Some of the News Fit to Print
ABOUT HIGHER ED
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS
Policymakers, administrators, and faculty would benefit from a richer understanding of the variety of pathways students take through community colleges. A new brief from Stanford University's Project, "The Changing Ecology of Higher Education," advocates for a "deconstructive approach" to the study of community college student pathways. Such an approach draws upon both quantitative and qualitative data to deconstruct student pathways and elaborate the relationships between various pathways and outcomes of interest, such as successful remediation of skill deficiencies, credential completion, and transfer to a four-year institution.
RESEARCH TO IMPROVE RETENTION
Robert Sternberg, president of the Federation of Associations in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, writes in Inside Higher Ed: "One of the most serious problems facing colleges and universities today is that so many students leave before finishing their studies. When students drop out, it is bad for them because they lose huge future career and income potential; bad for the institution they leave because of lost reputation, revenue, and opportunity to make a difference in the students’ lives; and bad for society because of the need for an educated work force that is able to compete in the global marketplace. Although there are many reasons students drop out, 12 research-validated risk factors, often in various combinations, help account for why most students drop out. These risk factors apply at a wide variety of institutions of higher education."
One of Sternberg’s factors--a mindset believing in fixed rather than flexible abilities—aligns with Carnegie’s work in Productive Persistence.
EXPANDING PATHWAYS TO MOOC CREDIT
From the moment the American Council on Education announced in November that its College Credit Recommendation Service would assess the creditworthiness of a set of massive open online courses, there seemed to be little doubt that such approval would be forthcoming. And indeed, Coursera's announcement today that five of its courses have earned credit recommendations from ACE felt just a little bit anticlimactic. But the decision -- the latest in a series of remarkably fast-unfolding developments around MOOCs in an industry that historically moves at a glacial pace -- nonetheless has significant implications that are likely to reverberate on campuses around the country. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
ED TRUST SLAMS NCLB WAIVERS FOR NEGLECTING AT-RISK STUDENTS
On the day a Senate committee is holding hearings on the waivers granted under No Child Left Behind, the Education Trust released a report criticizing the Obama administration's flexibility plan for failing to address the needs of at-risk students. The report called "A Step Forward or a Step Back? State Accountability in the Waiver Era," reiterates many of the criticisms the Ed Trust and other advocacy groups have raised. It clearly shows that although some of the Ed Trust's ideas were incorporated into the waiver requirements, the advocacy group is unhappy with how these waivers are playing out. The post is from Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog.
In a Huffington Post piece on the same hearing, Education Trust President and Carnegie Board member Kati Haycock was quoted as saying that academic "progress may be reported -- somewhere -- but it doesn’t count as a core part of the accountability system. This means that, in a state like New Mexico, a school can get an 'A' grade even if it consistently misses goals for, say, its students with disabilities, its Native American students, or its English-language learners." Haycock worked for the Obama administration reviewing states' waivers. She contends that the process was too lax on states. "This is very definitely a step backward from the civil rights commitment embedded in" No Child Left Behind, Haycock said in her prepared remarks.
STUDENTS GAINING ‘BADGES’ AND CREDITS OUTSIDE SCHOOL
Many schools encourage students to get real-world experience outside school walls. But very few offer course credit and digital "badges"-virtual records of skills and achievements-for those experiences. Now, the Providence, R.I., school district initiative appears to be breaking new ground in giving academic credit and recognizing skills and achievements out of school. The article is in Education Week.