Posts published in August, 2013

Best Value College Rankings Offer A New Perspective

Rather than seeking to rate colleges based on reputation or difficulty of admission, a set of rankings by Washington Monthly looked at how colleges did based on what it considers three public goods: social mobility, commitment to research, and commitment to service. Institutions were rewarded for things like enrolling low-income students, helping them to graduate on time, and keeping tuition low. (Christian Science Monitor, 08/27/13)

Colllege and Career Preparation The Same? No Says National Study

 Education Week ran these excerpts on August 19,2013:

“The governing board for the tests known as “the nation’s report card”

has marked its own definition of what makes a student academically prepared for college.

At a meeting here this month, members of the National Assessment Governing Board,

which supervises the National Assessment of Educational Progress, voted 17-2 to

adopt language that will define the new “college prepared” scores in reading and mathematics 

on the assessment…

 In a parallel effort to set career-readiness benchmarks within NAEP, the governing board

also had studied ways to connect NAEP to readiness for work as an automotive master

mechanic, computer-support specialist, heating and air-conditioning technician, licensed practical

nurse, and pharmacy technician, but it was not able to draw conclusions about how performance

on NAEP would relate to such careers.

 For example, among NAEP’s math-framework objectives, 64 percent to 74 percent were “not

evident as prerequisite” in any of the training required for the careers studied, a finding Cornelia Orr,

the board’s executive director, called “quite shocking.”
“This was a very hard task, but it was very revealing,” Ms. Orr said.  “We found no evidence that

someone prepared for job training is academically prepared for college.  That said, someone prepared

for college is certainly prepared for job training.”


Student Performance Based Scholarships Have Modest Impact On College Progress

Low-income students who receive performance-based scholarships show modest gains in academic achievement, but their retention rates from semester to semester appear unchanged, according to a study released on Tuesday by MDRC, a nonprofit research group. The study—“Performance-Based Scholarships: What Have We Learned?”—compiles results from the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration, a project the group began in 2008 that has extended to 12,000 students in Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, and Ohio. The project, designed to increase financial support for low-income students and give them monetary incentives to progress, is supported primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Source:Carnegie Foundation

Life Course: A New View Of College Completion Problems

Finishing College: Sociodemographic Inequalities and Life Course Transitions

by Josipa Roksa
Combining literatures on sociodemographic inequalities and life course transitions, this study provides a new lens for understanding degree completion of traditional-age students, one that conceptualizes college enrollment in the context of the life course and examines how schooling interacts with other life course transitions. The findings indicate that life course transitions contribute to socioeconomic and gender inequalities in degree completion, and that attendance patterns are crucial for understanding the negative relationship between life course transitions and degree attainment.


Obama’s New College Reform Plan

Today President Obama unveiled a bold plan to boost college completion.  Two key components got our attention — and earned our praise:

blue starDirecting more federal financial aid to colleges with proven commitments to student success, and

blue starInvesting in promising higher education innovations to make America the leader again in college attainment.


Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee — all CCA Alliance States with Republican governors — received special notice by the President for leadership in college accountability, proving once again that the cause of college completion knows no partisan bounds.


Learn more about the President’s plan for college students —

As Price Of College Rises, So Does Federal Student Support

With college costs continuing to rise, new federal data show that 71% of all undergraduate students received some type of financial aid in 2011-12, up from 66% four years earlier. Forty-two percent of students received federal grants, up from 28%, and 40% received federal loans, up from 35%. Meanwhile, 15% received state grants and 20% received a grant from their college — figures that have remained flat since 2007-08. (Boston Globe, 08/19/13)

New Common Core standards are right for California

By Michael W. Kirst
Professor emeritus at Stanford University, President of the State Board of Education.

It is perhaps the worst-kept secret in public education: Too many students leave school with a diploma in their hands, but without the knowledge in their heads they need to start college or pursue a meaningful career.

We pay a steep price for the skills gap. More than 72 percent of our graduating students go to postsecondary institutions, but many are funneled into remedial, non-credit classes. Employers spend time and money training new workers. But it’s students who suffer most, finding themselves unprepared for the challenging world outside the classroom. The Common Core State Standards represent a big part of what California — and 44 other states — are doing to address the problem.

But adopting the standards, as the State Board of Education did in 2010, was the easy part. The challenge is bringing these standards to life in our schools, work that will require significant effort from every part of our education system – and key decisions from everyone from the statehouse to the schoolhouse. Academic content standards are simply a list of the things we want students to know and be able to do, like drawing the yard lines on a football field. We put the goal line in the right place, at career and college readiness. And we’ve set out, step by step, the progress each student needs to make in each grade and subject to get there.

San Francisco Chronicle

Marginal Classroom Changes Have Scant Impact on Colllege Success

Vincent Tinto writes in Inside Higher Ed: Over the past 20 years, if not more, colleges and universities, states and private foundations have invested considerable resources in the development and implementation of a range of programs to increase college completion. Though several of these have achieved some degree of success, most have not made a significant impact on college completion rates. This is the case because most efforts to improve college completion, such as learning centers and first-year seminars, sit at the margins of the classroom and do not substantially improve students’ classroom experience.

Economic Benefits Overstressed Rationale For College Completion

Peter Ewell blogs for AAC&U’s Liberal Education Nation: Increasing the proportion of young citizens with a college credential has become a major national goal, and the need to do so is prominent in today’s political rhetoric.  The case for doing so is almost always economic—higher personal incomes, increased tax revenues, and greater worker productivity.  The resulting “commodification of college” rankles many of us because, raised as scholars, we tend to see higher learning as more broadly beneficial.  More importantly, the narrowly economic argument about rates of return leads many observers to misleadingly label college majors such as English or anthropology as “dead ends” and advise students to avoid them.  Even if one sticks with a purely economic argument, statements like this about the “worth” of traditional liberal arts and sciences majors are overblown at best.  But there also are other concrete benefits of completing a college degree that go far beyond these strictly economic benefits. 

Community College Bachelors Degrees Expand In Florida

State College Bachelor Degrees Gaining Popularity
Florida’s community colleges are becoming an increasingly popular option for students looking to earn a low-cost bachelor’s degree. They are expected to attract even more students over the next year once colleges begin offering complete four-year degrees for $10,000, about $3,000 below the current cost. Enrollment in Broward College’s bachelor degree programs has surged from 111 in 2009 to 2,200 today. (Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 08/10/13)