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Education This Week


The Senator and the Schools

December 17, 2010

By Watson Scott Swail, CEO, Educational Policy Institute/EPI International

Senator Tom Harkin has had a distinguished political career. He is seen as a moderate Democrat who gets along with his Senatorial colleagues and tries to do the nation’s business in a meaningful and tangible manner with decorum. He has been a supporter of college access and success throughout his career. To protect the interest of taxpayers and students, he decided this year to go after those despicable for-profit, career colleges.

As our colleagues at Higher Education Watch, a blog from the New America Foundation, are keen to note, Senator Harkin has been on a campaign over the last year to investigate, if not castrate, the for-profit higher education sector. I’m very thankful for the singular focus of Higher Education Watch, which quite apparently has little else to do in the vast field of education other than provide more details about how horrific this industry is. In fact, Higher Education Watch and Senator Harkin, together, are showcasing the for-profit sector as having the poorest retention and graduation rates, and therefore are “bilking” the taxpayer through misused Pell Grants and subsidized student loans. READ MORE...




On average, 3.5 percent of students who were enrolled in public or private high schools in October 2007 left school before October 2008 without completing a high school program. No measurable change was detected in the event dropout rate between 2007 and 2008 (3.5 percent in both years); however, since 1972, event dropout rates have trended downward, from 6.1 percent in 1972 to 3.5 percent in 2008.

Source: Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates, NCES



Idaho begins new data system to track students
By The Associated Press, The Idaho Statesman
School districts across Idaho have started sending information about students to the State Department of Education as part of a program intended to help the budgeting process and better inform educators and administrators. The information, which is going to the Idaho System for Educational Excellence, includes such data as birth dates, test scores, and whether a student is enrolled in a free or reduced lunch program

Oregon will allow students to use spell check on state writing tests in 2011
By Kimberly Melton, The Oregonian
Do you have to be good at spelling to be a good writer? Not necessarily, at least not in Oregon public schools. As middle and high school kids begin taking state writing tests next month, they'll have a new tool at their fingertips: spell check. For the first time, Oregon is allowing students to use a spell check button on a computer to check their work before submitting answers to the writing test prompts.

Study: States must move faster to close achievement gaps
By Mary Ann Zehr, Education Week
If states continue their current pace of progress in narrowing achievement gaps between students of different races, ethnic groups, and income levels, it could take decades for lagging student groups in some states to catch up to their better-performing peers, a study of more than 40 states has found. The report, released Tuesday by the Center on Education Policy, breaks new ground by estimating the length of time it will likely take to close gaps in a sample of states, said Jack Jennings, the organization’s president and chief executive officer.


Pell Grant program faces $5.7 billion gap
By Mary Pilon, The Wall Street Journal
Federal Pell grants are a form of need-based aid typically given to low-income students. As part of student loan legislation passed in March, the amount of money that students can receive from a Pell grant maxes out at $5,550 for the 2010-2011 school year, and was scheduled to be the same amount for 2011-2012. There's usually little political wrangling around funding for the Pell grant, but this year, lawmakers underestimated the surge in students going to college helping to create the gap in funding estimated to be $5.7 billion.

Scholarships available for former CU students trying to finish degrees
By The University of Colorado at Boulder News Release
In the next few days, over 500 students who were close to completing a bachelor's degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder but left for one reason or another will receive letters from the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies encouraging them to return to classes. The effort is part of CU Complete and a partnership with the Colorado Department of Higher Education, the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, and the Lumina Foundation.

Nearly 90% of young alumni say going to college was worth it, survey finds
By Kevin Kiley, The Chronicle of Higher Education
The American Council on Education commissioned the national poll about young-alumni satisfaction earlier this year, and followed it up with a similar poll of 22 institutions that volunteered to participate. Four hundred randomly selected alumni between the ages of 25 and 39 were questioned for the national survey. Another 400 in all from the 22 institutions answered identical questions.


Entry requirements lowered
By Stephen Matchett, The Australian
The decision is in response to collapsing demand in the international education market. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans yesterday announced the changes for students applying to Australian universities, including from the multi-billion-dollar Indian and Chinese markets. At present, university applicants from both countries must prove they or a close relative can provide three years' worth of money to support their study in Australia. Under the changes, students would only require two years' worth.

Getting ahead in India means getting out of town
By Vir Singh, The New York Times
In interviews with students around India recently, most said they wanted to strengthen their credentials outside of the country and voiced hope for growth in India after returning. They also spoke of the usual fears and concerns of students headed overseas. “One thing that is common across students going to any country is, ‘Look, I am making this investment, what are my returns?”’ said Ruchika Castelino, the head of Indian operations of Study Overseas, a company that advises students.

A Singapore university plans its first residential colleges
By Newley Purnell, The Chronicle of Higher Education
The flagship National University of Singapore will kick off a phased opening of the city-state's first residential colleges in August 2011. It is a unique arrangement in a place where many students live at home, and those who do stay on the campus are ensconced in dormitories. The project, known as University Town, will eventually house some 4,100 students in the four colleges and a graduate residence.


Tracking Students to 200 Percent of Normal Time: Effect on Institutional Graduation
This Issue Brief examines institutional graduation rates reported at 200 percent of normal time, a time frame that corresponds to completing a bachelor’s degree in 8 years and an associate’s degree in 4 years. The report compares these rates with those reported at 150 percent and 100 percent of normal time for all nine institutional sectors. The purpose is to determine whether the longer time frame results in higher institutional graduation rates.

Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972-2008
This report builds upon a series of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports on high school dropout, completion, and graduation rates that began in 1988. The report includes discussions of many rates used to study how students complete or fail to complete high school. It presents estimates of rates for 2008 and provides data about trends in dropout and completion rates over the last three and a half decades (1972-2008) along with more recent estimates of on-time graduation from public high schools.

EPI Microsites
Studentretention ISRA EPSS
Retention Calculator EPI-DAS The Swail Letter NERC


Register NOW for EPI's Retention101 Workshop in Canada!



EPI's Student Success Magazine (Dec 2010) Featuring an interview with Senator Jim Webb and highlights from June's Retention Conference in Chicago.


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