Class Notes: Bad Behavior, Tuition Woes and Other Education News

Each week, TIME's Kayla Webley fills you in on the goings on in the education world, everything from pre-K to higher ed.

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Math Scores Up On National Report Card, While Reading Stays the Same
Scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is administered every two years to fourth and eighth graders, show that while students have made slight gains in math in the past two years, performance in reading has barely budged, edging up one point since 2009 and just five points since 1992. Another big area of concern is how few students achieved proficiency on either reading or math. Just over one-third of students in both grades are proficient or higher in reading, while in math only 40% of fourth grade students and 35% of eighth graders scored at proficient levels or higher. For more, read my post on the NAEP results here.

Free College to Start Charging Tuition?
The New York Times reported on Oct. 31 that Cooper Union, a New York City college that was founded in 1859 to provide free education to the working class, may have to start charging undergraduate tuition for the first time in more than a century. Calling the option a “last resort,” the university’s president, Jamshed Bharucha, told the Times, “In order to create a sustainable model, it has to be one of the options on the table.” The college’s tuition-free policy has made it one of the most selective in the nation, with only 5% to 10% of applicants gaining admission each year. Bharucha says even if Cooper Union does start charging some students, lower-income students and many middle-income students would still be able to attend for free.

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University in Georgia Makes Employees Take Anti-Gay Pledge
Shorter University, a small, private Christian school in Rome, Ga., implemented a new policy requiring its 200 current employees (and any new hires) to sign a statement saying they reject homosexuality. If they don’t sign, they risk losing their jobs. The school’s “personal lifestyle pledge” also requires employees to reject adultery and premarital sex and be active in their local churches. It also bans the use of drugs and alcohol in the presence of students. School officials say that because they do not receive federal funding, the policy is perfectly legal.

When’s Lunch?
Some schools in Florida are serving lunch while most of us are just finishing breakfast. For instance, ninth grade students at Winter Park High School in Winter Park, Fla., some students’ scheduled lunch period begins at 9:28 a.m. thanks to a waiver from the state’s Department of Education that allowed them to sidestep the federal requirement that schools serve lunch between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Look for more oddly timed meals as schools struggle to deal with strict schedules.

No Child Left Behind Waivers Will Likely End After-School Tutoring Program
Under President Obama’s plan to offer relief to states that are chafing under the strict requirements of No Child Left Behind, states granted waivers would be free from a requirement that they set aside hundreds of millions of dollars a year for after-school tutoring, according to the Associated Press. While the cut in tutoring to kids who need it the most sounds like a bad move, researchers have long questioned the effectiveness of the programs, some of which have suffered from participation rates as low as 20%, low-quality tutors and mismanagement.

Who Pays for College?
An analysis by the Associated Press shows during the 2000s the burden of paying for college shifted more from the states to families. Between 2000 and 2010, state funding per student fell 23 percent, after accounting for inflation, says the AP. Today, states pitch in about $6,300 per student, as compared to $8,000 in 2000. At the same time, families contribute $4,300 per student on average, up from $3,350 in 2000.

Boys’ Behavior Linked to Poor Academic Performance
New research released this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research may help explain why boys have lower college attendance and graduation rates. Researchers from the University of Chicago and the National University of Singapore found boys in the U.S. are more likely to be effected by a poor-quality family life and as a result have more behavioral problems and suffer from hyperactivity disorder, which makes them far more likely to be suspended from school than their female counterparts. The research found nearly one in four boys had been suspended by eighth grade compared to one in ten girls. The Chronicle of Higher Education, notes that as the likelihood of suspension increases, the students’ chance of graduating from high school and attending college decreases.

See last week’s Class Notes column here.

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Kayla Webley is a Writer-Reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley or on Facebook at You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.