Advanced Placement vs. Dual Enrollment

Can we please dispense with the fiction that Advanced Placement courses in any way resemble college courses? Because that’s what it is—a fiction, carefully crafted by the College Board to promote its AP franchise to the detriment of other, better options. Specifically, I’m talking about dual enrollment, a program in many states that allows qualified high-school seniors (and in some cases, juniors) to take actual college courses. Typically those courses count for both high-school and college credit, and are directly transferable into the state-university system (and often beyond). In many states, like mine, tuition and fees for dual-enrollment students are minimal.

I speak as someone who has had a great deal of experience with both AP and DE. As a college administrator and professor, I’ve dealt with hundreds of students who had, or were seeking, AP credit. I’ve also taught hundreds (probably well over 1,000) dual-enrollment students.

Moreover, as a parent, I have four children who have all taken at least one AP course (the youngest is a ninth-grader currently taking AP “HUG,” or human geography), and I am now on my third dual-enrollment student. My two older kids each earned a full year of college credit while dually enrolled, which served them well, as my daughter went on to graduate from a private liberal-arts college in three years and my son (fingers crossed) appears poised to do the same.

I might add that this has also served our family well, considering the price tag for a year at a private liberal-arts college.

Anecdotally speaking, all three of my kids have found dual enrollment to be far superior as an educational experience to taking AP courses in high school. It’s not that AP courses are bad. As high-school courses go, they’re well above average because they usually have the best teachers and the best students. But the point is, they’re high-school classes, not college classes. (Read more.)

Via Rob Jenkins, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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Colleges Lose Pricing Power

The demand for four-year college degrees is softening, the result of a perfect storm of economic and demographic forces that is sapping pricing power at a growing number of U.S. colleges and universities, according to a new survey by Moody’s Investors Service. Facing stagnant family income, shaky job prospects for graduates and a smaller pool of high-school graduates, more schools are reining in tuition increases and giving out larger scholarships to attract students, Moody’s concluded in a report set to be released Thursday.

But the strategy is eating into net tuition revenue, which is the revenue that colleges collect from tuition minus scholarships and other aid. College officials said they need to increase net tuition revenue to keep up with rising expenses that include faculty benefits and salaries. But one-third of the 292 schools that responded to Moody’s survey anticipate that net revenue will climb in the current fiscal year by less than inflation.

For the fiscal year, which for most schools ends this June, 18% of 165 private universities and 15% of 127 public universities project a decline in net tuition revenue. That is a sharp rise from the estimated declines among 10% of the 152 private schools and 4% of the 105 public schools in fiscal 2012.

The financial pressures signal that many schools are starting to capitulate to complaints that college has become unaffordable to many American families, observers say. At least two dozen private colleges froze tuition this fall, roughly double the previous year’s total. (Read more. May require paid subscription.)

Via Michael Corkery, Wall Street Journal.

Posted in Funding, Postsecondary (13-18). Comments Off on Colleges Lose Pricing Power

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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New College-Readiness Tracking System Under Study

 A new way to track high school students’ readiness for college and trigger earlier intervention is being studied at Stanford University.

The College Readiness Indicator System initiative was developed at the John Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford and is being tested at schools in Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Calif., and New York City. A paper by Oded Gurantz and Gradeila Borsato explores lessons from the first two years of testing the initiative.

The idea behind the system is that grades and student performance alone are not enough to determine college readiness. And schools can be more effective using a model that allows them to engage proactively with students before they go off-track.

The indicator system measures three areas:

1. Academic preparedness – as reflected in grade point average and availability of Advanced Placement courses.

2. Academic tenacity – using attendance or disciplinary infractions to demonstrate effort.

3. College knowledge – understanding financial requirements for college and other skills needed to access and navigate college.

The new system also considers progress on these indicators at the individual student level, in the classroom (resources and opportunities provided), and at the system level (policies and funding for supports, such as counselors).

Its design is intended to be flexible so districts can use indicators that work best in their local context. In the pilot, the system was adapted differently in each of the four districts, but with the same goal of better linking high school work to postsecondary expectations. (Read more.)

Via Caralee Adams, Education Week.

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