Posts published in November, 2013

The Past And Future Of Land Grant Univerisities

Title: Precipice or Crossroads?: Where America’s Great Public Universities Stand and Where They Are Going Midway Through Their Second Century
Author(s): Daniel Mark Fogel & Elizabeth Malson-Huddle (eds.)
Publisher: State University of New York Press, Albany
ISBN: 1438444923, Pages: 362, Year: 2

Leon Cremonini, Teachers College Record

Precipice or Crossroads?: Where America’s Great Public Universities Stand and Where They Are Going Midway through Their Second Century, edited by Fogel and Malson-Huddle, takes a broad yet in-depth look at the Morrill Land-grant Act’s relevance—for yesterday, today and for the future. Through a set of independent essays, the book provides an exhaustive overview of what the Act has meant for generations of US students and scholars, how it contributed to national development and—perhaps most importantly—how its vision today transcends national boundaries to have the potential to be a “global ideal.” It is, perhaps, the latter that may be the key to averting the threats America’s great public research universities face.

At the heart of this book lies the question whether being an “affordable” public research university providing accessible higher education—the very paradigm of the Morrill Land-Grant Act—is still a realistic ambition. Are the threats of shrinking state funding, growing tuition fees and elitist institutional rankings making Morrill’s vision an unsustainable and outdated dream? “No” is the bottom-line answer this publication suggests. The challenges are not underestimated, but as a whole the book signals hope over gloom. It is clear, however, that hope can thrive only if we adapt to new realities. The key argument is that US public universities are still doing a great job in education, research and community service—equal if not exceeding their private counterparts—despite a growing resource gap as emphasized for example in Shulenburger’s chapter “Challenges to Viability and Sustainability: Public Funding, Tuition, College Costs, and Affordability.”

The book includes ten essays, plus an introduction and a foreword by the President of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, Peter McPherson. It covers the Morrill Act from different angles, which makes it an interesting and timely contribution to the debate on the societal relevance of public universities and their role in democratizing access. Starting off with a look at the history of the Land-Grant Act, this collection of essays follows a logical path. First, it zooms in on its role in improving access for traditionally underprivileged (black) students and developing studies otherwise considered “second class” yet essential for the nation’s development, such as agricultural sciences.

For-Profit Colleges Struggle To Persist And Expand

Private, For-profit Colleges See Unaccustomed Setbacks
For-profits colleges enjoyed booming enrollment and annual profits in the billions. But after years of criticism over purportedly fraudulent claims, high costs, and shady recruiting practices, the for-profits have seen deep enrollment declines and been forced to slash tuition. Some have shut down or announced layoffs, and states are stepping up enforcement against questionable practices by others. (Hechinger Report, 11/11/13)

New Report On College Readiness Progress


Washington, D.C. – November 20, 2013 – With all 50 states and the District of Columbia having adopted college- and career-ready standards, Achieve’s eighth annual “Closing the Expectations Gap” report, released today, shows how all states are aligning those standards with policies and practice to better ensure that all students are academically prepared for life after high school.   

“All 50 states deserve credit for confronting the expectations gap – that is the gap between what it takes to earn a high school diploma and what the real world actually expects graduates to know and be able to do,” said Mike Cohen, Achieve’s president. “But raising standards is just the start. Supporting teachers and leaders with the time and tools they need to change classroom practice is critical, and many states are doing just that. It is also important to align graduation requirements, assessments and accountability policies to college- and career-ready standards. This work is complicated and it will take time to get it right. Governors, chiefs and other state and districts leaders must continue to make the work a top priority; they deserve tremendous credit for leading on an issue that is so critical to the future of students, their families, communities, states and ultimately our country.”

Achieve conducts an annual policy survey that asks all 50 states and the District of Columbia whether they have adopted standards, graduation requirements, assessments and accountability systems aligned to the expectations of two- and four-year colleges and employers. The national survey of state education leaders has measured the same areas of reform each year since the National Governors Association and Achieve co-sponsored the National Education Summit in 2005. This year’s survey reveals the following results: 

Standards: All 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted standards aligned to the expectations of college and careers. 46 states and DC have adopted the Common Core State Standards, while four have state-developed CCR standards. For these standards to be realized in classrooms, they must be implemented with fidelity. Ensuring access to high-quality aligned instructional materials and supporting training and professional learning opportunities for teachers and principals is critical – as is deploying strong performance metrics to monitor implementation progress.

Graduation Requirements: Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia have adopted college- and career-ready graduation requirements. However, more than half the states in the country that have adopted the CCSS/CCR standards have not raised their graduation requirements to match those standards. This misalignment means that students may graduate unprepared for college and careers since they will not have taken courses that deliver the CCSS/CCR standards or demonstrated their mastery of the CCSS/CCR standards through competency-based methods. 

Assessments: Today, 19 states have or will administer college- and career-ready high school assessments capable of producing a readiness score that postsecondary institutions use to make placement decisions. The 42 states and District of Columbia participating in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium working to develop CCR assessments will face many key decisions in the months and years ahead, including how these next generation assessments can support aligned and rigorous instruction, how to ensure postsecondary use of the results, and how and whether to factor the results of new assessments into high-stakes graduation decisions for students. 

Accountability: A majority of states, 35, have now incorporated at least one of four accountability indicators that Achieve has identified as critical to promoting college and career readiness. No state meets Achieve’s criteria regarding the use of all indicators in its college- and career-ready accountability system, and overall state progress in creating accountability systems anchored in CCR has been slow – and often stalled – even with the adoption of new accountability systems under ESEA flexibility waivers. 

Cohen also pointed to the sharing of a common set of standards by 46 states and the District of Columbia that has produced unprecedented cross-state collaboration to address many implementation issues. He went on to say, “The next few years will be challenging for the college- and career-ready agenda and we have to stay the course. Those who are against the CCSS or CCR standards, better assessments, aligned graduation requirements, and accountability systems that value college and career readiness are, in fact, champions of the status quo. A status quo that graduates far too few and fails to prepare many who do receive a diploma for the real world.”

To see the report, go to 




College Ready Assessments In High School Can Help Preparation

Readiness Assessment, Transition Curricula in Four States
Initiatives to implement college readiness assessments and transition curricula vary across states. This report describes those initiatives in California, New York, Tennessee, and West Virginia, then compares interventions nationally. Authors recommend strong collaboration between high schools and higher education institutions, as well as legislation to build support and momentum. Program designers need to weigh competing priorities concerning goals, populations served, and course content. (Community College Research Center) ; provided by ECS.

Non- Completion Can Be A Pathway To Success In Community Colleges

” . . . in the California Community College system . . . nearly one-third of students took an average of just two courses over about two years and overwhelmingly succeeded in these courses, but rarely attained a degree, certificate, or transferred to a four-year college.”

Community college students increase earnings of up to 15% after taking just a handful of courses in workforce-related fields, such as water and wastewater technology, criminal justice, electronics, information technology, and manufacturing, according to a study by University of Michigan Associate Professor Peter Riley Bahr. The findings point to the importance of employment outcomes in addition to degree attainment in measuring the success of community colleges. Fully 1 in 7 first-time California community college students enroll in six or fewer credits per semester, succeed in those courses at a very high rate, but do not attain a community college credential or transfer to a four-year institution.
LearningWorks has published a brief on the new research entitled The Missing Piece: Quantifying Non-Completion Pathways to Success. The brief, written by Bahr and WestEd Senior Research Associate Kathy Booth, examines students opting to build a few skills rather than complete a degree or certificate.

For more information and to download the brief click here.


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How To Support Adjunct Professors To Increase Effective Teaching

The idea that providing more support for non-tenure-track faculty (NTTFs) is prohibitively expensive is a myth, argue the authors. They back up their argument with suggestions, among them: include NTTFs in academic freedom statements, provide access to instructional materials, provide access to professional development, extend opportunities to participate in departmental meetings and curriculum design, and facilitate opportunities for faculty mentoring. (The Delphi project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success)- Source-ECS

Latinos Lag Behind in College Graduation, But Some Policies Help Them Succeed

Kathryn Baron, Edsource

Latinos are the fastest growing population of the state’s students, but they have the lowest college graduation rates, according a new report by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Campaign for College Opportunity.

In California, Latinos lag behind all other ethnic groups in college completion, according to the report: 11 percent of Latino adults have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 39 percent of whites and 23 percent of African Americans.

“We are on track to produce a generation of young people less educated than our older population,” the report’s authors wrote.

That has serious economic consequences for the state and for the students. California receives $4.80 for each dollar it invests in putting a student through college, according to the report, because a college degree fetches a higher salary and therefore more income tax revenue for the state.

“We consider this to be an economic justice issue,” said Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, an organization of business executives.

The irony is that Latino high school graduates are enrolling in college in record numbers compared to past generations of Latinos, said Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the Campaign, during a webinar Tuesday morning to discuss the report.

There are other hopeful signs, too. Latino children, especially those born in the United States, “have high aspirations” and their parents’ support, Siqueiros said. More than 90 percent of Latino parents believe that college is very important for their children, according to a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.

For now, however, the challenges have the upper hand.


“Latinos are less likely to enroll in a four-year university, less likely to attend a selective college, less likely to enroll (in college) full time and less likely to complete a certificate or bachelor’s degree,”

Latinos enrollment is low at Cal State and the University of California, in part, because they are less likely to complete the high school courses required for admission. Source: Campaign for College Opportunity

Siqueiros said.

Seven out of 10 Latino high school graduates who go on to college, including those who attended top-performing high schools, enroll in community college, the report said. Still, they represent less than 40 percent of all community college students, and they’re less likely to obtain degrees or certificates. They’re also underrepresented at California State University and the University of California, and in private colleges and universities.

One huge reason for these dismal statistics is what doesn’t happen in high school. Only three in 10 Latino high school students complete the prerequisites, known as A to G courses, required for admission to Cal State and UC. Once accepted to college, most Latino students aren’t ready for college-level math and English and are placed in remedial classes; many students who require remedial coursework ultimately drop out of college.

The Campaign offers five recommendations for improving college success for Latino students, many of which have been suggested before. The report calls on the governor and Legislature to develop a statewide plan to increase college completion rates; to implement better coordination between the K-12 and higher education systems to ensure students enter college prepared for higher-level studies; to improve the college counseling and advising systems; and do a better job of helping students apply for financial aid.

The fifth recommendation calls for increasing funding for higher education, and providing financial incentives for colleges to improve graduation rates of underrepresented minorities, essentially a form of performance-based funding that has many critics in California.

The report estimates that by closing the gaps in enrollment and graduation, another 790,000 Californians could earn their bachelor’s degrees. What we’re seeing now, Siqueiros said, is “our campuses are welcoming students, but unfortunately they’re dropping off.”

States Struggle With Definition Of Career Ready

A new report from the Center on Education Policy offers a broad overview of state policies for defining career readiness and assessing technical skills since adoption of the Common Core. While 45 states report that they or their districts assess students for career readiness, just 14 states have established a definition of what it means to be career- or work-ready: Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Virginia. Another 20 states are in the process of developing a definition. Survey respondents in just 11 states reported career-readiness assessments have been or are being aligned with the Common Core. Twenty states said it was too soon to know whether or how their career and technical assessments might change in response to the standards. Thirty-eight of responding states reported using these assessment results to meet federal accountability requirements for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act; 21 survey states use them for school accountability, and 19 use them for student accountability. Only four states permit students to substitute scores on career and technical assessments for scores on high school exit exams required for a diploma.  More From Public Education Newsblast

Quest For Perfect Data Hinders Finding Worst Colleges

COLLEGE RATINGS SYSTEM CAN HAPPEN RIGHT NOW, stresses New America’s Clare McCann. Setting a floor for institutions to meet minimal requirements based on data the Department of Education already collects would help weed out the “worst of the worst.” Read more on why waiting for perfect data is hurting accountability efforts in the present at EdCentral.


Outcomes Based College Funding Lacks Political Will, Not Technical Design

What used to be performance funding now is called outcomes-based funding, and while desired outcomes vary from state to state, one universal goal is upping the graduation rate. As more states move to outcomes-based funding, aligning their programs with state goals, more is known about what works in implementation and design. Author Dennis Jones writes the issue now is one of political will, not technical know-how. State examples are provided. (NCHEMS and Complete College America)