Feds: Make eReaders accessible to all students

Some colleges have agreed to abandon Kindle pilot programs because of accessibility issues.
Some colleges have agreed to abandon Kindle pilot programs because of accessibility issues.

The federal government will help schools and colleges using eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle to comply with laws giving students with disabilities equal access to emerging education technologies, officials announced.

The Departments of Education and Justice stressed the responsibility of colleges and universities to use accessible eReaders in a letter published June 29, after more than a year of complaints from low-sighted and blind students attending colleges that have piloted eReader programs.

Many eReaders have a text-to-speech function that reads words aloud, but the devices lack menus that people who are blind or have low vision can navigate.…Read More

Students’ latest ‘crush’: New matchmaking web site

GoodCrush has attracted 14,000 students since its launch in February.
GoodCrush has attracted 14,000 students since its launch in February.

There’s a Yale student looking for a girl who took a “glorious fall” in the rain and looked “cute” doing it. The incident is spelled out on a new social networking site that offers an anonymous forum for college students to find the people they have crushes on.

GoodCrush.com, a site that launched in February and is now available to students on more than 20 college and university campuses, features a “Missed Connections” page for visitors who don’t know their crush’s name, but hope they’ll peruse the GoodCrush message board.

The anonymous matchmaking site also lets students who sign up enter the eMail addresses of up to five students they have a crush on. Those students will get an eMail saying someone on GoodCrush wants to connect. If they register, create a GoodCrush account, and enter the eMail address of the person who invited them, then both parties are messaged and their names are revealed.…Read More

Type A-plus students chafe at grade deflation

When Princeton University set out six years ago to corral galloping grade inflation by putting a lid on A’s, many in academia lauded the school for taking a stand on a national problem and predicted that others would follow. But the idea never took hold beyond Princeton’s walls, and so its bold vision is now running into fierce resistance from the school’s Type A-plus student body, reports the New York Times. With the job market not what it once was, even for Ivy Leaguers, Princetonians are complaining that the campaign against bulked-up GPAs might be coming at their expense. “The nightmare scenario, if you will, is that you apply with a 3.5 from Princeton and someone just as smart as you applies with a 3.8 from Yale,” said Daniel E. Rauch, a senior from Millburn, N.J. The percentage of Princeton grades in the A range dipped below 40 percent last year, down from nearly 50 percent when the policy was adopted in 2004. The class of 2009 had a mean grade-point average of 3.39, compared with 3.46 for the class of 2003. In a survey last year by the undergraduate student government, 32 percent of students cited the grading policy as the top source of unhappiness (compared with 25 percent for lack of sleep)…

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‘Supplemental service’ firms flourish with NCLB

Firms that offer private tutoring and standardized-test preparation are scrambling to cash in on what could be a multibillion-dollar bonanza created by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which requires public schools to expose students to an unprecedented battery of assessments and offer tutoring, summer classes, and remedial instruction to those who fail.

Districts nationwide have turned to the private sector for help complying with the law, and in doing so have created a “supplementary educational services” industry that barely existed five years ago, executives said.

Princeton Review Chief Executive John Katzman said the company’s K-12 division, which runs after-school programs and helps students prepare for standardized tests, now has 2,000 client schools, up from none two years ago. The division now produces about 15 percent of the company’s business. Within three years, Katzman said he expects it to represent 25 percent.…Read More