Oregon Bill Would Require College Credit in High School

The Oregon Legislature is looking at making college students out of every Oregon high-school student.

A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill that would require college coursework as a condition of graduating from high school. The move would increase the number of students going to college, make their degrees more affordable and encourage students not considering college to continue in higher education, said Sen. Mark Hass, a Beaverton Democrat who is the bill’s chief sponsor.

“It represents a great play on college affordability if someone can come out of Roseburg High School with 40 credits,” Hass said Tuesday at a committee hearing for the measure. “That student saves thousands of dollars for himself and his family on the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Not only that, it helps those students have a much more productive career while they’re in high school.”

Critics say students shouldn’t be forced to take college courses if they’re not interested. Every student should have access to college-level courses if they want them, said Margaret DeLacy, a board member at the Oregon Association for Talented and Gifted, but not all students will want to.

“We believe that students are individuals, and each student’s needs should be addressed as flexibly as possible,” DeLacy told lawmakers.

The effort illustrates an enduring tension in education as the Legislature tries to improve the quality of schools while facing severe funding shortfalls.

The current draft of Senate Bill 222 would require college credit for six of the 24 high-school classes required to earn a diploma, starting with the class of 2020. It also would provide a yet-to-be-determined amount of money to help teachers get the necessary training to teach advanced-level classes.

The bill is likely to change substantially before going before the full Senate, Hass said, and the mandate for college credits could eventually be watered down or removed. But he said he’s committed to creating powerful incentives for high schools to boost the number of students earning college credits.

Last school year, more than 25,000 Oregon high-school students took dual-enrollment classes, which are taught by high-school teachers and result in simultaneous credit toward high-school and college graduation requirements. Others earned college credit through Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs.

Offering college-level courses can be especially tough in small and rural school districts, where teachers often cover several subjects, said Sen. Arnie Roblan, a Coos Bay Democrat and former high-school principal. Dual-credit courses can only be taught by teachers with a master’s degree in the subject they’re teaching. (Read more.)

Via Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

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Analysis Adds to Data Showing the Economic Benefits of a College Degree

A new report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers offers further evidence of the value of a college degree in terms of future earnings potential. The report, “The Economic Benefit of Postsecondary Degrees: A State and National Level Analysis,” concludes that, despite substantial variations across states and disciplines, “postsecondary-degree attainment clearly results in higher earnings for the vast majority of individuals in all 50 states.” It also found that “almost without exception, each successive level of higher-educational attainment yields additional economic benefits.”

Based on an analysis of census and education statistics, the report says Americans who complete a bachelor’s degree have a median income of $50,360, compared with a median of $29,423 for people with only a high-school diploma. Those with an associate degree earn some $9,000 more than those with only a high-school diploma. Those with a graduate degree have a median income of $68,064, about one-third more than those with a bachelor’s degree.

The report also provides national and state-level data on the wage premiums associated with degree attainment across seven broad discipline categories: arts and humanities; business and communications; education; social and behavioral sciences; the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics); health; and trades.

Its findings mirror those of recent studies by the U.S. Treasury Department  and the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as a series of reports from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce on topics including the relationship between college major and earnings, college major and unemployment, and occupation and earnings.

Via The Ticker – The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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Report Calls for Renewed Focus on Raising College-Completion Rates

Improving college-completion rates is “an economic and moral imperative,” a national higher-education commission said on Wednesday in an open letter to college and university leaders.

The letter, which takes the form of a report subtitled “College Completion Must Be Our Priority,” summarizes a yearlong effort by the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment to identify innovative repairs for colleges’ leaky pipelines.

The 18-member commission, including presidents from every college sector, was assembled in 2011 by the American Council on Education and five other national higher-education associations. The mandate came from President Obama, who has challenged the nation to have the world’s highest proportion of people with college credentials by 2020.

As millions of low-skill, well-paying manufacturing jobs have been automated or outsourced, a growing number of positions require at least some postsecondary education, the report notes. College graduates are also more likely to land jobs with health insurance and retirement plans, are less likely to divorce, and are more likely to be tolerant and civically engaged, it adds.

But while a record number of students now attend college, too few of them graduate, and that’s where colleges should be focusing more attention, the report notes.

First-generation, working, and part-time students far outnumber the 18- to 21-year-old residential students who used to be considered traditional, and the disparity is growing rapidly, the commission points out. They need flexible schedules, more financial help, and an efficient remediation system that doesn’t discourage them so much that they drop out, it says.

“For all students, traditional or not,” the report says, “offering access without a commitment to help students complete their degrees is a hollow promise.” (Read more.)

Via Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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Associate degrees have best ROI

Online Degrees’ has launched its degree value calculator with advice on which degrees provide a good return on investment. All the best ROI degrees are associate degrees from community colleges.

* the degrees are screamingly cheap ($5,000 or so on average)

* associate’s degrees offer immediate, huge benefits over a high school education

* credit sometimes transfers to 4 year institutions

Academically prepared students who can afford the opportunity cost of not working for four years probably should get a bachelor’s degree in a decent-paying field, the article advises.

Given how cheap degrees and loans are, there is no reason to forgo the difference in wages between a BA in Computer Engineering ($100,000 or more) and an AA in Physical Therapy ($33,000) just to save on the cost of the degree.

But don’t borrow $97,000 for a degree in gender and religious studies and expect to make enough to pay back student loans and have money left over for two or three meals a day.

Here’s more on the best-paying careers with an associate degree,  a bachelor’s degree and up.

Via Joanne Jacobs, Community College Spotlight.

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New Look for Lumina

The big goal for the Lumina Foundation hasn’t changed, but the powerful foundation has come up with a new set of strategies to boost America’s proportion of college graduates to 60 percent by 2025.

The foundation’s leaders said times have changed in the four years since they assumed their role in helping to push the completion agenda. And they have new ideas about how to spend $300 million over the next four years, with focuses on building a social movement, targeting metropolitan areas and encouraging innovations based on student learning and competencies rather than the credit hour.

Lumina’s emphasis until now has been on college preparation, college success and productivity in higher education, said Jamie P. Merisotis, the foundation’s president. Those three broad areas will be replaced by five specific goals around mobilizing support and collaboration, and three that seek changes to the nation’s higher education system. He hopes the new approach will build urgency.

“There hasn’t been enough progress on the attainment agenda,” he said.

A key shift for the foundation is to a student-centric view, rather than an institutional or issue-based focus. And while Merisotis said Lumina would actually increase what it is spending on grants, the money would be aimed at areas where they feel strongly that they can add value, and they expect to see results.

Targeting metro areas can be promising, in part because workforce needs have brought employers, local governments and community organizations to the table with leaders from higher education. Dewayne Matthews, Lumina’s vice president for policy and strategy, pointed to building momentum in Memphis, Tampa and Los Angeles. (Read more.)

Via Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed.

Posted in Funding, Postsecondary (13-18). Tags: , . Comments Off on New Look for Lumina