Record Number Complete High School and College

Although the United States no longer leads the world in educational attainment, record numbers of young Americans are completing high school, going to college and finishing college, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available census data.

This year, for the first time, a third of the nation’s 25- to 29-year-olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. That share has been slowly edging up for decades, from fewer than one-fifth of young adults in the early 1970s to 33 percent this year.

The share of high school graduates in that age group, along with the share of those with some college, have also reached record levels. This year, 90 percent were high school graduates, up from 78 percent in 1971. And 63 percent have completed some college work, up from 34 percent in 1971.

The study attributed the increase both to the recession and a sluggish jobs recovery, which led many young people to see higher education as their best option, and to changed attitudes about the importance of a college education. In a 2010 Gallup survey, about three-quarters of Americans agreed that a college education is very important, up from only 36 percent in 1978.

The wage premium for those with college degrees has leapt 40 percent since 1983, according to Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

“The demand for college graduates has been increasing about 3 percent a year, while the supply has increased only 1 percent a year, which is why the college wage premium has increased so precipitously,” he said.

The United States was the undisputed global leader in educational attainment until 1992. But more recently, some European countries have been producing degree-holders at a higher rate — and a faster-growing rate. (Read more.)

Via Tamar Lewin, The New York Times.

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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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Common Core Thrusts Librarians Into Leadership Role

It’s the second week of the school year, and middle school librarian Kristen Hearne is pulling outdated nonfiction books from the shelves. She is showing one teacher how to track down primary-source documents from the Vietnam War and helping a group of other teachers design a project that uses folk tales to draw students into cross-cultural comparisons.

With the common standards on her doorstep, Ms. Hearne has a lot to do. Her library at Wren Middle School in Piedmont, S.C., is a nerve center in her school’s work to arm both teachers and students for a focus on new kinds of study. She’s working to build not only students’ skills in writing, reading, research, and analysis, but also teachers’ skills in teaching them. She and other librarians say they view the common core, with its emphasis on explanation, complex text, and cross-disciplinary synthesis, as an unprecedented opportunity for them to really strut their stuff.

“When it comes to the common core, librarians can be a school’s secret weapon,” said Ms. Hearne, who blogs as “The Librarian in the Middle.”

Like most school librarians, Ms. Hearne has been trained both as a teacher and a librarian, a combination she thinks is perfectly suited to helping students and teachers as the Common Core State Standards presses them into inquiry-based modes of learning and teaching. She helps them find a range of reading materials in printed or online form and collaborates to develop challenging cross-disciplinary projects. And like colleagues around the country, Ms. Hearne also plays important instructional roles often unrecognized by the public: as co-instructor alongside classroom teachers, and as professional-development provider for those teachers.

“The common standards are the best opportunity we’ve had to take an instructional-leadership role in the schools and really to support every classroom teacher substantively,” said Barbara Stripling, the president-elect of the American Library Association, and a professor of practice in library science at Syracuse University. (Read more.)

Via Catherine Gewertz, Education Week.

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Indiana School Aiming for ‘Early College’ Designation

Peru High School is beefing up its dual-credit program in hopes of joining the 20 schools across the state that have been named “early college” high schools.

If it’s accepted into the early college program, Peru will be the only high school in the region to offer it to students.

Schools in Columbus, Bloomington, Greenwood, Indianapolis, Franklin, Evansville, South Bend, Washington, Clayton, Whiteland, Richmond and Connersville are already a part of the program that helps students earn at least a year of college credit before graduation.

Peru wants to be added to that list, and with 20 dual-credit courses being offered at the high school already, Superintendent Chuck Brimbury said the school is well on its way.

“We’re already leading this part of Indiana in dual credits,” Brimbury told the Kokomo Tribune. “Now, we’ve begun discussions to look at being an early college high school. It’s one of the most exciting things we can offer our students.”

The school will undergo a yearlong evaluation process to see if it meets the program’s core principles, Brimbury said.

That includes offering 10 dual-credit courses that are accepted by all seven public colleges in Indiana, Brimbury said. Peru is developing those courses right now.

The school currently offers dual-credit classes in English, science, math, social studies, art, music, engineering and in biomedical and technical areas.

It’s not enough just to offer the courses, though.

According to the early college initiative, early college schools must be committed to serving and supporting students underrepresented in higher education, and that underrepresented population must be the majority focus of the schools’ programs. (Read more.)

Via Lindsey Zilliak, Kokomo Tribune on Community College News.

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Dual Enrollment Gives Struggling Students a College Try

California students who took courses in community college while still in high school were more likely than their classmates to graduate and attend a four-year college, even among students who are historically underrepresented in higher education, according to a new report.

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University’s Teachers College studied a three-year dual enrollment program developed for low-income students, English learners, students who are struggling academically, and those at high risk of dropping out of college. They found that the students stayed in college and earned more

Dual enrollment participation at 8 pilot sites. Source: CCRC. (click to enlarge)

credits than similar students in their district who didn’t participate in the program.

In the report, CCRC researchers wrote that the study “is one of the first to demonstrate that dual enrollment is a promising intervention for students who might otherwise not enroll in college.”

Katherine Hughes, assistant director of CCRC and one of the researchers on the project, told EdSource Today that some students said they came from families that not only didn’t encourage  them to attend college, but weren’t even supportive of their graduating from high school. (Read more.)

Via Kathryn Baron, EdSource.

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