Posts Tagged ‘college readiness’

By: Dwight L. Smith, Vice President of Academic Affairs, County College of Morris, New Jersey

The Common Core Standards and the development of the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers) assessments present higher education institutions with opportunities and challenges in the next couple of years. Intended to improve the career and college readiness of graduating high school students, the standards and accompanying assessments have the potential to provide better information about the prior learning of the students entering a college or university. A project at Drew University focusing on non-cognitive factors that could be used in predicting student success suggests that these factors need to be included when considering a student’s college readiness. These non-cognitive factors are also being considered by New Jersey community colleges as they implement the “Decision Zone” policy to improve placement decisions in developmental education.

The University of Maryland system is providing leadership in partnering with the Maryland K-12 systems to establish high expectations for student preparation to improve student success. As the Common Core Standards and PARCC assessments are implemented in the next couple of years, universities will have the opportunity to strengthen pedagogical content knowledge of disciplinary faculty, teacher preparation, and in-service programs. Initial PARCC assessment results scheduled for 2015 will provide baseline data for the K-12 and university systems to determine student learning strengths and opportunities for improvement. Read the rest of this entry »

The media is obsessed with covering debates about whether all kids should go to college.  There couldn’t be a dumber debate to have in 2010! I was particularly surprised to read the recent article by Jacques Steinberg in the New York Times, which quoted scholars Charles Murray and Richard Vetter, but not Tony Carnevale!  In my judgment, having read all three of these individuals’ writings, Carnevale is, by far, the most informed and persuasive on this issue and many other more important issues related to education and work.  (Disclosure: Tony Carnevale has served on AAC&U’s board of directors and serves on the National Leadership Council of AAC&U’s LEAP initiative, but is still one of the smartest economists around —and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that.)

Kevin Carey provided today in his blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education a particularly cogent response to all this chatter, noting that, “of course college isn’t for everyone,” but it is indisputable that, “College opens the door to opportunity. Not for everyone and not always, but very often and certainly often enough.”  There is, in fact, much evidence (see compelling economic data presented by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown run by Tony Carnevale) to support another of Carey’s points that “college is extremely important and more people need it now than ever before.”  The Georgetown Center’s data make it extremely clear that, for most students, college is still very much worth the expense in terms of future opportunities.  AAC&U has also compiled a set of PowerPoint slides about the economic value of college learning—and, particularly, the value of liberal education outcomes.  These slides—using data from both the Georgetown Center and the Department of Labor—make clear that, whether or not all students “should” go to college or are “well-prepared” to succeed there, we do need more of them to go to college or some other rigorous form of post-secondary education that provides them not only with narrow job training, but with a broad set of skills and abilities.

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By: Dwight Smith, Ed.D

President Obama’s call for America to reclaim its place as having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 presents several challenges and requires wit, will, and wallet by community colleges to meet this goal of increasing the number of students receiving a degree by approximately 150,000 annually.  The wit will require community colleges to embrace a “culture of completion” for our students and believe that students have the “right to succeed.”  Wit will be revealed in knowing our students, their hopes and aspirations, and engaging faculty in the use of high-impact practices throughout the college.

Will is determined by community colleges’ success in the political arena to advance the American Graduation Initiative.  With approximately six million students enrolled in community colleges, this sector of higher education provides the largest source of potential graduates to propel the United States to reclaim its position as world leader in educated citizens.  The response to the American Graduation Initiative has not been embraced enthusiastically by all sectors of higher education for a variety of reasons.  Community colleges will need to exert their political will with the help of their students, faculty, administrators, and the communities they serve if they are to realize the role that is called for in the American Graduation Initiative.

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By: Ross Miller

I recently took on the role of director of assessment at a proprietary business school, bringing my background as an aging white guy educated as a musician, experienced in both public school and college teaching, and employed for nine years by AAC&U.  The session on Liberal Learning and Business Education (with William Sullivan and Anne Colby of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching) was of interest to me as I ponder  how to make general education and elective liberal arts study engaging, useful, and even life-changing for the students at my college.

With both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in business, my college is very successful at enrolling students attracted by our promise of small classes, friendly and attentive faculty, and an excellent job placement rate.

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Recently, there has been a flurry of articles and reports about higher education and the policy choices that will affect its future. As a communications professional, I would normally welcome the attention to higher education; the whole sector is underreported, in my humble opinion. However, this recent coverage has centered on the wrong questions and the wrong debates—and is diverting attention from some really important trends and problems.

Both the Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times have recently published forums on the question, are too many students going to college? This is the kind of question editors love because it makes it easy for them to line people up on either side of a seemingly important debate. But the answer to this particular question is pretty clear-cut: for any individual student, going to college is clearly better than not going. This is why students are flocking to colleges of all sorts—two-year, four-year, for-profit, not-for-profit, public, private.

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In the category of “most ill-conceived legislation passed this year,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed a bill earlier this month that creates a new track for high school students that allows them to opt out of the standard high school curriculum and, instead, pursue a “career diploma” with much lower required standards in math and reading, but with seven added vocational courses.  This option will be offered to students who can’t pass the 8th grade level Louisiana Educational Assessment of Progress exam currently required to enroll in high school.  A “career diploma?”  Skills below the 8th grade level?  As a New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist, Jarvis DeBerry notes, this bizarrely named “career diploma” is really “shorthand for ‘no career will be had with this pretend diploma’.”

Apparently, neither Jindal nor members of the Louisiana legislature have done their homework on what is really required to succeed in today’s global economy.  All the way back in 2006, ACT definitively showed (pdf) that the level of reading and math skills needed to be ready to enter today’s workforce training programs are no different than the skills needed to succeed in entry-level college courses.  What options are really open to Louisiana students who get this substandard credential for “seat-time” and a few vocational courses? Read the rest of this entry »

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