Thursday, December 2, 2010

Latest Post-secondary Outcomes Data Underwhelming

The latest data from a longitudinal study into college retention and completion rates shows community college students continuing to lag and overall performance not improved since the last study began in the mid-1990s. See this story.

Data on Postsecondary School Outcomes

Research organization AIR and a web design firm, Matrix, have presented a web site called College Measures that aggregates federal post-secondary data and makes it easy to compare different college outcomes such as first-year attrition rates, graduation rates, average post-graduation starting salaries, and loan default rates.

Classes taught via Skype

This article in the Community College Times highlights a new online learning option.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ePortfolio Grants

La Guardia Community College receives grants to support ePortfolio scale up nationally according to this report in the Community College Times.

Measuring Up Report Discontinued

The annual Measuring Up report by Pat Callan's National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education has been canceled according to a report in Inside Higher Ed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Studies of For Profit Schools Lagging

This article in Inside Higher Ed discusses why little research has been conducted into for-profit colleges.

CCs help students with disabilities

Community College Times describes trends at colleges to serve students with disabilities.


Community College Times describes international interest in CalPASS, a system that tracks student data from K-12 through college.

PERT in Florida

Community College Times summarizes Florida's plans for a new test of high schools students' college readiness.

A Focus in California on Completion

Community College Times reports on a new California commission devoted to improving college completion. It features the following report on completion strategies. Chaffey College in Northern California offers an example of a program emphasizing a blend of student support services and academics.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Drop Out Rate Report

There's a new study on the high drop-out rates from community colleges. Here's an online article about it. The report is here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Common Core

Efforts to align K-12 and higher education student learning standards are increasing on both the state level, with nearly all states creating P-16 or K-20 councils and, on the national level, with two key groups, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the State Higher Education Executive Officers, convening a joint meeting for the first time.

Post-secondary administrators particularly need to embrace common core standards by aligning their admissions standards and assessments to them. Most of the activity has been at the K-12 level, with assessment designers aiming to link classroom and standardized assessments, and using cognitive science to create new assessment models and innovative assessment items. Few higher education faculty have been involved in crafting the standards to date. One exception is English language arts. Other efforts have engaged higher-education faculty in reviews of both English and mathematics.

Higher education administrators and faculty also ultimately will need to decide what to do to support the effort. Some are deciding how and whether to use the newly developed K-12 assessments of "college and career readiness" in their own admissions processes. To achieve better collaboration around this point, some Race to the Top applications specifically link the two levels of education. These efforts focus on developing common baseline levels of student proficiency across multiple campuses to avoid developmental, or remedial, courses. Some efforts also focus on changing teacher certification programs to ensure these graduates can teach to the common core.

The common core initiative is dogged by the usual debates about whether the standards for certain subjects are appropriate, with some suggesting other writing standards reflect college course demands better, and on whether political pressure to higher standards at the K-12 level will force state legislatures to "dumb down" the standards state by state.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Assessment in the Spotlight

The push for accountability in community colleges is shifting way from measuring traditional outcomes such as attendance and toward completion and graduation. A committee appointed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be recommending how colleges can report on these outcomes and explore some alternative assessments of student learning. This committee has some overlap with the American Association of Community College's Voluntary Accountability Framework working groups and steering committee.

On another somewhat related note, getting a job is considered one of the key reliable measures of the effectiveness of a community college workforce program. One community college took this goal very far by guaranteeing students a job or their money back.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back from Travels: Highlights

The spring is a busy time, and this year it was particularly busy with conferences: The League for Innovation in the Community College, the Council for the Study of the Community College (CSCC), and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Each meeting had many highlights too numerous to fully list, but one key point: Voluntary Accountability Framework. This effort by the AACC, falls under the heading of "if we don't do it, it will get done to us." There are three strands to this program: academic, workforce, and communication. The meeting drew an SRO crowd. Efforts to engage faculty members in accountability tend to end in acrimony (see this example from California)--hence the communication committee.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

College and Career Ready in ESEA

President Obama announced last month that the redesign of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that has been known as "No Child Left Behind" will focus on making students "college and career ready." States and local districts will be asked to develop relevant standards and focus instruction and assessment on developing those skills to qualify for Title I funding, which is federal money for low-income students.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More College Students Start, but Don't Finish, Science Majors

A new report from UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) has found that growing numbers of freshmen are interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors, but that only a fraction graduate in those fields within 5 years. In a first, a roughly equal number of underrepresented Latino and African-American students express interest in science fields as whites and Asian-Americans--but their graduation rates still lag behind. The findings are the latest of several reports produced by a multi-year research project called Post-Baccalaureate Experiences, Success, & Transition (BEST). It is funded by multiple agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and the National Science Foundation. The BEST project studies results from a series of annual surveys, higher education databases, and some classroom field observations to identify programs that successfully retain minority students in STEM majors. Some investigators have called for integrating transcript analysis into this work to get a deeper understanding of student progress at the post-secondary level.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Longitudinal Data Quality

California has made progress in tracking student achievement data from grades K-12, but still lags behind in tracking students as they transition from high school to post-secondary programs. This is a finding from the latest annual national survey of the Data Quality Campaign, (DQC), a non-profit organization founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and nine other foundations in 2005 to foster longitudinal data collection for policy making purposes. While California has improved its database to permit policy makers to identify schools that are excelling in student achievement, it has not yet incorporated student transcript data or links to post-secondary databases. Those activities are expected to support what the DQC calls "P-20/workforce" databases, which permit policy makers to see what aspects of education lead to specific job force outcomes.