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
8:03 am
Sat July 25, 2015

What Do We Value More: Young Kids Or Fast Food?

LA Johnson/NPR

New York state recently announced an increase in the minimum wage for fast food workers, to $15 an hour. It's the fruit of a three-year labor campaign.

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Education
8:03 am
Wed July 22, 2015

How The Big New Education Law Could Cut Testing Time

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Wed July 22, 2015 11:36 am

Both houses of Congress have now passed versions of the bill that would update the largest federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind, for the first time since 2001. They are big, meaty and complicated, and now they have to be reconciled into one messy Dagwood sandwich of a bill to go to the president.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Tue July 14, 2015

New Student Loans For A New For-Profit Education Sector

President Obama tours the Louisville-based tech company Indatus with Indatus president Philip Hawkins (left).
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu July 16, 2015 2:53 pm

Coder boot camps. Accelerated learning programs. New economy skills training.

Whatever you call them, these new players in higher education are multiplying. The intensive programs say they can teach job-ready skills in technology, design and related fields. In record time.

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Education
8:03 am
Fri July 10, 2015

The Writing Assignment That Changes Lives

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 9:19 am

Why do you do what you do? What is the engine that keeps you up late at night or gets you going in the morning? Where is your happy place? What stands between you and your ultimate dream?

Heavy questions. One researcher believes that writing down the answers can be decisive for students.

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NPR Ed
7:33 am
Thu July 2, 2015

The Top Words Of Wisdom For New Graduates

Check out our updated words of wisdom for new graduates, now including: (top, from left) Kanye West, Jennifer Lee, John Kerry, Maya Rudolph; (bottom, from left) Janet Yellen, Victor Hwang, Zadie Smith and David Carr.
NPR

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 11:50 am

I've had this phrase running through my head since we started updating our Commencement Speeches database a few weeks ago: "If you're too big for a small job, you're too small for a big job."

Who said that? It was Katie Couric at American University last year.

Who knew that a commencement address could get stuck in your head? Well, the best of these speeches have a lot in common with a great pop song. They are simple, emotional, and pack a universal message into just a few words.

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NPR Ed
6:28 am
Mon June 29, 2015

7 Solutions That Would Improve Graduation Rates

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 1:26 pm

This month we reported the findings from our nationwide investigation into the forces driving the nation's rising high school graduation rate. We found some solid educational approaches — and some questionable quick fixes.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Fri June 26, 2015

5 Ideas To Ease The Burden Of Student Loans

Students wait outside Everest College in Industry, Calif., hoping to get their transcriptions and information on loan forgiveness and transferring credits to other schools. In April, the school was one of the last Corinthian Colleges campuses to close.
Christine Armario AP

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 9:14 am

The total outstanding balance of federal student loans: $1.3 trillion.

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Education
3:53 pm
Tue June 16, 2015

A Soft Eraser Won't Fix This SAT Mistake

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Tue June 16, 2015 6:52 pm

On a rainy Saturday morning in June, 17-year-old Sarah Choudhury showed up bright and early at her SAT testing center in the town of Lagrangeville in upstate New York. This was her last chance to raise her score before applying for early admission to highly competitive premed programs in the fall.

As she was taking the test, she says, "chaos" struck. There was a discrepancy between the time allotted in the student test booklet for one of the sections, 25 minutes, and the proctor's instructions, just 20 minutes.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Fri June 12, 2015

From 'Dropout Crisis' To Record High, Dissecting The Graduation Rate

The U.S. high school graduation rate was 81 percent in 2013, the most recent year in which federal data are available.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 12:45 pm

In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama had some sure-fire applause lines: "More of our kids are graduating than ever before" and "Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high."

Which raised some interesting questions: "Is that really true?" and "Why?" and "How do we know?" and "So what?"

A seed was planted that grew into our project this week examining that number. Our reporting shows many of the individual stories behind a single statistic: 81 percent, the current U.S. graduation rate.

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NPR Ed
7:50 am
Tue June 9, 2015

High School Graduation Rates: The Good, The Bad And The Ambiguous

LA Johnson NPR

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 2:10 pm

Officially, the U.S. has a high school graduation rate of 81 percent — a historic high.

But our months-long investigation, in partnership with reporters at 14 member stations, reveals that this number should be taken with a big grain of salt. We found states, cities and districts pursuing a range of strategies to improve the grad rate:

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NPR Ed
5:06 am
Mon June 8, 2015

The Forces Behind The Decline Of For-Profit Colleges

Originally published on Mon June 8, 2015 1:43 pm

Barring a last-minute legal decision, as of July 1, the nation's for-profit colleges are going to be subject to a new Education Department rule known as gainful employment. That is: Do students end up earning enough to pay off their loans?

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NPR Ed
5:18 pm
Sat June 6, 2015

From Bail Bondsman To Teacher

Rodney Carey (left) with students at the Youth Empowerment Project in New Orleans.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Sat June 6, 2015 6:40 pm

In a windowless classroom, in a tough New Orleans neighborhood, a middle-aged man with piercing eyes is teaching math at top volume.

"I got a SINGLE DOLLAR if someone can tell me what's the RULE to this problem!" he intones.

Today's lesson is about the order of operations, a topic usually taught in elementary school. On average, Rodney Carey's students are working at a fifth-grade level. But they are much older, aged 16 to 24.

Mr. Rodney, as he is known, does whatever he can to motivate them, whether that's ordering in Chinese food or giving out cash prizes.

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NPR Ed
6:23 am
Tue June 2, 2015

The Quantified Student: An App That Predicts GPA

Scientists have developed an app that tracks how much time students spend sleeping, working out, studying or partying.
Sally Anscombe Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 9:49 am

It sees you when you're sleeping ... it knows when you're awake ... it knows if you've been hitting the books, so be good for goodness' sake!

No, it's not Santa Claus. It's the digital Jiminy Cricket each of us carries in our pocket, otherwise known as a smartphone.

In a small experiment, researchers at Dartmouth College have shown that data automatically collected by an Android app can guess how students are spending their time — predicting their end-of-term grades with scary accuracy.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Thu May 28, 2015

Nonacademic Skills Are Key To Success. But What Should We Call Them?

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 2:32 pm

More and more people in education agree on the importance of learning stuff other than academics.

But no one agrees on what to call that "stuff".

There are least seven major overlapping terms in play. New ones are being coined all the time. This bagginess bugs me, as a member of the education media. It bugs researchers and policymakers too.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Wed May 27, 2015

A New Kind Of College Wins State Approval In Rhode Island

Students Carmen Boucher (left) and Hilda Castillo collaborate at a College Unbound weekly seminar.
Tracy Money College Unbound/Big Picture Learning

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 4:33 pm

It's one of the biggest challenges in higher education today: What do you do with the nearly one in five working-age adults who have some college experience, but no degree?

Sokeo Ros was one of them. "I just hated" community college, he says. "I wasn't being challenged."

Ros, 34, was born in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. He dropped out of two colleges, switching majors several times.

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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
8:57 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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