Anya Kamenetz

Anya Kamenetz is NPR's lead education blogger. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning.

Kamenetz is the author of several books about the future of education. Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006), dealt with youth economics and politics; DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (Chelsea Green, 2010), investigated innovations to address the crises in cost, access, and quality in higher education. Her forthcoming book, The Test (PublicAffairs, 2015), is about the past, present and future of testing in American schools.

Learning, Freedom and the Web (http://learningfreedomandtheweb.org/), The Edupunks' Guide (edupunksguide.org), and the Edupunks' Atlas (atlas.edupunksguide.org) are her free web projects about self-directed, web-enabled learning.

Previously, Kamenetz covered technology, innovation, sustainability and social entrepreneurship for five years as a staff writer for Fast Company magazine. She's contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Slate, and O, the Oprah Magazine.

Kamenetz was named a 2010 Game Changer in Education by the Huffington Post, received 2009 and 2010 National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, and was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing by the Village Voice in 2005, where she had a column called Generation Debt.

She appears in the documentaries Generation Next (2006), Default: A Student Loan Documentary (2011), both shown on PBS, and Ivory Tower, which premiered at Sundance in 2014 and will be shown on CNN.

Kamenetz grew up in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, in a family of writers and mystics, and graduated from Yale University in 2002. She lives in New York City.

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NPR Ed
6:38 am
Tue May 19, 2015

What Do You Do With A Student Who Fidgets?

Studies found that fidgeting can help children with ADHD collect their thoughts.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 1:35 pm

Our story last week about the connection between ADHD, movement and thinking struck a nerve with readers. We reported on a small study in which students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder performed better on memory tasks when they were allowed to spin and move around in a swiveling chair.

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NPR Ed
8:55 am
Thu May 14, 2015

Vindication For Fidgeters: Movement May Help Students With ADHD Concentrate

Allowing kids with ADHD to move around in class may help them collect their thoughts.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 9:46 am

Are you a pen-clicker? A hair-twirler? A knee-bouncer? Did you ever get in trouble for fidgeting in class? Don't hang your head in shame. All that movement may be helping you think.

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NPR Ed
6:43 am
Wed May 13, 2015

A Key Researcher Says 'Grit' Isn't Ready For High-Stakes Measures

The accuracy of self-reporting depends on your frame of reference. Excerpted from "Measurement Matters: Assessing Personal Qualities Other Than Cognitive Ability for Educational Purposes."
Courtesy of Angela L. Duckworth and David Scott Yeager

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 7:23 am

If you've followed education in the news or at the book store in the past couple of years, chances are you've heard of "grit." It's often defined as the ability to persevere when times get tough, or to delay gratification in pursuit of a goal.

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NPR Ed
6:53 am
Sun May 10, 2015

Counting Poor Students Is Getting Harder

LA Johnson/NPR

Researchers, grant-makers and policymakers have long relied on enrollment numbers for the federally subsidized Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program. They use those numbers as a handy proxy for measuring how many students are struggling economically. The paperwork that families submit to show their income becomes the basis of billions in federal funds.

To be eligible for these programs, a family must earn no more than 85 percent above the poverty line. Just over half of public school students fit that description.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Several Florida School Districts Cut (Way) Back On Tests

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 9:04 am

Did you hear that?

It's the sound of hundreds of thousands of public school students in Florida breathing sighs of relief.

The state's largest school district, Miami-Dade County, just cut the number of district-created, end-of-course exams it will require from roughly 300 to 10. And even those 10 will be field-tested only, on just a sampling of students.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Delinquent. Dropout. At-Risk. When Words Become Labels

Sidney Poitier (right) and Glenn Ford (standing) in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 5:05 pm

Much of our recent reporting, especially from New Orleans, has focused on young people who are neither in school nor working. There are an estimated 5 1/2 million of them, ages 16 to 24, in the United States.

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NPR Ed
4:48 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

The Largest For-Profit College Shutdown In History

Corinthian operated colleges and training programs under the names Everest College, Heald, WyoTech and QuickStart Intelligence. This location is in Milwaukee.
Jeramey Jannene Flickr

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 5:47 pm

The long-running story of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges has entered what looks like a final phase. As our colleagues at SCPR wrote:

"Corinthian Colleges will shut down all of its remaining 28 ground campuses, displacing about 16,000 students, less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Education announced it was fining the for-profit institution $30 million for misrepresentation."

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Sun April 26, 2015

What If Students Could Fire Their Professors?

LA Johnson/NPR

"Welcome to Iowa State University. May I take your paper, please?"

A bill circulating in the Iowa state Senate would rate professors' performance based on student evaluations. Just student evaluations.

Low-rated professors would be automatically fired — no tenure, no appeals.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Thu April 23, 2015

To Get More Students Through College, Give Them Fewer Choices

Redesigning America's Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success by Thomas R. Bailey, Shanna Smith Jaggars and Davis Jenkins
Harvard University Press

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 11:18 am

How many different flavors of jam do you need to be happy?

In 2000, a famous experiment showed that when people were presented with a supermarket sampler of 24 exotic fruit flavors, they were more attracted to the display. But, when the sample included only six flavors, they were 10 times more likely to actually buy.

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NPR Ed
5:01 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Anti-Test 'Opt-Out' Movement Makes A Wave In New York State

A school bus passes a sign encouraging parents to have their children opt out of state tests in Rotterdam, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 9:25 am

Across New York state this week, some students are refusing to take a test, and they're not getting punished for it. The test is a Common Core-aligned, federally mandated exam, and students, parents and educators are part of what they're calling the opt-out movement.

Opt-outs made news last week in several states: Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, to name a few. The objections are similar everywhere. But no state is posting numbers like New York.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Sat April 18, 2015

Falling Through The Cracks: Young Lives Adrift In New Orleans

Craig Adams, Jr., 18, is studying for his second try at the high school equivalency exam.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 10:37 am

On weekend afternoons, Craig Adams Jr. plays for tourists on the streets of the French Quarter.

He gigs with different bands, bringing whatever's needed: trumpet, trombone, saxophone — he plays six or seven instruments in all. There's a white plastic bucket on the sidewalk so people can drop in cash as they browse the T-shirts and Mardi Gras masks.

Craig is 18, and there's music in his blood: "I had my uncle, my grandfather, and my dad to teach me." His father, Craig Adams Sr., leads a group called the Higher Dimensions of Praise Gospel Band.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Sat April 11, 2015

New Research Shows Free Online Courses Didn't Grow As Expected

Student Raul Ramos goes through his online homework during a session of a massive open online class, or MOOC, in Madrid, Spain.
Andres Kudacki AP

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 12:02 pm

Remember the MOOC?

Just a few years ago, the Massive Open Online Course was expected to reinvent higher education. Millions of people were signing up to watch Web-based, video lectures from the world's great universities. Some were completing real assignments, earning certificates and forming virtual study groups — all for free.

Surely the traditional college degree would instantly collapse.

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NPR Ed
5:38 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Activists Stop Paying Their Student Loans

Makenzie Vasquez (from left), Pamala Hunt, Latonya Suggs, Ann Bowers, Nathan Hornes, Ashlee Schmidt, Natasha Hornes, Tasha Courtright, Michael Adorno and Sarah Dieffenbacher are refusing to pay back loans they took out to attend Corinthian Colleges.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 11:03 am

Latonya Suggs says she borrowed thousands of dollars in student loans to attend the for-profit Corinthian Colleges but has nothing to show for it. Most employers don't recognize her criminal justice degree.

"I am completely lost and in debt," Suggs says. And now she's doing something about it: She's refusing to pay back those loans.

Suggs and 106 other borrowers now saddled with Corinthian loan debt say their refusal to repay the loans is a form of political protest. And Tuesday, the U.S. government gave them an audience.

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NPR Ed
4:19 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

In Congress, New Attention To Student-Privacy Fears

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 10:30 am

Several efforts in Washington are converging on the sensitive question of how best to safeguard the information software programs are gathering on students.

A proposed Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 is circulating in draft form. It has bipartisan sponsorship from Democratic Rep. Jared S. Polis of Colorado and Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Questions To Ask About Ed-Tech At Your Kids' School

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 1:33 pm

When a 4-year-old comes home from pre-K proudly announcing that she spent her "choice time" playing on the computer, what's a parent to do?

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NPR Ed
1:03 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Math Love, Game-Based Learning, And More From NPR Ed At #SXSWEdu

Sarah Hagan, a young algebra teacher in Oklahoma oil country, will be joining us at SXSW Edu to talk about her unorthodox approach to classroom math.
Elissa Nadworny NPR

It's not quite as glamorous as the way our colleagues at NPR Music do it, but this week, the NPR Ed team will be heading down to Austin, Texas for the South By Southwest Edu conference.

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NPR Ed
5:58 am
Sun February 22, 2015

If Your Teacher Likes You, You Might Get A Better Grade

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 10:59 am

Were you ever the teacher's pet? Or did you just sit behind the teacher's pet and roll your eyes from time to time?

A newly published paper suggests that personality similarity affects teachers' estimation of student achievement. That is, how much you are like your teacher contributes to his or her feelings about you — and your abilities.

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NPR Ed
9:34 am
Sun February 15, 2015

Q&A: Exit Interview With A Nationally Known School Leader

Joshua Starr
Skip Brown

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 12:49 pm

Joshua Starr, a nationally prominent superintendent with the Montgomery County schools in Rockville, Md., this month was granted early release from his contract after 3 1/2 years.

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NPR Ed
12:08 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Virtual Schools Bring Real Concerns About Quality

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:39 am

At the end of Angela Kohtala's leadership skills course, her high school students have to plan and carry out a community service project. Maybe it's fixing up their school courtyard, or tutoring younger students in an afterschool program.

Afterwards, they create a PowerPoint with pictures of the project. This isn't just a nice way to develop presentation skills — it's mandatory to prove that they really weeded that garden or sat with those kids in the first place.

You see, Kohtala's students are spread across the state of Florida, while she herself lives in Maine.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Competency-Based Degree Programs On The Rise

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 2:22 pm

Competency-based education is in vogue — even though most people have never heard of it, and those who have can't always agree on what it is.

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NPR Ed
3:39 am
Thu January 22, 2015

The Past, Present And Future Of High-Stakes Testing

PublicAffairs Books

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 3:14 pm

After a long stretch as the law of the land, annual standardized tests are being put to, well, the test.

This week, the Senate education committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and, specifically, on testing. The committee's chairman, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has released a draft bill offering a lot more leeway to states in designing their own assessment systems.

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NPR Ed
12:08 am
Thu January 15, 2015

A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools

A painted map of the U.S. seen from inside a classroom at Homer A. Plessy Community School, a charter school in New Orleans.
Eric Westervelt NPR

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 9:13 am

The charter school movement is built on the premise that increased competition among schools will sort the wheat from the chaff.

It seems self-evident that parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools. As the argument goes, the overall effect should be to improve equity as well: Lower-income parents won't have to send their kids to an under-resourced and underperforming school just because it is the closest one to them geographically.

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NPR Ed
1:09 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Arne Duncan Wants To Drop 'No Child Left Behind' — But Keep Its Tests

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks with reporters after he and Attorney General Eric Holder toured the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center on Dec. 8, 2014.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 4:11 pm

In a speech Monday at an elementary school in Washington, D.C., Education Secretary Arne Duncan laid out the president's position on the nation's largest federal education law, even as debate unfolds over the law's re-authorization.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Tue January 6, 2015

What Schools Could Use Instead Of Standardized Tests

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 4:26 pm

Close your eyes for a minute and daydream about a world without bubble tests.

Education Week recently reported that some Republican Senate aides are doing more than dreaming — they're drafting a bill that would eliminate the federal mandate on standardized testing.

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NPR Ed
8:08 am
Wed December 24, 2014

An Update On For-Profit Colleges

A person walks past an Everest Institute sign in an office building in Silver Spring, Md., on July 8.
Jose Luis Magana AP

NPR Ed is updating readers on some of the top stories we've been following in 2014.

There was lots of news coming out of the for-profit education sector this year, most of it related to regulatory action.

As we reported earlier,

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NPR Ed
2:33 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

An Update From New Orleans

Students at KIPP Central City Primary School raise their hands during a social studies class on August 14, 2014 in New Orleans. The school's student body is nearly 100 percent black in a system that is 85 percent black.
Edmund D. Fountain for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 1:34 am

NPR Ed is updating readers on some of the top stories we've been following in 2014.

All this year, NPR Ed has been exploring the dramatic changes to the New Orleans school system, where more than nine out of ten children attend charter schools, most run by the state Recovery School District.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Sat December 20, 2014

12 Weeks To A 6-Figure Job

A student at the coder boot camp at General Assembly in New York City learns more than "Hello, world."
Courtesy of General Assembly

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 11:26 am

Marlon Frausto is in pursuit of the new American dream. Just a few weeks ago, he left his job, in Hispanic marketing for the legal industry, and moved to San Francisco.

Every day he wakes at 5:30 a.m., commutes 45 minutes by train, and studies until 9 or 10 at night. He's spending down his savings and says he's getting help from "my loving family."

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

New Federal College Ratings Will Consider Aid, Total Cost, Employment

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 5:12 pm

Today the Education Department released long-awaited details on a plan to hold colleges accountable for their performance on several key indicators, and officials said they'll be seeking public comment on the proposals through February.

"As a nation, we have to make college more accessible and affordable and ensure that all students graduate with a quality education of real value," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

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NPR Ed
12:03 pm
Sun December 14, 2014

A For-Profit College Tries The Charter School Market

ITT Technical Institute's Early College Academy campus in Troy, MI.
Nicole Elam/ITT Technical Institute

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 11:14 am

Starting this past spring, parents in Indianapolis; Troy, Mich.; Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; and Houston, Texas, heard about a new option for their children's last two years of high school.

In each city, a charter school called Early Career Academy planned to offer students the chance to earn associate degrees, either in network systems administration or software development, alongside their high school diplomas. Students were offered laptops to work on and ebooks to use. All for free.

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NPR Ed
2:56 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Why The President Wants To Give Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Toddlers

Nikki Jones' preschool class at Porter Early Childhood Development Center in Tulsa, Okla.
John W. Poole NPR

Why does public school start at age 5?

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