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Education This Week


How Honest Should we be to College Students?

June 17, 2011

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

This week at EPI’s International Conference on Student Success (Retention 2011), I attended a session by Tom Mortenson, Senior Scholar at The Pell Institute and editor of Postsecondary Opportunity. Tom looked at the issue of predicted versus actual persistence and graduation rates at US four-year colleges and universities. Interesting stuff.

The data launched us into a dialogue about what responsibility college officials—including administrators, professors, counselors, and advisors—have to tell students where they stand with regard to prospective graduation and college success. Every institution houses the data and technology to run every prospective student through a real-time regression analysis to provide a predictive rate of success. That is, we can come up with the odds of a particular student’s chance of graduation from any institution.

If we can do this, the question is what do we do with that information? On one hand, we can surely use it to determine whether we admit or reject that student. We do that now. But for most of the institutions that are either open admission or have liberal admissions policies, these data have other potential services. In this case, if we know that Student A has a 36 percent chance of success at our institution, then what do we do with that data? The participants in Tom’s session were dialoging about whether we tell the student what we already know: that they are at risk.




There are 5.5 million more first-year students enrolled in postsecondary education than at the start of the 21st century; two out of every five of whom come from a low-income household. Nineteen percent of low-income young adults were enrolled at for-profit institutions in 2008, versus 5 percent of their more financially prosperous peers, and low-income female students from every racial/ethnic group are nearly three times as likely to attend for-profits as their higher-income female counterparts.

Source: Institute for Higher Education Policy



NAEP History Repeats Itself: Flat Scores Except 8th Grade
By Erin W. Robelen, Education Week
The nation’s 8th graders posted gains in American history achievement compared with four years ago, new data show, but only a small minority, 17 percent, were rated “proficient” or higher in the subject. The increase appears to be largely explained by advances seen among black and Hispanic students on the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress in U.S. history. Meanwhile, at the 4th and 12th grades, history essentially repeated itself, with no statistically significant changes since 2006.

Study Finds Few Learning Gains from Gifted Services
By Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week
As educators and lawmakers struggle to define the evolving role of education for the nation’s gifted students, a new study suggests that some aspects of gifted education that have been appropriated to improve the achievement of a broader population of students may provide less of a boost than commonly thought. A new working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, in Cambridge, Mass., evaluated the effectiveness of both in-class gifted programs and magnet schools for more than 8,000 middle school students in an unnamed Southwestern school district of more than 200,000 students.

Tiny Town Recruits Students Worldwide
By Michael Winerip, New York Times
Enrollment in Newcomb, N.Y. had hit bottom when Superintendent Clark Hults advertised an American education to students around the world. But in the last four years, 30 students from 19 countries (including Iraq, Vietnam, Russia, Israel and Lebanon) have spent a year studying in Newcomb, of all places. This, in turn, has attracted students from surrounding districts, who, as Mr. Hults put it, want something more from a school than an all-Caucasian experience. Enrollment has climbed to 85 and is expected to hit 100 next year.


Teaching Them How to Think
By Dan Berrett, Inside Higher Ed
At a summer program in 2004 designed to improve the teaching of science on the undergraduate level, George Plopper first encountered Bloom's Taxonomy -- the oft-cited and much-revised classification of levels of thought and learning, which span from the lower levels of basic memorization to the more complex evaluation and creation of knowledge. He now applies Bloom to two of his upper-level courses at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has dramatically changed his approach to teaching and to determining what his students learn.

Public Universities Drawing More Students From Out of State
By Bill Schackner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Out-of-state students and those recruited internationally account for almost half the total enrollment at some universities and, in certain years, as high as the 75 percent share of the freshman class reported by the University of Vermont last fall. At Pitt, in-state students make up 69 percent of the school's main campus population, a share that is down from 79 percent a decade ago, and they are 74 percent of the university's total population, compared with 82 percent a decade ago.

Blog: The College-for-All Debate
By Richard Kahlenberg, Chronicle of Higher Education
The goal of “College for All”—the notion that every student should engage in some form of postsecondary education—was hotly debated this week, from a forum sponsored by Education Week to the pages of The New Yorker. Individuals on both sides of the controversy make cogent points, but according to Richard Kahlenberg, there is more reason to be troubled by the push-back against, than by the aspiration behind, College for All.


Building bridges through education - IAUP
By Yojana Sharma, University World News
"Building Bridges through Education" is the theme of this year's International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) conference, which takes place in New York from 17-20 June. Held every three years, it is said to be the world's largest gathering of university presidents, vice-chancellors and rectors. The IAUP has more than 600 members in over 100 countries.

ARAB WORLD: Democracy uprisings should herald a new dawn of education reform
By Muhammad Faour, Los Angeles Times
As the popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab countries achieve their primary goal of changing the political regime, they will soon face the urgent need to reform the education system as well as the economy. Consolidation of political democracy and economic liberalization requires citizens who have appropriate knowledge, skills and values. As states democratize, good governance will promote quality education, an objective that most Arab education systems have failed to achieve.

Education Officials in UK Warn of Watered-down Curriculum
By Education Week
In Great Britain, the Office for Standards in Education said that a recent analysis of lessons and written work calls into question the claim that the courses taken by thousands of schoolchildren are comparable with mainstream standards. In a damning conclusion, the education watchdog group said public school students taking vocational business courses were often given grades they didn’t deserve for sub-par work and a poor knowledge and understanding of the subject.


Portraits: Initial College Attendance of Low-Income Young Adults
By The Institute for Higher Education Policy
In a report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), experts suggest that poverty still matters a great deal in terms of the types of institutions at which young adults are initially enrolling. In particular, they find that low-income students—between ages 18 and 26 and whose total household income is near or below the federal poverty level—are likely to be overrepresented at for-profit institutions and are likely to be underrepresented at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions.

The Nation’s Report Card: U.S. History 2010
By The National Center for Education Statistics
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, performance on the U.S. History 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at Grades 4, 8, and 12 has shown some overall improvement since 1994.  However, the only progress since 2006 was at grade eight, with significant improvement of Black and Hispanic eighth grade scores over these years. Performance by fourth and twelfth graders remained unchanged compared to 2006.

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