Dollars for degrees: Engineering pays

North Carolina is making it easier for students to predict the dollar value of college degrees. A new state web site will provide median earnings and employment by major, degree and campus.

All the top-paying two- and four-year degrees are in engineering and technology. A four-year graduate in nuclear engineering can expect to earn nearly $90,000 in five years, while the median income for theater graduates is $10,400 after five years.

Districts drop extra pay for master’s

Teachers with master’s degrees aren’t any more effective than their non-degreed colleagues, say researchers. Now North Carolina, Dallas and Houston are cutting extra pay for advanced degrees.

“Effectiveness is more based on results rather than any checklist of things,” said Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles, who implemented a pay-for-performance system in the district, as he did at his previous district in Colorado. “So years of service and the advance degrees are checklist-type things.”

Yet the backlash in North Carolina grew so intense that the state is now looking at reinstating the extra pay for those teaching classes related to the subject in which they have an advanced degree.

Teacher turnover is up sharply in the state’s largest school district, Wake County.

Teachers should be paid based on how hard their jobs are and how well they’re doing them, argues The New Teachers Project in Shortchanged: The Hidden Cost of Lockstep Teacher Pay

Effective teachers should be able to move quickly up the pay scale in the first five years and earn raises for strong classroom performance, the report recommends. In addition, compensation systems should reward “great teachers in high-need schools.”

Core no more

Following Indiana’s lead, Oklahoma and South Carolina have dropped Common Core standards, vowing to write their own. North Carolina will be next.

After that? Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wants his state to dump the Core too.

In a Missouri compromise, the state will use Core standards for two years to give educators time to write a new set of standards.

States also are dropping out of the two federally funded testing consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced. Only 42 percent of students will take a Core-aligned test, reports Education Week. That number is “likely to dwindle.”

Miami-Dade rethinks tablet handout

The Miami-Dade school district has “pushed the pause button” on buying tablet computers for every student. Similar initiatives have run into trouble in Los Angeles, Guilford County, N.C., and elsewhere, notes Education Week.

“This is about being prudent, pragmatic, and cautious,” said Sylvia J. Diaz, the district’s deputy superintendent for innovation and school choice.

She described the Los Angeles Unified School District’s high-profile plan to provide 660,000 iPads to students and staff members as a source of particular concern, pointing to confusion among many parents as to what their responsibility and liability is for their children’s tablets; the rising cost projections associated with the initiative; concerns about a lack of adequate teacher training; problems with students bypassing the devices’ security filters; and concerns about the readiness and quality of the digital curricular content that Los Angeles is purchasing as part of its plan.

One specific piece of the Los Angeles plan that gave Miami-Dade officials particular pause, Diaz said, was the district’s failure to include keyboards as part of its initial half-billion dollar purchasing plan.

The Guilford County, N.C., school system is suspending its tablet computing initiative, noted Diaz.  “The fact that they had 1,500 broken tablets after having them in circulation for [only a few] weeks was a huge red flag for me,” she said.

‘Skill builders’ succeed without a degree

Community college “skill builders” who complete a few vocational courses can raise their earnings by as much as 15 percent, a new study finds.

North Carolina has launched a four-year plan to improve success rates at community colleges. The system has created “stackable” credentials that let students earn a vocational certificate, work and then return, if they wish, to add a higher-level credential.

NC ends tenure, master’s degree pay hike

North Carolina teachers won’t get a raise if they earn a master’s degree, under legislation signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican. The bill also eliminates tenure and freezes pay for the fifth time in sixth years.

North Carolina is believed to be the first state to eliminate the automatic pay bump for earning an advanced degree.

North Carolina teachers are pursuing jobs in South Carolina, says union leader Charles Smith. “A six-year teacher is still getting paid the same as a first-year teacher.”

Enrollment is projected to grow rapidly in North Carolina with an added 800,000 students by 2030, notes Matthew Ladner on Jay Greene’s blog. Legislators have expanded school choice options for low- and moderate-income students and special-needs children, but per-pupil funding may not enough to “spur new private school supply,” writes Ladner.

Training for a career in beer

Instead of going to college to drink beer, students at three North Carolina community colleges will learn to make beer. With a growing number of craft breweries, Western North Carolina hopes to become the beer-making equivalent of California’s Napa Valley.

NCEE: Only 5% need calculus

Only 5 percent of students will use calculus in college or the workplace, concludes a new report on college and career readiness by the National Center on Education and the Economy. Most community college students could succeed in college courses if they’ve mastered “middle school mathematics, especially arithmetic, ratio, proportion, expressions and simple equations.” Many have not.

The report calls for providing an alternative track — less algebra, more statistics — for high school students who aren’t aiming at university STEM degrees.

In a few years, high school diplomas in North Carolina will show whether a graduate is prepared for a four-year university, a community college and/or a career.

Oregon may require college credit in high school

Oregon may require all high school students to pass college-level classes, reports Diverse.

A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill that would require college coursework as a condition of graduating from high school. The move would increase the number of students going to college, make their degrees more affordable and encourage students not considering college to continue in higher education, said Sen. Mark Hass, a Beaverton Democrat who is the bill’s chief sponsor.

Oregon students must pass 24 high school classes to earn a diploma. In its current form, Senate Bill 222 would require six of those classes earn college credit, starting with the class of 2020. It promises funding — how much is unstated — to train high school teachers to teach college-level courses.

It’s nice to know Oregon students are so accomplished that all can be expected to complete high school work in three years and move on to college work.

North Carolina is more realistic: A bill backed by Gov. Pat McCrory would create a “career ready” diploma in addition to a “college ready” diploma. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is headed for the House. “Career and technical teacher licensing requirements also would be revised to help develop more teachers in those fields,” reports AP. There are paths to a decent job that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, the governor believes.

NC creates ‘stackable’ energy jobs credentials

North Carolina community colleges have consolidated energy-related job training, creating “stackable” credentials that let students move easily between work and advanced schooling. A worker could earn an entry-level certificate in skills needed by employers, find a job and return later for a higher-level certificate or associate degree that “stacks” on the work previously done.