More on College and Career Readiness

Community Colleges Rethink Placement Tests:

College-placement tests can make or break a student’s career. Yet few students prepare for them, and there’s little evidence to suggest the tests even do what they’re designed to do.

Now, some community colleges are looking for alternatives. Some are switching to high school grades or revamping assessments, while others are working with high schools to figure out students’ college readiness early so they have time to catch up if necessary.

“Our concern is that placement tests are really used to keep students out of credit-bearing courses, and they really are not reliable enough to make those decisions,” said Stan Jones, the president of Complete College America, a Washington-based nonprofit organization. Despite those concerns, he said, colleges use the tests because “they are inexpensive. They don’t take long, and there is a common belief that the tests will provide better information than they do.”

Read more via Caralee Adams, Education Week.

Coalition Advances Definition of Career Readiness

What skills are necessary for a young person to be considered “career ready?” And are those the same skills necessary to do well in college? That’s been one of the most debated questions in education policy in the last few years, and yet the answer still depends on who you’re asking.

In the hope of guiding education policy, more than two dozen business and education groups have come together as the Career Readiness Partner Council to try to forge a shared definition of what it means to be ready for good jobs.

The four-page statement attempts to fuse various ways of conceptualizing career readiness, from acquiring skills specific to a given sector or entry-level job to mastering broader workplace skills.

On the academic side, it says that career-ready students need to be proficient in core academic subjects, as well as in technical skills associated with specific career fields or pathways. It outlines a range of overarching skills and dispositions, too, such as strong communications skills, the ability to work in teams and independently, and effective use of technology. And it says that the knowledge, skills, and dispositions “vary from one career to another and change over time” as a person develops.

Prevailing education rhetoric embraces these things in its “college and career readiness” dialogue, the group says, but hasn’t emphasized another key element: “engaging workplace experiences” such as internships or service learning that allow students to apply these skills alongside experienced professionals.

Read more via Catherine Gewertz, Education Week.

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Dual Enrollment Linked With Significant College Advantage

New research shows students who get a taste of college while still in high school are much more likely to continue their education and complete a degree.

Jobs for the Future, the education research nonprofit based in Boston, conducted an extensive study following 32,908 Texas high school students who graduated in 2004 for six year. Half participated in dual enrollment programs and half did not. The two groups had similar academic and social backgrounds.

The results are striking endorsement of the model. JFF found dual enrollment students were:

• 2.2 times more likely to enroll in a Texas two- or four-year college;

• 2.0 times more likely to return for a second year of college; and

• 1.7 times more likely to complete a college degree.

These findings held for all racial groups, as well as for students from low-income backgrounds.

While 54 percent of dual enrollment high school graduates earned a college degree, just 37 percent of those in the control group did the same. Looking at bachelor’s degrees, 47 percent of those in dual enrollment completed at a four-year college compared to 30 percent of non-dual enrollment graduates.

“The theory behind dual enrollment is that enabling high school students to experience real college coursework is one of the best ways to prepare them for college success,” according to the JFF report.

The organization recommends policymakers expand dual enrollment as a way to enhance college readiness and state policy should ensure low-income and underrepresented students can take advantage of the courses by providing more preparation and support for these populations.

Via Caralee Adams, Education Week.

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Employment Surges for Community College Grads

These days, there may be something more valuable to job seekers than a four-year college degree: a two-year college degree.

Employment for Americans with an associate’s degree or some college has increased by 578,000 the past six months to 35.2 million, while payrolls for those with at least a bachelor’s are up by just 314,000 to 46.5 million, Labor Department figures show.

The trend underlines that some of the midskill jobs that disappeared in the recession are coming back and it may signal more lasting growth in such occupations. They include operators of computerized factory machines, heating and air conditioning repair people, X-ray technicians, medical records specialists and low- to midlevel managers.

In recent years, “The share of these jobs has not grown (sharply) relative to (those requiring a bachelor’s),” says Anthony Carnevale, head of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “But they may have begun to do that.”

By contrast, employment for people with a high school diploma or less has been stagnant since 2010, after plummeting in the downturn. <Read more.>

Via Paul Davidson, USAToday.

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Web-Based Tool Aims to Ease the Transfer Process

The California Community Colleges (CCC) and the California State University (CSU) have launched a new website that provides comprehensive information about the new Associate Degree for Transfer pathway that lets students earn an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree, with no wasted units.

The key features of the ADegreeWithAGuarantee.com include:

  • Complete details on how the new transfer pathway works
  • Up-to-date information about the transfer majors available at CCC campuses that are matched to similar BA degrees at CSU campuses
  • Interactive maps that help students find a campus
  • Application information
  • A degree progress checklist
  • Testimonials from students who have earned an Associate Degree for Transfer and have successfully transferred to a CSU campus

The California Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, which became law in 2010, requires the CCC and CSU to collaborate on the creation of the Associate Degree to Transfer initiative. Upon earning the degree, students will be guaranteed admission to a CSU campus with junior standing. While not guaranteed admission to their campus of choice, students will be given priority consideration for admission to a CSU campus that offers a program that has been designated as “similar” by CSU. Once enrolled at CSU, students will be able to complete a bachelor’s degree with no more than 60 additional units.

Via Times Staff, Community College Staff.

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In Calif., Prop 30 is Crucial to Serve More Student Veterans

From the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, leaders from southern California community colleges on Wednesday made a simple point: Shrinking state funding is curbing their ability to serve returning military veterans eager to continue their higher education.

More than 20,000 veterans, active military and their dependents joined leaders from nine community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties to urge state lawmakers to pay attention to the issue, which will grow more dire as more veterans return from tours of the Middle East over the next several months.

With four years of state budget cuts, college leaders said the results of the November election will determine whether they will be forced to make even sharper cutbacks in classes that will delay the progress of veterans and other students trying to complete their education.

“We’re very proud to shine the light on the role of community colleges in the county to serve veterans,” Cindy Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, said at a news conference hosted by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association (SDICCCA). “But we are dealing with ever-dwindling resources.”

$30M at Stake

At the press conference aboard the historic battleship, Southwestern College student veteran Vincent Avila-Walker asked how Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, will affect community colleges and their ability to serve veterans. Without passage of Prop 30, SDICCCA colleges will face midyear budget cuts of more than $30 million and 10,000 students won’t be able to take the classes they need. <Read more.>

Via Times Staff, Community College Times.

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