Posts published in March, 2014
Students who attend college but do not finish a degree or certificate program are often seen as failures of the system, but we are finding this is not always the case. In fact, many of these students have already completed what they need to get a good job. These “skill builders” often veer off the official paved road of course sequences leading to certificates or degrees onto the unofficial dirt road of the college coursework necessary to further their careers. Colleges should support these new dirt roads with explicit student friendly career ladder development. Considering how rapidly the job market changes, colleges need to be more flexible and responsive about what the students need to get a good job. Read More
College and K-12 administrators know they need to work together to move the dial on student achievement, yet a new report shows many acknowledge they are not collaborating effectively. The survey found that just 33 percent of superintendents and 34 percent of postsecondary leaders say they are actually collaborating extremely or very effectively. (Education Week, 02/10/14)
From New America Foundation:
From the 1940s, with the introduction of the G.I. Bill, through the 1970s, with the creation of Pell Grants, the federal government and states transformed American higher education from a bastion of privilege into a path to the American dream. But in the years since, this progress has stopped, and in fact, reversed itself. Instead of facilitating upward mobility, our higher education system is now exacerbating inequality.
Over the past 30 years, the purchasing power of Pell Grants has plummeted, college prices have skyrocketed, states have been divesting from their public colleges and universities, and students are taking on more debt than they have ever before. Only one out of ten of the country’s lowest-income students earn a bachelor’s degree by the age of 24, compared to three out of four of the wealthiest students.
What’s gone wrong and who’s to blame? In a new book, entitled Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream, Cornell University political scientist Suzanne Mettler argues that the demise of opportunity through higher education is, fundamentally, a political failure. Our landmark higher education policies have ceased to function effectively, and lawmakers — consumed by partisan polarization and plutocracy — have neglected to maintain and update them, writes Mettler, a fellow at The Century Foundation.
| BY Mike Petrilli, Fordham Foundation
It’s an article of faith in the school-reform community that we should be striving to prepare all students for success in college—if not a four-year degree, then some other recognized and reputable post-secondary credential. The rationale is clear and generally compelling; as a recent Pew study reiterated, people who graduate from college earn significantly more than those who do not. Other research indicates that low-income students in particular benefit from college completion, becoming nearly three times more likely to make it into the middle class than their peers who earn some (or no) college credits. And it’s not just about money: College graduates are also healthier, more involved in their communities, and happier in their jobs.
Thus, in the reformers’ bible, the greatest sin is to look a student in the eye and say, “Kid, I’m sorry, but you’re just not college material.”
But what if such a cautionary sermon is exactly what some teenagers need? What if encouraging students to take a shot at the college track—despite very long odds of crossing its finish line—does them more harm than good? What if our own hyper-credentialed life experiences and ideologies are blinding us to alternative pathways to the middle class—including some that might be a lot more viable for a great many young people? What if we should be following the lead of countries like Germany and Singapore, where “tracking” isn’t a dirty word but a common-sense way to prepare teenagers for respected, well-paid work?
Here’s a stark fact: according to research by Georgetown’s Anthony Carnevale and Jeff Strohl, less than 10 percent of poor children now graduate with a four-year college degree. Imagine, then, that all our reform efforts prove successful, from initiatives to bolster the prenatal health of disadvantaged babies and high-quality early-childhood experiences to dramatic improvements in K-12 education and serious interventions and supports at the college level. Push the pedal to the metal and assume that nothing crashes. Where do we get? Maybe in the course of a generation, we could double the proportion of poor children making it to a college diploma. Tripling it would be a staggering accomplishment. Anything approaching that would be an enormous achievement, unprecedented in the annals of social progress. Yet that would still leave two-thirds or more of low-income youngsters needing another path if they’re truly going to access the middle class.
Let’s see how this works from the perspective of a student. Imagine that you’re finishing ninth grade at a large, comprehensive urban high school. The year hasn’t gone very well; because you are reading and doing math at a sixth-grade level, much of your coursework is a struggle. Nor have you had much of an opportunity to develop the “non-cognitive skills” that would help you to remediate the situation. You are foundering, failing courses, and thinking about dropping out.
Though we should be working hard to improve elementary and middle schools so that you don’t reach this point, the fact remains that you have reached it. A rational system would acknowledge that, with just three years until graduation, the likelihood of you getting to a true “college-readiness” level by the end of twelfth grade is extremely low. Even if all the pieces come together in dramatic fashion—you get serious help with your basic skills, someone finds you a great mentor, your motivation for hitting the books increases significantly—you probably aren’t going to make it. You need another pathway, one with significantly greater chances of success and a real payoff at the end, a job that will allow you to be self-sufficient. You need high-quality career and technical education, ideally the kind that combines rigorous coursework with a real-world apprenticeship and maybe even a paycheck.
To be sure, your long-term earnings will probably be lower than if you squeak out a college degree. But that’s a false choice, because you’re almost surely not going to get that college degree anyway. The decision is whether to follow the college route to almost certain failure or to follow another route to significant success.
But our system isn’t rational, and it doesn’t like to acknowledge long odds. Perhaps it used to, but this sort of realism was judged to be deterministic, racist, and classist. And for sure, when judgments were made on the basis of ZIP code or skin color, the old system was exactly that. Those high school “tracks” were immutable, and those who wound up in “voc-ed” (or, at least as bad, the “general” track) were those for whom secondary schooling, in society’s eyes, was mostly a custodial function.
But making sure there are real options for our young people—options that include high-quality career and technical education—is an altogether different proposition. We shouldn’t force anyone into that route, but we also shouldn’t guilt kids with low odds of college success—regardless of their race or class—to keep trudging through academic coursework as teens. Yet it appears that we are doing just that; according to Kate Blosveren Kreamer of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education, only 20 percent of high school students “concentrate” in career and technical education, even though that’s a better bet for many more of them. Then, even when students graduate high school with seventh-grade skills, we encourage them to enroll in college, starting with several semesters of “developmental” education.
This might be the greatest crime. How do low-income students who start community college in remedial courses fare? According to the college-access advocacy group Complete College America, less than 10 percent of them complete a two-year degree within three years. Most won’t ever get past their remedial courses. Almost certain failure.
College-access advocates look at those numbers and want to double down on reform, seeking to boost the quality of remedial education or skip it entirely, encourage unprepared students to enroll directly in credit-bearing courses, and offer heavy doses of student support. All are worth trying for those at the margin. But few people are willing to admit that perhaps college just isn’t a good bet for people with seventh-grade reading and math skills at the end of high school—whether those young people are rich or poor, black or white or Latino.
Unfortunately, federal education policy encourages schools and students to ignore the long odds of college success. Pell Grants, for instance, can be used for remedial education; institutions are more than happy to take the money, even if they are terrible at remediating student deficits, which is why I’ve proposed making remedial education ineligible for Pell financing. On the other hand, Pell Grants can only be used for vocational education that takes place through an accredited college or university; job-based training, and most apprenticeships, do not qualify. That should change.
I have no desire to punish students or deprive them of opportunity. Quite the contrary. My aim is to stop pretending that high-school or college students with very low basic skills have a real shot of earning a college degree—so that they might follow an alternative path that will lead to success. A college graduate will generally out-earn a high-school graduate, to be sure. But a worker with technical skills will out-earn a high-school or college dropout with no such skills. That’s the true choice facing many students.
Furthermore, for kids facing the toughest challenges of poverty, it makes sense to think about opportunity and mobility developing over multiple generations. College might catapult prepared low-income kids into the middle class in one fell swoop, but using high-quality career and technical education to give low-income youngsters who are not ready for college a foothold on the ladder to success is a victory as well. If they can escape poverty and all the social ills that come with it, their children have a significantly better shot at the college path. After all, that’s how upward mobility in America has generally worked: not in one bounce but slowly and surely over decades.
Happily, this sort of common sense is starting to re-enter the conversation (thanks, in part, to the persistence of the folks at Harvard’s Pathways to Prosperity initiative, who called in 2011 for a broader approach to education reform, one that includes high-quality career and technical education). In a very important recent Politico piece, Stephanie Simon shows how lawmakers, especially in red states, are starting to worry that the “college-for-all” ideology is doing material harm to students. Asking all students to pass Algebra II makes a ton of sense if you expect all of them to go to college. But when you are willing to acknowledge that that’s a fool’s errand, you start to see such mandates as barriers to opportunity—the opportunity to pursue career and technical programs that are likely to produce better long-term outcomes for young people.
It’s particularly urgent that those of us who support the Common Core be willing to speak honestly about these issues. If the new Common Core assessments set the high-school graduation bar at true college readiness—meaning students are on track to take credit-bearing courses from day one—the country is likely to learn that scarcely one-third of all students, and many fewer low-income students, are at that level now. Even Massachusetts, our shining star, gets just half its young people to that level. By all means, we should do everything we can to boost those numbers, starting as early as possible, including making common-sense reforms such as reintroducing serious academic content to the elementary- and middle-school curriculum and replicating “no-excuses” charter schools like KIPP.
At the same time, however, rather than pretend that we’re going to get “all students” to “climb the mountain to college,” we should build a system that helps many students find another road to the middle class—a path that starts with a better prekindergarten-through-eighth-grade education and then develops strong technical and interpersonal skills in high school and at community colleges. This is an honorable path, and one that’s much sturdier than the rickety bridges to failure that we’ve got now.
This article first appeared in a slightly different form on Slate.
From Pace At Stanford:
With high school graduation only months away, seniors in California may already be eagerly anticipating the relaxation of summer before they transition into college or the workforce. For students who have planned and worked hard to pursue postsecondary education immediately after high school, however, a series of unanticipated financial and procedural hurdles may loom on the horizon that have the potential to derail their college aspirations.
Drawing on data from various urban school districts throughout the U.S., as well as from a nationally representative survey, we find that anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of students who have been accepted to college and intend to enroll as of graduation fail to matriculate anywhere in the fall following high school. This attrition from the college-going pipeline, which we refer to as “summer melt,” is even more pronounced among low-income students and contributes to socioeconomic inequalities in postsecondary access and success among college-ready students.
Click here for the full article and study.
By Melissa Burns
There is no area of life that has not been affected by the Digital Revolution. The potential of growth for the educational technology is immense, and we have already seen noteworthy achievements that change students’ approach to learning, as well as educators’ teaching methods. In the continuation, we will list and briefly describe some of the most remarkable fresh educational startups that transformed many classrooms around the world.
This tool is equally appreciated by students, tutors, teachers, and writers. Writinghouse automatically applies any type of referencing format, which immediately makes academic writing less time-consuming and less stressful. Students only need to choose the type of document and required style, complete a simple form, click “add” and download their properly-formatted document.
There are many online tools that have been designed to provide more useful support for teachers, but SmarterCookie is one of the most popular ones. Educators can easily share feedback with other teachers by uploading time-stamped videos. Everything shared on this platform is private, and the users can choose who can provide feedback on their material.
This online tutoring platform has revolutionized the concept of tutoring. At TutorClass, everyone can find a great tutor for their needs and learn in a convenient online environment. Tutors have a great opportunity to expand their reach and enhance their tutoring business.
This platform is useful for students, educators, content managers, bloggers, webmasters, and anyone else who needs to ensure their content is unique. Moreover, the company also provides writing consulting and professional editing assistance, which is more than necessary for both students and professors.
Educators can use Learnist to search for useful educational content and share it on their Learning Boards. Students and teachers can share content from many sources, including Google Docs and YouTube. The design of the Learning Boards is very appealing, and the visual motivation inspires students to learn more.
6. Essay Tigers
This platform is not totally new but it has expanded its capacity recently. It is dedicated to help students to deal with their papers, home assignments etc. If you need help of qualified professor or author be sure you can turn to this service. Also you can get obtain help of support if any questions arise.
7. The partnership between Barnes & Noble, Microsoft and Pearson
When these three companies announced their partnership, it became clear that great things were to be expected. We haven’t yet seen the result of this collaboration, but knowing that the influence and potential of all three companies is remarkable, we can predict that the NOOK will become a much bigger part of the process of education.
No matter how much students despise actual blackboards, all of them appreciate the online environment created on this platform. Blackboard is a widely-recognized tool, used by government organizations and many institutions for higher education. Students and educators can connect with their community and get involved in effective interaction.
By using Echo360, educators can share their presentations before the actual class, so the students will come prepared for participating in active learning. Students can use the tool during class to manage their learning and interact with the group. The platform is also useful after classes, since students have access to effective study tools at any time.
10. 2USeveral universities have established a partnership with 2U with the aim to create, manage, and advertise their online degree programs. The main goal of this tool is to revolutionize the approach towards education by providing online learning experiences that don’t fall behind the on-campus quality and rigor.
Old-school educators may consider the Digital Revolution as something that distracts students and educators from real learning and teaching, but the truth is that modern educational technology has made the classroom more interesting and inspiring for both students and teachers. The online tools we listed above can greatly enhance the collaboration within the classroom, as well as with students and teachers from across the globe. We are yet to experience the peak of educational growth, and the fact that online tools are a big part of it is undeniable.
Melissa is a graduate student of the faculty of journalism. She is a passionate blogger and writer. Now she dreams od publishing her owm novel.
Tuition tax credits and other tax breaks to offset the cost of higher education — nearly invisible federal government subsidies for families that send their kids to college — disproportionally benefit more affluent Americans. So do tax-deductible savings plans and the federal work-study program, which gives taxpayer dollars to students who take campus jobs to help pay for their expenses. (The Hechinger Report, March 9)
By Amy Laitinen and Clare McCann — March 11, 2014
New America’s Education Policy Program today released a new report exploring the history of a ban on a national student unit record system. To read the report, click here. Check out collegeblackout.org and join the conversation at #collegeblackout. For more on the ban, check back at EdCentral in the coming weeks.
With ever-rising college costs, more than $1 trillion in outstanding federal student loan debt, and recent graduates wondering if they’ll ever be able to find good careers and pay down their debts, students and families are increasingly looking to college value when selecting schools. But right now it’s difficult, if not impossible, for most students to get answers to critical questions about college value. That’s because in 2008, Congress passed a law making it illegal for the federal government to use the data already held by institutions, states, and the federal government to answer questions like whether students graduate, transfer, drop out, or drown in debt after graduation. Largely thanks to the higher education lobby, students are in the dark when it comes to colleges. In the early 2000s, the U.S. Department of Education and other higher education stakeholders proposed creating a student unit record system that would link institutions’ already-existing data, match them across schools to accurately track schools’ outcomes on measures like graduation rates, and add other critical information like earnings and debt. This system, they argued, would significantly reduce the paperwork burden faced by institutions, and—most importantly—enable students, families, colleges, and policy makers to ask and answer fundamental questions about college value. A vocal minority at One Dupont, however, had other ideas. As our new paper College Blackout: How the Higher Education Lobby Fought to Keep Students in the Dark reports, despite support at the outset from the American Council on Education (ACE), the umbrella higher education industry group that represents all of the “Big Six” lobbying groups, the sands kept shifting. The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) opposed the idea—ostensibly because of its implications for students’ privacy. But NAICU institutions regularly submit student-level data to federal and even private agencies, from the Department of Defense to the National Student Clearinghouse. Many in the privacy and higher education communities believe that NAICU was more interested in protecting institutional privacy than student privacy, as a way to obscure the outcomes of poor-performing institutions. But NAICU successfully framed the conversation as one around privacy and in 2008, before the idea of a student unit record system could take flight, the ban was included in the Higher Education Act reauthorization passed by Congress and signed into law.
In response to growing concerns about college readiness, Kentucky has been working to increase the number of students who are ready for college when they graduate. This federally funded study looks at outcomes from student participation in Kentucky’s college preparatory transition courses (voluntary courses in math and reading available to grade 12 students who test below state benchmarks on the ACT in grade 11).
Mixed Motivations, Mixed Results: A History of Law, Legislation, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Interest Convergence
by Marybeth Gasman & Adriel Hilton : Teachers College Record
This article explores the laws and legislation pertaining to historically Black colleges and universities using Derrick Bell’s notion of interest convergence-the idea that most Whites will only accommodate the interests of Blacks in achieving racial equality when it is in the best interest of middle- and upper-class Whites.