Texas Is Trying to Put Brakes on High Cost of University

Ashton Curlee, the ambitious daughter of two teachers, received official notification of her acceptance to the new Texas Science Scholar Program at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on the first day of college.

“It’s a really awesome program,” said Ms. Curlee, a native of Monahans. “There’s a lot of good stuff that comes along with it.”

Savings top that list. If Ms. Curlee stays on track, maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and completing 30 hours of course work each school year, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2016. Instead of paying more than $6,300 per academic year in tuition and fees — the current cost for a regular student — Ms. Curlee will pay $2,500 per year.

That adds up to a $10,000 degree, a notion that has taken on grail-like status in some Texas higher education circles as the state struggles to address rising tuition at its public universities.

In Gov. Rick Perry’s 2011 State of the State address, he called on the state’s universities to create degrees that cost no more than $10,000, including books. And he reiterated his desire for those institutions to lock in tuition rates for four years for incoming students. Some schools scrambled to create low-cost degrees, but the latter request was largely ignored.

Mr. Perry recently signaled his intention to once again call for a four-year tuition guarantee during the coming legislative session, teeing up a conversation about the rising price of a college education that he has been eager to engage in. (Read more.)

Via Reeve Hamilton, The New York Times.

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Gates, MOOCs and Remediation

Early returns show that massive open online courses (MOOCs) work best for motivated and academically prepared students. But could high-quality MOOCs benefit a broader range of learners, like those who get tripped up by remedial classes?

That’s the question the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wants to answer with a newly announced round of 10 grants for the creation of MOOCs for remedial coursework.

“We’re trying to seed the conversation and seed the experimentation,” said Josh Jarrett, the foundation’s deputy director for education and postsecondary education.

MOOCs tend to provoke strong feelings in the academy, and in the wake of Gates’s announcement this week, some observers questioned whether free, widely available online courses could be tailored to students with remedial needs. But others, including experts on developmental learning, welcomed the attempt to tackle one of higher education’s most vexing problems.

“This has the potential for raising the quality of instruction in developmental education, if used properly,” said Hunter R. Boylan, director of the National Center for Developmental Education.

The foundation seeks applications for MOOCs with content that focuses on a “high-enrollment, low-success introductory level course that is a barrier to success for many students, particularly low-income, first-generation students.”

That’s a tall order, said Amy Slaton, an associate professor of history at Drexel University. MOOCs are about economies of scale, she said, which are not compatible with the personalized support remedial students typically require to succeed. Doing high-touch teaching on the cheap “doesn’t work in the real world,” said Slaton, an expert on technical education and workforce issues. “When you spend more, more kids learn.” (Read more.)

Via Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed.

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The Nursing Profession

Community College Times recently posted this article on nursing:

Aligned on Academic Progress For Nurses

In a move to support all nurses moving to advance their education, leaders from national organizations representing community college presidents, boards and program administrators have joined with representatives from nursing education associations to endorse a joint statement on nursing education.

The statement represents a shared goal of preparing a well-educated, diverse nursing workforce, and that nursing students and practicing nurses should be supported in their efforts to pursue higher levels of education. Endorsing organizations include the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), theAssociation of Community Colleges Trustees, the National League for Nursing and the National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing.

“For the nation and the communities we serve, there can be no larger imperative than to ensure the health and well being of our citizens,” AACC President Walter Bumphus said in a press release. “Such a goal is at the heart of the work community colleges do in preparing close to half of all new nurses, and it is central to our support for this new collaboration to support educational progression.”  (Via Times Staff, Community College Times.)

Click here to read the joint statement on academic progression for nursing students and graduates.

Next, turn your attention to a commentary on Nursing by Donna Meyer who is president of the National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing,  dean of health sciences and project director of the Lewis and Clark Family Health Clinic at Lewis and Clark Community College in Illinois.

Moving Forward on The Nursing Credential Debate

Associate degree nursing programs across this country have produced highly qualified graduates over the past 50 years. Community college nursing graduates have provided exceptional nursing care to people of this country. Many of the graduates have continued their education and had careers in nursing education, nursing administration, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and many other career paths, including a community college president.

The National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (N-OADN), an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges that is the leading advocate for associate degree nursing, promotes academic progression of associate degree in nursing (ADN) graduates in furthering education to reach their maximum professional potential. N-OADN supports the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report which states “nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.”

As the largest and most trusted healthcare profession, it is imperative that nurses unite at this most crucial time in meeting the healthcare needs of this country. N-OADN commends the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, for bringing all levels of nursing education and nursing practice in collaboration through the state health care coalitions.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

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Program Gives Migrant Students Extra Help

Eighteen-year-old Alfonso Lucio remembers the sun beating down on the back of his neck as he toiled in asparagus fields in Michigan, something he began doing at age 12. His cousin Jazmine Hernandez, who is the same age and also came from a family of migrant farm workers, was often at his side.

“Just wait,” he would tell her. “A few more years of this, and then we’re going to college.”

It took the help of a decades-old federal program that focuses on migrant students, but he was right. Last month, as the cousins had lunch in a dining hall at St. Edward’s University in Austin, days before starting their freshman year, they beamed with pride even as they wiped away tears.

“I know my mom sacrificed so much for me, and she always said she didn’t have the support system I have,” Ms. Hernandez said. “I want to make her proud. I want her not to work as hard as she did her whole life.”

Mr. Lucio and Ms. Hernandez are among 42 freshmen entering St. Edward’s, a Roman Catholic university, this year through the federal College Assistance Migrant Program, or CAMP. This is the 40th anniversary of the program, which has served more than 2,700 migrant students at St. Edward’s.

Four colleges were part of the program when it was created in 1972 —  two in Texas, one in Colorado and another in California — but St. Edward’s is the only university that has met the necessary benchmarks and successfully navigated the occasionally tricky terrain of the federal financing process to remain part of the program from the start.

According to the federal Office of Migrant Education, in 2011 more than $16.4 million went to the program, serving 1,925 students at 40 campuses nationwide. There are currently six in Texas. (Read more.)

Via Reeve Hamilton, The New York Times.

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California Community College Board OKs New Registration Policies

The governing board of California’s community colleges Monday approved historic, system-wide registration policies that favor students who have a specific education plan and have completed orientation and assessment tests.

Registration priority also will be given to continuing students in good academic standing who have not exceeded 100 units. The changes, first recommended this year by a statewide Student Success Task Force, are intended to make it easier for students to reach their educational goals, whether they are seeking a degree or to transfer to a four-year university.

The move also marks an unprecedented narrowing of the mission of community colleges, which have had to drastically reduce class offerings in recent years because of severe budget cuts.

“In the past, community colleges have been able to serve everyone and students could accrue a large number of units or do poorly in all of their courses and still receive priority registration,” said Chancellor Jack Scott, who is retiring this week after overseeing many of the overhaul efforts. “Now that colleges have had to cut back on the courses they can offer, those students were taking up seats in classrooms and crowding out newer students focused on job training, degree attainment or transfer.”

The new requirements were unanimously approved by the Board of Governors, which was meeting at San Diego City College. They take effect in fall 2014. The system’s 112 campuses will make a big push to educate current students about the new rules, and to give those on academic probation a chance to improve their grades and those nearing the unit cap to plan their remaining course schedules, officials said. (Read more.)

Via Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times.

Follow-up: You may be interested in this short article which includes a quote from the California Community Colleges Chancellor, Jack Scott.

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