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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StudentsFirst Puts Out State Policy Report Card

Many factors contribute to the strength of our public education system, but without a doubt, state policies provide the strong foundation on which great school systems are built. State policies must empower parents to make the best choices for their children, and they must enable schools to recognize, reward, and retain the best educators. States must provide school and district leaders with opportunities to truly lead, innovate, and reform schools so they work well for all the kids they serve. StudentsFirst created the State Policy Report Card to evaluate each state’s education laws and policies and determine what states are doing to create a better education system — one that meets the needs of all children and puts them on a path toward success. The report card does not assess student achievement, school quality, or teacher performance, but rather the policy environments that affect those outcomes. StudentsFirst believes — based on experience, research, and evidence — that education reform at the state level can have the most powerful impact on schools and students. Therefore, StudentsFirst advocates that state leaders do away with antiquated policies that obstruct progress and fail to help children learn. States must then adopt new principles and policies focused on ensuring student needs come before any other special interests. These new policies should emphasize high standards, robust educational options for families, transparency, and accountability. It is through this lens that the report card assesses each state and whether it is fulfilling its essential role in improving schools by putting student centered laws and policies in place. (Via StudentsFirst.)

Click here to see the California Report Card. For other states, click on the map.

Click here to see the Executive of the National Report Card.

Click here to download the full Report.

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State Governing Board Over Community Colleges Rethinks Enrollment Methods

The way students register for classes at California community colleges is being examined for potential changes by a statewide governing board.

Jasmin Kissinger, 21, sat waiting for an appointment in the counseling office at Sierra College in Rocklin Tuesday. The Grass Valley native is taking classes at Sierra to work her way up to a master’s in speech therapy.

Now that Kissinger has some classes under her belt, registering every semester has gotten easier, but it hasn’t always been that way. Priority is currently given to students with more units under their belt than freshmen and some underclassmen.

“It was really difficult getting into classes at first because I was low priority and things filled up really quickly,” Kissinger said.

That might change if the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges decides to approve changes to the rules it is considering regarding when certain students can and can’t register for classes. The idea to change the way community colleges approach enrollment priority is one of many suggestions made by the Student Success Taskforce last January.

The community college panel met Tuesday to hear the first reading of the proposed rule change, opening a comment period on the proposed changes that lasts until Aug. 17. The panel will hear a second reading of the rule and potentially vote on it at its meeting in September.

According to a summary of the proposed rule change, students who already get top priority when it comes to registering for classes will not be affected if the changes pass. Students who are in the military, are veterans, or foster youth or former foster youth fall under this priority and will still get to register first. (Read more.)

Via Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer, Auburn, California.

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California Colleges Await Tax Vote

A tax measure on California’s November ballot could provide an extra $213 million to community colleges, making it possible to restore course sections to meet rising demand. If the measure fails,  colleges will have to cut $338 million, a 7.5 percent budget reduction.  The decision is “fairly monumental,” says Jonathan Lightman, executive director of the Faculty Association of California’s Community Colleges, in a Hechinger Report interview.

. . . colleges would be serving fewer students would have fewer course sections and would pare down their staff accordingly.

That’s fairly monumental at a time when the pressure on the community colleges to retrain an unemployed workforce is very high and when students who in an earlier era if they were eligible would never have thought about not going to the University of California, but today there is the issue about affordability in those systems.

Also, we still have demography issue. We have a higher percentage of 18-24 year-olds in the state than in other periods of history. And, we have the other issue of the demobilization of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan that have come home and are seeking higher education opportunities to transition into the civilian economy. So, it’s created the perfect storm for demand for community college seats,

The measure “faces an uphill slog,” predicts the San Jose Mercury News. A rival tax increase on the ballot may split pro-tax voters.

Via Joanne Jacobs, Community College Spotlight.

You might also be interested in this article from Education Week, “California Districts Wary in Advance of Tax Vote.”

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A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education

The Institute for a Competitive Workforce, a division of the United States Chamber of Commerce, released a report card for each state based on their performance in several categories:

  • Student Access and Success
  • Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness
  • Meeting Labor Market Demand
  • Transparency and Accountability
  • Policies
  • Innovation

The researchers for the national report card hope that state leaders will use the information garnered through reading this report to better craft the reform agenda and to support the needs of students. The report not only offers detailed information about each state’s performance, but also offers policymakers suggestions into improving the completion outcomes of students that attend college.

Read the full report:

Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Postsecondary Education 

Via Luna Malbroux, College Productivity.

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