Posts published in November, 2010

Colorado Is A Typical Example Of Community College Overcrowding

2010 Denver Post. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights reserved.

Enrollment at the state’s community colleges is soaring at a time when state support to higher education is in a steep slide.

For the system, which offers a lifeline to low-income students and those upgrading skills to rejoin the workforce, the result is an increasing reliance on adjunct professors and inflated class sizes.

Colorado ranks 48th in the nation in state funding per resident student for public universities and colleges. Since fiscal year 1989- 90, state support for higher education has dropped to 9 percent of the general-fund budget from 20.3 percent.

The ongoing erosion has resulted in cuts and tuition increases at all the state’s institutions of higher education.

Community colleges aren’t the only schools with growing student bodies, but they are experiencing the most dramatic increases in enrollment.

The Colorado Community College System’s 13 schools have added 28,000 students over the past two years, said Nancy McCallin, CCCS president.

‘Because of strong enrollment growth, many of our colleges are at capacity,’ McCallin said.

At Community College of Denver, where enrollment jumped 21 percent this fall over the same period last year, and 35 percent in the previous year, overcrowding has pushed school facilities to the limit.

CCD turned staff lounges, offices and conference centers into classrooms, and classes have been held in theaters at the Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli Student Union Center on campus. Classes have even been held outside in good weather, McCallin said.

To provide more room, students voted to add a fee that will rise gradually to $8 per credit hour by 2013 to build a Student Learning and Success Building. It will provide CCD with significant new classroom space and room for other academic and student programs that the institution lacks.

At Pueblo Community College, students last spring voted to boost fees by $84 a semester to pay for $9 million in improvements to the campus.

The schools have shifted some courses online and eliminated others to make up for dwindling state funding.

‘We have canceled a lot of programs because of low enrollment, and we have shifted more to online instruction because we can teach them at lower cost,’ McCallin said.

The community-college system has always depended heavily on part- time adjunct faculty. But the number of adjuncts has been climbing as the schools try to keep costs down, said Todd Bergren, professor of biology at Community College of Aurora.

The system’s 135,000 students saw a 9 percent tuition increase in each of the past two years. Students’ bills could rise by that much again next year. But tuition remains one of the best bargains in the state, at about $2,700 per year for a 30-credit load, McCallin said.

The CCCS has long paid faculty at a lower rate than similar schools across the nation. Full-time faculty on average make about $46,000 a year, $10,000 less than the national average. And part- time adjunct professors, who make up about 62 percent of the faculty, make between $1,500 and $1,800 for each course they teach.

The low pay can be a hindrance to recruitment, said Gayle Krzemien, a member of the mathematics faculty at Pikes Peak Community College.

‘We had a real crisis last year because enrollment was exploding and they were struggling to find faculty,’ Krzemien said. ‘Eventually, they did cover all the classes or were able to move students into other sections.’

Even some neighboring states can offer enough to lure faculty away, Bergren said.

‘They say I can make more in Wyoming,’ he said.

Nevada Proposes Major Overhaul Of College Policies And Performance

College Completion
Nevada Seeks To Graduate More College Students through National Program
When it comes to the portion of young adults with college degrees, Nevada ranks below every other state. The state also ranks low in high school freshmen who go on to get a college degree and the adult population with a bachelor’s degree or higher. These data prompted the state to join up withComplete College America, a national effort to increase the number of college graduates. ( Source: ECS)

Students Who Graduate Early From High Scool May Get State Payment To Attend College


Governor wants to reward early high school grads with college cash
By Dan Carden, Norwest Indiana Times
Gov. Mitch Daniels wants to pay Indiana high school students who graduate early. The Republican governor said the details of the idea still need to be worked out, but before leaving on an Asian trade mission last week Daniels said he’d like to make early graduation financially rewarding. Daniels said he plans to ask the Indiana General Assembly to “allow those students who can and wish, their own choice, to complete their graduation requirements in less than 12 years and do so, to have the money or much of the money we would have spent on their 12th grade year available to use for the high cost of higher education.”

Public Supports Reform In K-12 , But Not Much In Postsecondary Education

Policy trends in k-12 have not been similar to those in postsecondary education.  Nor has public approval been similar between the two sectors. A 2010 national poll asked “What grade would you give the k-12 public schools nationally?  The results were 1% A, 17% B, 53% C, 20%D, 6% Fail, and 3% do not know. A different 2010 national  poll asked, “How good a job do your state’s four year colleges do in providing a high quality education”, and 72% said excellent or good. The answer was 67% for public 2 year colleges. These polls show the public blames public institutions for poor performance in k-12, but blames the students for low graduation rates in postsecondary education. (Phi Delta Kappan, 2010, AP 2010, Immerwahr, 2001,2004, 2007). When all the polling questions are reviewed the results suggest that k-12 is broken and someone needs to fix it. But the public believes postsecondary education is performing well, but needs to reduce its tuition increases.

Community Colleges Push Back Against Criticism From For Profit Colleges

An American Association of Community Colleges policy brief “examines some of the variables that differentiate community colleges from for-profit institutions … in terms of oversight, service and financing.” The brief is intended show why commonly drawn comparisons between community colleges and for-profit institutions are far less meaningful than some might suggest. The brief also points out some unexpected differences between the two sectors. This is a useful contribution because the comparisons are used so often to frame the debate about more regulation of for-profit colleges.

McKinsey Found 5 Winning Strategies to Increase College Attainment

Increasing the proportion of the adult population with a higher-education degree is critical to creating opportunities for individuals and sustaining the US’ economic growth. Yet college attainment rates in the US have remained nearly flat for the past 10 years, whereas they have continued to rise in most industrialized nations. Increasing college attainment and degree production in the US will be even more challenging in a time of constrained resources.  McKinsey’s new research, Winning by Degrees: the strategies of highly productive higher education institutions shows that it is possible to achieve significant increases in college attainment, if the nation can apply 5 winning strategies already implemented by highly productive colleges and universities in the country. Our key findings are:

  • We estimate that the US needs to graduate roughly one million more people a year by 2020 to ensure that the country has the skilled workers it needs to maintain economic growth. If nothing changes in the productivity of higher education institutions — by which we mean the number of students who complete degrees versus its total costs — this means an additional $52 billion a year could be required (unlikely given the current financial climate)
  •  In light of the challenging environment for higher education spending and in order to achieve this without increasing public expenditures or compromising quality, US  higher education institutions would need to improve their degree completion productivity by an average of 23 percent. This productivity improvements sounds like a formidable challenge, but it is feasible through a combination of boosting graduation rates and improving cost efficiency as has been demonstrated by top quartile US institutions which already are 17 to 38 percent more productive than average
  • Through an in-depth study of  eight highly productive two-year, and four-year colleges and universities– with productivity 32 to 60 percent higher than average–we identified five winning strategies, focusing on raising the rate at which students complete their degrees and improving cost efficiency.

We believe that the growing number of innovative institutions that are able to achieve outstanding levels of degree productivity can serve as models for other institutions and provide possible solutions to the expansion of the US graduate pool. Our findings will hopefully contribute to the field by providing some insight and strategies that the nation could adopt.


Tennessee Postsecondary Performance Funding Is Promising

By Patrick Callan

When business leaders and state higher education officials met with gubernatorial candidates last week, they were heartened to learn that both candidates supported the state’s new approach to funding public colleges and universities. Tennesseans should be pleased, as well.

Tennessee has long been a leader in performance-based funding. But this year, the state has taken a quantum leap by changing the financing of public higher education from bud gets based on the num­ber of students enrolled to a system that sup ports institutions for student progress and results in completing degrees. The innovative funding formula also earns high marks for supporting students currently under served by higher education and for addressing urgent workforce needs.

State leaders have agonized over how to ensure that public resources are tied to results (including student success in earning degrees) and to balance that approach by recognizing the different missions and student populations in the state. The finance formula rewards degree completion but gives institutions that serve larger percent ages of adult learners and low-income students additional support. Equally important, it weights funding for research universities to support their unique missions.

The new system recognizes that higher education is a crucial catalyst for bolstering the economy. Two-thirds of all new jobs are projected to require at least some college. To remain competitive with other states, Tennessee will need to increase the percent of its work force that is college-educated by 25 percentage points (from around 30 percent today to 55 percent by 2025).

Formula aids transparency

Unlike Tennessee, public higher education across much of the nation is responding to the economic crisis by raising tuition and limiting the avail ability of college and courses. This is exactly what Tennessee is working diligently to avoid.

The funding plan also helps community colleges meet their special responsibility of supporting students who need remediation and rewards two-year colleges for students who transfer to four-year colleges, streamlining costs for students, families and the state system as a whole.

The new formula took care to phase adjustments in over a number of years to limit potential hard ship on institutions. Higher education leaders should recognize that performance-based budgeting can strengthen the case for higher education in the allocation of limited state resources.

Public higher education, like every other sector of government, needs to be innovative and account able. Lawmakers who have long urged this kind of change should continue to support it. The formula is fair and increases transparency and account ability for spending and results.

At a time when resources are hard to come by, the plan uses the limited funds available to pay institutions for progress as they meet clear milestones aligned to state needs. This is exactly what public funding should be doing for public colleges and why elected officials, higher education leaders, and the public should support it.

Patrick Callan is president of the National Center for Public Poicy and Higher Education, an independent, non partisan organization that focuses on state policies to improve col­lege access and afford ability, student success and public accountability. Orginally published in Tennessee Today.

Females Increase Percentage of College Completion Compared To Males To Historic Levels

Women Continue to Outpace Men in College Completion
In the 2008-09 school year, 58% of four-year degrees were awarded to women and 42% to men. Sixty-two percent of the degrees awarded by two-year institutions went to women; 38% were awarded to men.

Source: Knapp, L.G., Kelly-Reid, J.E., and Ginder, S.A. (2010). Postsecondary Institutions and Price of Attendance in the United States: Fall 2009, Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2008-09, and 12-Month Enrollment: 2008-09 (NCES 2010-161). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved September 25, 2010 from

  Despite this trend there is little progress on understanding and changing this trend. The prior post has some insights to part of the issue.

Male College Preparation Lags In California According To UCLA:IDEA

A report released this week brings new, but not surprising data to a grim condition of American education and society. Using national assessment data, the Council of Great City Schools reported that 12 percent of African-American male fourth-graders tested proficient in reading, whereas 38 percent of white fourth-graders did.

African-American boys drop out twice as much as white students; their SAT scores lag and they represent 5 percent of college students (New York Times, NPR).

“At almost every juncture, the odds are stacked against these young men in ways that result in too much unfulfilled potential and too many fractured lives,” said Michael Casserly, council’s executive director. “It’s not just an education issue, it is not just an urban issue. It is a broader national issue that is going to require sustained and coordinated effort on the part of a lot of people…” (Education Week)

In California, college representation lags for African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians as compared to whites and Asians. Further discrepancies exist within these underrepresented groups, with girls doing significantly better than boys.

California State University and University of California campuses had, in fall 2008, fewer men than women as entering freshmen. An important contributing reason for the imbalance can be traced to the high school experiences of these students.

Although roughly the same number boys and girls enrolled as 9th graders, more girls than boys remained in the educational pipeline. Thirteen percent more females than males graduated from high school in June 2008. Forty percent more females graduated high school college-ready (successfully completing A-G coursework required for admission to California’s four-year public universities). And 45 percent more females enrolled as college freshmen in the California State University and University of California system (Top Chart).

While we see a gender gap for all racial groups in California, gender disparities are particularly pronounced for Latino, African-American and American Indian students—groups that are underrepresented in California’s higher education system. Underrepresented females were 20 percent more likely to graduate and 70 percent more likely to graduate college-ready than their male peers. They were 83 percent more likely than their male peers to enroll as first time freshmen at California State University or University of California campuses in fall 2008 (Bottom Chart).

Researchers suggest contributing causes for the gender gap among underrepresented students. Latino, African-American and American Indian males get caught up more with disciplinary actions and suspensions than do females. Also, classroom dynamics and student/teacher relationships work particularly poorly for young men of color.

As if to confirm Casserly’s call for sustained efforts, some hopeful news came earlier this month from Baltimore City Public Schools, which has spent three years revamping suspension policies and intervention efforts while providing more individualized attention to students. The results for the 82,000-student district are marked improvements in graduation and dropout rates.

“Typically, that’s the hardest group to move. Oftentimes, when we see average graduation rates going up, it masks little or no improvement in African-American males,” said Robert Balfanz, co-director of a Johns Hopkins University center. “In this case, the fact African-American males are leading the improvement is notable.”

In the 2006-07 school year, the graduation rate for Baltimore’s African-American males was 51 percent. This year, it jumped to 57.3 percent. Overall, the district’s graduation rate increased from 60 percent to 66 percent in three years.

Among the strategies incorporated in Baltimore was going door-to-door to bring students back to school and working harder to keep them engaged once they return. Similar strategies could work well in California, but they require more and better-trained school staff and smaller classes. As budget cuts mount, it appears that California may be moving in the opposite direction.

Chart Source: UCLA IDEA

Stay connected to UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA) for the latest research, background and an array of resources on education reform and justice issues.

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Remedial Education At The Crossroads: From Education Commission Of The States

Getting Past Go is pleased to announce the release of a new paper entitled, Remedial Education Policy at the Crossroads. The paper was prepared by Dr. Tara Parker, Dr. Leticia Tomas Bustillos and Dr. Laurie Behringer from the Center for Postsecondary Research on Preparation, Access and Remedial Education (PRePARE) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The paper contends remedial education has and will continue to play a critical role in ensuring access to higher education and increasing college completion rates among the large population of Americans who now need a college credential to fully participate in a rapidly changing, knowledge-based, global economy. The authors argue that states and institutions need to move beyond traditional approaches of regulating access to remedial education in order to cut instructional costs and maintain academic excellence. Instead, they maintain that institutions should better leverage their existing investments in remedial education by implementing cutting edge instructional strategies that increase student success at lower costs.