Posts published in December, 2014
Happy holidays! My book with Mitchell Stephens, Remaking College : The Changing Ecology of Higher Education from Stanford University Press will debut in January-see details below
A new national survey released by Achieve – Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work? – shows that approximately 50% of recent high school graduates report gaps in preparation for life after high school.
“Recent high school graduates are telling us that they left high school unprepared for the expectations they faced in college or in the work place,” said Sandy Boyd, chief operating officer of Achieve. “Policymakers should take note and create an environment where college and career ready standards-which all states now have-are translated into high expectations for all students. Until states set gradation policies that match their academic standards and support rigorous instruction, too many recent graduates will continue to feel underprepared for their next steps.”
The survey, which is a follow-up to an earlier survey conducted by Achieve in 2004, found that the perceived rigor of high school is largely unchanged in the past decade.
“The results show us that there continue to be shortcomings in the educational expectations for students, with real consequences when they confront the demands of college or work after high school,” said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the survey in partnership with Public Opinion Strategies. “Only one in four recent graduates reports that their high school set high academic expectations, which is the same scenario we found ten years ago. Many students are able to easily obtain a high school diploma, but too many find themselves unprepared once they arrive in college or in the working world.”
Most recent high school graduates say they experience a lack of preparedness in at least one subject.
- 49% of college students and 43% of non-students report large gaps in one or more subject areas.
- 83% of college students and 81% of non-students report at least some gaps in one or more subject areas.
A majority of the high school graduates surveyed indicate the expectations they faced in school don’t match the expectations once they leave despite attaining a diploma.
- 60% of college students and 58% of non-students say they would have worked harder in high school if they knew what they know now about the expectations of college and the working world.
- 72% of college students and 65% of non-students indicate that they would have taken higher-level or more challenging courses in one or more subject area given what they know now about the expectations of college and the working world.
- 87% of all recent high school graduates surveyed say that they would have worked harder if their high schools had demanded more, set higher academic standards, and raised expectations of the course work and studying necessary to earn a diploma.
- Students who report that their high schools had high academic expectations were more likely to feel extremely or very well prepared for college and the working world.
- Only one quarter of graduates surveyed feel their high school set high expectations.
Higher level math attainment helped students that went on to college avoid remedial classes. *
- Students who took math courses beyond Algebra II were more likely to feel extremely or very well prepared for college and the working world.
- College students who have lower math attainment take remedial courses at much higher rates; 83% of college students who took less than Algebra II were required to take remedial coursework, compared with just 18% of students who had taken coursework beyond Algebra II in high school.
While many of the results mirror high school graduates’ feelings in 2004, there were some differences.
- More than one quarter of graduates surveyed wish that their high school had done a better job of preparing them for success in key areas: study habits, communications, and math. More students feel unprepared in these areas in 2014 than did in 2004.
Recent high school graduates also broadly agreed on which proposals would encourage high school students to work harder and be better prepared for life after high school, among those receiving the highest marks were: provide opportunities for real-world learning (90% total would improve somewhat and a great deal); communicate early in high school about the courses needed for college/careers (87%); give opportunities to take challenging course (86%); provide more help for those who need extra tutoring (83%) and have an assessment late in high school so students can find out what they need for college (77%).
“Providing consistent and regular signals to all high school students about future opportunities and the academics that are needed to be ready for college and career is key,” said Boyd. “In addition to graduation requirements that align to a state’s standards, states and districts should consider a number of policy actions. These include multiple pathways to graduation that combine real work exposure (such as meaningful career and technical education programs) with rigorous academics, early warning signals to students about their readiness for college and career, and providing additional academic support when needed. Finally, communicating early and often to students about what will be expected of students after high school and how they can chart a path to meet their goals is essential. As recent graduates said, when schools set rigorous expectations of students, they can and will rise to the challenge.”
Findings are based on a national online survey conducted between October 31 and November 17, 2014 of 1,347 recent public high school graduates from the classes of 2011 through 2014, including:
- 741 students who are currently enrolled in two-year and four-year colleges (320 of whom have taken at least one remedial course)
- 606 graduates who are not currently enrolled in two-year or four-year colleges, including 215 who attended college but quit before finishing
- 277 African American and 375 Hispanic recent public high school graduates
Please click here to view a slide deck that examines the full set of survey results.
Large percentages of low-income students will not complete college and earn credentials until state and campus leaders scale up critical improvements
BOSTON—December 18, 2014— A new national report released today by Jobs for the Future (JFF) says that a decade of interventions and improvements have fallen short because states and campuses have not taken large enough steps to address their biggest challenge—helping the 12.8 million students enrolled in community colleges earn postsecondary degrees and credentials to find good jobs.
Community colleges continue to take the spotlight as the most economical and powerful engine to upgrade the skills of the workforce and provide low-income students a pathway to postsecondary credentials and good jobs. But in spite of a decade of interventions and student support initiatives, the nation’s most disadvantaged adults and young people are not gaining traction towards degrees. Last month, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported that while more first-time students entered college in 2008 than in 2007, the percentage that had completed a degree or certificate six years later actually dropped—from 56.1 percent of students who entered college in 2007 and completed in 2013 to 55 percent who entered a year later and graduated this year.
The new JFF report—Policy Meets Pathways: A State Policy Agenda for Transformational Change—says to address these challenges, campuses and states must do more than establish metrics for success, change transfer policies, provide better academic advising and support pilots targeting specific student subgroups. Community college campuses that serve 44 percent of low-income students, in particular, need to redesign pilot projects and ad hoc interventions introduced over the past decade into structured or guided pathways that reshape every step of the student experience, gearing all they do to the end goal of high-quality certificates, degrees, and good jobs. States must scale pathways across their systems to serve all students. Campus efforts are embedded all too often in state policy environments that are outdated, driven by the wrong incentives, or incompatible with colleges’ efforts. States need to redouble their efforts to modernize policies, and develop more effective approaches that support campuses and build capacity to strengthen implementation.
The broad-scale expansion of effective initiatives to serve low-income students, the report says, has been hindered by an implementation gap similar to that in K-12 education, where policymakers have underestimated the challenges in transforming instruction in schools. Too often, the report says, “policymakers have sought quick fixes, enacting big legislation without fully evaluating what needs to happen, or without providing adequate resources, building needed buy-in from key stakeholders, or acknowledging the progress already being made on the ground.” Some state actions have created changes that research has proven effective for students who are nearly college-ready, for example, but not for those with deeper academic needs.
“State leaders have pulled a lot of policy levers—setting goals, monitoring progress and demanding accountability—but now it’s time to intersect more closely with the needs of educators and campus leaders,” says Lara K. Couturier, program director of postsecondary state policy for Jobs for the Future and author of the report. “Institutions need to operate in a policy environment that helps them introduce comprehensive and integrated reform strategies that change every aspect of what they do—from admissions and instruction to student services and workforce preparation—to increase the percentage of low-income students who earn degrees and find jobs that pay a living wage.”
The report’s findings largely emerge from studying efforts by nine colleges and three state organizations that have participated in the Completion by Design initiative in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio (see attached list) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. On many of these campuses, orientation to college includes an assessment of a student’s career interests and academic and non-cognitive needs. Students choose and enter streamlined, coherent academic programs organized around specific program pathways—a set of courses that meet academic requirements across a broad discipline grouping such as health sciences, business, or education—with clear learning goals aligned with further education and/or a career. The colleges clearly map out students’ routes through college, provide intensive academic and non-academic counseling and supports, and monitor student progress. While gaps and challenges remain, the three states are working with their colleges to build a supportive policy environment around these efforts. (See executive summary about model state efforts.)
Recommendations for state action: DesignForScale
The report challenges national leaders, state officials, and system heads to “put efforts to bolster completion on a new trajectory” by analyzing the extent to which state policies support the colleges that are trying to do right by their students, and then by designing policies and interventions meant to serve large percentages of low-income and nontraditional students. Key policy priorities need to, in JFF’s words, “design for scale,” tackling thorny policy issues, by:
- Streamlining program requirements and creating clearly structured programs of study to help students gain traction toward degrees rather than be stymied by an overwhelming array of course options, unclear program requirements and a lack of guidance.
- Encouraging colleges to redesign developmental education into accelerated on-ramps to programs of study that include strong advising, student entry into program streams or meta-majors with developmental education courses relevant to that stream, as well as comprehensive “wraparound” services that provide everything from counseling and financial literacy to supplemental instruction.
- Supporting colleges in developing and implementing a suite of research-based, wraparound student support services that propel students through to completion, including redesigned student intake procedures, comprehensive advising with integrated career counseling, early alert systems, and program mapping.
- Ensuring that structured pathways lead to credentials and durable competencies that allow students to build on their skill sets, continuously adapt to the fast-paced and constantly evolving global economy, and access robust career opportunities.
- Supporting colleges’ strategic use of data, with a particular focus on creating statewide data systems that monitor students’ progress from postsecondary education into the labor market. State efforts also should build the capacity of institutions to use student data and real-time labor market information.
- Investing professional development dollars in statewide structures that create intensive, authentic faculty engagement and link college completion to a deeper focus on teaching and learning.
The report also calls on states to develop state-level structures that encourage these scaled-up improvements, including a self-assessment process for colleges to review institutional policies and practices, support for authentic faculty engagement, and new Student Success Centers that encourage collaboration within and across states and provide opportunities for faculty development and stakeholder involvement in decision making. (See executive summary and report for more detailed recommendations.)
To help accelerate progress, JFF will work with states and campuses to advance these changes through its DesignForScale initiative.
The report, Policy Meets Pathways, is available online at www.jff.org/publications
The Advanced Placement Arms Race and the Reproduction of Educational Inequality
by Joshua Klugman
From 2000 to 2002, the state of California attempted to expand access to Advanced Placement subjects for students attending public schools. This study shows this intervention succeeded in expanding the AP curricula and enrollments at disadvantaged schools; however, schools serving affluent communities broadened their AP offerings at the same (if not faster) rate, resulting in effectively maintained inequalities in AP access.
50 ways to test
As many states began adopting new academic standards(including Common Core}, a need for new college readiness assessments arose. ECS provides a high-level overview of the two Common Core testing consortia and a wide variety of other state college ready testing requirements. ECS provides a snapshot of which assessments are planned in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for the 2014-15 academic year. It is striking how many different kinds of assessments the various states will be using in spring 2015.
By Melissa Burns
Motivation is a tricky thing – we all understand that there are things we ought to do if we want our life to get better: work diligently, look for new ways to enrich our lives, be ready to grasp new opportunities, widen our horizons… but more often than not we cannot be bothered to do it all. We are more than content to keep to our cozy little world, even though it means that the entire universe passes us by. We simply don’t feel motivated to do it.
But only by breaking out of this vicious circle one can really change his or her life for the better. So let’s look at how one can keep this motivation thing up.
1. Spend Time with Positively Thinking People
Our environment defines us, and to a great extent. If you surround yourself with pessimistic, lazy, unenthusiastic people who are always whining about how the world is unjust towards them and how they are always out of luck, don’t be surprised when their pessimism rubs off on you. And vice versa – if the majority of your friends are happy, optimistic and enthusiastic it will be much harder for you to stay depressed and unmotivated.
2. Find a Source of Motivation
Motivation cannot be sustained by itself – if there are not enough positive people around, you should get your fix elsewhere. Listen to motivational speakers, read self-help books, subscribe to an inspirational site or two – and do it regularly, not only when you start feeling blue. It will help you keep yourself energized and ready to face every new day.
3. Get out of Your Comfort Zone
You think that you like your life the way it is and don’t want to change anything about it? If you ever start feeling like this it means that you really are in a desperate need of change. Nothing is more depressing and motivation-killing than never-changing routine, when each new day is exactly the same as the last, and you remember that five years ago everything was exactly the same as it is now. If it is about you – break this routine this very moment, do something that would stick out of it like a sore thumb. It may be something big, like moving to a new apartment or finding another job, or something small, like meeting some new people or having lunch at a new place. After all, small changes bring about large ones, as any change at all is invigorating.
4. Get Some Exercise
Especially if your regular job is a sedentary one. Human body wasn’t designed to stay idle all the time. If you spend most of your day at a desk it is only natural that your organism will start feeling that something isn’t right – and it will sooner or later influence your psychological condition as well. Retaining healthy approach to life calls for combining healthy mind and healthy body – as they are interconnected, by keeping your body fit you will improve the condition of your mind as well.
5. Establish a Reward
If the actual reward for doing what you should do it too vague and abstract to motivate you, why not add something more perceivable? If there is something highly unpleasant you should do, establish a reward you will give yourself after you do it. It may be anything: a glass of favorite drink, a piece of cake, a walk in a park, a meeting with your friends, a shopping tour – just be reasonable and make rewards comparable to the tasks.
Staying motivated is one of the biggest secrets of success. Those who manage to keep themselves optimistic and enthusiastic no matter how hard life is are the ones who conquer the world – use these tips and join the winners now!
Melissa is a student of journalism. She is passionate about digital technologies and tries to implement them in the sphere of education.
BY Melissa Burns
Modern world is much more open and free than the world our ancestors and even our parents lived. We can travel wherever we want, live wherever we want, try our hand at different jobs, study different professions – and there is nobody to stop us. Getting education abroad is probably one of the most fascinating prospects young people have today – for the simple reason that after getting a degree in a prestigious university one dramatically increases his or her competitiveness on job market.
However, the fact that you have an opportunity doesn’t mean that it is easy to utilize it. Let’s take a look at a few things you have to know and do before you start to seriously consider applying to a foreign school.
1. You Will Need Money – Lots of It
Education at a prestigious university, plus travelling fees, plus accommodation, plus food, plus various other expected and unexpected expenses – all this is going to cost you a pretty penny, and the higher your aspirations, the more expensive it is going to be. Thus, either you or your family should take a good look at the opportunities of international education and think carefully whether you can afford it. And you should take care to think about it beforehand not to get in trouble midway.
2. Scholarships Are Highly Sought-After
Yes, there are scholarships that may greatly alleviate the financial burden of getting education abroad – some give you an opportunity to study free of charge, others do away with some percentage of the fee. However, although it is a completely viable way of getting by, international scholarships are highly competitive and there will always be thousands of applicants willing to fight for them. Moreover, financial support for international students from governments, private sponsors and colleges was on decline for several years in a row, which means even more competition. For example, right now about 64% of international students in the USA pay for their education in full. Thus, in order to get a scholarship, you have to be willing to spend a great deal of time, effort and energy preparing and making yourself eligible for it.
3. Consulting a Specialist Is a Good Idea
There are organizations out there that exist for the sole purpose of helping international students in getting education abroad. They provide consulting services, allow you to apply to particular courses and programs with their assistance, help you choose the school, program and discipline that are best suited to your skills and aspirations in life – in other words, they already have all the information about international education you are only starting to look for. So, isn’t it better to apply via one of them and get professional consultation and support instead of going in blindly?
4. You Will Be Living in a New World
College is often perceived as an entirely new stage of life, having little to no similarity to everything a person passed through before, but if you are going to a college in another country, it is a different thing entirely. The overall situation may be different depending on which country you are going to, but you are going to be a fish out of water: different country means different culture, customs, mentality and so on. You will leave your old environment behind and will have to get used to living in another world – better accept this idea in advance not to be shocked after moving to a new place.
Getting education abroad is, of course, an extremely exciting and promising opportunity – but before you apply to the college of your dreams you should understand that getting there and staying there isn’t going to be easy. But prepare yourself well, and there will be no stopping you!
Melissa is a student of journalism. She is passionate about digital technologies and tries to implement them in the sphere of education.
It’s called “undermatching”—when super-smart poor kids could get into elite schools but are afraid to apply. And it’s a problem we can fix.
From Jonah Edelman’s column in The Daily Beast:
Forget the Kids Who Can’t Get In; What About Those Who Don’t Even App
Tis the season for college admissions. Across the country, high school seniors are in the throes of completing college applications before looming deadlines.
Meanwhile, a staggering number of bright, high-achieving students growing up in poverty won’t even apply to one. This phenomenon is known in education circles as “undermatching.”
The College Board, which administers the SAT, reports that 96 percent of low-income minority students who score higher than 1200 on the SATs don’t apply to highly selective schools. In stark contrast, about the same percentage of middle class and wealthy students with a 1200 or more do apply to selective schools.
There’s a prominent perception that selective colleges aren’t socioeconomically diverse because there just aren’t enough qualified applicants out there. That perception is false and often reflects not just ignorance but also elitism and racism.
The truth is, high achieving students growing up in poverty don’t apply to selective colleges for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with their ability, and many of those reasons stem from a lack of effective college counseling:
· They don’t know the selective schools even exist
· None of their peers are applying
· They aren’t encouraged to apply (and sometimes they are even discouraged from applying)
· They believe they can’t get in
· They think there’s no way they can afford those schools (when, actually, selective schools tend to have far better aid packages)
· They think they can’t handle the work or the radically different environment.
Last year, I saw directly how this plays out through my mentee, Christian. I got paired up with Christian during his sophomore year in high school, having let his school principal know I was game to mentor a few high-potential young men of color. Since then Christian and I have gotten together roughly once a month for lunch or coffee, and emailed, texted or talked by phone when he needed advice or encouragement.
Christian is the son of Mexican immigrants whose father works at a car wash and mother works at McDonalds. Hardworking and thoughtful, Christian tears up when talking about the sacrifices his parents have made for him and how much he wants to succeed in order to honor that sacrifice and help out his family.
The prevalence of qualified students from low-income households choosing less selective colleges negatively affects untold numbers of lives and contributes to our nation’s lack of economic mobility.
Despite being a 4.0 public school student, serving as class president and co-captain of his soccer team, and working hard to boost his ACT score to a respectable 24, Christian only applied to two big state schools. He was accepted at both, and told me over lunch last January that he planned to choose between them. That spurred a discussion about whether he might do better at a smaller school because it would provide him with support he needed as a first-generation college student to succeed.
Based on our conversation, he decided to do more research and apply to at least one small selective college. He did, was accepted, and received several scholarships that made the cost lower than what he would have paid at the bigger universities. Thanks to hard work, being included in a cohort of students of color that met during the summer before his first year, and personalized support from professors and the campus writing center, Christian is doing incredibly well.
Sadly, there are tens of thousands of high-potential young people like Christian who aren’t supported to find the best college fit.
A study by Caroline Hoxby, a professor of economics at Stanford University, and Christopher Avery, a professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, found that each year, 25,000 to 35,000 highly qualified low-income students don’t attend top colleges where they’d get more financial aid, be as or more likely to graduate, and get a degree and have access to networks that would open more doors for them.
The prevalence of qualified students from low-income households choosing less selective colleges — where they rack up more debt and, in many cases, get less support and a lower quality education — negatively affects untold numbers of lives and contributes to our nation’s lack of economic mobility. It also deprives our communities of the unique contributions that individuals who grow up poor and yet graduate from our nation’s leading colleges can make. To be sure, enabling high achieving, underserved students to attend and graduate from the best colleges possible is just one piece in the puzzle of restoring the American Dream.
But it’s important, it’s right, and it’s doable.
The good news is more and more is happening on this key front.
Non-profit organizations like The Posse Foundation, College Track, New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Project (NJ LEEP), College Possible, The Bottom Line, Pallus, Chicago Scholars, Beyond 12 and the College Advising Corps are making a difference by providing high and moderately achieving low-income students with after-school tutoring and enrichment, mentors, SAT and ACT preparation, and information and support on how to get into competitive colleges and universities. Many build relationships with college admissions officers at selective colleges with high graduation rates and strong supports for students from underserved communities, and some even hold big college fairs to facilitate matches.
Some selective colleges and universities have increased their efforts to recruit and effectively support high achieving poor students. The University of Texas, Bowdoin College in Maine, and Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, for example, are offering smaller classes, peer mentoring, extra tutoring, and ongoing faculty and advisor support to help high achieving low-income students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, to persist and graduate.
Nationally, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama held a summit this past Thursday on college success, which highlighted the importance of advising and outreach. The College Board, in partnership with various colleges, has introduced Apply to 4 or More, a pilot program that waives application fees to encourage highly qualified low-income students to expand their application portfolios. And Bloomberg Philanthropies recently announced a project to help 75,000 high-achieving, low-income students get into top colleges.
Still, far more needs to be done.
Effective guidance and support for high achieving high-school students growing up in poverty needs to become the norm, as does free college applications for low-income students, and proactive, persistent outreach and effective on-campus support by selective colleges.
Government, colleges and universities, nonprofits, and philanthropic groups all have a key role to play in picking what is perhaps the lowest hanging fruit in the fight to ensure equal educational opportunity for all.
Individuals do, too. How? By reaching out to a local high school or non-profit to become a mentor for a high achieving, low-income student. Not only is it important, right, and doable, but it may well be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences you’ll ever have.
Aspiring Adults Adrift by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa
Arum and Roksa are back. Their new book, Aspiring Adults Adrift—a follow up to their 2011 landmark study of undergraduates’ learning, socialization, and study habits, Academically Adrift—follows the same cohort through the rest of their college careers and into the working world. Built on interviews and detailed surveys of almost 1,000 recent college graduates from a diverse range of colleges and universities, they reveal a generation facing a difficult transition to adulthood. Arum and Roksa not only map out the current state of a generation too often adrift, but also enable us to examine the relationship between college experiences and tentative transitions to adulthood.
As a student, the Internet can be your best friend. It can also be your best enemy, because it can be a terrific distraction from what you are supposed to be doing. As long as you are not wasting a lot of time playing games or social networking online, and actually using sites that are going to help you get ahead, stay organized, etc., you can get a lot out of the Internet. Here are 10 websites and apps that are free to use, and that can help you throughout your college career.
1. Pocket – How many times have you found an article you would like to read later, only to forget where you found it when later arrives? Pocket will bookmark articles that you want to read or use for research, and you can find them all in one convenient location.
2. EggTimer – This is a simple site, and it can help you to get back on schedule. It will measure how long it takes you do to everyday tasks, and there are fun features too, such as pomodoro. This is a study method where you have a 25-minute study session, then take a break for a morning exercise.
3. Amazon & Jumia – You need treat yourself once in a while, and you can find great deals online shopping websites like Amazon and Jumia. These websites are the top online retailers in the world, with the lowest prices available on everything from fashions to electronics. You will be able to treat yourself and stay on budget at the same time.
4. IFTTT – This stands for “If this, then that”, and it is a virtual assistant. You can create “recipes” for smartphones, or set things up so different apps and tasks are combined. Customize this app to keep your life organized.
5. Evernote – This is going to make note-taking easier than ever. You can type notes on your keyboard, take photos, record audio, and more, and then keep it all organized in files. Sync files with all of the devices you use, so you have your notes with you everywhere you go and you can refer to them any time you need them.
6. Mint – This is a budgeting app that connects with your bank account. You can set up a personal finance plan and a budget in less than 20 minutes. Mint will help you stick to your budget, and let you know when you are at risk of going over it. You can get this app for a variety of platforms.
7. Any.DO – This app helps you create to-do lists to help you better manage your time. You can review your lists, set up reminders, and more. There is even a geolocation function, which will send you reminders when you are at certain locations. For example, if you need to get a certain reference book and you are in the library, you will be notified.
8. Google Docs – Share documents with other students, and get information that is going to help you greatly with your education, from study guides to peer-editing of your papers and more. You can use this service on mobile devices, so you don’t need to be sitting in front of a computer.
9. Buzzsumo – You can use Buzzsumo to find articles on any subject, and even see how many social media shares the articles have. You can customize it so it will show specific types of content, and have a time frame of one week to six months of old articles.
10. Wikipedia – While most professors recommend that you don’t use Wikipedia because anyone can write entries, you can use it if you use it right. Before looking at any information, go to the bottom of the page to the “References” section to find out where the writers got their information.
Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot.