Posts published in July, 2014

Linking Colleges To Common Core: Positive Developments

Common Core and Higher Education: A View from the Trenches


Higher education engagement has been a major priority for the two Common Core assessment consortia. We asked Jacqueline King, director of higher education collaboration for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, to reflect on their efforts to engage higher education and the work that still needs to be done, in context of our recent report: “Common Core Goes to College: Building Better Connections Between High School and Higher Education.” King’s unabridged response is included below. We, here at New America, appreciate the willingness to engage in this important policy conversation.

By Jacqueline King

Most attention to the Common Core State Standards has focused understandably on the continued political backlash against the standards and the status of implementation in schools.  As we look ahead to next spring when students will take assessments that indicate whether they are on track to college and career readiness, we have seen some attention begin to focus on the role of higher education in the development and implementation of the standards (see New America’s report, “Common Core Goes to College,” and a recent story from Hechinger Report).  Unfortunately, the takeaway from these sources and others is that higher education has mostly been watching from the sidelines and that it has been difficult in many places for K-12 and higher education to overcome decades of entrenched habits and work productively together.

New America Ed Central

Prospective College Students Do Not Show Up After Senior Year Summer

Schools work to focus incoming college students
Recent studies by Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research found that an estimated 20 percent of graduating seniors from urban school districts in places such as greater Boston, suburban Atlanta, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, abandon their plans to attend college over the summer. Some schools are making efforts to stop this so-called “summer melt.” (The Associated Press, July 7) via ECS


Searing Critique Of Elite Colllege Admissions Policies

This controversial and provacative article has been attracting attention. There are some areas I agree and disagree with, but it stimulates thinking.


The Missing Link:College Aspirations & the Common Core

By Watson Scott Swail , Ed.D. President and CEO, Educational Policy Institute

In 1988, approximately 27,000 8th-grade students took both a survey and test for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the US Department of Education. For some of us, 1988 doesn’t seem that long ago, but in educational research, it is an eternity. However, this study has stood the test of time and remains significant even after all these years. While the first cohort of the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS:88) was originally surveyed in 1988, follow-up surveys were conducted in 1990, 1992, and 2000, providing a longitudinal prospective of life for our youth. There are more recent studies, but this is the one I still hang my hat on.

With complete abbreviation and little attention to detail, what we learned from NELS:88 is that all 8th-grade students are not equal. This is not a surprise, but let’s look at some specifics.

The chart below shows postsecondary aspirations for a nationally randomized group of 8th  graders in 1988, as well as followup data with the same students four years (scheduled high school graduation) and six years later (two years beyond scheduled high school graduation).

Take a minute to check the data. Particularly, notice that in column 2, “Planned PSE,” that at least 94 percent of all eighth grade students, regardless of race/ethnicity, family income, and educational legacy, thought they would go to college. Put another way, 19 of 20 students thought, back when they were 13, that they were headed for college. Conversely, only 1 out of 20 did not think they would go to college.



Should Colleges Provide More Career Skills To Students?

Career and Technical Development
Students paying extra for skills not learned on campus
More and more programs are being started to help students master career skills before starting their first jobs, most costing thousands of dollars on top of the already high price of their higher educations. Which, for some critics, raises the question: Why aren’t they learning this in college? (The Hechinger Report, July 8) via ECS.

Colleges Need To Enhance Support Of Common Core

Common Core Goes to College Higher Education Needs to Prepare for “College-Ready” Students

Washington, D.C. — Each year, hundreds of thousands of American students graduate from high school and enter college without being adequately prepared to succeed there. This is partly the result of misaligned high school standards and higher education expectations. There are real, sobering consequences: millions of students have fallen short of earning a college degree. The widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and assessments presents a new opportunity to bridge the gap between high school and higher education, according to a new report released today by New America.

In “Common Core Goes to College: Building Better Connections Between High School and Higher Education,” New America’s Lindsey Tepe describes the current landscape of higher education policies and practices that prevent clear alignment between colleges and the Common Core. Her analysis of state and institution policies within higher education—including the admissions process, qualifying for financial aid, and retesting and course placement, developmental education and teacher preparation—reveals many detours for students navigating the path from high school to college.

The route is littered with multiple layers of student assessment, including high school assessments and exit exams but also college admissions exams such as the ACT and SAT and an assortment of course placement tests. Tepe’s report examines the history and use of these various assessments in higher education. She argues that states’ new college- and career-ready assessments should, at the very least, provide an additional avenue for students to meet minimum college eligibility requirements, qualify for state financial aid, and place into the assortment of first-year credit-bearing coursework offered by institutions.

“If passing a state’s college- and career-ready assessment does not indicate that a student meets the state’s minimum eligibility requirements for higher education, it will undermine the standards as a true proxy for college readiness,” Tepe said Tuesday. “Further, we should streamline our confusing financial aid process by aligning state financial aid qualifications with state high school assessments.”

Tepe argues that the Common Core standards should guide and shape instruction within higher education, notably in the areas of developmental education and teacher preparation. “If students are going to continue taking what amount to high school courses in college, these remedial courses should be informed by states’ college- and career-ready standards.” Further, Tepe noted, “teachers will be much better prepared to implement the Common Core standards if colleges and universities actually prepare them to do so.”

“The path from high school to college is fraught with detours and pitfalls. States that have made a commitment to preparing all students for college success will be unable to uphold that ideal without addressing the complicated, piecemeal higher ed policies and practices which have been put into place over the past century.”

Read the full report, “Common Core Goes to College” here.


How Innovation Can Improve Higher Education Pipeline

AEI Center on Higher Education Reform, June 2014
Andrew P. Kelly, KC Deane, and Taryn Hochleitner

Key points

  • Academically qualified students with college aspirations often fail to make the jump to college because they are blocked by either procedural hurdles or common cognitive biases associated with making major decisions. Many enroll in low-quality options and fail to graduate, and some do not enroll at all.
  • When these hurdles stop students who would benefit from higher education, both the students and society miss out on the benefits of increased human capital.
  • Cutting-edge research shows how innovative thinking can help qualified students navigate the pathway to postsecondary education without breaking the bank: a short video can increase college aspirations in high school students, FAFSA filing by a tax preparer can significantly boost college enrollment, and sending students personalized information about their college options can help them choose a goo
  • Read this publication online

    View a printable copy

Federal Loans Hard Sell To Community College Students

Community college students continue to lack access to federal loans compared to their peers at four-year institutions, and those in certain states and non-urban areas are especially underserved, according to a report out Tuesday from The Institute for College Access and Success. Read More


14 Web Tools For College Students and Teachers To Use And Share

14 Web Tools those students and teachers can use in studying process

Here is a list of thirteen high quality tools that can be used by teachers and by students. They can be used by teachers to teach, and students to revise. There is also some use to be had by having students share the product of their efforts with other members of the class.


This is a very well known tool that is used by students and teachers to create Infographics. These are definitely good things to use as revision aides, and a teacher may very easily create compact pieces of information that will introduce students to the ideas that are being taught in the class.

2. Poll Everywhere

This is a veteran tool but it has been updated so that it still works. It allows students and teachers to create quizzes and open ended questions. A student may use it to revise, and a teacher may use it to test students. It is very easy to use. There is another tool on this article that is similar to this tool, but this is the easier version. You can try both if you wish to figure out which one works the best for your needs.

3. Padlet

This is a virtual board that you are able to put notes onto. You can share your board, move things around and make your own displays. They are good for students to arrange their own revision boards and can be shared by teachers that want to show the students something in a compressed manner.

4. Essay Writing Blog

This is a blog that is jam packed with helpful advice that is going to make a student’s and teacher’s life easier. It gives advice on studying, advanced learning, essay writing and much more. It is a highly rated blog with a lot of visitors. It is highly thought of in student communities and is becoming more and more popular as the blog posts become more and more robust. There is also plenty in the archives for you to look at.

5. The Noun Project

This is a little more "out there." It is a tool that allows students and teachers to arrange icons in a way that helps revision or learning. Play with it a little while to see how it works.

6. WeVideo

This is a video editing tool that students and teachers can use to create educational and revision videos. Having students create learning videos is easy these days secure since most people have a video camera on their phone.

7. Ipiccy

This is a Photoshop program that is free and less complicated. It allows students and teachers to create fancy effects and make their presentations look really good. The output of the tool can be used to help with revision or make presentations for students.

8. Sign Generator

The students and teachers can create their own signs that they fill with information relevant to their studies. They can be used a little like flashcards.

9. BigHugeLabs

The students and teachers can make trading cards and posters that are easy to share. The gimmick is to have the students create trading cards and posters and then share them around so that the other students can learn from them too.

10. Thinglink

This is a tool that allows students and teachers to add content to images. It is a good way of making revision aides and teachers can use them to make diagrams for explaining concepts. For example, a teacher may label all the parts of a dissected flower on a picture and show it to the students.

11. Aurasma

This allows teachers to set things up so that a student may hold up his or her phone to an object and a prompt comes up on their phone. It is handy for teaching students the names of objects in another language.

12. InfuseLearning

This tool has a very simple interface, but allows students and teachers to create prompts, quizzes and multiple choice questions. It is an alternative to the tool listed elsewhere on this article. This tool has more options, but is more difficult to use than the other tool on this article.


This is a tool that allows students and teachers to visually represent information. If the student creates an Infographic with it, then the student is more likely to learn what he or she is adding. If the teacher creates the Infographic, then the students may see a quick guide to a concept that they may refer to whenever they like.

14. Delivr

This is a tool that teachers can use to trigger the interest of their mobile phone hungry class of students. They can start with a QR code treasure hunt.

Jessica Millis, experienced writer, editor and copywriter. She works as an educator (writing classes) for 2 years and always tries to use innovations in the study process.

Improving College Accreditation: Here Are Several Ways

IMPROVING THE ACCREDITATION SYSTEM. In Part One of a series of upcoming EdCentral posts on accreditation reform, New America’s Ben Miller discusses three major critiques of accreditation and the potential for finding common ground to enact reform. Read more at EdCentral. And check out Parts Two, Three, and Four.