Posts published in May, 2014

Congress Agrees To Overhaul Job Training Act

From Jobs For The Future:
In an encouraging display of bipartisan unity, Congress has reached a long-sought agreement among key leaders to overhaul the nation’s main law overseeing federal job training programs, aiming to strengthen services and increase the ability for millions of underserved youth and adults to gain the skills and assistance they need to move into high-demand, family-supporting careers.

The proposed reauthorization of the $3 billion Workforce Investment Act emphasizes approaches with demonstrated success helping out-of school youth, low-skilled adults, dislocated workers, English language learners, people with disabilities, and others who are unemployed or whose careers are stalled in low-paying jobs.

If approved next month, the new law would emphasize industry-recognized credential attainment, training that is focused on in-demand occupations and careers, and career pathways, particularly for low-skilled youth and adults, that lead to credential attainment and good jobs. The law would also improve workers’ access to accelerated forms of training and education leading to credentials that pay off in their careers. Read more . . .

Using The Tax Code To Enhance College Affordability

A new report out today from the Center for American Progress examines how the U.S. tax code could better promote college affordability throughout the college process—while parents are saving for college, during the time that students are in college, and while borrowers are paying back student loans. The current tax code provides smaller rewards for middle-class families’ college saving than higher-income earners, leading to low usage of tax-free savings vehicles toward college costs. The tax code also provides a complicated set of multiple incentives for parents and students while in college and does not always benefit student-loan borrowers in repayment. As a result, the report recommends a number of changes to the tax code that would help middle-class families better afford higher education.

As the report outlines, the U.S. tax code is full of provisions designed to encourage or reward specific behaviors, such as owning a home or saving for retirement. The more than $30 billion in annual tax benefits for higher education—tax benefits that effectively double the federal government’s support for higher education—are no exception: Contributions to some college savings accounts grow tax-free, college tuition is often tax deductible, and some student-loan borrowers are able to deduct the interest paid on their student loans just as they would the interest paid on their mortgage. These higher education tax provisions have implications for access, affordability, and equity.

“Many provisions of the tax code are upside-down. They benefit high-income families much more than the middle class—and billions of dollars toward higher education are no exception,” said Joe Valenti, Director of Asset Building at the Center for American Progress. ”The policy changes we have identified would make the tax code more progressive and benefit parents and students struggling with college costs.”

The report presents a menu of potential ideas for making each stage—before enrollment in college, during enrollment, and post-enrollment—more effective and equitable in terms of directing tax incentives to those who would benefit most from them.

Among others, the recommendations in the report include: 

  • College savings incentives should be more progressive and accessible to middle-class families. The Treasury Department should establish a national standard for gift contributions to 529s. A technological solution could make it possible for family members, friends, and community organizations to make contributions to a child’s college savings and would facilitate savings contributions from multiple sources, including nonprofits that could provide families with financial support for future college costs. Congress should establish an annual contribution limit to 529s and cap tax-free buildup within them, as virtually no other tax benefit for individuals’ savings is currently limitless. Congress should also consider a matching component for higher education savings by lower-income families and ensure that college savings do not punish working families in asset tests and for financial aid purposes.
  • Duplicative tax credits while in school should be eliminated by building off the successful American Opportunity Tax Credit, or AOTC, and adopting the most generous provisions of each. The structure of the tax credits for currently enrolled students is overly complex. As a result, families are required to make choices among options that are difficult to assess—and frequently choose the option that does not provide the maximum benefit. The American Opportunity Tax Credit is often the best choice, but the Lifetime Learning Credit is also important for adults continuing their education. As part of streamlining the tax code, the ban on the AOTC for students with felony drug convictions should also be lifted; this provision is unusually invasive and punitive, identifying one particular type of offender who is ineligible for higher education tax benefits while all other criminal offenses are exempt.
  • The student-loan interest deduction should be converted into a credit, and borrowers in income-based repayment plans should not face a tax bill for debts forgiven at the end of the repayment period. As a 15 percent credit, higher-income borrowers would not receive a larger tax benefit than lower-income borrowers with lower marginal tax rates, making the treatment of student-loan interest more progressive. Under current law, many borrowers who are currently participating in income-based repayment plans face a large tax bill after making payments for 20 or 25 years because their forgiven debt is treated as income. Borrowers participating in these plans should not be subject to this future tax penalty, which can be substantial and surprising.

Read the report: Harnessing the Tax Code to Promote College Affordability by Joe Valenti, David A. Bergeron, and Elizabeth Baylor

Pathways For Struggling College Students

JFF has updated the Back on Track model, used by schools, programs, and communities across the country to create pathways to postsecondary credentials for off-track and disconnected youth. The model can be used in designing or enhancing diploma-granting and high school equivalency programs, as well as designing bridge programming and enhancing redesigned first-year postsecondary programs for those who already have a secondary credential but lack the skills to succeed

Completion May Depend on Number of Credits Transferred

A recent analysis  finds that too many community college students are losing credits when they transfer to a baccalaureate program. This notable ECS report points to the relationship between the number of credits that transfer and the likelihood that a student graduates. Find out which transfer policies your state has in place through ECS’ May 2014 Transfer and Articulation Database.

20 Tools Students And Teachers Should Try


By Lesley J. Voss

(This version has hot links to all 20, and is revised since first posted on May 21.)

Both modern students and teachers are so lucky to live in the Internet era, when so many useful resources and educational tools can be found and used online. To make your process of study easier and funnier, we’ve gathered these 20 tools to help you teach and study, and we highly recommend to try them in order to understand how pleasant education can be.

So, here we go.

Remind101 ( This tool is perfect for teachers who do not hesitate communicating with their students’ parents. It lets you send short text messages to share information quickly and easily.

Padlet ( This tool is a good chance for your students to introduce themselves and know each other better. Young students will definitely find it interesting to get acquainted with fellows in such a creative way. Make them interested in the process of study with the help of this cool tool.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog ( Here a perfect resource for e-learners comes! This blog of Tom Kuhlmann will help a student find all necessary information about everything related to e-learning, and make this process easier and more productive for himself.

Saylor. ( A very helpful tool for every student who is searching for free classes to attend and many different subjects to learn. Here you’ll find them all and choose a class and a subject that fit you most at this very moment.

KnowledgeNet. ( This resource is a must-visit for those students who have IT-related subjects and dream to understand them all. Here they will find all sources related to the subject, and they will be able to use these sources for citation.

Bid4Papers blog. ( This place is Mecca for students who do not like process of writing much and who always find academic writing a real problem. Here they will find advice from experts, learn all writing tips and tricks, get the information on academic writing, and will be able to use it in practice.

Coursera. ( This tool lets students find all available free courses from prestigious universities all over the world. It will be perfect for those ones who want to expand knowledge and get some new skills to use during study.

Socrative. ( All teachers will definitely like this tool and decide to try it in a classroom, as it provides many interesting educational games for students to play during educational process. This is your chance to engage students into the process of study.

TutorsClass. ( This tool is perfect to use for both students and teachers who practice distance learning. Being a teacher, you are welcome to create your profile there and invite students to join your virtual classroom.

Alison. ( A tool for everyone who wants to study. Nothing can be easier: tell Alison about everything you want to learn, and it will provide you with all necessary tools for that. Everything you should do now is checking and using tools provided.

Study Guide Zone. ( Students will find different tests to check their knowledge here, including GED, ACT, and SAT. Check how many scores you can get, and it will be clear what aspects you should still learn better to improve your final results.

Find Tutorials. ( This resource is created for students who need practical information. Here you’ll find collections of different tutorials on various topics. Moreover, every tutorial is voted by users, so it will be easier for you to understand which of them is worth checking.

Screenr. ( This tool allows you to record audio messages, that is why it will be quite useful for teachers who practice audio classes. When you need to explain students how this or that website works for example, Screenr will become your best helper here.

Google Forms. (  A perfect tool for teachers who gather much information about students and their parents. Google Forms will help you collect and remember all info easily. Such a tool will be useful for students too, as it can help them remember all necessary information on classes, exams, assignments, etc. ( This tool is used by many people for tasks organization; and students are welcome to use it in order to create their to-do lists, that will help them remember all the information concerning tests, classes, dead lines, meetings with their teachers, and much more.

Scribd. ( This resource is the biggest library online, where both students and teachers can find millions of books and other documents important for their projects and studies. You are welcome to create your own online library here, so it will be much easier to organize your literature and find it when needed.

Course Buffet. ( Here a student can easily find courses he needs. This website collects and generates all educational courses available at different resources, and it becomes much easier to find them, as you do not have to search the Web for a long time anymore.

Compass Learning. ( Being a teacher, it’s sometimes very difficult to understand a student, his needs, strengths, and motivations. You are welcome to use this website in order to personalize your approach to different students and understand their individual characteristics.

EasyBib. ( No studying process can be imagined without essay writing and creating a list of citations afterward. To make this process easier, you can use EasyBib: just enter a book’s title, and you will get the right citation of it.

TED. ( No teacher or student should forget about TED! Get an access to high-quality videos of business or educational conferences, listen to experts of different fields, and open your mind to new horizons.

By Lesley J. Vos (, a private educator of French language and a passionate blogger who works on her first e-book at the moment. 

Rebuttal To Critique Of For Profit Colleges

For-Profit Status
Is Not the Problem

Proprietary institutions need to shun short-run investor thinking in favor of long-term thinking with students and social purpose in mind, Jorge Klor de Alva argues.

Source: Inside Higher Education

For Profit Colleges Need Major Market Reforms

The Center for American Progress released a new report examining why education is generally provided through nonprofit and public entities and what makes for-profit companies in higher education different.

The analysis finds that because quality is difficult to monitor and measure, investor pressures frequently lead for-profit institutions to compromise student and public needs in the pursuit of growth and profit. While all colleges seek revenue, nonprofit institutions are subject to a nondistribution constraint—i.e., they are overseen by boards without an ownership interest—reducing the likelihood that students will be misled or overcharged in the pursuit of personal gain. The primary purpose of nonprofit status is to eliminate the potentially hazardous aspects of investor-owners in providing services such as education. The rejection of the nondistribution constraint by for-profit institutions explains their generally worse outcomes.

Based on the report’s analysis of why nonprofit entities tend to reduce the likelihood that students will be misled or overcharged by their educational institution, the report outlines a number of market-based reforms that policymakers should pursue in order to ensure quality outcomes at a reasonable cost.

As higher education has become more important to a secure future for both individuals and the nation itself, policymakers should adopt market-based reforms that promote quality outcomes at a reasonable cost. First, Congress should restore the expectation that colleges demonstrate the market viability of their programs by enrolling some students without federal financial aid. Second, the Department of Education should adopt a strong gainful employment regulation to ensure that career programs lead more frequently to a better future than to crippling debt. Third, quality and value in higher education would improve if consumers and expert analysts had access to more information about all colleges, including the qualifications of instructors, accreditation reports, and audits submitted to the Department of Education. Finally, a more radical solution could improve quality across all higher education sectors: Through independent, expert review of student work and teacher-student interactions, colleges and faculty members would have every incentive to engage in practices that promote deeper learning and stronger critical thinking skills.

The report points refutes the argument made by for-profit lobbyists that they have been unfairly targeted because of bias against the sector. As author Robert Shireman points out, for-profit colleges have rejected the regulation that levels the field and is most effective in reducing the incidence of predatory practices: the nondistribution constraint.

By deciding to operate as a for-profit enterprise, a college is subjecting itself to pressures to cut costs and to grow in ways that can be—and too often are—contrary to the interests of students and society. According to the economic theory behind nonprofit status, a greater tendency toward predatory behavior is the logical and predictable result of a college’s decision to adopt an investor-owner model, rejecting the consumer protection that comes from placing control in the hands of people without an ownership stake.

With the right market-based protections, for-profit institutions have the potential to play constructive, perhaps even revolutionary, roles in addressing the nation’s educational needs. But policymakers should not support these institutions if for-profit leaders fail to recognize that any claimed benefits of the for-profit model are matched by real hazards that must be addressed. In the current policy debate, lobbyists of for-profit colleges either dismiss or are ignorant of the important regulatory role played by nonprofit status. As policymakers consider the role of for-profit institutions, they should treat this apparent lack of self-awareness as a warning sign.

Read the report: Perils in the Provision of Trust Goods by Robert Shireman

Hispanics Key To College Enrollment Increase


Colleges look to Hispanics to boost enrollment
Enrollment numbers among white students has dipped in the southern United States, and colleges in the region have responded by recruiting Hispanic students. (The Hechinger Report, May 15)

College Transfer Problems: A Detailed Analysis

University of California Transfer Action Team Report

By Michelle Squeiros


 UC President Janet Napolitano  has the vision to call for a President’s Transfer Action Team (Team) to outline recommendations to streamline and strengthen the student transfer process between California Community Colleges (CCC) and the University of California (UC).

The report released on Wednesday by the Team is significant because it recognizes and offers solutions for addressing the lack of diversity in transfer applications and admissions by region and race/ethnicity. When 50% of transfer students come from only 19 CCCs – concern and urgent action is appropriate. CCC students in each of the other 93 CCCs deserve the opportunity and preparation to also get to the UC. Direct outreach to targeted campuses, early information, the use of technology, and professional development for community college faculty are good ways for the UC to expand the CCC transfer pool. The recommendations to offer a more welcoming and supportive environment to transfer students once they arrive on a UC campus is also laudable and encouraging.

But the biggest game changer in improving CCC transfer to the UC is in streamlining and simplifying the actual pathway between the two segments. And this is fully within the UC system’s control. The UC must do away with the 110,000 pathways to transfer and follow the significant groundwork laid by the partnership between the CCC and CSU to create Associate Degrees for Transfer. These new degrees are fundamentally moving away from confusing and varying transfer agreements between colleges and universities toward a single clear degree pathway between the two segments. And they provide the added bonus of guaranteed admission with junior standing to the CSU while saving students time and money as they more quickly navigate their path to a Bachelor’s degree.

The UC can be groundbreaking in its approach to streamlining transfer by adopting the Associate Degree for Transfer and Transfer Model Curricula already created, modifying it in a clear and simple way to reflect UC’s more rigorous admission requirements. It must eliminate the confusion and complication experienced by students hoping to transfer by getting rid of the varying requirements from campus to campus, even for similar majors. Simplifying transfer makes each of the other challenges raised in this report easier to address including outreach, counseling, guidance, and use of technology. This is the single most important lever by which UC can improve transfer.

Unfortunately, many of the recommendations to streamline transfer end with “where possible” and “where appropriate.” It must be possible now, and it is always appropriate, to fix a system that is broken and to provide better transparency for California students who wish to see their dream of entering the UC realized. Implementation must also happen at a more urgent pace, our students cannot wait for the adults in the room to fix the system over the course of more than four years, nor can our state’s economy which demands that we produce a growing number of college graduates.

A transfer overhaul at the UC is necessary and now is the time.


Learn More» 

Student Loan Interest Rates Stay Very Low

writes New America’s Clare McCann. After last week’s Treasury auction, the rates are set for AY 2014-15–and they’re among the lowest Treasury rates all year. Read it at EdCentral