connecticut, “24 credits and a D-minus average” aren’t good enough to earn a high school diploma, Superintendent Susan Bell tells Hechinger’s Tara Garcia Mathewson. The small, formerly low-performing district has shifted to a “mastery” model, sometimes called “competency-based learning.” Coursework is broken down into skills. Students must learn the skills to move on to something new. If… Read more →

Think holding back your kindergartner a year will give him an edge? Think again

“Redshirting” five-year-olds may do more harm than good, concludes a study published in Education Next. The academic advantages of being older disappear by high school, write Diane Schanzenbach, a Northwestern education professor, and Stephanie Larson, director of Rose Hall Montessori School in Wilmette, Illinois. “Redshirted children can be educationally and socially harmed by being with others who are performing and… Read more →

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