More students may be able to gain admission into Sam Houston State University after the Texas State University System Board of Regents authorized the university to change admission standards for incoming freshmen during the Fall 2013 semester. Read more…
An effort to identify students in Elgin Area School District U-46 who are eligible to take Advanced Placement courses has resulted in an increase in the number of students taking AP exams, district officials said.
Advanced Placement classes are designed to mimic the intensity, workload and lessons of college-level classes in a variety of subjects. In many cases, students who score high on AP exams can place out of required college classes.
“We are trying to increase access for students, and teachers are doing a better job of promoting Advanced Placement courses,” Walker said. “It is a comprehensive approach to increase access and diversity.” Read more…
Benjamin Franklin is credited with the old adage, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” People are always trying to add to that very short list of certainty and I’m no exception. With apologies to Mr. Franklin then, I suggest the list now read, “death, taxes and enrollment increases at North Idaho College.”
Once again this fall, NIC is serving more students than ever before. Enrollment in our credit courses is at an all-time high of 6,751 students. This year’s enrollment is 6.4 percent higher than fall of 2010. However, for the four-year period from the fall of 2007, it is a mind-blowing 45 percent increase.
The economic conditions are a key contributor driving students to enroll at North Idaho College. But I would argue that’s not the only reason. In survey after survey, students have identified the most important reasons why they choose to attend community colleges: affordability, availability of classes and open access.
Affordability while maintaining quality is a hallmark of community colleges. The average annual tuition and fees for a full-time student at a community college is about 30 percent of the cost of a public four-year college or university and 11 percent of the cost at a private institution. During the current economic downturn, the affordability of NIC has remained a key attraction as our tuition and fee increases have been significantly less than those of the four-year institutions in Idaho.
However, availability of classes is being challenged by our rapid enrollment growth. This situation has been creeping up on us over several years, but has become a serious concern this fall. Over the past several years of double-digit enrollment growth, we have been adding classes, expanding the number of seats in almost all class sections, hiring more faculty and developing better ways to schedule classroom utilization. All of this was done in a “catch-up” mode as we struggled to increase class availability to match the rapidly rising enrollment. In a perfect world, anyone who is accepted at NIC would be able to fill their schedules with the classes they want and need. But unfortunately, there are a finite number of hours in a day that classes can be scheduled and each student has a different life situation that limits the time slots for them to take classes. Add in the very real dilemma that many classes that students need or want may be offered at the same time, and you can see the difficulty of ensuring that students can schedule the classes they need when they need them. And, despite the increased availability of what we refer to as eLearning – Internet courses, interactive video conferencing and hybrid courses – many students are unable to get the courses they need when they have time available to take them.
Accessibility recognizes that community colleges do not have exclusive admissions standards that require high results on admissions tests or that potential students must have a high grade point average in high school. Basically, anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent can enroll. But given the challenges facing availability outlined earlier, I think it is clear that we are reaching a point where our rapid enrollment growth has outpaced our ability to meet these ideals. We continue to admit students who apply, but they then have a great deal of difficulty finding a full schedule of classes. The consequences for new and continuing students include taking fewer classes than desired and extending the time necessary to complete their programs. I’m sure you’ve heard that “time is money.” That rings particularly true for these students; adding time to their education certainly raises the cost of it.
In an effort to better manage growth and do our best to prime students to be as successful as possible in their pursuit of education and training, NIC instituted several new guidelines this semester. Those applying for fall semester needed to do so by a new application deadline, which would allow time for orientation, advising, registration and other services. The college also instituted a waitlist this year to more accurately track student demand for particular courses so that new sections could be added if necessary.
Like other community colleges across the nation, North Idaho College was founded on and continues to be committed to the ideals of affordability, accessibility and availability. While skyrocketing enrollment challenges all three right now, we will continue to find new and innovative ways to provide life-changing education and training to those who wish to attend. The economy is what is driving people to our doorstep, and it’s the economy that will benefit on the other side, as educated, skilled workers go on to become members of our community and nation.
Written by By Western Governors University
WGU keeps costs low with student-centered competency-based approach to education
SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Finding ways to pay for college without forcing students to accumulate excessive debt is an important national challenge if we are to meet the higher education needs of our citizens. Getting a college degree often costs too much, and an increasing number of students graduate with staggering debt that can burden them for many years to come. The nation will not meet its goals for increasing the percentage of college-educated citizens unless we find ways to make college more affordable and to keep college borrowing to a minimum.
Today, roughly 40% of America’s college students are nontraditional students who are responsible for supporting themselves and usually have children and jobs. Some may have tried college immediately after high school, but didn’t finish. They’ve come back to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree that will help them get a job or promotion, change careers, or increase their earning potential. They need a credible degree, and they will probably have to borrow money to get it.
Student loans make it possible for these nontraditional students to go to college, but they can create a financial trap if used unwisely. They are relatively easy to qualify for under federal financial aid rules, and, in most cases, students can borrow an amount that exceeds the cost of tuition. These “excess funds” are used for living expenses, books, and in some cases, to pay off other debts. Given these factors, it is easy to see why adult students tend to borrow more than traditional students. Read more…
Charlotte Bartizek/for the times leader
At age 21, she didn’t give much thought to the more than $20,000-a-year cost for tuition and room and board. The college had a great communications program, and nearly the entire cost was covered by student loans. She assumed she’d get a good enough job to pay back the loans after she graduated.
Six years later, the 27-year-old Hanover Township woman struggles to meet even her most basic needs as she deals with the reality of paying off the $45,000 in student debt she amassed.
That dream job as a broadcaster never materialized.
Each month, $376 – or more than 30 percent of her net earnings – goes toward her loans. That doesn’t count another $50 a month she pays to her mother, when she can, to help cover a $500 monthly payment she makes on another loan on which Williams defaulted.
“I couldn’t keep up. The payments were too high,” Williams said. “They’d ask me, ‘Why are you behind?’ I have other bills. I have to eat. They don’t understand or care. All they want is their money.”
For Williams it was a painful lesson. And she’s not alone.
She is among a growing number of college graduates who find themselves in financial trouble as they face the stark reality of just how much their education cost.
Two thirds of college students who graduated in 2010-11 with a four-year degree had at least some debt, with the average debt being $34,430, according to an analysis conducted by FinAid.org, an award-winning website that provides extensive information regarding student aid and loans.
That’s more than triple the $9,797 debt carried by the average graduate in 1992. Read more…
LEANNE ITALIE,Associated Press
Trey Rasmussen excelled at hockey at his Martha’s Vineyard high school. Academics, not so much.
“I was planning on graduating and just jumping right into construction,” said the 20-year-old who earned mostly Cs. “I crunched the numbers and figured how much money I’d be making, so why the heck not. A lot of kids go to college and spend all sorts of money and never graduate.”
His older brother was among them and Trey worried about the financial burden of college on his family if he, too, attempted it and failed. Thanks to a tip from his hockey coach, he never had to find out.
The coach told him about a private, yearlong bridge program for boys, Bridgton Academy in North Bridgton, Maine. There he learned what he should have in high school and received thoughtful attention to get him college ready.
It worked. With an interest in business administration, Trey just happily completed his freshman year at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., with a 3.0 average. The son of a Montessori preschool teacher and a summer home caretaker is now on track to be the first in his family to graduate from college. Read more…
One of the problems with education reform is that US high schools operate under ambiguous orders. On the surface, there seems to be a shared vision. A recent Gallup poll echoed President Obama’s sentiments when it found that nearly all Americans (84 percent) agree that “high school students should be well-prepared for college and a career.”
But what happens if you go beyond the rhetoric? What will you learn if you ask what “prepared for college and a career” means in the context of our classrooms? Unfortunately, not a whole lot. That’s because there is no consensus on what this preparation entails and what high schools should be doing to produce educated minds.
Why is this important? Because unless we can define what this means, efforts at school reform will wander and drift with no way to gauge success or failure. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
Fortunately, we do have enough agreement to begin a productive conversation. Americans freely acknowledge that mastery of academic content is one aspect of preparation for higher education and the workforce. But their vision includes other factors as well. And they believe that the debate about school reform should focus on more than increased rigor or enhanced accountability — two critical goals that must be augmented, not abandoned.
For example, working hand in hand with academics, they believe that successful students should be comfortable in a fast paced and ever-changing environment that requires lifelong learning. Students should feel at home in a shrinking and interdependent world that requires the adaptation of new skills, as well as the development of global awareness and knowledge of other cultures. They should be adept at working in the current technological infrastructure, eager to acquire the tools that will help them quickly master new advances, and capable of applying those advances in creative ways to solve complex problems.
At its most fundamental level, in addition to academic and intellectual skills, high school should allow students the opportunity to explore their capabilities and interests, learn how to collaborate effectively with their peers, and gain exposure to possibilities beyond their neighborhood or community.
Achieving these goals will require us to re-imagine the infrastructure of high school. The old model — teachers standing in front of blackboards, teaching from a single textbook to a large and diverse group of students — can no longer support our ambitions. Read more…
This post has been removed by request of the author. See original here.
In Reynoldsburg schools, teaching STEM goes beyond a focus on science, technology, engineering and math.
Officials say their approach calls for students to become strong communicators, think deeper and more creatively, and apply lessons to the real world. They are encouraged to explore, be curious and collaborate.
Toward that end, here are some of the activities in store for students at the new Summit Road STEM Elementary, set to open this fall.
• In a lesson on the human impact on the environment, second-graders will analyze how much and what kind of trash is collected in the cafeteria during the year. They will make an infomercial about reducing, reusing and recycling to be shown to their peers. The students also will be charged with starting the school’s recycling campaign.
• While studying about native Ohio plants and local history, third-graders will explore Blacklick Creek and learn about its role in Reynoldsburg’s history. Students will compile their work for an electronic book that will be available to all Reynoldsburg third-graders. The Reynoldsburg Historical Society also plans to showcase the final project.
• Fourth-graders will study the school’s courtyard and campus as a habitat and analyze what kind of life can exist there as part of a life-science lesson. Students will work with representatives from Metro Parks and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources‘ Wildlife Division to recommend the best way to improve conditions for organisms. That could mean building houses for birds, planting flowers or bushes that would draw butterflies, or buying box turtles for the courtyard.
“Kids will work on projects and problems that don’t necessarily have a right answer,” Principal Dee Martindale said. “Under a traditional science lab, it’s like following a cookbook and a recipe. We’re trying to give students ownership to think on their own.”
With the new STEM elementary, educators say they are laying the groundwork for a STEM education that reinforces reading, math and science lessons with projects that apply to the real world.
It’s an education that eventually will be available to Reynoldsburg students from kindergarten through senior year in high school.
“Reynoldsburg is far and away the most aggressive in seeing (STEM education) from a public education system,” said Eric Fingerhut, the former state chancellor for higher education who now advises Battelle on STEM education. Read more…
Read sotry and click link at the end to watch the video on NPR.
By Cindy Johnston
Nearly 1 million kids who start high school every year don’t make it to graduation. At a time when federal and state budgets are tight, dropouts costs taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue, health care, welfare and incarceration costs
Of all the problems this country faces in education, one of the most complicated, heart-wrenching and urgent is the dropout crisis. Nearly 1 million teenagers stop going to school every year.
The impact of that decision is lifelong. And the statistics are stark:
NPR is looking at the dropout crisis through the stories of five people. Three dropped out of school years ago. They talk about why they left school, the forces in their lives that contributed to that decision and its impact in the years since.
There are also profiles of two teenagers who are at risk of dropping out and the adults who are working hard to keep them in school. Read more…
The Longhorn Network has yet to broadcast one second of programming, but it continues to create controversy.
The latest scuttlebutt involves itshopes of broadcasting high school football games. According to the head of the network, itwants to broadcast a dozen and a half high school games this season. Most would be in-state games, but some might be out-of-state contests. Many of the high school games might include players who’ve committed to Texas or players who’re being recruited by the Longhorns but are yet uncommitted.
The burnt-orange, Longhorn-emblazoned channel broadcasting high school games involving recruits being wooed by the Horns — sure sounds like an NCAA violation, doesn’t it?
Word out of Austin is that the university and the NCAA are in the process of working out the kinks that would allow the broadcast of high school games.
Kinks? These seem more like massive knots. How can a network branded by a university broadcast the games of high school recruits without committing some serious violations? How can it do that while other schools can’t even mention recruits’ names until they’re signed without committing a violation? How can that be allowable?
If the NCAA signs off on it, it would be unconscionable.
Amid all of the uncertainty, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe put the brakes on the entire idea Wednesday, the Dallas Morning News reported. He didn’t stop it entirely, but he slowed it down, putting it on hold pending decisions by the NCAA and the Big 12.
I suspect network and school officials are looking for a loophole in the NCAA bylaws, and if I were them, I’d do the same thing. They’ve got this amazing tool in the Longhorn Network; might as well see what it can do within the rules. Read more…
EL PASO, TEXAS — A while back, Principal Lucia Borrego and some of her teachers from Helen Ball Elementary School in El Paso, Texas, crossed the border into Mexico to visit a factory.
The first step on the assembly line at this factory, which produced four-wheelers, was to stamp a serial number on the vehicle’s chassis. Once that number was stamped, the vehicle was “alive” and had to make it to the end of the production line, the factory’s manager told Borrego and her teachers.
There were times when a vehicle might need to be pulled off the line for a little extra work, but once the issue was fixed, the four-wheeler was put back on track to reach the end of the production line in top-notch, top-quality form, said Borrego.
When Borrego told this story recently, it wasn’t clear at first where she was going with it, the parallels between assembly lines and elementary schools not being immediately obvious.
However, she made the point that, if a factory can ensure that every single four-wheeler makes it to the end of the line in top form, shouldn’t a school system have the same level of commitment to its students?
“So our kids are going to go through the school system, and we might have to pull them aside and work with them individually. … But they have to make it; they have to graduate,” said Borrego.
“They have a number; they’re born; they’re alive. We can’t just discard them. And I think it’s too easy for us to do that with kids, and so that’s kind of the mentality we’ve taken, little things like that. No excuses.”
Borrego’s analogy neatly captures one of the guiding principles in the Socorro Independent School District in El Paso County, Texas: that the district has a responsibility to graduate all of its students and, in order to achieve that, students should be given additional assistance from the moment issues crop up.
Since 1995, Texas has had, in its legislature-adopted education code, a list of 13 criteria it believes indicate a student is at risk of dropping out of school.
This list includes criteria related to academic performance — a student who was held back at least once meets the criteria as does a student in grades 7 through 12 whose average grades in two core classes fall below 70 — as well as indicators linked to a student’s socioeconomic standing (a child who is homeless automatically would be at risk in Texas) or behavior (expulsion during the current or previous school year is an indicator).
About six years ago, the Soccoro district developed a system for tracking students at all grade levels who are deemed “at risk” of dropping out and paired it with a mentoring program at the middle and high school levels; individual schools have developed unique approaches to getting their students extra help, ensuring that students do not fall too far behind.
“Something that I’ve always believed in is that all kids, all kids will meet our expectations,” said Borrego. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re ADHD, whether they have divorced parents, whether they come from a broken home, whether their parents have never had any education.”
Borrego continued later: “I tell (my teachers), ‘Do not accept excuses, and do not make excuses.’ I don’t care if they have three eyes, I don’t care if they’re missing a leg, I don’t care, I don’t care. They have to be successful, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they’re successful, and we can’t make excuses for them. ” Read more…
My colleagues and I are often asked if there is a secret to making college affordable. Where can students find unclaimed scholarship money? How do you maximize financial aid?
1. Everyone, regardless of financial situation, should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what financial aid would be available to them.
2. Apply for local and institutional scholarships.
3. Reduce the amount you borrow by paying as much as possible through a monthly tuition payment plan.
4. Maximize federal student loans first, and if necessary, shop around for the lowest-rate, private college loans with the most favorable repayment terms.
But if there is any secret to paying for college, it’s this: Save early and save often.
Real secret to paying for college
When it comes to paying for college, the earlier you start setting money aside, the more time you will have to build your resources. Even if you are unable to save enough to cover the full cost of college, every dollar you can save helps reduce the overall cost of college, especially when your savings have the chance to grow in value over time. Read more…
By Emmeline Zhao
Amid efforts in education reform, students across the country still face large disparities in educational resources and opportunities, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Education.
Key findings from the 2009-2010 Civil Rights Data Collection reveal that of the 7,000 sampled school districts, 3,000 do not offer algebra II classes to high school students, and more than 7,300 high schools serving 2 million students do not offer calculus courses. Overall, girls are underrepresented in physics and boys are underrepresented in algebra II.
“These data show that far too many students are still not getting access to the kinds of classes, resources and opportunities they need to be successful,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement Thursday.
Just 2 percent of students with disabilities are enrolled in at least one Advanced Placement course. Students with limited English proficiency comprise 6 percent of high school students across the country, but also comprise 15 percent of the population that have taken algebra by the time they graduate from high school. Read more…
I know that sounds like I’m channeling my inner Yogi Berra, but bear with me. A recent article by David Leonhart refuting claims that college is a waste of money has led to a further round of related posts (as you’ll see, I agree). But the reason the ‘college is a waste’ arguments have any traction is not due to what colleges are delivering, but what students (or their parents) pay to attend college. The price of college is becoming prohibitively expensive in light of an educational model–the real benefit–that really hasn’t changed much since the 1950s and 1960s. Before I get to the benefits, let’s consider the costs. Here’s what college, including all expenses, fees, and so on, cost in 1960:
The median household income in 1960 was $5620 (pdf). Housing was cheaper, thanks to suburban settlement policies. Scholarships, especially the GI Bill, could cover most or all of these costs. Importantly, the minimum wage was $1.00 and rose to $1.15 in 1961. That’s key: if we rescale the cost of college in terms of minimum wage hours, we notice something critical. Someone who worked after school and during the summer in high school, and, once in college, during the summer and maybe a few hours a week could pay for college–at least a state school–without incurring debt. With a median household income of $5620 (and half made more than this), many families could also help out too.
I don’t want to be overly pollyanish about this, but college was far more affordable than it is today (the only job for college students that could possibly pay the total cost of school by itself I can think of is ‘exotic dancer’). So the question then becomes what exactly is one affording? College has several key functions: Read more…
Initiative Creates an Ambitious Agenda for Public Higher Ed
There are many moving parts to the state Department of Higher Education’s Vision Project, but the bottom line is jobs, or, to be more precise, properly preparing individuals for the jobs that define a new, technology-centered economy. The Vision Project aligns all 29 public colleges and universities behind seven identified goals — from improving graduation rates to getting more people into math and science fields — and adds several layers of accountability.
Richard Freeland says there’s nothing new or particularly imaginative about the goals spelled out in the Mass. Department of Higher Education’s so-called Vision Project.
They range from improving graduation rates to increasing the numbers of people entering college; from eliminating historical disparities among racial and ethnic groups to encouraging more people to enter the math and science fields of study — and they’ve been goals for individual colleges and universities for decades.
What is new, said Freeland, the state’s commissioner of Higher Education, is a heightened sense of urgency attached to these goals, created by truly global competition and technology-focused jobs that increasingly demand a college education.
“Given where our economy is and given where our state is demographically, and given the competitiveness of the economic world, both nationally and internationally, we’re at a point in the history of Massachusetts where we need first-class public higher education,” he explained. “And I don’t think that, historically, public higher education has been the kind of priority that it needs to be today.”
And what’s imaginative is the Vision Project’s approach, a coordinated effort involving all 29 public colleges and universities that adds several layers of accountability.
“This is an attempt to pull together, against the background I’ve described, the coordinated efforts of all public high education,” Freeland explained. “We have a highly decentralized system that features a great deal of autonomy granted by statute to the colleges and local boards of trustees. That makes it extremely difficult for public higher education as an entity, as a statewide institution, to respond in a collective and focused fashion to statewide needs.
“There is a bit of a mismatch between the structure — the decentralized, desegregated, fragmented structure of public higher education — and the urgency of the concentrated focus on building a first-class system of public education,” he continued, adding that the Vision Project was created to align the 29 public campuses behind a short list of critically important goals.
To show how it will all work, Freeland talked about one of the items on that short list, the often-controversial matter of graduation rates.
“This is where the rubber meets the road,” he said of the need to see people who enroll through to commencement night. “When people talk about graduation rates, the answer, across the country, is that they’re not high enough; too many people are falling by the wayside.
To address the problem in the Bay State, a comprehensive, three-part program, developed as part of a national initiative known as Completing College America, has been implemented to move the needle in the right direction.
“The first part calls for every institution to have specific goals to improve student success,” he said, citing just one example of how the Vision Project operates. “When we surveyed our institutions, we found that that was not currently the case; while everyone’s working to do better, a number of our institutions had not formulated specific aspirational goals against national benchmarks to hold themselves accountable for forward motion.”
Ira Rubenzahl, president of Springfield Technical Community College, said he’s a strong proponent of the Vision Project, although, like others, he stressed that it will need a strong funding commitment from the Legislature to meet its goals, and he has concerns about whether that will materialize.
He stresses that the need for the initiative is real, and that while the initiative has a number of moving parts, at its core it is about one word: jobs, and, more specifically, adequately preparing people for the jobs of tomorrow — and today, for that matter.
“We recognize that some college is critical for young people to get jobs in this new economy, and it’s critical to grow this new economy,” he said. “All the elements — getting more students to attend college, getting more students to complete, getting students to be successful while they’re at college, eliminating disparities, and aligning with local businesses — have an economic lens to them.”
For this issue and its focus on education, BusinessWest takes an indepth look at the Vision Project, its goals, and the unique strategy mapped out for attaining them.
Schools of Thought
Freeland told BusinessWest that there are several reasons why Massachusetts has historically lagged when it comes to attention to and funding of public higher education. One has been the predominance of private institutions that attract students from across the state and around the globe.
“The success and sheer number of these schools have made it possible for state leaders at different kinds of institutions, as well as the general public, to believe that, because we have Harvard and MIT, not to mention all those other great places like my alma matter, Northeastern, we don’t necessarily have to invest in public higher education the way California does or Texas does or Ohio does,” said Freeland, who speaks with decades of experience working in the public higher realm, including a lengthy stint at UMass Boston. “But that perspective is way, way out of date.
“Over time, public higher education has grown increasingly important as an educator of young people in this state,” he continued. “When I started in 1970, the majority of high-school students were still going to private institutions for college, but today, two-thirds of the students who graduate from our high schools are going to public institutions if they pursue education in this state; we have become overwhelmingly a primary provider of higher education for the broad population of this state at a time when we’re not having a lot of in-migration, we’re not having any population growth, and we have a workforce that needs a large number of highly educated workers.”
All this adds up to what Freeland called a heightened sense of urgency that hasn’t existed before, and the need for a plan of action, or agenda, moving forward.
And thus, the Vision Project was conceived in late 2009, and officially adopted by the Board of High Education in May 2010. It completed its first full year of implementation on June 30, and the Legislature is earmaking several million dollars in the fiscal 2012 budget for the Department of Higher Education to provide incentive grants to individual colleges and universities to organize activities around the goals of the vision project.
In a nutshell, the initiative was launched with the recognition that the state is in fierce competition with other states and countries for talent, investment, and jobs, and that its primary assets in this competition are the overall education level of its people, its workforce, and the overall competence and creativity of individuals and organizational leaders driving the state’s knowledge-based economy.
“There is a heightened sense of urgency, because I do believe that Massachusetts needs the best-educated citizenry and workforce in the country, because that’s about all we’ve got in the competition among states,” he said. “And if we neglect public higher education, we’re simply not going to have that.”
The Vision Project is, in essence, the vehicle through which public higher education will remain focused on preparing individuals for this economy — and holding itself accountable for results.
Several key outcomes have been identified, said Freeland, noting that, for the state to thrive in this highly competitive environment, it must achieve national leadership in several realms, including:
• College participation, or the college-going rates of high school graduates;
• College completion, or graduation and success rates of the students enrolled;
• Student learning, academic achievements by students on campus-level and national assessments of learning;
• Workforce alignment, or alignment of degree programs with the key areas of workforce need in the state’s economy; and
• Elimination of disparities, meaning achievement of comparable outcomes among different ethnic/racial, economic, and gender groups.
Meanwhile, the University of Massachusetts must claim national leadership in research activity related to economic development, and economic activity derived from research.
As it went about creating the Vision Project, the Commonwealth’s public higher-education community considered what other states are doing well in this regard, said Freeland, adding quickly that the state’s highly de-centralized system makes it difficult to replicate what other systems are doing. Meanwhile, the state’s track record with public higher education and a lingering lack of urgency in some camps makes it hard just to put such an agenda in place.
“You don’t have to make much of an argument in Ohio that public higher education is critical to a state that has been losing altitude as the Rust Belt has declined,” he explained. “There, public higher education is understood to be the name of the game, and Ohio State is the Harvard of that region. But you do have to make that case in Massachusetts much more strongly.”
As he talked about specific goals within the Vision Project, Freeland said there is a universal aspiration for each — that phrase “national leadership.”
This is inherently a subjective phrase, he said, but not in the case of such matters as graduation rates and diversity, where there are hard numbers to compare and contrast performance. It is one of the underlying missions of the project to create meaningful measures for the specific goals, and then to score high in each category.
Returning to the subject of graduation rates, he said the numbers used are broad and often misleading.
“The best metric for measuring student success and graduation rates, particularly at community colleges, is a vexed question,” he said. “The rate that is often cited as the national standard [about 25%] is based on whether or not students who begin as full-time students graduate in three years, which is a very small percentage of the students who actually attend our community colleges.
“So we are working to develop a much more useful metric,” he continued, “which would measure such things as how successful we are in graduating part-time students, how successful we are in graduating people who transfer in from someplace else, and how successful we are transferring students who start at community colleges and transfer on before completing a degree.”
And while graduation rates are certainly one strong focus of attention, there are several other goals within the Vision Project that are key to achieving that overarching goal of making the Commonwealth more competitive on the global stage, said Freeland.
And with that he referenced an acronym, and statewide initiative, that is gaining visibility and attention across the state: STEM. That stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and increasing the numbers of students enrolled in these fields — and then graduating them from those programs — are top priorities, said Freeland.
“Far too few young Americans are pursuing academic studies and scientific and technologically oriented careers, and far too few are coming out of our colleges with appropriate skills to drive an innovation-oriented economy,” Freeland told BusinessWest. “This has been a major focus in the business community as well as the education community.”
Local programs have been created to help spawn interest in the STEM fields, he said, listing everything from field trips to manufacturing plants to scientists coming into the classrooms to talk about careers, a “traveling road show,” as he called it, designed to inform and even entertain students.
One of the Vision Project’s goals is to build on these programs aimed at energizing students about STEM and graduating more students in those fields. “We get a good number of people coming out of high school who say they want to major in STEM fields, and start out in them,” he said, “but the dropout rate is very high.”
And the so-called ‘persistence rate’ is comparatively low, he continued, adding that this gauges how many students stay in the field of study they’ve chosen. Work to move those numbers higher is still another matter that the Vision Project will measure — and inject accountability.
The goal with all the initiatives is to prepare individuals for the job market they will face and create a workforce that will enable the state to compete for companies and jobs, said Rubenzahl, who echoed Freeland when he said the landscape has changed in nearly all aspects of business, and public higher education now has a larger role than ever in helping to create a pipeline of qualified workers.
He cited manufacturing and related fields such as biotech as examples of how things have changed, and how the role of public higher education has been broadened.
“We had some pretty good-paying jobs in various industries — originally it was textiles — that left,” he said. “And for many of those jobs, you didn’t need a college education. However, for many of the industries that stayed here or grew up here, you need much more education.
“The economy has changed, and public higher ed has a much larger role than it had before,” he continued. “Let’s face it, Harvard and MIT are not going to train highly skilled factory workers who can run these CNC machines or production workers in these biotech plants. They have a role, but we think we have a greater role as well.”
The Bottom Line
Summing up the Vision Project, Freeland said it is a comprehensive — and very visible — attempt to take public high education to a new level of excellence, responsiveness, and accountability.
“The campuses believe in these things … this isn’t about persuading schools to do things they don’t want to do,” he explained. “It is about taking it to a higher level of focus and having a higher level of aspiration and holding ourselves accountable.”
And it’s a long-term initiative, one that will play itself out over the next several years, involving perhaps many different gubernatorial administrations and college presidents. But he believes the program will stay on track, mostly because it has to if the state is going to thrive in this truly global arena.
“It’s easy for institutions to run out of gas addressing these very tough problems,” Freeland said. “You can bank on the fact that I’m not going to be here forever and Gov. Patrick isn’t going to be here forever, but these issues are going to be here forever.
“These are not issues for one day or one week,” he continued. “But once we get focus on them and get some momentum behind them, the gravitational force of statewide need will keep us focused. But it’s not going to be easy.”
George O’Brien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce released a new reportshowing that the United States is not producing enough college-educated workers to meet economic needs and reduce income inequality.
As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the report, by Anthony P. Carnevale and Stephen J. Rose, found that the nation has been producing too few college-educated workers for more than three decades. Furthermore, it looked at the pay difference between college graduates and high school graduates (called the “wage premium”) and argued that if the nation continues to underproduce college graduates, the gap in earnings among Americans of different educational attainment levels will only get worse.
“The data are clear,” said Carnevale in a press release. “The demand for college-educated workers is growing much faster than the supply… We are hurtling into a future dominated by college-level jobs, unprepared.”
The report called for an additional 20 million postsecondary-educated workers by 2025, including 15 million workers with a bachelor’s degree, four million workers with non-degree postsecondary credentials and one million with associate’s degrees. Moreover, it noted that increasing the number of college-educated workers will help boost wages for workers of all education attainment levels. Carnevale and his team argued that the additional college graduates could come from the half million high school graduates per year who are in the top half of their class yet do not pursue postsecondary education. Read more…
A look at the elementary schools whose students are promoted to one of the worst performing middle and high schools in the state and what they are doing to change the pattern.
Just inside the entrance of Britton Elementary School, a baby bison looks up to his full-grown brother. Both are decorated with the rainbow-colored handprints of about 350 students.
Principal Kimberly Zachery purchased the statues this year to celebrate her school’s mascot — the baby bison.
“Centennial is my school, too,” Zachery said. “I always have said we need to make sure we’re ready for high school.”
It wasn’t until this year, Zachery said, that she learned there were serious issues at Oklahoma Centennial Middle High School.
“I thought things were going fine here and the kids who I was sending over there were good kids,” she said. “These are my babies. I’ve seen these children born.”
But Centennial will be on a plan for improvement next year as the school works to improve test scores that in 2009-10 school year were the worst in the state of any regular-academic school. Read more…
She was accepted there, as well as to a half-dozen other private and state colleges. To pick a college, Wilson and her parents analyzed every college’s financial aid/scholarship package. Wilson ended up choosing the school she least expected to attend: Onondaga Community College.
The college “was the furthest thing from my mind when I started applying to colleges,” Wilson said. “But the bottom line became how much is it going to cost me, and OCC became the best choice by far. I can take my general education classes there and then transfer after two years.”
Wilson isn’t alone. The cost of college and the lagging economy continue to be major factors in high school seniors’ decisions on where to attend college, according to Central New York high school counselors and college admissions officials. Read more…
If a student doesn’t clearly express ideas so the reader can easily comprehend them, then it’s impossible to judge whether the student really understand the ideas or not.” ACTA’s What Will They Learn? reviews the curricula of over 750 schools for a required course in english composition focusing on grammar, style, clarity, and argument. Subject instruction masquerading as “composition” usually doesn’t teach students to write. A requirement for effective participation in the workplace and civic society is clear and grammatically accurate writing. Read more…
I find myself more and more interested in the growing debate over how much and what to teach high school students. I support the side that thinks all students should be given skills that will make them ready for college because the same abilities—to write, read, do math and manage their time—are necessary if they want good jobs or trade school slots after high school.
On the other side are those who think college prep for all is a failed experiment. They say it alienates too many students and must be replaced by vocational programs that get to the heart of what employers want without killing student interest with required essays on the Romance poets and the Federalist papers. A recent report by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which I trashed here, is the best and most complete recent example of this argument.
I hadn’t encountered any promising efforts to bring the two sides together until I saw a commentary, “Untangling the Postsecondary Debate,” by Mike Rose, professor of social research methodology at UCLA, in the latest Education Week “Diplomas Count” report. He is critical of both sides, but helped me most in understanding where my arguments are weak. Read more…
By Anita Miller
“We’ve got to bring it back,” he said of vocational education in public secondary schools. “We’re setting people up for failure if you’re pushing them into a four-year college.”
Citing studies, Pauken said two-thirds of high school diploma holders who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their class and go immediately into a four-year institution still haven’t graduated nine and a half years later. Read more…
By Sally Sexton
Despite low drop out rates, schools in Parker County are doing all that they can to provide education opportunities.
Once a student drops out, their chances of college and career choices drop with them.
“The reason to stay in school is fairly obvious,” Nita Ellis, Weatherford ISD executive director of student services, said. “Education is the great equalizer. Students without a high school education are pretty much locked out of certain types of jobs, and it also impacts their future income.
“When a student drops out, they lock themselves out of a future where they can’t really live their dream. They clip their own wings.”
A study conducted by the Texas Education Agency found for the 2008-09 school year, the statewide annual dropout rate for grades nine through 12 was 2.9 percent, a decrease of .3 percent from the previous year. Read more…
By Michael Wotorson
Jobs are top of mind for most Americans, not only those needing work to help their families make ends meet, but also politicians who hope to keep their jobs on Election Day 2012. As many of us ask, “Where are the jobs?” an equally important question is, “Where are the workers?”
Business leaders who have asked that question don’t like the answer. According to recent data from The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2018, our economy will fall 3 million employees short of the 22 million college-educated workers it needs to thrive. The bottom line is that millions of high school students who should be acquiring the education and skills that will enable them to lead the 21st century global economy are being shortchanged by America’s public school system. Members of Congress have the opportunity to reverse that trend, and if they don’t take action, our nation’s future is in serious jeopardy. Read more…
officials changed Johnston High School‘s name, redesigned its approach to teaching the curriculum and were required to replace more than three-quarters of its faculty, but it appears the campus, which has struggled for years to meet state academic standards, again will rank among Austin‘s most troubled schools.
More than 29 percent of students at what’s now Eastside Memorial Green Tech High School at the Johnston Campus will be ineligible to graduate next week after failing state-mandated exit exams. Read more…
By Tom Pauken
Meanwhile, a story in the May 6 edition of The Wall Street Journal reports that manufacturing businesses across the country are struggling to find employees with the math and science skills and training necessary to “operate and repair sophisticated computer-controlled factory equipment.” These jobs pay well – some as high as $80,000 – yet high school students are consistently pressured not to pursue them by an educational system that believes earning a college degree is the only path to success. Read more…
By Mike Green
Each year, many of the 15 million students enrolled in public secondary schools ask the same question: What’s the point of staying in school if the choices are a minimum-wage job upon graduation or a minimum-wage job now?
These students have astutely recognized a pitiful paradigm for far too many students enrolled in public education institutions.
“Education is the key to success,” proclaims the marketing of myriad organizations, companies and institutions. Yet, even high school dropouts are smart enough to read between the lines. If “education” is the key to success, then thousands of public schools are not educating students, as many of them graduate with worthless diplomas and a marketing mantra that dissipates along with the music from Pomp and Circumstance. Read more…
By Melissa B. Taboada AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Classes on Saturday. Daily mandatory tutoring. A longer school day.
Travis and Eastside Memorial high schools, as well as a handful of the elementary and middle schools that feed into them, are taking some radical steps for traditional public schools to improve academic performance.
By imitating strategies used at various charter schools nationwide, the Austin school district hopes to break the cycle of poor academic performance . Administrators said they hope to expand the changes to more schools but lack funding. Read more…
By Jacqueline Reis TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
WORCESTER — Five schools will take new approaches to education this fall after School Committee votes last night to approve five innovation schools.
By Christina Chapman- Illinois
“It’s a step in the right direction for kids, school districts and teachers,” said Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg of Coal City Unit 1 School District. “It’s just, how is it going to turn out is what I’m anxious to see.”
I am so excited to share with all of you that Fernando Trevino Jr. has been recently appointed by Governor Rick Perry to serve as Student Regent of Texas A&M. This is a very important appointment in a young person’s life since Gov. Perry appointed only 11 Student Regents across the State of Texas. Fernando Trevino Jr. is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in public service and administration from the Texas A&M University George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service.
It was on July 14, 2009 that Fernando Trevino had contacted me for the first time via e-mail introducing himself to me, asking me to look at his blog writefortheright.com and shared his interest in conservatism and in my work with VOCES Action. He had recently graduated from High School and was about to enter as a freshman at Texas A&M University.
That morning after I read the email from this young man, Silvio Canto informed me that we had a cancellation on the radio show that day due to a scheduling conflict and that I needed to find another guest for the radio show that day. I read the Write for the Right blog and I thought, “I have to invite these young people to be in the show”, which I did. After having called him several times and leaving him a message, we had Fernando Trevino and Danielle Chavez on the show for the first part of the show. You can hear that radio show from July 14, 2009 here.
Since this time, I have enjoyed a good relationship with Fernando, not only speaking with him many times but also having him as a guest in my home. Fernando is intelligent, an articulate speaker, educated, kind, a leader and most of all teachable. Fernando has been writing not only for Write for the Right but also for TexasGOPVote and for Empower Texas. He has also been speaking at public forums in many places, and has been encouraging other young people to get involved in the political process, etc.
I recently interviewed Fernando, shortly after being notified that he had been appointed to serve as Student Regent for the Texas A&M University System’s Board of Regents.
Why are you studying at A&M?
Texas A&M has always been special to my family. My mom and my uncle were the first in our family to attend college and did so here at Texas A&M. You can say I was “brainwashed” to be an Aggie from an early age, but once I decided to visit A&M and see all that was available to me here I fell in love with it. Many of the traditions here are still very much alive and in practice, which is such a beautiful part of this university and adds to the strength of the Aggie family.
What do you desire to do as a Student Regent?
As a Student Regent, I hope to work with the Board of Regents to make sure that more students have the opportunity to achieve a quality education. I look forward to meeting with students from all 11 universities in the Texas A&M University System and representing them and their concerns before the Board of Regents. Representing approximately 120,000 students across 11 universities and a Health Science Center in addition to 7 state agencies will require a lot of time, but I am dedicated to serving my fellow Aggies to the best of my ability.
What are you studying?
I am currently in my second year at Texas A&M University working on my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and was recently accepted to the George HW Bush School of Government and Public Service. Through the Bush School, I will be working on my Masters of Public Service and Administration while completing my undergraduate degree through a 5 year program which I will complete in a total of 4 years at Texas A&M.
Public service is essential to building stronger communities and brighter futures. Through Texas A&M I hope to harness my passion for service in order to give back to my community and my state. After Texas A&M, I intend to attend law school and practice in Texas.
How long have you been involved in community issues?
I have been involved in community issues since high school. I always had a passion for public service but it was not fully realized until high school and has persisted since then.
What is special about Texas?
Texas is a state where anything is possible. People are allowed to more freely pursue their own futures and destinies than in other states. Much of this is possible due to the quality of the institutions of higher learning that we are so blessed with here in Texas.
Congratulations to Fernando Trevino Jr. We are so proud of you!