Education & Schools
Can the U.S. Meet Its 2014 Goal for Students? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 13:09
Education Researcher Says Boosting Graduation Rates is Possible with Existing Tools

We’re fast approaching 2014, the year federal law calls for all students to be 100 percent proficient in reading and math.

Are we there yet?

“No, but to be fair, that goal was unattainable,” says Dr. Mariam Azin, president of Mazin Education, (, which develops software solutions to help schools better assess, identify and serve at-risk students.

“What concerns me more is that the No Child Left Behind Act is also intended to dramatically reduce dropout rates. That’s very attainable, and yet we still have one in five students failing to graduate from high school!”

A core tenet of the 2001 federal law is 100 percent student proficiency in reading and math by next year. It also requires all secondary schools to show yearly progress on the number of freshmen who graduate with diplomas after four years.

However, two years ago, states were offered waivers on meeting some of the law’s requirements if they implemented certain policies, such as linking teacher evaluations to students’ test scores. As of April, 34 states and the District of Columbia had been granted waivers and 10 more applications were pending.

“Most of the states with waivers are now circumventing the accountability rules intended to increase the graduation rate, which is now 78 percent nationally,” says Azin, citing an Alliance for Excellent Education report released in February. “That sounds good until you realize 22 out of every 100 students – the dropouts – are more likely to earn less money, be less healthy, and spend time in jail. Five states have dropout rates of more than 40 percent!”

Azin, who holds a doctorate in applied social psychology and has more than 20 years’ experience in educational research and evaluation, says there are clear indicators that a student is at risk for dropping out.

“By monitoring each student’s risk factors and intervening early, we can keep more kids in school,” she says. “And that doesn’t have to be a labor-intensive exercise – we have computers!”

Some risk factors can be monitored just by collating the student information already recorded, she notes.

While research has identified many potential predictors, these have proven consistently reliable, Azin says.

• Attendance: Being absent 10 percent of school days (first 30 days per grading period annually).

• Behavior: One or more major behavior incidents per grading period1.

• Course performance: An inability to read at grade level by the end of third grade; failure In courses (e.g., including core subject areas such as English or math) in sixth through 12th grades; a GPA of less than 2.0; and failure to earn enough credits for promotion to the next grade.

“Once a student has been identified, it is critical that he or she be connected with someone who’s able to further evaluate him or provide services,” Azin says. “Unfortunately, research shows that this often fails to happen.”

That’s why it’s essential to have a system in place that monitors when and how students connect with services, and the progress they’re making, Azin says.

“Again, this can be automated, with alerts going to the appropriate interventionist when necessary,” she says.

Boosting high school graduation rates to near 100 percent is both essential and attainable with the information now available, Azin says.

“No child should be left behind, and it’s within our means to identify students at risk of dropping out and take steps to prevent that.”

About Dr. Mariam Azin

Dr. Mariam Azin is president and CEO of Mazin Education, an educational company focused on software solutions that help schools to better assess, identify and serve at-risk students. Dr. Azin holds a doctorate in applied social psychology and has more than 20 years’ experience in educational research and evaluation. She has been the principal investigator on numerous large-scale evaluation efforts related to students, currently serving as joint principal investigator on three federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students evaluations.

Local students graduate from Central College PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Rachel Vogel   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 12:46

PELLA, (05/28/2013)(readMedia)-- The following local students graduated from Central College Saturday, May 11. The ceremony was held at H.S. Kuyper Fieldhouse in Pella, Iowa. There were 348 graduates from 15 states and one foreign country.

Patricia Braun, of Davenport, graduated summa cum laude with a major in biology, Spanish and international studies-Latin American.

Erik Grunder, of Wilton, graduated with a major in social science.

Stephanie Hasken, of Davenport, graduated with a major in exercise science.

Nancy Huddleston, of Muscatine, graduated magna cum laude with a major in mathematics.

Emily Huegel, of Bettendorf, graduated magna cum laude with a major in elementary education.

Justine Jackovich, of Eldridge, graduated magna cum laude with a major in biology.

Maaike Mielenhausen, of Davenport, graduated magna cum laude with a major in elementary education.

Gregory Oldsen, of De Witt, graduated with a major in environmental studies.

Rachel Pashon, of Sterling, graduated with a major in business management.

Allison Redman, of Davenport, graduated magna cum laude with a major in elementary education.

Samantha Scheckel, of Long Grove, graduated cum laude with a major in art.

Shannon Skalla, of New Boston, graduated with a major in theatre.

Kelly Spavin, of Bettendorf, graduated summa cum laude with a major in English.

Kevin Templeton, of Muscatine, graduated magna cum laude with a major in music education-vocal.

Andrew Weaks, of Fulton, graduated cum laude with a major in accounting and actuarial science.

Treaver Willis, of Muscatine, graduated with a major in athletic training.

Central College is a residential liberal arts college dedicated to the education of 1,500 undergraduate students. Guided by its ecumenical Christian tradition, the college community engages in vigorous, free, open inquiry in pursuit of academic excellence. Founded in 1853, the college is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America and NCAA Division III athletics.

Central is a recognized leader in study abroad as a result of its international, residential programs. Central College is located in Pella, Iowa, a thriving community of 10,000 two minutes from the state's largest lake and 40 minutes southwest of Des Moines. Please visit the college website at

Concordia University, Nebraska Holds Commencement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Jenny Hammond   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 14:33

SEWARD, NEB. (05/28/2013)(readMedia)-- More than 450 undergraduate and graduate degrees, diplomas and certificates were awarded at Concordia University, Nebraska during its 2013 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11.

Commencement speaker Dr. Douglas Tewes used Concordia's theme Bible verse for 2012-13 -- "You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of His household." – to explain a Christian's obligation to serve.

"I think that as citizens of God's kingdom, we have responsibility in our citizenship here in America," Tewes said. In addition to delivering the commencement address, Tewes also received the honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Concordia.

Undergraduates earning degrees from Concordia were eligible for distinction or high distinction honors. Up to 10 percent of those who earned, at minimum, a 3.75 GPA were designated as graduating with high distinction. An additional 15 percent of those who earned degrees with a minimum 3.5 GPA were graduated with distinction. Departmental awards were also announced.

The following are Concordia University, Nebraska graduates from your area:

Caleb Davison, Davenport, Iowa, Bachelor of Arts;

Lee Johanson, Davenport, Iowa, Bachelor of Arts;

Concordia University, Nebraska, founded in 1894, is a fully accredited, coeducational university located in Seward, Neb. Concordia currently has over 2,200 students. Concordia offers more than 50 professional and liberal arts programs in an excellent academic and Christ-centered community that equips men and women for lives of learning, service and leadership. For more information, visit

Conservation Stewardship Program Applications Due by June 14 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Sarah Maxwell   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 14:17

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2013 – The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program will provide about $175 million in funding for up to 12.6 million additional acres enrollment this year.

Although applications are accepted all year, farmers, ranchers and forestland owners interested in CSP should submit applications by June 14 to their local NRCS office to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding. The deadline was extended from May 31.

The voluntary program allows producers to go the extra mile in conserving natural resources while also maintaining or increasing the productivity of their operations.

“CSP is different than our other financial assistance programs,” said NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller.  “It offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. It’s about conservation activities on the entire operation, focusing on multiple resource concerns.”

Playing a significant part in conserving and improving our nation’s resources, producers enrolled an additional 12.1 million acres in CSP last year, bringing the total number of acres to more than 50 million.

Many of the CSP enhancements improve soil quality, which helps land become more resilient to extreme weather.

Several other improvements are available for producers, including intensive rotational grazing, intercropping and wildlife friendly fencing.

Because of the extreme weather in 2012, more interest and participation in the cover crop enhancements is expected this year, according to NRCS experts.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

For the checklist and additional information, visit the CSP website

( or visit your local USDA NRCS office.

Loebsack Reintroduces WE CARE Act to Help Students and Communities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Friday, 24 May 2013 14:42

WASHINGTON – Congressman Dave Loebsack reintroduced the Working to Encourage Community Action and Responsibility in Education (WE CARE) Act to help ensure that schools and communities work together with families to meet student needs inside and outside the classroom. The WE CARE Act will amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to more strategically engage the community in the education of our students and ensure they succeed in school and are prepared for productive employment when they graduate.

“I would not be where I am today without the support of my community.  Whether it was my principal helping me get a job to pay for college or my grandmother taking in my siblings and me, I know first-hand the importance of what happens outside the classroom to children’s ability to succeed inside the classroom and throughout their lives.  I want to be sure that every child has access to the same supports that allowed me to lift myself out of poverty by my bootstraps,” said Loebsack.  “When the full community is involved, our children will be best able to reach their full potential, secure good jobs when they graduate, and grow up to be the future leaders of our state and nation.”

The bill is supported by First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization.  “We’ve learned that what happens outside the classroom matters as much for a child’s education as what happens inside. Rep. Loebsack gets it, and his WE CARE Act would give kids a better chance to succeed in school and life,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.

The WE CARE Act amends ESEA to more strategically engage the community in the education of our students by:

·   Providing incentives for school districts, community-based organizations and others to work together to develop and implement Community Involvement Policies. These policies would leverage resources from the community to help meet students’ non-academic needs and prepare them for success in the classroom.

·   Calling on state educational agencies and local educational agencies to include an analysis of the non-academic needs of students in their plans, along with a strategy for partnering with community-based organizations and others to meet those needs.

·   Calling on local educational agencies and schools to engage community stakeholders in the development of school improvement plans in order to utilize every possible resource available to strengthen student performance.


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