Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Higher Education Accountability

In my morning reading of Inside Higher Ed, I noted that accountability for student learning outcomes was on the docket at a meeting this week among representatives of the U.S. Department of Education, various higher education associations, and accreditation agencies. The upshot of the negotiations, which have been tense in the past, was that institutions of higher learning will continue to set their own agenda for the outcomes they seek to achieve. Efforts to deputize accreditation agencies to define and collect data on other outcomes appeared to be overruled. This action may be framed as a step forward for continued higher education academic freedom or a loss for those concerned about assured consistent quality of learning across various higher education institutions.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Possible overhaul of Perkins Act and WIA?

Community colleges may figure prominently in the Obama administration's efforts to retrain unemployed workers. In a May speech described in Inside Higher Ed, the President promised to "lay out a fundamental rethinking of our job training, vocational education, and community college programs." In particular, he indicated that the various federal programs that address workforce education may be brought together or coordinated under a single policy. The announcement came in a speech announcing a new effort to make it easier for the unemployed to obtain financial aid for education while receiving unemployment benefits. A new website has been established by the departments of Education and Labor to inform the newly unemployed about educational opportunities.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

College Completion Fund

Real work deadlines effectively shut down my blogging activities for the past few months, but today's reports about the Obama Administration's new College Access and Completion Fund caught my interest. The administration wants to dedicate $2.5 billion over the next five years, starting with the 2009-2010 budget, to improve low-income students' college completion rates. As reported in Inside Higher Ed, the program would channel money to states to develop and evaluate such programs. The discussion at a panel convened by the College Board favored basing state funding on completion, rather than enrollment, rates. Indiana is phasing in such an approach, while Ohio officials are discussing whether to plunge directly into it. To date, most of the discussion revolves around 4-year colleges, but there is some interest in including 2-year colleges based the successful remedial education at El Paso Community College in Texas. MDRC and The Gates Foundation were present.