Posts published in May, 2015

On line Tool Comparing College Enrollment and Graduation

From Education Trust

This time of year, we’re celebrating so many young adults as they graduate from college and begin to make their way into the world. But let’s pause and think about just how many caps and gowns remain on storage shelves, because some students didn’t make it through.

Closing gaps in access and success and making college affordable, especially for low-income students and students of color, will ensure a brighter economic future for all of our students — and for our country.

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Use The Education Trust’s newly updated College Results Online tool to search and compare how colleges are doing at enrolling and graduating their students. Despite the additions and tweaks we’ve made to over the past 10 years, the data consistently tell the same story: Not all colleges are created equal and what institutions do matters.

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Dr. José Luis Cruz, provost and vice president of academic affairs at California State University, Fullerton; and Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, all solidify this point in a new, 2-minute video

84% 2002 High school Graduates Go to Postsecondary Education, But Only 42% Get A Degree Or Certificate

Education Longitudinal Study of 2002

Megan Lail, Fordham Foundation

The National Center for Education Statistics released the fourth study in a series designed to evaluate high school students’ transition to postsecondary education. The primary focus of the report is a nationally representative sample of roughly fifteen thousand students whom researchers surveyed three times: in 2002, when the students were high school sophomores; in 2006, two years after graduation; and again in 2012, eight years after graduation. Researchers also obtained high school transcripts and, if applicable, at least one postsecondary transcript for every member of the cohort, and disaggregated the data by a variety of factors, including demographics, parent education level, and the number of remedial undergraduate courses taken.

The most compelling findings reconfirmed the stark but all-too-familiar achievement gap. If a student was white or Asian, grew up in a two-parent home, had educated parents, or belonged to one of the top three socioeconomic quartiles, that student was more likely than their less advantaged peers to enroll in a postsecondary program of some kind, more likely to earn better grades, less likely to require remedial classes, more likely to graduate, and more likely to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree instead of an associate’s degree or undergraduate credential.

More generally, the researchers found that 84 percent of the 2002 high school sophomores surveyed enrolled in some sort of postsecondary institution within eight years of graduating high school. Forty-one percent of those who did engage in postsecondary education attended a four-year institution only; 28 percent only attended a two-year school; 13 percent moved from a two-year school to a four-year school; and 12 percent switched from a four-year to a two-year school. Unfortunately, over 42 percent of those who enrolled in postsecondary education failed to earn a degree or certificate of any kind—and again, those students were disproportionately disadvantaged. (No doubt the fact that only 40 percent of U.S. high school students graduate ready for college is an important factor.)

There was a time when policymakers worried about a “college aspiration gap”—that too many kids weren’t gunning for postsecondary education. No longer. These new data indicate that virtually all kids who graduate from high school give college a shot, either right away or in their twenties. But the fact that so many young people leave college without a credential indicates to us that the “college readiness gap” is now a much more pressing challenge.

SOURCE: Erich Lauff, Steven J. Ingels, and Elise Christopher, “Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look at the Postsecondary Transcripts of 2002 High School Sophomores,” U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Science, National Center for Education Statistics (April 2015).

Searing Critique Of AP Expansion And College Board Promotion Policies

Equity and Excellence in the College Board Advanced Placement Program
by William Lichten  for Teachers College Record
This paper, based on the rate of college acceptance of Advanced Placement (AP) exam papers, concurs with current literature that calls for reforms to restore quality to the program. It makes the case that the program size is double to what it would be if appropriate admission standards were followed. It charges the College Board with promoting AP through misleading and irresponsible advertising.


Community College Placement Tests Unfairly Channel Students Into Remediation

This high school graduation season, some 400,000 young Californians will walk across stages and receive their diplomas in ceremonies full of optimism. By the fall, that optimism may be tempered when tens of thousands of them learn that they must repeat math coursework that they successfully completed in high school.

Education policymakers intent on changing that troubling situation have focused their efforts on improving students’ K-12 preparation. But, according to a new report by LearningWorks and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), reformers would also be well-advised to focus on the inadequacies of the placement exams that determine whether college students must take remedial courses.

Remedial education is a barrier to earning a degree, particularly in mathematics. In California, 85 percent of community college students must take remedial math courses, many of them recent high school graduates. But recent research described in the report has revealed that the placement exams dictating community college remedial enrollments may be sending too many students to remedial math courses.

For example, although they’ve completed the final course in the college preparatory math sequence, high school Algebra 2, an estimated 50,000 students enrolling in the California Community Colleges are required to take one or more remedial math courses. Because these sequences can deter students from continuing in college, few of these students ultimately complete a college-level math course required for earning a degree, even if they pass the remedial courses they must take.

“Community colleges in California and nationally have begun to scrutinize their approach to placement,” noted Linda Collins, executive director of LearningWorks. “Re-shaping community college placement policies may be as important or even more important than re-designing the courses into which those policies place students.”

DEGREES OF FREEDOM: Probing Math Placement Policies at California Colleges and Universities, the last in a series of three reports by higher education policy analyst Pamela Burdman exploring college math requirements in California and nationally, comes at a time when math testing in California is in flux.

The California community college system has followed about a dozen state systems in developing a new test intended to better place students. Beginning in 2016, California’s new exam will replace a variety of assessments now in use by colleges.

Limitations of Placement Exams

The effectiveness of most college placement tests is limited in at least three areas, according to the report:

  • Test content doesn’t always align with high school curriculum, and remedial requirements prioritizing algebra instruction are often out of step with students’ academic pursuits, which may require a background in statistics, data analysis, or quantitative reasoning;
  • Test results often are used as the sole or primary factor in placing students, despite strong evidence that students’ high school records more effectively predict success in college courses; and
  • Lack of awareness about placement exams and their importance as well as poor K-16 coordination and communication leave many students ill-prepared to take the exams.

As a result, colleges, including a handful in California, have begun using students’ high school records in addition to — or instead of ­– test scores to determine what math courses are most appropriate. To assist California colleges in improving the effectiveness of their placement policies, a statewide research effort is developing a new placement algorithm for colleges in the state, but its use will be voluntary.

Said Eloy Oakley, president-superintendent of Long Beach City College, “Our initiative to use high school records to place students convinced us that far more students can succeed in college-level math than we previously realized. For the sake of students, I encourage other colleges to seriously consider broadening their placement criteria to emphasize students’ high school backgrounds.”

Re-thinking Math Readiness

The DEGREES OF FREEDOM series concludes with recommendations to make the placement system more effective. These include incorporating high school grades into postsecondary placement decisions, considering students’ programs of study in determining their remedial needs, and sharing practices across colleges to reduce confusion and heighten transparency about remedial placement in California.

California’s higher education systems need to adopt a realistic definition of college readiness in math along with more effective ways of measuring it,” noted David Plank, executive director of PACE. “Such changes are an important complement to efforts by the K-12 system to better prepare students.”


Planning a Career in Healthcare? Ten tips for getting headed in the right direction as an undergraduate

by William B. Farquhar and Carolyn E. Quinci

1. Don’t dig a “GPA hole” your first year in college.

Work hard from the very beginning, as catching up is a lot harder than keeping up. In our department at the University of Delaware, the average GPA of students accepted into health-related graduate professional programs is 3.5, while the average GPA of students not admitted is 3.10. That’s a very small gap. Don’t fall into it.2.Embrace the competitive nature of the next few years of your life.

2. Yes, you should have fun during your college years and take the time to enjoy the process of earning your undergraduate degree. But remember that it’s a competitive process and come prepared for that competition. The number of slots in health-related graduate programs and jobs in the marketplace are limited, and you’ll have to compete with other students to get them.

3. The early bird gets the worm.

No one likes 8:00 am classes, but you need to be ready for them. And even if you don’t have early classes, you can get a lot of work done in the morning. Be prepared for everything—as the saying goes, 80 percent of success is showing up.

4. Treat college like a job because it is your job.

The rule of thumb for the amount of time you should be putting into your coursework is 2-3 hours of work outside of class for every hour you’re in class. So if you take 15 credits in a semester, that translates to ~15 hours in class, a total of an additional 30-45 hours of work outside class.

5. Be willing to ask for help when you need it and know where to go to get it.

No one is perfect, and we don’t expect students to know everything. Ask questions in class, go to office hours, form study groups with others in class. In short, use all the resources available to you.Appreciate that knowledge is not fixed – everything is in flux, always.

6. Listen to former chair of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke when he says, “During your working lives, you will have to reinvent yourself many times.  Success and satisfaction will not come from mastering a fixed body of knowledge but from constant adaptation in a rapidly changing world.”  There is no doubt the world is changing rapidly. Don’t just accept change, embrace it.

7. Have a growth mindset.

Personality and intelligence aren’t fixed unless you believe they are.  Psychologists such as Carol Dweck from Stanford University believe that a “growth mind-set” is critical to overcoming adversity and that struggles can be overcome with effort, strategy, and good instruction.  Successful people, including students, are creative, flexible, and open to new ideas, and they tend to have a growth mind-set.

8. Embrace science.

Learn as much as you can about the scientific method and try to get some research experience as an undergraduate. You’ll learn a lot while also positioning yourself to compete for graduate school positions and jobs.  Also, keep in mind that graduate admission committees in health sciences look very closely at your science GPA (biology, chemistry, etc.).  Work hard in all your classes but especially in your science courses.

9. Gain experience whenever and wherever you can.

Most graduate and professional programs require a minimum number of shadowing hours, so start accumulating these hours as soon as possible. Also, if you’re unsure about which area of healthcare you’re interested in, an internship, summer job, volunteer position, or shadowing experience can give you an idea of what the field is like.

10. Take the time to understand probability.

You’ll make better decisions in school—and in life—if you understand the basic concepts of probability.  If you know, for example, that your top physical therapy school choice receives 400 applications each year for only 40 slots, you’ll understand that you should have some back-up options.

On the other hand, this might be the time to circle back to Tips 1 and 2—if you work hard from the beginning and you embrace competition, you’ll have a much better chance of coming out among the top ten percent of applicants for a spot at your top school.

William B. Farquhar, PhD, is chair and professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology at the University of Delaware. Twitter: @farquhar_wbf. Carolyn E. Quinci, EdD, is the Assistant Dean for Student Services in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Delaware.  The authors thank Diane Kukich for expert editorial assistance.  

Federal Financial Aid Application Still Flawed

From Dan Greenstein, Gates Foundation

Students today need a postsecondary degree or credential more than ever to succeed in their careers and life. Unfortunately, for too many students the road to college completion is littered with unnecessary burdens and barriers, such as a needlessly complex financial aid process and a lack of clear information.

The current FAFSA, the application that millions of students fill out to apply for financial aid, is outdated and overly complicated. Because of this, every year nearly 2 million college students don’t receive Pell Grants that they are likely eligible for. Learn more about the problem here and stay tuned for more on how to #FixFAFSA!

In addition, students often lack the necessary information to make better decisions. The good news is that there’s progress underway. The Postsecondary Data Collaborative is suggesting improvements in data quality and transparency which, if used more widely by states and the federal government, will improve outcomes for postsecondary students, institutions, and systems.

Please visit this website to learn more about the importance of data and fixing the FAFSA.

5 Ways to Make Sure You are Ready for College

By Jane Hurst

You’ve graduated from high school, and once the summer is over, you will be heading off to college. Are you ready for this huge change in your life? Many young people go to college thinking they are going to have the time of their lives, only to realize that they were completely unprepared for what was ahead of them. It’s not enough to arrive with a shiny, new Chevrolet Corvette and ready to party. You also need to be ready to take on your responsibilities as a student. Read on to learn more about how you can spend the summer preparing yourself to make sure that you get the most out of your college experience.

Sit at the Front

If you can snag yourself a seat at the front of the class, take it. No, you aren’t going to look like the teacher’s pet. But, you are going to get noticed by the professor. There may be as many as 300 people in a lecture or class, and if you are way in the back, the professor isn’t going to notice you. When you are right in the front, you are going to be able to make eye contact with the professor. Also, it is a lot easier to see and hear what the professor is doing and saying when you are up front, so you will be able to take better notes and achieve better grades. Make sure that your phone is turned off, so you don’t have any distractions or distract the professor and the rest of the class.

Check Your Emails

Before the first semester starts, you will likely get an email from your professor, welcoming you to the program. In this email, there will probably be a bit of information about the class, what you will be learning, and what is expected of you. You will also find out what textbooks you need to have.

Take Part in Class

One of the things that professors look for in students is classroom participation. They know which students are engaged in the work, and you will soon find out that in most of your classes, participation counts for as much as 15% of your final grade. Be sure to ask questions, work with groups, do your homework on time, talk to the professor if you have any problems with the work, etc. Don’t feel stupid about asking a question, because if you are asking, it is likely that someone else in the class has the exact same question but was too afraid to ask.

Early Homework

You may be expected to do some prep work before starting classes in the fall, such as read a certain book. Your professor will let you know about this in the welcome email. It would be in your best interest to take this early homework seriously. If you show up on the first day of classes unprepared, you aren’t going to end up on the good side of your professor. It is important to impress the professor right from day one, so they don’t think that you are going to be a slacker.

Classmate Diversity

If you come from an area where the majority of people are of a certain ethnicity, you may be in for quite a shock when you see the diversity of your new classmates in college. Don’t be afraid to get to know people from different races and backgrounds. You never know who is going to end up becoming your new best friend. You will be meeting a lot of different people, so put yourself out there, be open to new things, and make lots of new friends.


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.


Tips for College Educators: How to Hold Students’ Attention?

By Melissa Burns

Young students have a lot to think about: tests, friends, lunch, family, and many other things that are getting in the way of the lecture they should be listening to. When you add smartphones and messaging apps on top of everything, the problem with attention deficit in the class seems impossible to solve.

Among all life lessons teachers have the responsibility to instill, self-control and commitment are the most important ones. According to a common belief, the average attention span of a typical university student is between 10 and 15 minutes. This period is even shorter with younger students, so their teachers have to rely on different “tricks” that will bring the pupils back to reality.

Interactive Techniques Are Efficient for Improvement of Students’ Attention Span

The first and most important advantage of interactive teaching methods is the ability of the educator to assess whether or not the students are paying attention. The new classroom environment imposes interactivity as the only technique that enables students to take an active part in the learning process.

One of the most important educational reforms, implemented with the goal to individualize the interaction between students and teachers, is class-size reduction. Due to the individual attention each student gets in a smaller class, low achievers can improve their attention span through daily commitment and greater participation in discussions.

Among all improvements the educational system has gained through this reform, the establishment of a strong foundation for learning in primary grades is the most important one. The smaller class provides opportunities for teachers to experiment with new methods and share their knowledge in a way that all students can accept. Technology is an integral part of the efforts to make the modern classroom more productive.

Since today’s students consider technology to be an integral part of their daily routines, different tools can be successfully implemented into interactive teaching methods with the purpose to increase the average attention span in class.

Effective Interactive Techniques for Boosting Students’ Attention Span

There are several teaching and evaluation methods that enable instructors to share the knowledge in a way that would increase students’ interest. Not all of them are applicable in every classroom, so you need to assess the collective potential and interest in the classroom before implementing a particular interactive method. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong in experimenting. The following educational techniques will improve the overall effectiveness in the classroom:

  1. 1.     Active teaching

If you simply cover the textbook material in class without any expectations for the learners to participate in the process, you will have a classroom of bored students who won’t remember a single sentence of your lecture. These are some of the methods you can use in order to make your approach more fun:

  • Ask rhetorical questions and allow your students to think for 20 seconds before answering. Don’t be too harsh on them; allow them to be creative in this problem-solving process and try to inspire a discussion after an answer.
  • Use picture prompts. Show images related to the concepts you are teaching, and ask your students to explain them.
  • Infuse some pop culture in your lectures. You can hold students’ attention by asking them to relate the lessons to popular pop stars, events, commercials, games, or anything else they can infiltrate into the lesson.
  1. 2.     Individual participation

The purpose of a small class is to pay attention to each and every student. This is one of the most effective techniques that will help you evaluate a student’s potential and attention span:

  • Assign one-minute papers in which the students should write the most important thing they learned that day. These short projects shouldn’t affect the final grade. With time, the one-minute papers will inspire them to try harder to remember the things you are teaching.
  1. 3.     Teamwork

Enabling your students to work in pairs or groups is a very effective trick to increase their attention span.

  • After a lecture, divide the class into few groups, assign a topic and inspire a discussion. Give them some time to coordinate, and then tell them to agree or disagree with the particular issue.


  • Group brainstorming enables students to benefit from each other’s creativity. Assign team projects and enable the students to complete them during class.

4.     Digital tools

Many old-school teachers perceive the increased exposure to technology as a change that negatively affects students’ attention span, but edTech apps and tools can boost their potential to absorb and memorize information.

  • Facebook and Twitter can literally serve as discussion boards that will make your students more comfortable to participate.


  • YouTube is a great source of video materials you can present in the classroom. In addition, you can inspire your students to create videos though a team projects, and upload them on YouTube for the class to see.


  • Educational games are great attention span boosters. Find games that are appropriate for your students’ age, and make their days at school more fun.

5.     Online tests

Students love spending time online. You can use that inclination into your advantage and assign an online literature test from Assignment Masters at a scheduled time. This can be an individual or team project, but make sure to explain your expectations and give your students enough time to prepare for the assignment.

Author’s bio:

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education. You may contact Melissa:

Rethinking the regulatory environment of college competency-based education

From American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC

Key points

  • Although competency-based education (CBE) has made considerable inroads in higher education, strategies are needed to improve state, accreditor, and federal oversight of CBE programming.
  • In particular, state agencies should strive to accommodate forms of CBE that operate independently of the credit hour, and state policymakers should consider whether alternatives to enrollment-based funding models could facilitate the growth of competency-based programming.
  • Furthermore, an independent advisory board serving all regional and national accreditors should be created to provide clear, detailed, and coordinated recommendations to all levels of government and to oversee the intersection of innovation and regulation.
  • Finally, the US Department of Education should develop a distinct regulatory framework for approving and managing financial aid for CBE programs without reference to credit hour or instructional time concepts.

Read this publication online

View a printable copy

How Graduating Students Can Use LinkedIn to Get a Job

By Melissa Burns

The rise of social networking has allowed individuals from all walks of life to meet new people and connect with others quickly and easily. Along with being an innovative way to socialize and make new friends, however, social networking sites have transformed the way people look for and find employment.

LinkedIn in particular has become a key social networking website that lets prospects launch and grow their careers. According to Chris Rowe, CEO of Jet Digital Marketing in Salt Lake City, “Social networks like LinkedIn are great resources for getting in front of perspective employers. We have connected to many skilled people through social networking.” These tips for using LinkedIn can help you find new employment or discover professional opportunities.

Use Professional Profile Images and Language

Just as you would set up a profile on Facebook or Twitter, you also should create an engaging and professional profile for LinkedIn. Unlike other social networking sites, however, this website is not the place to be whimsical or even comical.

Rather, you should use a professional picture for your profile and also utilize upbeat, yet professional language when describing yourself and your career goals. When you avoid slang, profanity, poor grammar, and other sloppy writing techniques, you put your proverbial best foot forward to impress contacts and possible employers.

Target and Follow Prospective Employers

When you join LinkedIn, you should have a list of companies that you wish to target for your job search. After you decide for what companies you would possibly like to work, you should then follow them on this site.

By following them, you put yourself on their employment radar. You also discover what kind of employees they are looking for, what kinds of positions they have coming open, what salaries and benefits packages may come with your would-be position, and other information that can be handy to know prior to the interview.

Build a Solid First Network

LinkedIn encourages users like you to build and expand networks by connecting with people with whom you have worked and know. Your network with these individuals then can expand into their networks, letting you connect with people from different industries and professional levels.

It is critical that you take care to build this first network so that your expanded connections do in fact lead you to companies and employers that could help you further your career. Your network is a reflection of your job search and talents, which is why you should cultivate it carefully and only associate with people whose interests and professionalism align with yours.

Use the Job Search Function

Of course, along with building a solid profile and network, you can also find prospective jobs by using the site’s job search function found on the homepage. You can look for new positions in your own location or in any city across the country or globe.

You can also narrow your search based on criteria that is important to you. For example, you can use the advanced search function to find employment that fits a certain salary range, skill level, or job title. This function saves you the time of having to vet each position and instead focus on jobs that are truly of interest to you.

Commit to Your Profile

Because people use this site for professional purposes, your commitment to your profile is important. When you are serious about finding a job or furthering your career, you should avoid letting your profile become stagnant and outdated.

By keeping your information updated and using the site regularly, you show that you are actively engaged in the job market and that you are a valid candidate for a new position. Your commitment also allows you to keep connecting to new users who may become valuable allies in your bid to grow your career.

Social networking has changed the way that job seekers and potential employers find and connect with each other. When you want to expand your career and find new and exciting prospects both at home and anywhere else in the world, you can use these strategies and join the social media website LinkedIn.

Author’s bio:

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008.  Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education. You may contact Melissa via