President Obama’s proposed 2015 budget includes $7 billion over 10 years to reward colleges that do a good job of graduating Pell Grant recipients, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. The maximum Pell Grant would increase by $100 to $5,830.
The spending plan seeks $4-billion over four years to encourage states to maintain their higher-education spending and adopt performance-based funding models and $6-billion for job-training programs at community colleges. Community colleges would compete for grants to offer training programs and apprenticeships.
The plan partially restores eligibility for Pell Grants to high school dropouts who pass an “ability to benefit” test.
All borrowers would be eligible for Pay as You Earn, which caps monthly payments at 10 percent of discretionary income and forgives borrowers’ remaining debt after 10 to 20 years. Currently, only recent borrowers with no older debt qualify.
Community colleges are concerned about the call to “strengthen academic progress requirements in the Pell Grant program to encourage students to complete their studies on time,” reports Inside Higher Ed. The Education Department can do this at any time without congressional approval.
“This is absolutely something that causes us great concern,” said David Baime, vice president for government relations and policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges.
Under the current rules, Baime said, students effectively have to pass two of every three classes they take in order to satisfy the requirement. “Since the standards were tightened a couple of years ago, we’ve heard concerns from our campuses,” he said, “So anything that would go further in the direction of tightening them is something that we would be looking at carefully.”
The budget request also seeks funds to develop a national college ratings system to “encourage colleges to improve and help students compare the value of colleges.”
Clare McCann has more on EdCentral.
To close the job skills gap, the National Network of Business and Industry Associations is working to set national standards for industry-approved job credentials, make education and job training more effective and efficient, expand work-based learning, encourage employers to “hire for competency” and create more pathways to good jobs.
Employers want to “improve the quality of credentials used for hiring and promotion,” writes Mary Alice McCarthy on EdCentral.
The focus reflects growing and widespread frustration with the opacity of existing educational credentials, particularly academic degrees, which tell employers relatively little about what a graduate can actually do. It is also a response to the proliferation of non-degree credentials over the past decade, such as certifications, certificates, and badges, and the difficulty employers (and job seekers) confront in evaluating the value of these new credentials. Many of them are only as good as the paper they are printed on. But others, particularly industry-accredited, standards-based certifications and competency-based certificates with third-party assessments, do a great job reliably validating the skills and competencies employers need.
. . . If the Network can build trust in, and widespread adoption of, industry-wide credentials among their members, it can serve as an essential foundation from which to drive change in educational programs and improve labor market outcomes.
Credential confusion makes it hard for employers to find talent and difficult for students to make good college and career choices, concludes McCarthy.
Colorado community colleges will offer bachelor of applied science degrees in career and technical fields.Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation that makes Colorado the 22nd state to expand community colleges’ role.
Applied science includes fields such as dental hygiene, culinary arts, respiratory therapy and water quality management.
Community colleges will not be allowed to offer bachelor’s degrees that compete with state universities in their area.
The show starts with new students:
Gabe is a former gang member looking to turn his life around after a recent stint in prison. Amalia, stay-at-home mom of four, is eager to take on new responsibilities but nervous about accepting a role other than “wife and mother.” Kim regrets dropping out of culinary school decades ago and is ready to prove herself, despite her reluctant husband. Jim, a Navy veteran, suffers with a terrible injury that left him jobless & homeless eight years ago, is seeking a better life.
Gabe Garcia joined a gang at 12 years old, because he didn’t see a future, he told the Sentinel. ”I was going to go to prison or I was going to end up dead somewhere,” he said. Arrested for robbery days before his high school graduation, Garcia spent a year in county jail.
Now 22, he’s got a girlfriend, a one-year-old son and a criminal record that makes it hard to find an entry-level job.
Garcia said the program has taught him more than how to chop an onion or present wine. Dressed in a white chef’s coat and hat, he said he speaks and carries himself differently and is surrounded by a new crowd. When he shares his troubled history with classmates, he said they don’t believe him.
“I feel like a different person,” Garcia said. “I feel like I’ve changed.”
. . . “I wanted to show people, you don’t have to stick to what other people think about you,” Garcia said. “You can be something better.”
Cabrillo culinary graduates start at $15 an hour, but move up because of their training and experience, said Eric Carter, chef instructor and program chair.
Students run the Piño Alto restaurant on campus, which operates Monday to Friday for 13 weeks each semester. ”I tell the students from day one that they’re responsible for our reputation and I’m not going to let it go down,” Carter said.
“After decades of sending work overseas through ruthless price competition,” Wal-Mart is bringing jobs “back to America, by committing to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars more in U.S.-made goods,” reports the Washington Post.
Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs narrates a Wal-Mart ad proclaiming “work is a beautiful thing.”
Low- and moderate-income college students are eligible for Pell Grants — until they earn bachelor’s degrees. With so many four-year graduates struggling to find jobs, the U.S. Education Department is funding an experiment at Lewis and Clark Community College in Illinois. Unemployed or underemployed college graduates will receive Pell aid to fund up to a year of job training, reports Community College Week.
Mississippi’s special education students must pass regular courses and four exams to earn a high school diploma. Many settle for an “occupational” diploma or a certificate of completion. But the occupational diploma limits college and job training options, write Jackie Mader and Sarah Butrymowicz on the Hechinger Report.
In the 12 years since the “occupational track,’’ was developed, Mississippi’s 15 community college have wavered on admitting alternate diploma graduates into academic tracks. Susan Molesworth, director of special education for the Long Beach School District, said the occupational diploma was never meant to be a college prep curriculum.
“Some of the [occupational diploma] kids that were coming into junior colleges weren’t able to do it,” Molesworth said. “They were failing.”
Only seven of the state’s community colleges accept alternate diploma students into academic programs.
Hinds Community College, which runs five campuses, decided in December to to stop accepting the occupational diploma for academic classes. Occupational grads can enroll only in certain career programs, such as office systems technology and meat merchandising.
Pearl River Community College does not accept occupational diplomas for financial reasons, said Scott Alsobrooks, vice president for economic and community development. The federal government doesn’t view the “occupational diploma’’ as equivalent to the GED or a high school diploma, so students can’t get federal grants or student loans.
Special ed students meet much lower academic expectations in high school, report Mader and Butrymowicz. At Brandon High School, students on the occupational track might take Employment English, Job Skills Math, Life Skills Science and Career Preparation.
A ninth grader is taught to “distinguish between odd and even numbers” and “determine, count, and make change in solving problems” in math.
In a 12th-grade occupational math class, seniors were reviewing vocabulary words about checks, such as “memo line” and “void.”
Still, only 28 percent of special ed students earn an occupational diploma, while 61 percent leave with a certificate of completion. The certificate, designed for severely disabled students, doesn’t qualify students for anything.
If students can’t meet academic standards in high school, it’s no surprise they can’t meet academic standards in college. But the “occupational” diploma should prepare students for success in job training programs.
“Coding academies,” which offer intensive, short-term training in programming skills, don’t rely on state or federal financial aid. But California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education is threatening to shut down “coding academies” and other training providers unless they apply for state licensing.
The startups — which include places like App Academy, Dev Bootcamp, General Assembly, Hack Reactor, Hackbright Academy and Zipfian Academy – typically charge between $8,000 and $12,000 for a six- to 10-week course, reports Inside Higher Ed.
App Academy is free — until graduates of the nine-week course find a job. Then they pay 15 percent of their first-year’s pay, which averages more $80,000 a year, says co-founder Kush Patel.
The BPPE sent a letter telling coding academies to cease operations immediately or face fines of $50,000. But spokesman Russ Heimerich told Inside Higher Ed that bureau officials neither “believe these schools are unscrupulous” nor aim to run them out of business. “If you’re making a good-faith effort to come into compliance, it’s not like we’re going to move to shut you down,” he said.
General Assembly and Dev Bootcamp began the process of applying for California licensure before the letter was sent, founders say.
Dev Bootcamp’s Shereef Bishay says he understands the need to protect against shady education providers, but “the regulation was written without a new sector like ours in mind.”
The rules require, for instance, that all instructors must have three years of teaching experience, and while Dev Bootcamp’s instructors average 7-10 years of experience in their industries, where they have mentored employees and trained apprentices at companies like Google and Apple, many of them have little formal teaching experience.
. . . Similarly, the BPPE regulations state that a provider must run any change in curriculum by the agency, and that approval may take up to six months. “We change our curriculum every three weeks, and we can’t teach technology that’s six months old,” Bishay said.
. . . “Instead of telling me how to educate them, how to track them, and how often my curriculum can change, make sure my alumni are succeeding and that I’m not defrauding my customers. I support that 110 percent.”
Jake Schwartz, CEO and co-founder of General Assembly, hopes regulators will crack down on any providers that are “ripping people off.” His company has a 96 percent job placement rate, he said.
Hack Reactor, which charges $17,000, claims a 99 percent placement rate, reports Venture Beat.
For-profit career colleges have much higher graduation rates than community colleges, writes Matt Reed, who’s worked in both sectors. Here’s how for-profits get more students to completion.
It starts with minimal or no remediation, writes Reed. At DeVry, very few students started in remedial courses. When he moved to County College of Morris in New Jersey, he was surprised to see a majority of students placed in remediation.
Since I taught freshman comp at DeVry for a while, I can attest that the placements weren’t because the students were all fully polished upon arrival. They were not. 101 was a punishing course to teach, since you had to try to meet students where they were.
Math was a different issue, but even there, there was a premium on putting students in the highest level class they could conceivably pass.
For-profit colleges take the eat-dessert-first approach, writes Reed. Students don’t have to wait to start training for jobs.
Students at for-profits are there to get jobs. . . . And since many students have had checkered academic pasts, they’re sensitive to revisiting scenes of earlier failures.
Most traditional colleges force students to eat their vegetables — basic math, English, and the usual distribution requirements — before getting to what the students recognize as the reason they’re there.
. . . DeVry, and apparently other for-profits . . . offered a lot of A.A.S. degrees — associate’s of applied science, as opposed to associate of science or associate of arts — to reduce the amount of gen ed. And the gen ed courses it did require were spread evenly through the program, or even backloaded. Students started with dessert, and only got to the veggies at the end.
DeVry required a “college success” course, like many traditional colleges. It also required a “career development” course that covered how to write a resume, how to handle an interview and how to dress on the job. Those were things most students didn’t already know.
At Holyoke Community College where Reed is vice president for academic affairs, “eat dessert first” means linking developmental math to students’ intended major. ”We’ve moved career advising to the first semester, to help students identify goals before they choose majors,” Reed writes. “And we’re looking at ways to help students get through developmental coursework more quickly, so they don’t just throw up their hands in frustration and walk away.”