High defaults suggest lax accreditation

Accreditors appear to be the most lenient on two-year colleges in the North Central and Middle States, according to Education Sector. The analysis looked at two-year colleges with “a much higher default rate than we would expect based on their graduation rate,” suggesting low graduation standards and unprepared students.

Accreditation was toughest in the Western region.

Public community colleges “dominate the list of schools that are possibly too lenient in their graduation requirements,” writes Andrew Gillen, though “a disproportionate share of for-profits did not have enough data to be included.”

Oregon may require college credit in high school

Oregon may require all high school students to pass college-level classes, reports Diverse.

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.

Oregon students must pass 24 high school classes to earn a diploma. In its current form, Senate Bill 222 would require six of those classes earn college credit, starting with the class of 2020. It promises funding — how much is unstated — to train high school teachers to teach college-level courses.

It’s nice to know Oregon students are so accomplished that all can be expected to complete high school work in three years and move on to college work.

A North Carolina bill backed by Gov. Pat McCrory would create a “career ready” diploma in addition to a “college ready” diploma. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is headed for the House. “Career and technical teacher licensing requirements also would be revised to help develop more teachers in those fields,” reports AP.

CC will open civic learning center

Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) in Massachusetts will establish a civic learning center to support volunteerism, civic involvement and community engagement, reports Community College Times. A $2 million gift from an anonymous donor will endow the program. “Through civic engagement, we empower our students with the understanding of how they can change their community and the world,” MWCC President Daniel Asquino said.

Community-based service learning teaches problem-solving and teamwork, according to the Corporation for National & Community Service.

A new report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future, urges colleges and universities to require civic learning. National Journal’s debate on the report focuses on teaching civics to K-12 students, which is entirely appropriate. I argue against requiring community college students, who are juggling classes, jobs and often child care, to add community service to the list of hoops to be jumped through.

One Year Out: I wasn’t prepared for college

College is great, say recent high school graduates, but they weren’t prepared for college-level math, science and writing.

College Board’s One Year Out (pdf) survey asked members of the class of 2010 how their high school experience prepared them for work and college. In addition to wishing they’d taken harder classes in high school, 47 percent said they should have worked harder, reports College Bound. Thirty-seven percent said high school graduation requirements were too easy.

Ninety percent agreed with the statement: “In today’s world, high school is not enough, and nearly everybody needs to complete some kind of education or training after high school.”

Those who went on to college found the courses were more difficult than expected (54 percent), and 24 percent were required to take noncredit remedial or developmental courses. Of those taking remedial programs, 37 percent attended a two-year college and 16 percent did not make it through the first year of college.

To succeed, 44 percent of graduates said they wished they had taken different classes in high school. Among those, 40 percent wished they had taken more math, 37 percent wished they would have taken more classes that prepared them for a specific job, and 33 percent wished they had taken more science courses. Others thought they would have benefited from more practical career readiness and basic preparation for how to engage in a college environment, including how to manage personal finances, the College Board survey reveals.

Curriculum Matters has more on the study.

Rhode Island: 63% need remediation

Sixty-three percent of high school graduates who enrolled at Community College of Rhode Island in 2007 needed remedial classes, according to a report commissioned by the state’s Board of Governors for Higher Education.  The Providence Journal reports:

Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist, who oversees K-12 education, said people often remind her that not all students want to go to college, a fact she acknowledges as true.

“But there are two important points to make. One, we need more college-educated adults here in Rhode Island, so that number needs to go up,” Gist said. “And two, even if they don’t go to college, they need a level of skills to be successful in life.… And the skills that students need to be successful at the community college level are the same skills they need to be successful in the work world.”

Since 2003, Rhode Island has raised academic standards with no apparent effect on the percentage of CCRI students requiring remediation.

(CCRI President Ray) Di Pasquale said similar numbers of recent high school graduates have needed remediation in 2008, 2009 and 2010, even though those students had to reach higher expectations to graduate than previous classes, including completing a portfolio or senior project and taking more credits.

“I am surprised because we clearly thought we would see some steady improvement,” Di Pasquale said. “But the numbers have been holding steady.”

Tougher high school graduation requirements will go into effect for this year’s junior class, the Class of 2012.

Public sees need for higher education

Eight-nine percent of voters agree “to really get ahead in life a person needs at least some education beyond high school, whether that means university, community college, technical or vocational school,” according to a national survey, Achieving the Possible: What Americans Think About the College- and Career-Ready Agenda.

The Achieve survey found strong support for “college- and career-ready” graduation requirements for all high school students.