K-12 teachers learn about manufacturing jobs

North Carolina teachers tried welding at Manfacturing Day

North Carolina teachers tried welding at Manfacturing Day

North Carolina teachers toured manufacturing plants and learned that advanced manufacturing jobs require high-tech skills and pay as well or better than many jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. Jobs also require the ability to work in teams, follow directions and read well, teachers were told.

Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) and the Triangle South Workforce Development Board organized Manufacturing Day for local K-12 teachers, reports Community College Daily.

“About 70 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina require a two-year associate degree, not a four-year degree,” said Cathy Swindell, CCCC’s director of industry services.

Technicians can make more than teachers: An industrial systems maintenance technician with a two-year degree may start at $45,000 to $50,000 and $70,000 to $80,000 after 10 years on the job.

At the CCCC Innovation Center, two of the K-12 teachers learned how to use a welding simulator. They used a simulated welding “torch” that created a computer-generated image of their work.


Tech credentials pay for low-income students

Vocational certificates and associate degrees in health, transportation, construction, manufacturing and security lead to relatively high pay for disadvantaged students and low-scoring high-schoolers in Florida, concludes a new Calder working paper.

Low achievement in high school accounts for much of disadvantaged students’ problems in postsecondary programs and in the workforce, the study found.

Earnings for disadvantaged kids are hampered by low completion rates in postsecondary programs, poor college performance, and their selection of low-earning fields. . . . Many disadvantaged (and other) students choose general humanities programs at the AA (and even the Bachelor’s or BA) level with low completion rates and low compensation afterwards.

Even those with weak academic records can do well if they pursue a technical certificate or degree program, researchers found. Those with vocational certificates earn 30 percent more than high school-only workers and those with associate degrees in technical fields earn 35 to 40 percent more.

Promoting high-potential career pathways and offering high-quality apprenticeships could help disadvantaged students move up.


California: Student aid lags costs

Grants and scholarships haven’t kept pace with rising living costs  for low-income students at California community colleges and the second-tier California State University system, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Students who receive grants and scholarships are more likely to complete a degree, the report finds.

At the community colleges and CSU — the public colleges attended by the bulk of the state’s low-income students — increases in total student costs exceeded increases in grant aid between the 2008-09 school year and 2011-12. As a result, the actual cost to students rose by 6 percent, when adjusted for inflation. In dollars, these increases were significant, totaling more than $600 at the community colleges and almost $1,000 at CSU. The news is better at UC, with virtually no change in actual cost. In comparison, prices declined by almost $1,000 at private nonprofit colleges

. . . Prices dropped more sharply at private for-profit institutions, which may reflect declining enrollment as many have faced scrutiny for low completion rates and high loan default rates.

Making College Possible for Low-Income Students recommends helping students complete financial aid forms, increasing grants to keep pace with inflation and adopting policies to ensure aid doesn’t encourage colleges to raise tuition.


‘Free’ college won’t help low-income students

“Free community college” programs are a hot idea, writes Robert Kelchen, a Seton Hall professor, in Inside Higher Ed. But low-income students, who already are eligible for Pell Grants, will get little or no benefit. Most pay little or no tuition, but struggle to pay for books, commuting, child care and rent.

Tennessee is offering two years of tuition and fee waivers to recent high school graduates. Mississippi, Oregon and Texas legislators have proposed similar plans. Chicago will cover three years of community college tuition for college-ready public school graduates with at least a B average, perhaps 15 percent of the graduating class.

All of these programs are “last-dollar” aid. The state or city will provide tuition aid to supplement federal aid, typically the Pell Grant. But in most places, the maximum Pell Grant of $5,645 covers 100 percent of community college tuition.

In Chicago, 85 percent of students’ tuition and fees will be covered by Pell Grants, officials estimate. That’s why the scholarship offer will cost City Colleges of Chicago so little.

In every state except New Hampshire and South Dakota, the average tuition and fees at community colleges was lower than the maximum Pell Grant of $5,645 in the 2013-14 academic year. Data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), a nationally representative sample of students enrolled in the 2011-12 academic year, show that 38 percent of community college students had their tuition and fees entirely covered by grant aid. An additional 33 percent of students paid less than $1,000 out of pocket for tuition and fees. Eighty-five percent of Pell recipients at community colleges had sufficient grant aid to cover tuition and fees, meaning they would get no additional money from a “free college” program.

The Tennessee Promise will benefit students from middle-income and higher-income families, writes Bryce McKibben of the Association of Community College Trustees. “The program does nothing for the poorest and most at-risk students at community colleges whatsoever.” In addition, the program excludes part-time students, who make up 52 percent the state’s community college students, and returning adults.

Tuition and Fees Not Covered by Grant Aid at Community Colleges, by Income

Income quartile

$0

$1-$999

$1,000-$2,999

$3,000+

Lowest

68.2

18.6

10.1

3.2

Second

36.6

28.7

26.8

7.9

Third

11.2

36.0

38.9

13.8

Top

8.0

34.3

42.7

15.1

Source: 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study

Note: Sample includes dependent students attending community colleges.

 

These programs could be modified to help low-income students pay for living costs, writes Kelchen. “Even a $500 award at the beginning of the semester would help low-income students manage upfront costs like books and rent payments, and could be paid for by slightly reducing awards for students who are not Pell-eligible.”

Limiting aid to recent graduates excludes many community college students, adds Kelchen. He advocates “extending the programs to returning adult students,” many of whom are needy. “Finally, it is important to publicize these programs (and their conditions) widely so students and their families know that community college can be an affordable, high-quality educational option.”

Defenders of “free tuition” say many low-income students will be encouraged to go to college. Often disadvantaged students don’t realize they’re eligible for college aid.


CCCSE: ‘Think big’ on helping minority males

Community colleges should “think big” when it comes to improving minority male students’ success, says Evelyn Waiwaiole, director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. “If you know it works for one group of students, then it’s mostly going to work for all groups of students. So think about making policies and practices work to scale.”

The center’s report, Aspirations to Achievement: Men of Color and Community Colleges, cites examples of effective programs that could be scaled up. “We definitely know men of color need support groups, need to be coached and need a place to feel safe, a place to be mentored,” says  Waiwaiole.

Some policies are easy to implement, she says. When colleges end late registration and instructors set an attendance policy, more students — of all backgrounds — succeed.

Other approaches, such as mandating orientation and creating “learning communities,” cost more.


Tennessee: Certificate holders out-earn 4-year grads

Tennessee workers with associate degrees and long- term certificates often start at higher wages than four-year graduates, according to a new College Measures study. It takes five years for graduates with bachelor’s degrees to catch up.

“You don’t need to go to a flagship university to get a good job. There are many successful paths into the labor market,” said Mark Schneider, author of the report. “Students have the right to know before they go and know before they owe.”

The EduTrendsTN website, a joint venture of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Matrix Knowledge Group, has detailed data on labor market returns in Tennessee.

At the end of the first year in the workforce, long-term certificate holders earned more than $40,000, those with associate degrees, $37,000 and those with a bachelor’s, $34,262. After five years, the median wages of bachelor’s graduates were similar to two-year graduates’ earnings  ($41,888 versus $41,699), and slightly trailed certificate holders ($42,250).

“Many sub-baccalaureate credentials can be entryways to the middle class,” Schneider said.

Learning how to fix things or fix people pays off, writes Schneider on The Quick and the Ed. For associate degree graduates, electric engineering technicians earned the most ($61,000) after five years. Graduates in nursing and allied health fields also did well.

Graduates in business, liberal arts and management and information systems earned less than the state median. Human Development and Family Studies graduates earned much less.

After five years, associate degree graduates average $41,699, a few dollars more than Tennessee’s median household income.

“Five years after graduation, the 15 Tennesseans who got bachelor’s degrees in ethnic, cultural minority, or gender studies were making an average annual wage of $26,000, actually about $2,000 per year less than they were making one year after graduation,” notes Fawn Johnson on National Journal. 

In a recent survey, 99 percent of parents with children in college said that college is “an important investment in one’s future.” Yet, “only about half of students, graduates, and parents of college students had engaged in an ‘in-depth’ conversation about how student loans would be managed or paid for after graduation.”


Core-aligned exams will qualify grads for college courses

Washington state’s new Common Core tests will be used to decide whether students can start in college-level classes at community colleges and state universities, reports the Seattle Times.

Students who score at the top two levels –considered “college ready” — won’t need to take placement exams.

Students who just miss qualifying on the “Smarter Balanced” math test can qualify for college-level math by earning a B or higher in a pilot course called “Bridge to College Mathematics.”


Remediation rates plummet in Florida

Remedial enrollment has dropped by half this year at Florida’s Broward College,  but that doesn’t mean students are better prepared, reports the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.  Under a new state law, Florida high school graduates can choose to skip remedial courses and start at the college level.

At Palm Beach State College, remedial enrollment dropped by 41 percent; it’s down 30 percent at Miami Dade College.

Broward College officials said they’ve beefed up tutoring and advising to assist these students and have taken other steps to help them succeed. For example, the college offers a new statistics math class where students can get elective credit. About 1,200 students are enrolled in 40 sections, most of whom would have been in remedial classes before. The class is designed for students who are not planning on going into the fields of math or science.

And the college has changed its remedial classes as well.

The semester-long classroom lectures have been replaced with accelerated “boot camps” and computer programs that allow students work at their own pace and focus on their deficiencies. The school also developed a “Massive Open Online Course” or MOOC, where students can learn skills on their own time.

While placement tests are optional, counselors look at new students’ high school transcripts and recommend remedial classes if their grades or test scores are low, said Broward Provost Linda Howdyshell. She believes making remediation optional will enable more students to earn a credential.

But some are skeptical, reports the Sun-Sentinel. “Unfortunately, if they don’t know the basics, they probably won’t have a lot of success, and that makes me nervous,” said Juliet Carl, a math professor at Broward.


Speedier ways to get students up to speed

Speedier ways to get students up to speed are being tried at community colleges across the nation, reports Community College Daily.

Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) in Ohio is adopting the Accelerated Learning program developed by educators at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland. As part of that model, EGCC English students who score near the top of the developmental range are granted admission into a for-credit English 101 course. As a condition of admission, students must agree to meet with educators once a week for an additional hour of help.

At Gateway Community College (GCC) in Connecticut,  educators are working with local high school teachers to offer remedial coursework in 12th grade.  A three-week summer “boot camp” gave 400 local high school graduates a chance to qualify for college-level math and English courses this fall.

Casper College in Wyoming is condensing multiple levels of English and developmental reading courses into just two levels. The college also has lowered the ACT score needed to qualify for college-level English from 21 to 18.


Who needs algebra?

Who Needs Algebra? asks NPR.

Sixty percent of the nation’s 12.8 million community college students are required to take at least one course in subject X. Eighty percent of that 60 percent never move on past that requirement.

Let Y = the total percentage of community college students prevented from graduating simply by failing that one subject, X. What is Y?

The answer: Y = 48.

. . . What is X?

The answer: Subject X equals the course sequence known as developmental or remedial math, and especially its final course, algebra.

Algebra is “the single most-failed course” at every community college, says Gail Mellow, the president of LaGuardia Community College in Queens, N.Y. Algebra is less a gateway than an impassable barrier.

Ashjame Pendarvis, 20, hopes to major in infant and early childhood education at the University of the District of Columbia Community College. But she’s placed into the lowest level of math. She’ll need to pass “two semesters of remedial math out of the way before she can start on courses relevant to her major, and two more of college-level math before she can graduate,” reports NPR.

Ashjames Pendervis works on her math homework.

Ashjame Pendarvis works on her remedial math homework at UDC Community College.

“I feel like, if math isn’t important in your career, then there is no need for it in college,” Pendarvis says. “What’s the purpose of wasting your time and your money?”

Mellow agrees. She’s involved with Carnegie’s Pathways, which offer alternatives to the traditional algebra-heavy math sequence. Some students study statistics (Statway), while others take “Quantitative Reasoning” (Quantway).

Success rates are high for Quantway and Statway students at LaGuardia and elsewhere since the program started three years ago.

Half complete remedial and college-level math in one year. “In the traditional sequence, just 15 percent do the same — and that’s in two years,” notes NPR. “We’ve tripled our success rate in half the time,” says Mellow.

Pathways students score as well or better in college-level math and statistics exams as other students, says Karen Klipple, who directs the Pathways Project.


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