Community Challenge Planning Grant Program

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Challenge Planning Grant Program fosters reform and reduces barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital, and sustainable communities. Such efforts may include amending or replacing local master plans, zoning codes, and building codes, either on a jurisdiction-wide basis or in a specific neighborhood, district, corridor, or sector to promote mixed-use development, affordable housing, the reuse of older buildings and structures for new purposes, and similar activities with the goal of promoting sustainability at the local or neighborhood level. This Program also supports the development of affordable housing through the development and adoption of inclusionary zoning ordinances and other activities to support planning implementation.

Get more information here.

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A Welcome Mat for Community-College Transfer Students

Research shows that only about 10 percent of students who enter community colleges end up getting a bachelor’s degree, even though surveys find that between 50 and 80 percent of incoming community college students have that goal. The very low transfer and completion rates are enormously problematic on a number of different levels.

For one thing, given that increasing numbers of students are choosing to begin tertiary education at community colleges, the low transfer rate will severely hamper the efforts of higher education to meet the projected growing demand for more employees with bachelor’s degrees.

For another, the low rate of transfers weakens community colleges themselves. To the extent that two-year institutions become widely known as places where very few students eventually go on to earn B.A.’s, middle- and upper-middle-class students are likely to shy away from community colleges. This flight, in turn, could further weaken the political and cultural capital of the two-year sector. (Research finds that this is already happening.)

Likewise, low transfer rates hamper the efforts of more selective colleges to maintain and increase racial and socioeconomic diversity. The lack of socioeconomic diversity at the nation’s most selective 146 institutions—where wealthy students outnumber low-income students by 25:1—has long been a national disgrace. And new threats to racial affirmative action in the courts suggest that selective four-year institutions may need to find new ways to build diversity. One way is to providing an admissions preference to promising students currently enrolled in community colleges, 42 percent of whom are the first in their family to attend college, and 45 percent of whom are from an underrepresented racial minority group.

Read more.

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Five Myths of Remedial Ed

Five Myths of Remedial Ed “hinder our pursuit of college success,” argue Jane V. Wellman of theDelta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity and Accountability and Bruce Vandal, who directs Getting Past Go for the Education Commission of the States in Inside Higher Ed.

According to Wellman and Vandal, the myths are: remedial education is K-12′s problem, it’s a short-term problem, colleges know how to determine readiness, remedial ed is bankrupting the system and “maybe some students just aren’t college material.”

Remedial education is the 800-pound gorilla that stands squarely in the path of our national objective to increase the number of adults with a college degree. If we dispel these myths, the solutions become clear: get higher education to articulate what it means to be college-ready, implement those college-ready standards in high school, fund remedial education programs in ways that reward student success, and customize coursework to meet students’ needs.

Only 25 percent of community college students who start in remedial classes complete a credential, they estimate.

W. Norton Grubb analyzes instruction in remedial classes in California community colleges in a new Policy Analysis for California Education study. Grubb estimates that 60 percent of community college students — perhaps 80 percent in California — start in remedial classes.

Via Community College Spotlight.

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The Long Path to a 4-Year Degree

Bachelor’s degree recipients in 2007-08 who started at a community college took almost 20 percent longer to complete degrees than those who started at a four-year institution, according to a federal report, (pdf).

The median completion time for community college transfers was 63 months compared to 52 months for students who started at public four-year universities, 45 for private nonprofit four-years, and 57 for four-year for-profit colleges, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Forty-four percent of all degree earners in 2007-8 earned their diplomas in 48 months or fewer, nearly a quarter finished in five years, 9.3 percent required a sixth year, 12 percent took seven or eight years, and 11.5 percent took more than eight years to finish their degrees.

Students who delayed college entry took much longer, with a median of 80 months to completion.

Via Community College Spotlight.

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Community-College Students Perform Worse Online Than Face to Face

Community-college students enrolled in online courses fail and drop out more often than those whose coursework is classroom-based, according to a new study released by the Community College Research Center at the Teachers College at Columbia University.

The study, which followed the enrollment history of 51,000 community-college students in Washington State between 2004 and 2009, found an eight percentage-point gap in completion rates between traditional and online courses. Although students who enrolled in online courses tended to have stronger academic preparation and come from higher income brackets than the community-college population on the whole, researchers found that students who took online classes early in their college careers were more likely to drop out than those who took only face-to-face courses. Among students who took any courses online, those with the most Web-based credits were the least likely to graduate or transfer to a four-year institution.

“Online courses are a vital piece of the postsecondary puzzle,” said Shanna S. Jaggars, co-author of the study. “There are a lot of nontraditional students who would find it very difficult to attend and complete college without the flexibility they offer, but at the same time colleges need to be careful to make sure these courses aren’t just thrown together and that they are effectively serving students.”

Thirty-three percent of the students observed in the study enrolled in at least one course online during the five-year period. Students in an online course had an 82-percent chance of completing the course, compared with a 90-percent chance in face-to-face courses. Among students in remedial courses, the gap was even wider—85 percent of students completed their face-to-face courses, but only 74 percent completed the same course online.

Read more.

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