Posts published in June, 2010

Community College Students Find it Difficult To Transfer To Four Year Colleges

  Many state 4 year colleges will not accept all the credits community college students want to transfer for general education and majors. Consequently, community college students have to take the same or similar courese over again after transfer. This wastes time and money.

  California lawmakers appear set to approve a major change in the college transfer process for community college students. Under Senate Bill 1440, community colleges would offer a redesigned associate degree. Students who earn the degree would be promised admission to a California State campus, where they could complete a bachelor’s degree by earning 60 units or less. The bill reflects a nationwide movement to standardize transfer pathways to increase the rate at which two-year college students go on to complete a four-year degree

Jobs For Postsecondary Graduates Will Exceed Supply

In 1970 nearly three quarters of the workers considered to be middle class had not gone beyond high school, but by 2007 that figure dropped to 40%. Now a new study says the number of jobs requiring at least a 2 year postsecondary program will exceed supply of qualified people who complete community college or private career degrees and certificates.

The United States economy is in serious danger from a growing mismatch between the skills that will be needed for jobs being created and the educational backgrounds of would-be workers, according to a report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. By 2018, there will be a shortage of 3 million workers who have some postsecondary degree and of 4.7 million workers who have a postsecondary certificate. Colleges need to be more career-oriented and overhaul the way they educate students, to much more closely align the curriculum with specific jobs, the report said.

State Scholarship Program May Run Out Of Money

  The Hope scholarship program in Georgia began a wave of state initiatives that were similar to the Georgia program. Hope guarantees state aid if students meet certain academic course requirements and grades. When Georgia launched a college scholarship program called HOPE in 1993, it was the first financial-aid program of its kind. HOPE essentially made higher education free for all Georgia students who graduate from high school with a B average or higher, attend an in-state public institution and maintain that 3.0 grade point average. More than a dozen states followed Georgia’s lead. Now, however, the weak economy is giving Georgia’s program the biggest fiscal test of its history. Meanwhile, tuition costs have doubled to make up for cuts in state funding and enrollments are booming. Georgia is not sure it can continue funding at current levels.

Comprehensive Study Of Status Of High School Graduation


One of the main reasons students do not go to college is that they never graduate from high school.  Diplomas Count 2010 by Education Week explores the graduation-rate challenges facing many students and districts and looks at how schools are using data to help students finish high school and earn diplomas. The report shows that the national graduation rate stands at 68.8% for the class of 2007, with persistent graduation gaps between students in different demographic groups. The report provides state profiles featuring data on graduation rates and requirements, definitions of college readiness and high school exit exams. (Education Week, premium article access compliments of, 06/08/10)

Math Is The Problem For Many Community College Students

Only 31 percent of students placed into remedial math ever move beyond it, according to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, meaning the students never even get to college-level work, much less graduate. The prospects are especially bleak for students who test into the lowest level of a remedial-math course sequence, where they’re asked to add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers, fractions, mixed numbers, and decimals. Remedial math is the biggest obstacle to graduation at a time when President Obama wants community colleges to produce five million more graduates by 2020. Nationally, less than 25 percent of community-college students who take remedial—also known as developmental courses—earn a degree within eight years, and another 14 percent transfer to a four-year college without completing an associate degree or certificate. By way of comparison, about 40 percent of community-college students who did not enroll in a remedial-education class complete a degree in eight years, and 14 percent transfer without the degree or certificate. Poor graduation rates are one reason that community colleges nationwide are rethinking their approach to developmental education, trying a wide variety of strategies to move students more quickly through remedial courses and on to college-level work.

Source: Carnegie Foundation

Seven Student Risk Factors For Not Completing College

  Other than age,race , and income here are 7 research based risk factors for failure to complete college after enrolling:  being financially independent,having dependents,being a single parent,attending part time,working full time, stopping  out, and withdrawing from courses. These risk factors are additive, and colleges should track students like these , and intervene intensively once any signs appear that students are struggling. However, many colleges do not have the student services to intervene, or have no policy of integrated case management across their student services units.

New National Organization Created To Improve College Completion

A new national organization Complete College America has been formed with the support of foundations. Below is a link to their website and an example of how one state will collaborate with the new group.

State officials are looking for ways to boost the number of college degree holders in Oklahoma by participating in a national initiative, Complete College America. Only about 30% of Oklahomans between the ages of 25 and 34 have a bachelor’s degree, compared to a national average of 38%. Fewer than half of Oklahomans who set out to earn a bachelor’s degree do so in six years, compared to 56% nationally. Participating states are committed to setting campus-specific degree completion goals, developing action plans and measuring and reporting progress

Politics Inhibits Data Needed To Track College Persistence And Completion

The federal governments main date system -IPEDS- does not include part time students, and counts  transfers from the first institution who complete their programs as a drop out from the first institution. This is very significant because less than half of postsecondary students in the United States fit into the category of students IPEDS tracks.  We know the solutions: IPEDS should be abandoned in favor of a student level database (often referred to as student unit records or SUR).  Indeed in 2005, NCES issued a report that investigated the feasibility of such a system.  NCES concluded that it would be necessary to collect accurate student-level information on persistence systemwide. It would also be necessary to collect student-level information on prices and financial aid, in order to calculate net prices that take into account the individual circumstances of each student.

However, the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, specifically bans the US Department of Education from collecting such individual student level data.  Much of the higher education lobby  pushed to keep the flawed IPEDS intact to preserve the information asymmetry that allows them to continue their practices with limited scrutiny.

The whole political story is in a paper by former NCES Commisioner, Mark Schneider called The Politics Of Higher Education. You can access this and other provocative papers on postsecondary policy at :

Some Community College Interventions Seem To Help Students Persist

The major community colleges associations have all recently endorsed the idea that two-year institutions need to focus more on retention and completion issues, and generally are in agreement on some of the steps they should take so greater shares of students achieve various goals. But how much progress is realistic to expect? New data suggest that meaningful gains are possible – and are possible institution-wide, not just for a few pilot projects. The data are from community colleges participating in Achieving the Dream program.

My concern is that the data for these interventions was not collected using experimental and random control studies, so we cannot be sure that the student effects are caused by the interventions.

How Commuity College Students Can Get More Financial Aid

Community colleges are a critical part of our nation’s education system, serving nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States who are working to earn the degrees and training needed in today’s increasingly competitive job market. Yet millions of dollars in financial aid are left on the table each year by low- and moderate-income students attending community colleges.

The Financial Aid Challenge: Successful Practices that Address the Underutilization of Financial Aid in Community Colleges, a new report released by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, found that although these students are eligible for need-based federal financial aid, they are the least likely to apply for funds.

Read the report here.

Developed in collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges, the study shows that:

  • In the 2007-08 academic year, 58 percent of Pell Grant-eligible students who attended community colleges either full or part-time applied for federal financial aid, compared with 77 percent of eligible students at four-year public institutions
  • During the two-year period from fall 2007 to fall 2009, full-time enrollment at U.S. community colleges increased by 24.1 percent
  • Students are reluctant to apply for aid in part due to a lack of basic understanding, inconsistent or inaccurate information, distrust of government agencies, difficulty using resources during designated hours and a lack of human or technological resources on campus

The Financial Aid Challenge highlights a dozen programs that are making strides in increasing the number of community college students accessing financial aid, and provides concrete recommendations to community college leaders and administrators. The report was released at a press conference in Washington, D.C., on May 19, 2010.

Download The Financial Aid Challenge