Posts published in August, 2011

Big Changes Coming in College Admission?

From Gay Glyburn, Carnegie Foundation

If you want to buy shares of stock, bid on antiques, search for a job, or look for Mr. Right in 2011, you will likely go to a marketplace driven by the electronic exchange of information. There will be quick, flexible transactions, broad access to buyers and sellers, and powerful algorithms that efficiently match supply and demand. If you are a student looking for a college or a college looking for a student, by contrast, you’re stuck with an archaic, over-complicated, under-managed system that still relies on things like bus trips to airport convention centers and the physical transmission of pieces of paper. That’s why under-matching is so pervasive. The higher education market only works for students who have the resources to overcome its terrible inefficiency. Everyone else is out of luck. Kevin Carey writes in Washington Monthly that all that is about to change and everything we know about college admissions is about to go out the window.



College Drop outs Are Costly

An American Institutes for Research report found that 493,000 students began college nationally in 2002 but did not earn a degree within six years, losing an estimated $3.8 billion in earnings in 2010, which would have generated more than $164 million in state income taxes. Virginia potentially lost more than $7.3 million in state income-tax revenue in 2010 due to college dropouts. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 08/22/11)

Hispanic College Enrollment Increses 24% In One Year


The number of Latinos enrolled in colleges and universities nationally grew by 24 percent in 2010 compared to the previous year, the largest increase of any ethnic group, according to a report released this week.

The report, published by the Pew Hispanic Center, shows that 1.8 million Latinos across the country ages 18-24 attended college last year, an increase of 349,000 from 2009. Latinos also surpassed blacks, with 1.7 million, as the largest minority in colleges, the report concluded. The enrollment of white students in colleges nationally dropped by 320,000 in that same time, the report found.

The center analyzed census data to create the report. Statewide and local data was not included.

Latinos are among the fastest growing demographic groups in general. Researchers attributed that trend, in part, to the soaring college-going rate of Latino students. But researchers also credited the increase in services and resources available to Latinos that helped boost the number of college-ready students.

“The Latino enrollment increase has been even more dramatic than the black enrollment increase because it has been spurred by a mixture of population growth and educational strides,” said Richard Fry, author of the report.

The Orange County Register

Review Of Important Book-Academically Adrift

Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses

reviewed by David Bills — August 01, 2011

coverTitle: Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses
Author(s): Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, Chicago
ISBN: 0226028569, Pages: 272, Year: 2011
Search for book at

It has now been several months since Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (2011) made its Category 5 presence felt on the higher education community. Both provocatively titled and methodically constructed, Adrift elicited a response that often said as much about the reader as it did about the actual argument and evidence being advanced.  

In its barest bones, Arum and Roksa’s empirical message is a simple one. Many young people do not learn as much in the first two years of college as we would hope and expect that they would. They learn relatively little because many don’t work very hard at their studies and are more focused on social experiences than they are on academic achievement. The unwillingness of young people to work hard is largely because no one, their professors most of all, expect them to work hard. Moreover, too many of the institutions in which they are enrolled seem to focus more on social life than on academic life. Next, and this aspect of Adrift has received less attention than the findings about learning and expectations, this dynamic helps no one, but it harms students of color and students with lesser financial resources more than it harms majority and more relatively affluent students. Finally, there are many, many instances of professors and their institutions bucking these trends and finding ways to promote the learning of the young people who have been put in their care.

Despite what many legislators, foundation officers, and business representatives often say to the contrary, measuring learning in higher education is hard and problematic. This difficulty, though, is not a warrant for educators to ignore the measurement of learning. How much students learn in college matters, and the value of Arum and Roksa’s efforts ultimately rises or falls on how well they resolve this difficulty. Reasoning that students in any institution and in any sort of academic program should be expected to gain critical thinking skills over the first two years of college, the authors build their evidentiary case on an analysis of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), in particular its measures of critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing. They supplement this information with survey and transcript data. Their longitudinal data on over 2,000 traditional-age students enrolled across some two dozen diverse campuses is easily up to the tasks they set for themselves.  

The Collegiate Learning Assessment has come in for its share of criticism, and Arum and Roksa spend a good deal of time acknowledging the shortcomings of the CLA while insisting on its suitability to the task at hand. Occasionally they have to strain a bit to make this case. Certainly no one, least of all two such skilled and respected researchers as Arum and Roksa, would claim that the CLA captures everything we might want to know about academic growth over the first two years of college. Both hostile and sympathetic readers of Adrift have directed attention to everything from the wholesale rejection of the very idea of standardized testing to the psychometric minutia of the CLA. To their credit, Arum and Roksa confront the criticisms directly. Their “Methodological Appendix” runs nearly half the length of the main text of the book, and is a model of scholarly transparency.

To be fair, Arum and Roksa could have told us more about the distribution of CLA scores at both points in time. It is likely that a lot of young people come out of American high schools as already fairly accomplished critical thinkers, near the top of the CLA scale, and that two years of even rigorous and demanding college courses aren’t going to move them appreciably (read “statistically significantly”) higher up the CLA scale. Moreover, content knowledge is not assessed on the CLA. It may be that students are learning quite a bit about World War I or cellular mitosis in these two years without necessarily enhancing their ability to think critically about these things. If so, this hardly makes the first two years of college the waste of time that many of Adrift’s more motivated readers (though not the authors) want to portray them as being.

But if the critics of Arum and Roksa’s data have some compelling points, it seems almost certain that more nuanced data – indeed, any reasonable data – would have led to much the same conclusions as those reported with such care by Arum and Roksa. In fact, a replication of Adrift by Ernest Pascarella and his colleagues (2011), using the powerful Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, reports results that are consistent with those of Arum and Roksa in every major respect.

Much of the popular attention given to Adrift has settled on the talking point about the 45 percent of students who failed to show significant gains in reasoning and writing skills during their freshman and sophomore years. While an eye-catching number, the focus on it as the centerpiece of the analysis has unhelpfully narrowed the debate. First, as both Alexander Astin (2011) and the Pascarella team have argued, the 45 percent figure is a bit iffy, given that gain scores at the individual level can be highly unreliable. Second, and perhaps more importantly, preoccupation with the 45 percent figure detracts attention from the more important conditional effects detected by Arum and Roksa. The real problem, according to the authors, is not so much that too few students are learning enough critical thinking, but that traditionally advantaged students have a better chance of learning in college than do those who enter college with a history of disadvantage. The college experience too often serves to widen the learning gap between the haves and have-nots, thus reproducing inequality rather than alleviating it.  

It may not be a surprise that colleges do little to reduce inequality, but Arum and Roksa’s story does not end there. They report that offering the right high school and college resources to the less advantaged can overcome inequalities in what students learn. Contact with faculty, academic support, and high expectations, among other factors, can enhance the learning of students from all backgrounds. Importantly, buried somewhat deep in the gloom of the authors’ tables and charts is a message that is ultimately a hopeful one. This has been too often overlooked in the debate surrounding Adrift.

I began this review by observing that many readers of Adrift have been eager to appropriate its findings for their own preferred policy positions. That is to be expected, of course, but there are very simply wrong ways to read Adrift. Arum and Roksa’s book is not part of the current cottage industry of diatribes driven by anecdote, opinion, and resentment against the higher learning in America. More than sophisticated statistical analysis separates Academically Adrift from Crisis on Campus and The Five Year Party. Arum and Roksa are distressed – even outraged – by what they see on college campuses, and are not reluctant to call for broad and deep change. Academically Adrift is not, however, a book about lazy professors, shiftless students, and spineless administrators. Rather, it is a book about how an institution that has been admittedly compromised by vocationalization, credentialism, and careerism can redefine and reclaim a set of goals focused on student learning.


Astin, A.W. (2011, February 14). In “Academically Adrift,” data don’t back up sweeping claim. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Pascarella, E.T., Blaich, C., Martin, G.L., & Hanson, J.M. (2011). How robust are the findings of Academically Adrift? Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 43(3), 20-24.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 01, 2011 ID Number: 16500, Date Accessed: 8/28/2011 2:59:30 PM

More Reasons Males Trail Females in College Attainment

  One of the reasons males trail females in college entrance and graduation is discipline problems in k-12. In these grades public school boys are twice as likely as girls to receive an out-of- school suspension, and three times as likely to be expelled. Males continue to not enroll in fast growing traditional female occupations like health care when they enter college. Males college graduation compared to females has trended down since 1977. Asian Male students earn 44.7% of the degrees, white men43.5% and black men 33%  compared to women.

Source , Pell Institute

Another Indication Of Females Exceeding Males In College Attainment


At a time when women surpass men by record numbers in college enrollment and completion, they also have a more positive view than men about the value higher education provides, according to a nationwide Pew Research Center survey. Half of all women who have graduated from a four-year college give the U.S. higher education system excellent or good marks for the value it provides given the money spent by students and their families; only 37% of male graduates agree. In addition, women who have graduated from college are more likely than men to say their education helped them to grow both personally and intellectually. The information is from the Pew website via Carngie Foundation

Black Colleges Recruit More White Students

HBCUs recruiting more non-black students to boost enrollment
In order to boost enrollment and make up funding shortfalls, many historically black colleges and universities are beginning to recruit white and Hispanic high school students, offering more flexible class schedules and a diverse group of classmates.

Minority Males Lag Females in College Attainment in California

Almost twice as many African American girls than boys are enrolled in Advanced Placement courses. Twenty percent Latino male students compared to 30 percent female students take the SAT exam in their senior year. In both African American and Latino populations, the girls were seventy percent more likely to graduate having completed required A-G coursework for eligibility in UC and Cal State.

These substantial gender differences suggest that explanations for the achievement gap are complex and that policymakers need to consider many factors along with race. The committee’s hearings will allow legislators to account for all community factors that impact educational attainment and success while bringing urgent attention to the disproportionately low outcomes for boys of color.


ACT Finds Most Pupils Not Ready Academically For College

A new report from ACT using its College Readiness Benchmarks and ACT test scores provides a series of graphical pictures highlighting the college-and-career readiness of the ACT-tested high school class of 2011. The report found that just 25 percent of 2011 high school graduates were college-ready in all four ACT subject tests (English, reading, math, and science), a single percentage point increase from 2010 and a 4 percentage point increase from 2006. Breaking the total down, just 4 percent of black students and 11 percent of Hispanic students reached all four ACT college readiness benchmarks, compared to 31 percent of white students. The percent of students who scored at or above the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks increased from 43 percent to 45 percent in math and from 28 percent to 29 percent in science between 2010 and 2011. There was no change in the percentage of students who were college-ready in English (66 percent) and reading (52 percent). Minnesota was the only state where at least 50 percent of students met at least three of the four College Readiness Benchmarks. In eleven states, between 40 and 49 percent of students met three out of four benchmarks. Nationally, 40 percent of 2011 graduates met three out of four benchmarks. Source : PEN Newsblast
See the report:

For-Profit Colleges Experience Major Enrollment Drop


 The Chronicle of Higher Education has a balanced  analysis of the enrollment decline in for profit colleges. Some of the numbers are jaw dropping- over 40% for Kaplan and Phoenix. Is this a sea change or temprary phenomena? My hunch is that it is temporary because there are large cuts in public postsecondary spaces. Hundreds of thousands have been cut in California alone. See the link below for the story.