Posts published in September, 2011

Boston Area Colleges Join To Increase College Completion

Massachusetts colleges organize to improve attrition rates
In response to a study indicating that the majority of Boston area high school graduates who go on to start college do not graduate, 25 Massachusetts colleges and universities have formed a consortium dedicated to improving graduation rates with initiatives including scholarships and free summer sessions to ease the transition into college life.

Community College Students Benefit From Clear Completion Pathways

Community colleges should focus more attention on helping students choose and enter college-level programs of study, new research from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University suggests. The article is in Education News. Students are often overwhelmed by course choices, and end up with wasted credits for their goals. Successful for-profit colleges provide these clear pathways from the initial enrollment of a student.

Texas And Florida Governors Propose Outside The Box Reforms

Scott Explores Changes in Higher Education
Governor Rick Scott is exploring dramatic higher education reforms that are similar to those already under way in Florida’s school districts. Patterned after reforms being championed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, Scott is looking at changing the way professors are paid and moving toward a merit-pay system with limits on tenure. (Orlando Sentinel, 08/22/11)

College Instructors Endorse k12 Common Core Curriculum



To help answer the question about whether the Common Core State Standards reflect what is necessary to be ready for college and careers, the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) has released its first report on this topic, Reaching the Goal: The Applicability and Importance of the Common Core State Standards to College and Career Readiness, which describes the degree to which the knowledge and skills contained in the Common Core State Standards will prepare students for postsecondary readiness.


During the study, EPIC researchers asked instructors from two- and four-year institutions in 25 course categories to rate each standard on its applicability and importance to their courses. A total sample of 1,897 courses from across the nation are included in the study, including courses associated with general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree and those associated with several career pathways.


All of the standards received high marks for applicability and importance. Individual ELA and literacy standards that relate to students mastering comprehension of nonfiction text with grade-appropriate complexity were highly rated, both generally and as they apply to specific content areas. Instructors placed relatively greater emphasis on standards that require students to extract key ideas and details from text, possess general writing skills and write routinely, and use research to support written analysis.


Mathematics standards with the highest ratings include standards related to reasoning quantitatively and interpreting functions. The Standards for Mathematical Practice received the highest importance ratings across all respondents. These standards emphasize problem solving, analytic thinking, and other thinking skills that appear to be useful in a wide range of postsecondary courses.


Ninety-eight percent of respondents agree that the Common Core State Standards as a whole sufficiently challenge students to engage higher-level cognitive skills required for postsecondary success. In response to the question of whether the standards omitted key knowledge and skills, nearly 84 percent responded no. A final open-ended question gave respondents an opportunity to offer opinions on the Common Core State Standards. The largest proportion of responses provided specific examples of why students may be entering college and careers underprepared.


The report suggests that students who are generally proficient in the Common Core State Standards will likely be ready for a wide range of postsecondary courses – and the more Common Core State Standards that students master, the wider the range of postsecondary-level classes they will be ready to undertake and complete successfully.


In tandem with the report’s overall assessment of the Common Core State Standards, Dr. David Conley, CEO of EPIC and director of the study explains, “other important dimensions of readiness exist, upon which the Common Core State Standards are necessarily silent. Careful attention should be given to more complete conceptions of college and career readiness.” With this caveat in mind, the study finds the Common Core State Standards to be highly applicable to and important for postsecondary readiness.


The mission of the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) is to improve educational policy and practices that will increase student success, particularly for students historically underserved by public schools. EPIC conducts a range of policy-related research studies and is distinguished by its pioneering use of state-of-the-art, criterion-based, standards-referenced methods of course and document analysis. To learn more about EPIC’s work, please visit

White Students Get Most College Scholarships

Study: White students more likely to win scholarships
By Erica Perez/California Watch

A national report released this week by financial aid guru Mark Kantrowitz finds minority students are less likely to win private scholarships or receive merit-based institutional grants than Caucasian students – a pattern that also holds true in California. The analysis [PDF], based on 2003-04 and 2007-08 data for hundreds of thousands of students from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, found that nationally, Caucasian students are 40 percent more likely to win private scholarships than minority students. Kantrowitz’s report did not drill down to individual states, but he provided California Watch with data from the Golden State. The figures show that white students here also receive a disproportionately greater share of private scholarship funding – albeit to a lesser degree than on the national level. (more…)

A New Vision For Selective College Admissions


USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice in partnership with the Education Conservancy Announces:


“The Case for Change in College Admissions: A Call for Individual and Collective Leadership”


Each January, the center holds a conference that is an in depth exploration of a salient topic in enrollment management. This past January, we designed “The Case for Change in College Admissions” in partnership with the Education Conservancy.

The result was a compelling demonstration of the thinking that can take place when institutional affiliation is temporarily suspended and a dedicated group is permitted to think freely about the values that they attach to their work. With the generous support of the Spencer Foundation, we were able to capture that thinking in a written report. The full report is now available on our website.

Here are a few highlights:

A. As institutions act alone and compete for resources and prestige, broader societal goals, such as how well higher education is serving the educational needs of the nation, can be obfuscated. The evidence that this is the case in college admissions includes:

  1. A hypercompetitive college admissions market among elite institutions.
  2. Misplaced institutional priorities and resources in order to compete for position in the rankings.
  3. Metrics of prestige (test scores, application numbers, admission rates) that have little to do with educational quality and that measure inputs rather than outputs.
  4. Escalating college costs that are due in part to the cost of recruiting, including merit (no need) aid and the recruitment of students many times beyond the number needed to choose an educationally sound class.
  5. Across the system, enormous sums of merit aid, over $3 billion, provided to students who do not need it. This sum would more than cover the entire unmet financial need of students across the country.
  6. Substantial evidence that the system results in the “under-matching” of low-income students to institutions at which they would succeed at higher rates. The result exacerbates disparities in college attendance and success according to social class.

B. Selective colleges can cooperate to infuse greater societal benefit and educational value into the admission process. Actions for change include:

  1. Increase the size of the incoming class to make more room for well-qualified students from untraditional and disadvantaged backgrounds. An additional 100 students per institutions would make a material difference.
  2. Collectively reduce the expenditure of merit aid, say by 10% as a beginning, and shift this aid to reduce the financial burden of low- and middle-income families.
  3. Stop recruiting students who have no chance of being admitted.
  4. Form admission consortia that would guarantee admission to at least one school in the consortium to students who meet certain qualification thresholds.
  5. Collaborate to standardize admission practices, policies, due dates, and financial aid award letters.

C. There is little incentive for institutions to commit to these solutions on their own. It will take collective will and leadership to move forward.

We hope that you will read the report and contact us with your thoughts for next steps and ways to better serve the educational needs of the nation and to bring greater educational value to college admissions.

Jerry Lucido, USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice

Lloyd Thacker, The Education Conservancy



An A Is The Most Common Grade In 4 Year College

In 2008, 43%  of college students got an A, 34% B, and 15%, got a C. In 1970 only 26% got an A.  Private college and universities, on average, give significantly more A’s and B’s combined than public institutions with equal student selectivity.

Source, Professor Christopher Healy, Furman University.

Why You Should Read Blogs

Guest Blogger: Geoff Jackson :


Doing extra reading probably isn’t high on the priority list for most college students, but I found it to be really helpful in more fully understanding subjects covered. And it helped me get a job.


While coursework, lectures and textbooks are invaluable, I found it really helpful to read blogs as they can give some added perspective. Simply hearing the same topics in a different manner or from a different perspective often helped give me a more thorough understanding of my curriculum.


The most helpful part of reading blogs was an additional perspective or the less formal approach and tone in blogs (compared to a text book) but rather that they tended to be full of real life examples and mini-case studies. Consistently reading case studies or stories from experienced professionals who are working in the field helped to solidify the concepts learned and paired these concepts with multiple scenarios where they were used. This helped give me a more in depth understanding of how concepts were more likely to be used and play out when I joined the work force.


The question this leaves is how did it help me get a job? When I was interviewing with the first company I worked for, they asked me if I followed industry news at all. I was able to tell them that I did by reading several blogs. I think what helped me wasn’t that I stayed current on industry news but that I took initiative and went a step further than most people.


So now you might be asking, how do you find blogs? I’m glad you asked, there are a ton of ways to find blogs on the internet, but here are three that have worked well for me:

Alltop is one of the most exhaustive catalogues of blogs around. You can find blogs regarding just about any subject.  They have everything from Astronomy to Zoology and everything in between. If you don’t see a specific topic listed, all hope is not lost as they have a pretty good search functionality implemented on their website.


Google Blog Search

Google Blog Search is a great resource as you can search for any topic you’re interested in or studying and Google will search through all of the blogs they know of to find relevant sites. If you search for blogs related to journalism, make sure to click the option at the top for “Related blogs about journalism” – this will make the search results return blogs about journalism rather than all blog content (blogs and individual blog posts determined to be about journalism) so you will only being seeing homepages and no individual blog entries.


What Influences Other Bloggers

Once you find a few blogs that you enjoy reading take note of what they like and what influences them. Many times bloggers will have a “bloggers ” list or “links” list in their side bar – this is usually a list of links to the blogs that they read the most often or they think are really good resources. Additionally, you should see what they link to or reference in their posts. Most bloggers are sometimes inspired by other bloggers and will link to specific articles or they will link to resources that they recommend. If you enjoy what a blogger has to say, you should take a look at who is influencing them.


So even if reading blogs isn’t something very relevant to your major or career choice, this lesson still stands: you will gain a better understanding of your curriculum and separate yourself from other candidates when you put extra effort into your learning and take initiative.


This is a guest post by Geoff, a recent college graduate from the marketing program at Cal Poly and marketer for AYTM, a provider of online market research. He also blogs in his spare time on topics from marketing to mountain biking.