Posts Tagged ‘completion agenda’

The attempted ouster of UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan has sparked a firestorm of attention to issues of change in higher education, which has been followed by a rush of commentary on how much higher education needs to change, how resistant to change it is, how models for change in business should be applied, etc. For me, it’s been instructive to talk with reporters who are struggling to understand the clash of visions on display at UVA and to see how little they understand about how much higher education is changing. Many reporters and commentators also seem to lack any understanding of shared governance and the academy’s traditional reliance on faculty judgment to guide change.

As I’ve been fielding call after call about UVA, I’ve also seen one press release after another announcing new initiatives to develop more efficient pathways to college degrees and credentials (e.g., flexible online degree programs for returning students, online general education courses that are fully transferable across systems, and new ways to get degrees by earning credit for prior learning or for just passing tests). All these new “disruptive innovations” are motivated in some way or another by the need to increase the numbers of successful college graduates and increase our “productivity.”  Surely, some of these “disruptive innovations,” many of which make use of the latest information technologies, might indeed prove useful in serving some portion of the college-going population. But I can’t help but wonder: where is the discussion about what quality learning really means in today’s world, and where is the evidence that these newly proposed innovations will actually provide students with the learning they need to be college-educated people?  Where is the evidence that they improve productivity and reduce costs? Read the rest of this entry »

In January 2012, AAC&U published a special issue of its journal, Liberal Education, featuring a series of articles about implications—intended and unintended—of the Completion Agenda. We have invited a series of national educational leaders and practitioners to comment on the issues raised. This fifth and final posting is by Hilary Pennington, former director of Education, Postsecondary Success, and Special Initiatives for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The latest issue of Liberal Education raises important questions about the so-called “completion agenda,” including concern that a more aggressive focus on helping students complete the degrees they start will degrade learning and quality in higher education. To me, the key question is how to move forward on both fronts simultaneously—reorienting the debate so that it is both/and, not either/or.

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In January 2012, AAC&U published a special issue of its journal, Liberal Education, featuring a series of articles about implications—intended and unintended—of the Completion Agenda. We have invited a series of national educational leaders and practitioners to comment on the issues raised. This fourth posting is by Elaine P. Maimon, president of Governors State University.

The January 2012 edition of Liberal Education, devoted to the “completion agenda,” should be required reading for those concerned with improving student success in US higher education. In the lead article, Carol Geary Schneider cautions against defining degree completion as a mere accumulation of credits and urges policy makers to ensure that the degrees achieved are meaningful evidence of educational attainment. As a public university president, scholar of writing across the curriculum, and member of Team Illinois of Complete College America, I urge policy makers and funders to focus on the points of intersection of completion and quality. A degree must be more than a credential; it must represent an educational milestone. Without more underserved students completing college, demands for “quality” are elitist. Without quality, defined as meaningful educational attainment through high-impact practices, “completion” is empty.

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In January 2012, AAC&U published a special issue of its journal, Liberal Education, featuring a series of articles about implications–intended and unintended–of the Completion Agenda. We have invited a series of national educational leaders and practitioners to comment on the issues raised. This third posting is by Paul E. Lingenfelter, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

Alexander Astin’s excellent comment covers a lot: “When you combine poor preparation with minimal engagement, you have the worst of everything, which helps to explain the poor completion rates of so many community colleges and public four-year colleges.” But it doesn’t tell the whole story. Institutions and the policy systems within which they live have embedded values and habits that conspire against more widespread completion. Failure to make improved K-12 preparation a postsecondary priority is one of those habits, and it needs a lot more attention. Colleges and universities should take advantage of the development of Common Core State Standards as an opportunity to work more closely with K-12 in improving preparation. (See www.corestandards.org) Many other problems, however, fall entirely within higher education.

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In January 2012, AAC&U published a special issue of its journal, Liberal Education, featuring a series of articles about implications–intended and unintended–of the Completion Agenda. We have invited a series of national educational leaders and practitioners to comment on the issues raised. This second posting is by Terry O’Banion, president emeritus of the League for Innovation in the Community College and senior advisor on programs in higher education at Walden University

The Completion Agenda has emerged as the overarching mission of the community college in this decade. Never in the history of the community college movement has an idea so galvanized stakeholders—from the White House to the state house to hundreds of community colleges. Never has so much funding from philanthropic groups, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation, been more generously funneled into our colleges.

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In January 2012, AAC&U published a special issue of its journal, Liberal Education, featuring a series of articles about implications–intended and unintended–of the Completion Agenda. We have invited a series of national educational leaders and practitioners to comment on the issues raised.  This first posting is by Alexander W. Astin, senior scholar and founding director of the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

I enjoyed reading AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider’s thoughtful lead article in the latest issue of Liberal Education. As government officials and foundation executives keep pushing higher education to increase degree completion rates, it is important to remind ourselves that in attempting to raise completion rates we should not ignore issues of quality.

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