Better Measures for Success

Community colleges have been judged by the graduation rates of first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students, even though they’re the minority on campus. To evaluate colleges’ performance, the U.S. Education Department named a group of policy experts to develop new measures of success that include the academic and employment outcomes for part-timers, returnees and transfers, reports CollegeBound.

The Committee on Measures of Student Success released its draft report last week.

Changes in reporting student outcomes are needed to take into account the broad mission and multiple role of community colleges, the committee concluded.

For instance, students often see community college as a stepping stone to a four-year institution and transfer before getting a degree. Also, workers come to campus to take a few classes to upgrade their skills. And more than half now attend part time.

The federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reports graduation rates only for full-time students. Students who transfer to a four-year college or university before completing an associate degree are considered drop-outs.

Among the preliminary recommendations:

-Report graduation rates of part-time, degree-seeking students;
-Distinguish between remedial and nonremedial students in IPEDS graduation rates;
-Create a reporting category that reflects students who transfer to other institutions;
-Voluntarily collect, disclose, and report measures of student learning and employment.

Read more. Via Joanne Jacobs, Community College Spotlight.

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The President’s Plan for the Economy and Education

In his speech to Congress, President Obama laid out two job programs critical to ensuring every child has the opportunity for a world-class education.

He proposed to invest $30 billion to put hundreds of thousands of construction workers, engineers, boiler repairmen, and electrical workers back to work rebuilding and modernizing our aging public schools and community colleges. And he proposed an additional $30 billion to keep hundreds of thousands of educators facing potential layoffs and furloughs in classrooms where they belong—instead of on unemployment lines.

In the global economy, the nation that out-educates America will out-compete America. But the hard truth is that a number of nations are now out-educating the U.S.—and the antiquated conditions of many public schools are limiting children’s access to the 21st century tools and skills needed to compete in a knowledge economy.

The average public school building in the United States is over 40 years old. Many school buildings are even more antiquated. Today, the digital age has penetrated every nook of American life—with the exception of many of our public schools.

Most classrooms have changed little from a century ago. In fact, 43 states report that a third or more of their schools fail to meet the functional requirements necessary to effectively teach laboratory science—even though hands-on science education is vital for the jobs of the future. That’s no way to provide a world-class education.

Cash-strapped school districts meanwhile face an enormous $270 billion backlog of deferred maintenance and repairs. Tragically, children in the nation’s poorest school districts often attend schools with crumbling ceilings, overcrowded classrooms, and facilities that lack basic wiring infrastructure for computers, projectors, and other modern-day technology.

This is not a partisan issue. The physical conditions at some aging schools today are shameful. They are no place for children to learn. Read more >>

Via Arne Duncan, US Dept. of Education.

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