P-Tech’s 9-14 model expands in New York

At Brooklyn’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School, known as P-Tech, students study a curriculum designed with help from IBM, work with mentors supplied by IBM and get on the inside track for IBM jobs when they graduate — potentially with an associate degree. The employer-linked grade 9-14 academic model will be replicated at 16 sites across the state, said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“The P-Tech model already has been copied at other schools in New York City, as well as in Chicago and Idaho,” reports Education Week.

While the Brooklyn-based version of P-Tech was connected to IBM, the partnerships in other parts of the state have drawn employers not just in technology, but health care, manufacturing, engineering, environmentally friendly building, and other industries. Companies who have come on board in communities across the state include Cisco, Lockheed Martin, Arkwin Industries, and others.

“This groundbreaking program will give students across the state the opportunity to earn a college degree without taking on significant debt from student loans while also starting on a pathway to a good-paying job when they graduate,” Cuomo said in a statement.

P-Tech opened two years ago, so “it remains to be seen how successful it will be in fulfilling its college-and-career goals for students,” notes Ed Week.

Completion strategies may be too costly

Community colleges and other broad-access institutions are under pressure to graduate more students while cutting costs, write Community College Research Center researchers Davis Jenkins and Olga Rodríguez in Access and Success with Less: Improving Productivity in Broad-Access Postsecondary Institutions. But completion-boosting strategies may not be cost effective and the most commonly used cost-cutting strategies, such as hiring adjuncts and raising class sizes, may raise the cost per completion.

Some believe that redesigning courses to make use of instructional technologies will lead to better outcomes at lower cost, although the evidence is mixed. Recently, a growing number of institutions are going beyond redesigning courses and instead changing the way they organize programs and supports along the student’s “pathway” through college. These efforts are promising, but their effects on cost per completion are not yet certain. Meager funding has so far hampered efforts by policy makers to fund colleges based on outcomes rather than how many students they enroll, but some states are beginning to increase the share of appropriations tied to outcomes.

The push to lower the cost per graduate could provide incentives to lower academic standards, warn Jenkins and Rodríguez. They  urge colleges and universities to “redouble efforts to define learning outcomes and measure student mastery.”

Protecting Pell leads ACCT priorities

Maintaining Pell Grants and restoring Pell eligibility for “ability to benefit” (no high school diploma or GED) students seeking job training lead the Association of Community College Trustees’ top legislative priorities for 2013, the National Legislative Summit decided.

To help students train for skilled jobs, the ACCT called for preserving the Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT),  the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act.

Investments in direct institutional aid to colleges that serve disproportionate numbers of minority, low-income and first-generation college students are  critical. Congress should continue its support for the Strengthening Institutions, Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs) programs.

ACCT also endorsed the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, which supports science, engineering and math programs at community colleges. “Programs are developed in conjunction with businesses in nanotechnology, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, and many other critical fields.”

Community colleges help train teachers

Community colleges are helping train a new generation of K-12 teachers, reports Community College Week.

Samuel Simpson, 54, a high school math teacher at All City High School in inner-city Rochester, is one of the first fellows of the Community Center for Teaching Excellence (CCTE), which is based at Monroe Community College (New York). “My efforts in doing the kinds of best practices that many people in the education field talk about doing — looking at data, using it to inform instruction, and teaching differently and smarter — have brought significant results,” Simpson said.

Community college educators, university professors, high school teachers and the Center for Governmental Research are collaborating on “high-impact teaching strategies” through CCTE, reports Community College Week.

 A number of fellows incorporated collaborative learning techniques in their classes, such as peer teaching, paired writing and group note-taking, to increase student engagement. A few teachers experimented with integrating 21st-century technology tools into their lessons, such as creating digital versions of their notes with embedded audio and having students contribute to blogs.

MCC Assistant Professor Maria Brandt and a colleague are working with a teacher at Rush-Henrietta Senior High School to create common writing assignments and assessments.

 Focused on improving students’ abilities to read critically and communicate coherently and accurately, they had students write summaries of selected authors’ work and evaluate their own writing at the beginning and middle of the fall semester.

“Through the course of the semester, students in my English 101 class have improved in two areas: their ability to summarize a text and their sense of the importance of reading closely, that you cannot formulate an accurate and responsible argument without understanding the texts involved,” Brandt said. “The students are much more aware now that they need to listen first or read well to grow as readers and writers.”

“Our goal is to better understand the gap between how high school students are performing on average and how first-year college students are performing on average and help them have higher success levels,” Brandt said.

Many schools need science, technology and math teachers.  Community College Week looks at STEM programs at Cerritos College (California) and Rio Salado (Arizona), which belong to the National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs (NACCTEP).

Ten Maryland community colleges now offer a fully transferrable associate of arts in teaching degree in secondary math, writes Colleen Eisenbeiser, director of the TEACH Institute at Anne Arundel Community College. Nine offer secondary chemistry and eight offer physics.

Two Maryland community colleges partner with their local school systems “to recruit, prepare, place, and instruct career changers in hard to fill secondary content areas, including math, chemistry, physics, and technical education.” Anne Arundel has helped a variety of career changers become certified teachers, including a computer software engineer, a health information analyst lawyer, a nurse, researchers from a lab that studies the habits of migratory birds and the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and a biologist who worked at the National Aquarium and National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

Hackers vie for cybersecurity training

Would-be cyber-warriors are competing for spots in a cybersecurity training program at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey, reports Community College Times.

More than 600 people registered for the Governor’s CyberChallenge, a competition that tests participants on networking, system administration, operating systems and their ability to be “cyber warriors.”  After the competition ends on March 23, only the top few participants will get access to an intensive cybersecurity curriculum with hands-on labs and be placed in prestigious residencies.

Competition participants are high school seniors and college students, veterans and active duty military, and job seekers with a “hacker mentality and curiosity that hasn’t been tapped yet,” said Michael Qaissaunee, a professor at BCC and one of the program’s originators.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano projects high demand for cybersecurity workers.

The training will combine BCC networking and systems administration curricula with the SANS Institute’s security curriculum.

Libraries go digital

Community college libraries are going digital, reports Community College Week.

Bronx Community College‘s new library offers a central study area, known as the “information commons,” with 42 Apple Macs and 158 Dell PCs.  Study rooms for small groups ring the commons.

Community college libraries today must assume a dual identity as a home to both traditional printed resources and contemporary information technology. In the North Hall and Library, that duality plays out on the second floor. There, on one end, is the circulation desk, where students can check out books that are part of the library’s vast collection. At the other end is the New Media Desk, where students can order videos to be streamed to screens in the group study rooms. IPads, laptops, cameras, and calculators can also be checked out. Students in some courses can borrow a laptop for an entire semester.

Students can access “multimedia educational resources 24/7 from any location,” notes Teresa McManus, BCC’s chief librarian.

College librarians worry about competing with Google, reports Community College Week. But Kenley Neufeld, library director at Santa Barbara City College is confident librarians will change with the times. “We are not going to be replaced by technology,” said Neufeld.

“The role of the librarian is to help students think critically about the resources that are available. Scholarly inquiry takes more than a Google search. We can guide them to other resources. We’re an indispensable part of the learning environment, and I think we can position ourselves to be a key player in the future.”

Libraries aren’t reserved for solitary study any more, reports CC Week. Modern libraries provide spaces for students to work on group projects. Some have cafes.

On a tour of the New York Public Library last month,  I saw only one person with a book in the reading room. He wasn’t reading it. He was sleeping on it.

Tennessee: 2-year degree pays off

New graduates with associate degrees may earn more than four-year graduates in Tennessee, reports the Leaf Chronicle.

Two-year graduates averaged $38,948 in earnings in their first year, compared to $37,258 for four-year graduates, according to a study by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and College Measures. Community college graduates in health, construction and technology were high earners in their first year.

The value of a degree varied at different colleges and universities, notes the Chronicle of Higher Education. Health-care graduates of two community colleges — Dyersburg State  ($52,042) and Jackson State ($48,498) — earned more in the first year out of college than University of Tennessee at Knoxville graduates. ($46,770). Roane State business graduates earned more ($39,893) than UT-Martin graduates ($33,964), but less than UT-Knoxville ($39,893).

 

CCs can fill the STEM gap

Inspiring a few more students to study technical fields in community college could fill the demand for STEM-educated workers, said Uri Treisman, a University of Texas professor of mathematics, at the 2012 U.S. News STEM Solutions Summit. ”A 10, 15 percent increase in [STEM degree] completion would solve our national problem,” he said.

Treisman said that higher education institutions and secondary schools need to together have a better understanding of what defines “college readiness,” so that high schools know what is expected of their students when they graduate—not to mention so that students are prepared for college-level courses when they get there.

“There are massive disconnects between high schools programs and higher ed programs,” he said.

Even low-level jobs now require basic science, math and technology skills, said Peggy Walton, senior director of workforce readiness at Corporate Voices for Working Families.

Fewer women study STEM at community colleges

Fewer women are earning associate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, despite increasing demand for workers with STEM skills, according to a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. In 10 years, the percentage of women earning STEM degrees at community colleges has fallen by 25 percent.

Only 28 percent of STEM degrees awarded by community colleges went to women in 2007, according to the report. That means women are missing out on high-demand, high-wage jobs, notes Community Colleges Times.

Although women comprise nearly half of the labor force, only one in four STEM jobs is held by a woman.

. . . Some of the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. are in the STEM fields, with employment expected to increase at a faster rate than the labor market as a whole. IWPR noted that while overall employment is predicted to increase by 10 percent between 2008 and 2018, some STEM areas are expected to expand by 20 to 30 percent.

STEM graduates with associate degrees can pursue well-paid careers as environmental engineering technicians, biological technicians and computer support specialists, the report said. Overall, women in STEM jobs earn a third more than comparable women in non-STEM fields, according to a Commerce Department study.

STEM certificates also can be valuable in the job market, but the share of women earning certificates in STEM fields decreased by half between 2000–2001 and 2008–2009.  

Community colleges should encourage women, especially low-income women and mothers, to pursue STEM certificates and degrees by stressing they’ll earn much more than in traditionally female jobs, such as child care and home health care, the report recommends.

Training 21st century workers isn’t fast or easy

Is Investing in Community Colleges a Good Idea? asks Charlotte Allen on Minding the Campus.

President Obama’s $8 billion program Community College to Career Fund assumes colleges can partner with employers to train 2 million workers for high-demand jobs in health care, technology and “green” industries.

Most community college students aren’t prepared for college-level courses, especially in math, Allen points out.  Developmental classes don’t seem to help much.

. . .  most of the anticipated job openings in the U.S. during the near future will require workers who possess exactly the sort of math and reading-comprehension skills that most community-college students these days seem unable to master. There is currently a shortage of skilled employees in high-tech industries, and some two million manufacturing jobs are expected to open up by 2018 thanks to expected retirements–but most of those jobs require workers who can operate sophisticated machinery, follow complex instructions, and demonstrate some facility at math and statistics. The training itself for 21st-century jobs can be expensive.

Successful job training programs at community colleges tend to be “small-scale, dependent on modest grants from the involved industries themselves, and centered around nationally recognized certificates,” Allen writes.

Key to many of the programs was ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), which measures recipients’ math and reading abilities. . . . Shoreline Community College near Seattle . . .  used a grant from the Manufacturing Institute, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Institute of Manufacturers, to integrate the NCRC and certification from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills into a three-quarter-long manufacturing program. The program’s retention rate (95 percent) and job-placement rate (100 percent) were stellar–but it was also a small, highly focused program with only 50 students per cohort.

Allen wonders whether small, focused training programs can be “replicated on a large scale with widely varying students, faculty, and educational standards — along with the potential for waste that a spigot of federal dollars always presents.”