SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, October 11, 2006

News & Product Updates

House Approves Extension of Higher Education Act…Again

Every three months for the past year, Congress has approved a bill to temporarily extend the Higher Education Act. Now, however, the House of Representatives has approved a nine-month extension. The law governs most federal student-aid programs. The Senate is expected to approve the extension bill and send it to President Bush.

The House passed HR 609, its bill to renew or reauthorize the law, in March, but the Senate is still debating its reauthorization measure. The latest extension, which lasts until June 30, 2007, suggests that lawmakers do not expect to complete their work to revise and reauthorize the law this year...

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Anti-Cheating Software Doubles as Peer Review System

A vendor of cheating-detection software claims the use of Turnitin reduced the incidence of plagiarism on campuses using the system to less than 14 percent of all work over the course of five years. The firm said it completed a six-year study that involved using the software to analyze the originality of more than 22 million term papers from more than 6,000 academic institutions.

The software can be used by professors to enable students to check, comment and rate each other’s work via a campus course management system. It can also be used as a platform to enable faculty to grade papers online.

While touting its effectiveness as a plagiarism deterrent, John Barrie, the creator of the software, said its long term value “is as a learning tool, not as a 'gotcha.'” The tool, developed by Oakland, Calif.-based iParadigms LLC, receives about 70,000 student papers per day...

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Senators Introduce Controversial Student Tracking Bill

Fourteen U.S. senators formally introduced a bill to authorize spending to set up databases to track college students’ educational progress and to produce more scientists and engineers. The idea is opposed by many private colleges.

The co-sponsors of the bill include the Senate’s two leaders: the majority leader, Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), and the minority leader, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). It is sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and is largely similar to a draft circulated last month. One provision would help states track data on individual students from pre-kindergarten through the baccalaureate level and to examine retention and graduation rates for college students. The idea was recommended by the final report of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education.

The remainder of the bill proposes a mix of measures to improve science education in schools and colleges, in order to improve the U.S.’s ability to compete economically with other countries...

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