Posts published in December, 2012

Who Is The Average Online Student

The average student pursuing a postsecondary credential completely online is a white, 33-year-old woman with a full-time job that pays around $65,000 per year, according to a new survey sponsored by two companies involved in online consulting. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.

Grade 8 Committment To Student Financial Aid Helps Students Enroll in College

An earlier and simpler Pell Grant application has the potential to increase college enrollment by youth from poor families by helping to reduce their uncertainty about whether college is affordable, a study by La Follette School faculty affiliate Sara Goldrick-Rab and doctoral student Robert Kelchen finds.

Despite decades of public and private investment in financial aid, 30 percent of children born to families in the lowest 20 percent of the income distribution can expect to enroll in college, compared to 80 percent from the top 20 percent. Part of the reason for the college enrollment gap is financial — students who perceive the cost of college as being unaffordable never think about attending college.

“Right now, students do not learn about their financial aid package until 12th grade, but most students who qualify for a full Pell Grant already demonstrate their qualifications in eighth grade,” says Kelchen, an educational policy studies student.

Using national, longitudinal data, Kelchen and Goldrick-Rab examine the effectiveness of a commitment to provide the neediest students with full Pell Grants when they are in eighth grade. They find that such a program is likely to increase college enrollment among students from low-income families and that the benefits to the federal government through increased tax revenue are likely to exceed the additional Pell Grant expenditures by about $600 million per year.

“If the children in low-income families know in eighth grade they will have financial resources through Pell Grants, they can plan and prepare for college,” Goldrick-Rab says. “Our analysis suggests such a commitment by the federal government is cost-effective.”

Middle School Students Who Get Off College Track, Cannot Get Back On

A new study from ACT focuses on the extent to which students who are academically far-off-track for college can catch up within four years. Researchers examined multiple cohorts of eighth-grade students whose EXPLORE (a test administered by ACT) scores were more than one standard deviation below benchmark scores associated with being on-track. Ten percent or fewer students who were far-off-track in the eighth grade attained ACT College Readiness Benchmarks by 12th grade. A separate analysis using state test scores for students in grade four and their EXPLORE scores in grade eight obtained similar results. For both fourth and eighth grade cohorts, the overall percentage of students catching up was lower in high-poverty schools. Even at more successful high-poverty high schools, fewer than 20 percent of far-off-track eighth graders attained College Readiness Benchmarks by 12th grade. These results indicate policymakers must emphasize prevention over remediation. Prevention strategies should be conceived more broadly — for example, giving every student access to a content- and vocabulary-rich curriculum in the early years, or implementing programs and strategies that improve student attendance and academic behaviors. Efforts to close academic preparation gaps should begin as early as possible, be more intensive, and take as long as necessary. Based on the study’s results, policymakers should not assume that rapid catching up is possible if only educators try harder.
See the report:

Rote Learning Is Counterproductive

Guest blogger:George Pappas

The ability of a child to learn when inspired cannot be beaten. Of course, one can teach a young person by rote but, but this by definition is counterproductive.

rote, noun.

1: the use of memory usually with little intelligence

<learn by rote>

2: mechanical or unthinking routine or repetition

<a joyless sense of order, rote, and commercial hustle Ñ L.L. King>


1: learned or memorised by rote

2: mechanical

Though much emphasis has been placed on this way of learning in the past, choosing to teach in a way – only useful for passing tests and completing exams does little for the overall education of a child.

A love of learning is something that should be impressed at a young age. It is a facility that will enable a child to get through more difficult areas of study, simply because they’re enjoying the process. A child’s curiosity is a wonderful thing to behold – tapping into their need to know why some things are whilst others are not will provide the corner stone for their educational careers.

It is always good idea to create connections between what is learnt in the classroom and discoveries being made outside.

Be they present day or historical, reminding a child that the information they are learning was once absorbed by practitioners that went on to discover and create will provide context for their own areas of study.

Not simply learning for learning’s sake…

Science teachers are very lucky in this regard, in that the benefits of scientific knowledge are clear. The industry’s importance cannot be denied. Many of the leaps and bounds being made in technology, for example can be directly traced back to scientific research.

Ed balls is the UK’s current Secretary of State for Schools, recently questioned in regard to how best to enhance the interest of youth, he said:

“Science is one of our country’s great strengths and the jobs of the future are increasingly going to be hi-tech and science based. That’s why we need all young people getting excited, doing experiments and learning about science in primary schools and going on to study science in more depth at secondary school… Experiments teach children practical methods and skills and also how to test hypotheses, but they are also fun and challenging and make learning come alive.”

The benefits of experimenting in the classroom are unmistakeable the world over and it doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom either…

Together with your charge, you can create and follow step-by-step plans – planting and monitoring seeds for example. By using trial and error, whilst making notes about your collective discoveries – you can teach the children about the importance of research.

Play and explore

There are so many great toys that can be purchased to bring learning to life. Here are some examples:

1. The Telescope

The Telescope is a great place to begin this list. We’re thinking about encouraging children to consider the possibilities learning about Science will open up. What better instrument could there be for doing this, than one that allows the viewer to observe objects from a distance. As well as introducing ideas about astronomy – you will be able to remind your class that a whole world of knowledge is available to them, no matter how remote it may seem.

2. The Microscope

They’ll have so much fun setting their telescope up and taking it apart again at the end of every session. Many microscopes also come with books designed to advance learning and further understanding of the unit as a research tool.

3. Chemistry Set

Before they advance to high school, you can introduce chemistry as more than a concept. By allowing them to play with chemistry sets, you’ll be able to introduce the theatre of science. There are models to suit all age-groups and levels of understanding.

By allowing young people to utilise toys, gadgets and gizmos to aid learning – you’ll be providing them with a sense of ownership over their learning – reinforcing their potential to discover and create.

Author Bio

George Papas regularly contributes to leading scientific publications around the web. You can read his contributions on sites like Jeffrey Epstein and collegepuzzle.standard.

More Comprehensive College Readiness Indicator System Created For Secondary Schools

December 4, 2012
By Nancy Mancini
Gardner Center researchers at Stanford University detail a new system for assessing college readiness that goes beyond reliance on academic indicators.

Education leaders across the country are faced with a growing phenomenon: too many students are not college-ready when they leave high school.

A new paper, reporting on research under way by the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at the Stanford University School of Education, details the implementation of a College Readiness Indicator System framework, or CRIS, designed to significantly increase the number of students who graduate high school ready to succeed in college.

The paper appears in the fall edition of the journal Voices in Urban Education, which is a special issue on CRIS. “Many school districts use Early Warning Systems based on academic measures such as course credits and GPA to identify students at risk of dropping out or not being college-eligible,” said the paper’s co-author, Gardner Center researcher Oded Gurantz. “With CRIS, we are adding measurements of the skills, competencies, and attitudes needed to stay the course and attain a postsecondary degree.” The other co-author, Graciela Borsato, is also a researcher at the Gardner Center.

The new findings come midway in a national, three-year study taking place in five urban school districts, and they identify key factors that influence the speed and depth at which districts can build their CRIS.

The CRIS initiative was launched in August 2010 with a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gardner Center is leading the initiative in partnership with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. More recently, the Stanford and Brown researchers have begun to work closely on the project with the Consortium on Chicago School Research, which has also been funded by the Gates Foundation to develop and test CRIS-related tools based on their work in Chicago Public Schools.

The need for CRIS arose out of a growing awareness that a high school diploma does not ensure college readiness. CRIS aims to address that problem. It enables school administrators to concentrate on more than just students’ academic preparedness when assessing college readiness, by also including indicators of “college knowledge,” the knowledge that enables students to access and navigate college, and “academic tenacity,” the underlying beliefs and attitudes that drive student achievement.

CRIS is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to college readiness but, rather, an approach based on a menu of indicators from which districts can select those best attuned to their local context. All indicators in the CRIS menu are variables that have a consistent and predictable relationship with college readiness; can be influenced through actions under the purview of K-12 teachers and administrators; and can be measured at the individual (student), setting (classroom), and system (district) levels.

For example, the paper cited how one district chose a CRIS indicator that involved tracking students’ completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which offers a quick read of students’ college knowledge at particular schools. Another district began using an indicator of “academic press” — the extent to which teachers press students for effort, perseverance and rigor — to help them gauge tenacity.

In addition to the menu of indicators, CRIS includes a Cycle of Inquiry tool to help districts think through the conditions that need to be in place for effective use of their indicators. Districts accustomed to collecting data that assess student performance at the end of the school year find that the CRIS Cycle of Inquiry encourages them to engage earlier with students before they go off track. The first two years of this study produced valuable lessons related to successful implementation including the need for acceptance and “buy-in” from a wide range of school stakeholders, and the staff and technical resource capacity to undertake the program from development to evaluation.

“Districts will develop a stronger CRIS if the indicators align with their strategic plans and internal capacity,” the co-authors Gurantz and Borsato wrote, emphasizing that CRIS is about more than gathering information. “Ultimately, collecting more data will not lead to better outcomes for youth unless a system is in place that helps turn those data into meaningful action,” they added.

In the third year of the study, the researchers are looking to help each of the participating districts to fine-tune a CRIS that boosts students’ postsecondary success.

Nancy Mancini is the communications manager at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at the Stanford University School of Education.

National Groups Call For Big Changes In College Remediation

Remedial courses meant to get underprepared students ready for college-level work are often not an on-ramp but a dead end, leaders of four national education groups said, recommending sweeping changes in how such students are brought up to speed. The report — by Complete College America, the Charles A. Dana Center, the Education Commission of the States, and Jobs for the Future — is based on studies that have concluded that remedial-education systems are broken. (Chronicle of Higher Education, 12/13/12)

Recession’s Impact on College Finance

How hard did the Great Recession of 2007-09 hit nonprofit colleges and universities?

Were sharp increases in tuition enough to offset declining per-student public funding during the period 2000-10?

The latest report from the Delta Cost Project at American Institutes for Research (AIR) explores the financial situation of nonprofit colleges and universities between 2000 and 2010. Findings from College Spending in a Turbulent Decade, the final installment of this year’s Delta Data Updates, show that (1) among nonprofit colleges and universities, community colleges suffered the greatest financial hardships of the decade; and (2) institutional subsidies reached a decade-long low in 2010 across most types of institutions as students covered a larger portion of educational costs.

IS This The End Of College Teaching Democracy?

Democracy, as we know it, is in danger. In recent decades we have seen many great discoveries, but we have also seen the steady demise of one of America’s most important democratic institutions: the college. A new book by Andrew Delbanco, matter-of-factly titled “College: What It Was, Is and Should Be” (Princeton University Press) delivers a story that is part nuanced history, part “State of the University” address, and part swan song. College, he says, is close to extinction. He ends his story with a plea for the future of the college: “Democracy depends on it.” The article is in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.


posted Jul 30, 2012 08:48 am

8 Writing Tools For College Students

Guest Blogger:Phillip Garret

Students now have a wide variety of writing tools they can use to write and publish their works. Thanks to some of the world’s top web publishing companies like Google and the like, being a student has never been easier. Some of these online writing tools are paid whereas most of them are offered free to students to make their writing work easy. It also important to note that, some of these tools can be downloaded while others can only be used online.

Online writing tools also have tremendous benefits for the students. Some of them allow students to collaborate on writing projects and this is invaluable to the quality of work that comes out of it. This interactivity in the writing process is one of the biggest motivators for these tools. This article looks at 8 online writing tools for students.

Plagiarism checker

This tool is crucial to a students’ writing prowess as it helps them become authentic writers by keeping their works original. The effectiveness of Plagtracker lies in the fact that its database across a wide variety of content online makes sure that student term papers and other assignments pass the plagiarism test by their teachers and professors.

Google Documents

Google Docs as it’s popularly known is one of the most popular web-based, word processors students can use for their writing. It’s produced by Google and among its functions includes spreadsheets support, presentations and forms from Google.

Students can thus use Google Docs as a tool for their different writing functions like creating and sharing word documents, preparing presentations, storing projects they are working on, etc.


This is not an average writing tool as it’s a resource for students to get online writing tools. It’s a perfect match for grades k-12 and has many tools for students; most of them interactive. There are templates for different writing tasks, comic creators, and so much more.

3D writer

This is an older replica for Microsoft word and students can use this tool to write and compose. It’s available for PC only but the way its text is created, allows students to add notations in their work, increasing its credibility and authenticity. The tool also comes with ability to upload work in programs like Dreamweaver which are crucial for students.

Button talk

This is similar to the 3D writer, but for the Mac computers. This tool is crucial for story composition and especially good in the composition of fiction stories. The interactivity offered on this platform is top notch and one doesn’t necessarily have to have the Mac to enjoy its hyperlink benefits.

Poetry Forge

Poetry is not one of the most amusing subjects for most students as most of them literally struggle to understand it, let alone compose it. Poetry Forge is one of the best tools students can use to learn to write poetry. Moreover, this tool has the ability to help students add lines to poetry, which is an ability that is truly refreshing, insightful and direct.


Word counter

This tool is crucial as it helps students know how many times certain words have been used in a document. This tool can help students discover if they have overused words in the text like constant use of passive voice which makes the use of language sticky and hard to read.

Citation MachineCiting sources is one of the most important parts of the writing process. This tool enables students cite their work properly, using the best practices and methods. The tool also helps students determine where the sources are for certain information and the method to use to cite.

Phillip Garret writes tech tips for students.

College Graduates End Up In Low Skill Jobs

Throughout California, 260,000 recent college grads under the age of 30 are working on the front lines of food service and retail industries where historically those jobs have gone to workers without a degree. “We’re seeing graduates in humanities and some of the arts fields struggling because perhaps what their degree is in doesn’t translate well to the global current economy,” said Ian Moats, a staffing consultant. Currently, the healthcare and technology sectors are growing. The article is in the Santa Barbara Key.