Grassroots effort boosts college attainment in Louisville

A public-private partnership in Louisville, Ky., aims to add 55,000 bachelor and associate degrees to its city by 2020, with 15,000 of those degrees coming from the African- American community. Watch this video as church leaders and others describe grassroots efforts to mobilize and engage more of Louisville’s African Americans to complete a college degree.

Higher ed = higher-level workforce skills

More Americans possess a college degree, a fact that underscores the growing shift to higher workplace skills, says Lumina Vice President Dewayne Matthews. Recent Census figures show 30 percent of Americans now have a bachelor’s degree or higher and that unemployment rates for those with at least a bachelor’s is 4.2 percent. Hispanics in particular have made significant education gains; Hispanics with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 80 percent from 2001 and 2011.

A shared definition of college quality

Increasing U.S. college attainment must also be accompanied by a focus on outcomes – what students actually learn from their programs of study and their ability to use that knowledge to thrive in the 21st century, said Lumina President Jamie Merisotis at the March 8 inaugural meeting of the CIC/DQP Consortium . Read Merisotis’ complete remarks, A New Definition of Quality, and a New Tool to Shape It.


Critical Outcome 1: Preparation

Research | High school should be harder

Increased access to Advanced Placement instruction, dual enrollment classes, and early college high school programs are the most effective ways to promote a rigorous high school curriculum, according to a new report, Is High School Tough Enough? from the Center for Public Education.

Trends | Positive changes in students’ academic behavior

Today’s students are more academically prepared when they enter college and work harder once on campus, according to the American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011, from the Higher Education Research Institute. The report says this year’s freshmen students increased note-taking in class, did more homework and took more demanding courses as high school seniors.

Readiness | Other predictors of college success

Two studies from the Community College Research Center report that many community college students are unnecessarily placed into remedial classes because of their scores on standardized tests – and that high school grade-point averages should serve as another gauge of college readiness. The studies focus on a large urban community college system and one statewide system.

Critical Outcome 2: Success

Persistence | Degree paths increasingly varied

New research says more students follow complex pathways throughout their college careers, attending multiple institutions and transferring once, twice, and even three times. Transfer and Mobility, from the National Student Clearinghouse, calls for better methods of measuring and reporting institutional effectiveness so that policymakers and postsecondary schools can develop strategies that more accurately reflect how students attain their degrees.

Degree completion | Employers weigh in on PLA

The idea that college-level skills and knowledge can be acquired on the job or through life experience is resonating with more employers, according to a research brief from the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning. Study findings highlight conversations with 19 U.S. employers on prior learning assessments and how incorporating PLA into employer tuition-assistance programs may save time and money for workers who pursue additional education, training, and credentials.

Equity | Maryland higher ed leaves underserved behind

Maryland has an excellent track in terms of U.S. college attainment, ranking fourth in the percentage of adults with at least an associate degree. But its success is marked by sharp education disparities among poor, Black and Hispanic residents, says a Much Accomplished, Much at Stake from the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Research on Higher Education.

Outcomes | Do students get what they pay for at for-profits?

Harvard University researchers conclude that first-time graduates of for-profit institutions have higher debt burdens, have greater unemployment rates and lower earnings, and are less satisfied with their college experiences than graduates of public and private non-profit institutions. The report commends for-profits for retaining students during their first year and helping them complete shorter certificate and associate degree programs. Read The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators.

Insight | Report puts success, not deficits, in spotlight

Studies that emphasize the troubled educational status of Black males yield few solutions for improvement, contends Black Male Student Success in Higher Education. The report, from the Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education, counterbalances deficit information with views from Black males who’ve overcome odds to successfully navigate to and through higher education.

Critical Outcome 3: Productivity

Policy | Creating a skilled, trained workforce

Approximately 13 million Americans remain unemployed, while more than 3 million available jobs cannot be filled by previously displaced workers because of gaps in skills and training. Taking Action, from the Business Roundtable, provides a specific set of recommendations designed to advance education and workforce policies that restore U.S. economic growth and equip workers with the skills needed for future workplace demands.

Attainment | UTA: 50 ways to improve graduation rates

Strategies to raise graduation rates at The University of Texas at Austin include incorporating additional intervention programs for students on the verge of dropping out, says a report by the Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates. The task force has developed 50 recommendations designed to help the flagship university boost its four-year graduation rate from the current level of 51 percent to 70 percent by 2016.

Best practices | Improving higher ed for 21st-century students

Finding more effective ways to serve nontraditional students is key to increasing U.S. degree completion rates, but the current higher education system is not set up to sufficiently serve this population, says Pathways to Success from the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.

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