Govenor Brown Suggests Ways to Save Community Colleges

Here’s an interesting little tidbit I found in the news today.

Governor Jerry Brown thinks the idea of paying for grades might be just the ticket to saving our community colleges.

The governor has suggested several ways to change community colleges. Restricting how many units a person can earn is one. Another is to pay students for finishing their course work.

Although nothing is final yet, Brown’s idea is to kick back money to students who finish their courses with good grades.

A unit that now costs students $49, could get a $10 rebate or more.

Studies show that the sooner students finish their classes, the better their chance of graduating.

Via KGO-TV/DT.

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California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris Lauds Gov. Brown’s Budget Proposal that Increases Funding, Improves Online Education

SACRAMENTO — California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris today praised Gov. Jerry Brown for including in his proposed 2013-14 budget additional funding for community colleges and for his leadership of an initiative to help more students achieve their academic and career goals through improved online education.
“Governor Brown’s leadership in passing Proposition 30 means California community colleges can begin to make room for some of the hundreds of thousands of students who have been shut out of our system due to recent funding cuts,” Harris said. “This budget represents a good start toward financial recovery for our system. The governor and voters deserve credit for beginning this overdue reinvestment.”

The governor’s budget would provide $197 million more to the college system in 2013-14 and directs the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to determine the best way to allocate the money to districts. The funding increase would allow colleges statewide to add back thousands of classes to serve some of the nearly 500,000 students turned away over the past four years during the state’s financial crisis and at the same time continue the system’s work to improve student success. <More.>

Click here to read the entire Press Release.

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Preparing America For Middle-Skill Work

Anthony Carnevale, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, shares his views on the importance of middle-skill jobs to the U.S. economy, and the role community colleges play in putting students to work.

Q: Why are middle-skill jobs so important to growing the U.S. economy?

A: Almost a third—17 million out of 55 million—new job openings between 2010 and 2020 are going to require middle skills, as baby boomers retire and new jobs are created.

Middle-skill jobs are also important because they often pay middle-class wages. For example, 62 percent of middle-skill jobs pay $35,000 or more per year and 14 percent pay $75,000 or more. What’s even more striking is that middle-skill jobs can pay more than jobs for workers with bachelor’s degrees. For instance, 31 percent of entry-level associate-degree jobs and 27 percent of jobs requiring some form of licensure or certification pay more than entry-level BA positions.

Q: What makes community colleges the ideal institutions to train middle-skill workers?

A: Community colleges are ideally situated to provide both practical career and technical preparation as well as general learning. The mix of general academic learning and workforce preparation that is the unique signature of the nation’s community colleges can lead to both further education and learning on the job. Moreover, the community colleges’ mix of general competencies and workforce development allows students to live more fully in their time by becoming more active citizens and successful workers.

The inescapable reality is that ours is a society based on work. Those who are not equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to get, and keep, good jobs are denied the genuine social inclusion that is the real test of full citizenship. Those denied the education required for good jobs tend to drop out of the mainstream culture, polity and economy. It is crucial that community colleges retain their workforce mission. If community college educators cannot fulfill their economic mission to help youths and adults become successful workers, they also will fail in their cultural and political missions to create good neighbors, good citizens and self-possessed individuals who can live fully in their time.

Community colleges have for decades been doing what middle-skill workers need now: retraining the long-term unemployed, matching new graduates’ skill sets to job opportunities through internships and mentoring, serving regional geographic localities and training-up nontraditional students. These things form the backbone of the community college mandate.

The community colleges’ dual educational and workforce development missions provide institutes with a lot of room to grow, as well as an opportunity to flex their muscles as they already stand head and shoulders above the rest in the movement toward truly comprehensive postsecondary institutions. (Read more.)

Via Times Staff, Community College Times.

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In the Math of Education, Two Years Sometimes Is Worth More Than Four Years

Want a solid, middle-class salary straight out of college? Skip the last two years.

A site that analyzes state-level data of how much people earn a year after graduating college found some counter-intuitive results: Certain students who earn associate’s degrees can get higher salaries than graduates of four-year programs — sometimes thousands of dollars more.

“These numbers and the consistency of these numbers are surprising to me,” said Mark Schneider, president of College Measures.org and a vice president at the American Institutes for Research. College Measures aggregates anonymized education and earnings data to figure out who earns what after graduation.

Some of its results run counter to commonly-held assumptions. Community college degrees, long considered also-ran prizes in the race for academic achievement, “are worth a lot more than I expected and that I think other people expected,” Schneider said.

But there is a catch: You have to earn your degree in a technical or occupational program to earn anywhere near $40,000. That’s the approximate average earned by students who went to school and worked in the state of Virginia and graduated with two-year degrees in these fields between 2006 and 2010. Graduates of two-year nursing programs earned am average of $45,342. (Read more.)

Via Martha C. White, NBC News.

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Consortium Releases Technology Guidelines for Common-Core Tests

One of the two consortia designing tests for the Common Core State Standards has released new guidance on the minimum technology standards states will need to meet to give those tests, beginning in 2014-15.

The Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers said the guidance, unveiled late Friday afternoon, is meant to provide direction to states and districts on the extent to which current technology meets testing standards, or whether upgrades will be required.

The document offers both “minimum specifications,” that would satisfy the consortium’s tech guidelines at least through 2014-15, and “recommended” ones, which would be expected to meet the state group’s standards through the 2018-19 school year.

Earlier this month, the other group leading states toward the development of tests to match the Common Core, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, released its own list of technology requirements and recommendations for 2014-15.

The new PARCC guidelines are “very similar” to the Smarter Balanced requirements, said Susan Van Gundy, associate director for assessment technology at Achieve, an organization that is managing the partnership consortium’s work.

One of the requirements focuses on test security. All devices used during the tests—whether laptops, netbooks, tablets—and operating systems must have the capability to “lock down” and temporarily disable features that present a security risk while exams are being given. Certain features would also need to be controlled during test administration, including unlimited Internet access, certain types of cameras, screen captures, e-mail, and instant-messaging, the requirements say. (Read more.)

Via Sean Cavanagh, Education Week.

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