The new federal College Scorecard will let students and parents see “where you can get the most bang for your educational buck,” said President Obama in his State of the Union speech. The California Community College Chancellor’s Office will launch its own community college scorecard, reports EdSource Today.
The federal scorecard is “very four-year centric data,” explained Patrick Perry, Vice Chancellor for Technology, Research and Information Systems for California Community Colleges. “It tracks first-time, full-time freshmen degree-seeking students. That’s a small percentage of who’s coming to us.”
The community college scorecard, known as AARC 2.0, will track six “momentum points” correlated with student success. These are based on progress over six years.
Persistence Rate – the percentage of students seeking a degree or transfer to a four-year school who remain enrolled for three consecutive terms,
30 Unit Rate – the percentage of first-time students seeking a degree or transfer who earn at least 30 units,
Student Progress and Attainment Rate – the percentage of degree-or-transfer seeking students – separated into cohorts of those who start in basic skills and those who begin in college-level classes – who earn a degree, earn a certificate or transfer to a four-year college or university,
Basic Skills Progress Rate – the percentage of students who start out in remedial classes who go on to succeed in college-level courses,
Career Technical Education – the percentage of students who complete a career technical education program and earn a degree, earn a certificate or transfer, and
Career Development and College Preparation Rate – the completion rate for students in non-credit career development and non-credit college prep courses, such as English as a second language, which are offered at about a third of the state’s community colleges.
In addition, student progress data will be disaggregated by race, ethnicity and gender.
Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges are working with industry on workforce development with the help of a $20 million federal grant, reports Worcester Business Journal.
The Massachusetts Community Colleges and Workforce Development Transformation Agenda (MCCWDTA) is redesigning degree and certificate programs in six high-demand industries: health care, biotechnology and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, clean energy and sustainability, information technology and financial services.
Students will brush up on academic skills while training for jobs, said Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates in a speech at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester. “They cannot sit in a classroom for two semesters because they need to brush up on fractions and decimals,” Oates said.
College and career navigators will help students enroll in courses and use the One‐Stop Career Center on each campus under the new initiative. Industry representatives, college administrators and faculty will design job training programs together.
Long plagued by a high failure rate, the college is now offering some students the opportunity to bypass at least one of their semester-long developmental classes in reading, math and English by completing them in a condensed three-week period.
Fast Track students take classes for three hours a day, four days. In August, 141 students qualified for college-level courses.
“For adults with children at home and complicated lives, it helps them get their degree more quickly,” said Cynthia Martin, Dean of Adult and Developmental Education. “Plus “it saves them money.”
Less than half of students who take basic math – arithmetic, fractions and decimals – pass the course at GRCC.
Lauro Mireles, an 18-year-old Holland resident, chose Fast Track instead of developmental math. It’s a quicker way to get what you want,” said Mireles, who’s pursuing an associate degree in automotive technology.
Community colleges are rethinking placement tests and looking for ways to start more students at the college level, reports Education Week.
Long Beach City College in California now uses high school grades as an alternative placement method for recent graduates.
Community College of Baltimore County places some remedial writing students in a college-level composition class — and a skill-building class taught by the same instructor.
The school has found the intensive experience more than doubles the chance that a student will pass the credit-bearing class.
“We are no longer keeping students out of the credit course or isolating them with others who have weak writing skills. They are with stronger students,” said Peter Adams, the director of the program, who is working with schools around the country to adapt the model. “This is a way to shorten the developmental pipeline.”
When students study for the placement test, they’re more likely to place into college-level courses. Community College of Denver now publishes a review workbook and offers free tutoring for the placement test. On the first day of remedial classes, instructors make sure students are in the right level.
The first time Angelo Gallegos took the Accuplacer math test at CCD right after high school, he didn’t take it seriously and scored at the lowest level. Not wanting to waste time or money in a remedial class, he worked four years before returning to school.
To prepare for the test the second time, Mr. Gallegos, 26, went to Accuplacer tutoring sessions on campus over the summer from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. up to three times a week and studied at home another three hours a night.
He passed the test, started at the college level and became an honor student.
The “new traditional” student — especially at community colleges — has been out of high school for years and has rusty academic and study skills, writes Rob Jenkins, a Georgia Perimeter College English professor and administrator, in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Many have jobs and family responsibilities. It’s time for instructors to design classes for adult students, he writes. Young students will benefit too.
To start with, instructors should relax “rules aimed at keeping 18-year-olds from ditching class or dragging in late,” Jenkins writes. Adult students need more flexibility.
Older students (and quite a few younger ones) will benefit from “frequent refresher sessions to reinforce basic skills” and tutoring referrals.
“Placing course materials online, creating inexpensive course packs, or taking other steps to lower the cost of books and supplies” benefits all students, but especially those who are supporting themselves, he writes.
Try to regularly establish a clear link between course concepts and “real-world” outcomes. Show them how what they’re learning might apply beyond the classroom, in their professional lives. Take every opportunity to incorporate materials from nonacademic sources, such as newspapers, magazines, and Web sites. Structure your assignments to mimic real-life work situations.
Finally, make sure older students feel valued for their experience and perspective on life. “Choose readings that might be relevant to their situations, and then structure writing and presentation assignments that encourage them to draw upon their experiences,” Jenkins concludes.
Remedial courses usually fail to prepare students for college-level work, concludes a study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research. “Remediation does not develop students’ skills sufficiently to increase their rates of college success,” concludes Judith Scott-Clayton, an assistant professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, who wrote the paper with graduate student Olga Rodriguez.
Still, the remedial track may have other uses: At open-access colleges, the remedial track can be a low-cost way of sorting unprepared students out of crowded college-level courses, the paper suggests:
. . . an unadvertised but implicit function of remedial assignment may be to signal students about their likelihood of college completion; it may be efficient to both the student and the institution to realize this and adjust their investments sooner rather than later.
Moreover, regardless of its effectiveness in remediating skill deficiencies, remediation may still serve as an expedient form of student tracking. Even if remediated students never make it to college-level coursework, students in both remedial and college-level courses may learn more during their three semesters of attendance (the average, in our sample) than if they were all grouped in already-crowded college courses.
The study looked at first-time, degree-seeking students at six urban community colleges: Of those required to take the placement test, 90 percent required remediation in one or more subjects.
Remedial placement didn’t discourage students, the study found. While most quit college without earning a credential, so did students who started at the college level.
“Assignment to remediation has little influence, either positive or negative, on degree completion, degree/transfer, persistence, dropout or semesters enrolled,” the study found.
About 10 percent of community college classes are developmental, averaging $3,200 per incoming student or nearly $4 billion annually nationwide.
An estimated 25 percent of students placed in remedial math and up to 70 percent in remedial English would have earned a B or better in the entry-level credit-bearing course, the researchers estimated. However, few would have earned a credential.
If remediation is about keeping students out of college courses, courses should be redesigned , the researchers suggest.
Many remedial courses are designed explicitly to prepare students for college-level coursework in the relevant subject, which our analysis suggests they may never take. . . . A question for future research is what type of remedial curriculum is most valuable for students who may not continue beyond the course.
If the average student lasts only three semesters, maybe colleges should design three-semester-or-less job training programs that incorporate the reading, writing and math skills students will need in the workplace.
Students who never made it through high school usually don’t make it through community college. But Florida’s Santa Fe College is improving the odds through a mentoring program for GED students called Pathways to Persistence.
Fifty-five percent of GED students drop out of community college in their first year, Pathways founder Angela Long tells Community College Times.
Pathways offers support through hand-picked mentors—Long chooses a match based on initial scholar interviews—who range from professors to administrators or other college staff, plus a crew of volunteer peers from college organizations for tutoring assistance.
. . . “The goal is to make GED students feel so special that they have an impact on the country and to give them a voice to tell us what is working in education, what has failed them, and how we can make it better,” Long says.
. . . Mentors meet with assigned mentees at least once a week the first month of the program, and every other week thereafter, following assigned topics that include how to pick classes and talk about financial assistance. Mentees also attend a weekly 3-credit course in the fall semester and attend leadership seminars and luncheons with key SFC members.
Thirty students started in last fall and another 20 joined in spring 2012. More than half earned a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Learning Matters TV’s John Tulenko looks at how Maryland community colleges are rethinking remediation.
Performance incentives for students, faculty, and staff are catching on, reports Community College Times.
In Washington, where the State Board for Community & Technical Colleges boasts one of the oldest and most publicized incentive programs directed at improving student performance, colleges accrue points and receive funding when more of their students reach any of the following six milestones: Earn basic skills points by making test gains; successfully complete a pre-college math or English course, earn 15 college-level credits, earn 30 college-level credits, complete a college-level math/quantitative reasoning course, or earn a degree or certificate.
“It’s not just monetary incentives, it’s how you structure programs and how you keep track.”, says Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center. “We’re encouraging colleges to make sure students have a plan [for academic progress] and to track students’ progress according to the plan.”
Incentive programs were a key recommendation in Reclaiming the American Dream, a report by the American Association of Community Colleges’ 21st-Century Commission,
Student-based incentives can include tuition discounts that kick in after a student earns a credential or reaches a predetermined credits-earned threshold, says Peter Ewell, vice president of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), a nonprofit organization in Boulder, Colo., and member of AACC’s 21st-Century Commission. Another option is partial loan forgiveness if these milestones are achieved, he says.
For faculty, bonus pay is one route, Ewell says. But other incentives are also popular. “Some of the best of these ideas are collective rewards—faculty development grants, travel grants—to academic units that achieve higher than predicted success.”
Increasingly, states are offering performance incentives to community colleges that improve student outcomes.
“Our kids hate math” because they’re pushed to learn higher math before they’ve mastered the basics, writes Patrick Welsh, who teaches at T.C. Williams High in Virginia, in USA Today.
The experience of T.C. Williams teacher Gary Thomas, a West Point graduate who retired from the Army Corps of Engineers as a colonel, is emblematic of the problem. This year, Thomas had many students placed in his Algebra II class who slid by with D’s in Algebra I, failed the state’s Algebra I exam and were clueless when it came to the most basic pre-requisites for his course. “They get overwhelmed. Eventually they give up,” Thomas says.
Thirty-one percent of eighth-graders took algebra in 2007, nearly double the percentage compared to 1990, reports the National Center for Education Statistics. In California, 54 percent take algebra in eighth grade. But many repeat it in ninth grade — and still do poorly.
My colleague Sally Miller . . . is the first to warn that too much math too soon is counterproductive. When Miller asked one of her geometry classes what 8 x 4 was, no one could come up with the answer without going to a calculator. “In the lower grades, more time has to be devoted to practicing basic computational skills so that they are internalized and eventually come naturally.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s eighth-grade algebra classes have a ”negative effect on most students, especially those students who weren’t stellar in math background,” says Charles Clotfelter, a Duke professor who studied the effects. Doing poorly “knocked them back on their heels.”
“It is time to ensure that all kids absorb the fundamentals of math — computation, fractions, percentages and decimals — first before moving on to the next level,” Welsh concludes.
A frightening number of students never learn math fundamentals. It’s the single greatest barrier to success in community colleges, which attract the un-stellar students. Students who’ve passed high school math classes — including a class called algebra — don’t understand fractions, percentages or decimals and can’t multiply 8 x 4 without a calculator.