Posts published in May, 2011

New Book Expands Our Understanding Of Successful College Transition

 THis new book combines several concepts and includes success in college as part of transition.

Breaking Through the Access Barrier: How Academic Capital Formation Can Improve Policy in Higher Education
by Edward P. St. John, Shouping Hu, and Amy S. Fisher
reviewed by Elizabeth M. Lee in Teachers College Record On line

College Governing Boards Produce Broad Ranging Reform Report

Front and Center: Critical Choices for Higher Education
By The Miller Center and The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
The Miller Center at the University of Virginia and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) released a report this week outlining recommendations to increase the number of Americans who finish college and other certificate programs, stressing that such a goal is necessary to ensure that the U.S. economy remains competitive.

For Profit Colleges Have Highest 2 Year College Graduation Rate

Here is a statement from Jack Buckley , the USA Commissioner Of Education Statistics:

“For-profit private schools have had the fastest growth in awarding degrees at all education levels, from associate to master’s degrees. Yet when it comes to student graduation rates, “an interesting split” emerges, according to Mr. Buckley. For four-year degree programs, private nonprofit colleges have the highest graduation rate—65 percent, compared to 55 percent for public colleges and only 22 percent for for-profit private schools.

Yet when it comes to two-year programs, the situation is reversed: For-profit colleges graduate 58 percent of students in two-year degree programs, well above the 48 percent at nonprofit private colleges and 21 percent at public colleges.

“Most people would guess the first part, but not the second,” Mr. Buckley said.

Chemistry 1 Blocks Students From Becoming An MD

Authors:  Donald A. Barr, MD, PhD, Maria Elena Gonzalez, MA, and Stanley F. Wanat, PhD

“The Leaky Pipeline: Factors Associated With Early Decline in Interest in Premedical Studies Among Underrepresented Minority Undergraduate Students”

Purpose:  To determine the causes among underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups (URM) of a decline in interest during the undergraduate years in pursuing a career in medicine.

Method:  From fall 2002 through 2007, the authors conducted a longitudinal study of 362 incoming Stanford freshmen (23% URM) who indicated on a freshman survey that they hoped to become physicians. Using a 10-point scale of interest, the authors measured the change in students’ levels of interest in continuing premedical studies between the beginning of freshman year and the end of sophomore year. Follow-up interviews were conducted with 68 participants, approximately half of whom had experienced decreases in interest in continuing as premeds, and half of whom who had experienced increases in interest.

Results:  URM students showed a larger decline in interest than did non-URM students; women showed a larger decline than did men, independent of race or ethnicity. The authors found no association between scholastic ability as measured by SAT scores and changes in level of interest. The principal reason given by students for their loss of interest in continuing as premeds was a negative experience in one or more chemistry courses. Students also identified problems in the university’s undergraduate advising system as a contributor.

Conclusions:  Largely because of negative experiences with chemistry classes, URM students and women show a disproportionate decline in interest in continuing in premedical studies, with the result that fewer apply to medical school.

Report Stresses Complex Problems in Designing New National College Readiness Asseessments


“The Road Ahead for State Assessments.”

The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) have jointly produced a report that offers policy guidance for a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The report, The Road Ahead for State Assessments, aims to inform the work of the two U.S. Department of Education-funded consortia charged with developing a new generation of state assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards: the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards presents states across the nation with an unprecedented opportunity to enhance the educational opportunities they provide students. States that have adopted the Common Core State Standards are now in the early stages of revising curriculum frameworks, adopting new instructional materials, developing new systems of assessment, and providing professional development for teachers to prepare them to deliver instruction aligned to the new standards.

This process has the potential to fundamentally transform public education for the majority of U.S. students. It is therefore essential that policymakers and education leaders take full account of the issues and challenges that lie ahead as early as possible in the implementation process. This report includes three papers that address critical “next generation” issues in assessment policy that can help guide the choices made about system design: computer adaptive assessments, assessment of English learners and assessing science. These three papers describe some of the critical attributes of a fairer and more accurate assessment system. The common conclusion in all three papers is that assessment policy will have to take full advantage of new technologies to provide useful and timely information to students and teachers about the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning. The authors’ provide a vision of new assessments that goes beyond the horizon of current practice.

The direct link to this report is:

Colleges Combine Student Data Bases To Enhance Completion Studies

WICHE, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education,

announced today that WCET, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, has been awarded a

$1,000,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund an initiative to unify student data from six

U.S. institutions and demonstrate the effective use of predictive analytic methods for improving student

outcomes. The goal is to identify variables that influence student retention and progression, and guide decisionmaking

that improves postsecondary student completion in the U.S.

This grant for the Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) Framework will aggregate data representing more than

400,000 student records from across six WCET member institutions: American Public University System,

Colorado Community College System, Rio Salado College, University of Hawaii System, University of Illinois

Springfield, and the University of Phoenix. Each participating institution has been exploring or implementing

descriptive, inferential or predictive analytics projects on their own student data; the PAR Framework expands

on this work through exploration of patterns that can be derived when the six institutional datasets are

considered as a single, unified sample.

Public Has Conflicting Views On College Costs


Is College Worth It?
By Paul Taylor et al., Pew Research Center
The report, called “ Is College Worth It?” and issued by the nonprofit Washington-based Pew Research Center, said that three-quarters of American adults say college is too expensive for most Americans to afford, and 57 percent said the higher education system does not provide students good value for the cost. Still, 86 percent of college graduates agreed that attending college had proven to be a good personal investment.

Presidents Say Freshman Are Less Prepared Than A Decade Ago

A majority of more than 1,000 college and university presidents surveyed in a  new poll said that public high school students are arriving at college less well prepared than students were a decade ago, and only 19 percent said that the U.S. system of higher education is the best in the world today. The report, called “Is College Worth It?” and issued by the nonprofit Washington-based Pew Research Center, also said that three-quarters of American adults say college is too expensive for most Americans to afford, and 57 percent said the higher education system does not provide students good value for the cost. Still, 86 percent of college graduates agreed that attending college had proven to be a good personal investment, it said. Source: Gay Clyburn , Carnegie Foundation

Higher Education Hub In SF Bay Area Is Envisioned

In a new paper, UC Berkeley  researchers John Aubrey Douglass, Richard Edelstein, and Cecile Hoareau outline a proposal for a San Francisco/Bay Area Higher Education Hub. During the 2009-10 academic year, they note, international students in the US brought more than $18.8 billion in net income into the national economy.  “We suggest a strategy for the San Francisco/Bay Area, which, if applied to the rest of the country, would make revenues grow to more than $37 billion – making it one of the fastest-growing ‘exports’ in the national economy, and with many other economic benefits to support innovation and new start-ups.”

“The US retains a huge market advantage for attracting foreign students,” the authors explain. “Within the US, the San Francisco/Bay Area is particularly attractive and could prevail as an extraordinary global talent magnet, if only policymakers and higher education leaders better understood this and formulated strategies to tap the global demand for higher education.”

“Ultimately, all globalism is local. We propose that the San Francisco/Bay Area, a region with a group of stellar universities and colleges, should re-imagine itself as a Knowledge Hub — part of an effort to meet national and regional economic needs, as well as the thirst of a growing world population for high-quality tertiary education.”

Other parts of the world have already developed their version of the higher education hub idea, as it is explained in the paper. “The major difference in our proposed Californian version is that foreign competitors seek to largely attract foreign universities to help build enrollment and program capacity at home, and are funded almost solely by significant government subsidies; our model builds capacity, but is focused on attracting the world’s talent and generating additional income to our existing public and private colleges and universities.”

The authors project that the Bay Area could double its current international enrollment from 30,000 to 60,000 students in ten years or less, generating a total direct economic impact of over $1.8 billion, and more in indirect economic activity, along with a positive impact on local labor markets and start-ups. But this will also require expanding regional enrollment capacity as part of a strategy to ensure access to native students, and as part of a scheme to attract a new generation of faculty and researchers to the Bay Area and California. International students would need to pay for the full cost of their education, helping to subsidize domestic students and college and university programs.

The result would be a San Francisco/Bay Area Higher Education Hub – a self-reinforcing knowledge ecosystem that is internationally attractive, socially beneficial and economically viable. “In developing the idea of our regional version of the hub idea, we offer a path for analyzing its feasibility, including a recipe that requires higher education institutions to work with an engaged private sector and local government to help create enrollment capacity, programs, a financial model, marketing, and possibly shared facilities.”

This bottom-up initiative will require most Bay Area colleges and universities, including UC Berkeley and Stanford University, to cooperate. “These two institutions will provide an anchor of legitimacy and help in developing the branding of the hub concept. Berkeley and Stanford would have an incentive to cooperate because of the direct and indirect economic returns of the SF/Bay Area higher education hub – income leveraged from the increased international attractiveness of the region, use of shared facilities, reputational impact of taking on a leadership role in the region, etc.”

“It is about the money,” they conclude. “But it is also about establishing closer ties with the surrounding business, economic, and cultural community, enhancing the quality and reputation of our universities and colleges, building enrollment capacity for native students, integrating international perspectives into the activities and learning of students and faculty, and broadening the opportunity for international collaborations. It is about solidifying the Bay Area as a global talent magnet, one that is even more culturally diverse, even more innovative, that continues to attract talent from throughout the world. ”

For access to the study, see:

Students Often Fail If All Students Take College Prep Curriculum

Five years after Los Angeles Unified passed an ambitious policy requiring all students to take college-required courses to graduate, the rate of students passing those classes remains alarmingly low, according to a district review of the program obtained by the Daily News Tuesday. Prompted by strong community and political pressure, in 2005 the LAUSD school board approved new rules for high schools requiring all students to pass a series of 15 college prep courses in order to get their diplomas. The “A-G requirements,” which include four years of college prep English and two years of lab science, math and foreign language, were supposed to help increase the low numbers of LAUSD students who were graduating college-ready. According to district statistics, in 2003 just 36 percent of Latino students, 45 percent of African-American students and 52 percent of white students completed these courses. Since the passage of that policy, the number of students passing the mandated math, science, English and foreign language classes with a C or better remains dismal. According to the district’s review, just 24 percent of Latino students, 20 percent of African-American students and 40 percent of white students are set to graduate this year with all of these courses passed (more…