Posts published in July, 2009

Focus Of This Blog

Currently, high schools—particularly schools that educate a large proportion of underrepresented students—are not connected to their local postsecondary institutions, and policies such as disconnected standards perpetuate the divide between the systems. Without clear signals from postsecondary education and policies that support, and create incentives for, improved connections between the levels, many high schools will be unable to provide the appropriate academic opportunities for their students.


Improving students’ college readiness must become a national, state, and local imperative, not just an altruistic gesture. The focus of our efforts must be on students who attend broad access institutions—institutions that enroll almost every applicant and that educate approximately 80 percent of the nation’s postsecondary students. Almost half of the nation’s postsecondary education students attend community colleges. Most media and public attention, however, focus upon the approximately 15 percent of students who attend the most selective four-year institutions; those institutions have the best-prepared students, and the most complicated methods of sorting and selecting applicants.

Who Should Decide What Knowledge Is Most Worth Knowing?

The Council Of Chief State School Officers and National Governors Association have appointed 29 people to help decide the national common core standards in English and math. The group is dominated by Achieve, College Board, and ACT, but includes many other qualified individuals. There are 2  college professors, but they do not represent any major higher education organization. My concern with the common core process that  is that that the groups pushing this idea do not have sufficient support from postsecondary education leaders or organizations. There are organizations that represent every type of postsecondary grouping from community colleges to research universities. Neither ACT or College Board can represent this spectrum, and none of these higher education organizations play a prominent role in the common core process.

For more information go to or

What Students Can Do To Increase Their Chances Of Finishing College

The following is derived from a 8.5  year study of student transcripts comparing those who finished college after high school and those that did not.

Academic Momentum to Complete Degrees By

Clifford Adelman, USA Education Department, 2006

Higher Education Data – analysis is for four-year colleges only; 8.5 years longitudinal data that follows same students through transcript analysis of their college careers.


  • 90% of students who leave their first college turn up at another institution after their first year (suggests first year dropout rates false).
  • Much data and reporting mixes 19 year olds with 31 year old college students.
  • See students as more active rather than passive in a pipeline from k-12 to college. What should students do to persist?
  • “Pipelines” are unidirectional closed spaces with students passively swept along or leaking at joints, this is a bad metaphor for how system works.
  • Student path is not like a pipeline—starts, stops, moves sideways, pursues several paths.
  • 60% of undergraduates go to more than one institution, 20% go out of state, 7% area based in four-year institutions, but also attend community college, 8% “swirl” back and forth between four-year and two-year.
  • Can anyone project college completion rates for next decade using current data for states? National sample data over 8-11 years provides a more complex picture.

Advice for students on how to improve chances of college completion

  • Do not delay college entry after high school. Stay continuously enrolled, do not stop out.
  • Attainment during second academic college year is crucial –can recapture academic momentum and complete “gate-way core courses.”
  • Earning four or more credits in summer—positive contributor to degree completion, so enroll all year around for some credits
  • Part-time attendance hurts a lot in terms of completion probability
  • What is influence on degree completion of attending multi institutions? 60% of students do this!

Remediation seems to help completion in four-year, less so in two-year.

Withdrawal or repeating courses without penalty is big negative in terms of completion

High School Issues

Many course requirements or course sequences are vague “11th Grade English,” Applied Biology may not mean college prep level. Need common high school content standards within more specific course labels.

Obama Making Real Progress On Student Aid But Faces Industry Opposition

Obama is moving on multiple fronts to expand student loans, lower interest rates, and make it easier to repay if students enter public service. The federal governments direct student loan program is a prime vehicle. Resistance from banks and other for profit vendors is strong, and their focus is on Congress.

An untold story is that one of the chief architects of  loan reform is Bob Shireman who worked on the issue in the Clinton Administration. Shireman was appointed to a Deputy Undersecretary for Outreach and External Affairs  because this would not require Congressional approval of his nomination. The student loan industry would resist his nomination in the Senate, but now cannot stop him from moving on his aggressive agenda.