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Education This Week
 

COMMENTARY

The Problem with Higher Education

By Watson Scott Swail, President, EPI International and the Educational Policy Institute

This morning I sat in on the OECD Institutional Management in Higher Education Conference in Paris listening to a panel on the need to do more with less in higher education. The illustrious panel included representatives of Open University, Cisco Systems, and others, and was moderated by my friend and colleague, Peter Smith of Kaplan Higher Education.

My take, to a point, is that there is a significant and real disconnect between those who have filled roles at traditional, government-run higher education and those who live, dare I say, in “the real world.” The disconnect is that those who reside at the former are focused on increasing access to an anachronism of a learning system, held together only by the mortar laid by brick masons educated at sub-university-level schools. The latter—from business, industry, and private higher education, to a degree—are focused on creating a new manner of acquiring and using knowledge, not for pure intellectual pursuit, but to answer real world issues. READ MORE...

 
STATISTIC OF THE WEEK

For regular school districts, median current expenditures per pupil were $9,509 in FY 08. Median expenditures per pupil on instruction and instruction-related activities in regular school districts were $6,100. For independent charter school districts, median current expenditures per pupil were $8,173 in FY 08; median expenditures per pupil on instruction and instruction-related activities were $4,490.

Source: Revenues and Expenditures by Public School Districts: Scholl Year 2007-2008 (Fiscal Year 2008), NCES

 

THE NEWS

ACADEMIC PREPARATION
ETS report notes arrested progress in closing Black-White achievement gap
By Frank Matthews, Diverse Issues in Higher Education
For decades, the persistent achievement gap between Black and White students has vexed educators, policymakers and researchers. Equally troubling is the fact that there had been progress—significant improvement throughout the 1970s and ‘80s—that came to an abrupt halt.  Researchers at Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) Policy Information Center set out to explain the factors that contributed to those gains and the reasons progress halted, drawing on existing and new data to examine the role declining neighborhoods, race-neutral policies, concentrated poverty and single-parent family structures, among other things, play on children’s achievement.

N.C. considers requiring students to take ACT
By Lynn Bonner, EducationWeek
The state is poised to make sweeping changes in the way it evaluates students and high schools by requiring students to take the ACT, a national college entrance exam. Under the plan that the State Board of Education has been refining for months, most 11th-graders will be required to take the exam. Students will also take pre-tests leading to the ACT in eighth grade and in 10th grade. The state would pay students' registration fees. The board has two reasons for wanting to require the national tests.

New Arizona law: Future 3rd-graders to have to read to pass grade
By Kerry Fehr-Snyder, The Arizona Republic
The 25 children in Jenny Willman's class at Navarrete Elementary School in Chandler are like most kindergartners: fidgety, rambunctious and quick to blurt out answers. But they also are different in a crucial way: Starting in 2013-14, the Navarrete students - along with every other third-grader in Arizona - must prove that they are reading proficiently. If they fail, they will not be allowed to advance to fourth grade. The new high-stakes reading mandate, House Bill 2732, was modeled after a Florida law that went into effect in 2002. Indiana has a similar law, and Utah and Massachusetts have set statewide goals of reading proficiently by third grade.

POSTSECONDARY ACCESS SUCCESS
Many college boards are at sea in assessing student learning, survey finds
By Kathryn Masterson, The Chronicle of Higher Education
While oversight of educational quality is a critical responsibility of college boards of trustees, a majority of trustees and chief academic officers say boards do not spend enough time discussing student-learning outcomes, and more than a third say boards do not understand how student learning is assessed, says a report issued on Thursday by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Area colleges offer GPA-forgiveness programs to lure back dropouts
By Jan Hefler, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Camden County College is one of many two- and four-year schools in the region welcoming dropouts back to campus. Others are reaching out to students who either left two or three years ago or were dismissed because of failing grades, including Community College of Philadelphia, Bucks County Community College, Rutgers University, and Rowan University. At Rowan, a grade-forgiveness program was reinstated this semester, 15 years after its stumbling predecessor fell by the wayside. Students who dropped out at least two years ago may resume classes without the worry that their poor past performance will blemish their degrees.

Searching for STEM success
By David Moltz, InsideHigherEd
In recent years, rural community colleges have done significantly better than their urban and suburban counterparts in the percentage increase of associate degrees awarded to women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. And though the reasons for their relative success — which is detailed in the latest issue of the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering — remain unknown, community college researchers are suggesting policy recommendations in an attempt to replicate it elsewhere and boost the numbers of these underrepresented students. At the same time, they say STEM educators should not forget about their male students, who appear to be falling further behind academically, though enrolling in greater numbers.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS
New schools in South Africa serve the underserved
By Celia W. Dugger, The New York Times
As many of South Africa’s public schools have failed a post-apartheid generation of children from poor townships and rural areas, a budding movement of educators, philanthropists and desperate parents is increasingly searching for alternatives. For a decade, banks and foundations here have sponsored promising township students to attend elite, mostly white schools. But now new private schools are springing up to serve poor and working-class black children, giving the still dominant public system some newfound competition and perhaps even devising models that will end up influencing it.

Internationally, college graduates fared better during recession
By Marion Lloyd, The Chronicle of Higher Education
The recent economic crisis sparked layoffs in virtually all occupations, but, in many nations, college graduates were far less likely to be out of a job than were their less-educated counterparts, according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The unemployment rate among college graduates was between two and four times lower than among workers with only a high-school diploma, according to the report, "Education at a Glance 2010: OECD Indicators." The study is the latest in an annual series that analyzes data among the 31 member countries, which represent the world's largest capitalist economies, and five non-OECD members, including Brazil and Russia.

You want to go to the library at 3am? Britain is the place
By Matthew Reisz, Times Higher Education
An international survey of universities has revealed a striking difference between the library services offered by British institutions and those in the rest of the world. Although it remains unusual, a far greater proportion of British universities now keep their libraries open 24 hours a day than their counterparts elsewhere, the poll suggests. The findings stem from data gathered as part of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings project. In the list of just over 400 institutions from which the top 200 will be determined, about 8.5 per cent give students access to their libraries 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yet for the British universities among them, the figure is about 24 per cent.

REPORTS WORTH READING
Postsecondary Institutions and Price of Attendance in the United States: Fall 2009 and Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2008-09, and 12-Month Enrollment 2008-09
This First Look presents findings from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) fall 2009 data collection, which included three survey components: Institutional Characteristics for the 2009-10 academic year, Completions covering the period July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009. and data on 12-Month Enrollment for the 2008-09 academic year. These data were collected through the IPEDS web-based data collection system.

School Districts’ Perspectives on the Economic Stimulus Package: School Improvement Grants Present Uncertainty and Opportunity
The Center on Education Policy (CEP) released a new report this week highlighting the extent to which school districts have experience with implementing the four federally mandated school reform models meant to “turn around” the nation’s lowest-performing 5 percent of schools. In order to receive the more than $3 billion allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for School Improvement Grants, districts must agree to use one of the four intervention models endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education: Turnaround, Restart, Closure, and Transformation. However, most districts have little familiarity or experience with any of the four models.

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UPCOMING EPI EVENTS

HACU/EPI Student Retention Workshop, September 21, 2010, San Diego, CA

AACRAO 20th Annual Strategic Enrollment Management Conference, in partnership with the Educational Policy Institute, November 7-10, 2010
Nashville, TN

RETENTION 101 & 201, December 6-8, 2010, Dallas, TX

FEATURED PUBLICATION

The Swail Letter on Higher Education (May 2010). Featuring data and analysis on International Education trends.

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